The early church was empowered by the Spirit to be witnesses to Christ in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Even today, the mission of any local church is really just an extension of the early church’s mission. CityLife Church’s mission is “to raise up fervent followers of Jesus who will reach out and impact communities, cities and nations for the Kingdom of God.” So our mission statement is both unique but also a resounding echo of the early church’s mission. Following that principle, the account of the early church in the book of Acts has also helped us reimagine our unique vision for each chapter of CityLife’s story.Reimagining our story as a churchCHAPTER 1: JERUSALEM A CHURCH EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
Our church began as a missional movement birthed in the Holy Spirit in 1967. We were originally called Waverley Mission, and from the beginning we had a strong emphasis on experiencing the empowerment and gifts of the Holy Spirit, along with great pastoral care biblical teaching, and outreach (see Acts 2). Our founding pastor, Richard Holland, writes about these beginnings in his book “From an Acorn to an Oak Tree,” which is available on the CityLife Church website. That early emphasis on the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit remains a part of our core DNA.CHAPTER 2: ANTIOCH A MULTICULTURAL MULTIGENERATIONAL MISSIONARY SENDING CHURCH
From 1986 to 1995 we embraced an “Antioch” vision. Kevin Conner was our senior minister at the time. The vision he shared was that "Our Church is to maintain the foundation principles laid down in the church at Jerusalem, but not to allow the spirit and attitude that crept into the church at Jerusalem to get in. We are called to be like the church at Antioch”. Clearly in each season of church life there is a need to let go of the past and embrace the new while retaining core DNA. Under Kevin’s leadership the church retained an emphasis on ministry of the Holy Spirit while also becoming a multi-cultural, multi-generational, missionary sending church like the church in Antioch (Acts 11:19-26 and Acts 13:1-3).CHAPTER 3: EPHESUS. A CHURCH THAT BRINGS LIFE TO CITIES WITH MULTIPLE SITES and SMALL GROUPS
In 1995, the new senior minister Mark Conner shared a word with our church about what he sensed in God for the future. "You have built well on the principles of the church at Jerusalem while avoiding the spirit that got into that church. You are now an Antioch church and that vision will be further outworked in the years to come. It is now time to embrace and add in a greater dimension of the principles of what I did in the church at Ephesus. As you do, you will enter an entirely new phase of influence and impact beyond what you have ever seen before. “
In this chapter, we also embraced a new name—CityLife Church and new ministries such as Life Groups, Life Tracks, Community Care and World Impact. We adopted a new mission statement: “To raise up fervent followers of Jesus Christ who will reach out and impact communities, cities and nations for the Kingdom of God.”
From 1995-2017 we then grew to become a multi-site church, with multiple congregations, life groups and ministries impacting different cities and communities around Melbourne and in other parts of world. In many respects we became like the church at Ephesus which impacted a whole region called Asia in what is now modern day Turkey. They too had multiple congregations and small house groups (Acts 19:1-10).CHAPTER 4: CYPRUS TO MALTA A CHURCH THAT ENCOUNTERED OUR UNLIMITED GOD IN THE STORM
In the next chapter of CityLife’s story from 2017 to 2021, we pursued our “No Limits” vision. We believed that there are “no limits” on what God can do through us. But the two year pandemic tested our faith to the core. Paul also had a progressive vision—a vision “to go to Rome” (Acts 23:11) and beyond that to Spain (Romans 15:23-24). He also encountered a major storm along the way (Acts 27). Like Paul, we had the courageous conviction that we would all make it through the storm and reach our promised destination (Acts 27:22). We rediscovered that God’s kingdom unshakeable and his power and love and influence are unstoppable. We found the resilience and strength to continue through the storm. I believe resilient faith, trusting in our unlimited God, is a part of our CityLife DNA. We are a spirit empowered, missionary sending, multi-cultural, multigenerational, multi-site church of strong resilient life groups and congregations. And we continue to have a progressive “No Limits” mission to raise up fervent followers of Jesus and impact more communities, cities and nations for God’s Kingdom.CHAPTER 5: WE ARE GOING TO ROMEA CHURCH THAT LOOKS TO THE NEXT COMMUNITY, CITY AND NATION
As we explore the next chapter of our story, it is important to remind ourselves of the character we have developed and the principles we have learned in previous chapters. There are character qualities and principles that have shaped and formed us as CityLife Church. At the same time it is important to let go of the past. God is doing a new thing. We are not going back to Ephesus, Antioch, or Jerusalem. We are going forward to Rome. That is a word that was shared with us prophetically as a church at the start of this millennium.
