Our Core Values:
1. Christ & His Kingdom
2. The Centrality of Grace in Christ
3. Kingdom Communities embodying the Gospel
4. A Sent Mentality
5. Incarnating the Gospel in Contextually Appropriate Ways
6. Passionate Kingdom-Centred prayer
7. Self-Sacrifice for Christ & His kingdom
1. Radically Centred Around Christ & His Kingdom:
We must plant churches which proclaim and embody the gospel of the kingdom: that King Jesus is marching through this world bringing/establishing his healing kingdom. This goal is grounded in the fact that the gospel is more than personal forgiveness, imputed righteousness, assurance of a life in heaven, or personal sanctification, though it is certainly not less than all these things. The gospel is the good news of the kingdom of God invading this fallen and broken world, driving back the curse of sin and the forces of darkness, and bringing with it the reconciliation and restoration of the whole of creation.
The gospel is therefore holistic and must address the effects of sin in all of its ramifications, “far as the curse is found”. It is to our shame that we [the Evangelical and, dare I say, Reformed church] have all too often narrowed the gospel to the personal and private spiritual issues of the individual; forgiveness, justification, peace with God, personal growth, a blessed marriage, and going to heaven, too often exhaust the concerns of the typical spiritually awakened Christian.
It is high time to recapture the grand scope of Christ’s redemption, including the social, cultural, economic, and even natural consequences of the fall. Every force that conspires to destroy the glory of God in man, society, or creation falls within the transforming scope of the gospel of the kingdom.
We want to foster a movement of churches with a vision for this grand scope of the gospel and a consuming passion for the pursuit of the kingdom of God.
2. The Radical Centrality of Grace in Christ:
Though the Gospel is cosmic in scope, the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of grace brought to bear on individuals and communities who embrace Christ in dependent faith. The radical centre of His grace is seen in the atoning sacrifice of the Lord on behalf of unworthy sinners, rebellious enemies, propitiating the wrath of God and reconciling souls to God, one another and creation. We stand, in union with the crucified and risen Christ, in a completely new relationship with God our father. Once guilty, condemned and in bondage to sin, we are forgiven, cleansed, justified and adopted into His family. And more than that, God’s empowering grace is given through His Spirit as we daily look to Christ in dependent faith. Once spiritually dead, hard hearted, and locked in rebellious slavery to sin, we receive in dependent reliance on Christ rebirth, freedom from the dominating power of sin, and on-going transformation. All comes from our union with the crucified and risen Christ.
We thus want to see people being taught and encouraged through example and opportunity to own their sins and weaknesses, repent, and to look to Christ in faith; moralism or legalism is not only to be avoided, but exposed; self-righteousness and condemning attitudes are challenged with encouragements and admonitions to love, extend grace, forgive, and accept others as we have been accepted by God. Our need for grace, and its abundant provision in Christ, must be taught and demonstrated in lifestyles of individual and corporate repentance concerning our self-serving and self-reliant sinful nature, turning from self in dependent faith to the crucified and risen Christ who pours out His grace to those who look to him in humility.
We emphasize the grace of God in the gospel by reminding ourselves that we are far more sinful and far more needy than we want to admit, and that God’s grace is far greater than we can imagine. We practice this by encouraging a lifestyle of repentance and dependent faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the centre and source of (the kingdom of) grace. Our relationship with Him determines the quality and character of all else. Therefore we want to encourage people to engage with Jesus through faith, and to have a church in which every member is living by renewed repentance and faith and encouraging others in the same.
Grace is not merely a vertical channel from God to an isolated individual. While our grace relation with God is the radical root of all else, grace received from God leads to grace given to others. And moreover, in relationships of grace with other human beings, divine grace from God is communicated. There is a horizontal, corporate and communal element in grace which we seek to foster in the church
3. A Radical Community: A Kingdom Community Embodying the Gospel
“The church is part of the gospel” (John Stott) The kingdom of God is most fully and clearly expressed in the people He has redeemed, the community of the kingdom, who have been forgiven, cleansed, delivered from the powers of the kingdom of darkness and come under the liberating power of Christ. We believe the church, as God’s new community, is the primary and best expression of the gospel, and so the locus and agent of God’s missionary purposes. It is the sign, instrument and foretaste of the gospel. We, therefore, should be seeking corporately to incarnate in our body the vision, values, and characteristics of the redeemed community of the King. These include:
– Enthusiastic celebration of God in worship
– Encouraging one another in making Christ & Kingdom the centre of our devotion,
– A passion for the righteousness and justice of God’s final Kingdom
– Deep and intimate fellowship,
– The radical sharing of our lives both spiritually and practically,
– Acceptance, welcome and embrace of others who are unlike us,
– Patience, forgiveness, and forbearance with the sins of others
– Sacrificial Christ-like love, both for the church community, and for those outside our community.
The way we live together, and enjoy and love one another, is a first fruit of the new age of the Kingdom which we have entered and experienced, and a dynamic power that reaches into a world of fractured relationships and broken lives. The church should be the ideal extended family, and more.
