In the days ahead I will be posting some articles based upon my sermon and vision presentation on Vision Day at Church of the Saviour.
I presented a nine point vision that will guide Church of the Saviour in the days ahead. It is as follows:
1. The glory of God will be our chief end and highest value.
To say that the glory of God should be our chief end is to say that everything we do ought to somehow magnify the greatness of God. To make the glory of God our highest value means that as a church there is nothing that trumps God. There is nothing that supersedes Him. Therefore, our approach to corporate praise, preaching, education, and evangelism must be God-centered.
Let us routinely ask three questions:
A) “How does this magnify the greatness of God?”
B) “How will this increase the people of God’s joy in the greatness of God?”
C) “How will this spread to as many people as possible a joy in the greatness of God?”
God’s glory must never be assumed. In fact our assumption should be that we will tend to neglect the glory of God. Beginning with the glory of God will help guard us from pragmatism because our first question will not be, “Does it work?” but “Does this glorify God?”
2. The beauty of the Gospel will be our defining characteristic.
We will live out the indicative/imperative pattern of biblical obedience. Our love for one another, our acts of mercy and forgiveness will be seen in light of the love, mercy and forgiveness demonstrated on the cross. Our preaching and praise will be Christ-centered. We will sharpen each other not out of guilt or legalism but with the power and freedom of the Gospel. Righteousness and Love will be seen as complementary values not to be pitted against one another just as those two realities were magnified simultaneously on the cross. The Bible will be taught as a Christ-centered revelation and not a collection of inspiring stories.
3. The advance of the Gospel will be our defining mission.
COS has a great legacy of evangelism. It was founded by a handful of people who were passionate to see the lost come to Christ. Without thinking that COS should be just as it was in 1975, let us celebrate and seek to capture that founding zeal for evangelism in our own time and context. “His last command, our first concern” will drive continue to drive us. In September of 2011 I will launch a 9 week intensive series of messages examining the Great Commission and its implications for Church of the Saviour.
4. The pursuit of doctrinal clarity will be highly regarded.
We will know the difference between what Al Mohler calls 1st order, 2nd order, and 3rd order doctrines. Evangelicalism has become so broad and ill-defined that the importance for doctrinal clarity is more important than ever. And instead of those efforts being seen with suspicion they ought to be welcomed. Pastors and elders are called by God to guard the church from error and those who teach it. So the guarding of doctrinal boundaries ought to be viewed as a God glorifying labor and something for which the church should be grateful. So we need to know those doctrines which are essential if we are to call each other ‘brother and sister,’ those doctrines we need to agree on if we are going to serve together in a church, and those doctrines that are ‘in house’ debates among fellow church members.
5. We will welcome with joy the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly diverse context.
The Mainline of 2011 is not the Mainline of 1972 – economically, culturally, racially, etc. The suburbs are become less exclusively white/western European. In Philadelphia 1) African Americans are increasingly fleeing the city and moving to the suburbs and 2) the Asian population is exploding. COS will look for opportunities to identify with and reach out to increasingly racially diverse communities. This ought to be celebrated by COS – a suburban church. This must be understood as a “Gospel opportunity” for us. That is, will COS be ready to demonstrate that, because of the Gospel, there is no Jew or Gentile, black or white, Asian or European?
6. We will equip a body of lay counselors who are able to competently minister the Word of God.
We are excited about the vision of CCEF which is to return Christ to counseling and counseling to the church. With that in mind we are having conversations with leadership at CCEF to see how COS can embody that vision for a body of lay persons whose knowledge of and confidence in Scripture is such that they are able to effectively minister to the church in the power of God’s Word.
7. We will foster a culture of community life which will significantly raise participation in small groups.
One of the things we want to be able to say to people who come to our church is “The longer you stay at COS, the smaller it becomes.” What we mean is that, if you take advantage of the opportunities to connect in community you will find that COS is not an impossibly unwieldy organization. You will find that COS is not a cold mega-church but a place of warmth and care.
8. We will foster a culture of “ordinary” disciple-making.
It will become unthinkable to leave new believers as infants. We will view our educational ministries as means by which we make disciples. Disciple-making will not be seen as the responsibility of a few professionals. But, beginning in the home, parents will be trained and equipped to disciple their children. There will also be a growing number of men and women in the church equipped to disciple adult converts.
9. We will address the increasingly apparent needs of our facility.
We have an aging facility and the age is showing in many places. We will seek to maximize three things about our facilities:
A) An aesthetic of Worship
B) An aesthetic of Joy
C) An aesthetic of Hospitality