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We want everything we do to be done with GRACE FIRST. We want our church to be a Chapel of Grace. A set-apart place, out and away from the burdens of the world, where “if anyone thirsts” they might come and find the grace of God in Jesus. (John 7:37)
First, and above, all is this: God is light, love, generous, eager to work and make His glory known (1 Jo 1:5; 4:8, 16; Jam 1:5; Hab 2:14). He is a God of glory. He is a God always “pouring forth.” (Jer 2:13) Eternally radiant. (1 Tim 6:16) Constantly bursting. Cataract. Waterfall. Star-Sustainer. Universe-Spinner. (Heb 1:3) Literally every single good gift comes from Him. (Jam 1:17) And this never changes. Never. Eternity past to eternity future. Never ever.
The Bible’s word for this is, Grace. What God does, who God is, what God gives. Grace. (Exod 34:6; 1Pet 5:10)
And we’re His people. We’ve received this. So we want our church to be a place of Grace. We want thirsty, hungry, weary souls to find grace. (Heb 4:16; 2 Cor 1:3-4)
This starts with you.
No, not you giving grace. You receiving it.
When it comes to our ministries—those we have and those we might start—you are more important to us than what you do. No ministry is worth your faith. No ministry is worth your soul’s joy in Jesus. You are much more important to this church.org than what you can do. (Now, sometimes we enter difficult seasons—that’s where we grow, right? So we ought not jump ship at the slightest breeze—that hurricane might be the one that expedites our travels and makes true mariners of us! But sometimes objectives can become more important than persons, and organizations try to extract resources rather than cultivate souls, and churches are often guilty of this too.)
We want our ministries to be GRACE FIRST-ministries. Take breaks. Plan sabbaticals. Expect soul-care focused shepherding. Every aspect of the way we do things flows from this.
And this focus includes the people we serve alongside. You are more important than your ministry…and so are they, your teammates. Encourage each other’s soul-health; care for one another: we are a body, after all. And who ever yet hated their own body? (1 Cor 12:25; Eph 5:29)
GRACE FIRST-ministry runs off hope, gratitude, confession and affirmation, prayer and genuine care. You are not a resource, a cog, a skill. You are a soul, a child of God, a glorious, gifted, light-filled eternal being, put among us to receive grace, and to pour it forth.
Everywhere we turn, this world sucks. It drains. It compels and enslaves. It subscribes us without our consent. And makes it difficult to unsubscribe. Not so Christ’s church. Here water flows from rocks and manna falls from heaven; here, life emerges in barren places and forgiveness falls on sinners; here, the ever-bursting life of God follows us all the days of our lives and draws us into The Dance.