CORE MINISTRY VALUES

New Life Church

Ten Core Ministry Values

 

LOVE

 

The goal of our instruction is love that issues from a pure heart and a clear conscience and a sincere faith, says the Apostle Paul (1 Timothy 1:4). Our Lord Jesus made it clear that all the law and the prophets are summed up in the commands to love God and to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:37). On the night before he died, he told his disciples at least four times that they were to love one another,[1]and in his high priestly prayer, he asked the Father that the love with which you have loved me may be in them (John 17:26).

 

In his first epistle, the Apostle John emphasizes the necessity for love when he says in 3:10 that anyone who does not love his brother is not of God, and in 3:18 he makes sure that we understand that this love is not just an emotion when he tells believers not to love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. This is no different from what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, when he says that any deed, no matter how great, done without love is empty and meaningless. Clearly, teaching and living out love for God and for others must be at the core of my ministry, and love among the people of God must be the primary goal of my shepherding, teaching, and leading.

 

ORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE

 

God’s goal for his children is our complete sanctification; he will be faithful to do this (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). While our growth into Christ-likeness will not be complete in this life, it is really possible and potentially substantial in this life. God is entirely free to bestow this grace however he wants, but he has promised to bless and grow his people through what have come to be called the ordinary means of grace: all Christ’s ordinances, especially the reading and preaching of the Word, the sacraments, and prayer (LC 154). Fellowship and accountability within the church family are also among Christ’s ordinances and therefore means of grace, and there are others also. Thus, all Christ’s ordinances, these outward and ordinary means of grace, must have priority in my ministry.

WORSHIP

 

Serving God through worship is the first and primary function of the church (John 4:23; cf. Rev. 4:24ff). Worship that is in spirit and truth is not only sincere and heartfelt, but also according to the Scriptures. It is the outflow of love for our Creator and Savior God (who first loved us; 1 John 4:19), and it is the forum in which the household of faith most often makes use of the ordinary means of grace. Therefore, faithful and dynamic worship according to the Reformed Presbyterian tradition is a core ministry value. Faithful worship is that which conforms to God’s word and exalts him alone. Dynamic worship is that which is culturally relevant, participatory, and vibrant. While I do not believe that exclusive psalm singing is required of us, I do believe that God’s people ought to sing psalms regularly and often.

 

NUTURE

 

Although the second birth is essential for the Christian life, once one has been born again the ultimate goal is to grow (1 Peter 2:2). As a shepherd-teacher-leader, my God-given task is to nurture and disciple believers toward maturity in Christ so that they are equipped to glorify God in every area and in every role of their life. Put another way, my core mission is to transform lives by moving people gently but purposefully toward the goal of mature Christian discipleship.

 

INTEGRITY

 

Five times in Proverbs, integrity is contrasted with crookedness and Solomon says, the integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them (Proverbs 11:3). In Titus 2:7, when Paul tells Titus to show integrity in his teaching, he is commanding him to be sincerely morally sound. Before God and the people of God and the unbelieving world, I must be careful to ponder the way that is blameless and walk with integrity of heart within my house (Psalm 101:2).

 

LIKE-MINDEDNESS

 

In 1 Corinthians 1: 10, Paul appeals to the Corinthians: brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. Calvin points out that this is possible only where the Spirit of Christ is reigning. This does not mean that every person must walk in lock-step with every other person, but is does mean Gospel unity of purpose and peace within the household of faith are necessary if the church is to accomplish its mission. Looked at from a different angle, it also means that the work of the church ought not to be done (indeed, cannot be done) by any one person, howsoever gifted he or she might be. Only in an environment of congenial relationships and teamwork are we able to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:15b-16).

 

BALANCE

 

As I seek to maintain the tensions between shepherding, teaching, and leading (which are related, but not the same things) the people of God, I must remember that God has also called me to be a husband and a father and a brother. To neglect any of my God-given callings is to endanger all of them.

 

GROWTH OF UNDERSTANDING

 

There is knowledge that puffs up (Colossians 8:1). This sort of knowledge is of no use in the Kingdom of God. There is also knowledge that leads to speculation and vain discussions rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith (1 Timothy 1:4ff). This sort of knowledge is positively dangerous to the church. As a shepherd-teacher-leader, the goal of my learning must be to know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity (Proverbs 1:2-3), so that I can be an effective and faithful pastor and minister of the Word and Sacraments.

 

TRADITION

 

“Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living,” said Church historian Jaroslav Pelikan. Tradition is not merely doing certain things a certain way because we have always done them that way (although that need not be entirely discounted), it is ultimately a conservation of what is best from those who have gone before. A respect for tradition recognizes that the Holy Spirit has been living and active in the Church from the beginning. We must be willing to listen to him speak through the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) by which we are surrounded.

 

APPRECIATING WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL

 

God loves the work of his hands, and he has filled his creation with an overwhelming array of beautiful and delightful things. In his kindness, God has also made us able both to create and to respond to beautiful things with wonder and delight, things we see, or smell, or hear, or read. When God commanded Moses to have Aaron’s robes made, he also commanded that they be decorated for glory and for beauty (Exodus 28:2, 40); Likewise, both the tabernacle and the temple were “unnecessarily” decorated. Thus, especially our worship together ought to be beautiful.

[1] John 13:34, 13:35, 15:12 and 15:17.