Our vision is for the grace of Christ to redeem and renew our congregation and the greater communities where we belong
Our vision statement is not what we see ourselves capable of but instead what God has promised to do through Christ in our world, applied to our congregation and greater communities.
God says to his people, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43.1) What an amazing expression of intimacy and commitment! The language of redemption is borrowed from the ancient marketplace. The fact that we would need redemption presupposes that we all naturally belong to false and harmful things from which we need purchase (idols, sins, systems, death). The biblical story of redemption means that God has not given up on us or the world, but “paid the price” for us through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. It means that there is real hope for our world.
The reach of God’s redemption extends to every square inch of our world. In the final book of Scripture, we are given a vision of a “new heavens and a new earth” and of the risen Jesus, sitting on a heavenly throne, saying, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21.1,5) What would it be like for all things in our lives, in our church, in our communities, and in our world to be renewed by Christ? This new world is the reality toward which we are headed.
This news of Christ’s redemption and new creation is called the “Gospel” (good news). The church is called both to proclaim the gospel as a reality and to make it evident in this world by following Jesus’ commission to make disciples and his command to love God and neighbor. At Boulevard, we strive to play our part in this mission and to be on the lookout for Christ’s work within our congregation, in our individual lives, and in our workplaces, schools, blocks, and broader communities. We look for Christ’s redeeming and renewing work spiritually (in our relationships with God), socially (in our relationships with each other), and culturally (in our relationships with the rest of creation).
Although Boulevard’s members live and work in a variety of communities, our congregation’s focus for mission, outreach, and partnership is the communities along Austin Boulevard (the western edge of the City of Chicago), in particular, Oak Park and Austin. In history, the word ‘boulevard’ was first used to refer to the fortifying walls that surrounded medieval cities. However, as those walls came down the same word came to reference what we think of as boulevards today: tree-lined ways which offer beauty, rest, and connection in the urban landscape. In our context, Austin Boulevard marks the meeting place of diverse communities, economics, race, and cultures. Our church is committed to humbly loving and serving the neighborhoods along the boulevard, with the hope that Christ is “our peace, who has made us one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2.14).
For all things in our community and in our world to be redeemed and made new is beyond us. But that is exactly what God has promised to do through the grace of Christ. This is our vision.