So here's some thoughts in case it helps you get a handle on what The Local is and who we hope to be...
Our aim or vision is this: To find the life that Jesus died and rose for, and work together to release this into our community.
- What defines us must be more than merely a different style of gathering or worshiping together - we will do some things differently, and other times we'll take a more traditional approach (you could argue that the 'scripture wrestling' practice we often employ is SUPER old school!).
- What should define us is our revelation of who Jesus is and how we are called to help manifest his kingdom together in our community.
The Bible tells us Jesus came to do two things:
- In his own words, Jesus told us he had to preach (demonstrate, reveal, declare) the kingdom of God because that is why he was sent (Luke 4:43).
- And secondly, 1 John 3:8 says "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work."
OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES
We'll spend more time on understanding the kingdom together soon, but for now here's a handful of principles we would like to guide how we gather together as The Local.
- Christian faith is a team sport, not a spectator sport - that means two things: 1) We're in this together, and 2) there's no spectators - if you join a sports team you play and you practice, you don't join a team to watch. Faith is active.
- Jesus gave us direct access to God - we don't need priests because we are priests - there's no Superstars, we're not to 'lord it over one another or hold authority over one another as the world does' (Matt 20:25-26) and although scripture calls us to submit our lives to each other, we are not ruled by anyone but Him.
- Leadership is a skill in service to others - not a position or title. The job of one who leads or teaches is to guide others through a process of wrestling with scripture and truth together and trying to work sensitively alongside the Holy Spirit in the revelation he wants to bring. It's about helping others learn HOW to draw close to Jesus, not about telling them WHAT to think.
- Jesus asked us to make disciples of his kingdom, not Christians in a religion - the word Christian/s is only in the Bible 3 times. The word disciple/s appears 299 times. We're in pursuit of what it means to be disciples in the way of Jesus.
- Jesus told us to GO to those in need; not wait for them to come into our church - Jesus told us to go into the world and make disciples. We don't think he meant for us to lock ourselves away in our churches and wait for the world to come to us. We are a 'sent' people. That's why The Local is really focused on being in and connecting with our community. That's why all the shared meals etc. And that's why we're moving into the Trentham Community House - so we can support an existing work in our community rather than set up something else and compete with it. Exciting.
- God loves this world and loves his children - we should too - we are to care for creation and care for each other. We must be faithful to what we feel called to do and express in the kingdom together but we are not here to 'compete' with any other church. When you understand it properly, along with every other gathering in the city we are the church here. They're our extended family. They are sacred and we should treat them that way.
In terms of how we gather together, I suspect it's fairly obvious we're figuring this out as we go :)
This bit is just my (Carl's) opinion but there are three key things I'm hoping to see up and running eventually:
- Participating in wrestling with scripture together - I feel like we've made an awesome start here and will just keep refining it.
- Using worship as warfare to declare God's power and character - worship can be so powerful. I'd love to see us find a way of using music and songs (and other creative arts) to declare who God is in power. This bit we haven't got up and running yet - maybe this is next?
- Using our giftings and the Holy Spirit's presence to pray into each others' lives regularly - more than knowledge, friendship and food, we need God's presence among us. My aim is that those who join or visit The Local can gain freedom, healing, encouragement and direction from each other in times of prayer etc. This one we've done a bit of but in small pockets. Keen to see it grow. We'll teach some of that soon too.
Bless you heaps friends.
Welcome your thoughts...