To be a "city within a city"* (an alternative Boston) that passionately loves JESUS, thoughtfully seeks JUSTICE for the oppressed, and intentionally forms a diverse FAMILY that serves and reflects our community.
*The imagery of a "city within a city" comes from the words of Jesus in the Gospel according to Matthew (5.14-16). Jesus tells his followers that they are a "city on a hill" whose relationships, character, and way of life show the world what God is like.
To be the "city on a hill" Jesus spoke of, the church must be a countercultural, alternative society of people who model the way life works in the kingdom of God. While, in the kingdoms of the world, race, gender, economic class divide people, in this new city, those divisions are destroyed. Instead, Jesus himself unites us in peace.
Being an alternate city means that we model alternate ways of doing life. We ask questions like, “How do we use our money, sexuality, and power? How do we treat the poor? How do we think of art, commerce, and education?”
Our vision also coincides with the vision of the Evangelical Covenant Church. We want to cultivate a community of worship "committed to: prayer, preaching, and study of the word; the celebration of the sacraments; and fellowship across gender, race, age, culture, and class." We want to be the church of Jesus Christ; "to equip loving, giving, growing Christians to reach out with the good news of Jesus Christ – evangelizing the lost, ministering to those in need, and seeking justice for the oppressed."
In particular, we want to be people formed by the cross: a cruciform community. This means taking seriously the teachings and life of Jesus (particularly his Sermon on the Mount and his ministry among the marginalized) and living in obedience to our Lord. We want to be formed by our life together as fellow sojourners, a colony of heaven, resident aliens, an alternative social structure in this world. This entails rejecting the political systems of this world, including their reliance upon violence, and the idolatry of money. We want to be witnesses now of God's new life in the Spirit, that hopes for the new city where God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
We love Jesus with all our hearts. Jesus is our God. We want to worship, obey, and become more like him. For us, this means learning how to love the way Jesus loved—giving his life away. This also means telling others the Good News about Jesus and showing them how we can follow him together. Planting new churches is best way we know how to do that, and it's the way we believe God has specifically instructed us to make Jesus disciples. Discipleship for us is the process by which we draw closer to God, and God makes us more like Jesus.
God's kingdom is all about shalom, which means peace or wholeness. And shalom is more than the absence of conflict; it's the presence of justice. For us, justice means making things right. It looks like a community of people, called by God, living among those in need, loving one another, learning from one another, sharing with one another, and ultimately becoming a safe and empowering presence in the midst of a complex and broken world. Justice means treating all people with dignity because they are creating in God's image. Justice means reconciling people to God and to each other. Justice means loving our neighbors as ourselves.
The Church is not a corporation. The Church isn't even merely a charity. The Church is a family—God's family. And since God is the God of all people, all people belong in God's family. This means that the Church is made to include people of every race, ethnicity, culture; the Church is made to include men and women, rich and poor—even Yankees fans! This also means that the Church is to be a place where we share authentic relationships. And in these relationships we build one another up, encourage one another, admonish one another, and serve one another. In God's family there are spiritual mothers and fathers, spiritual sons and daughters. In God's family everyone has a place and everyone belongs.
Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, Associate Pastor @NewCityChurch of Los Angeles, sometimes web designer, writer, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.