Our Identity, Mission, Vision, and Values

We exist to proclaim the love of Christ in the power of the Spirit for the glory of God.

 

Identity: Who Are We?

We are a local church—that is, a community of people who, having individually trusted in Jesus Christ, now seek to represent him and follow his teachings by organizing themselves under qualified leadership and gathering regularly to hear and heed his Word, including observing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Through these activities, directed by the Word of God and empowered by his Spirit, we carry out our mission: to be witnesses of Jesus Christ (Acts1:8).

This mission is not a human invention; it is a divine commission. We find it in Christ’s parting command to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8) as well as from the entire message of Scripture. The church exists to bear witness to Jesus and what he has done. Summarized as “the gospel” (literally, “good news”), this is the message that Jesus, the promised Messiah and sinless Son of God, died in the place of sinners, rose from the dead, and is able to save those who trust in him. As a message, the gospel must be proclaimed; as a message of eternal salvation, this proclamation calls forth a response for those who hear it. Those who carry the message—that is, every believer—must bear witness to it with their lives as well as with their words (Titus 2:11-14). Moreover, those who hear the message must repent and believe it (Acts 2:28; 16:31; 11
Thessalonians 1:9-10). The preaching of this good news not only brought the church into existence (1 Peter 1:22-25), but it also forms the essence of its activities; therefore, the church must be gospel-shaped.

To be “gospel-shaped,” means simply that this message about Jesus informs and motivates everything the church does. It means that we see the gospel not only as the way we become Christians but also as the way we live as a Christians. It means that we bear witness to the gospel (1) toward God in exaltation, (2) toward each other in edification, and (3) toward outsiders in evangelism. Thus whether we gather for worship, interact for fellowship, or scatter for work or recreation, we continue to bear witness to Jesus and what he has done.

Exaltation.

When we gather (especially in our main gathering on Sundays), we gratefully rehearse the gospel in praise to God. This rehearsing of the gospel takes the form of singing, preaching, praying, reading Scripture, and observing the ordinances. In its vertical direction, therefore, be gospel-shaped means to exalt God.

Edification.

The gospel occupies a central place when we interact with each other as members of the church. We speak words of truth and encouragement to each other that are grounded specifically in the “word about Christ,” that is, the gospel (Colossians 3:16; Philippians 2:1-11). For example, someone struggling with bitterness may be exhorted to forgive, just as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven them—an appeal rooted in the gospel (Ephesians 4:32). Another example may be found in the area of family relationships. Husbands are to love their wives, “as Christ loved the church,” a love demonstrated in his sacrificial death for the church (Ephesians5:25). So in its inward direction, to be gospel-shaped means to edify one another.

Evangelism.

Finally, the gospel shapes our activities even when we are scattered among our various places of work or recreation. Just as Luke reports about the early church, that “those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went,” so we strive to give the gospel to others (Acts 8:4) everywhere we are. In its outward direction, therefore, to be gospel-shaped means to show and tell the gospel in word and deed. A concise statement of our reason for existence is found in Jesus’ words to his disciples before he ascended to heaven: “You will be my witnesses” (Acts1:8).

A concise statement of our reason for existence is found in Jesus’ words to his disciples before he ascended to heaven: “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

Mission: Why Do We Exist?

The church’s identity and mission are inextricably linked. That is, who we are—a local church—informs what we do. So in answer to the question, “Why do we exist?” we reply:

To proclaim the love of Christ
in the power of the Spirit
for the glory of God

 

“To proclaim” highlights the positive, proclamatory function of the church (Acts 1:8). It implies the spread as well as the stewardship of the message that is proclaimed (1 Timothy 3:15; 2 Timothy 1:14). Indeed, this proclamation and stewardship of the gospel drives the momentum of the book of Acts (1:8, 4:31; 5:42; 8:4; 9:31; 12:24; 16:10; 20:21, 32; 28:31), which recounts the progress of the gospel message from Jerusalem to Rome and many regions between. This proclamation is not only verbal: it is also active. That is, we not only speak this love; we also live it out.

