THE DNA OF FIRST CITY CHURCH IS BUILT AROUND THE CORE VALUES THAT WE ARE A GOSPEL-CENTERED COMMUNITY ON MISSION. THESE CORE VALUES SHAPE OUR PHILOSOPHY OF MINISTRY, THE WAY WE DISCIPLE ONE ANOTHER, AND THE WAY WE BUILD SYSTEMS AND STRUCTURES.
The Gospel is the good news that God is saving sinners through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the historic, foundational, powerful, and comprehensive story of God’s redemption. At First City Church, the gospel of Jesus Christ is at the center of who we are and what we do. It is of first importance. It is not just the door to the Christian faith; it is the entirety of the Christian faith! The gospel changes everything: our identity, our purpose, our community, and our world. Our gospel-centered value is expressed in four primary ways:
At the center of Scripture is Christ and the gospel. All theology finds its fullest expression and meaning in Christ and the gospel. The gospel is simple in its message yet wonderfully rich, deep, and multi-faceted. There is not a square inch of life, thought, theology, or philosophy that isn’t touched by Christ and his gospel. As a church, we ground all practice and strategy in Scripture and with deep theological thought and purpose. But we always engage theology with a gospel lens! Every theological position we take is articulated to explain how it connects to Christ and the message of the gospel.
The gospel is transformative; it gives us new identities, new purposes, and new values, which lead to new practices. We do not follow Christ to earn an identity. Rather, we have been given new identities in Christ, and we now walk in the new life and identities he has given us. At First City, we regularly talk about four identities we now have in Christ: Family, Missionaries, Servants, and Students. Each of these gospel identities is an important expression of our life together as a church. You can read more about each of our Gospel Identities here.
It is Christ and the gospel that unites us, not race, class, gender, stage-of-life, political party, education, or parenting styles. The gospel unites us to be a multi-ethnic, multi-generational church family made up of people from different social classes with different education levels, political affiliations, and parenting styles. We celebrate such unity and diversity! We are also defined by our proclamation and teaching of Christ and not secondary theological issues. While we have deep convictions on issues such as election, baptism, the gifts of the Spirit, and the end-times, we do not make those issues our defining mark. Our gospel-centered theology leads us to say: “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
The gospel not only saves us (justification) it also transforms and renews us (sanctification). As followers of Jesus, we grow in our love for Christ and become more like him as we more deeply behold and treasure the gospel, as we more deeply believe the gospel, and as we more faithfully put on Christ by applying the truths of the gospel to our lives. Because we believe that the gospel is the power that saves and the power that sanctifies us, we have a high view of confession, repentance, and transformation. We practice ongoing confession and repentance knowing that God is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We teach, encourage, exhort, and challenge one another to grow in love, faithfulness, and obedience to Christ because we are confident in the Spirit’s work to renew us and make us more like Christ.
From the beginning, God has purposed to save a people for himself. When God saves us, he doesn’t save us to live in isolation. Rather, he saves us into a family, into a community: the church. As the people of God, our community is created, sustained, and upheld by God. By the grace and power of God, we are now a family, brothers and sisters in Christ, committed to making disciples, planting churches, and blessing our city. And we do this together:
Together, we worship
Each Sunday we gather as the people of God to be formed together by the Spirit of God through singing, professing our faith, prayer, hearing the word of God preached, confessing our sin, receiving the Lord’s Supper, and greeting, encouraging, and serving one another. We are then sent out together as a worshipping community on mission to make disciples.
Together, we disciple, serve, and live on mission
The church is central to God’s purposes in salvation, mission, and discipleship. It is the primary context for our discipleship and mission. As such, we disciple, serve, and live on mission together as a community. Through the community of the church, we teach and equip one another for the work of ministry. Through the community of the church, we disciple one another to grow up in maturity in Christ. Through the community of the church, we love and serve one another and our city, and through the community of the church we proclaim the gospel to our world. You can read more about our Gospel Communities here.
Together, we sacrificially commit
As brothers and sisters in Christ and members of God’s household, we are family. A healthy family requires commitment, trust, and sacrifice. A healthy church requires the same: members who sacrificially commit to living for God’s glory and who no longer live in isolation but prefer one another, sacrifice for one another, and enjoy being together. As a community, we are all called to take ownership of the mission, work, and life of the church.
Together, we pursue and guard unity
As a community united by Christ and in Christ, the church is to display the reconciliation accomplished by the gospel. The church is to be a picture and a foretaste of that future day when all who are in Christ, no matter race, culture, or class, will be united together, worshipping their King. In love and devotion to Christ, we pursue and guard the unity he accomplished. We proactively prevent bitterness and division from taking root in our hearts and in our community. We are humble, gentle, loving, and patient with one another. We bear with one another and forgive one another.
Since the fall of humanity into sin, God has been on a great rescue mission to save sinners. This mission was planned by the Father, accomplished by the Son, and is now advanced by the Spirit. And those redeemed by God now join him on mission. Jesus commissioned his disciples to take the good news of His kingdom into all the world. The church is God’s called-and-sent people, living on mission in the world by proclaiming his gospel and living for his glory. As a gospel-centered community, we live out the mission of God through these primary practices:
We proclaim the gospel
The gospel is a story, a message, a declaration of “good news,” that God saves sinners through Jesus Christ. We joyfully and winsomely proclaim the gospel message to our world. We listen carefully to the questions and objections of our world in order to give an answer for the hope that is within us.
We live “incarnational” lives
God’s people are called to live an incarnational existence - living on mission with Jesus in our homes, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, and our spheres of influence. Mission isn’t something we step out of normal life to do; rather, throughout the normal rhythms and routines of our daily lives, we look for opportunities to share the gospel. We live “ordinary life with gospel intentionality.”
We practice hospitality
We reflect the welcoming heart of God as we exercise openness and offer invitation and welcome to all people, especially “strangers” and those who are “foreign” to us. We open our lives, our hearts, and our homes that others may experience the love and grace of God. We give people space to ask questions and express doubt, angst, and pain. On Sundays, we warmly welcome guests, avoid unnecessary jargon, and are careful to explain what we do.
We bless our city
As the people of God on mission, we do not withdraw from culture, but seek to be a transforming influence in culture for the glory of God. We want our city to experience greater righteousness and justice, for people to thrive and flourish because of the power of the gospel. So, we love and bless our city through acts of mercy and service. We invest in our city financially, and participate in local government, city organizations, and other aspects of local community life.
We plant churches
As more and more people become disciples of Jesus, new churches are birthed. Church planting refers to the active multiplication of new churches – and this is the primary mission strategy we see in the New Testament. The book of Acts depicts the spread of a church-planting movement throughout Asia and Europe. Almost all of Paul’s letters were written to new churches either he or someone else he knew had started. We follow this biblical pattern by investing time, resources, and energy to launch, grow, and sustain new churches.