A New Life : A New Lifestyle

When you meet members of a Redeeming Mercy community, or join us at one of our gatherings, you will likely recognize core beliefs about God, Jesus, the Bible and the Church that are held by any number of Christian churches in the region.  You can read all about those beliefs in our Statement of Faith.

Statement of Faith

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Despite our CORE similarities with others, the way we approach ministry will appear markedly different.

Why take a different path?

First, it is the way of Jesus and the Apostles.

Second, it greatly enhances relationship with God and other people.

Third, it dramatically enhances our ability to connect with people and make disciples.

These practices allow the Gospel to have supreme relevance in our lives and break us free from self, making us better humans and better servants in our cities and towns, which is bringing glory to the name of God.

Click the categories below to learn more about our distinctive ministry approach.

The Church is an Identity Not a Building or Institution

Bearing the name, The Church, reflects who we are to be 24/7, in all-aspects-of-life. If church-life consists merely of attending a meeting on a given day, then we are simply not living church as our identity.  Our emphasis is to live life-on-life in local communities. This lifestyle makes a weekly a church meeting, while still a thing we do, far less core to who we are. And, since we are not making a well-organized, expertly presented production central to our church lifestyle, the time, talents and resources we might otherwise spend on preparing and carrying out meetings can be fully released into the community in the form of real-time relationships and disciple-making as well as tangible and visible service in the community. We believe that regular gatherings are helpful aids in providing a context for prepping the Church, but they cannot be a replacement for the actual 24/7, daily ministry of BEING the Church.

Church is Contributing Not Consuming

Typically today, church is lived out as if we are consumers at a religious buffet. But Christians are not called to consume but to serve. Christians are meant to come together as “bodies,” with each person having his or her part to play in building up the whole. Together, as each is doing their part, they build up the whole. And the purpose for which the church is being being built up or equipped is to do the work of ministry.  The “ministers” of the church are not the pastors and staff.  The ministers are the people. The pastors and staff are given to the church to help equip the people to do the ministry.

Church is More Scattering than Gathering

Since the day God walked into the Garden and asked Adam, “Where are you?” he was on a MISSION to reconcile his creation back to himself. Into this mission he called Abraham and the patriarchs, Moses and Israel and eventually, his only son, Jesus and all those who would follow him.  Yes, Jesus launched the Church as a means to fulfill his Father’s mission. The Mission is God’s and we, as the Church, play a small part in God’s fulfillment of that mission. We must, therefore, orient our lives completely around God’s mission by seeking the lost and broken and applying gospel answers.  We hope to prepare, launch and support at least one neighborhood-based Mercy Community in each of southern Delco’s 30-some semi-urban municipalities, and 4-6 additional MCs in the City of Chester.

Bible Narratives Not Bible Systems

Biblical theology simply means we seek to understand God, his character and purposes, and his heart and vision for humanity in the flow and context of the stories presented in the Scripture narrative. Conversely, we avoid any approach that defines God outside of his relationships as they are portrayed in the narrative, and we are skeptical of any view of God derived from a predetermined system of thought. God is known when we relate to him and we best learn how to relate to him through embracing the Persons of God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Spirit as we see him throughout the narrative just as it is presented.

A Four-Part Not Two-Part Gospel

The Gospel – the Good News – is so much broader than ‘Jesus died for my sin and now I can relate to God.’  While this is a true statement and the summary  most Christians would give of the Gospel, it is a myopic perspective that tends to created a distorted, ME-CENTERED generation of Christians. The CHurch is then in battle with our own people to try to move them beyond their own goals. The 4-part gospel message is what Scripture writers refer to as “the message of reconciliation.  It tells us (1) humanity was created in God’s very image for the purpose of glorifying God, relating intimately with him and demonstrating who he is in the earth.  But (2) humanity turned their back on the Divine Intimacy and fell into deep alienation. They became increasingly disintegrated in mind and heart, unable and unwilling to reconcile, completely self-focused in their very nature. Nonetheless, (3) God pursued humanity relentlessly and suffered greatly as any repeatedly spurned lover would. But he persisted up until the climax of the story when he clothed himself in human flesh and sacrificed himself – in the person of Jesus – to cover and blot out humanity’s rebellion. He made a path for (4) our reconciliation with God so that we might return to our original purpose – created in God’s very image for the purpose of glorifying God, relating intimately with him and demonstrating who he is in the earth. If we neglect to teach parts 1 and 4, we distort the Gospel, create a generation of ‘followers’ who only follow their instinct to seek their own glory and spend their days pursuing their own best life. This is not the way of Jesus and is, in fact, a version of the gospel that says Jesus came to to save you from selfishness so that you can go on living selfishly. It is a false gospel.