The transformation we long for is intimately connected to the church. Created in the image of the triune community, humans can be restored only in community. Thus God’s gospel purpose of restoration necessarily includes and requires the church, the only place in the world where Biblically functioning community can properly exist. It follows that discipleship and sanctification (the process of restoring the image of God in man) is inherently corporate and communal.
4. A Radically Sent Mentality: Passion for God’s Grand Missionary Purposes
The gospel of the kingdom is inherently missional, as it encompasses God’s plan and purpose (Missio Dei) of final restoration of the whole of creation through the conquest of the Lord Jesus. It is impossible therefore to believe the gospel without also embracing God’s mission, for the Gospel just is the good news of that mission being accomplished through Christ and embodied in and by his people.
But man in sin is “curved in on himself”; and in our sinful nature we often turn the gospel into a personal spiritual therapeutic tool to help us in whatever interests we have. While we rejoice that the gospel is personally rewarding, we insist that it is first and foremost a message of Christ and His kingdom which calls us to repent of our self-centredness and live for Him.
We want to plant churches in which God’s heart for the world is clearly understood, and a passion for His mission consciously cultivated. “Thy Kingdom Come” must be the heart cry of every Christian. We want to see in every member of every congregation a strong awareness, ownership of, and participation in God’s missionary purposes, both locally and worldwide. We want every member to have a passion for God’s mission in the world, an understanding of the church’s place in the world, and to be equipped for and involved in the spread of the gospel through personal and corporate witness.
We do not want to plant churches which function as chaplaincies to sinful self-centeredness. Rather, we want to plant churches which are radically defined by God’s missionary agenda of extending His Kingdom in the world.
5. Incarnating the Gospel in Contextually Appropriate Ways
A sent church will seek to make its worship, teaching, fellowship and all that it does relevant to the world to which it is sent. A sent church must be a contextualizing church.
The failure to fully embrace its missionary purpose has resulted in the church turning inward, catering and speaking largely to its own needs, and thus becoming irrelevant to the world it was sent to reach for God.
We want to plant churches that will take up the mantle of incarnating the gospel in contextually appropriate ways. That will require on the one hand that we be cautious of uncritically imposing our western cultural assumptions on either the Bible or the cultures we are engaging; and on the other hand of serious study of both the Bible and the peoples we are reaching, a full entering into their thought and life forms, and a sensitive and open application of Scripture. A sent church must ever be a learning and reforming church.
6. Kingdom Centred Prayer
The priority of the Kingdom of God in the life of the church and the individual Christian should have a two-fold effect: First, the vision of the Kingdom of God (“Thy Kingdom come …”) should inform the breadth and depth of our prayers: nothing less than replacing the effects of the fall with the new creation of the Kingdom, “far as the curse is found”. In other words, we are called to believe and work for the eradication of sin, curse and evil, to be replaced by SHALOM, in every corner of this universe! Secondly, this vision exposes any pretensions that such a transformation could occur through man’s wisdom or ability. It is simply impossible for God’s kingdom purposes to be fulfilled through man’s ability.
Prayer is thus absolutely essential. Prayerlessness is often the result of attempting things which are in fact humanly achievable; and that amounts to having a small vision. But God’s Gospel purpose of cosmic shalom in light of our frailty and sinfulness, drives us to our knees.
7. A Radical Commitment to Self-Sacrifice for Christ & His Kingdom
Finally, we must make mention of the fact that Jesus Christ – the crucified Messiah – in calling us to Himself and His grand cause of the kingdom requires the planting of churches which understand and embrace the cross of Christ as the means of accomplishing His purpose.
The breaking in of the kingdom of God in the person of Christ has created a conflict of kingdoms (Christ’s and Satan’s) that makes even World War II seem like a schoolyard skirmish. But affluence has blinded the church in the West that we exist in a wartime state of emergency for the overthrow of the kingdom of darkness. A Peacetime mentality has eroded the radical cutting edge of the church’s commitment to “sell all” for the kingdom of God. While we do not court suffering or sacrifice for its own sake, as an end in itself, we wish to call the church back to an understanding and ownership of Christ’s mission of world reclamation, and to a new willingness to sacrifice all for this grand cause.
Our Lord went to the cross. At the turning point of His ministry he made it clear that His Kingdom would be advanced through His work on the cross (Matt. 16: 21-27). His way of victory was through and in the laying down of his life. In the cross and resurrection he procured forgiveness, cleansing, propitiation, and reconciliation with God, and in addition broke the power of sin and Satan. His cross and resurrection was essential to the all-encompassing shalom of the kingdom.
At the very same time that He explained the necessity of His cross for His Kingdom agenda, He also placed the mandate of a cruciform ministry on every one of his followers (Matthew 16:24-28). There is no way to avoid it. The church is called to carry the cross, not in a self-centred attempt to gain salvation, nor merely to progress in sanctification through mortification, but as a ministry of self-sacrifice that demonstrates to the world that there is a God in heaven who loves it more than they love themselves; indeed, that there is a God who is willing to send His own to die for it. It is a ministry which embraces the reality that by dying (to self) comes life, not only to one’s own true self, but to others. It is high time to embrace His method for his mission.