Introducing our Core Values
As part of our current efforts to refocus our vision as a church, we recently shared a significantly revised draft of our updated vision, along with the mission that drives it, the core values that guide it, and the core commitments through which we will seek to advance it.
Here we want to tell you a little more about what our new core values.
Core values provide the boundaries within which we make our decisions. These are the principles, convictions, and philosophies that both support the vision and shape the culture of a church. They guide how we relate to each other, how we plan for ministry, and how we carry it out.
As you know, the goal in our refocus process was not to leave behind our 2011 vision statement but to build on it. The heritage of that statement is captured predominately in our core values. So much of what we expressed in that statement was about the kind of church we want to be. We want those values to continue to shape us moving forward, and have summarized them in the following core values:
Gospel-Centrality. The gospel is good news of what God has done to establish his kingdom and deal with our sin through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. It affirms to us that sin really is sinful, but that God’s grace in Jesus really is sufficient to deal with our sin. Being gospel-centered means recognizing that everything flows out from and points back to what God has done for us in the life, death, and resurrection of his Son. This is not just a message for non-Christians, as if once we begin our relationship with God by grace through faith, we then grow and serve God by works and human effort. Rather, the same grace of God that was at work by the Spirit to rescue us from sin’s penalty also transforms, equips, and strengthens the whole of Christian life and mission. We never outgrow our need for the gospel.
Submission to Scripture. The Bible has authority over us, because God has authority over us, and in the Bible God speaks. Because the Bible is not merely a collection of what ancient religious people believed about God, but God’s own self-revelation, it is the source and standard for all that we believe and teach, do or say, and however we live. All of life and ministry must be submitted to Scripture. To disregard or disobey Scripture, is to disregard or disobey God.
Dependence upon God. “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Ps. 127:1). Essential to life and ministry is the recognition that God is God, and we are not. All things were created by him, through him, and for him. He is over us, above us, stronger than us, wiser than us, in control of us and the world around us. He alone has the power to save. That means that if we are to accomplish anything by way of life and ministry, it will only happen according to his will and power, and for the sake of his glory. We must be fully and completely dependent upon God.
Maturity in Christ. The goal of the gospel is not simply that more and more people come to know Jesus (though that’s certainly important). We also want to see people grow up in Jesus and to become mature in Christ: steadfast, stable, reflecting Christ’s character, serving God joyfully, and bearing fruit in every good work to the glory of God. As Paul said of Christ in Colossians 1:28, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
Grace-Driven Relationships. Because Christ does not relate to us on the basis of our performance for him, we don’t want to treat each other on a performance-based model. We operate on grace. While we strive for holiness and spiritual maturity, we also recognize that holiness is a product of grace. And so we seek to treat one another with the love and grace with which Christ treats us, cultivating relationships marked by sacrificial love, encouragement, and service for one another. We are for each other—authentic and honest, kind and forgiving, and eager to pursue reconciliation in Christ whenever we let each other down.
People over Programs. The gospel is about changing lives, not running programs. So while we recognize the usefulness of various ministry models and utilize several kinds of ministry programs, our first concern is loving people and cultivating spiritual maturity. We want to be people-focused, not program heavy. This means being willing to regularly evaluate and revise whatever programs we employ. It also means that in helping people serve, our goal is not just to fill a gap, but to help them use the gifts, skills, and passions God has given them.
Every Member on Mission. Making disciples for Christ is not just for the so-called “professionals.” Christ sends his church—meaning all of us—into the world for the sake of his mission. For that reason, we want to help every member live as a missionary, treating every sphere of their personal lives as their mission field (e.g. home, work, church, school, grocery store). Wherever we are, whatever we do, we are always being sent for the sake of the gospel.
Gospel Partnerships beyond Westgate. Westgate is one local expression of Christ’s universal Church. The mission before us is not ours alone. For this reason we value gospel partnerships beyond Westgate, not only within our denomination (EFCA), but with other gospel-preaching churches and organizations throughout Metrowest Boston and New England, and with missionaries serving in the far reaches of the globe. “There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).