We Learn Through Interactive Discovery Not Expert Presentations

While not opposed to preaching, our primary teaching style is through guided dialogue. There are a number of goals behind this. Most importantly, we believe people learn best through self-discovery – not discovering themselves but discovering truth for themselves. Personally grappling with a text to discover its intent and application, and then openly discussing our thoughts and ideas, prompts ownership of what we are learning, confidence in our conclusions and a greater ability to articulate the truths to others. It also integrates our learning with our relationships, so that sharing about gospel and its truths becomes more common in our day-to-day conversation. We truly see Jesus as our leader and our teachers/pastors as servants called to equip others. We actively look to do all we can to avoid setting our teachers on pedestals as “the experts.” When engaged in a session of Socratic dialogue, the teacher learns. He or she discovers new ways of seeing the passage and can themselves learn from those they are teaching. This reflects our value that all of God’s people can hear from God and should be listening to him for ways to serve and communicate truth with fellow worshipers.

Leaning Into Not Away From the Broken

All through the Story, God called and challenged his people to represent him and his ways to a broken world. God is a missionary God and demonstrated this by sending his son, Jesus, to be with us in our world. As Emmanuel, literally God with us, Jesus demonstrated this further by going and dwelling with people in all stations of life. He gained a reputation for hanging out with those society had systematically rejected. In our current society, post Christendom, we don’t believe playing host to people in a structured, Christian environment where we ask people to meet on our terms and accept our perspectives without question reflects the humble way of Jesus. Just as he came as a servant, he sends us as servants. We believe he desires us to take the good news to the culture and, given how deaf the culture is to the church and its message, we must be willing to engage people in their world, in environments that tell them we are willing to be in their lives as friends and servants. As we do so, we believe we reflect Jesus best, gain trust and in the process make room in people’s hearts and minds for the message of the gospel.  If our heart attitudes are not reflecting something markedly different than the self-focus of the world, if our lives are not walking, talking examples of the Savior we re-present (show again), than we cannot hope to reach a world filled with the noise of innumerable ideas and messages. In most cases, this not only means going to hard places, but lingering there where the most spiritually needy live. Going and lingering is what Jesus did and what he calls us to do after him.

Meeting Needs Not Having Needs Met

We have adopted a philosophy of ministry that can be summarized by this statement: The way we win people will drive the way we keep people. We see the work church in the lives of believers is preparation and encouragement to works of ministry. If we want people’s lives to grow to reflect the love and sacrifice of Jesus, then that message must permeate all we are as a church. If on the other hand we look to win and maintain relationship with people by building structures and programs that cater to their felt needs and cravings, we will develop a body of people who expect the church to serve them. This has become an American ministry norm and ideals of service and sacrifice Jesus meant to be the life of every Christian, is only pursued by the “elite believer” or the church leader. The message of Jesus includes an unmistakable call to come and die, a call to live a life of sacrificial service, to give ones self away for the sake of others. This is not a call for leaders and super-saints alone but for everyone who follows him. Our gatherings are therefore as close to real life as we can make them. We do not look to entertain or paint rosy pictures with inspiring messages, dramatic performances or professional musicianship.  We open the doors of our lives and invite people to join us in the real mess of belonging in community. We call people very early on to serve in whatever ways they can and we call them to contribute from whatever resources they have to offer – gifts, talents, goods and services, finances, expertise, and life experience for the good of others.  As we do this, we develop a body of Jesus’ followers who become a true light of hope in a world consumed with promotion and protection of self. Jesus came to rescue a people from self. We cannot use our new freedom to live self-focused and self-absorbed lives.

