The North River Community Church Mission Statement
"To walk in the power of the Holy Spirit,
to bring hope to the hurting
through Jesus Christ
to the glory of God."
For you to truly know who we are and what we are about, we invite you to better understand our mission statement. Our mission statement is based upon the mission statement of Jesus Christ who announced the beginning of this ministry in this way:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because he has anointed me
to preach Good News to the poor,
He has sent me to proclaim freedom For the Prisoners,
And Recovery of sight for the blind,
To release the oppressed,
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)
Clearly, Jesus came to bring hope to the hurting. He literally and figuratively brought good news to the poor, freedom to the captives, sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed. Because Jesus Christ is alive, we believe that he continues in that ministry today through his disciples.
Our mission statement is designed to spur faithful imagination as we seek in our own time and community to extend the ministry of Jesus. We do not want to operate only “according to our own lights.” Rather, we want to be lead and empowered the very Spirit of God, to see the opportunities before us and to act in ways that are in keeping with the will of the Spirit.
Our desire is to bring an optimistic hope that is rooted, not in our own capacity to go on mustering up a reason to live, but rooted in the very faithfulness of God. We believe that God showed his faithfulness when he raised Jesus from the dead. We believe that God will always be faithful to us and will raise us from the dead and the many deaths we die in a lifetime.
We seek to bring this hope to the hurting. We understand “hurting” in the broadest sense of the word. We want to bring hope to those who are suffering "dis-ease" as a result of living in this chaotic world; to those who are striving to find something larger than themselves and a deeper meaning to life; to those who are disappointed, discouraged and grieving; to those who are in need of any kind of assistance.
Our desire is to offer hope in ways that are specifically Christian. That is, we do not offer hope for the sake of hope. Rather, our efforts always point beyond ourselves to the one who called us out of darkness into God’s marvelous light. We want everything we do to serve the mission of Jesus to “draw all people to himself.”
Finally, we want all of our efforts to be ordered by worship. We believe that our lives- whether personal, relational, moral, or spiritual- can only be rightly aligned as we turn ourselves toward the one who is our Creator, Sustainer and Savior. We want our whole lives to be an offering to God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We try to realize our commitment through missional worship, prayer, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and outreach. We are growing to understand what it means to get "out of the box"- that is, to get outside the four walls of the church and serve the local, regional, and global community.
Though committed to the teachings of the Bible and surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus, we are an open church that values friendship, hospitality and freedom.
We measure "success" not so much in terms of the number of people in chairs on Sunday morning but by the kind of impact we are having on our community and our world. We want to always ask ourselves: "If North River Community Church disappeared tomorrow would anyone in our community miss us?" We want the answer to that question to be: "Yes!"
We do not offer membership in the traditional sense. We are not so concerned with names on a church roll as we are people actively engaged with one another in the service of Jesus Christ.
We are "kingdom-minded" and for that reason celebrate and support the work of any church or ministry that is striving to be faithful to the Lordship of Jesus Christ regardless of denominational "branding." We join with other ministries to add our part to creating a "Kingdom impact" in the community and the world.
On top of that, we like to have FUN! We not only love each other, we like each other!
And we want you to come and be a part of this wondrous friendship we have found in Jesus!
What We Believe
While we do not subscribe to a creed in the formal sense of that word, we do want to share some of our beliefs with you so that you may gain a better understanding of the kinds of things we stand for. One of our basic operating principles is this:
"In essentials, unity.
In nonessentials, liberty.
In all things, love."
What that means is that we do believe there are certain things that Christians must hold as true. However, we also recognize that Christians differ and sometimes even divide themselves along lines that may or may not be central to the faith. While we believe that some things must be believed and embraced to call oneself a Christian, we also believe that Christ has called us to freedom and to be a people who show hospitality to one another, allowing for differences and seeking to maintain the unity for which Christ prayed.
We understand that:
- God is the creator and sustainer of all.
- God loves us unconditionally and that his love has been best shown through the giving of his unique Son, Jesus Christ.
- Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. As such, he is the Lord of our lives and we are his disciples.
- The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, convinces us of the righteousness of God, and intercedes for us before the throne of God. The Holy Spirit shapes and empowers our daily walk with God.
- The New Testament is our "rule of faith and practice". We turn to the New Testament to understand God's purposes in Jesus Christ and how we are to live as a church and as individual Christians. The Old Testament tells us of God's acts through Israel and provides necessary background for us to understand Jesus and the testimony of the New Testament.
- The Church is the fellowship of disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. By participating in the church, the Body of Christ, we are shaped into the people of God by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
- We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, whom we confess, and to whom we come as repentant sinners. Through baptism, we are initiated into the faith and encouraged to arise to a new quality of life and relationship with God and with one another.
