I just finished the rough draft of a case study for my leadership class in seminary. As I have thought about case study, and also reflected on St. Augustine’s teaching on a life being rightly ordered by being centered upon God, I cannot help but think of all of how a church needs to focus on the Triune God first and foremost. Other focuses are good, but they can never replace the focus on this God.
Take for example the Apostle’s Creed, and think about whether or not it lines up with the mission statement, or the vision statement, or the stated core values of the church you attend.
1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord,
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell,
5. The third day he rose again from the dead.
6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost.
9. I believe in the holy catholic (universal) church: the communion of saints.
10. The forgiveness of sins.
11. The resurrection of the body.
12. And the life everlasting. Amen.
Does this mention good things such as the inerrancy of Scripture, expositional preaching, mode of baptism, spiritual gifts, or kind of music? I know that these questions are anachronistic, but I really do think that they should remind us that good fights can get in the way of what God’s people need to be about. This creed speaks about each person of the Trinity, the life of Christ, the life of the Church, and the fact that that all will stand before Christ and give account of their life.
This creed is not the end-all statement of faith. In fact, I would make a couple of changes to it if I had to make a central creed for my church. But reflecting on this, and the case studies, and Augustine’s rightly ordered life, makes me wonder about how churches can inadvertently subvert the Gospel message by making other aspects of church life central.
Thank God that He works despite there never being a single church congregation that has had everything perfect! I will not be a perfect pastor of a perfect church, but I serve a perfect God who can work despite my flaws and the flaws of everyone else who follows Him. Let’s make Christ central today.