Things we Especially Value about God:
The gospel is Jesus. Gospel literally means “good news”, and it refers to the message about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and the resulting benefits that come our way. The two primary works of the Gospel are to save us and to empower us to live saved. Most Christians have got the concept of the Gospel as the means of entering the Christian life, but thereafter are unsure how to grow in the Gospel by steadily applying it to their lives. The result can be schizophrenic Christians who understand that they got saved by the Gospel of grace, but thereafter try and live saved through their own efforts. Effort is important, but is in vain if not rooted in the life-changing truth and supernatural power of the Gospel. Paul says that we initially receive the Gospel and thereafter we need to take our ‘stand’ on the Gospel, hold firmly to it, and become established in it. We gradually grow into the Gospel of grace.
The doctrine of God’s Sovereignty ‘lies at the foundation of Christian theology… the centre of gravity in the solar system of Christian truth…the cord upon which all other doctrines are strung like so many pearls, holding them in place and giving them unity’. Although our choices and actions really matter, understanding that our Sovereign Father is actively ruling and reigning now lays the axe to a man-centred “gospel”, producing believers and churches that are humble yet confident, worshipful yet hard-working, purposeful but not driven, peaceful but not apathetic, and who sleep well at night!
Closely related to God’s Sovereignty is His grace. Newcomers often remark on the atmosphere of friendliness and acceptance. This flows directly from our theology of grace. Here’s how it works: God’s acceptance of us is undeserved and unconditional. (In fact, it is better than unconditional because He accepts us as we are, but graciously then works to form us into the image of Jesus). And, Jesus said that we should love each other as he has loved us, which means that we accept one another unconditionally, not on the basis of performance, but on the basis of grace. Grace makes for a secure, free and joyful community of people.
His Word and His Spirit:
The church was established through the Word and the Spirit. Paul encouraged fullness of both Word and Spirit. Early church life throbbed with both rich theology and signs and wonders. To this end, in our Sunday meetings we set aside at least half an hour for preaching from the Bible, and we allow the Holy Spirit to lead our meetings. We eagerly desire the spiritual gifts, and have regular opportunities for being filled with the Holy Spirit. Remember, just Word and you dry up. Just Spirit and you blow up. Word and Spirit you grow up.
Things we Especially Value about the Church:
God exists as a community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus came to live in close relationship with His disciples, and built authentic community with them. He explained to them that others will know they are His disciples by the love they have for one another. The bible presents the church as a close community that pursues unity, eats together, shares each other’s burdens and makes sacrifices for each other.
Without biblical clarity on the primary purpose of the church, the measure of ‘successful church’ becomes the aspect of church that a person is most passionate about. We are certain that biblically there is only one contender for the top spot – mission, meaning that the primary function of the Church is to help unbelievers become believers. So, we regard ourselves primarily as missionaries, and the primary role of our leaders is to model, equip and organize the church to mission in Dar es Salaam, other parts of Tanzania and the East African region. No one gets bored with church or looks for super-spiritual thrills, because they are increasingly thrilled and effective in seeing people saved and discipled.
We are committed to building a diverse church that includes many different cultures, languages and age groups. This stems from our theological conviction that diversity glorifies God more than uniformity: “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). Did you see it? Who could make us all one – only Jesus! Only He has the ability to be relevant to all nations, and make us God’s Tribe. God is more glorified by diversity than by uniformity because it reveals His Lordship over all things.
The Kingdom of God refers to the reality of God’s reign in all areas of society, not just within the ‘four walls’ of the church. The Church is part of the Kingdom, and within the Kingdom all callings are sacred and we are all in ‘full-time’ Christian work, being salt, light and yeast in the workplace. To this end, we are committed to empowering believers to influence society with Kingdom values.
Groups of People we Especially Value:
This group is obviously our top priority. We work hard to evangelise with the conviction that every follower of Jesus has a mandate to help unbelievers put their faith in Him. We also contextualise the gospel to make it as easy as possible for unbelievers to explore the claims and teachings of Christ. Our message is unchanging but our culture is changing, therefore the communication of our message needs to be contextualised. The Bible determines what our message is, but our cultural context influences how we present that message. Therefore, we are students of not only the Bible but also of culture. Contextualisation means connection, not compromise. We receive the good in culture, and reject or redeem the bad.
The Next Generation:
The race that we are running is a relay race where success includes getting those behind us to the tape as well as ourselves. As Joshua found out, this does not happen automatically: ‘Joshua died…after that another generation grew up who did not know the Lord’ (Judges 2:8ff). Whilst honouring the role of the nuclear family, we also feel a corporate responsibility for raising the children in the church. To this end we hope to have top-notch kids and youth departments, are alert to single parent families, and place a high value on marriage and parenting.
We believe that the poor have a very special place with God. Gifts given to the poor please Him. The early church leaders instructed Paul to remember the poor. To this end we aim to support poor people within and outside our church community. This support will take various forms including financial, in-kind and empowering initiatives such as education for underprivileged children.
Jeremiah 29:4 says,
“Build houses, settle down, marry, have sons and daughters, increase in number there, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
We believe that God has brought us to Dar es Salaam to settle down, engage, and work for the health and prosperity of the city. We thank God for the pace, passion, wealth and entrepreneurial spirit of the city, and for its influence across the nation and East Africa, and we work to harness these characteristics for the advance of God’s kingdom.
Actions we Especially Value:
A person’s level of prayer reflects his level of dependency on God and closeness to God. Prayer is a high privilege that keeps us peaceful, powerful and effective. To this end we encourage individual prayer, and have various contexts for corporate prayer. Weekly prayer meetings started shortly after our arrival in Dar es Salaam.
Jesus himself who did not come to be served, but rather to serve. We don’t just serve in order to get the job done, but to imitate Christ and develop godly maturity because serving is a fundamental characteristic of the Christian life. Jesus said that greatness in His eyes is to serve and demonstrated this by washing His disciples feet and ultimately by dying on the cross for the sins of mankind.
The primary biblical metaphor for the church is a family, and we are passionate about protecting the family atmosphere of our church. The main gift that ensures this is that of hospitality – words, actions and attitudes of love and acceptance towards others. Some may prefer a more structured approach, others a more spontaneous approach. We hope to regularly invite people to share a meal in our homes. We also regard the Sunday venue as a place to show hospitality by being there early and late, meeting and greeting, and keeping an eye out for those that are not part of our community.
We are committed to emulating God’s generosity by being generous in every area of our life. This includes our money and our time, and affects all our relationships. We seek to be generous husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, bosses, employees and hosts of people in our home. We seek to stand against a consumerist mentality and be radical givers rather than just users or takers.