In an age where thoughts on life and church abound, what is it that identifies us as "Grace Church?"
The Bible teaches us that God is unapologetically and unceasingly committed to His own glory. He created us for His glory (...Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. Isaiah 43:6-7). He saves us for His glory (In love he predestined us for adoption though Jesus Christ according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:5-6). As a matter of fact, every aspect of our lives is supposed to be about His glory (So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 11:15).
The unfortunate reality is that many churches have lost the aim of God's glory and substituted that primary aim for a lesser one. Sadly, many churches are about ministry, growth, and success for their own glory and not God's. We recognize that this is an ever present temptation in our life as a church but are striving to keep God's glory as the focus of everything we do. We can do many "good" things as a church but everything we do must be motivated by a desire to magnify God.
Here at Grace, we strive to be Scriptural. We believe that the Christian cannon of Scripture is inerrant (or without error), authoritative (for every person), and sufficient (to direct us, to grow us in the faith, and to teach us about God). Because we believe these truths about Scripture, we look to Scripture to guide us in every way.
Who cares what a man has to say? We want God's Word. After all, it alone is inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient. This conviction leads us to practice biblical preaching and teaching. What is biblical preaching and teaching? Haddon Robinson defines biblical preaching as "the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through him to his hearers." In short, we start with the biblical text and let it speak for itself.
For the same reason that Scripture drives our preaching, it also drives how we function. Our church is organized in such a way that we obey the Scriptural charge to help people come to Love God, Connect with other believers, and Transform the world. First, we help people Love God by leading them to understand, accept, and live the Gospel. Second, we help people Connect with other believers. The early church was told to meet both as a large group for corporate worship and in smaller groups for fellowship. A believer simply cannot function as God intended apart from an intimate connection with other believers that cannot be obtained through a corporate worship service. At Grace, we compel believers to participate in one of our Community Groups which meet throughout the week in members' homes all around Jackson County. Third, we equip believers to Transform the world through the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many churches attempt to attract non-Christians to attend their worship services and events. Scripture tells us that believers should be equipped to function as missionaries that go to non-Christians where they are and not merely attempt to draw them to the church. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28: 19-20) We at Grace are seriously committed to bringing the Gospel to Jackson, to Michigan, to the United States, and to the World.
As we obey the Scriptural charge to help people come to Love God, Connect with other believers, and Transform the world, we do so in a contextualized way. The Bible tells us that we should avoid the pitfall of legalism. Legalism is when we hold people to things or practices that neither God nor Scripture does. To avoid legalism and to minister the Gospel in an understandable way, we use culturally relevant methods.
Our heart's desire is to be genuine. We recognize that many Christians are hypocrites and therefore turn some people away from Jesus. Numerous people are open to the concept of Jesus but hate the Church. We want to be a church people can love, full of real people with real struggles who are trusting in God's grace and forgiveness. At Grace Church, we desire to be both a multigenerational and multiethnic congregation, where people from various backgrounds are joined together under Christ.