We want to be known by our tendency toward…
1) Simplicity – in life and worship.
2) Authenticity – in communication and prayer.
3) Specificity – Serve in the area you were specifically meant to.
4) Continuity – The One Story of the Bible teaching as a single 4000-year-old story.
Core Value #1 – Simplicity
We believe in a few well-chosen, planned, and promoted activities with time in between for rest, reflection, and pursuing organic relationship with God and others. Members are encouraged to focus on a few ministries as opposed to participating in all of them. The content of all teaching should be focused and reemphasized so it can be reflected upon, rested with, and applied to our relationships with God and others.
Core Value #2 – Authenticity
Authenticity in communication and prayer.
The second core value I wanted to mention is Authenticity. Now at first that seems rather obvious. Doesn’t everybody want to be authentic? I mean who really says, “I actually think duplicity works better.”? But, like simplicity, it’s easier said than done.
I think authenticity means not shooting for more than you are. A lot of times, in an effort to keep up with what we think is expected of us as Christians, we are tempted to profess more than we possess. More knowledge than we actually have (who wants to admit you don’t really know what you should know?) More intimacy with Christ than we actually have (who wants to talk about a dead or dying prayer life?) More integrity than we actually have (who wants to think about how we might frame a certain situation to make ourselves look a little better?). More outreach than we actually do (who wants to admit we haven’t really reached out for a long, long time?)
So when we parrot words about ourselves and our spirituality that don’t ring true (to ourselves, to our consciences), there’s a sense where we stop believing ourselves. The words and the worship become “mere” words because deep inside we know they don’t actually reflect reality very well. So authenticity means starting where we are, and starting to own what we actually are, even if the product isn’t very exciting. At least then, even though we might say less, we’ll believe what we do say, and it feels right when it comes out. It feels truthful. That sense of truthfulness is what produces conviction, credibility with others, and the ability to look people in the eye.
So let’s go easy on each other. Or as some have said, “I move we accept reality.” Let’s start with where we are, and offer ourselves the same grace as Christ has offered us. That means there’s no threat to admitting the truth. No fear of failure or rejection. No drive to impress others or keep up with them. It means freedom to say, “I’m not very good at that.” Or “I’ve never been able to…” Or “I don’t think I understand how…” That’s authenticity. It’s not the way of our culture. But it’s the truth.
Core Value #3 – Specificity
Serving Like You Were Made To in the body.
The third core value of the Chapel at Tinker’s Creek is Specificity. Brilliant, you say. A keen grasp of the obvious. We all need to serve. Next topic, please. But wait. Service in church often becomes a process of filling holes. In other words, the jobs are already decided. We just need warm bodies to plug the holes. So we coerce and beg and manipulate people until they agree to fill a hole. But that’s all they’re doing. Biding their time until relief comes (sometimes it never does).
Seems to me it’s wiser to find out what people already love and then use that passion for the kingdom. When you already love something, you have all the motivation you need. There’s a natural attraction to helping others experience something you’ve learned to love. So churches often start with the wrong question. Instead of “How has God gifted you to serve the kingdom?” it’s “What hole can you plug?”
Are there holes at Tinker’s Creek? Not really. Oh, there are some non-glamorous jobs that always need done. Some of you are doing those, or will do them soon. I’m grateful for that. You can click here to see some practical areas to serve. But I’d also want to ask you a more general question: What do you enjoy? What do you do in your spare time? What magazines do you get? Those questions start to get at the root of how you were made. Now, what if you could do those things for the kingdom?
I love off-roading. How can I use that for the kingdom? I like history. How can I use that for the kingdom? Backpacking? Decorating? Cooking? Photography? The list is endless. I believe that if we (the church) help you use what you already love for the kingdom, we’ll be way ahead even if our programs don’t look like those of most other churches.
Some of you already use your giftedness in creative ways that I don’t even know about. That’s great. That counts for service even if the church never officially sponsors what you’re doing. We are called to be salt and light in lots of little ways. The church can organize some of those. But many others can just be done to His glory without any fanfare and brochures and sign-ups.
So, what do you love? How can we help you brainstorm that passion for the church and the kingdom?
Core Value #4 – Continuity
The One Story of the Bible teaching as a single 4000 year old story.
Every church aims to teach the Bible. But it can be done in a haphazard way so that we learn all kinds of biblical stories and doctrines, but with no integrating sense of history or an unfolding Master Story. So when we teach the Bible, we aim to put each story in context of an actual timeline of divine and human events. We want to know whether Moses or Elijah came first. We want to know whether Daniel or David came first, and whether they knew each other. We want to know who Jesus is quoting when he quotes a prophet, and why he made the connection between the times of that prophet and his own time. All this is part of teaching and learning the Bible in context. That also means the most important information about what a particular verse means is its immediate context (the verses before and after it). After that, the context of that book of the Bible… and then, finally, what Scripture says about that same subject in other places.
We use an imaginary timeline of 4000 years of history depicted on 4 walls of any room. Using this simple memory tool, we can learn to place events in biblical and church history. Starting with Abraham and working all the way to today, we get a sense of perspective of ourselves on those 4 walls.