Core values help us answer this question, “What does God want us to be as a church?” This question then allows us to begin setting up measurable goals for success at Stonegate. All of our measurable goals flow directly from our core values, or who God has called us as a body and as individuals to be. Our core values are best expressed in a single passage in 1 Peter.
1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
CORE VALUE 1: GOSPEL
The Gospel is the good news that Jesus took on human flesh and lived a perfect life, was slaughtered in our place and for our sin, and was buried in a tomb for three days. Moreover, on that third day Jesus rose from the dead defeating Satan, sin, and death. It’s the announcement that Jesus has fought our battle, secured our victory, and ensured our freedom. Due to the work of Jesus on our behalf, God really does look at us as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and as a people for His own possession.
There are two ways to see the “good news” of the Gospel—a narrow and a broad way. The narrow way, which many are familiar with, sees the Gospel as saving us from the penalty of sin. This is a great Gospel reality and good news indeed! The Gospel is the good news that Jesus paid the full penalty for our sin (Romans 3:23-24). The broad perspective does not say less, but more.
The Gospel not only saves us from the penalty of our sin, but also from the present power of sin in our lives. To put it another way, the narrow perspective sees the Gospel as something for non-Christians only, while the broad way sees that the Gospel is for both Christians and non-Christians. The Gospel is God’s means through which a Christian’s life is renewed and sin is overcome. The Gospel is renewing and relevant to every area of a Christian’s life. By God’s grace, we are learning as a church family to allow who Jesus is and what He has accomplished on our behalf to saturate everything about us. To put it simply, we desire to be a Gospel-centered church. Listen to Joe Thorn describe what it means to be Gospel-centered:
“To be Gospel-centered means that that the Gospel—and Jesus himself—is our greatest hope and boast, our deepest longing and joy, and our most passionate song and message. It means that the Gospel is what defines us as Christians, unites us as brothers and sisters, changes us as sinner/saints and sends us as God’s people on mission. When we are Gospel-centered the Gospel is exalted above every other good thing in our lives and triumphs over every bad thing set against it.”
To be Gospel-centered means that we are progressively seeing that everything starts with the Gospel and is sustained by the Gospel. It’s through the Gospel that God saves us and sanctifies us. It’s seeing the Gospel as both foundational and motivational. This is why Tim Keller says,
“The Gospel is not just the A-B-C of Christianity, it’s the A-Z. The Gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the Kingdom … It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier.”
As a church family, we want to see Jesus like this.
CORE VALUE 2: COMMUNITY
The Gospel is a deep and wide reservoir of riches (Ephesians 3:8). Community, or the creation of a new family, is one prime part of these riches. When God saves you, He becomes your perfect Father. He adopts you and makes you His own. He pledges and promises that He will work for your eternal good every minute of every day for the rest of time. But God doesn’t just become a good father, He also gives us a new family, called the church. As you read about the church in the New Testament, various metaphors are used to describe the church (body, temple, bride). But one of the dominant metaphors for the church is “family” or “the household of God.” That’s why in 1 Peter 2 we are called a “chosen race” and not a chosen person, “a royal priesthood” and not a royal priest, “a holy nation” and not a holy person, and “a people” not a person “for God’s own possession.”
This core value is and expression of our desire to be a church family.
We desire to be a people who live our lives together, with authenticity and transparency. We believe accountability, care, and a sense of belonging are critical to balance and progress in one’s spiritual journey. These are best achieved within the context of a home group. A home group at Stongeate is a place for like-minded, relationally-connected believers to apply the Gospel to one another’s lives as they live on the mission of God together. Our prayer is that every member and regular attender will view participation in a home group as an integral part of their privilege and responsibility as part of the Body of Christ.
CORE VALUE 3: MISSION
God is a missionary God. God the Father sent His son, Jesus Christ, on a mission of reconciliation (Ephesians 1:10). Jesus came to earth in human form to live among a people. He worked, ate, and interacted among those people, showing them what God is like (Colossians 1:15). After living a perfect life in place of our imperfect life, Jesus died an undeserving death in place of our deserved death, so that all people, places, and things could be restored to a right relationship with God. This is the missionary God of the Bible. In the same way, we are God’s missionary people, commissioned by God to make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20), be agents of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18), and to be people who proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). In Jesus, God not only gives us a family to live with, but a mission to live for.
This core value is an expression of our desire to be a church family on the mission of God.
We desire to be both faithful and fruitful missionaries for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the workplace, in our neighborhoods, among our friends, and in every other culture and context God might place us.
CORE VALUES AND A SIMPLE DISCIPLE MAKING STRATEGY
Our core values also express the pathway for disciple-making at Stonegate. We believe all three components are critical and necessary to make disciples. To state it another way, if you take any one of these components out, there is a barrier to effective disciple-making.
Disciple-making requires the Gospel. The Gospel gives us a new identity to live from and a new motive by which to live. In this way the Gospel is “foundational.” One implication of the Gospel is mission. The Gospel moves us to the mission of God, giving us a mission to live for. Living on the mission of God is one of the primary ways God shows us the areas of our lives in which we are and are not believing the Gospel. In this way mission is “exposing.” Another implication of the Gospel is community (family). Our church family is one of God’s primary means to help us see our unbelief and sin, and remind us of the person and work of Jesus. In this way community is “reminding.”