The first part of our mission is, “The Light exists to empower.” At the core, this means that the Church as a whole and The Light specifically exists to empower, equip, disciple the people of God for the work of God… their ministries in service to one another and the world (Ephesians 4:11). That’s why we don’t call the people of God, “members.” Rather, we call them “Ministry Partners” because we believe each of us are “priests” and “ambassadors” who represent God on earth (1 Peter 2:9; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Therefore, at the Light, church leaders’ jobs are not to be professional ministers, while everyone else sits around and watches the experts. Instead, our ministry staff are called to empower people for their priestly duties and the work of ministry in the church, in the city and in the world.
The next part of our mission is, “a diverse group of people.” Scripture teaches that the image of God is most clearly expressed as male and female, a union of diverse persons (Genesis 1:27). Scripture also teaches that the good news of Jesus is for everyone, no matter your race, age, gender, class, political or theological views (Galatians 3:28). People from every tribe, tongue and nation will be represented in the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 5:9-10). Just as God is one essence manifest in three distinct persons (Trinity), so humankind reflects the full image of God only when we embrace all genders, all cultures, all economic statuses as crucial to the full revelation of God. When a diverse group of people unify around their identity in Christ, and see this as more important than whether we are male or female, black, brown or white, rich or poor, democrat or republican, the world will know that God’s love is real (John 17:20-23). If unity in diversity shows the world that God is love, then we believe that our church should be diverse, because we agree that the One who binds us together is more important than our differences. That’s why we are gathering a group of people who are multi-generational, multi-ethnic, from differing social-economic backgrounds, and with differing theological and political views. If you’re uncomfortable with people who don’t look like you, think like you, or act like you, this may not be the church for you. But then again, heaven may be uncomfortable for you too.
Third, is the phrase, “to reveal the full image and light of Christ.” There are two elements to this phrase. First, is to reveal the full image of Christ. Before mankind ever fell into sin, Genesis 1:27 says that “God made mankind in his own image.” This means that we are walking, talking representations, no representatives, of God himself. We were created with a divine spark, God’s breath, breathed into our lungs. If the earth is God’s temple, we are the image he put in his temple to reflect what he looks like and acts like to the rest of creation. This is no small task! Our goal then is to represent God to others and to all of creation in a way that honors Him.
The second part of the above phrase is “to reveal… the light of Christ.” This has a double-meaning. As a stained-glass window needs the sun to reveal it’s full glory, we are in desperate need of the light of Christ, to reveal who we really are. At the same time, God has chosen the Church to reveal who he is. God doesn’t need us to reveal who he is, but he has chosen us to be the prisms through which his light shines in the world. This means that we are not the source of light, but we do play an important role in reflecting the true Light (John 1:4-8). With this double-meaning, we want to be the type of church who is aware of our deep need of Christ if we are to become who we were created to be and a “stained-glass people” who clearly reflect what God is like to the world.
Lastly, is the phrase, “so that our four-state cities become cities on a hill, lit up with the blessing and love of God.” Why are we gathering a diverse group of people to reveal the full image and light of Christ? Because Scripture is clear that wherever the good news of Jesus goes, it brings joy, peace and love to the people of that place (John 4:39-42; Acts 8:4-8). The good news about Jesus should affect change in our cities. Businesses should be blessed because we enter and pray for them, our government workers and politicians should be blessed because they see the Church caring for the needs of the poor, our schools should be blessed because the people of God are mentoring students and are involved in their own children’s lives, artists should be blessed because the Church is leading the way in creativity and innovation in our cities, and the list goes on and on. Ultimately, our cities should flourish because the people of God are caring for, beautifying and deeply investing in the community they live in (Jeremiah 29:4-7).