Our Values as a Local Church Expression…
Every year we prayerfully consider the values we hold as a church and they way these should be expressed in a relevant way that is a blessing to the community of Wangaratta. In December we hold an annual ‘Vision Sunday’ event to affirm those values and set fresh goals. Each year the values remain unchanged, and we are deliberate in the way these values are expressed. If you are wanting to know what we are all about, this page is a good place to start.
The final moments of Jesus’ time on earth is well documented in scripture, as were his final instructions: “You are going to be empowered in a way that no follower of God has ever experienced. It will embolden you and propel you into the mission I have for you. Your mission – and you really have no choice but to accept it because I didn’t allow any space for Plan B – is to go into the whole world around you and share what I’ve spent 3 years telling you. Start in Jerusalem; then venture out into the hostile region of Samaria. Once you’ve done that, get out to the whole world as far as you can go!”
Like most churches, we are good with the ‘outer parts’ type of mission work. We support ministries in Central Australia and as far away as Kenya. But what about the church’s “Jerusalem”? What about our backyard? For many years we have supported the chaplaincy in schools program in Wangaratta. We also support the Loaves & Fishes ministry providing support to people in need in our area. As a church we are deliberate about connecting with our local community and engaging with their understanding of who Jesus is. We are committed to having real conversations with our neighbours and friends about life and how Jesus relates to it. This starts with being people of good personal character and being solid examples of integrity and service in our community, and it continues in the conversations we have which point to our own ultimate example that is Jesus Christ.
We believe that Christians are supposed to be deliberate about their faith development. They are supposed to be intentional about learning more about the nature of God, the voice of God and the written word of God. In scripture this is known as the process of moving from being ‘infants’ in our faith into spiritual ‘maturity.’ Mature Christians are then well-positioned to find other infants and help them find their path to maturity as well.
People who are new in faith should become more seasoned in their understanding of faith in Jesus. Seasoned or long-time believers should be teaching newbies! All believers should hold a Biblical view on significant issues in the world around us, and they should be discovering what they are good at in the life of faith that they can contribute back in ministry and service! They should always be on an upward curve in their spiritual growth, and there are plenty of things on offer at our church designed to fascilitate this personal growth.
Once we start showing signs of maturity of any kind, what comes next? The natural extension of our mature faith is to combine that with a God-placed vision and a God-placed skillset and get to work in one way or another! In Bible talk we call this ‘calling’ or ‘gifting’ and we believe that God makes us all unique and equips all of us thoroughly for a specific arena of service or ministry. These giftings should be able to be on display both inside and outside the church walls!
As wide-ranging as our skillset might be, we all usually do some things well but other things with excellence. Finding out what those excellent things are can be an enjoyable experience! Utilising those gifts in a God-honouring excellent way can be a bigger joy again. As a church, we believe that we should be seeking to discover how our gifts complement what the Lord is doing. A key role of our leaders is to help you explore how your gifts can do just that.
Churches must mobilise people. Mature Christians (and New Believers for that matter) need to be looking for ways that they can actually be mobilised! Our culture will be one where the load of leadership and service inside the church and as an expression of the church outside, will be shared by an empowered and trained congregation. It won’t be the Pastor alone. It will be a team event, because Christianity was designed that way!
Value 4: We are a Deliberately Connected Church
Fellowship was a hallmark of the early (and rapidly growing and healthy) church that we read of in the Book of Acts. There was loads of food and homes were constantly open. Church history tells us some of that willingness to open homes had a fateful end with betrayals and subsequent martyrdom, but even that did not stop the enthusiasm of the early church in this area of life!
So if the risk of martyrdom couldn’t stop the early church from opening their home or meeting together in some way and sharing a meal, then there isn’t much that should stand in our way either!
We will always have times of connection on our calendar, but anyone seeing our church will hopefully see the culture of it in place in a greater way. People in our church community will not be left alone as ‘islands.’ Everyone will have someone to be in genuine community and relationship with if they choose to do so. It won’t be the leaders holding it all together – it will be a much wider, but still close-knit, community that does that.
Value 5: We are a Deliberately Age-less Church
In the big cities, some congregations are being dubbed ‘hipster’ churches because they cater entirely to young adults. In recent times we have seen churches aim to be ‘traditional’ or ‘contemporary’ in style. In an aim to find balance, others have gone for a ‘blended’ model. However, a church should not be defined by a solitary age group or a solitary style. Instead it should exhibit a healthy cross-section of its community in similar proportion to its ethnicity and in its age demographic in order to accurately call itself a church of its community.
At WBC, we are deliberate about valuing, celebrating and balancing the generations that worship together. We have more than 110 years of WBC history in this city, and a solid number of people who have been around for a very large part of that time! There are people with half-century marriages and people with six and seven decade faith lives as well! These are really big deals and these people are vital to the future of the church with the wisdom and experience they hold. We also have a growing number of young and energetic people as well who are achieving great things themselves.
A church that can embrace all ages and not be defined by a single one will can make a significant statement in its community. Our church will be a place where older experience and wisdom will complement the ambition and energy of the younger people. This does not produce a ‘hipster’ church, neither does it produce an older or ‘traditional’ church. It produces an age-less church where all generations flourish and build each other up.