Our Vision for Ministry at Mercy
Our desire is to be a church that reflects the mercy we have received from God to our neighbors in Forest. We believe that the church is not simply a place where we hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, but that the church is itself part of the gospel, as people are drawn together through Jesus and model God’s mercy to their community.
Our purpose is to gather people in the Forest area into a community that confesses the gospel of Jesus Christ and to equip those gathered to serve Christ as Lord in every dimension of their lives.
We will know that our purpose to gather and equip is being fulfilled as:
God is glorified. Romans 11:36; 1 Peter 2:9-10; Revelation 4:11. We profess that our “chief end” is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. This must be primary in every aspect of ministry and most clearly displayed in our worship.
Disciples are made. Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 1:28-29. The goal of the gospel is that we be conformed to the image of God’s Son, that we would be presented “mature in Christ.” As Christ was righteous in every dimension of life, this includes our hearts, our minds, as well as our bodies. Disciples love what Jesus loves, think as Jesus thinks, and serve as Jesus serves.
Community is created. Acts 2:42-47; Colossians 3:12-16. The Christian life is not to be lived alone. Indeed it cannot be. God’s mercy makes us into a people, the body of Christ. We are called to move toward one another, to serve one another, and to speak the truth in love to one another.
Works of service are accomplished. Luke 22:25-27; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 2:3-5. Jesus came as one who serves sacrificially, and we are called to similarly serve. We are called to be generous with our energy, time and money. As God looked upon our need and moved towards us, we are to be active as we look for needs we can meet in service to others.
A mindset of mission is fostered. John 20:21; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Colossians 4:5-6. The church is God’s mission in the world. We are not a church that simply does missions, but we are a church that sees our self as part of God’s mission to Forest. We are sent; we are ambassadors; our speech is always to be gracious.
We believe that our purpose to gather and equip will be fulfilled and our goals met as people come to know Christ through Scripture. Our commitment to Scripture and its focus on the person and work of Christ will shape how we reach and equip as well as how we pursue our goals. The Bible is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:17; Luke 24:25-27, 44-47). Jesus will not be known apart from Scripture, and Scripture cannot be truly known apart from Jesus (John 5:46-47; 2 Timothy 3:14-15; 1 Peter 1:10-12). These must always be held together.
This commitment will keep us from being distracted by theological tangents, ministry practices, or social issues that will draw us away from the purpose and goals described above. It will also protect us from creating structures of ministry that require from people what God does not require.
Ministry happens in certain places. God has called us to minister in a specific context that focuses our energies.
First, ministry happens where God is at work. Mark 4:26-29; John 3:5-8; Acts 2:42-47; 1 Thessalonians 1:5. This will keep us reliant on God in prayer and the other means of grace in our ministry. We need to understand how God works and the evidence of his work so that we will give our attention there.
Second, ministry happens in and through the church. Matthew 16:15-19; 1 Corinthians 12:27-31; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Peter 24-10. The church is not simply a vehicle for ministry, but as the body of Christ is the place of ministry through its people. The church is God’s mission through which he is at work in the world, gathering his people and equipping them for works of service. We believe that ministry happens through the various gifts God gives to his church by his Spirit and that every member is part of that ministry.
Third, ministry must never lose sight of the individual. Acts 20:18-20; Ephesians 4:15-16; Colossians 1:28, 3:16; Hebrews 3:12-13. Paul says his aim is “that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” He describes his own ministry being “public and from house to house.” We cannot think of the body without the individual parts. God knows us individually by name and we need to take into account the individuals God has put before us to minister to. Since we minister as a body, the individuals who are members of our church will greatly affect the shape of our ministry.
Fourth, our ministry is specifically to our community. Acts 14:11-18, 17:24-28; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Colossians 1:2. The particular cities Paul traveled to impacted the shape of his ministry. When he wrote to churches, they were not generalized letters but addressed to specific churches in particular cities with unique issues. Likewise, God has called us to be a church in Forest, Virginia. We need to be aware of the unique challenges and opportunities for ministry in our own city.
Avenues and Strategies for Ministry
With the above in mind, we see that ministry happens in different settings and gatherings. Three avenues of ministry that we need to take into account are large gatherings, small groups, and one-on-one or individual relationships. In each setting we each need to be intentional about our purpose and goals described above. Each of these avenues will also allow us to pursue our purpose and goals in different ways, as we see God at work through his people in the lives of individuals as he builds his church.
We recognize that our goals will be reached to varying degrees as God provides people who both have the grace to envision the gospel in their lives and the gifts to serve in various ways (Romans 12:3-13; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). “As each has received a gift” we are called to “use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). As one of us, we want you to see your gifts as God’s calling to serve the church.