Our vision is driven by the central value of being Gospel-centered.
Gospel Centered: The Gospel changes everything. The Gospel is “the power of God” (Rom.1:16) that changes not only unbelievers but believers as well. The Gospel is the solution not only for our “spiritual” problems but all personal problems (Col.1:16) and all societal problems (Gal.2:14).
VALUE #1:– THE GOSPEL CHANGES EVERYTHING
“I am a sinner” and “Jesus is the Savior for sinners.” These are the twin truths of the Gospel, which the apostle Paul says “is the power (dunamis or dynamite) of God” (Romans 1:16). The Gospel is God’s explosive power that changes everything.
First, the Gospel makes us Christians. You cannot be a Christian unless both sides of the Gospel come together. “I am a sinner” without “Jesus is the Savior” leads to guilt and ultimately despair. “Jesus is the Savior” without “I am a sinner” has no meaning. As a result, we see Jesus merely as a great teacher or a good role model, but not as the answer to our greatest need. But when both of these truths collide you have the Gospel and everything changes. God forgives your sin, declares you righteous in Christ, gives you eternal life, adopts you as His child, and ushers you into an intimate relationship with Himself.
Application: We will minister with great hope and confidence. Since we are saved by the Gospel, which is the power of God, there are no hopeless cases. No one and no situation is beyond the Gospel’s transforming power. The Gospel can change anyone.
Second, the Gospel grows us. Most people think we become Christians by believing the Gospel, and then we grow by mastering biblical principles for living. They believe that the Gospel is the starting point, but then we must move on to more advanced teaching to grow. But the Gospel is not merely the way we enter the kingdom, it is also the way we make all progress in kingdom living. The Gospel is not the ABC’s but the A to Z of the Christian life. It is the way of righteousness “from first to last” (Romans 1:17). Therefore, the Gospel is the solution to all of our problems. At the root of all of our problems is sin, specifically the sin of looking to someone or something other than Jesus for our significance, strength and satisfaction. This root sin manifests itself in all of our various problems. God intends that my problems drive me to see in a fresh and deeper way that “I am a sinner” and “Jesus is my Savior”. And so change continues, just as it began, through the power of the Gospel (Romans 6:1-4).
Application: We will preach the Gospel to believers, not just unbelievers. Since, the Gospel not only makes us Christians (justification), but also grows us as Christians (sanctification), the most desperate need of both unbelievers and believers each and every Sunday is to hear and appropriate the Gospel to their lives.
Third, the Gospel empowers us to serve. Some would warn that if we focus on the Gospel of grace that we will produce lazy Christians. Their logic is: If we tell people “Jesus has done it all!” then they will have no motivation to serve others. Nothing could be further from the truth. Only the Gospel can produce unselfish love and service. Apart from the Gospel we will either avoid serving out of fear of failure, rejection, or inconvenience, or we will be driven to serve in order to ease our guilty conscience and gain approval from God and people. But when “I am a sinner” and “Jesus is my Savior” come together, our old motivational structure is demolished. We are no longer driven by fear, guilt or the need for affirmation. The Gospel gives us a whole new motivational structure. Paul says: “Christ’s love compels us” to live for others (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; cf. Romans 12:1). It is Jesus’ generosity towards us that moves us to be generous with our time, talent, and resources. To claim we believe and yet not be engaged in the needs of our world reveals that our faith is not in the living, powerful Gospel of Christ (James 2:17). For the Gospel changes everything!
Application: We will motivate with grace not guilt. We will refuse to use guilt trips to drive people to serve. Rather, we will motivate with the Gospel, which sets us free to love and serve unconditionally in response to God’s grace in Christ.
VALUE #2: THE GOSPEL GIVES US A NEW IDENTITY
We have a new identity because of what Jesus has accomplished. We live differently because of what he has done and who we are in Christ. Our doing comes out of our being.
We are His:
Family – Because God has restored us to himself, forgiven our sin, and removed his wrath from us by placing it on his own Son, we have become children of God, holy, and dearly loved by our Father! Therefore, we are God’s children and his people in the world, a community that does for each other what God has done for us in Jesus, that the world might taste and see the goodness of our Father. (John 1:11-13; Eph. 3:15)
Missionaries – Because God has come to restore and redeem all of creation through Jesus, his healing work extends to people, systems, cultures, and all of creation! Therefore, we are God’s ambassadors or representatives, sent into our culture by the Holy Spirit, commissioned to proclaim and demonstrate that God is restoring the world to Himself through Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21; John 17:18; 20:21)
Servants – Because God has sent his Son as a sacrificial servant, taking our place on the cross and thereby healing and forgiving us in his substitutionary death, we then are freed from our self-love and self-reliance and empowered by him to serve those around us. Therefore, we model our lives after the Servant-King, increasingly being freed by Him from slavery to self and so empowered to serve others. (Matthew 20:25-28; 25:31-46; John 13:1-17; 1 Peter 2:16)
Learners – Because God has begun this work in us and by His Spirit promises to bring it to completion one day, we recognize the need to continuously be learning together from him and being changed by him. Therefore, we are students and followers of Jesus, learning from him how to live life the way God intended, and helping one another to do the same. (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Tim. 2:1-2; Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Tim. 3:14 – 4:5; 2 Peter 3:18)
We are a family of God sent on mission to serve our world and continually learn how to live in the way of Jesus so that the joy of the gospel fills our city and beyond!
