WE ARE GOSPEL - CENTERED
Gospel means good news, but it is truly the most profound and glorious truth ever revealed. It is not advice, nor is it a system or philosophy to add to our lives. It is an exclusive truth claim, a holistic worldview, the true story of the whole world, which by its very nature must redefine and recolor everything else. It is the truth of God's mission to redeem and renew all things, centered on the historical reality of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:3-4). It is in Jesus - God in flesh, the promised Messiah, Savior, and rightful King over all - that the hope of salvation for individuals, societies, and all creation rests. It is in this truth that we now stand and are being saved (1 Cor. 15:1-2).
WE ARE OUTWARD-FOCUSED.
We don't go to church; we are the church. As the church, we are sent people. We have been charged by Christ himself to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth, to make disciples and teach them to obey all that He commanded. We are missionaries, every one of us (2 Cor. 5:18-20).
We place high value on our people being the church where they live and in the contexts God has placed them in. Our conviction is not to draw people into "the church" but to send the church out to be with people - in their families, workplaces, schools - as true followers of Christ. For this reason, we focus on equipping and training people for the work of ministry rather than keeping them busy with church functions and activities. We want our people to live their real lives with gospel intentionality and be equipped and freed to do just that.
It Would be easy for us to turn inward, huddle together in a safe community, and celebrate ourselves. But that is not what we're called to. We're called to "Go." And so we will go, honoring Jesus as King in every aspect of our lives, bringing the good news to everyone who has ears to hear, and striving to see the restoration of our families, cities, businesses, arts, and beyond.
WE ARE NON-DENOMINATIONAL JESUS FOLLOWERS.
We would like to avoid labels and are careful to avoid creating idols out of theological systems but do believe there is value in clarifying commonly used terms. That being said, we are first Christians, second Evangelicals, third Missional, and fourth Reformed. The more lengthy answer is included below.
First, we are Christians (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16), which distinguishes us from other world religions and cults. Therefore, we adhere to both the Apostles Creed1and Nicene Creed.2
Second, we are Evangelicals. The term "evangelical" comes from the Greek word euangelion, meaning "the good news" or the "gospel." Thus, the evangelical faith focuses on the "good news" of salvation brought to sinners by Jesus Christ. We are in agreement with the doctrinal statement of the National Association of Evangelicals, which is as follows:
- We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God. • We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
- We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
- We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by Whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
- We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
- We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Third, we are Missional:
'Missional' being defined as replacing personal or 'Christian' activities with time spent intentionally developing relationships with people in the surrounding culture for the purpose of engaging them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- We believe that our local churches must be faithful to the content of unchanging Biblical doctrine (Jude 3).
- We believe that our local churches must be faithful to the continually changing context of the culture(s) in which they minister (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
- We believe that our mission includes introducing people to Jesus and then training/equipping (Ephesians 4:11-12) them to go out into their culture as effective missionaries.
- We believe the church should function as a missionary outpost for training and discipleship not a Mash Unit.
Fourth, we are Reformed and hold to the 'Doctrines of Grace' (http://wvbconline.org/gods-plan-of-salvation) Generally, Reformed theology holds to the authority of Scripture, the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace through Christ, and the necessity of evangelism. Its origins are traced back to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.
Five Latin statements often summarize Reformed theology: sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), sola fide (faith alone), sola gratia (grace alone), solo Christo (Christ alone), soli Deo gloria (to the glory of God alone).
- We believe that God created, from nothing, the heavens and the earth and all they contain (Genesis 1:31; Romans 4: 17; Hebrews 11:3).
- We believe that God created man and woman in a sinless state with particular dignity as His image bearers on the earth (Genesis 1:26-27).
- We believe that our first parents sinned against God and that everyone since is a sinner by nature and choice. Sin has totally affected all of creation including marring human image and likeness so that all of our being is stained by sin; e.g. mind/reasoning, will/desires, and feelings/emotions (Isaiah 53:6; 64:6; Romans 3:10-12, 23).
- We believe that because all people have sinned and separated themselves from the Holy God that He is obligated to save no one from the just deserved punishment of hell. We also believe that God in His unparalleled love and mercy has chosen some people for salvation.
- We believe that the salvation of those chosen was predestined by God in eternity past (Ephesians 1:3-5; 2 Timothy 1:8-9).
- We believe that the salvation of those chosen was accomplished by the sinless life, substitutionary atoning death, and literal physical resurrection of Jesus Christ in place of His people for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-5).
