Our Core Commitments
God Is Present in His World
God’s presence is a promise: that God never went away; that He will never leave; that His presence is the very focal point of healing what’s broken. God is present in our lives. God is present in humanity, in our jobs, in success, in suffering, in sin, and in failure; God is at work, even when we feel like He’s not. God is present in His world. And that changes everything.
The Church is the result, embodiment, and instrument of the gospel.
As the result of the Gospel, we are bound together by grace in the redemptive purposes of our trinitarian God. Self-donation, worship, holiness, community, love, faithfulness, personhood, unity, and diversity all flow from the life of the Trinity in and through the church—for the good of our neighborhoods and city.
As the embodiment of the Gospel, we become a foretaste of God’s kingdom. Beauty, meaning, truth, justice, healing, and fellowship are ways in which His church lives as a signpost of God’s gracious reign. By God’s grace we are becoming:
- A community of hope in a culture of cynicism.
- A community of grace in a culture of grudges.
- A community of rest in an overworked culture.
- A community of generosity in a culture of greed.
- A community of service in a self-centered culture.
- A community of diversity in a racially and economically stratified culture.
As the instrument of the Gospel, each and every endeavor matters to God. Our work and rest are a witness of the good news. Whether a teacher or taxi driver, programmer or professor, scientist or student, homemaker or helicopter pilot, carpenter or cosmologist, barista or biologist, Jesus intends to live His life in every inch of His creation through His people. This means our work as the church, whether gathered or scattered, is an instrument of the Gospel—as God uses our gifts, passions, experience, and labor to extend His grace as far as the curse is found.
The Gospel is comprehensive in scope and has cosmic, communal, and personal implications.
The Gospel has a cosmic horizon as God’s grace renews nature. God intended the flourishing of all creation in Genesis 1 and 2 and set out on the long road of redemption in Genesis 3 to put the world right again. Shalom is the state of all creation fruitfully being and doing as God desires; it is the way things ought to be. When sin entered the world, God didn’t abandon us. His purposes for creation, restoration, resurrection, redemption, renewal, and recreation all look back to a previous existence—and forward to the accomplishments of God’s promises for the whole world, including humanity.
The Gospel has communal implications, since God’s redemptive plans are bound up in the people He’s chosen for the sake of the world. The achievements of the cross, the gift of the Spirit, the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises in the person of Jesus, all shape and transform the community of disciples who are faithful to the Faithful One. The Gospel creates a reconciled humanity into one family of God. The peacemaking work of the cross, which reconciles humans with God and one other, is not simply a benefit of the Gospel—it is the essence of it. Jesus is our peace, made peace, and preached peace to all those torn apart by race, riches, and religion. Jesus accomplished this stunning reconciliation by allowing Himself to be cast out of the city, treated like a criminal, and rejected by humanity, so that through His death and resurrection we could be brought near, welcomed as sons and daughters, and adopted into God’s family.
The Gospel has personal benefits, as God forgives and fills every Christian with His grace and Spirit. Our new identity as God’s children remakes our fragile self-assessment, and gives us a new foundation for understanding ourselves. We no longer need to perform in order to be accepted and approved because, by grace, we already have it. This changes how we treat Him and one another. If we’re saved by grace; we obey out of love, not fear. If we’re saved by grace, we can love those who don’t deserve it because neither did we. As the narrative of grace settles into our heart, we become free to repent and confess, free to give and receive grace, free to resist anything displeasing to God, and free to forget ourselves as we fix our eyes on Him. Instead of having to share the Gospel with others, grace makes us want to.
We scatter in our Community Groups, homes, and workplaces throughout the week in order to be a witness to Jesus and His Gospel. Community Groups encourage growth, reflection, and response to the Gospel. It’s where we know others and are known by others. The common-sharing-participation (which is what koinonia means) can’t be accomplished on Sunday only. Instead, we plant communities of light and grace all around our city so that loving relationships are formed—leading us to love our neighbors in tangible ways.
We gather on Sunday to remember and rehearse the Gospel so that we are refreshed and released on Jesus’ mission. We celebrate who God is and what He’s doing in our communities throughout the city. Sunday is not the beginning and end of our Christian life, but it is an important part of our discipleship, since the focus is on our triune God, His glory, His Gospel, and our call to believe and become who we truly are.
Most of us are familiar with a popular summary of the Gospel which sounds something like this: “God made you to know him, but your sin cut you off from God. God sent his Son to die in your place and reconcile you to God. Now you can know God and look forward to being with him after death.” It is a story told about individuals out of relationship with God and brought back together through Christ. This version of the story is true, but it’s not true enough. At the heart of the Biblical story is the story of God’s community— the story of God’s people. The story of the Bible is not about saving individuals to continue living isolated lives. This is a story about God saving a people, a community, a new humanity who will take up His call to bless the nations through their life together. Community is not an add-on; it is essential to our understanding of the Gospel.
When we read Acts 2:42-47, we see our communal identity is never abstract or theoretical. It’s always expressed in a commitment to a particular community of believers. We don’t love the church as an institution or ideal. We love the brothers and sisters among whom God has placed us.
This is why for us as Trinity West Seattle, the primary context for our discipleship is a community group. This is the core organizing principle of our church life, and the primary place where evangelism, pastoral care, discipleship, and familial relationships take place. So it was with the early church. Their community was living like a devoted family to one another. They loved each other. They wanted to be together. Being the “people of God” was central to their identity and activity. As a church, we long to encourage and embody that same Spirit-breathed life which animated the early church. In community, we share our struggles and joys, as we give witness to how Jesus is changing us. We display forgiveness when we’re offended or hurt, we welcome one another, and we share our time and resources with one another, all in the context of relationships. This makes sense to non-Christians as they get a chance to see how Jesus works among His people.
We gather and scatter throughout Seattle in order to declare and display the good news of God’s kingdom. Mission is not a program of the church or one activity among many; it is the very purpose of God’s gathering and renewing of His people. Jesus sends us into the world as He was sent—in order to make His comprehensive salvation known.
Fundamentally, our mission (if it is biblically informed and validated) means our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation.
The community Christ creates is intended to display His love and grace to the watching world. Mission must involve contact between unbelievers and the believing community, so they can see the Gospel in action. People are often attracted to the Christian community before they are attracted to the message. And the best place for that to be experienced is where they already feel they belong. As we live together in community, we want to regularly discuss Jesus with each other in so that when someone joins us—it isn’t put on or churchy—but a natural conversation. This is why we need to know the biblical story, so that it becomes our story (and the story we return to in order to minister to one another). Our preaching on Sunday is intended to worship our God as well as equip and nourish the saints. In this story, the saints are able to join in Jesus’ missional calling to make His Gospel known through word and deed—in all we do.