These are values that define our church culture as we worship, connect, learn and grow, and serve together.
The Gospel is God’s announcement of “good news” that he has come to our world in Christ to make all things new. The Gospel is the climax of Scripture, bound up with the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. We receive this good news with the empty hands of faith knowing that as we trust in God he welcomes us, adopts us, forgives us, renews us, and binds us to himself and each other out of his free love and based on what Jesus has done, not on what we could do. The Gospel reveals the reality of who God is and who we are. It animates everything we celebrate and do as a church.
The Gospel gives reason to rejoice. Contrary to what our cynicism says, the Gospel tells our world that there is true beauty and hope to celebrate. Our celebratory worship is ordered around the God of Scripture, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe that the whole creation was designed to reflect his glory, and that he is redeeming all things to that end. We offer our best to God in worship, and God forms us through it. Our celebration does not mean that we do not also grieve; in fact, the gospel frees us to see the horrors and brokenness in ourselves, our communities, and our world. For that reason, our worship together involves celebration, lament, confession, and assurance through prayer, song, sacrament, and the hearing and preaching of Scripture.
We approach life not as experts, but as vulnerable learners. Scripture subverts common wisdom, telling us that it is through being weak that true strength comes. We strive to be humble in our approach to God and others, honest in our questions, and eager to learn. We receive Scripture as the true story of God and our world, able to make wise the simple and bring forth life. Confident of God’s care for all areas of life, we seek to learn how the Gospel reframes work, relationships, justice, health, culture, identity, our minds, and power. The goal of Christian learning is to form us into human beings who are fully swept up into the work God is doing in his world: reconciling all things to himself in Christ. The Apostle Paul calls this “maturity”, or growing up in the faith. Therefore, we strive to learn in practical and robust ways that translate into love of God and neighbor.
Although we live in a highly mobile society, the Gospel calls us to consider the value of place. The Gospel compels us as individuals and as a church community to love our neighbor and neighborhoods. It calls us to submit ourselves to a place: to identify with it and love it. Our church celebrates the beautiful and rich blessings found in the Austin-Oak Park community. We want the best for this place, and so we also acknowledge and grieve the brokenness and injustice found here too. We pray for healing and transformation in all the ways our neighborhoods need that, and commit ourselves to seeking blessing and life for them. We believe that it is not the neighborhood which exists for the church but the church for the neighborhood, and so we allow the place in which God has situated us to help form our practices.
Often the term “hospitality” brings to mind a flurry of cleaning and cooking to prepare for a special visitor. However, we want to practice hospitality as a much broader and deeper sharing of life. The Gospel is good news of God’s shocking hospitality: he made us out of a desire to share his life with us. Yet even when we spurned the host, he went to great and costly lengths to invite us back to enjoy his presence. This is why Jesus has given his church the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper – a meal we share with God and with each other at which Jesus is the host who gives himself to us. The church is called to enjoy God’s limitless hospitality and also invite everyone else to the feast. We strive to echo God’s hospitality, as we share our lives, talents, time, resources, and homes. God’s own hospitality is what drives our commitment to giving generously to our community and to other partner ministries, and to the starting of other new congregations.
Justice, Mercy, and Peacemaking
We all live in fractured relationships with God, with other people, and with our world. We have all been sinned against, and we have all sinned against others. Not only do these wounds, but also differences of personality, culture, politics, economics, ethnicity, race, age, language, personal histories, and denomination divide us. The Gospel announces that God is at work through the cross to make all things right and to reconcile all things, us to himself and also us to each other. Scripture says God has given the church the ministries of justice, mercy, and reconciliation. We strive to live out this ministry with humble honesty about our own contributions to the brokenness, acknowledging how painful, difficult, and long-term the process of healing is. But we also strive to live out this ministry with genuine hope that Christ is at work even now and even in our midst to make all things new. We look for God’s healing work within our homes, neighborhoods, churches, workplaces, schools, and our broader world. We bear witness to God’s work of justice, mercy, and reconciliation and strive to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the refugee.
We are committed to building partnerships not only as an effective tool in accomplishing renewal but also as a way of recognizing that we are joining in something bigger than ourselves. We see ourselves as a small part of the one universal church, and value being connected with others. We cultivate partnerships with other individuals, community organizations, ministries, and churches in our area and beyond. We believe that God has created us and redeemed us to live in relationship with both him and others.