I pray that you will be blessed and encouraged as you read this review of 2022. Writing these letters always fosters a moment of reflection and gratitude for what God has done in and through our church community. It’s almost hard to remember how January of 2022 had a bit of a Covid resurgence, but really 2022 has felt more like a return to whatever normal means these days.
In our world, 2022 will most likely be remembered for the war in Ukraine, protests in Iran, and skyrocketing inflation. Calvary Church seeks to be a light for the Kingdom of God in all these dramatic world events supporting Ukrainian refugees, getting Bibles into Iran and caring for those in financial need in our community. We believe that good deeds lead to good news and we ask God for more opportunities to share and live out the gospel.
Our primary themes for 2022 were ONENESS and DEPENDENCE. We sought to be more dependent on the Spirit of God and we know that it is only the power of God that will make us unified as one people of God. We lived this out by learning about depending on God in the wilderness as we studied the book of Numbers. We learned about the wisdom of God in the Proverbs and we learned how to incorporate some spiritual practices into the rhythm of our daily lives as followers of Jesus. We had times of listening prayer and blessing prayer within our services. In dependence on God, we know we must receive the love of God first and then live out of that love each day.
We know we need to continue this focus on dependence in 2023 while also wanting to grow in our discipleship. This is simply how we have been helped by others to follow Jesus and how we help other people in our lives to follow Jesus too. We have all received much and we have the wonderful privilege to give away what we have been given. We will talk much more about this in the months to come.
One of the things I love doing most, and seems to resonate with many of you, is the prayer of blessing I pray at the end of each Sunday service. This prayer underscores much of our heart for dependence on God. It is God who will bless you and keep you. His power is what guards and protects you. It is God’s face shining upon you that gives you grace and peace in your life now and for eternity. All blessing comes from him and we depend completely upon him for everything. That is true for our church as well.
TRUTH - We think biblically about everything and humbly about ourselves
2 Timothy 3:14-17 • Ephesians 4:11-16 •Psalm 119:160 • John 4, 14:15-27, 17:17 • Hebrews 4:12 • 1 Peter 1:22, 3:15 • James 1:22-27
We are led by the Spirit in truth and taught by the Word, valuing Scripture’s timeless truth and its unchanging relevance to changing culture. We believe that biblical teaching is the catalyst for transformation in people’s lives. Scripture is inspired by God and is our accurate authority regarding Christian beliefs and the guide for Christian living. When life cuts us, we want to bleed God’s Word. In gentleness and respect, we defend biblical truth and the reason for our hope in Christ. We seek to have teachable and humble hearts, holding firmly to core truths and living faithfully with integrity. We want to wrestle genuinely with our doubts, seeking to deepen our understanding of who we are and whose we are. Our earnest desire is to be found by the Father as worshipers, lifting up Jesus in Spirit and truth. We are truth protectors and grace reflectors, who desire to dig deep wells of truth and let people freely drink from living water.
GRACE - The good news is never old news
Colossians 1:6 • Luke 4:17-21 • John 1:16-17 • Ephesians 2:8-9 • 2 Peter 3:18 • Romans 11:5-6 • 1 Corinthians 15:10 • 2 Corinthians 9:8, 12:9 • Titus 2:11-14 • 1 Peter 4:10 • Hebrews 4:16
Grace is what makes the good news so good. Grace is the invaluable gift of God’s undeserved favor. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus. And, we can live by God’s grace with a Spirit-enabled capacity to grow in obedience and abound in good works. Grace is not just the diving board of the Christian life, it is the entire pool. It is not just the starting line, it is the entire race. So, we strive forward toward the finish line knowing God’s grace is sufficient each step of the way. We draw near to God’s throne of grace with confidence, to receive mercy and help in time of need. Just as we have received grace from God, we seek to extend grace toward others - reaching out with love, generosity and compassion to share the good news with our neighbors and the nations.
PASSION - We dig holes in roofs
Mark 2:4 • Matthew 18:11-13 • Acts 5:42, 20:24 • Romans 10:15 • Colossians 3:17, 23
We dig holes in roofs, going to great lengths to help our friends meet Jesus. We are willing to courageously risk it all for the sake of the gospel, to leave the 99 in order to reach the one who is lost and needs to be found. People are worth the work and the cost. Lack of creativity and excellence is really just a lack of effort. So, we pursue God with whole-hearted passion and open-handed sacrifice of our own convenience and comfort for the sake of those who need to hear the good news! It is never just another Sunday. Each worship gathering, each event, and each conversation is an opportunity for the gospel to be heard, for a soul to be saved, for a life to be forever changed. We are called to be fishers of men and want to keep putting hooks in the water. And in all we do, whether in word or deed, we desire to do it with all our heart and all in Jesus’ name.
