We are ...
We want to see God’s invisible kingdom made visible on Earth. In other words, we want to see God’s will done perfectly in heaven come down to Bradenton and Manatee County. As we focus on His Kingdom and not our own, we pray the High King of Heaven would grow in fame among the hearts of people more tomorrow than today.
Our vision is that we would regularly be reproducing personal ministry, community groups, and even this church. The goal is not simply a great church, but one involved in the movement of planting new churches. In order to see this accomplished we will be regularly apprenticing people of various giftings in order to multiply ministry (Matt 28:19-20, II Tim 2:2, I Peter 4:10).
The gospel is the good news that God has accomplished our salvation for us through Christ to destroy all the affects of sin-punishment, power, presence-in the world. The gospel changes everything, providing answers for our deepest questions and solutions for our hardest issues. Therefore deeply repenting and believing it is the greatest need of the Christian and non-Christian alike. To be centered around the gospel means that it is sufficient to provide:
Motivation: because God is already pleased with us in Christ, we are set free to joyfully follow and set free to fail. Our emphasis is never on our performance, good or bad, but resting instead on Christ’s performance for us. The gospel motivates our maturity in the faith (Romans 6:14, 8:1, Zeph 3:15-17).
Direction: No issue will supplement the gospel or drag our attention away from proclaiming it from the pulpit and in person. (Gal 5:1)
Power: The power for change comes not from principles but the person of Jesus and what he has done for us. Just as we received Christ through repentance and faith, we grow in Him by the same way. (Rom 1:16, Col 2:6)
Our hope is not only for a great church, but a great city. We will glorify God by seeking the peace and welfare of West Bradenton and Manatee County, placing special emphasis on neighborhoods. We anticipate that groups of people committing to love and serve their neighborhoods, as well as being a faithful presence where they work and play will make a difference in this area (Jer 29:7, Col 3:23, Matt 5:13-16).
Having been “sent” by God to lovingly move toward people in order to move them toward to Christ and His church. This whole process simply begins by looking, always aware of whomever God has put in front of you. Jesus compassionately noticed people when others simply walked past them. Looking leads to compassion, and then graciously moving toward others with lives and gospel message This “missional” looking occurs even when the church gathers for parties, community groups, and worship. (John 20:21, II Thess 2:8, Matt 9:36-38, Acts 2:42-47, I Cor 14:23-24).
Discipleship, evangelism, mercy, deep fellowship, spiritual maturity occur best in the context of deep, safe, committed relationships. We will be intentional in providing contexts for such relationships through community groups, worship, and parties.
Valuing the need for diversity in age, race, socioeconomics, and politics to display the unity we have in the gospel.
The gospel gives us all the motivation, direction, and power that we need to begin maturing and following Jesus with all of our lives. We never arrive at the destination (pride) nor obsess about our failures (despair), but instead freely press on and encourage others toward maturity in Christ. Missional movement cannot be separated from personal maturing (Phil 3:8-11; Col 1:28-29). Maturing involves growing the three areas: The Head, Heart, and Hands.
Head (Knowledge/Discernment)-In order to know someone, particularly the Someone, we have to know something about Him and the salvation He has accomplished for us. It is impossible to grow in love of someone without learning more about him or her, and it is the same with God. As a result, we desire that our love would grow in knowledge and discernment (Phil 1:9, Eph 1:17, Eph 4:13, II Cor 10:5).
Heart (Experiencing/Applying). Head knowledge is never the goal but instead should propel us to deeper love for God and His people, evidenced by fruit of the Spirit. Such fruit is produced when the robust gospel is personally applied to our lives personally and in community. Some refer to this as spiritual or gospel dynamics. Cherishing Christ and His work on our behalf leads to real character change (Eph 3:19, Col 2:6, I Peter 2:2-3, Gal 5:22).
Hands. (Serving) Freed up from selfish or legalistic motivations, we then use our gifts, time, opportunities, and blessings to serve the church and minister to those outside of it. (I Peter 4:10, Gal 5:13-14, I Cor 12)
“Any model of the fullness of the Spirit which attempts to make empowering for service relatively separate from growth in holiness inevitably collides with the truth represented in the very title 'Holy Spirit.'” Spiritual Dynamics, Richard Lovelace pg 125