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Our Mission

 
At GFEC our mission is To build a community of people living our God’s purposes, as individuals and together as a church here in Grove. What you might ask are God’s purposes?

Following the lead of Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in the USA and author of The Purpose Driven Life, we believe it is helpful to think of God’s plan for your life as having five different aspects or purposes:

  1. Worship
  2. Fellowship
  3. Discipleship
  4. Ministry
  5. Evangelism

Only when we get all of this right will we live the life God created us to have: the life Jesus was talking about when he said

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
(John 10:10)

Of course, most of us spend most of the time falling down on one or more of these purpose, and sometimes on all of them. But God knows that and he doesn’t want to beat us up about it. That’s why he sent Jesus to teach us how to get it right and prove the extent of God’s love and patience. As John said

Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
(John 3:7)

Let’s elaborate a little on those five purposes to see why they are important and why God gave them to us. This is what The Purpose Driven Life has to say:

  • We were planned for God’s pleasure, so your first purpose is to offer real worship.
  • We were formed for God’s family, so your second purpose is to enjoy real fellowship.
  • We were created to become like Christ, so your third purpose is to learn real discipleship.
  • We were shaped for serving God, so your fourth purpose is to practice real ministry.
  • We were made for a mission, so your fifth purpose is to live out real evangelism.

So let’s take a look at the five purposes and what they mean in a bit more depth:

Worship – What is Worship?

Worship includes what happens in church on Sunday; so it’s singing hymns and praying. But it’s much, much more than that.

Jesus taught us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27 NIV).

That goes well beyond turning up for an hour every week. Worship is our right response to an understanding of what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross, and what God the Father did by raising him from the dead. We believe that’s so amazing, so wonderful it demands we respond in love for God every hour of every day in the way we live our lives – seeking His presence, honouring Him, doing His will.

Is this all a bit too radical – simply an over enthusiastic evangelical interpretation of worship? Well, when God chose Moses to be part of His plan to rescue the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He told Moses to go to Pharaoh and tell him “This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” (Exodus 8:1 NIV). The word translated in the NIV as worship can also be translated work or serve. God wasn’t setting them free to follow their own ways but to serve Him – to worship Him.

Fellowship – No Man is an Island

All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne (1572-1631).

Sometimes we hear folk say “I’m a Christian but I don’t go to Church”. We don’t deny it’s possible to be a Christian and avoid Church. Church can certainly be a weird place and it’s mostly the Christians that make it weird. But just because it’s not easy, doesn’t mean it is not worth doing! Jesus told us:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

(John 13:34-35)

Church is a community or fellowship of Jesus’ followers. In being part of a community of Jesus’ followers we are obeying his teaching. But it’s not just obedient to be part of a church – it’s good for us. In a church we learn to get along with people we may not like but whom Jesus loves as much as us. The afflicted find comfort in God’s Word and other believers. And the comfortable are challenged by God’s Word and other believer.

If we have only just accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we demonstrate our commitment to the global church by being baptized. If we are already Christians we demonstrate our commitment to a fellowship of believers by formally becoming members of a church rather than just attending.

Discipleship – Following the Master’s Footsteps

If we are created to become like Christ, how do we do that? We learn from God’s Word and we can from each other (if we are in fellowship). When we come together to worship as a church we read God’s Word and a good teacher can help us understand it better. Christians often meet in smaller groups too to study the Bible. In a smaller group they can learn from each other too by sharing their experience of putting Jesus’ teachings into practice – where they struggle and how they’ve seen God working in their lives. But it’s not just head knowledge. We don’t just look at Jesus footprints – we have to walk in them. Small groups help us to do that – to help us see the foot prints and to keep us in them rather than wandering off.

Ministry – Serving one another

A modern malaise of the church is its members becoming consumers of the religious services provided by church leaders. And once we’re in the consumer mindset we think about whether our need s are being met, and compare the value we’d get in one church over another. That’s not the sort of fellowship Jesus had in mind for his church. In New Testament times church leaders (called elders or bishops in the Bible) were not so much the “doers” as “teachers”. In Acts there’s an account of how the 12 apostles delegated the day to day affairs of the church to others who became known as deacons:

And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.
Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.
But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

(Acts 6:2-4)

So can we rely on the modern day equivalent of deacons to provide us with the religious services we crave? No. That’s still missing the point. God gave each of us different combinations of spiritual gifts and natural talents and we are expected to use them:

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
(Galatians 5:13)

We call this serving of others and the church, ministry. Each of us may have different ministries and they may vary over time. So, if you’re part of a church don’t just sit there. Whether it’s leading a home group, teaching children, putting out chairs, making coffee or doing something else – find somewhere that you can be the hands of Jesus in your church.

Evangelism – Sharing Good News

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

(Matthew 28:19-20)

This is how Jesus’ final words are recorded in Matthew’s gospel. We are told to share the good news of Jesus with others and help them to find and follow Him. Some of us are evangelists to whom raising the topic of Jesus with strangers comes naturally. But more often we are more comfortable showing the difference that knowing Jesus has made to our lives by the way we live and treat others. While we are not all called to persuade others of their need for salvation in Jesus Chris, as Peter writes:

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect
(1 Peter 3:15)

So, there’s no need to be afraid of evangelism. Whether you are a Christian or not. It is not our job to persuade you to become a Christian – God can do that himself.