Every body of believers shares a common call of becoming the Body of Christ with Jesus, Himself, as the head authority. Every body of believers also shares a unique call, particular to time and place. As we move into a new chapter in the life of our church, building on our existing foundation, we are asking the question of our unique call: “Who is the unique church God has called us to be?”
1 Thessalonians 1:1-8a: Gathering to rehearse the movements of the Gospel story, we encounter God through the power of the Holy Spirit
The gathered people of God engage in an intentional process of counter-formation. The Gospel story is told through the church’s worship (traditionally called “liturgy”), each part of which forms us into the image of Christ and opens space for us to encounter His presence through the Holy Spirit. Our communal worship is for the shared purpose of counter-formation and divine encounter, when the space between heaven and earth becomes thin, the voice of God becomes clear, and the experience of His love, grace, and freedom become our felt reality. A church practicing both formation and encounter together as one community is then sent into the world empowered individually.
The vision for our gathered time together is to tell the Gospel story with the depth of honest and thoughtful engagement and to respond to that story with spiritual power and conviction only evoked by an encounter with the living God.
Isaiah 58:1-10: Jesus’ relational priority of the “least of these” expressed by the Body of Christ through mercy toward our neighbors
The beauty of the Gospel is that it is the only story big enough to make sense of life’s complexity and simple enough to be expressed powerfully through tangible mercy toward neighbors. We endeavor not only to tell a beautiful story and respond to it in Spirit, but to live that story through merciful action.
Merciful Presence: Noticing the injustices around us and playing an active active role in serving the victimized.
To see this vision become a reality, our ambition must be to humbly and tangibly extend the love of Christ, especially to the overlooked. Those who are systemically marginalized in North Brooklyn must find that in every expression of this church they are honored guests with reserved seats at the table. And, those captured by the Gospel story must go on telling that story by welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner, noticing the forgotten, and serving the orphan and widow in distress. This is a vision that speaks to the deepest longings of every New Yorker: A cosmic story to make sense of life, expressed in transcendent simplicity before our very eyes.
Acts 2:42-47: The life of God and values of His Kingdom expressed as family in community
What was it about the Early Church that unwound the power of the Roman Empire from within? Historical record shows that it was not the content of pastoral teaching, strategic apostolic leadership, or the excellence of events and programming. Instead, the irresistible aspect of the Early Church was the quality of the believers’ shared life.
The Early Church shared values that the world had never seen before: People of diverse culture, race, and age breaking bread with gratitude, bearing burdens and speaking encouragement, freely sharing resources and privilege, and filled with a general sense of wonder and awe that cut past every trace of cynicism. Essentially, this was a community carrying values from another world.
We long to be a similar community, living as pilgrims whose citizenship lies in heaven, an alternative Kingdom, we live in Brooklyn by a set of values that look strangely foreign in this place because they are not from this place. When our relationships with one another are shaped first and foremost by the Kingdom of God, the quality of our shared life will speak a better way into our city.