Do you remember the story of Apollo 13 (There was a movie made based on the story starring Tom Hanks)?
They had a mission: "Get to the moon." Alongside that mission they had some very strong values: "Get everyone back safely." The drama of the real life story came in the fact that an oxygen tank exploded. And so even though they were within very close proximity to the moon, the value of getting everyone back safely was the priority. Despite limited power, a loss of cabin heat, a shortage of water and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, they were able to return safely to earth. Their values guided their mission.
This is what values do. Just like a river without any banks is just one large puddle, a church without identified values stagnates and goes nowhere. Values give us the river banks.
So, what are our values at First Free?
- Intimacy with Jesus — Pursuing a passionate relationship with Christ above all.
- Scripture centered — Treasuring God's Word as our standard for life and faith.
- Authentic Community — Connecting our lives together based on a common love for our Savior.
- Missional Mindset — Compelled by God's love to reach our community and world for Christ.
- Kingdom Diversity — Seek a genuine reconciliation of all people in love and oneness in Christ.
These values effect everything we do at First Free. They hold us together because we know what we stand for. They filter our decision making. They are our "die-fors"—those things we are ready and willing to die on the hill for. They are our make up of our DNA. They describe the First Free experience.
Aubrey Maplhurs from Dallas Theological Seminary has said, "You won't do ministry that really matters, until you define what matters." For us at First Free, these five core values define what really matters.
In the coming editions of First Word, you will find a more in-depth discussion of each of these five core values. I encourage you to read about them, celebrate them and let them inspire you to action.
Christianity is about relationship. This has become cliche, but for good reason. Not fully understanding that he spoke to God, a lawyer made himself famous by asking Jesus which was the greatest commandment. Jesus, in Matthew 22 offers what still seems to us a startlingly simple, though not easy answer:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mt. 22.37-40, NRSV)
What is perhaps still more surprising is that this should not have been new information to the Jews. Jesus is in both cases quoting from the Old Testament (Dt. 6.5, Lv. 19.18). It turns out the ultimate calling of all human beings is as it has always been, a call into loving relationship with God, to love God with all we are.
Therefore, at First Free we believe that intimacy with Jesus should guide and inform all that we do as a church. We want to live out that value together, in worship, community and service. And we want to equip people to live out that value in their own lives, wherever God has placed them. So it should be no surprise that our new mission, in accordance with this value, is essentially to help individuals develop an intimacy with Jesus that produces obedience to Jesus - to become Christ-Centered and Christ-Sent together.