Vision and values

THE LIFE GOD HAS PREPARED FOR US

and the church I have been called to lead

to help us to get there

In essence God has prepared for us ‘a growing experience of His life in us, that flows through us and brings others into that life’.

1. The life God has prepared for us

Jesus describes the life God has for us as an abundant life for all circumstances.

It is in fact the very life of God living in us causing us to become the people he intends us to be.

So in summary the life we are called to live is

– God’s life in us

Causing us to enjoy and live out of the fruit of His character in our lives

Through which God will minister His life to the world

A life for all seasons

The life of God in us is a life that works in all seasons. Through this life God will guide us through all of life’s circumstances and provide the means to live in them.

The life of God brings healing and recovery from the effects of the past and forgiveness for the things of the past.  Strength is received for the present and a real hope for the future.

Growth comes as we grow in God’s character and are able increasingly to show his love unconditionally to those around us, enjoy life and find peace. God administers His life to His world through those who have His life.

As a church we have made our priority ‘the life of God in us that then ministers to the world’ and we have been gradually growing in this kind of life.

Looking again at the ‘life for all seasons’ on the previous page, can you form your own mental picture of what this kind of life looks like for you?

We’re not there yet are we?  But we are well on the way.

At inception in 1996 our church banner was

‘To be found by God and then to live the life’

this is becoming more and more true for us as we travel this vision journey.

Below are a few comments to help you see how it fits together.

The source of life:

(relationship) This life is given by God to those who want to live in a relationship with Him talking to Him, listening to Him, learning from Him, encouraging each other and serving His world

(Jesus Christ)  This life is received, through Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the way God has given us to relate to Him.  The life and death of Jesus resolves all the issues that separate us from God including our unworthiness.  We follow Jesus therefore into a life with God.  The life we receive that changes us is the life of Jesus in us. In this way we are ….           

“changed by the resident presence of Jesus”.

(the church)  God builds the church out of ‘living stones’, ie those who are in relationship with Him, having  His life in them.

(the kingdom)  This life that we live and the church that God  builds out of us, is attractive to others when they experience us living the life, hear us talking about it or are served by us and encountered by God.  In this way the kingdom of God is grown through us.

(eternity) This life is eternal, it lives right through death and afterwards into eternity with God, so defeating the fear and finality of death.

 2. The church I have been called to lead to help us get there:

I say to help us get there, because the church we belong to isn’t the only source of our life in God. We also belong to the wider church and all of the relational opportunities that brings.

The life of God in us        Church         Ministry

God builds the church out of those who have His life in them and God ministers to His world through His church.

Our highest priority as believers therefore is to attend to and enjoy our relationship with God which is where our life, church and ministry come from.

A long journey in the same direction

We learn how to relate to God through a life long apprenticeship, following the teacher God gave us – Jesus Christ.

Following Jesus into a life with God is the way disciples are made.  (The Great Commission).

Becoming ongoing disciples ourselves is God’s highest priority for us. Through this He can give us His life, build His church and minister to His world.

2.1     The most important things we will always do

          (priorities):

There are 5 helpful pathways on which we can follow Jesus into a relationship and life with God …. all of which we learn to walk on.

–     talking to God

–     listening to God

–     learning from God

–     encouraging each other in God’s ways

–     serving God’s world

The way we walk on these pathways will continuously change as we grow and develop into the people God intends us to be. Some of these are listed later in ‘the main activities we engage in as a church.

Growing in love and trust

As believers these will always be the most important things we are learning to do and growing in doing.

As we grow in relationship with God so we will love Him more, trust Him more and live the kind of life He has prepared for us. To encourage us on our journey God will build His church and minister to His world through us.

2.2     The “way we are” as a Christian community (our values)

We are all unique and will have our own ways of growing in the relationship pathways with God.  As the relationship grows so our character will mature to become more like God.  Character grows with practice and I have identified 5 character traits that I’ve found to be important in a church community, where people are growing with the freedom to make mistakes.

a.   PERMISSION TO BE DIFFERENT

We would want to extend to each other permission to be different in our expression of mainstream Christainity, as we grow in our life with God.  We would not require others to be like us or hold the same view as us in order to be accepted into relationship with us.

b.   SENSITIVITY AND FORBEARANCE (permission to make mistakes)

Openness and honesty take the place of criticism, complaint  or gossip.

We would also want to make sure that our actions or words are not hurtful to or manipulative of others.  Equally we would want to ‘bear with’ and overlook offences committed against us where appropriate.

c.   SHARED RESPONSIBILITY

We would want to share responsibility in deciding the good things that could be done in church and the ‘not so good’ things we may choose to not repeat.  If any of these things become important to you then you must raise them with the leader of the church and be prepared to participate in any actions that come out of them.

d.   VALUING ALL PEOPLE

No activity that comes from our life with God is considered to be more valuable than any other.  We would  therefore not want to consider any person of greater value than another eg. being a God guided parent or employee is as valuable as a God guided ministry leader.

e.   THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S INVOLVEMENT IN OUR LIVES (THE HOLY SPIRIT)

God’s intervention in our lives is a mystery.  That Jesus died so we could be forgiven  and be reconciled into a relationship with God is called ‘folly’ in the Bible, to those who have not yet accepted the gift of life from God.