Living with Locals Not Commuting

We believe the Church is the collective of God’s people gathered from and for a particular geographic location. We believe this gathered group to be called to live among their neighbors in a particular community and serve that community in specific, tangible, observable ways. This is why our primary structure for ministry and mission is the local Mercy Community (MC).  The MC is a collective of Jesus’ followers that are making disciples within their community and, as a body, are offering tangible, visible services and resources that enhance the life of the community.  The local members of the MC function as church-family for each other and as a body, they orient their lives outwardly, looking to engage the greater community in sacrificial service and ministry. As envisioned, each MC, while largely independent, remains interdependent with other Mercy Communities in the region, providing a larger body of church family to draw upon for needed encouragement, counsel and resources.

Relationship Not Methodology

As humans we seem to have a universal desire to figure out how something works and then we turn that process into a system or a methodology. We then use our system to measure our success. This may be good perspective for business or manufacturing but we don’t believe God views people this way, and if we are to represent him well, we must avoid systematizing the work of God in our lives and the lives of those we are seeking to reach. Our goal with people is always to listen carefully and come to understand their stories, to truly know them and to do the hard relational work of breaking down their specific barriers to the gospel and building their personal bridge back to relationship with God. This may or may not involve plugging them into our gatherings, but certainly includes bringing the truths of Jesus and his gospel into their world.

Discipleship is for Anyone Who Needs Jesus

We don’t believe we can firmly know the time a person moves from being an “enemy of God” to being “in Christ.” We believe that moment does occur for each true disciple of Jesus, however, with our limited ability to evaluate just when, we prefer to see every human along a continuum of belief. On one end are those living in strong unbelief with lifestyles that leave little doubt; and further along the continuum are those with a strong, unrelenting faith, made evident by their story and their lifestyle. Even for these, everyday brings another faith challenge with another opportunity to grow. And between those clinging to strident unbelief and those with strong faith are found the rest of humanity. Our discipleship of everyone begins with “Hello!” and lots of questions and listening. With each relational step thereafter, we teach (disciple) them about who God is, looking to acquaint them with God, perhaps realigning their earthly vision with that of Jesus’ vision for their life, along with the truth of who God is, what he has done and what he calls humans to be. The goal of all this discipleship is to move them further along the continuum, away from unbelief and toward greater faith in Jesus, and beyond that, to living a life dedicated completely to God’s glory and his kingdom purposes. We like to say evangelism – the proclamation of the gospel – begins after a person makes a commitment to Jesus. It is for the true believer that consistent reminders of the truth found in Jesus – the gospel – make all the difference. This too is discipleship.  Jesus died to save us from the penalty of sin (justification) and the power of sin (sanctification), so that one day, we will be saved from the very presence of sin (glorification.) Discipleship toward and into the love of Jesus covers all of life for every human, no matter where they fall on the continuum.

Intimate and Transparent

Living among a small and intimate group of disciples, knowing and being known intimately, is the only way the church can live transparently enough to apply the gospel in every arena of everyday life. Living in small, intimate, local communities, living life-on-life in the everyday exposes our gospel-need. It is hard to hide our real selves in close relationship.  This can be difficult and messy, but because of the gospel, can produce deep relationship that enables us to really know what we need and how to apply truth to the difficult places of our lives.

Eating Together as Ministry

Simply stated, eating together breaks down barriers and allows relationship to develop organically. We very rarely gather without take the time to eat and relate together.

Priesthood of all Believers

Every person who has come to Christ is a gospel priest. All are given gifts to build up, encourage, disciple and lead others. We look to help people discover and use their gifts and insights for the development and encouragement of the church, for service in the community and the discipleship of others in the community.

Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.

Billy Graham

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.

C. S. Lewis

If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit mercy, then it isn’t mercy.

Tim Keller

By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The difference between humanity and all the rest of creation is that men and woman were made to relate directly with God.

Francis A. Schaeffer

Genuine spiritual knowledge lies in the union of the believer’s life with the truth of God.

Watchman Nee

I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me

Revelation 3:20

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