“The love of Christ” is simply an abbreviation of the gospel message: God’s love displayed in Christ’s death on the cross for sinners (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-5). Yet “the love of Christ” is not merely an evangelistic slogan; it is also an integral part of Christian sanctification. Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 points to the love of Christ as the highest object of a Christian’s knowledge: “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). The proclamation of the love of Christ informs believers’ relationships with each other as well, as they “[speak] the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (5:2).

“In the power of the Spirit” draws attention to the all-important fact that it is the Spirit of God who takes what Christ accomplished and applies it to the church (Acts 2:33). As we proclaim the good news about “Christ” (literally, “the Anointed One”), we do so only in the power of the Spirit. Until they received the Spirit, the apostles themselves were forbidden to embark upon their mission (Acts 1:8). Likewise we, as Spirit-indwelt followers of Jesus can do nothing without the Spirit. The Spirit of God indispensable not only in evangelism, but also in salvation (Titus 3:5), sanctification (Romans 8:2), the bearing of spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22), assurance of salvation (8:16), prayer (8:26), and even the church’s longing for Christ’s return (Revelation 22:17).

“For the glory of God” describes our motives, as well as God’s ultimate end and guaranteed destination of the church. We exist as salt and light on this earth, letting others see our good works, “that they may . . . give glory to [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). One day the prayer of the church, “your kingdom come . . . on earth as it is in heaven” will be answered, and the church militant will be the church at rest. Heaven and earth will be one, the church will no longer proclaim her message to fallen humans, but to “rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10), and God, at last, will be “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Finally, the trinitarian shape of this mission statement, mentioning all three Persons of the Trinity, accords with the trinitarian shape of the gospel (Hebrews 9:14).

Values: What Priorities Inform What We Do?

We believe that the above description of a church’s identity and mission should be true of every local church. We also recognize that a particular combination of values gives each local church a distinctive character. The values we wish for Trinity Baptist Church are listed below, and they serve a variety of functions. They are ideals for which we strive, compass points to help us navigate decisions, and ballasts to keep us upright.

The order of these priorities follows a triad—right beliefs, right actions, and right affections—that underlies much of Christian doctrine, practice, and ethics.

Right Beliefs.

The church is “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16) and her leaders must not only “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught,” but also “be able to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). If the church surrendered right doctrine, she would surrender her very reason for existence and have no validity as an organization (1 Timothy 1:4-5), for the one who brought her into existence charged her to “go and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Right Actions.

We heartily embrace the Scriptural teaching that we are saved by faith alone (Galatians 2:16). But we recognize the equally important truth that faith that saves is never alone: it is always accompanied by good works (Galatians 5:6). In the Bible, James warns us that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 1:17). Faith and obedience, hearing and doing, trust and obedience—these are inseparable. Failure to obey signals a failure to believe. Paul summarized his apostolic mission as bringing about “the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (Romans 1:5). Although it is true that beliefs inform behavior, we recognize this is not a one-way street: one’s behavior can shape one’s beliefs. In his first letter to Timothy, for example, Paul warns that some people, by rejecting “faith and a good conscience” had “made shipwreck of their faith” (1 Timothy 1:19). In sum, right beliefs and right practices rise and fall together. A church that holds to right principles but not right practices will soon abandon both.

Right Affections.

A church that embraces correct beliefs and upright actions, but lacks right affections would be hollow and hypocritical (Revelation 2:1-7). Throughout the Bible, we cannot overlook the fact that affections are woven together with beliefs and practices. “The Lord reigns!” is right theology, but it must be accompanied with right affections: “Let the earth rejoice” (Psalm 97:1).

1. The Word of God

We are committed to the Word of God.