“I want you to know, I am talking to children, and the youth and adults ... Rome is your prophetic destination. God has given you a Word. God has given you a prophetic destiny. It is still the same word “Rome”. Rome is the destiny. … God has it all mapped out. He knows you are going to Rome. ” (Prophecy for WCF/CLC from Emmanuel Cannestraci in 1999)
So what is Rome for CityLife church in this era? After much prayer and discussion, we have come to the conclusion that Rome not about just one place or one city or one nation. It is about the life of Christ overflowing from one city to the next, just at it did in the story of the early church, and in the life of Paul and his whole missional team.Our FULLY ALIVE Vision for the Next Chapter
Our vision for the next chapter of CityLife Church is summarised in two simple words—FULLY ALIVE. We are CityLife church. That is our name. We want to be everything that that name implies. A place full of life. A community, city and nation impacting church that overflows with life from each person to the next, and from every each community, city and nation where we live and work to the next.
Here is some biblical background to help seed the vision in your heart and see how it is linked to Paul’s missionary call to go to Rome. The two words FULLY ALIVE are used in a number of places in The Message paraphrase of the Bible by Eugene Peterson. They convey the reality that the life we experience in Christ should transform all dimensions of our life: body soul and spirit; personal, social and work relationships; work, ministry, vocation and mission. We believe, it is the good news of this kind of transformational life in Christ that Paul was so eager to share with the church in Rome. We can read this in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans when he quotes from the ancient prophetic words of Habakkuk.Romans 1:15-17
… I can’t wait to get to you in Rome, preaching this wonderful good news of God. It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.” [The Message Bible]Habakkuk 2:4
… the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive” [The Message Bible]Vision Sentence.
To give deeper meaning to our vision there is a simple vision sentence that clarifies what we mean by FULLY ALIVE. It also provides as deeper sense of the purpose and destination for the vision.We see each person becoming fully alive in Christ so that every city overflows with Kingdom life.Storyline and Slogans.
We also have a storyline that expands on this vision sentence in more detail. You can read this “storyline” for our next chapter in our “vision canvas” which brings all the vision elements together in one place. As you read, please reflect on how you can participate in this progressive vision. Also notice the two memorable slogans.Seasonal Rhythms
. You will notice the storyline has four key parts to it: Spirit Life, Shared Life, Kingdom Life; and Overflowing Life. We are calling each of these a focus area, and together they describe seasonal rhythms to church life. Each year and during the year, we will emphasis different seasonal rhythms or focus areas. We will be telling more about these rhythms and focus areas as the year progresses.2022 Focus.
Our main focus for 2022 will be Spirit Life
or “Encountering Full Life in Christ.” As Jesus said in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That kind of life comes from the Holy Spirit (John 16:12-15). A big prayer for us this year is that each of one of us will encounter full life in Christ through the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit.OUR VISION CANVASOur Two Vision Words (The “Title” of the Next Chapter) FULLY ALIVEOur Vision Sentence(The Next Chapter Summarised) We see each person becoming fully alive in Christ so that every city overflows with Kingdom life.Our Vision Storyline(The Full Chapter Summary) Summary Statement.
We see CityLife Church as a Spirit filled movement where each person is becoming fully alive in Christ so that every city overflows with Kingdom life.
1. Spirit Life.
By the spirit, each person is encountering full life in Christ
2. Shared Life
Every ministry team, Life Group, missional community and congregation is empowering each person in every generation to become fully alive like Christ as we share life together.
3. Kingdom Life.
We are bringing God’s Kingdom life of righteousness, shalom peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit to every locality where we live.
4. Overflowing Life.
In four years, that kingdom life of love in action will be overflowing from every community, city and nation where we live to the next.
Future Hope. In fifteen years, by our seventieth anniversary, our hope is every city in Melbourne and other places around the world will be filled and overflowing with Kingdom life.Our Two Slogans Each person fully aliveEvery city overflowing with life.Discussion Questions
- Share together the chapter in our story when you first became a part of CityLife, and talk about what attracted you to our church.
- Looking back at the different chapters of CityLife Church, what areas do you think remain a part of our core character and DNA?
- Discuss how you think the story of the early church in the book of Acts can be applicable to our own church’s story both in the past and now.
- Read out the CityLife new Vision Storyline slowly and out loud together. Share what stands out to you.
- How can you as an individual and a Life Group be an active participant in this FULLY ALIVE vision?
- How can you take a next step to encounter full life in Christ this year?