VALUE #3: THE GOSPEL MAKES US A CHURCH FOR THE CITY
Cities are central to Jesus’ mission. For example, Jesus chose as the text of his first recorded sermon Isaiah 61, which proclaims that the Messiah has come to “rebuild…restore…renew the ruined cities” (4). We want to live as a city within the city. We see the city as a strategic center from which to plant churches and spread the gospel in community. This was the apostolic pattern.
We do not want to be assimilated into the culture, nor separate ourselves from it. Our desire is to incarnate our Lord, embracing the call of God to act as a missionary (as a community, not simply individuals) into our culture (Matt. 4:19; Acts 16:20; 17:6). We want to love and serve the city for God’s glory and their good ( Jer. 29:4-7).
VALUE #4: THE GOSPEL MAKES US PEOPLE OF PRAYER
The Gospel causes us to pray with an unique combination of humility and confidence. We approach God humbly because the Gospel teaches us that we are far more sinful than we ever dared imagine. And we approach God confidently because the Gospel teaches us that in and through Jesus Christ we are far more loved than we ever dared dream.
Recognizing that God is the primary agent and orchestrator of mission, we view prayer as a missionary activity. We will offer prayer to unbelievers, witnessing to a living and personal relationship with our sovereign Father. We want prayer to be both a regular community discipline, and an impromptu response to needs and opportunities. We will not assume we are in control of mission, nor rob God of his glory by boasting of our achievements.
VALUE #5: THE GOSPEL MAKES US PEOPLE OF THE WORD
We want our lives and our life together to be formed and shaped by the Bible’s story of redemption. We are committed to reading and teaching the entire Bible in light of the gospel. We believe the Bible to be the reliable, authoritative and sufficient word of God, and are therefore committed to good Bible learning. We will not act on the basis of tradition, habit or pragmatism without reflection on the Bible. We will not see Bible teaching as an end in itself, but as that which must shape our thinking and action. We do not want the gospel and truth we learn to be believed as “concepts” in the mind, but rather truths to be treasured in the heart that transforms our behavior.
VALUE #6: THE GOSPEL CREATES A NEW COMMUNITY
The “body of Christ”, “a temple of living stones”, “a holy nation”, “the family of God”. The authors of the New Testament thought of themselves primarily as a community, rather than as individuals. They knew the reality of what we often fail to see and experience: that Jesus came not merely to save individuals but to create a new community. The individualism of our day and age has blinded us to the radical corporate nature of salvation.
The Gospel breaks down all barriers (race, class, gender, age) and makes all who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior one in Him (Galatians 3:28). Unity cannot be overemphasized. The Father decided in eternity not merely to save a collection of individuals, but to redeem a people (Ephesians 1:4). Jesus died to shatter everything that separated us from one another and to make us one in Him (Ephesians 2:13-15). The Holy Spirit takes very different persons, makes us one (1 Corinthians 12:13), and miraculously enables us to love one another.
Christian community is cultivated as people believe the Gospel and in response devote themselves to the Lord and one another. When Luke describes the early Christian Community he says immediately after believing the Gospel “they devoted themselves…to the fellowship” (Acts 2:42). The word “devoted” means they “set as a priority”, “committed to”, spending significant time with one another. They ate together in their homes, discussed God’s Word, worshipped, prayed, and shared their resources with one another. That’s why the basic building block of Grace Fellowship will be our Community Groups—small groups that meet to experience Christ’s presence in community. Being a part of this new community partnering together on Jesus’ mission is not an optional thing – an “extra” for the Christian. Rather it is a part of the overall purpose of God’s kingdom.
We want people to experience church as a network of relationships, not simply a meeting you attend or a place you enter.
VALUE #7: THE GOSPEL MAKES US OUTWARD FOCUSED
Through the Gospel, Jesus makes us a people for others. His Gospel gives us deep respect and great hope for every non-Christian, and frees and empowers us not to live for ourselves but for our friends, neighbors and associates who don’t believe. The Gospel makes us a people and a place where non-Christians are expected, welcomed, and respected. Their questions and objections are invited. Their struggles and doubts are taken seriously. They are loved not that we might evangelize them, but we evangelize them because we love them.
In our daily life. We will love our neighbors. Through the testimony of a transformed life, deeds of love and kindness, and hospitality, we will actively cultivate authentic relationships with non-Christians and invite them to our home and to our church gatherings that they might meet Jesus (Luke 5:29).
In our gatherings, we will be determinedly conscious of and welcoming to non-Christians in our midst. We will worship in such a way that unbelievers can understand and be included (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). We are committed to welcoming broken people and making church accessible to those who do not yet believe. We want to offer a sense of belonging, and be communities of grace in which people can be open and vulnerable.
VALUE #8 THE GOSPEL ENERGIZES NEW CHURCH PLANTING
On Pentecost, the exalted Lord Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on his church to empower bold preaching of the gospel and, through that, to energize a multiplying church planting movement.
Throughout the Book of Acts, Luke calls our attention to how the gospel spread, lives were changed and people were incorporated into vibrant new churches. To this very day, the same gospel continues to spread, changing lives and gathering people into new churches. Churches that not only grow but churches that plant new churches for new people because the gospel cannot be stopped.
We want to be part of Jesus’ church planting movement. By God’s grace and the energizing power of the gospel we hope to not only plant churches but to plant churches that plant churches.