A Dream for a Better Tomorrow

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One week ago, the elders of Christ Presbyterian Church, where I get to serve as pastor, adopted and approved a vision statement that I believe is so compelling that I am ready to give the rest of my life to it. Although I don’t usually use the blog for “church stuff,” I felt that this was too beautiful not to share with a broader audience. If you are part of CPC, let’s roll!! The vision that follows will also be the content of an eight-week sermon series at both CPC locations, starting September 11. If you are not part of CPC, we beg your prayers that God would grant favor as he leads us forward. Thank you!


A DREAM FOR A BETTER TOMORROW

At Christ Presbyterian Church, we are a family united in Christ that aspires to be led by Scripture. Together, we will look to the Father’s perfect Word as given in the Old and New Testaments—and as interpreted by the historic ecumenical creeds and protestant reformed confessions—to form our spiritual life. We will look to Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of sinners, to forgive our sins, refresh our spirits, ignite our worship, and transform our character. We will prayerfully depend on the Holy Spirit, whose power raised Jesus from the dead, to also empower us to live resurrected lives, loving God with our whole selves and our neighbor as ourselves.

Because Christ’s church is called to be a family, we will aspire to share life with one another. In our beliefs and teaching, we will unite around Scripture’s essential truths, while promoting liberty around things about which Scripture is flexible or silent. In our worship, we will honor God, gather weekly around the Lord’s Table, and create belonging for one another and our guests. In our life together, we will honor one another above ourselves as we pursue the Father’s vision for welcoming, listening to, loving, confessing, forgiving, serving, comforting, sharing burdens with, caring and praying for, remaining loyal to, and spurring on the best in one another. We will celebrate our diversity—opening our lives and hearts and homes to sinners and saints, doubters and believers, seekers and skeptics, prodigals and Pharisees, Presbyterians and non-Presbyterians, young and old, married and unmarried, leaders and followers, famous and infamous, our own races and other races, happy and depressed, helpers and those who need help, creative and corporate, conservative and liberal, American and international, affluent and bankrupt, public and private and home schooled—and all others who enter our doors. We will aspire to expand our ‘us’ by carefully listening to, learning from, and being shaped by one another’s unique experiences and perspectives.

As a church rooted in Jesus Christ—who taught that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive and that greatness is found through serving—we will aspire to give ourselves away. Indeed, our ‘conservative’ belief that every word of Scripture is right and good and true, will compel us toward ‘liberal’ lives of generosity and love. We will aim to live not only for ourselves, but as partakers in a movement of God’s Kingdom. God, because He loves us, sweeps us up and includes us—along with all of His children everywhere—in His mission of loving people, places, and things to life. As His beloved ambassadors, He sends us out to ‘so love the world,’ in hopes of leaving the world better than we found it. We hope to be part of something that adds such value to our city that if Christians disappeared, the whole city would weep.

Because Jesus called us to let our light shine before men that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven, our faith will be a public faith. We will aspire to love and serve all our neighbors in the places where we live, work and play. We will host and encourage civil conversations that unite believers, seekers, and nonbelievers around shared interests, in hopes that the truth, beauty, love, and justice of God will be brought to bear on the most central and pressing issues of our time. We will host life-giving parties for our city and our neighbors as a sign of God’s Kingdom, and of how heaven rejoices when prodigals come home and cynics lay down their defenses and join the celebration.

Although Jesus reserves membership in His church and participation in His Table for those who trust Him and seek to obey Scripture, we will join Jesus in befriending those who do not believe as we do. We will welcome all people into our worship services, parties, conversations, homes and lives, including those who have misgivings or doubts about the beliefs, ethics, generosity, self-denial, and counter-cultural nature of historic Christianity.

As Christ’s ambassadors to our neighbors in need, we will aspire to live lives of mercy and justice. We will give special attention to, and generously channel our resources toward improving conditions and systems—whether spiritual, social, economic or vocational—for the poor, immigrants and refugees, ethnic and other minorities, and others who lack resources, opportunity, or privilege. We will embrace the idea that as conditions improve for those who have power, conditions must also improve for those who lack power, and never at their expense. For wealth, privilege and power are given to be stewarded and shared for the benefit of all, not protected and kept merely for the benefit of some.

