Every church is creating a certain culture that informs their vision and mission, whether they know it or not. Through the songs sung, the sermons preached, the things taught and talked about, there are values being promoted that shape their evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, and worship. As we begin this blog, it seems like an appropriate time to articulate the kind of culture that we aim to create and maintain at ECC. Although you’ll find that many of the members in our congregation have different hobbies, personalities, opinions on politics, and views on secondary issues in Scripture, there are several core values that unite us, connect us with other churches, and encompass all we do as a local church.
At Elmira Christian Center, we value a culture where…
1. The Glory of God is Displayed in our Lives
God’s glory is the beauty and weight of his holiness and attributes; it is the radiance of his manifold, infinitely worthy and excellent perfections. The chief end of man is to make known the glory of the Triune God in all the earth and to find our highest source of joy and delight in Him. Unless we passionately hold to a high view of God, we will never properly understand the reason for our existence or the gospel and all its implications. Therefore, all that we do as a church is first and foremost to extol and declare the excellencies of God and to give Him honor by worshiping Him, for He alone is worthy (Exodus 34:5-7; 1 Chronicles 16:24-29; Psalm 86:8-10, 15; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
2. The Preeminence of Christ is Proclaimed in our Lives
The glory of God is most clearly seen in His Son, Jesus Christ. We desire to proclaim to the world that Christ is preeminent, infinitely surpassing all others, in His glory, His being, His authority, His sacrifice, and His exaltation. It is in Him that the Scriptures find their completion and fulfillment. It is through Him and Him alone that we can know the Father, and He is the only way, our only hope, of salvation from the wrath of God that we justly deserve. We preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified (Psalm 2; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-20; 2:9; Hebrews 1:2-4).
3. The Truth of the Gospel is Transforming Lives
The gospel of Jesus Christ is truly “good news.” It is news, not advice, because it is all about what God himself has done for us and our salvation in the life, death, and resurrection of his Son by the Spirit. While religion tells us that we must obey in order to be accepted by God, the gospel tells us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! In light of this glorious truth, our hearts, motives, and efforts to worship God are radically transformed so that we joyfully serve our Creator, Savior, and Lord with everything we have. The good news of gracious acceptance through Jesus Christ is at the very center of all we do at ECC (Romans 3:21-28; Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:3-7; 1 Peter 2:22-25).
4. The Power of the Spirit is Visible in our Lives
It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that our church is able to succeed in its mission. Were it left to the “wise and persuasive words” of man, or our own merits and efforts, we would be totally helpless. However, the Spirit of God is our comforter and our guide. He is the one who regenerates and seals our hearts, illuminates Scripture, produces fruit, grants boldness, and distributes gifts to the body for work of the kingdom of God. It is upon Him and His work that we fully rely for ministry – the work of the Spirit through the Word to the believer (John 14:16-18; 16:13-15; 1 Corinthians 12; Galatians 5:22-25).
Of course, there are many other things that we value (family, honor, hospitality, worship, etc.), but these four are the biggest and broadest biblical categories that all of the other values we hold fall under. If we create a culture where the glory of God is not magnified, the preeminence of Christ not honored, the truth of the Gospel not proclaimed, and the power of the Spirit not relied upon, then everything else we do and value will not only be out of balance and misguided, but ultimately worthless. These four values characterize everything we do, from the songs we pick, the sermon series we choose, the topics for our community groups, the curriculum for our kids ministries, and the goal of our outreaches. These values are what we want on our doorposts, on our lips from morning till evening, and passed on to future generations. This is kind of culture that what we want to be known for.