To pursue our mission of making disciples, we have embraced the following core values.
The local church exists to make disciples through evangelism and edification.
God has given the local church its marching orders: it is to make disciples by evangelizing the lost and edifying the saints. A church whose goals are not evangelism and edification has lost its mission and has ceased to fulfill its function as a New Testament church. It is our aim, by God’s grace, to remain faithful to the disciple-making call of evangelism and edification given to us by Jesus.
The local church’s principal ministry focus should be on proclamation, prayer and people, rather than bodies, budgets, and buildings.
It is commonplace today for churches to focus their attention on what Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer call the “three Bs”: the number of people attending the Sunday worship service (bodies), the number of dollars being spent (budget), and the number of square footage being inhabited (buildings).1 We believe that a better, more biblical focus is on what Peter Bolt calls the “three Ps”:
It is about Proclamation–telling people about Jesus, preaching the gospel, evangelizing people. It is about Prayer–asking God to work through his Word, like he promises to do. It is about People–loving them, caring enough about them to speak the truth of God’s word to them, whether convenient or inconvenient for them. Proclaiming, Praying, People-ing: That is Christian Ministry.2
The goal for every follower of Christ is to make other mature followers of Christ (i.e., disciples making disciples).
Although each Christian has a distinctive gift or set of gifts that will make his or her contribution to disciple-making unique, all Christians are to be engaged in the disciple-making enterprise. Pastors/elders lead the local church as “player coaches” who play in the game with those whom they coach.3 On the one hand, this means that leaders are not appointed to later become disciple-makers. Rather, they are affirmed as those already engaged in effective discipleship ministry. On the other hand, this means that discipleship is not relegated to a “clergy class.” Rather, each member of the Body of Christ participates in the church’s mission as leaders equip them to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12).
Disciples need to be trained and equipped holistically in the areas of conviction, character, and competence.
A disciple is one who is maturing in three areas: conviction, character and competence. Discipleship, then, “involves nurturing and teaching people in their understanding and knowledge (their convictions), in the godliness and way of life (their character), and in their abilities and practical experience of ministering to others (their competence)…. It’s relational and personal, and involves modeling and imitation.”4 This kind of learning focuses on people, not programs. It is more time-consuming and messy, yet we believe it is the most effective way to make mature disciples.
Every program must be measured by its effectiveness in advancing the mission goals of evangelism and edification.
We believe that programs are inevitable and necessary in the church. However, they serve merely as tools to make disciples. Those programs that demonstrate they do not advance the disciple-making mandate must not be started or, if in existence, must be discontinued. The church programming environment must be regularly evaluated for its effectiveness in advancing the mission goals.
While the church’s mission and theology are biblically mandated and fixed, the church’s ministry strategy must be contextually relevant and fluid.
The Bible provides the church with its mission and theological commitments. These cannot and must not change. However, the Bible does not provide a blueprint for how a local church will do ministry. We believe that local church ministry should seek to effectively and creatively evangelize and edify the people in its geographic locale in a way that is contextually meaningful.
The local church is responsible to plant other local churches locally and globally.
We believe that the New Testament model of church growth is through church planting. In Acts 1:8, Jesus stated that, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The book of Acts chronicles the multiplication of Christians through the planting of churches starting from one local church in Jerusalem. Furthermore, as Tim Keller states:
The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else – not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes – will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial.5
In short, we strive to be a church planting church.
5 Tim Keller, Why Plant Churches, http://www.redeemer2.com/resources/papers/why%20plant%202%2011%20TLeaders.pdf, accessed July 27, 2011.