How to Grow: Chapter 3
At Gateway Church, we have four things we aspire to grow in. These are our values as a church. They are also the discipleship steps by which we help you grow in your faith. We believe that these four values help us accomplish our mission of “connecting people to Jesus Christ and to one another." So how you grow as a follower of Jesus, what we value, and how we accomplish our mission are all the same thing at Gateway. So what do we value? Let's talk about the first two values this week.
Value #1 — Worship
When we talk about worship at Gateway, we mean an obedient life that brings glory to God. So we worship God when we obey His commands, when we repent of sin, when we come under His authority, and when we submit to one another. Worship also includes congregational singing, our gathering together, giving, and listening to the sermon with an attentive heart and mind.
Our intent is to create worship services that are Gospel-centered, contextual, and done with excellence. By Gospel-centered, we mean that we are not ashamed of the Good News. The songs we sing, the sermons we preach, and the prayers we pray are all intentionally saturated with the Gospel.
By contextualize, we mean that we are aware of the culture around us and—like good missionaries—we study the culture so we can best reach the people in our community with the gospel. Like James, our “judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God (Acts 15:19, NLT).” So we want the Gospel to be easily understood to everyone who gathers with us.
Finally, we try to do all things with excellence. We are serving the Lord first, and He deserves the very best we can offer Him. So we prepare our hearts and minds, and rehearse our guitars and sermons so that we present to God the best we have to offer each week.
At Gateway, our expectation is that our members will make plans to attend a worship service on a weekly basis. Now immediately you may be wondering about this and that and all of the reasons why you won’t be able to make it to church. So let’s be clear.
We believe that a follower of Jesus will prioritize worshipping with His people. So that means, Sunday mornings are already booked on your calendar. You have a reoccurring event that you are planning on attending, and you schedule the rest of your Sunday activities accordingly.
Now sicknesses happen, we are not against vacations, and we know that college students go home for the summer (and snow birds fly south for the winter), but what we are saying is that all too often worshipping God in a local church is more of “an option that we will do if our calendar is open” instead of something that we have made plans to do.
But this isn’t the mindset of a member of Gateway Church. We believe that anyone who wants to be part of our church will be more than willing to make it a priority to worship with us weekly. We don’t have this expectation of non-members, but this is what sets apart our members from people who have not made a formal commitment.
In Hebrews chapter ten—in writing about the assurance we have because we have been washed clean by the blood of Christ—the author writes, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25, NLT).”
We are to not abandon meeting together. That includes meeting together weekly for worship, but there are other ways that we are to not abandon meeting together. Which leads us to our second value.
Value #2 — Connect
As our mission statement says, “We connect to one another.” After you are worshipping weekly with the congregation, we want you to take your next step of gathering with a small group of people. We call these small groups “Life Groups” at Gateway.
You may already be in a Life Group, but do you know the purpose of our groups? Life Groups are where the Bible is applied, where care for one another takes place, and where friendships are made here at Gateway. You worship with us on Sunday, and then you go to your Life Group to discuss with other Christ-followers how the Bible is or should be changing your life. The people in your Life Group will help you apply the Bible to your life. They will pray for you and care for you.
- If you go to the hospital…your Life Group will be there for you.
- If your kids get sick and life is crazy and you can’t get dinner made…your Life Group will be there for you.
- If your marriage is in a crisis…your Life Group will be there for you.
Our Life Groups are our first line of defense for your care.
In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul says that a pastor’s “responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12, NLT).” Our Life Groups are our way of equipping you to do the work of caring for one another so that no need goes unmet in our congregation.
Our expectation is that all of our members will participate in a Life Group. We don’t have this expectation of non-members, but this is what sets apart our members from people who have not made a formal commitment.
Take a few minutes to consider how you are worshipping and connecting, and then check back with us next week as we explore the next 2 values.