PEOPLE - People are the mission
Matthew 22:37-39 • John 13:35 • Galatians 6:2, 9-10 • James 1:27 • 1 John 3:17-18
People are the point! We don’t invest in programs or projects as an end, they are always means in order for us to minister to people. Everyone matters to God and ought to matter to us. A mark of maturity is to consider the needs of others above our own as servant-hearted followers of Jesus. So, we look for ways to love our neighbor well -- caring for the needs we find in our community and showing mercy to the least of these. We believe warmth is the new cool, seeking ways to practice generous hospitality; turning strangers into friends and friends into family as we care for each other with Christ’s love and grace. We always have room at the table for more, so we reach out and invite others to take part in life at Calvary. And, we all must be apprenticed by another person that’s a little farther along in the journey than we are and we must seek that out personally and passionately.
TEAM - We are more than an audience
Ephesians 4:11-16 • 1 Peter 4:11 • 1 Timothy 4:8 • 2 Timothy 2:2 • Psalm 133
We do not see the church as a consumer driven, consumer oriented enterprise. We are a farmer’s market, partnering together to form a community of transforming grace. Everyone contributes and everyone receives. We don’t go it alone or assume someone else will take care of it. No church can ever hire enough people to meet all the needs. But, we have the best resources in the world - our members. We believe that enabling people to discover and develop their gifts is God’s Plan A for changing the world! So, we develop every member as ever-maturing leaders to carry out God’s unique purpose for His church. We judge our success by sending capacity, not seating capacity. We value equipping the saints, not just gathering them. Our goal is to turn the audience into an army. We want to get people from being in the crowd to be in the cause. So we recruit, train, and build up teams to serve together and do the work of ministry. We believe in collaborative leadership that depends on God’s power, not our own.
JOY - We Choose joy!
Nehemiah 8:10 • Psalm 33, 47, 100 • Luke 15 • Romans 12:12; 15:13 • James 1:2-3 • 1 Peter 1:8-9 • Philippians 1:4-6 • Philemon 1:7 • 1 Thessalonians 3:9
Being miserable is not a fruit of the Spirit. We value having serious joy-filled fun together as a family-- celebrating God’s presence in our gatherings, rejoicing over our salvation, and even finding joy through our trials. Our steadfast joy is found in knowing Jesus, and counting Him as our greatest treasure. We make Christ’s joy complete through new and transformed lives marked by unity, love, humility, generosity and compassion. The full life Jesus offers is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured. The next generation needs to see Christians who are vibrant, inspirational, confident and joyful. Let’s strip away our cynicism and have some fun. The joy of the Lord is our strength!
DEPENDENCE - We pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on us
Zechariah 4:6 • John 14:26 • Romans 8 • Ephesians 3:20 • Matthew 6:9-13 • James 5:16
We depend on the work of the Spirit, as we bear His fruit in our lives. It is not in our hustle and striving to do good that we become more like Jesus, for that is the way of the Pharisees. Rather, our yieldedness to the Holy Spirit begins to shape our character as evidence of our conforming to the image of Jesus Christ. It continues as the Spirit teaches us to discern how the Father speaks so we can recognize His promptings and join Him where He leads us, whether into more deeply connected intimacy or Spirit-enabled action. We actively listen for the Lord’s leading. We want to live and serve with God-sized faith with whom all things are possible. Being right doesn’t make us righteous. We don’t just want to believe the right thing, we earnestly desire to do the right thing and push past fear to take courageous action and follow where the Spirit is leading. We are Spirit-empowered, faith-filled, future-focused risk takers. We want to be more than “minimum” people, thinking small and asking what’s required of us to get by. So, we pray continually for God to do the things only God can do through our commitment to live out His calling in our families, our church, our neighborhoods and our world.
