Hebrews 1:3 speaks of the Son, Jesus, saying, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature . . .”
C.S. Lewis, in his article, The Weight of Glory, writes, “I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not! How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except insofar as it is related to how He thinks of us.”
So as a core value, God’s Glory is that reminder that life is not about us, instead it is about Him. The Grove Church is to profess the greatness of God, the grace of Jesus, illuminating the world by our reflection of Him as we are made more like Jesus in every way. Practically speaking, our service is not about our own satisfaction, but His. Our giving is not about our needs and desires, instead it is about the acknowledgment of His generosity. In every conversation we have, it is about speaking the very words of God so that we build up one another in Him. In every relationship it is about possessing His perspective, so that we see one another as Jesus would see us, in view of mercy and applied with grace. Approaching one another with His perspective helps us bear with one another as His bride. All of these things are rooted in God’s Glory.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul tells the church that “we all . . . are being transformed in to the same image from one degree of glory to another.” Maturing disciples will reflect the glory of Christ at work in them and thus furthering God’s glory among people. In every way, The Grove Church desires the Glory of God to govern every aspect of her ministry and service.
Various leaders in the church life of today, emphasize the importance of relationships should a church be healthy. Al Mohler writes, “while the private acts of devotion are truly important, Christians are not called to grow into faithfulness alone. The Christian life is to be lived within the fellowship and accountability of a local congregation, where the Word is rightly preached and believers mature together.”
The purpose statement ofThe Grove Church emphasizes this biblical truth. Our purpose is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ through the teaching of Scripture so that we may present everyone as a mature disciple in Him. This is a restatement of Colossians 1:28, encompassing the priorities for a healthy ministry.
This passage, coupled with the priorities determined from Acts 2:42-47, leads us to the core value of Relationships. In acts we find the disciples worshiping together, founding that worship on the truth of the Apostles teaching. For us today, we have the Scriptures as our foundation of worship and teaching. So it is in our Gathering for teaching, worship, and prayer together that the reflected image of God is identified.
The church also belonged together. It was through their day to day living that their community changed and disciples were maturing. The church was Growing in relationships while communicating the truth; this is essential for discipleship.
Finally relationships were essential for the witness of the church. As these disciples were Going into the community together, their relationships with one another identified the work of God in their lives.
Francis Chan wrote the following in the book Multiply, “The mission of your church is too important to leave to everyone else. The moment you begin to believe that your church can be healthy while you sit on the sidelines, you have given up on God’s plan of redemption. It means that if you are not active in the church, you are hurting your brothers and sisters.”
For these reasons, at The Grove Church relationships are at the core of what God will do in us and through us. We will continually emphasize and internationalize the necessity to build godly relationships.
In Acts 17 we discover that God has a unique purpose for every individual and group in their culture and context. In verses 26-27 Paul explains that for every group of people, God has determined a time, a place, and a path for them to come into relationship with Him. So as a first principle in terms of opportunities, as both individuals and a church, we are to understand that God is going to do a purposeful work in us, with us, and through us.
There are two primary ways these opportunities arise in the life and ministry of a church. The first is through attraction, the second is through incarnation. In Acts 2 42-47 we observe the church in relationships the way The Lord intended, worshiping, maturing, and belonging or Growing together, it attracted others towards the gospel message. This is a valid method of evangelism. We ought to build a community that seeks opportunities to convey the power of the gospel at work in one another’s lives and the ongoing transformation should be a testimonial to the cynical world of Christ in us.
If we were to look a the Scripture to identify an attractive paradigm, we would look to Acts 12 when Cornelius was given a vision to go to Peter. Peter was likewise given a vision about Cornelius’ arrival. In 12:34 Peter identifies that there is no partiality between Gentile and Jew.
The incarnational ministry of the church is to be about sharing the love and good news of Jesus, proclaiming the gospel. It is a ministry that seeks to take the message of hope that we have by faith encountered, embraced, and established maturing faith upon and express and expose that faith to others. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-21Paul describes the ministry of believers in the community as a reconciling ministry.
