Guardrails – The Core Values of Orchard Community Church

There are many ways to arrive at a destination.  If you are on a baseball team and your “destination” is to win the game then you could tie all the opposing team’s shoes together, put butter in their mitts, and replace their bats with balsa wood.  This just might win the game.  The problem is that it would cross all sorts of important boundaries in order to do so.  While there are many ways of arriving at a destination or achieving a goal, not all are the best or the right ways and sometimes we can arrive at the destination having lost who we are in the process because we ignored these boundaries.

For the past several Wednesdays I have been writing about the Mission Statement of Orchard Community Church which is “We exist to make and become fully devoted followers for Christ through the renewing and transforming power of the gospel for the glory of God”.  You can read more about the Mission Statement here:  part 1; part 2; part 3.  The Mission Statement sets a direction or a destination.  It is what we believe God wants to do in and through us.  But just like a baseball game, there are many ways we could go about doing this and some are much better than others.  We need boundaries, like guardrails on a highway, to keep us on track.  These are provided by the Core Values.

The Core Values of Orchard Community Church are:

1. Passionately God-Centered

2. Dependent on God

3. Rooted in the Word of God

4. Grace-Driven Transformation

5. Becoming Fully Devoted Followers of Christ

6. Committed to One Another

7. Actively Serving

8. Intentional Outreach

9. Authentic and Passionate Worship

For the next 9 weeks, I will take one of these Core Values each week and look at why it is important, how it keeps us on track, and how we are seeking to do this as a church.  My hope is that we will weave these things into everything that we do and that they will become the fabric that holds all of our ministry, worship, and fellowship together. For this week, just look over the list and see if these things are present in your life.  Do you see them in your church?  Why are they important?

I look forward to working through these 9 things and thinking and praying about how to incorporate them into everything we do as Orchard Community Church.

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Power of the Gospel

The Mission Statement of Orchard Community Church is “We exist to make and become fully devoted followers of Christ through the renewing and transforming power of the gospel for the glory of God.”  

This is the last of three posts on the Mission Statement of Orchard Community Church.  The first was about the Glory of God and the second was about being Fully Devoted Followers of Christ.  This week I want to look at the idea of the “renewing and transforming power of the gospel.”

In Romans, Paul writes “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).  Do we really believe this today?  There are a lot of Christian books out there on how to improve yourself, your marriage, your job, your church, and your children.  Many contain very helpful advice.  Often pastors preach sermons about these things as well.  My fear is that maybe, just maybe, underlying all of these ideas is the basic (and very wrong) assumption that we must change ourselves.  Sometimes I get the feeling that believers in Jesus Christ have lost the idea that the gospel is powerful to change us and have instead assumed that we must rely on our own good intentions, programs, and efforts.  We seem to scratch and claw our way to small changes on our own instead of relying on the monumental power that is available in the gospel.

How powerful is the gospel?  Like Paul said in Romans 1:16 – it is the power of God.  Ephesians 1:19-20 explains that this is “his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead…”  Did you catch that?  The power of the gospel is the same power that raised Christ from the dead!  If you are a believer in Christ, that is the power that is at work IN YOU!  The difference this power makes is the difference between life and death – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

As a church we are not worried about having the best programs or techniques.  Our worship services won’t wow you and our use of technology certainly won’t blow you away.  Our coffee is OK and the preaching is probably average.  But what we have is greater than anything you will ever find in the world – the power of the gospel.  Our teaching isn’t about improving ourselves – it is about dying to self and accepting the new life that is only available through the gospel.

The power of the gospel renews us.  It is an ongoing recreation of who God made us to be in the first place.  It is a hope and a strength beyond any situation in this life.  It is a renewing of strength not by improving us, but by substituting God’s strength in the place of our weakness.

The power of the gospel transforms us.  No one can come to Jesus Christ and accept the gospel (the good news of His death, burial, and resurrection in our place for our salvation) without being changed.  You cannot add Jesus on to your life like installing an app on your phone or adding him to the already crowded list of priorities in your life.  Transformation is a total change – a complete tear down and rebuilding of who you are.   After all, minor improvements on a condemned building might make it look better, but it is still destined to fall apart.  This transformation comes as the gospel redirects our lives, redefines our priorities, and renews our will to conform with God’s perfect will.

As a church, we will trust in the power of the gospel in everything that we do.  I believe this will make us better parents, employees, leaders, stewards of our money, and everything else in our lives, but not because we are simply improving ourselves in small ways.  It will be because God is at work in us through the power of the gospel for the glory of God.

How have you seen the power of the gospel at work in your life?  How can we continue to demonstrate the power of the gospel in our individual lives and together as the Church?

photo by flickr user Shane Woodson

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Fully Devoted Followers of Christ


Part 2 of the Mission of Orchard Community Church (Read Part 1)

The Mission Statement of Orchard Community Church is “We exist to make and become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ through the renewing and transforming power of the gospel for the glory of God.”


We think fruit is good for food, but to the fruit tree the fruit is all about multiplication – growing more fruit trees! The trees must grow and mature in order to produce fruit that will produce more fruit trees. At OCC, we want to be intentional about growing in our faith. We believe that maturity in our faith is not just for the “super Christian” just like growing up is not just for some children. Our goal as a church is not just to be believers in Christ, but to be fully devoted followers of Christ. We cannot choose to follow someone and then take a seat once that choice is made. Following implies movement – a journey from early faith in Christ to constantly walking in faith, living life as worship, and producing fruit that scatters the seeds of the gospel wherever we go.

