following Jesus : caring for each other : transforming lives
This is our core purpose.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” —Matthew 22:37-40
Then Jesus came to [his disciples] and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” —Matthew 28:18-20
In 2014 we walked through a process of discerning God’s call on us and articulating our identity and vision as a church. We called this process “It’s a New Day… Why Not Us?” Knowing who we are—who God has created us to be and who he calls us to be—is essential for knowing where we are going and what we are to do in our particular neighbourhood and in this time.
As we discern what to pursue as a community, our decisions must funnel through our core purpose. Is this about Following Jesus? Is it about Caring for Each Other? Is it about Transforming Lives? If not, then it’s not something we’re going to pursue. If the answer is yes, then let’s go for it! This is is our purpose—what God has directed us to be about.
Click each phrase below to learn more about our core purpose.
As Albert Haase writes, “The final destination of the spiritual journey is nowhere but the sacrament of the present moment, the here and now… because there is nothing else to get and there is nowhere else to be. God is here. Grace is here. And when we are here, we are home.” The whole goal of this life with Jesus is to be in God’s presence, allowing him to make us fully alive to God’s kingdom.
We choose daily to follow because we want to be like Jesus. No one accidentally ends up following Jesus. As Dallas Willard says, “A disciple or apprentice is simply someone who has decided to be with another person, in order to become capable of doing what that person does or to become what that person is.”
On a regular basis, we ask questions of ourselves and of Jesus, in response to God’s word, seeking to follow our King more closely. Following Jesus means to live in constant communication and responsiveness to God’s Spirit so that we can follow in Jesus’ footsteps as found in Scripture—living my unique life as Jesus would live it.
Listen to Pastor Kirsten's sermon: Following Jesus
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” —John 13:34-35
God’s love for us is the pool, the source, by which all other love flows. And love flowing from God will produce evidence. It will have an outflow. In Ephesians 3 Paul prays that we would “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” God’s love for all people is like an overflowing ocean. And each of us are meant to be a river flowing from God’s ocean of love to those around us. And although the rivers flowing from it are countless, God’s sea of love never ever runs out.
Love is not just a feeling or sentiment, it is active just as our following Jesus is active. The call of scripture offers an enormously wide range of action for what this: ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ might look like in practice.
As we follow Jesus we are compelled by his love – his love overflows out of us toward each other. We care for each one in Jesus’ name and we live into a mutual giving and receiving of God’s overflow of love. This makes God’s love complete in us.
Listen to Pastor Kirsten's sermon: Caring For Each Other
Baptism is an acting out of death and resurrection, of new birth, an outward sign of inner metamorphosis. When we choose to become Jesus’ apprentice, we are invaded, transformed! That change happens both suddenly and gradually. Instantly we are reborn, our identity is rewritten as children of God, our eternal destiny is redetermined as a child meant to be with our Father forever, and God pours God’s love into our hearts as the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us.
Jesus says, teach them to do what I taught you – be intentional about cooperating and engaging in the transformation that my Spirit is doing in you and in those who are with you (Matthew 28:18-20). Gradually, a life-renovation takes place over time, Jesus working in us, using the curriculum of our lives to to mould us, to make us more like Jesus, while also more uniquely our true selves as God intended.
Jesus finishes his great commission with the promise of his presence. And God’s presence changes everything. The alteration in us may not be what we expect. Jesus calls us to start over, to a downward mobility, to be like children—who are not in control, or get everything they want, who are not so set in their ways, but are teachable, sponges for learning, ready to trust and depend on God to take care of them.
These core purpose phrases are not disconnected. They are linked and forward-moving. Following Jesus leads us to care for each other and the fruit of both are lives transformed to be like Jesus, who join him in living the eternal kind of life of his kingdom in this present world, bringing heaven to earth.
Listen to Pastor Kirsten's sermon: By God's Grace, Real People, Real Life, Real God
Jesus centred, spiritual hunger,
generous community, authentic relationship
These are our core values.
"We love because he first loved us." —1 John 4:19
God calls us his beloved children because we belong to Jesus; it’s here we receive our identity.
We recognize Jesus has first priority and orient our lives around him who is victorious through the cross.
We seek to be powered by Jesus’ immense, all-encompassing love for us, not our own energy. And our love for him is what stabilizes our lives and gives us direction.
The Bible, the written witness of God’s Spirit, is what roots us. Not our own grasp of Scripture, nor the physical book itself—but the living Word of God speaking through Scripture grounds our lives.
