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What We Believe

1. Essential, Biblical Christianity: God is love

We believe it is our calling to focus on essential, Biblical Christianity. We make it our goal at GlenwoodChurchto “focus on the basics” rather than to major on minor issues. We believe that maturity involves increasing simplicity and humility and practicality, not endless complexity, pride, and abstraction. Over the years, we have come to realize that what matters most is gloriously simple and not controversial … loving God with all our being, and loving our neighbours as ourselves. As Jesus said (Luke10:41-42), we tend to worry about “many things,” when few things really matter, and really only one… just learning to sit quietly, simply, teachable, lovingly at Jesus’ feet as humble learners. In short, this value says that we focus on “core Christianity,” the beliefs and values that nearly all Christians across the ages have held in common. Those essential truths, made clear in the Bible, are articulated in the “Our Beliefs” section.

2. Jesus is the Centre (Revelation 1:9-20; Colossians1:15-20)

The book of Revelation is an account of a vision that God gives to John. At the heart of the vision God reminds John who is at the centre of it all – it is Jesus (Revelation 1:9-20). This is a strong reminder from God that at the centre of all that we do and are must be Jesus.

Keeping Jesus at the centre will help with many issues, including;

  • a commitment to grace – He is the God who allows mistakes – God encourages us to take risks for Him – not so he can see us fail but so that we ‘fly’ in His Kingdom. And should we fall, he picks us up. As God treats us, so we must model it with one another. We treat one another with grace, we allow for mistakes and new starts. (Eph 2:4,5; Galatians 1:15; 2 Corinthians 9:8; 2 Peter 3:18).
  • a commitment to non-judgmental attitudes – anyone is welcome here. (Philippians 1:9,10; Matthew 7:1-5).
  • the fringe and vulnerable are welcome here. (Micah 6:8; Isaiah 58:6-4; Psalm 41:1; James 2:1-6).
  • the prodigals are welcomed home. Prodigals will often comment that when they try and come ‘home’ they feel judged in the same way the younger brother was by his older brother in the story told by Jesus (Luke 15:11-31). If we keep Jesus at the heart of our community this should not happen.
  • He will keep us humble (Philippians 2:5-8).

This kind of community welcomes anyone, no questions asked, no mould to fit into.

3. Mission Through Community: A dynamic balance

We seek a vital balance between mission (doing, what we seek to achieve) and community (being, how we relate to one another). Key to our values is refusing to choose one over the other. We pursue our mission through community, and we experience community as we pursue our mission. This dynamic balance is essential for each part of our mission statement.

 First, community is essential to the evangelistic dimension of our mission. Spiritual seekers need a loving context for the process of spiritual seeking to take place: a community where questions can be asked and tried to be answered, doubts expressed, authenticity observed, worship experienced, Christian living demonstrated, answers to prayer and changes in people’s lives actually witnessed. Such an atmosphere of grace is the best context for people to experience God, to find the courage and freedom to change and grow, and to find reason to believe. After all, didn’t Jesus say that it was our love and unity that would validate his message, and our authenticity as his followers?

 Second, community is essential to the discipleship dimension of our mission. People will grow into vibrant followers of Christ only in the context of authentic Christian community. How can they be equipped, deployed, and supported for ministry in any other context? How can people become more and more of what God intends them to be unless they are interacting with others: serving and being served, confronting and being confronted, offending and asking for forgiveness and being offended and offering forgiveness, teaching and being taught, giving and receiving, failing and being encouraged and offering encouragement to fellow strugglers? How can people experience the abundant life promised by Christ if they never laugh and cry and work and communicate and forgive and experiment and rest and work together, in the context of community? Clearly, mission and community are friends, not enemies!

4. Innovation and Creativity: Leaning forward into the future

We want to learn from the past and to use all that is good, however we try to hold traditions lightly, to remain flexible and ready to change. Jesus said only new, flexible wineskins could hold the new wine of the Spirit, so we are committed to remaining flexible, teachable, and always open to change.

Not only that, but we serve a creative God! The splendour and span of is creativity call us to excellence and innovation. We believe that God is at work in the world and in our lives, and so we face the future with anticipation, not fear with confidence, not hesitation; with creativity, not inhibition.

We expect to make mistakes, and we try to learn from them. We experiment freely. We look for new ways of doing things, because our mission matters so much. We believe God’s work deserves our very best. It’s not enough to be contemporary; we need to be anticipatory, leaning forward, riding the crest of the wave, being part of the exciting “new things” that God is doing – things that we are privileged to be part of.

True, we are a congregation that welcomes rather than resists change, but we have as our stabilizing guiding principles the mission, vision, purpose, values, and beliefs expressed in this document. We hope that one hundred years from now,GlenwoodChurchwill still be steering its course through changing currents guided by similar constants.

5. Spiritual Vibrancy: God’s Spirit alive in our experience through vital spiritual disciplines.

At GlenwoodChurch, we want to experience spiritual vibrancy in Christ through all the stages of life. We don’t believe people learn for a while and then reach some elevated plateau of “maturity” where they coast as “know-it-alls” until heaven. We believe every life-stage is filled with special lessons, opportunities, challenges, perspectives… and so we seek to promote spiritual teachability for everyone, wherever they are in their journey, from the youngest child to the oldest senior citizen.

A triangle diagram can be helpful in understanding how spiritual growth occurs through each of life’s stages. At the top point of the triangle we have God’s Spirit. Without God, nothing happens. At the next point, we have our experience – the ups and downs of life, the joys and disappointments, delights and sufferings, advances and setbacks, hopes and dreams and fears – the real-life context within which God works. At the third point, we have spiritual disciplines – the practices or habits or behaviours that can help us, in the middle of life’s experiences, to keep in touch with God’s Spirit. Those spiritual disciplines include study of Scripture, prayer, worship, fasting, feasting, fellowship, journaling, silence, service, and more. They are a rich palette which God’s Spirit uses to paint our lives with vibrant colours.

 Clearly, words like “dynamic” and “vibrant” have become important to us. Defined as “pulsing with life and energy,” we further specify what we mean by spiritual vibrancy through six practices… you can think of them as the “ships” for our journey: discipleship, worship, stewardship, fellowship, hardship, and partnership. Where these are being practiced, there will be true spiritual vibrancy.

6. Integrity and Authenticity: The natural result of humility, humour, and humanness

We seek to be ‘real’ people who do not wear ‘masks’. We know that we all stumble every day in many ways – and we encourage one another to “fall in the light” – to readily admit our mistakes, not to hide or try to cover them up. Sometimes, a sense of humour helps us to avoid taking ourselves and our mistakes so seriously – so we can take the amazing grace of God more seriously.

We avoid putting people on pedestals. We avoid being “showy.” We want people to be free to be themselves, because that’s what we’ve learned from Jesus Christ.

7. Care for the Poor and Vulnerable

At Glenwood we seek to live out the Biblical teaching on God’s heart for the poor. We want to be a community that expresses and demonstrates this through the way we live and serve people. We recognise that poverty is not only an issue of economics but one can be poor through lack of choice, through emotional bankruptcy and spiritual emptiness.

 

8. Grace as the Foundation of all our Relationships

God models grace to us every day we live. He has called us by grace and we go on walking with Him by grace. We therefore live by grace with one another. He is a God who allows mistakes – God encourages us to take risks for Him – not so he can see us fail but so that we ‘fly’ in His Kingdom. And should we fall, he picks us up.We hope these values give you a feel for our ethos as a community, and the spirit of our journey together.

 



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