Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hills to Die On

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.  (Matthew 13:45-46)

If you were to compare the doctrinal statements of Christian churches in our community, there won’t be too much disparity.  Most protestant churches are pretty close to each other in doctrine, holding fast to the essentials.  If you were to compare them by mission, again, you wouldn’t find too many wavering from evangelism, discipleship, serving, community, and worship.  We all have our cute nomenclature, but we don’t drift too far from these purposes.  The Great Commission is applicable to all of us.

So what separates churches?  The hills they will die on.  Let me share with you some core values of PCC, and me personally, and you’ll see what I mean.

The Bible is True.  Our first value is that we believe the Bible is true and it is the catalyst for change in people’s lives and in the church.  From day one, whenever it comes to what we believe, how we think, how we operate our church, or where we should land on a particular issue, we have one simple value:  go to the Bible, and then go with the Bible.  Over and over again, we’ve been committed to asking, “What does the Bible say?”  Biblical authority governs our lives, this church, and all teaching.

Lost People Matter to God.  Lost people matter to God and therefore they should matter to us.  This value puts us on mission.  It tells us we have a clear cause.  We are to be turned outward, not inward.  As long as there is one person in our community that does not know Jesus Christ, this church has a mandate.  BTW, this was the hill Jesus died on.

Authentic Fellowship.  Another value we hold to is that friendships and meaningful relationships should permeate every aspect of church life and our Christian life.  This value drives me to be a zealous defender of the community and unity of our church family.  When there is conflict or tension, stress or misunderstanding, we’re going to tackle it head-on within the context of love.  We’re not going to let it go underground, much less let it become cancerous and malignant so that it infects the body of Christ.  We are going to pay the high price and hard work of community.

I know we all won’t be equally close to one another; this isn’t about every single person being your best buddy.  In fact, there might even be people you feel a little “allergic” to, but we can still be authentic, loving in our spirits, gracious in our hearts, and fiercely loyal to each other.

A Standard of Excellence.   Another value is that excellence in all we do honors God and inspires people.  That’s a value for two reasons.  The first and most important is because it’s the only way to live a life that honors God.  God deserves our best.  Mediocrity does not honor God, nor does it reflect His character.

But there’s a second reason, one that we should never forget.  Excellence sends a message.  When somebody comes in and see typos in the program, sloppy printing, messy floors, smelly bathrooms, unkempt grounds, poor musical presentations, children’s lessons pulled together at the last minute, or shallows sermons that sound like they were prepared the night before, they make a value judgment: “This God they talk about must not be very important to these people, or they wouldn’t do things this way.” 

So I am passionate about excellence at PCC not only because I want us to honor God with our lives, but also because mediocrity could invalidate everything we try to communicate about Christ.

Let Leaders Lead.  A core value of PCC is that churches should be led by those who have the spiritual gift of leadership.  This is very, very important and I will go to the mat over this one.  This is about structure, government, and leadership.  Not only do we let leaders lead, but we’re also structured in a way that the Bible intimates – not with committees, elections, ballots, and parliamentary procedure – but along the lines of what a church is.

The church is a fellowship, so we structure for unity.  The church is a family, so we organize and manage it like a family.  The church is a body, so we are made up of people with differing gifts, filling different roles.  And the church is a flock, so the church is cared for and led by shepherds.

Financial Stewardship.  Christians are recipients of grace and that grace should be expressed in our giving.  Stinginess is antithetical to Christianity.  Consequently, we are not timid about asking people to give.  Giving and generosity is essential to every Christian’s spiritual growth.

Rather than making a few big asks a couple of times a year (when the church is in crisis mode), we take a moment to talk about stewardship every single Sunday in the worship service.  We connect the offering to the Bible and teach about it briefly and often.  This constant reminder provides more opportunities for the Holy Spirit to move and convict. 

Full Devotion is Normal.  This value is simple yet profound:  full devotion to Jesus Christ and His cause is normal for ever believer.  Not wavering; not double-minded; not lukewarm, not half-hearted or greeting the whole thing with a yawn.

Fully devoted.

Anything less is abnormal. 

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