Almost a year ago, The Hearth leadership held a strategic planning meeting to develop the Mission and Values of our Church. After hours of discussion among leadership and crowd-sourcing from members of our congregation, we decided on the following:
Making space to affirm the Divine in all through intentional community.
This statement resonates with us because we value the ways that true community reflects Jesus and His followers. As image-bearers of God, we are called to live into the authentic relationships Jesus created during His time on Earth, and to be known by that love for one another (John 13:34-35). This is especially true for a Church outside of Church. Because we worship in public spaces, we have this amazing opportunity to extend Christ’s love and community to people who would otherwise not experience this. As such, we also have a deep responsibility in knowing that the way we treat each other and the way we interact with people in that public space (staff, patrons, visitors) will reflect not only on our Church community, but Christianity as a whole.
For some visitors in our spaces, we are the only positive experience they have had of Church and/or religious people. This is an incredible privilege as well as a sobering responsibility. I am always amazed and humbled when people approach members of our Church to thank them for showing them a vision of God who embodies love instead of judgment, social justice instead of oppression, and acceptance instead of exclusion. This is what it means to create space to affirm the Divine in all through intentional community. This is what it means to be known as followers of Christ by our love for one another.
What this does not mean is that you will be judged by how perfectly you act in church. It does not mean that you will be held to a Jesus-level standard of love and community. It just means that we are called to love, respect, show kindness, and be welcoming. We will not do this perfectly (don’t worry, the disciples didn’t either). We will have days that we are not our best selves. However, the beauty of being authentic is that we are real in both our victories and our failures, and we are quick to seek forgiveness and offer forgiveness, knowing that all of us are imperfect beings in need of a Savior and each other.