Mission: Make Disciples who can Make Disciples who can Make Disciples…
It is our mission to develop Christ followers who are marked by a passionate love for God and a practical love for others with a DNA to reproduce this in others around them. Our mission is grounded practically in the multiplication aspects of the great "go-mission" of Matthew 28. For too long the church has become skilled at making disciples who can introduce people to their "church" or to their "pastor" so that they can help them. We want to make disciples who can introduce people to their Jesus so that he can transform them. The great commission is a mission of multiplication of disciples who can make disciples as demonstrated in the graphic below.
Very simply put this is our mission…the reproduction and multiplication of disciples.
Vision: A Church within Walking Distance of Everyone in the World
It is our vision to have a gathering of these Christ followers within walking distance of everyone in the world. These will be simple and reproducible gatherings where followers of Christ are equipped to be the church seven days a week. We are far more concerned about being the church than going to church. In order to fully grasp this vision we need to be clear on what we mean when we say "church".
According to scripture the definition of the word church is all about people… The church is not defined by its place, its programs or its performance. The church is defined by its people. Acts 1:8 says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
We are therefore defining the church here as, "a group of spirit empowered people on mission". Another way of saying that is, "the church is the people of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, on the mission of God in the world."
It is with this working definition of the church and our mission of multiplication that we long to see a group of spirit empowered people on God's mission, within walking distance of everyone in the world. They may gather in a coffee shop or a bar, a college dorm room or nursing home cafeteria, a house in a local neighborhood or a break room at an office; it may be under a tree in Africa or in a park in LA. The location simply defines a mission field in which the church is planted.
"Church" planting then is the planting of God's people in a missional context where they can impact the culture around them.
Values: Christian -- Holiness -- Missional
Our Core values are those non-negotiables that define who we are and what we do. In essence it is our DNA. In its most simple form our DNA is as follows:
(Christian) "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind"
We believe that Christ and His Word should be at the center of our lives every day. We believe that Christ is building His church upon a firm biblical foundation in the flavor of the culture in which He causes it to emerge. Everything we do should come from a passionate love for God that spills over into all areas of our life. It is upon the foundation of the Living Christ and His living word that disciples are developed as the incarnate Christ lives within us impacting the world around us.
Being a Christlike disciple is based on timeless, absolute Divine Truth, the divine person and work of Jesus.
“Truth comes from God. It is the revelation of God to humankind. It is best seen in the person of Jesus and the Scriptures. In both cases, there is a mysterious connection of the Divine and human. Jesus is both God and human. God authored the Scripture, but at the same time there were more than forty human authors as well. Nevertheless, Jesus and the Scriptures are both without blemish. The indwelling Spirit of God is also Divine Truth. He brings the revelation of God and the frailty of humanity together.”1
After 20 centuries, Jesus still calls people from all walks of life and origin to become His apprentices. Jesus died for more than providing “fire insurance” (being saved from Hell) or motivating us to “pray the prayer” for a one-time spiritual transaction (a ticket to Heaven). He said that if anyone wanted to become His disciple, “…he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” 2 In terms of today, He calls us away from our individualism, materialism and consumerism to listen to His voice and obey Him as He extends His rule over men & women, boys & girls around the globe to create an alternative reality, called the Kingdom of God.
The progress of this New Covenant Kingdom can be traced from the baptism of Jesus and his earthly ministry, concentrated in discipling the Twelve, through the Book of Acts, through Early Church Fathers, the institutional transition of Constantine, the East-West Division, rise of monastic orders, the Great Reformation of Luther & Calvin, the Moravians & the Modern Missionary Movement, the Evangelical Awakening under John & Charles Wesley, the American Holiness Movement, and the multiplication of denominations to this present day with the waning of the Church Growth Movement and the exponential rise of the Organic Church Movement. The Holy Spirit has always been faithful to renew the Church in each and every generation, and ours is no exception.
Developing Disciples organically recognizes that the Kingdom of God is really quite “flat”. The layers of hierarchical authority we have created over the centuries and observe in our current institutional structures of denominations, ministries, etc. should never obscure the clear teaching of the Scriptures that Christ is the Head of His church and all we disciples are His body, His hands and feet, and therefore stand on level ground at the foot of the Cross. We acknowledge the tension between the role of organizational leadership to ensure the efficient use of resources toward common Kingdom objectives, and the individual’s communion, responsibility and ultimate submission to Jesus as Lord of life as a matter of conscience and faithful service.
Developing Christlike disciples does not mean that we extract people from the world to serve in a protected environment, an aquarium, if you will. On the contrary, Jesus has placed us in the not-so-friendly “ocean” waters of the workplaces, neighborhoods, and marketplaces we work, live and do business in to be His light and salt to show everyone what God is really like.3 He calls us to be incarnations of His life and love, infiltrate society and be a blessing that points others to the true Source of the good things we do. The “acid test’ of our faith and life in Him is whether we will love those not like us (our enemies) and give sacrificially to those who could never return the favor. The “health” of our faith and life in Him is indicated by whether we reproduce ourselves as disciples, churches and other missional communities, and movements that honor Him.
1Neil Cole, Church 3.0, pages 97-98.
2Luke 9:23, NIV
Nurturing Christ Like Relationships
(Holiness) "Love your neighbor as yourself"
We believe that we need each other to become the followers that Christ calls us to be. It is in these relationships that we live out our Christ-like character. It is in relationships with other brothers & sisters in Christ that we "spur one another on to love and good deeds." In this context, the integrity of our character is tested, and it is where we can take off our masks and grow in the unconditional acceptance of a spiritual family as Christ-like love is fostered.
