Image description WHO WE ARE At Grace Evangelical we are a community of God's people built around Jesus

Get to Know Us and Our Priorities

We're a community of God's people who meet together regularly. Jesus is a the heart of who we are and what we're on about it. Convinced that he is God's King and the only One who can make us right with God we want to keeping trusting him faithfully until the end when he wraps this world up.

Who We Are

Introduction

GECN Priorities

We take seriously the words of the New Testament which highlights what our community is all about:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together,as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)

So, we’re about encouraging one another, seeking to build one another up as we remind each other of Jesus, our King and Rescuer and what it means to live our lives for him now.

The essence of the message we believe in summarised by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:21; Jesus, who was innocent became guilty. That is, he took up himself guilt that was rightly ours for turning our backs on God, rejecting him and choosing to live as if he didn’t exist. That’s what his death on a cross was all about. And so, when we trust in Jesus a great swap takes place. Jesus, the innocent one faces God’s anger instead of us, as the guilty one. The result is his innocence is swapped to us who believe. That makes us completely acceptable to God and able to relate him again as our King!

What is our response to such a generous act on our behalf? It is living for Jesus, who died for us and was raised again (2 Cor 5:14-15). So, individually, and together as a community, this is our goal: to gratefully live in the light of who Jesus is and what he has done. This means no longer living for ourselves but living for the One who died for us and was raised again and seeking to please him in every way (Col 2:10).

Priorities

As outlined in the introduction we’re a community who is seeking to to no longer live for ourselves but to live for the Jesus: the One who died for us and was raised again. It is this foundation of Christianity and who we are that shapes our priority statement as a church developed by our elders: our priority is ‘being disciples of Christ and making disciples for Christ.’

Let’s spend some time unpacking what this means:

Being Disciples

Being disciples of Christ

This priority statement covers working out all that it means to live under Jesus as our King (ie ‘being disciples of Christ’) which is no easy task.

Jesus himself said these words:

those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
Luke 14:33 (NIV)

And elsewhere speaking to his disciples he said:

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9:23 (NIV)

While it takes only the trust of a child, taking God at his word, to enter God’s Kingdom (see Luke 18:15-17) learning to live out all that it means to follow Jesus is demanding. It flies in the face of our self-centred, me-driven culture. And these words of Jesus (above) show that a true follower is one who gives up their right to rule themselves. They are required to give up their rights and instead pledge their allegiance to King Jesus and all that he desires. Even if it means suffering at the hands of others.

Learning to follow Jesus is an all-encompassing, whole of life response:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

The message paraphrase helps bring the meaning to life in modern language:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Romans 12:1-2 (MSG paraphrase)

It involves giving all of our lives to God in response to his mercy and generosity to us. And it involves a whole lot of unlearning all that we’ve picked up and held as ‘wisdom’ from our culture when we’re ignoring God. And instead it involves adopting God’s perspective on things (‘renewing your mind’) which really does lead to change from the inside out. It leads to maturity which is what God so longs for his people to have.

Making Disciples

Making disciples of Christ

Our priority statement also covers all that it means to be on mission with Jesus in seeking to draw other people to him and to grow them into mature followers (ie ‘making disciples of Christ’).

Speaking of God’s final day of judgement Peter explains that it will happen, but that God is holding off for a time:

 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

We recognise that the very reason Jesus hasn’t brought this world to an end is because God longs for others to come to know him too. He longs for others to turn back to him (‘repentance’). And so, we too long for others to come to turn back to him.

Jesus hasn’t rescued us to live a comfortable, well-adjusted life. Instead he calls us to join him on the frontlines in his work to draw people back to God:

Then Jesus came to them 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 (NIV)

It is clear here that Jesus not only wants people to respond the good news of what he has done. He wants them to become mature followers and to teach them to live out everything that he taught!

Living It Out

To work towards ‘being disciples of Christ and making disciples for Christ’ our elders have summarised four key areas that we focus on at Grace Evangelical Church.

We aim to be a:

Learn

A learning church

That is, a community that grows in the knowledge of God and his Word. As Christians together we’re all aware of God’s great love expressed in Christ. But we’re prone to forget it due to our sinfulness. And there is just so much that we need to unlearn from the ways of thinking we picked up before we came to Christ. There is so much that is still part of the way we live that needs to be challenged by God’s perspective on things. And the best tool for that is Scripture:

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

Respond

A responding church

We want to not only be learning from God’s word but responding to it so that God’s perspectives become ours. We want to be changed from the inside out in all of our attitudes, priorities, ways of thinking and relating. We want to being transformed to be more like Christ in the way we live. As a community together we long to be to reflect Jesus in every area of our lives.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
James 1:22-25 (NIV)

Relate

A Relational Church

As a community we want to grows in our love for one another as members of God’s family. That is who we are. And together we want to show the world what he is like. This needs to start first within God’s household by the way we love and support one another sacrificially getting involved in each others lives, especially in times of crisis. Like any family, we haven’t got it all together and with a diverse range of ages, race, backgrounds and personalities we’re bound to have our share of differences. But seeking to work through them provides us with the opportunity to reflecting God’s love, his distinct character and purity to a watching world.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:35 (NIV)

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5: 14-16 (NIV)

Reproduce

A reproducing church

Realising that Jesus has not just drawn us to himself but is continuing to draw together a people for himself means that we’re part of that same mission. We’re a community eager to see others come into a relationship with God by coming to rely on Jesus as their Rescuer and to live for him as their King. We long to see everyone, everywhere to turn back to God. And we’re eager to grow and train the next generation of Christians in what it means to follow Christ. It’s not just about getting people in but teaching and equipping to be mature followers of Jesus themselves.