What Makes Us Distinct

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.

One thought on “What Makes Us Distinct

  1. PROSECUTION
    Is there a God? I will not try to say yes or no to this question. Rather, I will make this place a law court. I will ask you to be the judge, and I will be the prosecutor. The work of a judge is to make decisions, to approve or disapprove the truth of statements; the work of a prosecutor is to present all the evidence and arguments that he can possibly gather. Before we proceed, we have to be clear about one fact: all prosecutors are not eyewitnesses of crimes. They are not policemen. A policeman may personally witness an event, whereas a prosecutor obtains his information only indirectly. He places all the charges, evidence, and arguments collected before the judge. In the same way, I shall present before you everything that I can possibly find. If you ask whether I have seen God or not, I would say “no.” I am reading or demonstrating what I have gathered. My job is to search for facts and to call for witnesses. You are to arrive at a conclusion yourself.
    THE UNIVERSE
    First, looks at nature, the world that is before our eyes and every phenomenon in it. We all know that scientific knowledge is the rational explanation of natural phenomena. For example, there is an observed drop in the temperature of a patient. The drop in temperature is a phenomenon, and the explanation for it is scientific knowledge. When an apple falls from the tree, it is a phenomenon. Why does an apple not fly into the air? The explanation for this phenomenon constitutes knowledge. A man with knowledge is a man who has the proper explanations.
    ONLY TWO EXPLANATIONS
    The universe displays countless phenomena of diverse forms, colors, shapes, and nature. We cannot fail to notice these phenomena before our eyes. The explanation for all these phenomena is known as knowledge. All thoughtful persons have only two explanations as far as the origin of the universe is concerned; there is no third explanation. You have to take one or the other of them. What are these two explanations? The first says that the universe came into being through natural evolution and self-interaction; the second attributes its origin to a personified being with intellect and purpose. These are the only two explanations presented by all philosophers of the world. There is not a third one. Where did the universe come from? Did it come into existence by itself or through chance? Or was it designed by the One from whom we derive the concept of God?
    CHANCE EVENTS
    What are the characteristics of things that come about by chance? First, we know that they are unorganized. At the most they can be partially integrated. They can never be totally organized. One can achieve a specified goal by chance once, but he can never achieve a specified goal by chance all the time. Anything that comes together by chance can only be integrated partially, never totally. For example, if I throw this chair to the other side of the room, by chance it may come to rest at a perfect angle. If I do the same with a second chair, it may also lie neatly beside the first one. But this will not keep on happening with the third and the fourth and so on. Chance can only provide partial organization. It does not guarantee total integration. Furthermore, all random interactions are aimless, disorganized, and purposeless. They are without order and structure; they are loose, formless, disorderly, and not directed toward any meaningful purpose. Briefly, we can say that the characteristics of chance events are disharmony, irregularity, inconsistency, purposelessness, and insignificance.
    CONSISTENCY AND ORGANIZATION
    Now let us compare the things in the universe with these characteristics. Take, for example, the human being. He is carried in his mother’s womb for nine months and delivered; he grows up and eventually dies. This cycle is repeated for every single individual. Consistency can be observed. It is not a wild game of chance. Again, look at the sun above your head. It does not exist purposelessly. Rather, it has its purpose and significance. Look at the moon, the stars, and the myriads of galaxies through your telescope. Some stars have their own planets. They all follow definite tracks and patterns. They are all organized. Their manner of motion can be calculated and predicted. The calendar in your hand is derived from them. Even next year’s calendar can be printed before this year is past. All these show that the universe is organized, consistent, and purposeful.
    MICROORGANISMS
    Let us turn to the micro-world or quantum mechanics. Take a thin slice of wood. Put it under a microscope and observe its grain and structure, all meticulously regular and rhythmic. Even a blade of grass and the petal of a flower are finely fashioned. Nothing is unorganized or confused. Everything is disciplined and functional. All these things witness one fact to you: the universe, with its macro (the whole universe and galaxies) and micro aspects (quantum), is purposeful and meaningful. Can you say that all these came into existence by chance? Surely you cannot.