As those who have been called into the world by Christ to serve Him in our work, we will aspire to eliminate the false dichotomy of sacred versus secular. We will affirm that every good work—whether creative or restorative—is no less God’s work than the work of pastors and missionaries. We will commit our resources to train, equip, and resource Christians for the integration of faith and work, in hopes that people and institutions representing church, business, education, the social sector, arts and entertainment, government and media, and other channels of influence—will approach their work with tenacity, purpose, and confidence that their work contributes meaningfully to God’s mission to heal the world.

Finally, because God’s Kingdom is much greater than a single church, we will pray and work for the flourishing of all people and not just our people; of all churches and not just our church; of all cities and not just our city; and of all nations and not just our nation. We will do this chiefly by making disciples, equipping leaders, creating and sharing content, and starting new, like-minded congregations—including cross-denominational and multi-ethnic ones—throughout greater Nashville and across the globe. Because our city is a strategic hub for multiple spheres of impact, we will expect any movement of God’s Kingdom in greater Nashville to also extend beyond Nashville to the world. We will pursue and embrace opportunities to share our resources and capital—whether spoken, written, creative, financial, relational, professional or otherwise—toward Jesus’ vision to bless and heal the world. As we do this, we will celebrate wherever, whenever, and through whomever God chooses to grow His Kingdom. And never, under any circumstances, will we concern ourselves with who gets the attention or the credit. Our task is to advance His fame and glory, and not our own. For it is from Him, and to Him, and through Him that are all things.

Amen.


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3 responses to “A Dream for a Better Tomorrow”

  1. Beautifully written. Worthy of the Bride of Christ. This is a comprehensive vision for the church that makes me want to sit down and pen my own vision–and I just might. Pastor, keep writing and teaching; I appreciate your voice. Please don’t take that as flattery. It is not meant to be (I too have the Gandhi/Hitler profile and I am always looking for voices expressing truth in the ways I best understand)!

    Your vision statement embodies the spirit of those who want to be not merely morally formed, but spiritually formed. Others, who would call for us to be separated from the world, have not spent time learning about Jesus and His love for tax collectors and sinners. They have not known who He really is. Kudos for standing firm on loving people as God first loved us–while we were yet sinners.

    As I write and teach on spiritual formation, my hope is to communicate that when we are transformed by the grace of God, we are drawn to the lost with God’s love and with His life overflowing from within us. We do not seek the approval of the unbeliever, rather we bring with us an invitation to Christ. Invitation, inclusion, investment. That’s what I see Jesus being about.

    We stand on truth, but we do so gracefully. Blessings to you and your church family as you continue on this journey!

  2. lindam says:

    Hello Scott Sauls,
    What you post here is very laudable. We do want to be a blessing to people, and especially to God. It is God who is building the kingdom and not us. We don’t want to become impatient and put the cart before the horse. The lines are confused and crossed in our day. We are mixing many mediums together in the hopes of creating perfection. A Utopia. We cannot create perfection. All that is perfect comes only from God himself, his Son, and his Holy Spirit. We have perfection in our standing with God, but not in our being. Our being that is currently growing to perfection is what will bring the kingdom of God to the earth. Our good works are certainly important but they cannot bring the kingdom of God. They are the testimony of the work of God that has already been done in our hearts and spirits, but these works can be counterfeited. This is the devil’s strong point. He is a great counterfeiter. If we engage in the types of behaviors that you speak of in this post we will cause the world to notice us. They will wonder how to use us and manipulate us to their gain. This is the world’s internal nature. It is unthankful, ungodly, and of evil intent. The scripture teaches us this repeatedly and warns us to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves when dealing with the world.

    The kingdom comes by, through, and for God. Jesus will reign supreme because God has determined it. We must reside in Christ to be a part of this. So, in essence I agree with your post, but I believe that it has to be from God and not a push from our peers or from our leaders. How it is done is of great importance. We can be in the flesh pushing for success and results or we can be in the Spirit surrendering and waiting on God.

  3. […] gatherings are always full. And, because our elders are awesome, we just started to unfold a brand new vision that I am ready to give the rest of my life to, God […]

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