Vision Statement: "To be a Church Community that is an authentic expression of Christ."
- In terms of how it relates to being a fully devoted follower of Christ what do you believe is the difference between “doing” and “being?” (In other words is our relationship with Christ about “what we do” or more about “who we are?”)
- How do these two elements (doing and being) shape our relationship with God and our testimony to the world in general?
- What are some of the characteristics that should be evident in a community that is an authentic expression of Christ? (What are the essential characteristics that should be abundantly evident?)
- How far is the gap between where we are and what we aspire to be? (How does this gap diminish our testimony to the world and what can we do to close the gap?)
Proverbs 29:18 (ESV) Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.
Proverbs 29:18 is telling us that “our” vision must be “prophetic.” That means that it is in line with God’s will. Our vision is only as good and effective in as much as it has been revealed by God for the purpose of our obedience in living it out.
Exploring the Vision: Let’s take a look at some common scriptures that help us define what it means “to be” an authentic expression of Christ as it applies to our church community.
- The “New” Commandment: John 13:34-35 (ESV) 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This commandment is critical on two levels: Firstly, it is important to the spiritual integrity of the church. According to 1 Corinthians 13, without love we are just noisy, unequipped and without purpose. Secondly, this commandment is important to the cause of evangelism. Love, specifically the love expressed in the church, is THE sign to those outside the church that we are Christ’s disciples. Without expressing Christ’s love to one another we are inauthentic.
Instruction from Paul: Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV) 1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- The idea of conducting ourselves in a way that would be considered “worthy” is not an attempt on our part to “earn our salvation.” This deals with living our lives in such a way as to bring God glory. (If you are “saved,” how are you living out your salvation? What does your testimony look like?)
- Paul talks about some of the Christ-like character that should be found in the way we live life together. He mentions humility, gentleness, patience, love, and unity of the Spirit which is achieved by maintaining a bond of peace.
- Why maintaining unity is challenging. The opposite of humility (pride) is the chief enemy of maintaining a bond of peace. Most church arguments are composed of two sides who are convinced that they have the moral high ground. The sides would rather fight than submit to one another. These issues must be resolved through Christ-like humility, gentleness, patience, love and a desire to put unity above winning the argument.
The Fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
- The Church must produce the right kind of fruit. The Apostle Paul identified this fruit as the “fruit of the Spirit.” This fruit is the evidence that the Spirit of God is working in and through the lives of His disciples.
- Please note: There is no law against expressing the fruit of the Spirit.
- What steps are you taking to walk in the humility of Christ?
- Are you satisfied with the status quo of spiritual fruit in your own life? (How can we produce both more and better spiritual fruit in our lives?)
- In my interactions with other believers, am I more apt to give advice or submit to advice?
- How is my relationship with Christ critical to the vision of the church?