Pastor Craig (since he has revealed the origin of his name when he described the rock badger, I propose we simply refer to him as The Rock or Dr. Rock) and I have been working diligently mapping out the vision and operations of the church as we believe God is leading. It has been a lot of fun for both of us and we are very excited about what God is an will be doing among this congregation, community, and beyond. In our conversations, one central idea has been prevalent and we want to share that with you.
Our desire is to grow 12th Street in health. Numbers may be a fruit of that health. That is not to say we are unhealthy, but we can always grow. We, the Church, are a redeemed community called to do the Great Commission by the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God. In the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 we are told to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world and teach all to obey the commands of Jesus. And what did He command? In Luke 10:27 and Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus lays out the two commandments that sum up all others: Love God completely and love others as you love yourself. I believe the way we, the redeemed community, carry out this commission with its commandments can be summed up in one connected movement of three expressions of love: Know Love, Grow Love, and Show Love.
1John 4:8 says “God is love.” Our starting point is to know God. This is expressed as the attributes of God are proclaimed and praised. As we discover and peer into God’s character, awestruck praise is the only response. Know Love is most clearly expressed in (but certainly not exclusive to) corporate worship gatherings as the community celebrates and brings praise to God together in preparation for and response to the proclamation of the triune God.
While knowing God and praising Him are crucial, we do not Grow Love in knowing God and praising Him alone. In Psalm 139:23-24 King David begs God to search him, showing his “anxious heart.” We grow as we are searched by God and the Holy Spirit reveals our sin, our faithlessness, to us. We grow as we confess these sins and allow the Spirit to work change in us. Grow Love is expressed individually in the spiritual disciplines and corporately in Sunday School, mentoring, and within families. Growth is measured not in knowledge gained, but in life transformation.
The evidence of true Christian growth, transformation, is seen in how we show love. Show Love is expressed through missional living. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that we are “created to do good works.” This is accomplished through mission trips, serving in the local church, serving in the community, giving, and acting as an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) wherever the Lord may lead. It is an attitude and lifestyle of commitment to the Great Commission. It is the goal of the church to move all believers into this missional lifestyle.
None of theses expressions are independent of one another. They can be expressed with different terminology and graphics, but each must exist in a healthy church. I believe the ministry of the church revolves around these expressions. If an activity, event, or ministry does not fit into one of these areas we must ask why it exists. The goal is to see people’s lives transform as they move to the center where know, grow, & show intersect, continuing to live out each expression as a part of the redeemed community by the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.