As the written communication from the God of life, the Word of God gives life, as it has from the very beginning (Genesis 1:3; John 1:1). This conviction drives everything we do and becomes the measuring rod for whether any activity is a legitimate enterprise for the church (Acts 2:42; 4:31-33; 5:42; 6:4, 7; 8:4; 25; 12:24; 13:44; 15:35; 18:28; 20:27; 28:23). Holding to the Word of God as our foundation also means that we will be Christ-centered, for the Scripture, rightly understood, is ultimately a revelation about Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God (John 1:1; Luke 24:27; Hebrews 1:1-3).

2. The Gospel

We are committed to the gospel.

The Word of God when rightly proclaimed is also a proclamation of the gospel. This is because the Word of God centrally reveals Jesus Christ and what he has done to save us (Luke 24:27, 44; Acts 28:23, 31). This salvation is not merely a rescue from hell, but a restoration of the fullness of the life God intends for humans—flourishing in his presence, unhindered by sin and its effects (John 10:10; Romans 8:19-21; 2 Peter 3:13). The gospel, therefore, is not merely the entry point into the Christian life, but the very pathway upon which the Christian walks (Colossians 2:6-7). Christ is our life, the one in whom are “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 3:4; 2:3).

The gospel gives shape to the church’s mission, gatherings, fellowship, and spiritual character. When the church gathers, it does so to retell the truths of the gospel through singing, reading, and hearing the Word, and through experiencing the dramatization of the gospel via the ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper). The gospel also forms the boundary of true fellowship, for when a person’s creed or conduct conflicts with the gospel, he or she no longer shares in common what unites the true members of the church (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). The gospel also gives shape to the spiritual character of the church and her leaders. In view of the gospel, church members must speak the truth in love and pursue holiness with humility (Ephesians 4:15-5:2). Moreover, those who are called to lead her must exemplify the effects of the gospel in their lives, that is, they must be “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:1). In sum, whatever the church is and does, it owes to the truth of the good news that Jesus saves.

3. Preaching

We are committed to preaching God’s Word.

Because the gospel is a message that must be proclaimed and because the Word of God is the divine means for bringing people to life and holiness (John 17:17), the gospel must be preached and the Word must be taught. Preaching happens when someone explains and applies a Scriptural text or theme to a hearer or hearers. Accordingly, preaching may be viewed on a spectrum from informal to formal. On the informal end of the spectrum, preaching happens, for example, when one person exhorts or admonishes another, based on the truth of Scripture (Romans 15:14; Acts 18:26). On the other end of the spectrum, preaching happens when a preacher, in an organized church gathering, takes time to explain and apply a passage of Scripture (Corinthians 14:31-33). We believe all kinds of preaching must be happening (Colossians 3:16-17), but that the preaching during our regular church gathering sets the tone and provides the impetus for the less formal kinds of exhortation and admonition that takes place throughout the week (Colossians 1:27-29). This is why we prioritize preaching in our gatherings, and make certain that sufficient time and attention is devoted to it.

4. Prayer

We are committed to prayer.

The book of Acts provides a summary description of the early church’s practices, which included prayer (Acts 2:42). Although we have times in our gatherings devoted to public prayers, prayer is not merely a religious formality: it is an expression of our dependence of God, an act of communion with God, and the catalyst for personal and church growth. When the apostles of the early church faced an administrative crisis, they chose to delegate works of charity—a decision that, for subsequent generations, upheld the priority given to prayer. “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).

Just as preaching ought to be happening throughout the week but especially during our formal church gatherings, so it is with prayer. During the week, pockets of believers gather here and there to pray. Prayers are offered by individuals in their prayer closets and by families around their dinner tables; but in the formal gathering of the church, prayer receives special time and attention.

5. Ordinances

We are committed to observing the Lord’s Supper and baptizing believers.

When the Gospel is proclaimed, turning lifeless sinners into living saints, the church is charged to “baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Thus, baptism becomes both an act of obedience to the Word and a dramatization of the life that the Word brings, as it symbolizes a believers’ being cleansed from sin (Acts 22:16), and their union with Christ in his death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4).

