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building a community to reach a community

Sharpening the Focus

 

Introduction

It is just one hour on Sunday; yet of all the hours in the week, the one in which the church gathers together for a common purpose and focus, can be, and should be one of the most engaging and life altering hours that we experience. At GFC, we take seriously the privilege and opportunity given to us by God to corporately meet together on a weekly basis. (Acts 2: 42; Hebrews 10:24-25)
It is our desire that the congregation of GFC understand as much of the philosophy behind our weekend services as possible and to know what to expect when they invite others. The following pages are offered by the elders, (our governing board) to assist in that understanding. This document also serves to provide guidelines and direction to those who plan and evaluate our services. While good theology under-girds it, it is a practical paper for uses stated above.


The format identifies three lenses through which our weekend services are viewed. The lenses are:


Mission and Vision

Purpose and Focus
Components and Guiding Principles (Preaching, Music, Prayer, The Arts, Other)

While the broad purposes of our services are defined for us in Scripture, there is also much freedom when it comes to forms. There are many decisions that must be made regarding the forms used in a service. It is through a wise and prayerful use of these three lenses that these decisions are made at GFC.

PLEASE NOTE: No single principle or point stands alone in this paper. It is important that each part be understood as a part of the whole.

 

Lens #1 GFC Mission and Vision

GFC MISSION STATEMENT

It is our mission to glorify God by joining Him in Building a Community to Reach a Community.

GFC VISION STATEMENT Building a Community . . .
It is our vision to be Building a Community of believers in Jesus Christ who are becoming . . .
Spiritually Vital Biblically Grounded, Relationally Healthy, Personally Generous Socially Responsible Evangelistically Bold, in order to . . . Reach a Community . . .both locally and globally with the life-giving message of Jesus Christ by intentionally and compassionately engaging in grace-motivated good works and clearly and boldly sharing the incomparable good news.

Lens #2 Purpose and Focus

PURPOSE- We gather together for the purpose of worshiping and glorifying God, giving expression to the believers heart of worship, and building up of the community of faith.
Our services are also public and serve as a bridge to reaching our community. The authentic worship of believers is a witness to the reality of God and the relevance of the gospel. We seek to engage those new in the faith, old in the faith, and outside the faith.

FOCUS- Our weekend services are designed with a view towards a healthy inter-generational experience for everyone, with a focus on:
Engaging the current generation of young adults
Encouraging future godly leadership in the home, church and community
Reaching the major population of people in our surrounding community.

Lens #3: Components and Guiding Principles

Our weekend services are made up of a variety of elements prayerfully put together to accomplish our stated purpose. While a given service may have more of one than the other due to the primary purpose of that service, there are regular elements that are included. Below are the primary service components and the principles that guide their use in the services.

Preaching
Communicating the living Word of God with clarity and passion 

Our preaching seeks to be:

  • Biblical- based upon a text

  • Expositional- explained within a context

  • Practical- applicable to life

  • Understandable- terminology explained in every day language

  • Holistic- capturing the full passion and heart of a text

  • Integrated – flows together with all other elements of the service

Music
Facilitating the expression of our heart of worship to our Creator and Redeemer

Our music seeks to be:

  • Edifying- enlarging our view of God
  • Substantive – containing depth and breadth
  • Diversified- drawing from the past and the present.
  • Consistent – in presentation, style (contemporary), and quality
  • Participatory – singable/ familiar to most, while regularly teaching
  • new songs
  • Integrated-flows together with all other elements of the service.
  • Prayer – Talking with and depending upon our Heavenly Father Our prayers seek to be
  • God-directed- talking to God, not each other
  • Pastoral- giving attention to the needs of people
  • Thoughtful- fitting for the moment
  • Varied- different people, different times
  • Integrated- flows together with all other elements of the service
  • Engaging - tastefully designed to evoke an appropriate response (reflective, energetic, etc)

 The Arts
Expressing the wonder, beauty and truth of God through the use of God-given human creativity

Our use of the arts seeks to be:

  • Purposeful- contributing to the overall theme of the service
  • Diverse- video, graphics, lighting, stories, music, etc
  • Engaging-appealing to the whole person
  • Appropriate-honoring what is good decent while dealing honestly with life
  • Integrated- flows together with all other elements of the service

 Communication
Conveying vital information regarding ongoing ministries / events 

Our communication seeks to be:

  • Timely- considerate of the calendar, habits, and behavior of the listener
  • Limited - acknowledging the attention span of the listener
  • Targeted -either affects 50%+ in the room directly by nature of the information or is conveyed in a way which inspires a relatable “my church” sentiment
  • Vetted - in line with approved priorities from the ExLT
  • Approachable - not using insider language; relaxed/comfortable presentation
  • Catalytic - Clear action points; mindful of assimilating the newcomer; clear tie-ins to giving moments

Stories
Illustrating God’s work in the lives of those at GFC

Our our stories seek to be:

  • Relatable - on both a personal level and to the church's culture 
  • Substantive - carries a unique and memorable message 
  • Authentic - represents the humanity of a person and struggling well
  • Quality - presented tastefully, no matter the medium
  • Purposeful - either catalytic to a communication or inspiring a "my church" sentiment 
  • Vetted - for gospel clarity and theological accuracy


Other

  • Communion is served about every 4-6 weeks
  • Baptism is offered as needed
  • We may host special services that celebrate God's unique work in our lives

Conclusion

While much could be said about this “one hour on Sunday”, the “bottom line” is that God always looks at the heart. Many times in both the Old and New Testament, God rejected the weekly gatherings of His people because their hearts were far from Him during the week. When they did come together, they did so with no real intention of worshiping and obeying Him.

It is our prayer that GFC will always seek after God in “spirit and in truth” (John 4: 24), and that the forms of our gatherings will never become the “issue” or overshadow our common purpose and personal pursuit of godliness.As we continually sharpen the focus on our weekend services, it is our desire and prayer that the following outcomes will result for the glory of God:

  • Humility and gratitude in response to the grace and greatness of God
  • Unity that is based on our common purpose and pre-occupation with God
  • The continual increase of people who are new to the faith
  • The continual increase of people who are being established in the faith
  • The engagement of all participants in intentional steps of growth beyond the services.