In my last post I shared some remarks that I gave to the people of Riverview as they consider me as a candidate for the church's role of Senior Pastor. That post detailed some of my own personal history with Riverview and with her people. This post deals with what I see as the most pressing concerns for Riverview's continued ministry.
Riverview is a people on mission: to bring people to faith in Christ, bring Christians to maturity in Christ, worship and live to bring praise to Christ, and to support the work of Christ locally and globally. This statement of mission - clearly defined by the people of this church and by the word of God - has been our cause and purpose for more than the last 10 years. By God's grace, it will continue to be our sole and guiding focus as we push on in life and ministry in the future to the extent that we are obedient to the word of God and are empowered by his Spirit.
While the question of what our mission is can be answered rather readily, the question of how we go about achieving it is a different one altogether. For may years the people of Riverview have sought to be faithful to God's call upon them and achieve its mission by offering their time, energy, finances, creativity, wisdom, and prayers in order to be obedient to the call of God upon their lives. It is my prayer that as our church moves forward, we will continue this legacy of faithfulness to the mission and to innovate and commit ourselves in whatever way God would deem necessary to partner with him in carrying out his purposes on the earth.
But the primary way that I believe we achieve our mission is by being obedient to God and his word. Through our obedience we are able to worship God rightly and we are able to partner with him to carry out his purposes on the earth and in our homes and communities. Through obedience to his word we bring praise and honor to him, we preach the gospel to the lost - both at home and abroad - and we grow in our love for one another and for the Lord.
How do we go about the task of bringing people to faith in Christ, growing believers in maturity, worshipping rightly, and preaching the gospel at home and abroad? By knowing God, knowing his word, and doing it. This, too, is how we define our success - not by measuring how many people we win, or by our weekly attendance, or by any other man-made rubric that indicates supposed success or failure - but only by the degree to which we are faithful to what God has told us in his word.
With that understanding in view, as we look together to the future of Riverview's ministry in West St. Paul, there seem to be several areas in which our church has stood strong throughout the years, and it is these areas in which I believe we must continue to stand, resolute and resolved.
Worship - There is no higher calling than worshipping the one true Creator God. God's glory and our celebration of it in worship should be the focus and goal of all of life and ministry. Worship is the primary purpose for which God created human beings and is therefore our highest endeavor and greatest fulfillment. As we go forth, let us be known as a people who give carefully focus and attention to worship, and relate all of our activities to it and to the goal of magnifying the glory of God.
The Supremacy of Scripture - We live in a cultural context that is increasingly hostile to the word of God, and to those who would hold it as being authoritative in matters of life and doctrine, and we will be tempted to marginalize the supremacy that God's word has in our hearts and lives. Only the Bible, and its message rightly preached and understood can effect lasting personal and cultural change. In light of this reality, we must be sure that we are motivated in what we say and do by the word of God and through the power of his Spirit. As a people who uphold the word of God, we have the opportunity to speak prophetically to our culture and to the world. May we do so with Spirit-empowered love and boldness.
Spiritual Formation - I am grateful that Riverview holds the Bible as supreme when it comes tot he process of spiritual growth. This is why at our church we endeavor to equip our people to hear, understand, respond to, and apply the word of God in accordance with a biblical worldview. This happens a variety of ways and in a variety of contexts. Our desire is to be a people who are humble and teachable before the word of God, always growing in our ability to grasp God's truth and grace, no matter our age or life circumstances. We hold the Bible as being central for all education nd formation efforts, and seek to know it so that we will not be tossed about by every wind and wave of doctrine. This process is not taken on individually, but as a community, as we encourage one another and help each other grow in our grasp of biblical truth, wisdom, faith, and love. As we grow, we show Christ as our ultimate treasure. Let us continue to be a people who holds the Bible as preeminent, and who push hard toward the appropriation and application of truth so that we might become more and more like Jesus and less and less enslaved to sin.
Prayer - Prayer has been and is an essential part of life at Riverview. Through it we show our dependence on God's grace and mercy in our church, family, and personal lives. As we look to the future, may our corporate sense of urgency in prayer mark us as a people who are constantly dependent upon God through our persistent and earnest prayers for the good of others and the glory of God. May everything we do as a church be soaked in prayer so that all may see it is God's strength that provides the victory, and that his glory is the end of our prayers.
The "One Anothers" - There are more than 40 "one another" commands in the New Testament that mark the relationship that believers are to have with one another. The ways that Christians love and treat one another is not only a sign that we know and love God, but is an incredible witness to the unbelieving world regarding the supernatural nature of the church. We are a band of disparate sinners who have been radically transformed through the Holy Spirit, and one of the greatest signs of this transformation is by following the "one anthers." May the world see us loving one another, an d in so doing see the glory of Christ.
Equipping and Training - God commands the church to train up believers int he working of their spiritual gifts for the benefit of the church and the world. These gifts are given so that believers may grow in their faith and maturity, and to be equipped for ministry in and to the church, and in and to the world so as to fulfill the church's purpose of bringing glory to God through its obedience to him and to be obedient to the Great Commission. May we be a church who is faithful to equip and train its people to do the work that God has called us to do.
Missions - As John Piper has famously said, "There are only three kinds of Christians: those who send, those who go, and those who are disobedient." Riverview's heritage of global involvement in missions as both a "sending" and "going" church is strong. our goal should be to maintain that strength in sending people to preach the gospel among the nations, to submit willingly when God calls us to "go," and to strengthen our resolve to continue doing so in every way possible.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
Riverview is about to experience one of the most significant changes a church can undergo. If the Lord allows, I am willing to bear the responsibility and have the honor of serving as the Senior Pastor of this church. That being said, I don't foresee many changes on the horizon at Riverview, inasmuch as our hearts are in line with the word of God and what he has called us to do. Indeed, if we need to change, let it be the kind of change that pushes us more toward holiness and obedience. Otherwise, our history, our legacy, and our current testimony of God's grace in our lives has set our course. May God grant us the grace of obedience to follow him in all things.