Similarly, those who are baptized partake in another symbol of their life in Christ: the regular eating of the bread and drinking of the cup in remembrance of him (1 Corinthians 11:24). Both baptism and the Lord’s Supper picture the work of Christ on behalf of the believer—the former in view of the beginning of a believer’s life, the latter in view of the continuation of a believer’s life. When believers approach the Lord’s Supper, they must carefully examine themselves (1 Corinthians 11:28).

6. Training Leaders

We are committed to training faithful people to lead others.

All Christians are called to be leaders, for Christ has charged us to influence others through the proclamation of the gospel. But beyond this general gospel influence, we are called to a more specific work of training—equipping men and women in gospel-informed character, convictions, and competencies, so that they will be able to train others. This is, in fact, how the church propagates itself: by training its members in the Word of God, some of whom God calls to lead the church (Acts 18:26). Paul gave Timothy this exhortation: “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

7. Witness

We are committed to proclaiming the gospel in word and deed, at home and abroad.

The very mission of the church is to bear witness to the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:8), to prove through our words and actions that the gospel is not mere talk, but power (Acts 8:4; 1 Corinthians 4:20; Titus 2:10). We cannot justify our existence as a church unless we are saturating our community with the message and implications of the good news about Jesus. When invigorated by the life-giving Word, and led by godly leaders, the church will pursue acts of kindness for the community.

The commitment to witness is also the impetus for our support of mission work—the labors of qualified men and women who devote their lives to planting churches and training pastors both locally and abroad.

8. Transformation

We are committed to being transformed by the power of the gospel.

As a church, we aim for individuals to be transformed by the preaching of the gospel from the Word of God. As explained above, the preaching of God’s Word may never be separated from the preaching of the gospel. The gospel calls for sinners to faith and repent, but faith and repentance must continue to be the rhythm of a believer’s life. Just “as we have received Christ Jesus as Lord,” so we will continue to “walk in him” (Colossians 2:6-7). Personal transformation will take place only as the affections are changed, and these will be changed as we behold “the glory of the Lord and are “transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). In other words, only Christ in his work on the cross has the power to dislodge all remnants of our deathly self-centeredness and change us into the glorious and God-glorifying humans God intends us to be (Romans 8:30; 2 Corinthians 3:17). This process of change (also known as sanctification) will be complete only when our faith becomes sight and we see Christ face-to-face (Romans 8:29-30; 1 John 3:2-3). Other terms for “personal transformation” may include “revival” or “gospel renewal.” What all these have in common is the heart-level renewal that happens when men and women turn from their sin to Christ, whether for the first or thousandth time.

9. Joy in Christ

We are committed to finding joy in Christ.

The affections that spring from genuine spiritual transformation span the gamut of emotions featured throughout Scripture, including sorrow over sin and its effects, hatred of evil, the fear of the Lord, love for Christ and others, and hope for future glory. Amid these affections, however, joy emerges as the dominant aim for Christian ministry. Accordingly, Paul assures the Corinthians that he and his gospel associates “work with you for your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24), and that he himself longed to have joy as a result of their spiritual growth. The Apostle John wrote his first epistle “that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:4). Likewise, Peter affirmed that his readers would be “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” through their faith in Christ (1 Peter 1:8). This joy is not naively optimistic. It can coincide with intense afflictions; for, as Paul confessed, “In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy” (2 Corinthians 7:9).

10. The Glory of God

We are committed to bringing glory to God.

The church is not an end in itself. One day, there will be no more Trinity Baptist Church, but there will always be God, his glory, and a host of redeemed ones (some of whom were members of Trinity Baptist Church) glorifying God. Unless our actions are motivated by and viewed in light of the glory of God, all will go awry. Our prayer is, “Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness” (Psalm 115:1), “for from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).