Being fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ means that we are growing by spending time in His Word and seeking to live out God’s truth in everything we do. It means that worship is the goal of everything we do, not just how we spend one hour on Sunday mornings. It means we know we can never stop growing, never say that we’ve already put in our time, and never stop learning more about this incredible relationship that God has made possible with Him through Christ’s death on the cross.

We do this through studying God’s Word together in small groups, in Sunday School, and through the sermon each week. We will unabashedly challenge, encourage, and equip each other to grow in faith because we want to be an orchard of growing, fruit producing trees, not just a field of immature saplings.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

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Pulling Together – the Mission of Orchard Community Church and the Glory of God

Imagine 2 children on the same little league baseball team.  One set of parents hopes that the coach of that team will turn their child into an all star – whether he or she has the talent or not!  The other set of parents hopes their child will be part of a team where everyone has fun, gets equal playing time, and learns good sportsmanship.  Same team.  Same coach.  Same bat and ball.  Same rules.  But vastly different ideas about what the team is supposed to accomplish.  That coach cannot possibly satisfy both sets of expectations and is in for a long season!

Orchard Community Church decided to write out a mission statement before they hired a new pastor.  They also came up with a list of Core Values to communicate what is most important to this church.  As the new pastor, I am extremely grateful for the work that was done to help the church pull together in the same direction.  Over the next few weeks I will use Wednesdays to communicate and explain the mission statement and core values of Orchard Community Church.  It is my hope that this will help us at OCC to pull together with common purpose and direction.

Mission Statement of Orchard Community Church:  We exist to make and become fully devoted followers of Christ through the renewing and transforming power of the gospel FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.

To state a mission is to live with an end in mind.  It is an expression of a hoped for destination.  This focus becomes a unifying idea that allows us to evaluate everything we do against this all encompassing mission.  The end of the mission statement is really the most important – “for the glory of God.”

Why do we exist as a church?  There is a lot of pressure on churches to make people happy.  Often people come to church to be affirmed and to feel good.  But the church does not exist for the people.  We exist for God.  Saying that everything is “for the glory of God” may seem trite or overly grand, but it is absolutely essential because it provides the appropriate direction and boundaries for everything we do.  If we reach hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands with the gospel but do so in ways that do not promote and display the glory of God then we have failed.  If we form a fellowship of close friends and families who love each other but ignore God’s glory then we have failed.

For many people, the ends justify the means.  For the church, the end is the means.  We don’t just do everything for the glory of God, it is the glory of God at work in and through us that accomplishes all things.  It is the display of God’s glory in lives lived together focusing on Him, saved by Him, and doing all things for His glory that changes other people.  It is God’s glory that demands our worship.  It is God’s glory that drives our discipleship.  It is God’s glory that should be the goal of everything we do.

God has given us everything we need in Scripture to understand how His glory is displayed among His people.  We must be students God’s glory displayed throughout Scripture so that we can pull together as a display of God’s glory in this world on His terms, not ours.

How does understanding the mission of the church first and foremost as being for God’s glory help us to evaluate what we do?  Maybe we can get some conversation going in the comments to discuss this together.

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The Church is…A Disciple-Making Community

Jesus gives the marching orders to the Church in Matthew 28:19 – “Go and make disciples.”  Our first priority, the best thing that we must seek to do above all else is to make disciples.  A disciple is a follower of Jesus.  Jesus looked at people and said, “come, follow me.”  He was telling them to spend time with Him and get to know Him.  He was telling them to trust Him.  He was telling them to accept His priorities as their priorities.  He was telling them to redefine their lives in terms of being His follower.  Being a disciple is more than just being a believer, it is being a follower.

If a disciple is a person whose life is redefined by Jesus and is following Him, then a Disciple-Making Community is a group of believers who are completely focused on growing in their relationship with Christ and helping (encouraging, challenging) others to do the same.  This involves evangelism, but it can’t stop there.  It involves offering programs to teach people and to help them grow in their faith, but it can’t stop there.  Making disciples is personal.  Making disciples is relational.  It takes time and sometimes it’s messy, but, according to Jesus, it is the number one priority of the Church.

This is going to take some effort to get right.  It just might cause us to radically redefine our priorities and our understanding of what the Church is about.  I hope that we care for people, but helping people is not necessarily discipleship.  I hope that we offer quality educational and social programs, as well as great worship experiences, but these are not necessarily discipleship either.  I hope that we maintain the tools God has given us – the budgets, buildings, property, and equipment that can help us do what God has called us to do – but the tools are only important to the degree that they are helping us to accomplish the mission of making disciples.

Would making disciples be at the top of a list of the most successful things we do as a church?  If not, then it is time for some serious evaluation and realignment to the mission Jesus gave us to “Go and make disciples.”  Let’s have business meetings, committee meetings, and staff meetings that are primarily concerned with discipling people.  Let’s recover the idea that being a leader in the church is about making disciples and bringing everything the church does in line with this important mission.

There are many things churches are doing that we should be proud of and feel good about, but if I’m understanding Jesus correctly, none of it means anything if we are not making disciples.

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