We've been working hard at tying down our vision of BCBC over the past couple of years. To be totally truthful we simply haven't got there yet, and maybe that's exactly how it should be.
We definitely know this much - That God has called us to be a church who's primary focus is to disciple His people. The four words above pretty much sum this all up, they are drawn from Paul's letter to the Colossians, and they give us a model to work from. The model works something like this...
From that first moment of hearing the Gospel and responding to it something wonderful happens - we believe. That instant when we finally get it - that we are broken and in need of a saviour - that is a beautiful (if maybe also painful) moment in our lives. We move to confession of our need for Jesus, then to repentance as we lay our burden of sin before him, then to faith as we declare him as the Lord of our lives, then to rejoicing as we realise that we have just entered into a new, amazing life with Jesus. That's all very simplistic of course, and nobody's experience of coming to Jesus is the same.
Believing which leads to faith in Jesus, which leads to salvation, is only the beginning of what God wants to do in our lives though. It's a bit of a puzzle, because on one hand 'believe and you are saved' is enough, and yet in the other it only scratches the surface of God's full intention for our lives. So what's next?
It's one thing to 'believe' it's another to understand that which we believe. Rootedness is the process through which we begin to grasp the magnificent wonder of Jesus in our lives, and begin to allow it to become a foundation for how we will live.
It's one thing to believe a statement, such as 'Jesus Is Lord', it's another thing to understand what that actually means in our lives. The same with 'I am forgiven', 'I am redeemed', 'The Spirit of Christ lives in me', you get the idea... Rootedness is all about growing in knowledge and understanding. It's about taking what we 'believe' and turning it into an assurance, into a security, into a solid anchor for the whole of our lives.
It works a little like this, 'I know I am saved, because...' and then we are able to draw on knowledge - of the Bible - from the witness throughout the ages of God's people - on the evidence of God's power at work around us an within us. People who are have deep roots for their faith, who know what and why they believe, they stand in the storms of life. When adversity comes they do not fall - they thrive.
Knowing what we believe and why we believe it is far from the end of our discipleship journey however. So, what's next?
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’ (Jeremiah 17:8 NIV)
"I know what and why I 'Believe', I have planted roots into my faith, I have an assurance that I am saved". The reading from Jeremiah above is a beautiful image of God's people when they are rooted in faith. It is an image that appears several times throughout Scripture. This image is one for the people at BCBC, that's what we believe God has said.
A tree that has good roots does more than survive though - it grows. And that is the next part of our hope for BCBC, that it will be filled with people who are growing. Growing in what they believe - yes. Growing in their understanding - yes. But also, growing in another way - growing in Christlikeness!
We want people to be asking a question about what they believe and understand, the question is this - "what difference does this now make to my life? How does this make me more like Jesus?". It's matter of taking belief and knowledge and moving to application. That's what a disciple is, someone who becomes increasingly like the one they follow, not just believing in Him, not just understanding about Him, but becoming just like Him. Its' a lot to ask, we know. So what's next?
What do we mean by fruitful when we speak of it in this context? Well, we are talking about a people of God who are filled with faith to the point of overflowing. Fruitfulness is evidenced in many different ways; in personal witness, which brings others to know Jesus; in character development as the Fruit of the Spirit grow in their lives; in spiritual power as the gifts of the Spirit are manifested and exercised; in service as they seek to usher in the Kingdom of God on the earth through good works. We ask every part of the congregation to find their calling, and then seek to equip and train them to fulfill God's call on their lives.
We believe that Fruitfulness is a natural outcome of a people who are Believing - Rooted - and Growing. We don't believe that cajoling, manipulating, and begging should be necessary to get people to do stuff, simply that a people who know what they believe, understand what it means, and have shaped their lives around it will be fruitful. They will just not be able to be anything other, because that's just what happens. Well rooted trees bear fruit!
So, what then?
There is of course a question to be asked - "When someone's been through Believing - Rooted - Growing - Fruitful, what then?". Well, there's an easy answer to that question - "We start again!". The more we experience of God in our lives, the more we believe about Him, and that sets us off on a whole new journey of discovery, and understanding, and growth - which ultimately leads to more fruitfulness.
Now for some honesty - we're not there yet, or anywhere near it. We're still working out the details, working out what it all means, and what it all looks like. We are working hard to build new environments within the church structures which will enable all of the above, and we know there's a lot of work to be done to get there. That's what a vision is though isn't it? Not seeing what is, but what will be. We're simply trusting God, seeking his will, and working towards becoming what He has called us to be.
If the idea of what we're working towards sounds like something you might be looking for. And if you're patient enough to walk alongside us as we strive to get there. And if you're prepared to play a part in making the vision a reality. Then why not join us for the journey?