Our Vision: Living Our Faith Together (Part 3)

loft vision

vision of loft city church

We been examining why we exist as a church and what God has called us to be.  This blog series has been about examining our vision statement – Living Our Faith Together.

We have been unpacking each of these words and why each word in our vision matters.  If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can check them out here: Part 1 (Living) and Part 2 (Our).  In this post, we are going to look at the third word, “faith.”

FAITH:  One dictionary defines faith as loyalty and allegiance to a person or thing. At LOFT, we are all about Jesus. In him, God became a man, entered our messed-up stories, and completely altered them. He died for us, so that we might live for Him.

As a result of what Jesus did (and is doing), our hope is to be the church that Jesus had in mind. Not some religious institution of self-righteous, judgmental hypocrites, but a movement of love, of messed up, yet growing people who are exploring and following Jesus.

Who are taking our first steps and next steps in living the lives we are meant to live. Who are an authentic community of grace, truth, mission, and meaning. Our style and methods may not be typical, but LOFT is all about, all for, and all because of Jesus. To him, we give our full loyalty and allegiance. Because of that, we strive to be a church that embraces a biblical worldview wherever God places us in life.

We believe in the timeless truths of the ancient Scriptures. We aren’t looking for new teachings or doctrines or a new religion. We aren’t looking to simply memorize and get puffed up in Scripture. We absolutely believe that the Bible is relevant to our lives. And since Jesus said that it was all about him, we recalibrate our lives according to the Scriptures. It is our supreme court and ultimate authority, and no person, teaching, or philosophy is above it.

We figure that if God says that this is His very words to us, it should be a big deal to us. It is in the Bible we discover the truth of the Gospel. It is there that we discover that in Christ, we get what we don’t deserve – we get Jesus and his ever-flowing and overflowing love and forgiveness. And because we get what we don’t deserve, we are free to give that grace to others.

Faith means we follow. Above all, we seek to know, love and follow Jesus in our thoughts, words and actions and every moment we look to Jesus as our Great King and example. Following Jesus is a series of next steps, each resulting in us becoming more like Him.

Faith means we explore. To love God with all our minds means we are to be curious and filled with wonder at what God has revealed, especially in scripture. By regularly reading the Bible, we learn what it means to live the lives we’re meant to live and we are shaped by the very words of God. We also discover more about our Creator and his creation in all realms of learning through story, wisdom, song, nature, imagination, and more. However, our highest authority is our divine conversation with Jesus through the reading of scripture.

Faith means we grow. Growth is a natural by-product of every healthy living thing. This includes people. Since growth comes from God, we will continually fix our eyes on Christ, search our hearts for any cheap substitutes to him, and repent of our sin and place them at the feet of our King. We will seek to live lives of health and wholeness remembering there’s one throne and one source of genuine growth.

Faith means we pray. We will be a people of constant conversation and communion with God. As we live our lives, we will pray without ceasing according to God’s will. We will thank God, worship God, be honest to God, confess our sins to God, listen to God, and always seek opportunities to pray for others. Our hope is to be the go-to people for prayer in our relational networks without making a big show of it.

Faith means we will fight. We will stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves and offer hope to the hopeless. We will fight against injustice and stand with those who are being oppressed. It means that we will fight guilt-based religion by our actions and the Gospel. We agree with scripture and believe for justice to roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. In serving others, we serve Christ. We will never forget that our ultimate mission is to bring good news and be good news to those around us.

Faith.  It is way more than something we do or something we believe.  It’s who we are.

Our Vision: Living Our Faith Together (Part 2)

loft vision

vision of loft city church

We’re continuing to look at the vision of LOFT City Church.  Our vision is pretty simple and consists of only four words:  Living Our Faith Together.  But when we unpack these four words we discover that in order to fulfill this vision, we need Jesus.  This is not something that is easily done by mere human will-power or motivation. It’s a God-sized vision that only can be accomplished by the power of His Spirit.

In our last post, we looked at the word “Living” and discovered that to live this out, we have to be a community of faith that is sent into our world, eats with intentionality, becomes a presence in our society, listens to those around us, parties well, and blesses others.

The second word in our vision is the word, Our.

That word OUR is very simple, yet complex. It would be very easy for us to define “our” as people that look like us, behave like us, and belong in the same socio-economic class as us. Yet God defines “our” as the entire world. The Gospel is not exclusive to one person or group. As a local church, we can be specific about what “our” looks like to us.

It is our firm belief that God has placed LOFT in Richardson for a bigger purpose than to simply be a church that meets in Richardson. There is a reason why God has placed us in this city, in this season.

When we say “our” – this means that we see all people as created in the image of God and long to see them worship God in spirit and in truth.

This means we have compassion. Matthew 9 states that when Jesus saw the crowd, he had compassion on them. Jesus saw the crowd, stepped into their story and spoke directly to them. He didn’t simply speak at them.

