I have recently been going through the ordination process in our denomination and was asked to respond to a question about how the Covenant Affirmations (see What We Believe) influence my ministry at Riverside. I thought I would share my answer with you.
The Word of God is the cornerstone upon which the Church must be built. Christian leaders should ask
themselves how the activities of their church embody the Word of God and reflect it to the world.
Biblical interpretation must not simply be the task of the pastor, though. The entire church
community should read and study the scriptures together so as to better understand and communally
reflect God’s intended meaning. When the Word of God is made central in a church its power will lead
to transformation and new birth. When nonbelievers surrender their lives to Jesus Christ, they are
transformed into new creations. They are born anew in love, forgiveness and grace. The Christian
experience is not merely about personal conversion though, but also about making one’s faith active
in the world. Christians function as God’s representatives in the world and must seek to exemplify
the character of God to those they encounter. The Church should be a demonstration of the infinite
potential of God’s love to transform a broken world. A church is not a building or a pastor, but a
diverse group of people united together and set apart from the world by their commitment to and
relationship with Jesus Christ. The local church embodies this understanding when congregants unite
to spread the Gospel to those in their community yet to hear God’s redemptive plan. The Holy Spirit
is incessantly active in this movement of the Church. Churches must be attentive to the Holy
Spirit’s leading and rely upon the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength. It is the Holy Spirit
that gives life and vitality to the work of the Church and it is the Holy Spirit that transforms
people from disobedience to faithful service. By choosing to be wholly committed to God, the Church
embraces its freedom in Christ. Seemingly incompatible congregants are free to reside in authentic
Christian community with one another despite differences because they are reconciled and united
around a common understanding of Jesus Christ as God’s instrument in human restoration.