Truth or Grace?

When my wife and I were first thinking through what it would be like to plant a new church, we talked a lot about priorities. What was important? What would the new church look like? That was years ago, but we have revisited those conversations many times.  It was clear to me that many churches tended to talk about one thing. And I don’t mean this in the good sense. This wasn’t a result of discipline and clarity.  Too often they focused on one thing at the expense of other really important things, not just because of their gift set.

I saw many churches that were doctrinally astute. They were committed to faithful preaching and teaching. Unfortunately they didn’t do much for the people around them.  Their corporate lives were not characterized by the good works of love and mercy that were central in Jesus’ ministry. Ironically, they celebrated and funded the ministries of sister churches in 3rd world countries, but did little to imitate them. These churches talked a lot about being “Biblical” but often ignored huge parts of the Bible (the stuff about orphans and widows). And they often did this while talking about the danger of the Social Gospel.

Other churches (often liberal or leaning that way) were really engaged in community service, but they downplayed the importance of the moral and doctrinal teachings of Jesus.  Bible preaching and exposition was often marginalized or missing altogether.  After all, doctrine just causes arguments, right? And we can’t be sure about anything but the importance of love, right?  Wrong. You would never get that idea from Jesus. It is dishonest to pick and choose the parts of the Bible we like. And the activist churches did it just as much as the doctrinal churches.

But neither of these options were very appealing to us. What if God wants us to tirelessly to serve those around us BECAUSE of our devotion to the truth? What if the only reliable test of doctrinal orthodoxy is a life of love, mercy, and servanthood? Is it possible that the best theology could actually fuel and guide the way we serve our community?  Is it possible that GOD DOESN'T WANT US TO CHOOSE BETWEEN TRUTH AND GRACE?

This is what we want our church to be. A place where we courageously confess the truth, and then sacrificially obey that truth in the way we serve those around us.  We have a long way to go, but we are excited for the journey.  If you are new to the area or don’t have a church we invite you join us.

Altered photo courtesy of Rae Allen . Used by permission, some rights reserved. CC 2.0