Distinctives help answer the question, “What makes your church unique?” Churches, like people, have unique DNA. The beauty of the body of Christ is that there are many expressions of it. It is amazing to observe how little direction is given to the details of how “to do” church. God has not called every church to operate within the same structure and philosophy. Our distinctives help us verbalize some of our unique DNA as a church.
DISTINCTIVE 1: EVERYTHING BEGINS IN THE FAMILY.
Your church is only as strong as the ________________ that make up the church.
That blank determines a great deal of your philosophy as a church. We believe the answer to that question is “families.” A church is only as strong as their individual churches, or families. Therefore, the family is very important to God and to the church. In light of that, we want our church to pull families together, not push families apart.
That explains why we will be very intentional about building God-pursuing, truth-seeking, family-loving men to serve their wives and children as pastors. We want to call our men toward becoming, and equip them to become, great pastors in their home (or familial church), who lead their families toward Jesus. This is why we stress men studying their Bibles and praying with their wives, because the job of pastoral care and the provision of direction and wisdom should primarily come from a loving, sacrificial husband and father. Likewise, our women are commanded by the Scriptures to live exemplary lives that produce kingdom-valued children. They are called to be good stewards of their families’ resources, talents, and time. Moreover, the Bible is clear that the primary spiritual shaping force in a child’s life is the family, not the local church (consider Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
DISTINCTIVE 2: EVERYTHING SERVES THE MISSION.
Our mission lays a grid over our church to help us make decisions. Every decision we make must serve the mission God has given us of making disciples.
The way that services are structured must serve the mission. The way ministries operate must serve the mission. The way we preach and teach must serve the mission. The way we run youth and children’s ministry must serve the mission. The way we do home groups must serve the mission. Everything is about the mission of making disciples.
Our goal is to have a simple and clear disciple-making strategy.
In every area of our church, we want our disciple-making strategy to be easily understood, hard to get lost in, and reflective of the hard work that is included in life-change. In a word, we strive for “simplicity.” We want to avoid clutter, confusion, and complexity. As a church, we have made a concerted effort to keep things simple. Here’s why:
Reason 1: A simple disciple-making strategy promotes spiritual maturity.
Without constant care a church can find itself doing many good things while missing the main thing—disciple-making. We want to keep the main thing the main thing. We don’t want our time, energy, or resources to be divided. Instead, we want them invested into the few things that produce the best fruit (or spiritual maturity) within our church family. We want to be sure that everything we do fits into a clear disciple-making strategy. In summary, we want to be simple in our disciple-making strategy to be most effective in making disciples.
Reason 2: A simple disciple-making strategy promotes families.
We want to be a church that pulls families together. However, the more complex and cluttered with events our church becomes, the more likely we are to push families apart. Every event, program, or ministry requires volunteers; and volunteer time comes at the expense of family time and time to engage a lost world. In light of that, we are very cautious to add anything to the calendar that does not fit into a simple disciple-making strategy. In summary, we want to be simple in our disciple-making strategy to serve our families.
Reason 3: A simple disciple-making strategy promotes Gospel expansion.
A cluttered calendar with multiple events per week is one enemy of missional living. Every night you spend at a church event is a night you will not spend in your neighborhood and among your neighbors. The more we keep you at church events the more we prohibit our church family from befriending people who desperately need the Gospel. In summary, we want to be simple in our disciple-making strategy so we can free you to engage others during the week.
DISTINCTIVE 3: EVERYTHING ENDS IN MULTIPLICATION.
Just as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) leads individuals to multiply their lives, it also leads churches to multiply themselves, or plant other churches.
We are a church-planting church.
We help church plants on many levels, from financial assistance, to training, to sending. One way all of these aspects come together is our Church-Planting Residency Program. Stonegate’s Residency Program provides future church planters with hands-on experience as they serve Stonegate in various ministry roles. It equips them with the skills needed to plant a church, educates them on potentially devastating mistakes, provides startup funds, and potentially provides personnel as our Stonegate family prays about relocating with a perspective Church-Planting Resident.