    CHANCE OR DESIGN
    The universe has to be created by someone with profound wisdom, vast knowledge, and intricate design. If you cannot accept the concept of random formation of the universe, you have to admit that it was created by such a God. There cannot be a third explanation. The choice is left to you. You have to decide if the universe came by chance or whether it was created by God.
    A DEMAND AND ITS OBJECT
    One witness may not be enough. I will call in another. This time we will consider man’s heart. Before doing so, we should also observe one fact: wherever there is a desire, there must first be an object for that desire. For example, an orphan who has never seen his father naturally has a desire for a kind of paternal love. I have asked many people who were orphans, and they all have felt this irrepressible yearning. By this we can see that every desire of the heart arises out of an object in the world. As human beings we have a need for social belonging. We need companionship and mutuality. If you put a boy on a deserted island and he grows up alone, he still has the yearning for companions, for beings like himself, even though he has never seen a human being. This yearning or desire is the very proof that somewhere in the world there is something known as “man.” At a certain age, man begins to think about posterity; he starts desiring children and grandchildren. This is not a mere fantasy. This desire stems out of the existence and possibility of offspring. Hence, where there is desire, there is an object for that desire.
    THERE IS GOD IN THE HEART
    Do we have any desires other than social identity and self-propagation? What other cravings do we have? Deep in everyone there is a craving for God. Whether they are highly civilized races, such as those among the Caucasians, or the ancient civilizations, such as the Chinese civilizations, or the African natives and uncultured aborigines, they all have a common craving –God. As long as they are men, they have a yearning for God, no matter what race or nationality. This is a fact. You cannot argue against it. Everyone is seeking after God. Everywhere man is craving for God. This is very clear. By applying the principle that we just mentioned, we can see that since our heart feels the need for a God, there must necessarily be a God in the universe. Since there is a need for God in the heart, there must be the existence of God in the universe. If no God exists, we would never have such a craving in our heart. We all have an appetite for food. In the same way, we all have an appetite for God. It would be impossible to live if there was only an appetite for food but no food. Likewise, it would be impossible to live if there was a capacity for God but no God.
    NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT GOD?
    Once, an atheist rudely rebuked me in a loud voice: “You said that a man has the psychological need for a God. But there is no such thing, and I do not believe in it.” I said, “Well, do you mean to say that you never think about God? In fact, even while you were talking, you were thinking about Him. This indicates that you do have a capacity for God. There is no one who has never thought about God. He may try not to think much about Him. Since this thought is in you, there must be such an object outside of you.
    “THE WORDS AND THE HEART”
    A young man once came to me to argue about God. He was vehemently against the existence of God. He gave me one reason after another for saying that there is no God. As he was enumerating the various reasons why God should not exist, I listened to him quietly without saying a word. Then I said, “Although you insist that there is no God and support yourself with so many arguments, you have lost your case already.” He said, “What do you mean?” I went on to explain: “Your mouth can say as much as you want about there not being a God, but your heart is on my side.” He had to agree with me. Although one can give all sorts of reasons in the head, there is a belief in the heart that no argument can defeat. A stubborn person may give a thousand and one reasons, but you can have the boldness to tell him, “You know better in your heart that there is a God. Why bother to look for evidence outside?”Now what would you say? After looking at nature and the universe, after checking with your inner feeling, it is up to you to decide whether or not there is a God. But you should not be irresponsible; your attitude must be sober because everyone has to meet God soon. One day you will all stand before Him. Everything concerning you will be laid bare. On that day you will know God. But now is the time for you to be prepared. We should all be prepared to meet our God.
    Finally is there is a God. Who is he? Who among the most ancient religions claim to be God’s son?
    As well there must be a written record of God and God’s son. Among all the ancients’ written records is there such a book?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s