- We believe that the salvation of those chosen, by God's grace alone, shows forth in the ongoing repentance ofsin and faith in Jesus Christ that leadsto good works (Ephesians 2:8-10).
- We believe that God's saving grace is ultimately irresistible and that God does soften even the hardest heart and saves the worst of sinners according to His will (John 6:37, 44, 65).
- We believe that the gospel should be passionately and urgently proclaimed to all people so that all who believe may be saved through the preaching of God's Word by the power of God's Spirit (Acts 13:48; Romans 10:14).
- We believe that true Christians born again of God's Spirit will be kept by God throughout their life. This will be evidenced by personal transformation that includes an ever-growing love of God the Father through God the Son by God the Spirit. It will also be evidenced by love of brothers and sisters in the church, and love of lost neighbors in the culture (John 6:39; 17:12; 18:9; Philippians 1:6; 2:12-13; 1John 3:14-18).
- We believe that God is Lord over all of life and that there is nothing in life that is able to separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39).
- We believe that the worship of God is the end for which people were created and that abiding joy is only to be found by delighting in God through all of life, including hardship and death which is gain (John 4:22-24; Philippians 1:21-24; 2 Timothy 4:5-8).
WHAT WE DO NOT BELIEVE?
Because we frequently get questions about emerging theological controversies and to help clarify our beliefs we believe it may also be helpful to declare what we do not believe. In stating what we are not, we do not seek to attack those who disagree with us, but rather distinguish ourselves so that those considering joining our church are aware of who we are, as well as who we are not.
- We are not liberals who embrace culture without discernment and thereby compromise the distinctives of the gospel, but rather Christ followers who believe the truths of the Bible are eternal and therefore fitting for every time, place, and people.
- We are not fundamentalists who retreat from cultural involvement and transformation, but rather missionaries faithful both to the content of Scripture and context of ministry.
- We are not isolationists and seek to partner with like-minded Christians from various churches, denominations and organizations in planting reproductive church-planting churches.
- We are not the fatalist who get mired down in secondary matters, but rather pray, evangelize, and do good works because we believe that the sovereign plan of God is accomplished through us, His people.
- We are not dogmatic about eschatological things and believe that divisive and dogmatic certainty surrounding particular details of Jesus' Second Coming are unprofitable speculation, because the timing and exact details of His return are unclear to us.
- We are not egalitarians (every 'person' is the same) and do believe that men should head their homes and male elders should lead their churches with masculine love like Jesus Christ.
- We are not Open Theists3 and believe in the sovereignty and foreknowledge of God in all things.
- We are not religious relativists and do believe that there is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus Christ alone.
- We are not nationalists seeking to simply improve one nation but instead ambassadors of the King of kings commissioned to proclaim and demonstrate the coming of His kingdom to all nations of the earth.
- We are not moralists seeking to help people live good lives, but instead evangelists laboring that people would become new creations in Christ.
- We are not relativists and do gladly embrace Scripture as our highest authority above such things as culture, experience, philosophy, and other forms of revelation.
- We are not Universalists4and do believe that sadly many people will spend eternity in the torments of hell as the Bible teaches.
- We are not naturalists and do believe that Satan and demons are real enemies at work in this world and subject to God.
- We are not rationalists and do believe that not everything can be known but that God calls us to live by faith with mystery and partial knowledge regarding many things.
- We are not evangelical feminists and do believe that God reveals Himself as a Father and is to be honored by the names He reveals to us without apology.
- We are not ashamed of the gospel and do proclaim a loving gospel of grace which sounds like foolishness and offensiveness to the unrepentant while also saving multitudes with ears to hear good news.
- We do not believe that our church exists to meet every 'felt' need in or out of our body but rather to point people to the only One who truly can meet every need. We see the church as a Missionary Outpost for training and discipleship not a Mash Unit.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. AMEN. ('catholic' meaning: "pertaining to the whole Christian body”)
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God,light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen. ('catholic' meaning: "pertaining to the whole Christian body”).
3Open Theism: Also called free will theism and openness theology, is the belief that God does not exercise meticulous control of the universe but leaves it "open" for humans to make significant choices (free will) that impact their relationships with God and others. A corollary of this is that God has not predetermined the future. Open Theists further believe that this would imply that God does not know the future exhaustively. Proponents affirm that God is omniscient, but deny that this means that God knows everything that will happen. (THEOPEDIA An Encyclopedia of Biblical Christianity, www.theopedia.com)
4Universalism: The doctrine that all people will ultimately be saved. (Grudem, W. A., 1994, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine)