On Sundays, we are the church gathered for two purposes: word and worship.
I. WORD. The Bible is God’s story of his work of redeeming, renewing and restoring all things, which culminated in the work of Jesus Christ. Because of this, we are committed to bending our ears, inclining our hearts, and submitting our lives to the teaching of Scripture. A large portion of our Sunday gathering will be committed to passionate, intelligent, gospel-centered teaching for seekers, skeptics and believers.
II. WORSHIP. Worship is both active and passive. It’s active as we glorify God by singing and speaking God’s truths about him back to him. Worship is passive as we experience the grace and power of God. Every heart longs to engage with a God who is transcendent yet very present in the midst of human brokenness. Because of this, we seek to create a Sunday worship environment of both joyful expression and reverent awe. We seek to accomplish this through singing gospel-centered songs/hymns, baptism and weekly communion.
The goal in both word and worship is to celebrate, communicate, and experience God’s grace together.
During the week, we are the church scattered. Our lives are lived outward in the community with a commitment to both justice and creativity. Renewal (definition)– Renewal means to be restored like “shalom”. Shalom refers to God’s kind of peace; the kind of peace that involves harmony, plentitude and flourishing among all relationships, namely: humans to God, humans to one another, and humans (as stewards) to God’s creation. Renewal involves the recovery of biblical purposes for family-building, work, and stewardship. In a fallen world, the work of renewal also involves helping to alleviate the effects of sin in the world. This means that we join God not only in the renewal of human souls, but the renewal of broken systems.
I. JUSTICE. Our heart posture toward our community will be focused on working for justice for the poor, oppressed, marginalized, and disenfranchised, as well as those whose lives are characterized by severely limited opportunities and resources. Dr. Tim Keller says, “…inner city children, through no fault of their own, may grow up with vastly inferior schooling and with an overall environment extremely detrimental to learning.
II. CREATIVITY. Frederick Buchner is well known for saying, “The place God calls you is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet”. We desire to be a church that helps people discover their calling and be released back into the public square to both cultivate and create cultural goods in a way that images God well. This may mean composing art or music, running a business, or writing legislation. This ultimately means we humbly use our cultural power and influence to serve alongside those less influential than we. Our goal is to use our culture influencing ability and capital to help East Lake as well as Dekalb County to look as close to the city to come on this side of eternity.
Author and apologist Francis Schaeffer referred to humanity as “The Glorious Ruin”. When you look at East Lake – the people, the architecture of its homes, the rich cultural history – it’s a beautiful sight to behold. On the other hand, DeKalb County as a whole is profoundly broken. Its schools, (past and present) race relations, and conditions (physical, financial and spiritual) of many of its residents, don’t create a welcoming environment for creative professionals and influencers who often bring life to urban communities. This has led many to believe that due to governmental corruption, racism and the consumption of the wealthy to the detriment of the poor, that DeKalb County as a whole is beyond repair.
Things don’t have to remain the way they are! God takes pleasure in reconciling all things back to Himself. This includes the broken race relations, socio-economic barriers and general apathy towards neighbors unlike us. We want the real life of our church to be more than just Sundays. We desire for the life of our church to be day-to-day, home-to-home, life on life shaped around celebration and conversation.
I. CELEBRATION. In ancient Near East cultures, sharing a meal with someone was a sign of deep identification and relationship. “The Son of Man came eating and drinking,” and in so doing, was labeled “a friend of sinners” (Matt. 11:19). He shared his table with “both bad and good” (Matt. 22:10), known sinners, tax collectors, and women of ill repute. Jesus shared his life at the table, and we seek to do the same. We want to build community around this practice of shared meals. We desire to practice hospitality not just with one another, but with any that welcome our friendship – spiritual seekers and spiritual misfits, the downtrodden and those considered hopelessly lost. There is something to celebrate every day and we desire to break bread, share stories with glad and thankful hearts.
II. CONVERSATION. While celebration is good, it’s incomplete without conversation. Sometimes conversations are happy while others are heart wrenching. Authentic life and authentic relationships include sharing, laughing, and crying together. Jesus’ pattern was to openly welcome all, but at some point in relationship he confronted people. Jesus called them to abandon their sinful habits and ways of building life and identity apart from God. He called them to follow Him. This means that in doing life together, there will be times where we have to confess or lovingly confront each other with truth, about sin, lack of belief, or inability to massage and apply the gospel into areas of our lives. Being a committed part of this church means being open in relationship about our issues and open to being lovingly confronted about them.
At the center of all we do is not a place, or a project, but a person: Jesus.