Who we are & who we strive to be
Our theme for the 2022-23 ministry year is horticultural:
ROOTED in Christ, GROWING in the Spirit, and SHARING the Father’s gifts.
These three words provide a great framework through which to express our identity.
These are affirmations & aspirations — who we are & who we strive to be.
We are ROOTED, and aspire to be further ROOTED, in these things:
ROOTED IN CHRIST. We are, first and foremost, a Christian community. We believe Jesus Christ to be God in the flesh, the Redeemer of all people, and the Lord of all creation (Col. 1:15-20). He is the True Vine and we are the branches, rooted in Him (John 15). We want Christ to dwell in us and us in Christ (John 14:20, Eph. 3:16-17, Col 1:27-28).
ROOTED IN THE WORD. God chose to reveal himself through the Holy Scriptures. We want to be deeply rooted in the good soil of God’s Word, so that its stories, prophecies, poems, and instructions guide every aspect of our lives (Deut. 8:3, Psalms 1, 19, & 119, Isaiah 55:6-11, 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
ROOTED IN GRACE. We cannot earn God’s favor, but can only receive it as an undeserved gift. By grace alone, God establishes a relationship with us. (Eph. 2:1-10, Acts 15:11, Rom. 3:24, Gal. 2:16) We want to be deeply rooted in that grace so that no one in our community feels they have to prove their worthiness.
ROOTED IN OUR BELOVEDNESS. Jesus was able to live out His purpose because he was secure in his identity as the beloved Son of God (Mt. 3:13-4:11). He also gave us the right to become children of God (Jn1:12-13, Rom. 8:14-17). Yet, most struggle to live into this identity. We want to see all people firmly rooted in their identity as beloved sons and daughters of God. That’s who we are and Whose we are (Col. 3:12).
ROOTED IN THE REFORMED TRADITION. We are rooted in a movement that arose in the 1400s; as a way of addressing a church gone astray, reformers called Christianity back to roots. We resonate with the convictions they articulated (creeds and confessions) and desire to carry on the tradition of ‘Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbi Dei‘ — ‘the church reformed, always being reformed according to the word of God.’ (Prov. 13:20, Romans 12:1-2, 1 John 4:1-3)
ROOTED IN THE MYSTERY OF GOD. The Reformed Tradition is known for being dogmatic, yet John Calvin often wrote: Finitum non capax infinitum—“The finite cannot grasp the infinite.” Because God is infinite in being & eternal in scope, our knowledge of God is incomplete (Isaiah 55:8-9, Rom. 11:33-35, Eph. 1:9, Eph. 3:1-13). Therefore, as much as we passionately express belief, we even more fervently invite everyone to revel in God’s ineffable glory—soli Deo gloria (Ps. 115:1, Rom. 11:36, Rev. 7).
ROOTED IN A LOCATION. 75 years ago, God planted our church in the soil of Front St. Over the years, God has helped us acquire an entire block so that it might be used for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31). We’re rooted here and want to see growth and flourishing.
We are GROWING, and aspire to continue GROWING, in these ways:
GROWING BY THE SPIRIT’S POWER. God not only wants us to know Christ, but also to grow in Christ (Mk 4:1-20, 2 Peter 3:18, Hebrews 6:1-8). The Holy Spirit is the one who spurs that growth (Rom. 8:1-11). Thus, we seek Spiritual formation. We put time and resources into ensuring that we are open to the Spirit’s influence, much in the way clay is formed by a potter (Jer. 18:1-6, Isa. 64:8).
GROWING IN MATURITY. God does not want us merely to be ‘saved,’ but also to experience ever-increasing maturity where we become who he has created us to be (Mt. 5:48, Eph. 4:13, John 10:10, John 17:3, Eph. 3:18-19). Becoming is never about living up to an expectation so much as it is living into an identity. We nurture this transformation of our way of being because the world is not in need of superficial converts, but rather, mature followers of Jesus.
