The story is told of a world famous archer who hit the bullseye every time he pulled back his bow and let the arrow fly. On the eve of a prestigious competition, a passerby stumbled upon his training secret. Rather than aim at a target, he simply shot the arrow. Whatever it hit or wherever it landed, he ran up and quickly painted the target around the arrow. A bullseye every time!
Rather than aim indiscriminately, First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, has tried to identify the target so we can know whether or not we come close to hitting it. We asked the question, “What does God want the church to be and to do?” Three passages of Scripture have proven instrumental in helping us answer that question and determining our target. We want to be:
- An Acts 2:42-47 Community of Faith
- An Ephesians 4:11-16 Equipping Community
- An Acts 13:1-3 Sending Community
These passages help shape our vision and values as a church. Our study of these passages led us to craft our purpose statement—“Building a Community to Change the World.”
The first passage, Acts 2:42-47, describes a community of faith that has an ongoing ministry to itself and a powerful outreach to the local geographic area. It is a family of families who are passionate about God’s Word, Fellowship, Worship, and Prayer, and where Outreach is a natural byproduct of sharing life together.
A community of faith is passionately devoted to God’s Word, Fellowship, the Lord’s Table, and Prayer.
- Passionately devoted—Like devoted fans of sports teams, Christ followers are intensely loyal and steadfast in their allegiance.
- God’s Word—The Scriptures shape our commitments, habits, and values.
- Fellowship—More than coffee and donuts, fellowship comes from sharing life together and serving alongside other Christ followers.
- The Lord’s Table—While observing communion is part of the equation, a devotion to the Lord’s Table means the church is characterized by grace and forgiveness.
- Prayer—A community of faith is a burden-bearing fellowship who intercede for one another.
A community of faith practices Inspiring Worship, Sensitive Generosity, and Mutual Ministry.
- Inspiring Worship—Worship was never intended to be dull and boring. Keeping our focus on the “Audience of One” and looking for what God is doing will contribute a sense of awe and wonder towards God.
- Sensitive Generosity—A community of faith opens their hearts, homes, wallets, and calendars in an effort to meet the needs of others.
- Mutual Ministry—Rather than living as loners or putting people on pedestals, a community of faith practices the “one another” passages of the New Testament.
A community of faith impacts the world. Rather than being a program or activity, outreach is a natural byproduct that comes from sharing life together. Christ followers create curiosity through their lifestyle and testimony and cause others to be hungry for what they see in their lives. A fully functioning community of faith is attractive to a watching world.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on January 17, 2016. It is part of a three-part series on The Nature of the Church. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.