Our vision describes what we desire to be and to do; our values describe the things that govern how we go about being and doing those things.
A love for the Word of God
At the beginning of John’s gospel we find this declaration, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The truly profound mystery of the Bible is that in its pages we find not just truth about Jesus, but are actually drawn into an encounter with Jesus himself. This reality should stir in every believer an unending desire to delve deeper into the Bible and experience for themselves the very person of Christ. The writer to the Hebrews in chapter 5 likens biblical teaching to milk and solid food, saying that the former is for ‘infants’ in the faith and the latter is for those who are mature. A church that feeds both the infant and the mature man or woman – and teaches them to feed themselves, honours the Word and builds itself up.
A desire for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit
The apostle Paul follows his description of the ‘mechanism’ of salvation in Ephesians 2 by stating that through him (Christ) we both (Jew and Gentile) have access to the Father by one Spirit. Note the Trinitarian view of the gospel that he gives us here; Jesus makes a way for us to have access to God our Father, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. To preach the forgiveness of sins through Christ as the full gospel is to limit the power of the gospel because there’s more to the story than that. Christ’s atoning sacrifice is our reconciliation with the Father, the reality of which we only experience through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Not completing the gospel story can result in cold religious obedience, or mere intellectual stimulation devoid of the life-transforming power of the Spirit. In John 16, Jesus tells his disciples that the Holy Spirit would take all that belongs to him (and the Father), and make it known to them (and us)! He is the One who assures us of our adoption into God’s family (Rom 8:15), the One who counsels us and leads us into all truth (John 16:13), the One who empowers us for witness (Acts 1:8) and equips us for service (1 Corinthians 12:11). A church that honours the Holy Spirit honours the gospel!
A passion for sharing the gospel
When God appeared to Abram, way back in Genesis 12, he made this promise, “through you all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” God has always wanted ‘a people’ for himself. He may have started with an anonymous idol worshipper in an obscure location, but his plan was always to bring his ‘salvation to the ends of the earth.’ (Isaiah 49:6). Jesus echoes this global intent when, following his resurrection, he commands his disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit who would empower them to take the Good News to the “ends of the earth.” The Apostle Paul helped to set the early church on course by his example when he declared that it was always his intention to “preach the Gospel where Christ was not known.” Church life must never be reduced to simply caring for the needs of those who have already come to faith. The church that is passionate about reaching the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ reflects the very heart of God.
A Commitment to Community
God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; a Trinitarian community that existed before everything else did and created all that there is (John 1:1-5, Genesis 1:1-2). These three are, individually fully God yet there is one God; a mystery indeed. In this community relationships are perfect and pure, providing a ‘blueprint’ for every other community or government to base itself upon (John 17). The Father loves the Son as does the Son the Father (John 3:35, 5:20). The Spirit honours the Son while the Son glorifies the Father (John 16:12-16, 17:1). Here there is eternal love and oneness – all under the perfect leadership of the Father (Philippians 2:5-11). At City Hill we believe Jesus has called us to reflect these ‘Trinitarian virtues’ in the context of our interaction with each other (John 15:12). We also believe that healthy relationships are the building blocks to a healthy community and are therefore committed to; building, honouring, serving, supporting, challenging, correcting, encouraging and loving one another; in speech and deed (John 15:17; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:24). Our regular Sunday meetings with their emphasis on the Spirit and the Word, our times in each other’s homes (or elsewhere) with emphasis on intimate accountable friendships, together with our lives lived in the marketplace; form platforms upon which we experience and reflect our gospel community. Through such activity, our family is put on display inviting others to join our Father’s household, much to the fame of his name (John 13:35).
A liberality in Generosity
From Scripture we learn that our Trinitarian God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is the most generous of all persons (cf. Lk 11:11-13). The Father demonstrated his generosity by giving his own Son to rescue a dying world (Rom 8:32; Jn 3:16), while the Son willingly laid down his life (Jn 10:18) as a ransom for our salvation (Matt 20:28; Mk 10:45; 1Cor 6:20), and the Holy Spirit is exceedingly generous in that he gives to the church spiritual gifts that help her grow (1Cor 12:8-11). In light of such grace we value sincerity of heart (cf. Col 3:22) in the giving of our time, talents, resources, income, wealth and persons to the mission God has invited us to. Generosity, therefore, is for us a healthy biblical indicator of godliness and a witness to the generous God who encourages us to demonstrate his grace to others (2Cor 9:6-15).
A passion for the nations
How will we see the gospel impacting lives and society in ‘Jerusalem, Judea and the ends of the earth?’ – By reproducing genuine gospel communities (churches) that will not only preach but demonstrate the transforming power of the gospel, and by helping to strengthen existing churches so that they can effectively do the same. When Paul declares in Romans 15 that, “from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ,” he wasn’t suggesting that he’d personally interacted with every individual along the way, but rather that through his ministry, multiple gospel communities had been formed that would continue to proclaim the gospel. While our focus needs to be in our own ‘Jerusalem’ (Joburg), our vision must extend way beyond that to the ends of the earth. The church that is committed to reproducing itself has understood the urgency of the Great Commission – to make disciples of all nations and bring them to obedience to Christ (Matt 28:19-20).