In case you missed our Town Hall meeting- here’s the vision document for the next season of life at Evergreen, as well as the budget summary for the coming year!
As an introduction to new folks at Evergreen and a reminder to long-time members of our community, we want to take some time working through our values and beliefs. Part Two continues with one of our core values:
The Bible says that whoever oppresses the poor insults their Maker, but those who help the poor honor Him. In a world full of AIDS orphans, poverty and starvation, and people desperate for hope, the Church can no longer remain indifferent. We must allow our hearts to be broken by the things that break the heart of God.
The Evergreen Community aims to be a group of people who honor God the way that He wants to be honored, not necessarily in the way that is most comfortable or convenient for us. And that means actually doing something for the poor, because that’s what God wants, even if it pulls us far outside of our comfort zones.
The reason we call this “justice” rather than charity is because we have a responsibility. We have been commanded to give out of our wealth to the poor in their poverty (1 John 3:17, James 1:27, 2:14-17) . This is therefore an obligation, not a gift. It’s uncomfortable to think of it this way, but we owe God our obedience… and we owe the poor our help. Thus, when we give or do acts of charity, it’s only what is right, what is just. Justice.
We need to realize how easy it is to fall into the trap of “doing church” and becoming useless to the world around us. Sharing the love of Christ is about more than sharing the “Plan of Salvation.” It’s about loving people the way that Jesus loved them- giving them what they need physically, loving them unconditionally and sacrificially, all the while sharing the Good News of the Kingdom.
As an introduction to new folks at Evergreen and a reminder to long-time members of our community, we want to take some time working through our values and beliefs. Part One starts with one of our core values:
We see our community not as being interested in “missions,” but as being mission.
Our first “core value” (those things which define and drive us) is being missional.
We recognize that it’s our job as a community, not to attract and convert people, but to go and serve them, inviting them to explore and become a part of the Kingdom of God. We believe that this will introduce people seeking God to Christ better than any “program” we could ever devise. We see our community not as being interested in “missions,” but as being mission. In other words, the church is not here for “us”- to serve us and make us happy… we are here for the Church which is here for the world.
We recognize our fundamental identity as sent, sent as a community to our City and as individuals and home communities to our neighborhoods. We gather together regularly to share life and grow closer to God and one another, but that in itself is not the full extent of our mission. Our mission is to “be Christ,” to do those things He would do in the world were He in our shoes. And our worship gatherings, discipleship and community life are all formation for mission.
Healthy community doesn’t just happen.
It’s something that takes intentionality and hard work. So, as we head into Fall this year, let’s consider the kind of community we want to be and commit together to that this year.
Let’s renew our commitment to be a community that looks upward
Worship and setting our hearts on God has to be a priority for us both individually and communally. Everything else flows from this shared commitment to believe in the Good News of Jesus and worship wholeheartedly at the feet of the God who saves us. Without orienting and re-orienting our hearts towards God and towards His heart and priorities for the world, we inevitably slip back into what is simply easiest. And while what’s easiest is often what’s most comfortable, it rarely changes much.
That means if we want to see change in our lives, in our neighborhood and in our world, the rhythms of worship and attentiveness to God and His Word are essential. Can we commit to lives that consistently look upward in worship, in devotion, in listening to God and responding appropriately?
Let’s renew our commitment to be a community that looks inward
The best advertisement for the Gospel is a community that works it out together; a community that loves each other even when it gets hard, that both encourages and challenges each other, that cares for one another in ways that make the world look on in amazement. When we love each other through constantly praying for one another, being attentive to the needs in our community and moving swiftly to meet them, to being involved in each others’ lives throughout the week, we are not only creating the community we want and need, we are making a space that has the power to change lives and so change the world. Can we commit to living in surprising love towards each other this year?
Let’s renew our commitment to be a community that looks outward
Our church does not exist only for us- it exists for many we haven’t even met yet! That means we must be a community of radical hospitality, focused on the mission of Jesus in the world. Listening to God and responding appropriately will inevitably pull us outward in mission- in serving the city around us and sharing the Good News of Jesus with our friends, neighbors and co-workers. Can we commit this year not only to serving those in need around us, but to praying for a building relationships with those that Jesus loves so much He died for, those who need to hear the Good News of the Gospel?