1 Timothy 3:14-15. Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household , which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. NIV
Paul wrote to Timothy to let him know how people should behave themselves in the church, God's house. CityLife is “our house” but in real terms it is God's house. How should we act in a way pleasing to God? How are things done around here and why? What are the ABCs of CityLife?A Attitude Phil 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. NIV
A church's attitude (or outlook and approach to life) is of utmost importance. We can't control what happens to us but you can control what happens in us. Attitude is a choice and therefore we are responsible for our attitudes. A healthy church is characterised by people who handle the inevitable negative emotions that emerge in a constructive and Christ-honouring manner.B Baptism Hebrews 6:1-3. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. NIV
The foundations of the Christian life include salvation by repentance and faith, then baptism in water and baptism in the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues, a spiritual prayer (Acts 2:38).C Celebration and Life Group Acts 5:42 . Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house , they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ. NIV
God's purposes are worked out through two major church programs, the large gathering (“temple” or “celebration”) and the small gathering (“house” or “ Life Group”). This is God's idea. We need both large and small gatherings of believers to achieve God's purposes in and through our lives.D Diversity Galatians 3:28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus . NIV
God is a creative God who made us all different. We see this as something to be embraced and valued. Our goal is to bridge racial, gender, socio-economic and generational gaps so as to create a community where different people can relate together in a spirit of love and unity.E EvangelismColossians 4:5-6 . Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
We are to have a heart for those who are far from God and who are not a part of his family. The gospel travels best through relationships and most people come to Christ through a process. We want to equip each believer to share their faith with confidence.F FriendlinessRomans 12:13. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality . NIV
God wants his church to be a place of warm hospitality that reaches out and welcomes those who are new or visiting. Friendliness is a great quality for a church to have. It means reaching out of our comfort zones and being friendly to those we don't yet know.G Giving Malachi 3:7-12. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. “But you ask, `How are we to return?' “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, `How do we rob you?' “ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse-the whole nation of you-because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse , that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty. NIV
This is God's financial program for his people. Our money will be where our heart is and, according to Jesus, giving is an indicator of our true spiritual condition. God commands us to honour him with the first 10% (a “tithe”) of all our income promising to provide for our needs and watch over our possessions. Tithing is an effective tool to dethrone money as our God; tithing is God's idea; tithing is a floor not a ceiling; God invites us to tithe as a way to test his faithfulness.H Holy Spirit John 16:7 . But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. NIV
We now live in the time of the Holy Spirit. He has been sent by Jesus to help us personally to live the Christian life and as a church to fulfil our purpose. The Holy Spirit lives inside of each believer empowering them to live the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is also actively at work in the church - giving people gifts to minister and then anointing them to bring about change. Let's be more sensitive to the prompting and leading of the Holy Spirit in our life and in our church (Rom.8:14).I Integrity Psalms 78:72 . And David shepherded them with integrity of heart ; with skilful hands he led them. NIV
Praise God for anointing, for leadership gifts, for charisma and for excellence. However, we must recognise that these things are no substitute for character. Who we are speaks much louder than what we say. Integrity is the quality of being honest and morally upright. There is congruence or unity between what we say and who we really are. We need to establish early warning signals and have appropriate accountability in place to protect ourselves so that we are always “above reproach” in every area of our lives.J Jesus 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 . When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. NIV
Church and the Christian life is “all about Jesus”. In the midst of all the things we do and talk about, let's never forget that Jesus is the reason for everything. Jesus should not just be first in our life, or the centre of our life. He is our life. Everything we are, have and do is “in and through him”.K Kids Mark 10:13-16. People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “ Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them . NIV
Kids are important to God and to us! We want to see our own children raised in God's ways and we also want to reach out to children who are not from Christian families and believe for them to respond to the message of Jesus Christ. That's why we have a children's ministry.L Love John 13:34-35. “A new command I give you: Love one another . As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” NIV
Our goal is to see every person loved and cared for in such a way that they feel accepted, valued and have a sense of belonging. Wouldn't it be great to be “known by our love”! That would really please Jesus and bring him glory. Love is more than just being friendly or nice to each other. Jesus told us to love one another as he loved us. He believed in them, he encouraged them, he opened his heart to them, he confronted them when necessary, he forgave them and he never gave up on them. Let's do the same for each other.M Media Psalms 68:11. The Lord announced (gave) the word, and great was the company of those who proclaimed (KJV “published”) it : NIV
God is doing good things in our church and we want to get the word out so others can be blessed. We want to make good use of technology that can help us spread the word through such things as audio and videotapes, television, books and resources and our web site.N Needs 1 John 3:16-18. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. NIV
We want to be a church known by our love but also by our practical demonstration of that love to people in need, whether from our own church family or from our local community. Various ministries exist to make this a reality including the Saints Relief and Barnabas funds, our Opportunity Clothing Shop and our Food Banks. If you have a need, simply ask for help. If you've been blessed, then give so that others can be blessed too.O OutreachMatthew 28:18-20 . Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” NIV
The church exists for mission not for maintenance. We have a mission from God and we are to boldly go with the good news of the gospel to every corner of our world. Our goal is to reach lost people both near and far and influence our community for righteousness through evangelism, community outreach, missions and church planting.P Prayer Mark 11:17 . And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “`My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it `a den of robbers.'“ NIV
