Our Kingdom journey continues; Jesus is leading us on a missional adventure. Jesus is at work and doing something significant in this time and place; we believe it is a Kairos moment. By His Spirit, he is building in our city and county a movement of kingdom-minded followers of Jesus who are saying yes to the call of God. And we at St John’s are part of that.
As our journey develops, we have sensed the leading of the Spirit to crystalize and articulate our foundational values and vision. We want to invite all of us into a conversation about this. Our desire as leaders is to share our sense of the leading of the Spirit in a way that allows the family of St John’s to understand it, engage with it, help to shape it, and own it.
Our Jesus-shaped values or ethos lie at the foundation of all we are; they must infuse everything we are and do. Expressing these living values here and now shapes our vision and plans. Clarifying our collective vision is vital in helping each of us find our place. Discerning how God is calling us collectively helps us individually discern the call of Jesus.
Here, we describe our living values, pose some questions for reflection, and invite all individually to consider how Jesus is calling us. On Vision Sunday (10 Sept), we will share some of the highlights of our collective vision and then follow that with more detail in writing next week.
We would love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts, comments and questions about all of this. If you would find a conversation helpful, please let us know.
Before you read on, you might like to pause and consider how God might be speaking to you about our vision and values. Which Bible passages do you think are helpful for reflection now? What is your best prayer for St John’s? Do you sense God speaking prophetically in any way right now?
Our Jesus-Shaped Living Values
Jesus imparted a living ethos to the early church that permeated the movement. This ethos is what Paul meant by the church being “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (Eph.2:19). Similarly, we desire the life of Jesus to be reproduced among us. This Jesus-shaped ethos is foundational because it must infuse through everything we are and do; the ethos represents our living values, the manifesto by which we live and act. These values are the ‘stakes’ or foundations God is calling us to strengthen. We believe our Jesus-inspired ethos has the following characteristics:
1. People of the Kingdom (Matthew 6:33)
Being a people of the kingdom starts with worshipping the King and focusing our life gaze on him. From there, we seek after, proclaim, and demonstrate the kingdom like Jesus did through words, works, and wonders. We pursue kingdom transformation of lives and communities, seeking to shift our culture in business, music, education, politics, science, and health, and having an unerring commitment to reflecting God’s heart towards the marginalized, isolated, poor, and needy.
2. County-wide vision and mission (Acts 1:8; 13:49; 14:6-7; 19:10)
God has a heart for all people; therefore, as a church based in Leicester, we believe that Jesus is passionately committed to our city and county. We seek to play our part in the evangelization and transformation of our community, city, county and beyond. We continually seek ways to reach the unreached through disciple-making, church planting, church revitalization, pioneering, innovation, and more.
3. Missional discipleship and leadership development (Mark 3:13-19)
We seek to build a community where we understand what it means to follow Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit and to make and grow disciples who do likewise—creating a culture of missional discipleship. This culture feeds into the pioneering call of God to individuals and teams, believing that mission begins wherever God has placed us. We identify disciples called to be leaders (however unlikely they may be) and equip, empower, release, and support them as planters, pioneers, and multipliers of new worshiping communities of different shapes and sizes and ministry leaders. We equip disciples to pray and work for the kingdom wherever God has placed them (home, workplace, neighbourhoods, etc.).
4. Word and Spirit (John 4:23-24)
We seek to be a people shaped by Word and Spirit as follows: Word- we are committed to the absolute authority and accuracy of Scripture, even where it contrasts with ecclesial tradition, contemporary culture, or intellectual trends. Spirit - we are committed to experiencing (and not merely believing in) the presence and power of the Holy Spirit today, eagerly desiring spiritual gifts and especially prophecy, taking the book of Acts as a vision for church life and mission rather than a record of what it once was, and pursuing the baptism in and filling with the Holy Spirit.
5. A community of prayer (Acts 1:14)
History is full of stories of times when God has stirred His church by awakening a hunger for more of His presence and for Him to move in fresh and powerful ways where people have come to faith in their thousands. Revival begins in the hearts of believers and the church through prayer. We want to build a church where our prayer life is expressed personally and corporately through a lifestyle of prayer and fasting.
6. Growing faith among the young (Mat 18:2-5; 19:14)
Believing that family is one of the critical building blocks of society, we foster healthy family life through strengthening marriages, parenting, discipling children and young people, and developing the school’s ministry, seeking three-way partnerships between households, churches, and schools.
7. Extended family - Diverse and unified (Gal 3:28)
Creating an extended family through authentic and loving relationships. Community-based, not event-based. As the body of Christ, seeking to be Christ’s new humanity, including men and women, the poor and needy, and children, families, young people, and people of all nations. Identify and release the ‘unlikely leaders.’ Seeking to play our part in reaching all people groups in our city and county.
8. Network and Gospel partners (Phil 1:4-6)
Seeking to be a sending (Apostolic) church serving and resourcing a network of worshipping and missional communities of different types and sizes. Be community-based, not event-based; foster community with purpose; be a sending church over a gathering church. Fostering kingdom partnerships with individuals and organizations, including the Diocese of Leicester, the Resourcing Church Program, the Church of England Evangelical Council, and New Wine.
9. Releasing creativity (Exo 35:35)
Releasing creativity across the network through sung worship, children and youth work, art, music, drama, and more, strategically enabling leaders and catalysts of creativity.
In which ways do these values excite you? How do they challenge you? How can we live and work more consistently with these values? Which Bible passages come to mind as you reflect on this?
We will share highlights of our vision in our service on Sunday and then more detail in writing next week.
How is Jesus calling me and you?
Jesus commissions all his followers to live for the kingdom, to proclaim and demonstrate the kingdom just as he did. His call to us begins where he has placed us: in our homes, neighbourhoods, workplaces, etc. He calls us all to be kingdom influencers wherever we are. And he calls us to be part of St John’s. Our desire is to be a church that equips and strengthens all of us in working out our discipleship and call.
So we want St John’s to be a church where everybody belongs, contributes, and is supported. God is calling us to be extended family on mission. This means that, everybody:
Lives for the Kingdom: as kingdom influencers wherever God has placed us and seeks to make and grow disciples like Jesus did.
Prays – collectively and individually, we pray ‘Your Kingdom come’ as Jesus taught us to do. We do this in our personal prayer and prioritize attendance at our gathered prayer times.
Belongs – we seek to join groups and are intentional about informally developing relationships.
Serves – we each seek to serve in different church ministries as Jesus calls us by joining a team.
Gives – we sow into the kingdom by giving generously and sacrificially.
We invite you to pray over this, ponder it, and then share your prayerful thoughts, comments, and questions. Please let us know if you would find a conversation about this helpful. Through the next 4 weeks, we will invite everyone to respond personally.
There are five specific ways we would like you to prayerful consider responding:
Continue to pray about how God is calling you to be a kingdom influencer, think about what we as church can do to support you in that calling, and let us know.
Pray, pray, and pray. Pray personally and join our new monthly prayer gathering beginning on 4 Oct and repeated on 1 Nov at 7:30pm in church (future dates to follow). Put these dates in your diary now!
Intentionally seek to build relationships with others in church informally and by joining one of the new groups as they are formed.
Join a team! Children, Sunday serving, Food Bank, etc.
Give! Prayerfully review your giving and consider whether you can begin or increase your regular giving and/or make a one-off gift. Bring your response to our gift day on Sunday, 1 October.