Who We Are As Growing Christians
One of my favorite Bible verses is Colossians 2:6, "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him."
What does it mean to "live in," or to grow in Christ? How do we send roots down deep and grow up strong? In the fall of 2005, SBPC leaders adopted a five sentence summary of what living in and growing in Christ looks like. We call it our Mission Statement.
- We WORSHIP God in community with authenticity, diversity, and passion.
- We BELONG to each other through faith in Christ and membership in his church.
- We GROW in small groups through transformational relationships, study and prayer.
- We SERVE with uncommon generosity by giving of our time, spiritual gifts, and financial resources.
- We IMPACT the world by demonstrating the kingdom of God and inviting others to join it.
I'd like to expand on the first three statements, and I've asked Paula Taylor, our Pastor of Discipleship, to comment on the latter two.
We WORSHIP God
SBPC is not all about SBPC! Our highest aim is NOT to focus on our great programs, or facilities, or staff. Our highest ambition and deepest desire is to experience the life-transforming grace of God and to point others to it. That's why the heartbeat of our life is worship. In worship, we turn the spotlight away from our own needs and accomplishments and center our thoughts and imaginations on Jesus Christ. We open our hearts in grateful praise for all He's done for us and for the whole world. We enter worship not primarily for what we can get out of it. Instead, we bring offerings of praise for His mercy and majesty, rejoicing in His plans and purposes. We are the cast and God is the audience!
As we open ourselves in worship, we come into lively contact with the Holy Spirit. "And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom...and we are being transformed into Christ's likeness, bit by bit" (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). As I surrender more and more of myself to His Spirit, I actually become more and more of who I am meant to be! More and more sin falls away from my personality, and the real me, created to uniquely reflect Jesus, emerges! I gain so much out of Spirit-filled worship; it changes me into a better person so that I might better reflect Christ and might better please the Father.
It is certainly true that we can and should worship Him all day and in all places, like at the beach or soccer field. But the Bible places a special emphasis on community worship: "Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together" (Psalm 34:3). Like an ember removed from a blazing fire, our faith detached from community worship will fade. We will not shine as brightly and the fire will be dimmer! We believe it is God's will that followers of Jesus worship Him together, and so we expect SBPC'ers to be in Sunday worship regularly.
In the past few years we have wrestled before the Lord, earnestly asking Him to fashion our worship to be more pleasing to Him and more transforming for us. We long to be real, not to put on a performance. We long to see more of God's creative genius express itself through variety in gender, culture, and age and through a multiplicity of creative arts. We all express and experience worship in many ways including young musicians playing Baroque chamber music, people expressing themselves by painting beautiful pictures on canvas, performers reflecting God's light through drama, worshippers experiencing God through video, and so much more - all expressing and enjoying the glories of God!