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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ideals for a Church

Six years ago, I was involved in the establishment of a congregation of the (Stone-Campbell)  Church of Christ in Baguio City.  Heady with the bright prospects of a new, vibrant, non-traditional (well, outwardly at least) church, our mission team set out to craft its mission, vision and core values. After a brainstorming on what we envisioned this new work to be, the team tasked me to organize and write out these statements.

Taking cue from the Saddleback Community Church's statement of core values, I used a part of our church name, "Central," as an acronym (or acrostic) to spell out what principles our church wanted to uphold. I must confess though that when composing these statements I had a particular agenda in mind -- a gradual shift away from the sectarian beliefs and practices of our fellowship.  Those in the know may detect the issues within the Churches of Christ this set of pronouncements alludes to.

Although I already left the denomination, I still hold these core values as my ideals for a church -- whether one hears among these lines a call for reform in a tiny section of Christendom, or the undertones of a naive zeal. :)

Christ is the center of our ministry; He is the sun, we are the rays. As rays, we are called upon to glow in some dark corners and, in so doing, give back the glory to Christ. We bow to no banner but that of the Lord of Lords.

Evangelism is our way of life; we shall strive to preach Christ both by speech and action.We believe that, as someone has well said, "If no one reaches out, no one gets touched."  It is God, not us, who sets the boundary of His Kingdom.  We believe in growth, not swelling.  We do not believe in a method that seeks to convert people by capitalizing on their emotions.  We abhor making money out of religion. We reject a mercenary way of preaching.

Nurturance is our commitment to one another and to other Christians; we exist to help others grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.  We believe that each Christian has an important role to play in the Lord's Body.

Truth, as found in the Scriptures and elsewhere, is our guidepost in our earthly pilgrimage. We believe that Truth must be taught to people in the spirit of humility and love so that our calls to those outside the faith may not become the very barrier to their ears.

Relevance is our way into people's hearts; the house of God is not only the pillar and ground of truth, but a hospital for hurting souls.  The church is an organism existing not only for itself but also for the community to which it belongs. Relevance involves instituting needful and scriptural changes in the church so that we will not end up as tinkling  cymbals full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Aspiration is our inspiration; we aspire for greater work for God's greater glory, a grander purpose in life and a greater hope for better things to come.

Leadership is servanthood and friendship; we value service over position, fellowship over rivalry, mentoring people over making monuments.We believe in participative leadership.

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