Further Defining Assumptions
The following are simply various principles that we believe offer guiding wisdom for our personal and communal life.
We don’t so much “go” to church… but rather we are to “be” the church. The church is not simply the building we gather at…or even the gathering itself. The church is ultimately all that embodies the life and mission of Jesus. As captured in Christ’s earthly ministry, this does involve gathering regularly with others… but it is gathering in order to grow, and ultimately in order to go and live out our calling. Therefore, we value gathering but understand that this is only a means of “being” the church.
God is for us. He is committed to reaching us, forgiving us, and changing us.
The “Gospel” of Christ is truly Good News. The life that Christ is calling us into is the ultimately true and good life. It will often challenge the illusions of life as we have known it – the illusion of being the center, the illusion of control, and the illusion of absolute ownership - so it may not initially strike our human pride and pretense as “good”… but when faced with our true condition, it is the ultimate good of coming home to a life centered in God’s love.
We do not need to accept all of life’s circumstances as part of God's ultimate “will” for our lives, for we know that God Himself "suffers long" against evil, while He also sovereignly redeems our lives from both human and spiritual powers. (2 Peter 3:9) In the midst of what may be far from His ultimate will, He is working His ultimate good (Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
While we value change in our lives, we believe the healthiest change flows from discovering the goodness inherent in God’s truth. Therefore, discovering the goodness of God’s design and desires that leads to change in our lives is more valuable than just changing our behavior.
Holiness and righteousness are a process of identity, more than a process of law… a process of relationship more than rules.
The essence of leadership is not power, position, or popularity, but a God-given call to serve the communal good. The authority of leadership is born of responsibility and a commitment to build the Body of Christ with personal sacrifice, humility, grace, and integrity. Leadership is a vital and functional part of community life, called out by God, and recognized and confirmed by others.
Mature, adult spirituality will lead to a partnership in the work of the church by serving others in some form of regular ministry. We believe that our primary service should reflect how we are gifted, and our secondary services by how we are needed. It is best to focus our regular role of serving according to what we discover about how God has shaped us to serve… while also embracing the basic communal responsibility and servant’s heart to meet the basic needs in a given setting… such as moving chairs, cleaning dishes, providing transportation, etc.
The primary foundation for healing in all dimensions is love. Such love includes truth when applied with love.
As adults, we each must take responsibility for developing relationships… including mutually supportive relationships with those following Jesus. While the local church should organize itself in ways which help make such relationships accessible, we recognize that each individual is responsible for the practical pursuit of “continuing to meet together… to stir one another to love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Unity is not based on conformity to any particular ideal based on religious traditions or personal preference, but on Christ as the source of our common life in God.
Our particular church community is not for everyone. Our desire is to welcome and bless every individual as a member (or potential member) of the Body of Christ while respecting that each individual is responsible for choosing a church whose particular perspectives and priorities they can fully commit to. Ultimately, commitment to a community of real people is a necessary and essential part of fulfilling God’s intentions for our lives.
Relational conflict is a natural and normal part of authentic relational life. Conflict can be a means to personal insight and growth when we allow ourselves to reflect upon what our differences may represent and learn to engage others in ways that are more direct, timely, and mutually constructive.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is both subtle and surprising, powerfully leading us in inner convictions and promptings, as well as demonstrating God's manifest presence and power. Such ministry cannot be manipulated or manufactured but is rather to be encouraged and embraced as God reveals it (see John 5:19).
The best way to learn to hear God's voice, whether speaking to us personally or on behalf of others in ministry, is to…
Grow familiar with His voice through His Living Word (Scripture).
Limit our presumption of certainty about what we believe we may hear from God; allowing one another freedom to discern and confirm what each may believe God is speaking… without being intimidated by the certainty of others or fearing being wrong ourselves.
It is essential for the strength of the Body that pastoral staff assume their role as "equippers" who nurture and release the ministry of others. (Ephesians 4:11-13; Acts 6:1-7) In order to enable maturity and ministry in others, the priorities of pastoral staff should remain those of personal devotion to Christ, vision and leadership, teaching and training (discipleship), and pastoral counseling where appropriate in communal life.
We understand that some may come to the church’s building and various on-site staff as the “headquarters for helping people.” However, we do not believe that the building is the church. The building is a place that provides gathering space for the church. In our current functioning, Monday through Saturday the building provides space for a café business which serves the specific purpose of building bridges through coffee and related products and space for social and working purposes. It also provides offices for some staff primarily designated with planning and administrative tasks. When individuals come to engage these lives, they may naturally think they are engaging “the church,” but they are more accurately engaging a few members of the church who are at work with designated responsibilities… and in the truest sense… do not represent the church any more than any other individual members at their workplace.