Who are these faces that we are called to see? Some are faces that we already know their stories. Some are faces that we care about. Some are exploring Jesus for the first time and looking for answers. Some are prodigals. Some have suffered great heartache and pain due to broken relationships. Some are giving love one last shot. Some have no clue how they are going to pay their bills this week. Some will blow their excess on a shopping spree on things they don’t need. Some are drowning in confusion about their future. Some know full well what they are supposed to do, but do not have the courage to do it. Some have been neglected by those they love. Some are neglecting the ones they love. Some are oblivious to their own self-righteousness. Some can only see their own depravity. Some are theological snobs who think they know it all. Some have never studied Scripture at all. Some are recovering from their addictions. Some are denying that they have an addiction. Some feel overwhelmed by life. Some feel that their life is empty. Some desperately need the Gospel. Some desperately need to be reminded of the Gospel. To these we are called to be compassionate.

That means we include. The arm of God is big enough to wrap around the whole world. The least we can do is wrap our arms around our neighbor; the people we come in contact with every day. We will not play favorites based on social status but view all people as equally valuable under an Almighty God. Our community is one where people can belong before they believe and find grace overflowing. All are welcome to the table. This includes the college student community at UTD and Richland College. This includes the local apartment communities. This includes the young college graduate seeking the pursuit of happiness. This includes families – where both parents are there and where a single parent is working multiple jobs to provide for his/her children. It includes the elderly that are living in retirement centers, feeling lonely and hopeless.

It includes Richardson. A city that will have a population of over 110,000 people by 2020. A city where almost 20% of its population are foreign-born. A city where almost 30% of the population do not speak English in their homes. A city where 18% of the population is with the age bracket of 18-34 years old. A city that is considered the second best place to raise kids in Texas by Business Week, yet about 10% of the population live in poverty. A city that has a college campus of over 15,500 students, of which 15% are international students, living far away from home. A city where there is only one church for every 1200 people. This is where we are called to.

It includes having a global vision and sending people to serve Jesus on the mission field. This means we are engaging in hard places of the world like the Red Light District of Mumbai, India because we believe if Jesus was walking the earth today, that is probably where you will find him.

This is what OUR consists of. It is not segregated by race, gender, or social economics. It something that needs to happen from top-down, including leadership. Those of you who are married, it includes investing in the college students of our community. To those of you who are in college, this means that you reach out to those are who working and building relationships with them. We need to be intentional about getting out of our comfort zones and truly live OUR faith together by being a community that is compassionate and welcoming.

Our Vision: Living Our Faith Together (Part 1)

loft vision

vision of loft city churchOver the course of the next several blog posts, we will be revisiting what our vision is at LOFT City Church. At LOFT City Church, our vision is simply, “Living Our Faith Together.” Four simple words but as we unpack each of these words, you will that our vision is a God-sized dream of what we desire to see happen in our church and community through the faithful ministry of the church. This is our hope and dream of the kind of church we want to be. Four words – let’s unpack them.

LIVING: Defined as something that has life, active or thriving, growing, strong, flowing freely. A particular manner, state or status of life.

We believe that being a follower of Jesus or a Christian is much more than a mere label of identification. It is a way of life. A pattern that is integrated into everyday life, not because we have to, but because we get to. It’s also not so much out of religious compulsion, but compelled by a love for God and people. Our lives are lived in such a way that brings glory to God and draws people to God. It’s a life that grasps that we are part of God’s bigger story in redemptive history  and are willing to give oneself to be the best that we can be in that story. We are called to live on mission.

What does this mean for us?

It means that we are sent. Jesus sends us out on mission and into culture to be salt and light everywhere we go. In this sense, we are all missionaries wherever we are.

It means we eat. We choose not to hate our meals. We seek to commune with others when possible and view each meal as a blessing from God. We realize some sacred moments happen over the sharing of a meal together. As lives are shared, ministry happens.

It means we are a presence in society. We do not believe that we are to create a subculture. Instead, we are called to dwell within culture in order to influence, shape, and redeem it for God. We believe that this whole world and everything and everyone in it belongs to God. Like Jesus, we choose to enter the story in order to change the story.

It means we listen. We are charged to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. One tangible expression of love is listening. We will take opportunities to hear the stories of others. To rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. Not only do we listen to each other, but we will listen for God and create deliberate moments of silence and quiet our hearts before our Creator.

That means we party. Barbecues, inviting friends to our home for meals, being involved in sports and activities that are fun and “non-religious.” These are just a few explain of what it means to party. We choose to celebrate and enjoy life with people inside and outside of our community.

Finally, it means we bless. We are blessed by God to be a blessing to others: an encouraging email, a note of appreciation, a kind word, an unselfish act, a helping hand. Wherever your imagination takes you, being a blessing means making deposits into the lives of people. Showing grace is to do so whether someone deserves it or not. We will look to tangibly bless others.

When we are truly living out our vision, we will be a community of faith that is sent into our world, eating with intentionality, being a presence in our society, listening to those around us, partying well and blessing others. That’s just the beginning of what it means to be living our faith together.

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