This year, the theme of our Pacific Conference is “What Matters Most.” Too often we become distracted by so many good things that we can neglect the most important things. Recently I worked together with some other pastors to come up with a short list of WHAT MATTERS MOST for us as a conference of churches. During my visits to the local churches, I’ve been sharing this list, so you may have read these before.
These are the five essentials. This is the glue that keeps us together. They are our core commitments, our values. I call them the rules for the pool. Here they are:
We value the Bible, as God’s Holy Word, which we look to as the authority for our beliefs, guide for living, and motivation for mission. It contains absolute truth and infallibly reveals God’s plan for our lives. We are committed to faithfully and accurately preach the Word and apply it to our daily lives.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
We value the transformation that comes when people put their faith in Christ and are changed by the Holy Spirit. Making disciples is our clear mandate. Our goal is not to be better than others, but to become more like God’s Son, Jesus Christ. We embrace our Wesleyan-Arminian doctrine and heritage and emphasize our free will to respond to God’s grace and live a Spirit-filled life of holiness.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Rom. 12:1-2
We value the gospel as the hope for the world. We are compelled to share this good news of salvation in ways that are honoring to God and connect with people in our culture. We are representatives of Jesus sent into our communities as “missionaries,” and work to ensure that each congregation aligns itself with the larger mission of God. We partner together as a conference and with other conferences, denominations, and mission organizations to plant churches and to spread and build the Kingdom of God.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died…To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 5:14 and 9:22-23
We value our work together as partners in ministry to achieve together what we cannot do separately. Our desire is to be in relationship with each other, not just part of an organization. We are structured in a “connectional” system of elders and leaders under the authority of our Superintendent. We demonstrate heart holiness by our unity, love, and servant leadership.
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body…” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
Local Church Focused
We value the local church as the most fundamental and strategic centers for evangelism and discipleship. The challenge of the Conference is to find the best ways to resource, serve, and multiply congregations. We are together, but different. We agree on the essentials in doctrine and polity, while understand the differing needs of a variety of congregations in diverse settings.
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6
BEFORE YOU GO…
As you look at this list, which ones do we do well? Where are we not doing well? How can we communicate these core commitments better?
I’d love to hear from you!