We Exist to Connect People to God. That’s it.
In the early 2000’s a group of industrious, faith filled, pioneers sensed that there was something wrong with the church they had become. Yes it was meeting their needs. It was providing great community, relationships were flourishing and teaching was spot on for those inside it. At least those over 30. Yet they became actually aware that the church wasn’t close to reaching its full potential. It was sadly out of touch with the unchurched public. That no one was willing to invite friends along. While visitors might turn up once, they wouldn’t be back.
So they rallied together. They dreamed big, they prayed, they studied and they opened themselves up to God’s guidance. They essentially concluded that if we want to reach people that no one else is reaching, we need to do things that no one else is doing.
Driven by this desire of what could be, they determined to become a church that was well beyond themselves. A church that was for people who don’t go to church. A church that isn’t content to feed the already full, but who were willing to take the message of eternal life, the message of a better life to everyone and anyone. A church of people who determined ‘It’s not about us.’ They were willing to lay aside their own personal preferences, their comfort so that the message that had so radically transformed them and impacted them would be accessible to so many others. So they stepped out in faith, they risked big, they copped flack, they paid a huge price. Yet in doing so, they laid a foundation on which many have found faith.
THE CHURCH THEY SAW
They saw a church that had a continuous stream of unchurched people finding their way through the doors. A church where people who never went to church would be comfortable, where things would be done so well and so creatively that they would find themselves engaged. A community so strong that it people were attracted to it and so inclusive they instantly felt part of it. Where the teaching was so relevant and helpful that even the skeptical would lean in. A church where friendships were forged and families were strengthened. A church where people would turn to Christ, where they would grow in their faith, grow to the point where their relationship with Jesus would be classified as the most important relationship in their life. A church where young people were excited to be and environments were created for them to connect with God on their level. A church that would incite wonder, provoke discovery and fuel passion. Where those who attended weren’t encouraged but compelled to bring their friends and family. A church where Christ like character is cultivated and the fruit of the spirit evident. A church where God is seen, love is felt and lives are changed.
The Church they saw, and the church we see are identical. The vision has not changed. We still exist to connect people to God, that has not and will not waver.
A TABLE AND THREE CHAIRS
We recognise that in any healthy church there are people at various stages in their faith. Some who have no faith, some who have a new and growing faith and some who have a strong faith.
To illustrate this we talk about three seats and a table. Where each seat represents the different stages of faith and the table, or the food on the table, represents what the church is dishing up to feed those around the table. Jesus said “I am the bread of life. That whoever eats of it will not go hungry again.” This bread we serve is for anyone and everyone, and it is our responsibility to serve it up in a manner that makes it attractive and compelling to all.
Chair #1 - The Spiritual Seeker/Skeptic
People in this chair are those who would readily admit they do not yet know Christ, who have no connection to God and are looking into the claims of christianity and may be skeptical of it all. People on this chair would say: “I believe there may be a God, but I am not sure about Christ.” “My faith is not a significant part of my life.” “I’m trying to be good enough to get to heaven.”
Chair #2 - The New and Growing Christian
People in this chair believe Jesus was who he said he was, acknowledge that grace comes by faith and have put their faith in the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. They are currently learning what it means to follow him and to trust him in all areas of life. People on this chair would say: “I believe in Jesus and I am working on what it means to get to know him.” “I am learning to trust him and his ways more and more.” “I have been made right with God because of his grace, not my works.”
Chair #3 - The Christ Centred Person
These are the people for whom every area of their life is impacted by God. They trust so strongly in the person and promises of God that no matter what their circumstances or situation suggests, they act in a way that demonstrates they are certain God is who he says he is, and will do what he said he will do. They would say “my relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship in my life, it guides everything that I do.” “I no longer count my life as dear unto myself, only that I may finish the race that is set before me.”