ONENESS - We are a diverse family
Galatians 3:28 • Ephesians 2:22 • Colossians 3:15 • Acts 4:32 • John 17:23 • Revelation 7:9
We celebrate the diversity of God-given gifts, talents, culture, ethnicity and calling of each person as we are becoming a divinely unified church family. All people are created in the image of God. All people matter to Him. The church should reflect the diversity of its community and proclaim the diversity of the kingdom. Through Christ, we are many members of one body, and each part is needed for the good of the whole. God is building us into a spiritual house with Jesus as the chief cornerstone. We believe a unified church can be a source of healing for the divisions in our world. Racism, discrimination, injustice and division break God’s heart. The Bible declares diversity is a picture of eternity with every tribe and tongue worshiping Christ in the end. We are doing something here on earth today that is in anticipation of what is to come. So, we live united as one with a shared citizenship, participating in God’s kingdom work and longing together for our King’s return.
GENERATIONS - Together is Better
Psalm 78:6-7 • Proverbs 22:6 • Deuteronomy 6:6-7 • Joel 2:28 • Ephesians 6:1-4 • 1 Timothy 4:12 2 • Timothy 2:1-2 • 2 Timothy 3:14-15
We want every generation to experience God’s love and grace in Christ. One of the greatest responsibilities we have as a church family is to pass on the torch of a vibrant faith in Jesus Christ from one generation to the next. Our Family Ministries seek to inspire, equip, and support parents and guardians as they spiritually lead their children. We are committed to keeping parents primary, creating safe and sacred space for God to move. We believe children and teenagers should be given high priority of our resources as a church and are worth investing in. We’re committed to making Calvary a center for reaching, encouraging, and developing the youth of our area. We also believe that we are better together. The young need the wisdom, experience, and love of the old. The old need the energy, perspective, and curiosity of the young. There is no retirement in the kingdom of God - we need all ages expressing their gifts in our body and in our community. So, we invest in and value each generation, because no one is too young or too old to receive the good news of Jesus and pursue an ongoing journey of following His ways.
GENEROSITY - Live sufficiently, give extravagantly
1 Chronicles 29:9 • Proverbs 11:25 • Leviticus 27:30 • Malachi 3:10 • Luke 12:34 • Acts 2:42-47 • Romans 12:8 2 • Corinthians 9:6-15 • 1 Timothy 6:17-19 • Titus 3:5-7
We give cheerfully as a whole-hearted response of worship, seeking ways to invest our time, talent and treasure in kingdom-growing opportunities through God’s provision. It is an act of gratitude, trust, and dependence upon Him. It is not a casual or “when we happen to remember” thing. Historically, giving begins with a tithe, or 10%, as the first fruits of all we bring in, building our trust as we learn to count on God to meet every need we will ever have. We want to be part of something bigger by giving above and beyond to the opportunities the Lord invites us into. Giving also strengthens our devotion to Christ and frees us to live open-handedly with the gifts God gives us. This goes further than giving in church, we generously share with all those God brings into our lives. We are blessed and in return we seek to be a blessing to our neighbors and to the nations.
HEALTH - Rest up so you don’t get messed up
Matthew 11:28-30 • Psalm 62:1 • Jeremiah 6:16 • Hebrews 4:9-10 • Deuteronomy 5:12-14 • John 15:5
The closer you get to the core of a church, the healthier it should be. So, we strive after a God-enabled health in our own walk with Him and our relationships with others. We don’t want to grow our church, if it means we aren’t first growing in our faith toward maturity as followers of Jesus. We strive to live with integrity, authenticity and intentionality by asking God to help us know our own hearts and experience true transformation of our brokenness toward healing and wholeness. We are committed to healthy rhythms for life through the pursuit of spiritual disciplines and cooperation with the work of the Spirit. These include Sabbath rest, daily time in the Bible and in prayer, experience with God in worship, and living with accountable and supportive relationships in community with other believers. Rest is doing something. So above all, we find healthy balance by ceasing from doing the heavy lifting on our own and go to Jesus, where He gives rest for our souls.
FLEXIBILITY - Open to change for the better
2 Peter 3:18 • Ephesians 4:13-16 • Matthew 15:1-9 • John 15:5 • Proverbs 1:5 • Isaiah 43:19, 64:8
Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be broken. We embrace change that leads toward our righteousness and God’s glory. We hold firmly to essential biblical truth while holding loosely to non-essential practices. Traditions are great and worth keeping, if they are still producing fruit. Like clay in the hand of the Master, we want to remain open to God’s molding of the patterns we follow and the preferences we desire as He shapes our hearts and minds toward Christlikeness. Staying stuck in our ways can lead to being stuck in our faith. Any good growth requires change, both in our personal lives and in our church. If a better idea or better way of doing something comes along that is in line with the Scriptures and will lead to greater impact for God’s Kingdom, we will be open to change for the better.