GROWING THROUGH RELATIONAL VULNERABILITY. We’re made in, through, & for relationships—first with God, then with others (Gen. 1:26-28, Mt. 22:34-40). God uses relational interaction to help us grow into who we are supposed to become (see the “one another” verses). We intentionally create opportunities for intergenerational interaction. We also seek to cultivate spaces that are full of grace and full of truth, so that we can be challenged and yet, vulnerable, connected, and safe (Jn 1:14; Eph. 4:15; Gen. 2:25). Such spaces are uncommon, but they are the ‘good soil’ in which faith flourishes (Mk 4:1-20).
GROWING VIA SUBTRACTION. It may seem counter-intuitive, but we believe a key to significant growth is subtraction (John 15:2). We need God to prune us so that we shed lies we’ve believed, break sinful patterns we engage, and uproot cultural norms that don’t reflect God’s design (Phil. 3:12-17, Hebrews 12:3-11).
GROWING INTO GOD’S GRAND STORY. Human beings are ‘story’ people. We live by reading, watching, hearing, and telling stories. We are prone to believe many stories that are untrue—stories about ourselves, others, life, and God (Gen. 3:11). One of God’s greatest aims is to re-story us so that we inhabit God’s story. That’s why the Bible includes so much narrative and why Jesus taught using stories (Mt 13:10-17).
GROWING WITHIN THE MYSTERY OF GOD. It is a profound mystery how we grow in Christ. (1 Tim. 3:16) One of the greatest resources for this growth is the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. By a profound mystery, we not only remember Christ’s sacrifice, but commune with Christ, get a foretaste of what is to come, and much more.
We SHARE the grace given to us, and aspire to increase our capacity to BEAR and SHARE fruit, in these ways:
SHARING THE FATHER’S GIFTS. We are not to hoard the gifts the Father has lavished on us, but are called to share those gifts generously. We are blessed to be a blessing (Gen. 12:1-3, Eph. 2:8-10, 1 John 4:11). Just as God loves us, we are called to love others (Jn 13:34, 15:12, 17; Ro 13:8; 1 Th 3:12, 4:9; 1 Pe 1:22; 1 Jn 3:11, 4:7; 2 Jn 5).
SHARING THE GOOD NEWS. We follow a risen Savior who not only died on our behalf, but also ascended to the right hand of the Father to be Lord over all. This is good news because this King is righteous and just. He intends to reconcile all things. We are called to share the good news, the gospel, everywhere we live, work, and play. (Mt. 13:1-23, Rom 10:8-15, 1 Cor. 9:19-23, 2 Tim. 4:1-5)
SHARING THROUGH ACTS OF SERVICE. We are called to serve as Christ served (Mk 10:43-45) and Jesus could hardly be more clear about the need to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, and visit those in prison (Mt. 25:31-46). Therefore, we share God’s riches in similar ways: sponsoring a community meal, supporting Safe Harbor, and housing both Love Thy Neighbor and Keys to Freedom on our campus (Isaiah 58). To see our ministry partners, visit this page.
SHARING IN HOLISTIC WAYS. Too often, Christians have focused exclusively on evangelism or exclusively on service—one to the neglect of the other. We want to defy that unhealthy dichotomy by being people who seek God’s will in all aspects of life. (Mt. 6:9-10) We cannot do that without sharing both in word and in deed (Mt. 28:18-20, James 2:14-19).
SHARING LOCALLY, NATIONALLY, AND GLOBALLY. God calls us to be his witnesses in our neighborhoods, communities, and throughout the world (Mt. 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). Therefore, we support God’s ongoing mission by working with local, national, and global partners to share the good news (Ph. 1:3-5, John 17:20-23, Eph. 4:1-5). To see our mission partners, visit this page.
SHARING IN GOD’S ONGOING WORK. God’s Reign is inaugurated, but not yet fully consummated. Until it comes in full, we are invited to participate in its ongoing-coming-to-fulfillment. We want our current actions to reflect the values of that future reality. (Isa. 9:2-7, 65:17-25, Micah 6:8, Luke 4:14-21, Col. 1:15-20)
SHARING GOD’S MYSTERIES. As we share our faith in both word and deed, we realize that our actions may seem a mystery to those who do not share our faith (1 Cor. 2:6-7, 4:1-2, Eph. 6:18-20). We trust that God’s wisdom is greater than our finite understanding and thus, our faith may be like Christ’s witness: counterintuitive and disruptive (1 Cor. 1:18-25).