“Humans were never created to be alone. We are social creatures and have a natural and intrinsic need for relationships. Our relational orientation is a reflection of the image of God in us. God Himself is relational and exists in community: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is love because God is relational.”1
For all the good produced by the “rugged individualism” of American culture we can observe, the hidden danger is the notion that self-reliance and -sufficiency guarantees unbroken success in every area of life. Individualism breeds narcissism and lack of accountability, and robs us of the opportunity to benefit from close teamwork and “life-on-life” mentoring relationships. The legacy left by individualism is moral shipwreck and a trail of broken relationships and compromised influence. Our individualistic culture has created an environment of "crowded loneliness" even in the church.
In stark contrast to the prevailing consumerism that has infected our society as well as the church in North America, following Jesus is a journey of life best traveled in a group of sojourners, committed to serving Christ together in this world. “For Christ’s love compels us… that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”2 We believe that holiness, or perfect love for God and neighbor, turns self-centered consumers into creative, Christ-like producers of the Fruit of the Spirit and reproducers to build the Kingdom of God.
An integral part of the DNA of the organic church movement is its communal character. “Smallness” of groups, 15-20 participants, is encouraged and viewed a definite advantage for discipling each other as well as enabling exponential replication. In the smaller groups, leaders are trained “on the job”, and corrected by mentors in doctrine, poster and practice to ensure that orthodoxy, effectiveness, and holy living are all passed on in their disciple-making relationships and emergence of new churches/missional communities. Accountability is focused and executed on the “band” level of 2-4 people meeting regularly, as opposed to everyone running to the pastor with gossip.
1Cole, Church 3.0, page 98.
22 Corinthians 5:14-15, NIV
Acting on Jesus Mission
(Missional) "Go therefore and make disciples…"
We believe that we are all a part of the reproductive mission of Christ and His Kingdom. To be a follower of Christ is to be on mission with Christ. We pray for many things in the church world today; however, perhaps, the greatest disease and sickness destroying people's lives today is the most neglected subject of prayer in the church. Even then, it is one thing to pray, and it is quite another thing to allow God use you as an answer to your prayers and the prayers of others.
Another way of labeling this part of the DNA is “apostolic mission”. “Apostolic means to be sent as a representative with a message. We are here for a purpose. We have been given a prime directive to fulfill: to make disciples of all the nations. This part of us also comes from who our God is. Jesus is an Apostle. He is the Chief Cornerstone of the apostolic foundation. Before He left this planet, He spoke to His disciples and said, “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” 1
Incarnational means living Christ’s life out in our world; missional means leaving the comforts and conveniences of our preferred lives, and going where the Holy Spirit sends us anywhere and everywhere in the world. To take up our cross, we allow our hearts to be broken by the same things that break the Heart of God; we seek to meet the needs of others, even before we meet our own perceived needs. We renounce in our own lives the endless accumulation of material possessions that sap resources entrusted to us by God (both personally and corporately); instead, we reallocate those resources to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, free the imprisoned, carry for the widowed and orphaned, and seek and save the lost, both near to us and far away.
While we acknowledge that churches of different sizes and types are needed to reach our diverse culture, we question the wisdom, credibility, and stewardship of investing millions of dollars in religious buildings and advocating the mega-church model as ideal, when such systems are very difficult, slow, and costly to duplicate, more vulnerable to Satan’s attack on leadership, and neglectful of the poor around us. The Early Church system that quietly conquered the Roman Empire within 300 years was a “swarm” of small organic churches which met in homes, the marketplace, and when persecution was the hottest, in the secrecy of catacombs. The Chinese “Little Flock” Movement is a modern example of this swarming. Satan does not have the resources to defeat this type of system, and it is easily duplicatable, rich in credibility in the community, and frees up resources to develop people and meet needs.
“The Priesthood of All Believers” is a biblical doctrine that has been taught since Martin Luther’s Reformation Period, but has been rather elusive in actual implementation in the Church through the centuries since Emperor Constantine’s Edit of Milan in 313 A.D. We believe that God sets apart apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers (some vocationally; others avocationally) whose primary function is to equipped and release the disciples they lead for ministry. Acknowledgement of these vital biblical roles does not condone the common misconception that church is to be composed of two classes of Christians: those who do ministry and those who support them. We follow John Wesley’s organic example of bands and classes, which included the role of equipping pastors.
We believe that the expectation that everyone who calls themselves Christian will become a part of the missional movement growing within the visible Church is naïve, unrealistic and, perhaps even, unnecessary, and we do not judge those who do not agree or follow our pattern. But we do covet their prayers and welcome their support.
To be sure, we affirm that the call to be missionaries is not limited to a small number of professionals/ vocational missionaries. To everyone who will hear the Holy Spirit’s voice and accept this calling to be sent, the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit is available as they are sent by the church and supported financially and prayerfully by those who stay behind. For the Moravians, during their historic one hundred year 24/7 prayer movement, the ratio was 2 were sent as missionaries for every one that stayed behind to pray for and support them.
The Lord Himself commanded us to pray “the Lord of the Harvest to send workers into the field.” 2 Like the prophet, Isaiah, whose lips were purged at the altar in the Temple of God (Isaiah 6), a people called to holiness hear the voice of God: “Who will go for us? And who will we send?” and are compelled by this sanctifying experience to respond: “I will go; send me!” Holiness and mission are inseparable for the follower of Jesus. Therefore, we consider each believer to be called and serve as a missionary in some capacity as normative in a truly biblical community.
1Cole, Church 3.0, page 98. John 20:21.