There is nothing quite like a good cup of tea. When travelling abroad I’ve started to take Yorkshire tea bags with me. Even in India the tea wasn’t the same as back home. There is something comforting and welcoming about a good cuppa. So much so that when people visit our home, often we ask if they would like a cup of tea. However, what we are offering is not simply the finest Yorkshire tea made with the best Yorkshire water, we are showing we value someone by giving them refreshment and time to chat over a cuppa. Our 'cuppa tea' culture reveals a value.
In church life there are things we simply do as part of our culture which, when analysed, reveal our values. Sometimes these are not clearly stated, therefore, it takes time for new people to understand what we are about, what are our values. I’m not talking about the slogans or taglines we display or put in our literature. Values are simply the things that are most important. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.
Values come from the heart. I’m convinced that all of our decisions knowingly or unknowingly are based on the values in our heart. The clothes we buy, the food we eat, the things we do, the money we spend are based on what we value. For example, people in some countries would miss meals in order to send their children to school.
So, what are the things we value as a church? This is a question our Leadership Team has been taking time to answer. We have been prayerfully seeking God, listening to each other and the wider church to discern what our values are, what we treasure in our heart. We have been led to these value statements:
A searching question is “so what?” If we value these things what does it mean? We have all heard politicians come up with grand statements but do little or nothing with them. Hence, from these value statements we have developed vision statements that simply unpack the implications, i.e. “we believe this so that…”, and outlined our strategy, i.e. "what we are going to do to see them come to pass?".
We love God – so that all will be brought into a deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. <encounter>
If we truly love God we will want to deepen our relationship with him, spending time reading and listening to His word, seeking His presence in prayer and worship. Inversely when Christians don’t read their Bibles or involve themselves with God’s kingdom activities, they are placing a higher value on something else.
Our strategy is for divine encounters. We want to cultivate times to encounter God in worship, word and prayer. This means being uncompromising in our teaching, discipling believers to love God with all their hearts, soul strength and mind, and their neighbour as themselves. The apostle John wrote, “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him” (1 John 4:16).
We love as a family – so that all will be brought into Christ-centred, deepening relationships of trust and authenticity, where everyone is known, accepted and valued. <community>
Our strategy is to be a godly community. With God as our Father we are called into His loving family. Jesus told His disciples, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Christ love for us was sacrificial, so should our love be for one another. If we love as a family, we spend time deepening our relationships. This is to create community that unites across age, ethnic and social divides, making extra effort to include the marginalised. Everyone matters and we want them to know their contribution matters in the God’s family, old and young, new people and long established people, English speakers and non-English speakers. In a church of our size this is not possible simply by meeting on a Sunday. We want to see everyone in some group, be it a small group or fellowship group, where you can love and be loved, serve and be served.
We let God change us – so that all will be brought into a deeper experience of God’s power, transformation and freedom in Christ. <discipleship>
Our strategy for this is discipleship. God loves us so much to save us and, by his Spirit, to continue to sanctify us. The apostle Paul writes, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2). We are called to be more like Christ. We are called not to make converts to Christ rather disciples of Christ. This emphasises an ongoing work of the Spirit. We celebrate God’s transformation of us and continuing His work in us through life application of His word, prayer, prayer ministry, and use of spiritual gifts. We are planning to run Alpha next year, start prayer ministry training in October and a Leadership Development Programme in September.
We change the world around us – so that all the world may hear, see and encounter the life-changing love of God and the saving power of His gospel, through His church. <mission>
Our strategy for this is mission. Jesus has given us the great commission to "go into the world and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19). We have this charge to share the good news about Jesus in word and deed. This means modelling, equipping, encouraging and releasing evangelism in every place God has called us to go: The wider world, in promoting overseas mission; the local world in being salt and light to the vulnerable like in our 611 Bus and Asylum & Refugee Support ministries; and the personal world, helping people to discover and fulfil their mission in the everyday places of work, home and study. In 2018 we will be part of a HOPE Huddersfield 2018 year of evangelism. Our aim is to give an invitation to every home in Huddersfield to ‘Come & Hear’ about Jesus.
Jesus tells us to pray to the Father for His kingdom to come, His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is a request for God’s kingdom culture, where, out of a loving relationship with God, we love each other and the world around us. This is our prayer. And who knows, God can even do some of this through a cuppa tea!