John MacArthur writes, “If a person is offended by God’s Word, that is his problem. If he is offended by biblical doctrine, standards, or church discipline, that is his problem. That person is offended by God. But if he is offended by our unnecessary behavior or practices– no matter how good and acceptable those may be in themselves– his problem becomes our problem. It is not a problem of law but a problem of love, and love always demands more than the law.”
The Grove Church possesses the core value Opportunities, to emphasize the moments we are to share the love and proclaim the good news of Jesus with everyone who is in our sphere of influence. It will remind us to build a strong ministry to attract people and to pursue incarnational ministry in the marketplace of our lives.
Have you ever watched a clip of an old baseball game? One of the first things you might notice is the games were always held during the daytime. Stadiums in early history didn’t have lights. There was a point that promoters recognized people were working and the crowds at the games were dwindling. The hope was to add lights and other activities to draw people to evening games. Lights became especially important when television began airing the games. People around the country were able to sit down and watch games after their day in the field, factory, or office, and promoters needed the games to remain accessible to the public. Lights were essential. Cultural changes often demand consideration for the reliable and effective communication. Sharing the good news of Jesus in the 21st Century is not unlike baseball promoters seeing the need to add lights to the field.
For The Grove Church, the word Vibrant reminds of us of the need to pursue relevance in a fast paced culture. We see this modeled by Paul in the book of Acts when he spoke at the Areopagus. We discover Jesus employing the same principle in John’s gospel. We have record of his meeting with Nicodemus and a mere chapter later he is conversing with the Samaritan woman at a well. Jesus certainly employed relevant avenues to his audience to bring them to the light.
The core value, Vibrant, is this idea that guards our commitment to proclaim the good news of Jesus with people so that they are offered an appropriate response to follow Jesus. It means that we will be relevant to our culture. It means that we will be representatives of Jesus in a manner that offers others the hope that we have. It is that guardian of our ministry that will remind us that it is not for the opportunity itself that we engage in ministry and relationships, but for the greater purpose of calling people to appropriate response to be faithful followers of Jesus in all ways.
At The Grove Church we know that it is an impossibility for our church body to encounter every individual in the world. We also recognize that through a variety of means we can influence people in a way that the gospel is extended to all nations. By cooperating with the universal body of Christ we can be obedient to the calls of ministry and missions that God has given.
What will destroy obedience is prejudice and favoritism. There are three basic principles that are foundational for this core value, Everyone. First, reading in Revelation 7:9-10, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”” (Revelation 7:9-10 ESV) The clear picture we have is that people from every nation will be redeemed and present in heaven worshiping before the throne of God. Therefore in anticipation of this incredible truth we ought to engage in the positive practice of engaging with people of all nationalities in accordance with God’s plans and promise that every nation will somehow be represented in heaven.
Second, it is essential for us to embrace people of differing social structures. Jesus modeled this for us Himself. He engaged with every class of society at some point to accomplish His redemptive purpose. He met with the upper class, wealthy, elite and famous. He met with the middle class and working people of the day, those who had popular positions and adequate means. He also ministered to the needy and poor and often turned aside from his prominent responsibilities to heal them and offer them hope that was found in no other.
Our third principle is this, “we must be the servant to all.” If you love Jesus, race, nationality , and social status cannot determine how you treat people. If you love Jesus, you will have a universal good will toward people everywhere.
John Calvin said the following, “We are to observe what is equitable among men, and also to perform the duties of mercy.” The greater justice lies, not in us pleasing our senses of justice toward ourselves, but instead living in such a manner that others are treated in accordance with their position as image bearers of God. That is why in Micah 6:8, there is an included qualifier of humility in relationship with God that guards our treatment of one another. When we walk humbly with God, just treatment of one another is in place and the response to the distinctions, failures, shortcomings, or rebellion of another is steadfast love.
So as we embrace and practice this core value, ministering to Everyone, you will be glorifying God through your humble and obedient service.