What we Value
There are nine values that we hold dear at Grace. No matter which location you attend, these nine things should come across loud and clear. You could say it's our DNA (we do):
1. We worship and pray to a big God who has big plans.
- Worship is not just music, it's the full trajectory of our lives.
- In corporate worship at Grace our goal is to ascribe greatness to God. Our hope is to create an environment where people can connect with God in all His glory.
- The book of Acts provides a great study of the church at prayer. Their prayer was defined by a sense of desperation for God to show up.
- God's people must pray bold prayers because God has bold plans for us.
2. We teach the Bible - even the tough parts.
- Our commitment at Grace is to teach Bible. We have a high view of the Scriptures and won’t pull punches or water it down when we teach it.
- We're also committed that the scriptures are not only taught by the Pastors but from one to another within the church.
- Those who are more mature should be instructing the next generation in the ways of faith.
3. We grow in our faith. There's always a spiritual next step.
- There is an expectation throughout the scriptures that true followers of Christ will be making consistent spiritual progress. The theological term for this is progressive sanctification.
- We recognize that every faith journey is different and there is no such thing as assembly-line spirituality. God is a hand-crafter, not a mass-producer.
- But there is something common common to all Christ-followers no matter how new or how mature, there is always a next step toward Christ-likeness.
- Our commitment at Grace is to provide spiritual coaches to help at every step as people pursue spiritual maturity. We've identified some of the common characteristics of growing disciples as
- LIVE in community
- INVEST in others
- VOLUNTEER your time
- EQUIP yourself
4. We participate. We're not just spectators.
- Church is not a spectator sport.
- Many churches have the 80-20 rule - where 20% of the people do 80% of the work. This is completely unacceptable.
- Christians don’t go to church – they are the church. And they bring the church with them wherever they go.
- Role of a church staff is not to do all the work of ministry but to prepare God’s people to do ministry. (Eph. 4:12)
- You were created for ministry, and if you miss your ministry, you miss the reason for which you were created.
- Serving is far more satisfying than sitting.
5. We give because Jesus is radically generous.
- The early church mirrored the generosity of Jesus (Acts 2:42ff) and so should the modern church.
- In general, Christians are no more generous than their non-religious counterparts. This should never be.
- A lack of generosity is not a money issue, it's a heart issue. It's a sure indication that hearts are not being changed by the gospel.
- Strategic, systematic generosity is the answer to greed.
- Jesus is not a killjoy when it comes to money, He simply says that there’s a better way to live. A way that leads to peace and joy and not this crazy turmoil that so many people are in trying to play the game that says 'accumulate and consume, accumulate and consume.'
- God's design was for His ministry in the world to be funded by the overflowing generosity of his people as their hearts are being changed, so we will never resort to gimmicky shortcuts like spaghetti dinners and raffles.
6. We serve our community, expecting nothing in return.
- Would our community care if our church didn’t exist anymore?
- The church exists for the community and not the other way around.
- Jesus said throughout his teaching that one of the things that will distinguish his followers from the non-followers, is that their hearts are going to beat fast for people in need. Their hands are going to be busy trying to do something about it. Their wallets are going to reflect a willingness to stretch and sacrifice for those who continually live with less.
- We hope to focus our efforts in the coming years on defining and getting after the 3-5 unacceptable realities in Erie... those 3 to 5 issues that the church can't just sit back and allow to continue. Not on our watch.
7. We gather in groups because we're better together.
- Acts 2:42 paints a picture of the early church meeting in the temple courts and also meeting from house to house – there were both large group gatherings and small group gatherings.
- Just going to a worship service is not enough - it's too easy to be anonymous.
- True life-change happens in smaller groups - whether they're groups of 25, 12, or 2.
- At Grace we are investing tremendous time and energy to provide resources that go along with our weekend services so that groups can meet during the week to discuss what they are learning on the weekend. Check out these resources at our sermon series archives (click on the 'details' button to see the resources).
8. We will do anything short of sin to reach people with the gospel.
- Some say Grace is too outreach oriented – I’m not sure that’s possible when we think of the stakes.
- Of all the things that a church does, reaching people with the gospel is the one thing that we won’t be able to do when we get to heaven. We’ll be able to grow in intimacy with God, fellowship with other believers, serve others, worship God, but we won’t be able to reach the lost.
- As a church we will always walk in a healthy tension between growing up those who are here and reaching out to those who aren't here yet.
- The 3rd Largest Mission Field in the world is the US. (next to India and China) with 200 million people who are unreached.
- Over the past 30 years an average of 4,000 churches close their doors per year while only 1,500 new churches start. Christianity is losing ground in America.
- The church must maintain a very sharp outreach edge and must refuse to get comfortable.
9. We're real people, no masks, no games.
- Finally, we just really value being authentic.
- We’re committed to shooting straight - using real language to talk about faith, not hiding our faults, apologizing when we do dumb things, taking on real subjects head on, etc.
- Our Pastors will not preach from a pedestal but will relate as fellow travelers on the journey. Always willing to preach the hard truths of the scriptures but bringing ourselves to the table too.
- We refuse to play the game of putting on our Sunday best and pretending that everything is OK. So, it is important for the people of Grace to be open to share real stories of struggle and triumph, sadness and joy, despair and hope.