Grace Church San Diego–home to Drew Shirley, lead guitarist for Switchfoot–has a very informative page on their website that outlines what makes their church distinct. I must admit that it is comprehensive and concise in its content and brevity. Very interesting… have a look for yourself–here it is in full:
We think the Gospel changes everything.
There are hundreds of churches – even dozens with the same name. Grace Church can be described in many ways. Here is one of the simplest ways we say this: we want to build a church that is characterized by passionate, Gospel-centered orthodoxy.
Now that may not have answered the question too well – it may make you more confused – so let’s take a moment to explain.
We are Gospel-centered. The Gospel is a story — the story of God’s action to redeem people from sin by becoming man and being put to death. In the greatest act of human evil, the crucifixion of Jesus, God brought about the ultimate end to all evil as Jesus died for sinners. Three days later Jesus emerged triumphantly from death. He offers forgiveness to any who will trust in Him. His resurrection is a promise of a new day when all the sin and evil of the world will be purged and Jesus will rule over his people.
When we say Gospel-centered we mean that the Christian life is, from beginning to end, a response to Jesus death for us. It is not self-help or self-improvement. It is God doing everything to save us from sin. It is the good news of God’s appointed Savior for all of us – Jesus. He is the Gospel.
We think orthodoxy is a wonderful thing. The doctrines of the Bible are not boring; they are astounding. They are astounding because they tell us of the most wonderful being in all of the cosmos – the true God. No one in the Bible ever met with the true God and walked away with a yawn.
We also think that passion is a good thing. Passion is expressed in worship. We celebrate the Good News in worship. Passion drives us to the application of truth to life. We seek to experience the Gospel by working it into the details of life. Passion involves power – as the Holy Spirit works in our lives and relationships to make us like Jesus.
It is one thing to talk about passionate, Gospel-centered orthodoxy, it is quite another to work that out in the details. If the Gospel is the truth and the most important message in history – what values grow out of that message? Here is a short list:
1. Encouragement – the story of God’s saving grace for us in Jesus should lead us to be encouragers of each other. Being overly-serious is not the fruit of the good news. Because of Christ, God is now for us and will spare nothing to finish the work he has begun in us.
2. Humility – nothing seems to be more opposed to the Gospel than pride. Ee could do nothing to rescue ourselves from sin. God has done it all, even when we deserved judgment. How can we be proud?
3. Authenticity – becoming a Christian means admitting we that are far worse than we have ever thought. Therefore we do not need to work so hard at impressing others. We can be real.
4. Community – the Gospel informs me that I am not able to save myself. God must do it all. It also says I cannot grow as a Christian alone. I need the help of others in the church. The Gospel should lead us to community. The Gospel creates communities where the relationships demonstrate the beauty of Christ.
5. Service – the God who made us stooped to become a man, and a slave, even to the point of dying the most shameful death imaginable. So, we should not be people who seek the highest place or bring our self-importance and ambitions into the church.
6. Mission – the Gospel is designed to increase. Churches are to multiply. We do not think we are called to get comfortable in this life. We are here on the same redemptive mission as Jesus.