The only thing that comes near to explaining God’s gift to us in Jesus’ death is, love – ‘God so loved the world that He gave His Son’.  God’s continued involvement in our lives is spiritual with both spiritual and material effects.  It’s near impossible to explain spiritual things, they are known through experience. However the Bible gives us some glimpses indicated below.

Spiritual gifts…

We will experience God’s Spirit in our lives guiding us, teaching us, giving us strength and knowledge, bringing wisdom and releasing the power of God through us in healings and miraculously changed lives and circumstances.  We can’t control the Spirit of God as God has His own ways and like the wind, He blows where He wills.

We can however work with God and be used by God in administering the power of His Spirit in our lives and to the world around us.

The Bible calls the involvement we have in this, ‘spiritual gifts’.  Basically, God gives spiritual gifts to those who make themselves available for Him to use. Through the gifts God enables us to do things we couldn’t ordinarily do and in this way God can use anyone of us for anything.  The more we make ourselves available to God in this way the more gifted or anointed we become.

BUT they are still gifts given by God for His work and we don’t retain spiritual giftedness outside of God’s pleasure to use us to minister to His world.

Being in a relationship with God sufficient to hear His voice and sense His nudges is the way we discern what God is doing and our involvement in that through spiritual gifts.

Gifting or calling however always comes through God’s heart to serve. Serving one another and serving God’s world is the soil for calling or gifting.

2.3     The main activities we engage in as a church

The following are outline introductions of vast areas of what can make up our church life.

a.   WORSHIP

Worship songs help us to learn how to tell God how we feel about Him, to cry out to Him, give thanks to Him, express our affection towards Him and tell of what we believe about Him. They help to bring us into God’s presence. The good thing about songs is that we can talk to God through singing in large groups, small groups or individually.  As we talk to God in these ways so we meet with Him.

All of what we do in church on Sundays should be worship. However this is only one aspect of worship. The whole of our lives, every activity, every thought can be worship to God.

b.   PRAYER

Whilst we often start prayer by talking to God it’s really important that we learn to listen to God and discern what He is saying to us.  Practices such as reflection, meditation and journaling help us to learn how to listen to God.  As we learn to listen to God so our lives will become guided by Him. He will also lead us to pray for and take part in the circumstances of His world around us. Like worship prayer isn’t just what we do in church. Our everyday thoughts can be prayers, indeed our life can be a prayer.

c.   LEARNING FROM GOD – THE BIBLE

Our main source of learning from God and the life He has for us is from the Bible.  We can learn how to understand the bible through sermons and books and by being taught how to read and understand it as it applies to our lives today. We also learn from God in many other ways such as through other people’s lives, through our life circumstances, our ongoing encounters with God and through suffering.

d.   FELLOWSHIP

The encouragement one another in God’s ways.  Meeting with a small group of people regularly for encouragement is one place we can grow in worship, prayer and Bible knowledge.  The small group is also where we can share the growing journey of faith, and care for and pray for each other.

Fellowship is also often found by investing in friendships and relationships with believers both inside and outside of our church.

Meeting together as a church regularly in church services enables us to celebrate our life with God together through testimony, worship, teaching and praying for each other. Some of these things are better done in age related groups and other things as all age groups.

e.   SERVING AND GIVING

As family members of the church we would all want to participate routinely in the family duties and the cost of ministry for our church.  This is less about getting the jobs done and paying the bills and more about us becoming more like God whose nature is to give and to serve.

This is why asking for money or help in church is replaced by giving people every opportunity to give and serve by their own decision.  Giving and serving begin as we begin to realise that everything we have comes from God.

Giving and serving is the soil of ministry, gifting and calling. This is why as we give and serve in the church we are in, we then discover the gifts God wants to work through us in that church.

f.    MINISTRY AND MINISTERING

As we relate to God and receive life from Him so He will immediately administer some of that life through us to others.  Everyone who is in relationship with God would anticipate God using them to serve others in this way.

  • We will naturally minister to some of those we come across in our daily lives as we allow God to show us how to serve them.
  • As we serve and give in the routine family duties and costs of ministry in church from our own decision, so God will be ministering to the church through us.
  • If we accept responsibility in church to oversee certain activities or administer or organise activities or lead groups so we will minister to the church in that way.
  • As we encourage and show a real caring for each other and pray for each other so will we be ministering to each other.
  • God will also lead us to engage in ministering to His world in some way. As people are led by God so they proceed with either individual activities of ministry or form teams to minister to God’s world around us.
  • As others experience us living the life, talking about the life, or are served by us, this is ministry to them.

The main priority in ministry is that it’s the life of God in us being ministered to us and the world around us.  Ministry therefore flows through those who are in a growing personal relationship with God and with His church through personal discipleship, fellowship, serving and giving.

g.   LEADERSHIP

Leadership like all ministry is a serving role.  God causes leadership to emerge when and where it’s needed e.g. overseeing activities, leading groups or ministry teams.  Leadership is ministry so it comes from those in a growing relationship with God and relating to the church in fellowship, serving and giving.

Wherever we are served by a leader we would want to make their work a joy at all times and support the way God is leading them to serve us. (Heb 13)

h.   SENIOR PASTOR’S ROLE

The main role of the senior pastor is to discern the vision direction for the church and teach and govern in line with that vision.

Everything else comes from the people in the church as and when they respond to the way God is leading them.

‘To be found by God and then to live the life’