Riverside Strategies, Core Values & Distinctives
We are a church founded on a relationship with Jesus that leads us to have relationships with one another. Sometimes people begin with a relationship with Jesus and over time they develop relationships with others in the church. Sometime they begin with relationships in the church that ultimately lead to a relationship with Jesus. Either way, we ultimately need both for our church to grow and flourish. The more aggressive our people are in pursuing both types of relationship the stronger we are and the more fruitful we become.
We need to make sure that all of our teaching on Sunday mornings and in our groups is true and Biblically based, but beyond that we need to continually emphasize, teach and celebrate the truth of the Gospel. If someone only ever listens to one sermon or attends one small group they should walk away with a picture of what it means to be saved by Jesus and to follow Him as Lord. Our hearts gravitate towards religion and trying to earn our salvation or God's love...the Gospel is the antidote to all of that. This means we need to train our teachers and leaders and hold them to a high standard.
Faith & dependence on God:
We aren't called to play it safe or pursue comfort. We need to continually seek God's will and follow Him into uncomfortable territory when He leads us there. I have an idea of what we can do in our own power and it pales in comparison to what God wants to do in and through us, both as individuals and as a church.
Transformation & growth:
Those who don't know Jesus should come to know Him and those who know Him should be growing in their fruitfulness and effectiveness. We need to continue to seek and pursue the lost while teaching those within our church to follow and obey all that Jesus commands. Healthy churches don't continually fall into predictable ruts...either do healthy Christians.
We can't wait for people to come to us. We need to engage and penetrate our community in meaningful ways. This should be happening through organized Riverside events as well as through individual church members. Some events will specifically proclaim the Gospel to our neighbors. The purpose of other events will be to love and serve our neighbors and meet their needs, always looking for an opportunity or open door to share the reason for the hope that is in us.
Planting new churches is an effective way to reach new people and a way to challenge new leaders to step out in faith. As we continue to plant churches we have a reason to prepare and develop new leaders in every area and ministry of Riverside. As we continue to grow this will lead to an ongoing cycle of identifying and developing leaders, training them, and sending them out. In this way the Gospel continues to spread and Riverside always has an incentive to grow and develop leaders.
Jesus was generous with us beyond measure. We should desire to be known as a generous church. Generosity is a language that cuts across all barriers and shows people that we are living what we claim to believe. Riverside should be a generous church and our people should be generous with all that they have.
In order for Riverside to be fruitful and effective we need to avoid distractions and remain focused on doing a few things really well. There are lots of churches and ministries that do a lot of things that we "could" do...but that doesn't mean that we "should" do them. We should encourage our members to pursue a wide variety of ministry opportunities as they feel led by God, but as a church we should keep our focus on doing the things that God has called us to do with excellence.
Some Additional Areas of Emphasis...
Quality & Creativity:
In order to reach our culture we need to be creative and intentional in the things that we do. Every aspect of our Sunday morning gathering should have a purpose and be done well. This does not require spending a lot of money. It does require attention to detail, self evaluation and consistency in our approach.
Targeting Young People and Families:
Our church is fairly diverse in age but the preaching style, worship music, use of technology and design of our website and posters is geared towards attracting young people and families. Most marketing in our culture is oriented that way. Our desire is to proclaim the timeless truth of the Gospel in a language and medium that will not be seen as a barrier or foreign language to those outside of the church. Repentance & faith in Jesus is the only requirement.
Successful ministries are led by passionate and qualified leaders. We should be open to creative ministry ideas as long as the person generating the idea is willing to organize it and oversee it. When ideas don't work out we also need to be ok with ending them. The goal remains the same...the strategies should be continually developing. We don't need to reinvent every wheel. If someone is doing a great thing in our community let's join them rather than trying to recreate it.
Sense of Anticipation and Excitement:
I want to be a part of a church where God is active and on the move, breaking down walls and transforming people. We should be excited to gather together on Sunday and throughout the week. We should anticipate God doing great things through Riverside. If we come into church with no expectations then often times we get exactly what we expect... We serve the almighty creator of the universe who has already won the victory - let's remember who it is that we serve! Our people should be excited about attending Riverside and excited to invite their friends!
The Bible is God's incredible story of redemption. We see beautiful living pictures of that in the lives of the people in our church. We need to do a good job sharing our stories and celebrating what God has done...they can be a powerful witness. We accomplish this through videos, live testimonies, baptisms, and in our groups.
It's OK to Laugh:
I use a lot of humor in my preaching. I think it is an effective way to connect with people and communicate truth in a way that sticks. People outside the church think that Christians are uptight and self righteous. Making them laugh builds a bridge and disarms some of their preconceived ideas about us and the God that we serve. As long as we take the Gospel seriously it's ok to laugh at ourselves along the way.
Small groups are where real Christian community should really happen. I want to see our groups continue to grow and develop in their fruitfulness and effectiveness. That means really investing in our leaders and future leaders so that we are unified in our mission and our focus!
Sunday Worship Through Music:
I truly believe that passionate and creative worship is essential to our time of worship on Sunday mornings. There is always a balance to find between the familiar and comfortable and the new and exciting. I believe our worship at Riverside should remain progressive and we should desire to do it with excellence. Our bands need to engage our congregation with the songs that they choose and the ways that they play them. It should never be a performance...they are leading the congregation and inviting them to join them as they worship God with their voices and instruments.
Speaking the Truth in Love:
Our society is drifting further and further from the truth of the Gospel. We need to affirm and hold fast to the truth without seeing others as our enemies. If we convey the good news of Jesus with love and compassion then it is much more likely that it will be received and transformation will begin to take place.
Religiously Avoid Religion:
Religious practice and trying to earn God's favor through works and deeds is the enemy of true faith in Christ. We need to avoid doing anything that encourages religious behavior. At the same time, there is a rich tradition in the Christian church that we don't have to avoid or run away from. We should embrace the parts of our history and tradition that have real meaning and effectively point people to a relationship with Jesus while avoiding "traditionalism"