We have come to recognize that the church Jesus envisioned need not be more complicated than a simple gathering of people who dwell together around his worship, ongoing restorative relationships and the intentional service of our neighbors; worship, community and mission. We believe this is best lived out in ordinary life together, not in the artificial environment we generally think of as church meetings.
Worship is about the lordship of Jesus over the lives of his people. Does Jesus’ reign over all aspects of our lives? Does he hold sway over everything we do or plan to do? These are key questions. Worship is much more than what we might do on a Sunday morning. It is not simply about music or walking through a certain form of liturgy. When we say we view worship as central to what it means to be the church, we are talking about a commitment to following the way of Jesus in our everyday lives. This doesn’t mean that we will never sing songs together or find hope and rest in some forms of symbolic ritual or routine practices. However, the heart is at the heart of the matter. Singing songs and following certain empty liturgies without a heart centered on a true commitment to God and his ways is simply false religion and is ultimately more harmful than helpful.
True community is more than twenty minute conversations over the back of a pew on Sunday morning. True community is the fellowship of people who live transparent lives with each other and are deeply committed to each other’s physical, emotional and spiritual welfare even as they work together toward a common goal. It is true transparent relationship made possible by a common belief that we are accepted and loved by the Judge of all the world. This is true church. Together we are experiencing the reversal of the fall of humanity. The fall doomed humanity to destructive interpersonal relationships, denial of the reality of our individual brokenness and, consequently, the mental, emotional and spiritual disintegration brought about by shame and alienation. The reality of Jesus’ covering of our brokenness and shame enables us to live open lives in which, little by little, we are experiencing the integration of our minds, hearts and spirits back toward the way we were meant to live. This is nothing short of the reversal of the curse.
Mission is not just for missionaries or full-time ministry workers. It need not be action planned or orchestrated by church leadership, and it should not have the purpose of building the church’s size and finances. Mission is seeing people through the eyes of God and taking actions that are consistent with his character and his purpose toward the world. It is first-hand engagement with the poor, the marginalized, and the lost and broken of the world, submitting ourselves as individuals to obediently pursuing the mission and purpose of God, for his glory and the good of the culture in which we find ourselves. Jesus didn’t come to better our own lives – though he does. He came to save us from self-focus, from self-worship, to teach us and enable us to act as his hands and feet in the world, his body of living sacrifices serving toward the renewal of all things. We were each made by God and given power of creativity to, like him, make beauty happen wherever we are in the world, wherever the world has been made ugly by selfishness and personal aggrandizement. We are his instruments of reversal, his tools of inter=personal integration, not only to turn the people of the world back toward him, but also to see those people restored to the way they were meant to be.