In John 1:1-14 Jesus is called the Word of God, and he lived his entire life centred on God’s written word. As we expose our lives to the work of God’s word—as we read, study, as we meditate, as we listen—God’s Spirit shapes us, sometimes in surprising life-altering ways, sometimes in slow ways over the course of time, transforming us to be like Jesus.
As a Covenant church, our first affirmation is the centrality of the word of God. Embracing God’s word as our life-line, asking the hard questions and seeking to understand, trusting God’s voice in Scripture as our guide, this centres us on Jesus.
We seek to hear daily what Jesus is saying to us, to attend to the inner witness of God’s Spirit in concrete and specific ways. We need to be guided by him, to get our instructions for the day from him, and then we do our best to follow.
In Scripture the call to believe is to obey and to obey is to believe. We are trying to respond to what Jesus is saying and doing in our lives, even when it’s uncomfortable.
We engage practices of listening to Jesus, such as: regular time spent in God’s word and prayer, conversation with a mentor or spiritual director (a person trained to help us pay attention to Jesus’ voice), through journaling, counseling, times of solitude, silence and retreat.
"Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible God… Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together." —Colossians 1:15-17 NLT
In the face of all that can fragment our lives, Jesus Christ is the most powerful source of wholeness, God's true template and pattern for all life. All of God’s creative, restorative intentions are revealed in Jesus—he is the centre, even if we’re not aware of it. When we live and move and have our being in this reality of Jesus’ kingdom, we flow with the river of life, we ride the wind stream, we run with the stampede. Out of the broken messiness of our lives, Jesus makes beauty and goodness—he brings to life what seems impossibly dead. Jesus is the leader of the resurrection parade!
Jesus teaches us to ask God, “Please, will you bring your reality of heaven to become the reality on earth, so that what happens here reflects what you want and who you are? That we would be one with you, that every person would have the opportunity to know your love for them, that each person would experience heavenly equality, heavenly justice.”
Hunger drives us to the centre—to Jesus. We long to be growing closer to Jesus; we are not satisfied with knowing about him, but seek to be united with him by God’s Spirit.
From the heat at the centre of our hunger for God’s ways, more hunger radiates outward to our relationships with everyone else. We value spiritual hunger because it drives us to action.
Hunger for God’s righteousness moves us to a consistent, thoughtful, and relentless pursuit of justice for the oppressed—to care for those who do not have their basic needs met, who do not live with equal opportunity because of cycles of poverty, domestic violence, persecution, exploitation or war.
We pay attention to what makes us deeply angry, to what is not right in our world, and we try to respond with Jesus’ love. We seek to learn about specific injustices and work for restoration. We desire friendship with those on the margins and even those considered to be enemies.
Spiritual hunger moves us to a passionate longing to introduce others to the Source of Life, to Jesus. We practice intentional prayer for those with whom we are in relationship, asking God to reveal his love and reality to those who do not yet know him.
We are ready to share our life stories in appropriate ways, telling of God’s transforming work in our lives.
We seek to love each person in concrete ways and to see each other as Jesus sees us. We offer others the gift of belonging regardless of where they are on their spiritual journeys.
Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."—Matthew 5:6
While this may seem upside-down from our broken world’s perspective, Jesus says it is good for us to be searching, when we still haven’t found what we are looking for. He invites us to ache for righteousness–but not for some personal holiness and perfection, compared to everyone else. As a first-century Jew, Jesus understood ‘righteousness’ to mean that one’s relationships are characterized by justice and love, a righteousness of which God is the source. Jesus calls us to hunger and thirst for right relationships with God; with those close to us, within our faith community, with our friends, neighbours, co-workers, relatives who do not know Jesus yet; with those in our city who are seriously struggling to make ends meet; with those in our world who are living in poverty, under oppressive regimes, in slavery, or face persecution; and even right relationship with the earth that God created as our home. Do you know this longing for all broken relationships to be reconciled, to overflow with justice and love?
Listen to Pastor Kirsten's sermon: Our Core Value: Spiritual Hunger
Generosity is a readiness to give more of something than is strictly necessary. It’s a lavish giving of one’s love, a liberality with our time, a provision of one’s skills and knowledge, an unselfish attention to another, an ungrudging gift of conversation and friendship, a free sharing of support and service, an abundant supply of grace for one another.
It’s part of our community’s DNA to be present, to offer concrete support in response to real needs, to walk alongside one another in the midst of ordinary life and in crisis.
This is not only about welcoming new people, but an embrace and generous development of intentional friendships.
It’s messy, it takes time and we don’t always get this right. But we are trying to let God lead us in how we love each other, how we care for new friends in our neighbourhood, and how we serve our city.
We affirm both orthodoxy (which means sound belief)—rooted in the historical, biblical Christian faith—and a Christ-centred freedom.
