Our Priorities & Values
Our desire is to do and teach just what the Bible says. Consequently, we have a particular approach to scripture. We like to read and believe it as it is, without imposing our own presuppositions and preconceptions onto the text. The basic issue for us is experiencing the Bible, not simply knowing it. Therefore, we highly value expository teaching with an emphasis on doing and experiencing.
We believe that the Bible is the written Word of God and that it is absolutely reliable for all matters pertaining to life with God and one another. We do not choose to be focused on questions concerning one translation over another, but rather choose to obey the simple understanding that He has given us in a variety of translations.
Our first priority as a people of God is to worship Him. It is an expression of our love for God. It is why we are alive. Our commitment to a life-style of relationship with God flows from our worship. It is a time of self-disclosure with God. It is to be our most truthful place with God, somehow allowing us to say in public and quiet places, "We love you." It is a time of repentance and the language of love. Within this disclosure to God, we find ourselves able to disclose to others.
We view the children of Grace Community not only as the future church, but also as the church right now. They are worth all of the time we can invest in them. In many ways, children respond to the moving of the Holy Spirit more readily than we older and more "sophisticated" believers. We are constantly upgrading our ministry to children because we feel we cannot be anything less than excellent in reaching these who are close to the heart of God.
There is a release that happens in worship that opens us up and makes it possible for us to love and embrace people we wouldn't have loved before. Therefore, our worship leads to fellowship, and the goal of our fellowship is wholeness. This creates a need for community which leads us to place a great emphasis on meeting together in small groups. It is here that we become known and accountable to each other. We gather to worship, to learn, to explore and share our gifts, and to be healed. We as individuals are whole, we are mature, and we are complete in so far as, and in so long as, all of us are whole, mature, and complete.
God gives different emphases to different groups within the body, yet all fit together to produce spiritual results. In that light, we have a compassion to heal. We seek to extend the ministry of Jesus-with signs and wonders and the preaching of the gospel-by bringing healing to the sick, lame, and hurting. Jesus has granted authority to His body to heal and preach the entire Good News, all of it: healing, freedom, and salvation. It's really nothing less than the restoration of the fullness of the Church as see in the New Testament.
Healing, wholeness, intimacy, worship, and salvation are all a part of our experience. As we become healthy as a body, it becomes of major importance that we reach out to the oppressed poor. We must not miss our commission to minister to them. It is an expression of our health and understanding of what God has done for us.
Who are the poor, and what must we do? They are the victims of racial prejudice; they are working-class men and women, young married couples, housewives, singles, teens, children, and the elderly. They can appear on the surface to be normal. They can live in the cities, the suburbs, and the country. However, they live close to the edge or, in some cases, on the precipice of ruin.
We are God's extended hands. We must, with vision and leading, learn to minister directly-sometimes with our money, sometimes with our lives-to these people. We must be compelled to operate in love: to clean up a yard for an invalid widow, to fix a water pipe, to paint a kitchen. We must be compelled to teach the "unemployable" how to work. Ours must be a fellowship with a wide-open front door. We pray and hope that one day, as we grow and learn and practice, we all will be positive benefits in all neighborhoods. It is our investment philosophy.
In our society, training has been viewed as education. But telling is not teaching, and seeing is not learning...we must do. Therefore, we must all learn to pray for the sick, minister to the poor, witness, or do any other activity according to the course of scripture. We have formal occasions for education, a place to gain the theory and doctrine of what we are doing, but we place a higher priority on a relational New Testament model. Jesus apprenticed His disciples. Therefore, we teach on a need-to-know, prescriptive-type learning/counseling basis. It is open to the whole body to learn so that in turn the whole body can do almost the whole aspect of ministry.
It is our belief that the New Testament calls for radical commitment. The principal thing we see about discipleship is that every Christian has been called to unconditional surrender of his total life to Christ. It is our desire, therefore, to have an intimate relationship with the living God which doesn't bring a legalistic or judgmental attitude to bear, but instead seeks God's will for our lives in our everyday activities and associations, as well as for our life goals and aspirations. Discipleship is not an attitude or an activity in which we are scrutinizing one another, but an attitude in which we recognize who God is, and we desire to please Him and to organize our life-style around Him.
The Bible teaches that the local church is to be led by elders. Elders are to be men who have shown themselves to be biblically qualified and faithful (according to I Timothy 3 and Titus 2) and are chosen by a consensus of existing elders and then confirmed by the congregation, before being added to the leadership team. The elders make decisions by Spirit-led consensus. We believe that the Lord does have an answer and a direction, and it is the elders' responsibility to listen, obey, and lead.
Our goal is neither to make names for ourselves nor to build lasting institutions, but to meet the needs of broken people through a ministry of mercy in our lifetimes. We believe there is a place where righteousness and mercy meet. People come to us looking for a safe harbor. Our fellowship should be a place where righteousness and mercy come together and where people are redeemed in spite of their guilt.
First, our primary calling is to evangelism and church planting. We want to help ignite people with the love of Jesus so that they will save their generation and change the world. We want to mobilize a massive missionary force to plant churches wherever the Holy Spirit calls us. He knows the right time and the proper place; He draws the unsaved and joins them to what He is doing in and through us.
Secondly, we see church renewal as a part of our mission. God loves the whole Church; we see ourselves as part of that whole. Therefore, we must be lovers of the things God loves-people of differing views, theologies, or practices. We want to be part of God's plan in restoring the Church to the end-time purposes of God. So our desire is to bring renewal to the whole Body of Christ wherever He takes us, and in doing so, we will be continually renewed.
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Luke 4:18,19 (NIV)
We value the pursuit of God, are hungry to know His presence, hear His voice and follow after Him.
We value Christ-likeness and desire that Jesus' love, mercy, grace, truth, purity, power, and integrity shine through all we do.
We value being Spirit-led and honor Jesus as our Head and the Holy Spirit as our Counselor. We seek to be responsive to the Holy Spirit in life and ministry.
We value discipleship and aim first to grow personally in the knowledge of Christ and second to make disciples, calling others into those same practices.
We value the mercy of God and believe that mercy is fundamental to all that God does in salvation. We, therefore, aim to extend mercy to one another and to whom we minister.
We value servant leadership and believe that Christ has put significant leadership authority in the hands of the pastors and the elders. We aim to exercise that authority with humility, selflessness, grace, care for the sheep, and a sincere desire to build up the Body of Christ.
We value unity and are convinced that all who belong to Christ are one in His Body, the Church. We aim to maintain unity by honoring all who call on Jesus' name and by seeking reconciliation with all parts of the church.
We value relationship and are honored by every person whom God adds to Grace Community Church. We aim to work together to build the church through maintaining mutual respect, open communication, and determined cooperation as well as and through believing and speaking the best about each other.
We value simplicity and wish to do nothing "for religious effect," but rather to operate in a natural, low-key, "non-hype" pattern. We prefer to have fun while doing the ministry of Christ.