Mission & Values
“Reaching people where they are and transforming their lives through Christ to impact the world for Him.”
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Biblical truth that connects
God’s words are “living,” full of wonder and mystery. By means of words God spoke the universe and our world into existence, and ultimately they became flesh and blood, a living picture in the person of Jesus. That is why His words are far more than informational and more like a call to action. They are as dynamic as they are disruptive to our lives in helping us see and understand our mission in the world so we can participate in God’s unfolding story. This means the Bible will take first place in our lives as the lens and light by which we see, imagine and evaluate everything. We do not want to make an idol out of theology but will dig deep to hear Scripture clearly and thoroughly so we can connect its truth to people’s core concerns and needs. We must engage people’s hearts by listening deeply and sympathetically to their hopes and struggles, welcoming the intense conversation and the tough questions. As we come to understand people’s thoughts and “stories” we will look for creative and imaginative ways to demonstrate and explain how God’s Greater Story envelopes theirs and brings freedom that allows us to embrace each other in love. We envision a theologically robust church which leads us to greater and greater humility. As we grow in our knowledge of Jesus through the Scriptures we will respond to His words by following Him as He leads, whether into the dark places of our own hearts or into intimidating places in our world, to bring His life-giving message. We agree with Peter who said, “Where else will we go? Who else has the words of life?”
Living the Christian life is both hard and joyful, deeply satisfying and profoundly difficult, but it was never designed to be attempted alone. Because God placed us in a “body” our identity in Jesus becomes clearer by being connected to others. We learn about God by experiencing him through others and learning to trust God in others for our own spiritual well-being. That means genuine community goes beyond a solo journey, friendships, social niceness, arms-length relationships, attending meetings, intellectual agreement and natural compatibility. As a church and as individuals we intend to live this out as apprentices of Jesus, dependent upon him and interdependent with each other. We will seek to grow, share, and serve in the context of a variety of loving relationships, such as discipleship, mentoring, core groups, triads and ministry teams. We see Jesus better when we see him through the lens of a biblically authentic group of people committed to each other. The world sees Jesus better as we learn to remain connected in love in the midst of our differences, disagreements and life struggles.
So much of the struggle in our lives is to make them “work”. We keep living to manage life — even God and sin — so we can maximize our comfort and gain our desires. However, “we are called to tell God’s story with our lives, not to tell our story with his resources.” We affirm that God has a bigger, non-optional plan: to have Christ formed in us so that we come into possession of our True Selves and enjoy an increasing capacity and freedom to love and serve others like Christ did. That is why we do not measure “success” just by participation in programs or knowing the right answers. Primarily, we look for deep change in people’s character and motivation. While this growth is something only God can produce in us, it requires our active willingness to go deep with God and involves our participation in the ancient habits and practices that invite God to have his way in that formation process. Because this process varies from person to person, we will avoid a cookie-cutter approach to spiritual maturity. To accomplish this, we will intentionally arrange our lives and the activities and resources at Hunt Valley Church to encourage that formation process so that, like John the Baptist, we can say with growing honesty and joy, “He must increase and we must decrease.”
Too often the church becomes a “spa” where we are made comfortable rather than a “gym” where, through training and service, our faith is strengthened. We train inside the gym so we can live more effectively outside the gym, and that is necessary because the worldwide task God has given us is beyond our means. Playing it safe would be disobedient. Risks of innovation are preferable to the risks of caution. God’s leading often requires faith-stretching risks to most effectively reach and disciple people. When necessary, we will abandon security and embrace risk in order to respond to God’s call. The more we see and understand, through Scripture and interdependent community, the risks Christ took for us, the more risks we will be willing to take. Deepening devotion to Jesus will be the fuel of our risk-taking service to Him.
Our spiritual lives flourish when we are outward focused. Because of Christ, God has claimed us, our lives and all our tomorrows as His own and placed us in the middle of His great story of making everything new on earth as it is in heaven. We will maintain a healthy expectation that people will be constantly growing in all aspects in their concern, care and compassion for the world God loves. We want our work, leisure and personal lives to help our families, friends and neighborhoods to become everything God designed them to be. After gathering for worship, we scatter to spread the Gospel virus using every aspect of our daily lives to demonstrate and tell how we’ve found bread for our souls. We remember that we have been saved from a moral terminal illness beyond our ability to heal ourselves. We imagine what is possible for God in changing hearts, minds, situations and circumstances. And we sacrifice whatever is necessary to arrange and prioritize our lives to be available to others in such a way as to lovingly infect them with the “Gospel virus.”
Early Christians carried the title, “The Called Out Ones,” but we haven’t been just called out; we’ve also been called to something. God’s calling on our lives is more than what we do; it speaks to who we are designed to be. As a church and as individuals, only when we respond to Christ and live out his call do we become our real selves … agents of creative goodness in a contested world. Because Jesus’ authority extends to everyone, everywhere and all the time — not just on Sunday morning or in a church building — we will seek to discover his call on our lives and strive to live it out in the world God loves in greater and deeper ways. Following his call gives dignity and spiritual significance to everyday work and imbues all our efforts with the aroma of eternity and of Jesus himself. We will recognize that all followers of Christ are called to “full-time Christian work” in their leisure, vocation and passions so that they are the advancing front and foretaste of the new creation that God has already begun.
Awakening Spiritual Curiosity
Something powerful happens when we are pleasantly surprised. When we have that “Doggie-head-tilt” moment a door is opened and very often a rich conversation can begin. No one is more surprising than Jesus. Nothing is more creative than the life to which he invites us. Therefore, we will constantly look for ways to refresh and reframe how we see and experience Jesus so that it would stimulate curiosity, connection and hearts that are open to God’s movement in people’s lives. As a church and as individuals, we intend to live this out by encouraging experimentation, creativity, questioning, imagination and “excellent mistakes” in order to arouse in all our people a growing desire to live as apprentices of Jesus.
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