Our mission is to love God, love people, and teach others to do the same (i.e., make disciples).
We find it helpful to speak about three great loves: love for God, love for one another, and love for neighbor. These three kinds of relationships shape three identities in us:
- UP: We are disciples of Jesus
- IN: We are family
- OUT: We are missionaries
These three identities guide our decisions. So when we consider how we should live and work in our city we ask, “What would a missionary do?” Or when we are deciding how to organize a community gathering we ask, “What would a family do?” Asking these questions helps make sure that what we do is shaped by who we are.
We also have some core values that guide us. These are our best attempts to name what God seems to be doing in and through us, the unique imprint of the Holy Spirit on our church:
- Mission: We remind ourselves often that the people of God have always existed for the sake the world. Abraham was blessed so that he would be a blessing, and that calling marks the family of God to this day. Our approach is to re-neighbor our city. As missionaries, we are the presence of Jesus in our city. Our incarnational mission is “go be Jesus to them,” not “come think about Jesus like us.” The growth of our church is tied to the missionary activity of our people, not to marketing or programming.
- Participation: We want to have a deep life together in God that overflows into our city. Participation in the New Testament sense means complete sharing. It’s our desire for lavish communion with God, generous fellowship with one another, and cheerful solidarity with our neighbors. And it’s full participation of everyone–all ages, genders, classes, races, etc.–in worship, community, and mission.
- Beauty: St. John writes, “When Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” In the transformative beauty of our savior, we will become what we behold. The Christian life is conducted in wonder and awe; all theology is really just prayer and all doctrine is really just doxology. The world is held together by the delight of God. Being restored in God’s image, we become creators and not consumers. Our task is to make things beautiful through art, service, friendship, worship, construction, planning–anything that brings order out of chaos and life out of death.
- Peace: We are creators and not destroyers. We’ve been given a ministry of reconciliation. Alton has a checkered history when it comes to civil rights, and a present struggle with racial and economic divisions, alienation, abandonment, and loneliness. We have been called to put off violence and put on peace, as individuals, families, and communities.