Reaching People, Making Disciples
The four words above are our attempt at distilling into one phrase what we are all about as a church. This phrase captures our identity as part of God’s family, our vision for reaching people who don’t normally “do church” and our mission to make disciples as we do our level best to love God, love people and grow to become more like Jesus.
You can read much more about our vision, our mission and our values below, but in essence we are all about reaching people and making disciples. That’s reaching people, not just waiting for them to pitch up here. It’s about connecting with ordinary, everyday people and inviting them into relationships with us, as well as inviting them to our events and services. It’s about really accepting, welcoming and looking after them in great environments when they do take up our invitation.
But we don’t want people merely to attend. We want them to grow in relationship with God so that they become fully committed followers of Jesus – in other words we want them to become disciples! In this way we will grow both numerically and spiritually together.
Along the way we want to help people with practical support, both locally and overseas.
Vision: “Creating a church that people who don’t do church love to become part of.”
In Matthew’s account of Jesus’s life, we find Jesus telling His disciples about His vision for the church when He said “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
(Matthew Chapter 16 verse 18). You can read this by clicking here
Jesus told Simon Peter and the other disciples that He would build His church and all the forces of hell wouldn’t be able to stand against it. That is His vision!
So what’s our part in that? Our vision at EBC is of a church that people who don’t “do church” love to becpme part of. Indeed, a church that everyone loves to be a part of! This is very much a vision of both numerical
growth. Numerical growth as more and more people join in with what we do here, and spiritual growth as we grow together to become more loving of God, more loving of people and (therefore) more like Jesus.
This ties in perfectly with the mission that Jesus gave to His disciples…
Mission: “To love God, love people and grow together to become more like Jesus.”
After Jesus’s death and resurrection, He gave His followers their mission when he said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew Chapter 28 verses 18 to 20). You can read this by clicking here.
It should be clear that Jesus’s vision – that He would build His church and hell couldn’t stop it – is being realised by and through those following His explicit instructions to “go and make disciples of all nations...”
Our mission, then, is to make disciples and in the words of the apostle Paul, “by all possible means… save some
.” (1 Corinthians 9:22 NIV). You can read this by clicking here
Jesus’s approach to people, and Paul’s, was radically inclusive, engaging with people as they found them, rather than expecting them to be some kind of perfect people before getting close to them. For us, this translates to an approach where we engage with people as we find them, we reach out to them, we invite them and make them feel welcome – making sure so far as we can that they feel comfortable and at home with us from the start rather than putting barriers in the way and making it difficult for them to feel engaged and involved.
Of course, we must also teach people the good news about Jesus and share with them His teachings – that’s the all-important “make disciples” part! Here at EBC we have a mission statement that says we exist to love God, love people and grow together to become more like Jesus.
That mission statement begins with loving God and it’s born out of Jesus’s teaching that loving God with all your heart soul and mind is the first and greatest commandment and second is love your neighbour as yourself. If we do those things as individuals we’ll be growing more like Jesus, and if we do them together we’ll be growing more like the church Jesus envisaged!
Jesus’s vision was of a growing church overcoming evil. Our mission, to help make that vision a reality, is to go and make disciples – starting with ourselves! If we’re not truly disciples ourselves, we’re hardly going to make disciples of others, after all. And that’s the mission.
If we’re to love people, we have to disciple them, because yes of course we want people to be fed and watered with a decent place to live and decent stuff in it… but that’s for this life and we want a Heaven of a lot more for them than that don’t we? Why? Because eternity is a very long time indeed.
We hope this helps you see clearly what EBC is all about. Our mission is to make disciples. That’s Jesus’s instruction as to how to get to His vision of a church built by Jesus, against which all the forces of hell cannot stand.
Values: “We are a caring, committed, community, celebrating and communicating effectively the love of God in Jesus Christ.”
At EBC we have what we call our five “C” values, which represent the sorts of things we want to reflect in the various things we do together as we go about our mission. These are CARING, COMMITMENT, COMMUNITY, CELEBRATION AND COMMUNICATIION –
One way to remember these is with this sentence setting out what we aspire to being as a church – “We are a caring, committed, community, celebrating and communicating effectively the love of God in Jesus Christ.”
Crucially, if we are to make disciples of people, we must be disciples ourselves – we must remain “in Jesus Christ”. As Jesus explained we can only be fruitful if we remain connected to Him, just like the branches of a vine (see John chapter 15). It is critical that we always keep Jesus at the centre of what we do – think of Christ as the all-important C at the centre of our five C values if you like! After all, it’s His church, His vision and His mission that we’re all about!