If Southlands were a town, the Gospel would be Main Street, the central hub and heart-throb of our gathering, living and moving. The life of our community is found at the foot of a bloody cross and the mouth of an empty grave. The Gospel is the means by which this community relates. Having been redeemed by God’s grace we seek to live graciously with one another. Our love for Jesus is tested horizontally in our love for one another. We value authenticity, doing our best to discard the masks of pretense. We have exchanged the fig leaf for the cross. Shame and denial have been replaced by grace and truth.
The Gospel means that we are all a people on God’s Mission. This mission requires our presence in the world. As Jesus was sent, so are we. We see God’s image in every individual. We seek to live relationally, with patience and compassion towards the world. The Gospel humanizes people. Being on God’s mission also includes the proclamation of a Message. We believe that every believer is called to the happy discipline of proclaiming Christ, imploring all people to be reconciled to God. We understand that the happiest hour in heaven is the hour when one sinner repents, and this too is our aim and delight.
While we believe that every Christ-follower is called to be on mission in their own zip-code, the Gospel has made us a people of the Great Commission. In answer to Christ’s call to make disciples of all nations, we seek to train, raise up, and release leaders in into every sector of society, but with particular focus on those who are called to plant churches. We have planted 12 churches in the last 14 years. This is one of the distinctives of our community. It is a costly call, but one which echoes the Father’s apostolic heart to send workers into a plentiful harvest.
The Gospel is also the central theme of our gatherings. We celebrate the sacraments of communion and baptism regularly. Our worship and preaching seek to explore its magnificent depth and breadth. We believe that the gospel is a message that has intrinsic power from God to save. We desire to live with the reality that the Gospel has not only pardoned us, but has brought us near to the Living God. He is transcendent, but He is also immanent. We are intent upon gatherings that reflect both.
We celebrate the 5 Solas of the Reformation. Sola Scriptura. Scripture alone is the standard. Sola Christo. We are saved by Christ’s work alone. Sola Gratia. We are saved by grace alone. Sola fide. We are justified by faith alone. Sola Deo Gloria. To God alone be the Glory.
We have a high view of Scripture and of God’s sovereignty. We tremble at His Word. We believe that even more than read God’s word, we should allow God’s Word to read us. It does not merely inform us. It transforms us.
Therefore we seek to divide the Word rightly, preach and teach it soundly and powerfully, but also respond to it faithfully. We generally preach through whole books of the bible, rather than preaching topically, because we are aware of the tendency to preach favorite proof texts rather than the whole counsel of God. Our life groups are sermon based, because we recognize the weight of stewarding the Word preached to us, and the reward of stewarding it well.
As much as we have reverence towards God’s Word, we are also a people with a hunger for more of the power of the Holy Spirit. We believe that in many quarters of the church, He has been tragically neglected and out-scripted. We honor Him as God, the good gift given by our Father, and the One whom Jesus left to empower His people to be on mission. We are persuaded that we are not able to follow Christ without the Holy Spirit’s power. We believe that every facet of the Christian life is reliant upon his infilling, anointing and leading. We believe He does his best work through God’s word, but that His activity is not limited to the proclamation of God’s word. He is also at work demonstrating the power of God through God’s people for the common good. We intend for our life and our meetings to reflect a willingness to follow His leading and walk with confidence in His empowering. This would include a less scripted approach to our gatherings, the intentional involvement of the congregation in worship, the operation of the gift of prophecy and prayer for healing.
This Word and Spirit journey is more holy pursuit than exact science. It is a rather mysterious pursuit, but we are persuaded that God calls every believer to know both the scriptures and the power of God. John Wimber called it ‘the Quest for the radical middle,’ and we believe that in our day there is a ‘re-Quest for the radical middle’ for the sake of the Gospel. It is not so much perfect balance that we are after. It is simply that we want to live in all that God intends for His Church, for His glory, for our good and for the joy of all people.