A new era for Grace Church

You’ve seen it all before.  The Pastor gets up on Sunday, all pumped because he thinks he’s found winning formula to triple the size of his church.  He’s got the hip new mission statement, a sharp-looking website along with gift pens to give to your neighbours.  He’s even got a personal endorsement from Richie McCaw.  The first Sunday he’s got everyone revved.  The second Sunday the wind has gone out of the sails.  A month later its fizzled and three months later it’s dead.  Richie’s picture is taken down and everything is back to the way it was.  And do you know why that happens?  Because God wasn’t it.  He wasn’t in it from the beginning.

When the elders and I set about creating a new mission and vision for Grace Church, we didn’t want it to be like that.  We didn’t want it to be a lot of hot air.  We said, “Lord, whatever we come up with, it has to be of you.”  So for a period of 18 months we set about seeking the face of God, praying and searching the Scriptures.  We wrote, re-wrote and then re-wrote again.  Finally, we ended up with something that we believed fitted with where we wanted to head and more importantly, where God was already heading.

And I think that’s the point many churches miss.  They want to come up with something new, something hip and something cool.  So they dream up ideas and words and phrases and then sell them to their congregation.  The congregation buys it because they think it’s from God.  But is it?

Before we could answer the question, “what is going to be our church’s mission?” we needed to answer, “what is God’s mission?”  What’s his purpose for the universe?  For the Church?  For you and me?  The answer is clear in Scripture: It’s all about His glory.  Everything that God does – whether creating the world, making plants grow or saving people is for his glory.

  • The heavens declare God’s glory (Psalm 19:1)
  • We have been created for his glory (Isaiah 43:6-7)
  • God calls Israel for his glory (Isaiah 49:3)
  • He raises up Pharaoh for his glory (Romans 9)
  • Jesus does everything for the Father’s glory (John 7:18)
  • One day the earth will be filled with the knowledge of His glory as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14)

God chose to display his glory through his covenant people.  It began with Abraham.  God says to Him in Genesis 12:2, “I will make you into a great nation.  I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.”  And then God reveals to Abraham his deeper purpose, “All the peoples on the earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3).  God blesses Abraham, but it’s not ultimately for Abraham’s sake.  He blesses Abraham so that he might be the conduit of God’s blessings to all the earth.

“Enjoy my grace Abraham, and extent my glory”

Abraham became a nation. God calls the nation to himself and he says to them, “I’m going to bless you, but it’s not just for your sake.  It’s so my glory and my grace will be made known to the nations.”

“Enjoy my grace Israel, and extent my glory”

And as spiritual children of Abraham (Gal 3:8-9), that is our purpose in the world.  God has blessed us richly.  We experience far greater blessings and spiritual riches than Abraham or the nation Israel ever had.  We have salvation in Christ.  We have forgiveness of sin.  We have been called out of darkness and into God’s marvelous light.  We have been made sons and daughters of the living God.  And God’s purpose for us is to make known these blessings to the world.

“Enjoy my grace Grace Church, and extent my glory”

This is our calling.  This is what we are here for.  It’s not for ourselves.  It’s not about us.  It’s about making known God and his glory and his grace – by way of the gospel, to the world.  And here’s what it looks like for our church:

God grace, to us, for the world.

We are recipients of God’s marvelous grace.  This grace comes by way of the gospel.  By faith in Jesus, we receive a new identity and are remade in his image.

This gospel has created a new community of redeemed people called the church.  That’s the “to us” part.  The church is made up of disciples (or Jesus followers) who are growing in grace by the power of the Spirit through the teaching of God’s Word.

God did all this, not just for our sake but for others.  He sends us on mission to reach the world.  And we are not talking about Africa and Asia and China.  We are talking about the people on our street and the ones we rub shoulders with each day at work.  They are the ones God wants to reach.  And he wants us to be the conduit to reach them.

It’s not perfect.  Nothing we do ever will be.  And it’s not the only way we think you could say it.  Someone might come up with something better (and likely they will).  But we think it fits – both with the pattern of what God does in history and with the commission that Jesus has given us, to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19-20).

We are hoping and praying that this mission will put us in good stead for many years of fruitful ministry ahead.  For the glory of God.

Many thanks to Jewel Turinsky who designed our new logo. Jewel worked with us over many months, creating a number of different designs, centred around a tree and leaf motif (we have 7 large oak trees on our church property). We wanted something crisp and modern, and that would communicate something about the new life we have in Christ. We also wanted it to reflect a church that’s alive and on the move. The result is something we are really pleased with –  and is uniquely our own. Jewel is married to Mike and serves as Marketing and Systems Developer for Young Life in Auckland. 

Note:  The content of this post is based on the first message of the “Mission Possible” series which unveils the new mission and vision for our church.  You can listen to it here.

 

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