The Evolution of an Idea: A Year in the Making Part 2
To view the first post in this series that focuses more on our personal journey, click here.
Ideas are great, aren't they? Can you remember a time where you got really excited because of how much you loved the idea you just had? I definitely think that is one of the ways we bear the image of God: a creative mind.
Like I said in my last post, I've had lots of ideas over the years about church. I read the Bible, read books, live life, listen to others' stories and ideas sort of accumulate. When we were settled on the fact that we were going to plant a church, there was a rush of ideas. No, let me clarify. There was a Niagra Falls of ideas.
There were two things competing in my brain at once: a plethora of ideas I'd love to try and a core philosophy of keeping church simple. These two things are always at war within me. I try to be candid with our congregation about that reality. People come to me all of the time with great ideas. But we can't do them all. But I digress...
Over the last year we have moved from 12 people meeting in my living room to averaging over 60 in the local school over the last couple of weeks. I remember last Fall trying to be committed to slowly taking time to lay down foundational concepts about belief and practice. If I had continued on the original pace, we'd probably be two years in just talking about "ideas." Ideas are very important, remember. But what if they just stay ideas? Our ideas needed to evolve to actions. And whether or not we were totally ready for that didn't really matter. Because God was ready.
So I wanted briefly share some of the ideas that have and are shaping our gospel community over the last year and in the years to come. Hopefully it will give you a little more insight into whether that might be something you'd want to be a part of or how you might pray for us. These certainly don't cover everything we do or are about, but just things I think it is important for people to know.
There is nothing you will hear us talk about more than the gospel. When I use that term I am referencing the fact that we are rebels against God who need a savior, Jesus Christ the God-man came and defined holiness with his life, died a death we deserved, and displayed all power over sin and death by raising again. Salvation is by grace (undeserved relationship with God) through faith in Jesus Christ. This foundational idea is actually cyclical in its evolution. We want to go forth from the gospel to see how it changes all areas of our lives, yet we are constantly returning to it to do it all again. If we do nothing else, I pray that this is the cornerstone of Cross Fellowship that never changes.
When my family moved out to this area along the 380 corridor it became evident immediately that people treasured community. What also became clear is that they struggled with how to build true and lasting community, a place that was safe to love and serve one another. This is the heartbeat of how we are living out the gospel. We want people to find a place where genuine relationships aren't built around mutual benefit that could disappear at any moment, but relationships built upon an external love found in Christ that allows us to weather any storm within a relationship because we have a Rock that is higher than ourselves. Gospel love overcomes that which could divide us and brings us even closer together.
Our congregation is so diverse, and we love it! We have different races and ages. Many different cultural, economic, and religious upbringings. We do have an obscene amount of people who happen to work at banks, though ;) We have not divided over music or activities or any of the other things that are out that could cause strife. I know that will get more difficult as we grow, but we want to keep a culture of focusing on that which matters most. This will help us create true community.
This may be an odd one to focus on, but I believe it is important in the life of a church. In our gospel community, we certainly have accountability as an aspect of what happens when you share your life with another believer. But what I actually want to focus on is structural accountability within the leadership. We have established our church to eventually be led by a plurality of elders, meaning that not one person will sit in rule over everything. That can be a very dangerous proposition. Right now, however, I am the sole elder at CFC. So, currently I am in submission to the elders of our sending church, GracePointe Church in Denton. I point this out because I believe our American culture can be very anti-authoritarian. But accountability structures I believe are very biblical. There is submission of the congregation to the leadership of elders while elders are also held accountable by the members. As a whole, this system seeks to have an attitude of humility, which is vital for a follower of Jesus Christ.
An important aspect of our congregational life is to always be seeking our mission. This will play out different for every believer, but often times it will overlap with everyone else in the congregation towards things for which we are united together. There is a ministry in Haiti we support, Lemuel. We are often times volunteering in local community events to make in impact in the community. And sometimes we just have a block party, cooking and having fun with our neighbors. There is service within the church and without. But we believe in our calling to equip the saints to fulfill the mission for which God made them. The details are different, but we all are looking at the same thing: the cross. There we go going back to the gospel again.
We are by no means perfect. Some days it feels like we still have no idea what we're doing. But as long as we keep our main things the main thing, then I believe people's lives will be blessed and changed. We seek to spread the glory of God due his name. And we do that by loving and serving one another in a gospel community shaped by the cross. We truly believe that "Grace changes everything!"