Membership or Friendship?
Sometimes people ask what it takes to become a member of North River Church. They ask because most churches require different steps before one can become a “member.” Usually, what membership means in that context is that when the person has done X,Y, and Z they can get their name on the church roll.
Sadly, in many cases, that is about the extent of their practice of “membership.”
When it comes to membership, we follow the duck theory:
if you waddle like a duck and
quack like a duck
you are a duck.
What we mean is that if you want to be considered a “member” then act like a “member.” (Lots of people have their names on church rolls but don’t act like members!)
In the New Testament, the Greek word for “member” is a biological word. It is not about having your name on some list; it is about becoming a part of the Body of Christ. It is about being connected to Jesus as the Head of that Body and finding yourself joined to the other “members” of that body.
The leg thigh bone is connected to the knee bone.
You know you are becoming a member when:
- you come to know the folks with whom you worship
- you come to care about the folks with whom you worship
- other folks joys are your joys and other folks pains are your own
- you give yourself to building up the Body of Christ
We believe becoming a member is the end result of becoming friends…friends of Jesus first and then friends with His disciples, i.e. the folks you worship with.
We place a huge premium on friendship at North River. We are always learning what that means. We are always exploring friendship.
As a matter of fact, our first priority is to “make friends, become friends and be friends.”
We try to follow that to the point that we say, “Come and be with us and if you find our gathering is not a good fit for you, we will help you find a gathering that is. You may go somewhere else but you will part from us as our friend.”
We just think that most of us need friends far more than we need our names on one more club roster.
We believe that “belonging” is the fertile ground of “believing.”
What Is Your Church About?
The North River Pyramid
Whenever anyone asks me about North River and wants to know what we are about, I like to take out a piece of paper (or a napkin is even better) and draw it out for them.
The first thing I draw is a pyramid.
I then ask: “Are you familiar with the Food Pyramid on the side of the cereal box? You know…how it suggests that you should eat more of what is on the bottom and less of what is on the top of the pyramid?”
The person I’m speaking with always replies with a “Yes.”
I draw a pyramid on the napkin and say: “Well, the best way for me to tell you what North River is about is to draw you what I call ‘The Kingdom Pyramid.’ This will tell you most of what matters to us.”
On the outside of that pyramid I write the phrase, “The Jesus Creed”, which is a term I’ve borrowed from New Testament scholar, Scot McKnight.
“The Jesus Creed is the creed Jesus lived by and the creed Jesus recommended. It’s real simple: “Love God with your whole being- with all your heart, soul, mind and strength- and love your neighbor as yourself.” I go on to explain that everything I am going to say about “what North River is about” is encapsulated within that simple creed.
I then draw three lines through the Pyramid. In the bottom tier I write the word “Jesus.”
Then I say, “For us the most important question is this: ‘Who is Jesus and what difference does it make?’ We are all about Jesus…doing all we can to understand who he is, what he desires and how we can live according to his desires.”
I go on to point out that like the Food Pyramid, which suggests that you should eat more of what is on the bottom, we believe that we cannot devote enough time to “eating Jesus”- we cannot get enough of Him.
I also tell my inquisitor that the desire to take in all of Jesus that we can is what drives our weekly practice of partaking of the Body and the Blood of Christ, the Lord’s Supper.
I then go to the second tier of the Pyramid and write the word: “Apprentice.” And I say, “The second thing we are about is learning how to be apprentices of Jesus. We want to live like he wants us to live so we put in a lot of thought and practice in terms of doing our best to live like Him.
I then move my pen to the third tier of the Pyramid and write the word: “Mission”. I go on to explain that we believe that Jesus and the life He has called us to- the life that is marked by love, joy and peace, etc. - is the life that everyone is seeking.
I then move my pen to the very tip top of the Pyramid, which I try to draw as small as I possibly can, and I write the phrase “Worm Can.”
“This is the part we want to avoid as much as we can. This is the ‘cookie and candy and pie’ region of the Food Pyramid. A little is more than enough.”
Inevitably the person I’m speaking with asks: “What’s in the Worm Can?”
And I say, “Politics and theology.”
I go on to explain that we don’t get into politics in the sense of hot political issues or candidates for office. For us, the church has gotten too distracted from its true calling when it buries itself in the politics of the times. In some churches, I say, politics has taken precedence over Jesus.
And, while I admit that theology is unavoidable, we try not to overdo it.. If the theology is not about helping us better understand Jesus, how we can be His apprentices, and how we can effectively show the life and tell about the life Christ calls us to…well, we aren’t interested.
Who is Jesus and what difference does it make?
How can we follow Him and embrace the life He calls us to?
How can we share that life with others in such a ways that they see the beauty of Christ?
That’s pretty much it….That’s pretty much what we at North River are about.