When new members formally join a Covenant church, they are asked two questions about belief: “Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior and promise to follow him as Lord?” and “Do you accept the Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, as the word of God and the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct?”
We share certain central beliefs, called Covenant Affirmations, which draw us together in faith and fellowship, and which make possible a freedom among us on more widely ranging secondary issues. This is why both infant and believer baptism are practiced. (Read more about our practice of baptism and baby dedication.)
This kind of generous orthodoxy offers a life-giving third way between the rigid dogmatism that has splintered the global Church into many divisions, and a blind inclusivity which ignores the claims of Jesus and the historic Church.
A place to belong is critical for all of us, no matter who we are. How we experience belonging and how we express it will vary for each person. But for many, belonging is a critical first step towards finding faith in God.
We do not follow Jesus as lone rangers, that’s not the pattern of life in Jesus’ kingdom. Because our home is in Jesus, we belong to one another–relying on one another and offering our hearts generously to one another.
Community is about giving up control, putting others before ourselves, seeing and serving each other as Jesus does, and actually relying on one another.
Generosity is about lavishly pouring out the gifts God has given us, offering what we have, holding nothing back, open-handedly sharing our hearts.
"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another." —Romans 12:9-16
One way we offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God is by living in spiritual community with one another. The apostle Paul says, “Don’t think so highly of yourself that you imagine you can go it alone.” The familiar Covenant saying is, “We are in it TOGETHER.” We are invited to love from the centre of who we are, to let the hot centre of Jesus’ love for us and our love for him be what radiates outward to those around us. We rely on each other, for love is both releasing the need to control, compete and compare, and at the same time not holding back one ounce of who we are but offering our gifts fully. There is nothing stingy about this pattern of life responding to God’s mercy—it’s bountiful, open-handed, a generosity that overflows. And when Jesus announced the arrival of God’s kingdom, he gathered followers around him. Those people became known as ‘the Church’—a term reclaimed from the Roman empire’s gathering of citizens loyal to the emperor. There is a unique belonging within the Church of Jesus—because we first and foremost belong to him—but we also belong to one another.
Listen to Pastor Kirsten's sermon: Our Core Value: Generous Community
Our promise to each other and to people who encounter our community is this: By God’s grace: real people, real life, real God.
We don’t offer ‘church faces’ that seem ‘to have it all together’ but rather real people whose lives are full of the messiness of the human condition. We fundamentally believe that there is a real God who is able to transform our real struggles.
This God loves us, accepts us as we are and not as we should be, treasures and values us and promises never to give up on us. This God is comfortable with our questions, and loves to provide for us in surprising ways. Jesus’ kingdom is about redeeming what is broken for God’s glory and our good.
Because of the real action and love of Jesus in our lives, we are clothed with tenderness for each other and for people we meet who are struggling. God gives us the ‘clothes’ we need to accept one another as we are.
We do not say to others, “You will have to get your act together before we will embrace you.” We do not approach other people with a list of expectations.
This is not to be confused with leaving others where they are at. Not saying, “I give up on you, you’ll never change, there is no hope for you;” but rather, “We embrace you as you are, walking alongside you, and pray towards all that God wants to do in your life.”
The apostle Paul recognizes that what makes us strong is mutual encouragement. Mutual means reciprocal. Both of us are giving to another in unique ways, and both of us are receiving from another in distinct ways.
The authenticity to which Jesus calls us requires vulnerability and humility. Without vulnerability, we will not enjoy the gift of living our real lives with one another and with God, nor enter into the abundant life God offers us. We let go of pride, comparisons, any illusions of grandeur that we cling to, as well as our of fear of losing something about ourselves in embracing another. Jesus is inviting us to a letting go of ourselves, as he said, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).
"Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” —1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
When we share our lives, who we are—not just information about the good news of Jesus, as we share our hearts and reveal our struggles, the fruit of God’s kingdom grows. Authenticity, however, doesn’t mean spilling our guts to everyone. It means being honest—and discerning who you are sharing with. It means being committed to naming the real stuff of life with at least one or a few trusted people. Appropriate sharing of our lives always bears fruit in some way, even if not how we expect, even if it has been costly. If we don’t take the risk of being vulnerable, we give the false impression that we never struggle. Then we have a closed posture towards other people and can end up living in a fantasy world of our own making. When we take the risk to be authentic in a relationship we give permission for the other person to take a step toward authenticity. God is found in reality, not in our attempts to dress up our actual experience or hold others at arms’ length.
Listen to Pastor Kirsten's sermon: Our Core Value: Authentic Relationship