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Vision and Strategy

VISION AND STRATEGY

Well, our vision is “to be a gospel-centred, disciple-making community in Snug, the Channel and beyond”.

  • Keeping the gospel central,
  • Making new disciples and
  • growing mature disciples,
  • Being an intentional Christian community,
  • planting churches, and
  • supporting overseas mission.

Now this isn’t just “our vision”… we believe it’s God’s vision for his church – and so none of those things should come as a surprise.

Expanding on this vision a little:

Being gospel-centred, means being word-centred, for the gospel is a ‘good word’ – a good news message. It is the message that Jesus died in our place, redeeming us from the consequences of sin, reconciling us to God and purchasing our eternal life with him. That word has all sorts of implications and God continues to speak to us through his Spirit-inspired word, which is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so we may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. God created by his word, communicates by his word, saves by his word and rules his people by his word. So being gospel-centred means God’s word is central to who we are and what we do. That gospel word saved us and continues to shape us as we listen to it and obey it.

But being gospel-centred means we must also be mission-centred… because the gospel is a good news message that just has to be told… so that people may respond in faith and be saved. That’s when a disciple is made.

This is God’s mission that he calls us to be on board with, which is why we should be about ‘making new disciples” – inviting people to respond to the good news and follow Jesus.

But we also want to be about growing mature disciples. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to obey everything I have commanded.” We don’t just get people ‘over the line’ and leave them hanging! Jesus wants us to ‘build each other up for works of service’, to be mature, to be standing firm amid a world of hollow and deceptive philosophies, growing up into Christ, as each part does its work. This means we all have a part to play.

And we play our parts in the above two things together… in community. This community is the people of God we are saved into. In our individualized society, we have to remember that God’s central purpose in this world is to save a people for himself – “I will be their God and they will be my people” is a theme that recurs again and again all through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. This means we must learn to see ourselves not as individuals, but as an integral part of God’s new community. It shapes our identity[1].  We believe Christian community should be an amazing expression of what it means to be in God’s family as we live together as his people and build each other up in the truth of his word. The Christian community should model what it means to live under Jesus’ rule[2], showing to the watching world that we are Christians by our love for one another.

As God’s people following the example of Jesus, we also see ourselves as missionaries to our non-believing neighbours. Just as Jesus came to us, taught us and suffered for our good… he tells us to take up our cross and follow him, and he sends us to go and make disciples. In fact, Christians on mission together have better community together[3].

Therefore, it is in the context of intentional Christian community that we seek to make new disciples and grow mature disciples.

How can Christian community help to make new disciples and grow mature disciples? By being intentional about making new disciples and growing mature disciples. We have a leadership team committed to modelling this and facilitating it on three levels:

  1. The whole-church gathering,
  2. Smaller groups, called Gospel Communities (GCs),
  3. And even smaller ‘discipling relationships’.

I.e., there is intentionality at each of these levels to both make new disciples and grow mature disciples.

  1. At the ‘whole-church’ level, we want to welcome, connect, teach, praise and pray in such a way that helps make new disciples and helps grow mature disciples.
  2. At the smaller ‘Gospel Community’ level, everyone is on mission together intentionally trying to… you guessed it… make new disciples and grow mature disciples. So a ‘GC’ is much more than a weekly Bible study. How each one looks is different… but that doesn’t matter, as long as each group is intentionally seeking these now familiar goals.
  3. Discipling relationships fit naturally within the context of Gospel Communities – they are just the next size down. They’re not necessarily just one-to-ones, there might be four or five of you. These more intimate relationships have been shown to be one of the most effective means of growing mature disiciples – Jesus himself demonstrated this with his 12 disciples!

How might all this look in practice? Try to picture this:

Paul is Jack’s new neighbour. Jack has been a Christian for two years now and invited Paul to church with him last year after a conversation over the fence. Paul seemed to enjoy that first time at church and though he couldn’t go back the next week, he was keen to come to a BBQ at Jack’s where he met most of Jack’s Gospel Community group.

It was here that Paul met Dave, who has been a Christian for 15 years, and they got along really well. Dave ‘gets’ what intentionality is all about – he was ‘discipled’ by someone for three years when he first became a Christian. So towards the end of the BBQ, Dave invited Paul to do a six week course called ‘Christianity Explored’. Paul agreed, claiming later that it was the friendliness of the group that convinced him. But Dave didn’t do the course alone with Paul; he invited Jack to do it with them (that’s because Dave and Jack are in a discipling relationship and Dave thought it would be a great opportunity to show Jack ‘how to teach someone about the hope we can have in Jesus’).

The six week course went really well, though Paul wasn’t totally sure he wanted to be a Christian yet. But in that time, he had gotten to know the rest of Jack and Dave’s Gospel Community quite well and was really impressed by their care for each other. He could see what it might ‘look like’ to be a Christian. So Paul was happy to keep meeting with Jack and Dave and they did another study together on Romans 1-5.

This time there was no question. Paul knew his own sin put him in the path of God’s judgment and accepted God’s solution to his ‘no-win’ situation. He is still blown away by ‘the free gift of righteousness through Jesus’ death in his place’.

It was an easy step joining Jack and Dave’s ‘Gospel Community’ because Paul already knew everyone quite well. Paul now joins the whole-church gathering on Sundays too and has an insatiable appetite for Bible teaching. He loves how the teaching is not just heard once on the Sunday, but is reinforced and applied in ‘his’ Gospel Community. As it turns out, Paul unashamedly loves baking. So every week, he intentionally brings something he’s baked to the Sunday meeting. He does this because he understands his new church intentionally use ‘eating together’ as a means of connecting with each other and any visitors. He has also recently invited his Gospel Community to his house for wood-fired pizzas… along with three of his non-believing friends.

Don’t get the wrong idea though. Paul has his personal issues that he’s still working through. But he really appreciates meeting up with Jack and Dave every week, who he finds a great encouragement to remain obedient to Jesus.

Hopefully that gives a bit of an idea of what communitas at Snug Christian Church might look like. But enough on community for now!

Because God’s mission is world-wide, we don’t want to limit our mission to Snug! We want to reach the whole Channel region and we want to support the spread of the gospel throughout Australia and the rest of the world. To that end, we are involved with Vision 100, FIEC Australia and we support missionaries in India and Nepal through Gospel for Asia. Because we recognize that we live in an incredibly wealthy country, our goal is to give half of our financial giving to local and overseas gospel ministry. We want to start out with a vision to be a generous church, supporting God’s mission in countries where our little can go a long way!


 

[1] Tim Chester and Steve Timmis 2007, Total Church, 38.

[2] Ibid, 48.

[3] According to Alan Hirsch, we should aim for communitas, not community. Communitas is a community on mission together. “The most vigorous forms of community are those that come together in the context of a shared ordeal or those that define themselves as a group with a mission that lies beyond themselves— thus initiating a risky journey. Too much concern with safety and security, combined with comfort and convenience, has lulled us out of our true calling and purpose. We all love an adventure. Or do we?” – Alan Hirsch, adapted from ‘The Forgotten Ways’.