Our goal is to become a house of prayer for all nations. Prayer is all about communication with God - sharing our hearts and needs with him and then taking time to listen to his heart and mind. It is about an intimate relationship with God. Personal prayer is essential. No one can pray for you. Your relationship with God is determined by the amount of time and effort you put into it. Church must not be a substitute for your personal relationship with God. It is a supplement to it. We also want to see prayer flow through every aspect of church life and ministry. When we pray his supernatural power is released into our world.Q Quality Col.3:23-24. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord , not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (NIV)
Our goal is to pursue excellence in all aspects of church life in order to bring glory to God. We want to keep learning so that we constantly improve the ministries of the church. We want to keep looking for a better way and that requires an environment where people ask questions and give constructive feedback.R RestorationJeremiah 30:17 . But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds ,' declares the LORD, `because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.' NIV
We believe that God is a God of restoration! At a personal level, we believe that God can restore wounded hearts, broken relationships and years that have been lost in sin and pain. That's why we have pastoral care and a counselling ministry. Change can be instantaneous but more often than not, it is a process. We also believe that God is restoring all that was lost so that the church returns to its original glory and beyond. The prophets said that glory of the last day house of God
would be greater than the first house of God. We believe that before Jesus returns we will see a glorious, united and victorious church right here on planet earth.S Serving 1 Peter 4:10. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others , faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. NIV
Our goal is to see every member developing their God-given abilities and using them to serve others. We want to be a church family where everybody helps out regularly and where people have turned from a self-focused consumer mindset to an others-focused contributor mindset.T TeachingColossians 1:28-29 . We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labour, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. NIV
In the Great Commission, Jesus told us not just to go and make disciples, but also to “teach” them to obey everything he had commanded (Mt.28:18-20). We are to communicate the lifestyle of the kingdom - how to live in a way that will please God and attract his blessing. We are a teaching church. We believe in the Bible as the inspired and authoritative word of God and we're committed to helping people grow to full maturity in every area of their life. Teaching happens primarily in Celebration and LIFETRAX, but also in Small Groups where discussion and application is more the focus.U Unity Ephesians 4:3 . Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. NIV
The church is to be a community of believers dwelling together in love with a common purpose. United we will stand, divided we will fall. Unity brings God's blessing, while strife and discord creates cause much hurt. We must work hard at being peacemakers who actively pursue peace and harmonious relationships.V Vision Proverbs 29:18. Where there is no revelation (vision) , the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law. NIV
We strongly believe that God has a purpose and that we are called to be a part of it (Rom.8:28-39. 2 Tim. 1:9. 2 Pet.1:9). Having a vision for your life gives you a sense of motivation and purpose for each day. Having no vision for your life leads to apathy and indifference resulting in wasted years. Our church is about vision - God's vision for the world, for our church and for your life. We have one life to live - let's live it to the fullest in the light of eternity.W Worship John 4:20-24. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem .” Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem . You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth , for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” NIV
Our goal is to express our devotion to God through joyful praise and intimate worship. Worship is a lifestyle, however, we gather regularly to meet with God and worship him. We follow his agenda of worship as recorded in the Bible - including singing, shouting, clapping hands, lifting hands, playing musical instruments, bowing and even dancing. We expect God to respond to our worship with his manifest presence, his power and his mind.X eXpectation Hebrews 11:6. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. NIV
Faith can be defined as “positive expectancy”. When we gather as God's people, we want to do so in unity and with faith and expectancy. We serve a BIG God who is able to do exceedingly above what we could ever ask or think. We will always pray and believe for great things to happen in and through our lives.Y Youth and Young Adults Ecclesiastes 12:1 . Remember your Creator in the days of your youth , before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”- NIV
The ages of 13 - 25 are crucial years where most of the major choices in our life are made (faith, career, friends, marriage, etc). These are the “days of our youth”. We need to remember God in this season of our life. The Youth and Young Adults ministry of the church exist to help people in these age groups find God and his purpose for their life.Z Zeal John 2:17 . His disciples remembered that it is written: “ Zeal for your house will consume me.” NIV
We want to be a church characterised by zeal, passion and fervency for God and the things of God, especially his house, the church. We want to fight the natural tendency to become indifferent, apathetic and lukewarm. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we want to be “fervent followers of Jesus Christ” - not just hyped up believers, but fully devoted followers whose lives are lived for the cause of Jesus Christ.Conclusion
So that's it - the ABCs of CityLife! We've covered quite a bit - the major aspects of church life here at CityLife. Together
let's embrace God's unique purpose for our church family and let's be all we can be for the glory of God and the benefit of others.Discussion Questions:
Start by seeing how many of the 26 points people remember. This could be a fun exercise and will help those who missed some of this series find out about what was covered.
You may also want to take a few meetings on this series, as there is a lot of potential to discuss matters relevant to the group and the church.
- Which one of the ABCs was most interesting to you or referred to something you were unaware of? Here is a good chance to see people's interests and level of awareness.
- Which one of the ABCs are you most passionate about or interested in? Why? Have each person share. Their answers will give you a good insight into what's important to them.
- Which one of the ABCs do you think are the weakest in CityLife and need the most work? What can we as a Life Group do to strengthen this area? Again, here is a good chance to tap into passion areas within your members and to use the discussion and sharing time as a catalyst to bring positive change. If you're really keen, you could do a SWOT analysis of the church or of the Small Group. To do this, have an open discussion about the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that people perceive.
- Are there other things you think that are important for our church but that weren't mentioned? If so, what are they?Here's a chance to find any “gaps” of important things we may have missed. Please pass these on to your Network Pastor.