What is our primary purpose as people?
To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Purpose: That the glory of God would be the glory of San Francisco
Vision: To bring this generation into an experience of God’s glory through the biblical gospel of Jesus.
Mission: Our work is to bring the experience of gospel transformation, gospel values, and gospel mission to San Francisco, the bay area, and our global community.
What does “gospel” mean?
It literally translates as “good news.” The gospel is the amazing news of God’s love for ruined people in His Son Jesus.
What is this gospel transformation we’re seeking?
It’s the work of God’s converting grace. We are changed – we spiritually ‘wake up’ – by faith in the story and power of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Jesus takes on Himself the punishment due to us and becomes our substitute. This is the message.
What are these gospel values?
Gospel values are the radical ethos of Jesus’ community. Jesus declared them in some of his earliest teaching, often called the Beatitudes, a kind of manifesto of His kingdom. It’s some of the most amazing teaching of history. The word “blessed” is a little bit antique to us, but it’s meant to include all happiness and success. The translation done here is to startle us into reading this in a fresh way.
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 Lucky are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 Successful are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 The pure in heart have it made, for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 Happy are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 You are successful when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
How can we describe this for the spiritual community we’re building here in San Francisco?
Our God takes what is NOT, and makes it BE.
The God of the bible is a Creator and a Father. As Creator He made us like Him, and as a Father He loves us. He recreates and rescues ruined people: the failures, the rebellious, and the distorted folks of this generation – us. How much blessing does Jesus promise you if you’re poor spiritually? An entire kingdom. The gospel means that by faith amazing possibility exists for every person.
We will value all people as extraordinary, because we were all made to be like God.
Our God fills what is empty.
The God of the Bible is also the Holy Spirit. This Spirit has power to create a new people of mercy, who love purity, and who seek peace. This is out of the raw materials of the poor in spirit, people who are sad, and the meek. The gospel takes empty folks and makes them something new.
We will hope for real blessing, because God uses people like us.
Our God always works in community.
Our God is a community in Himself. This is why we speak of God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son as a part of this gospel. We, like Him, only really exist in relationships. Because of this we cannot know God or grow without others: other Christians, other churches, and our fathers in faith. You can’t see it the english translation, but every “blessed are (fill in the blank)” is actually in the plural. It’s about a group of people. The gospel is always in the plurals.
We will do this together, because God makes us a community.
Our God is living.
All true knowledge of God results in action. Knowing God is not just knowing about Him. Heaven is not for the winners of “theological jeopardy.” It is knowing Him as a Person and doing something because of it. Every person – whatever their orientation, desires, experiences, or story – they will all change through the power of the living God. The gospel is the power of God.
We will not wait for someone else to do something, because God is bringing a new kingdom.
Our God is true.
At every point, in every blessing given by God in Christ, the values of Jesus reject the dreams and deceptions of this generation. For example, if there’s a blessing for the poor in spirit, then we can’t worship and create an “image” of ourselves online as great people whose lives are wonderful and perfect. The gospel confronts all our idols.
We will not worship what this generation worships, because our God is the one true God.
If transformation happens, and gospel values come true, something happens. We become mission itself.
What is gospel mission?
Gospel mission is when spiritually awakened people are salt and light, starkly contrasted with the world and its values. The community of faith is always in danger of becoming absurd and irrelevant, like salt that is just sand or a light on in a closed closet. Our calling is to be present with love, which is our saltiness. Our calling is to proclaim truth, which is our brightness. We are God’s presence, salty and bright in this time and place.
gospel transformation + gospel values = gospel mission
Our strategy is simple, often called the ordinary means of grace. That expression means that God uses the ordinary things we do in spiritual community. They become extraordinary because the Holy Spirit is present. This is summed up in the word worship. Worship is the conjugation of word, prayer, and sacrament, as described by the 1st century church in Acts 2:42
Conjugation – Our God always works in His community, the church. Private worship (knowing gospel transformation) leads to corporate worship (practicing gospel values) resulting in our generation experiencing the glory of God (living gospel mission). This is discipleship and evangelism. God is always moving His people out of themselves. The gospel is in the plurals.
This progression looks like a verb conjugation, and each person/number builds into the others:
I believe (personal faith) we believe (corporate faith)
You believe (relational faith) Y’all believe (proclaimed faith)
He, she believe (interpersonal faith) THEY believe (evangelistic faith)
Word – Our God has spoken today. Now. We preach, read, study, and teach our ancient sacred writings as the actual words of God. This happens in Sunday worship, private worship, and family worship. It happens in things called discipleship, bible studies, leadership training, and community groups. This is incorruptible and infallible data for us about who He is, who we are, what we believe, and what we are to do. Our forefathers in faith clearly and beautifully stated the Scripture’s truth in the Westminster Confession of Faith, which is still relevant today. God tells us all we need to know. The gospel is a new kind of information.
Prayer – Our God hears us today. Now. We seek, meet, worship, plan, and hope in dependence on God’s work and answer. Since God is living, we can know Him as a person, the way we know others, and we can talk with Him. God is intimately connected and concerned in His Kingly will, often called sovereignty, with all that we are and do. We look for rebirth and revival from Him. God answers all that we ask. The gospel makes God our true Father.
Sacrament – Our God acts today. Now. We celebrate the Christian rites of communion and baptism as God’s proclamation and presence, washing and filling us by faith. God is truly present in us, with us, and for us. Through us, and through His covenant with us, He reveals the gospel and His power. He gives us Himself. The gospel is Christ in us. In San Francisco, in the Bay Area, and even to the ends of the earth