The Vision/Mission of the Fernandina Beach Church

We have been working long and hard at capturing a “vision” for this church that is faithful to God’s plans and purposes for our church family. Any vision worthy of the name must be broad enough to encompass the wider work God has entrusted to his people.

Every church must “reach up” (to God through worship and holy living), “reach in” (to each other as a spiritual family, fostering intimate relationships and Christ-formed lives), and “reach out” (to the people God has placed within our sphere of influence). No church has the option of picking and choosing from these God-given responsibilities. A church that worships but does not love each other or the world is not the church of Christ. A church that involves itself in compassionate outreach but does not produce holy lives is not being faithful to God’s plan.

Thus, any vision worthy of the church must express an essential tension: it must be broad enough to encompass God’s mandate for his people, yet narrow enough to define a church’s unique calling and capabilities and provide direction for the church’s ministry.

We have expressed our vision for the Fernandina Beach Church of Christ with these words:

Christ Above

Christ Within

Christ Among

Christ Into

Though we will talk at length about this statement in the future (and what it means for our congregation), there are a few introductory ideas we would emphasize. First, note that our primary focus, as a church, is on Christ. We are a body of believers shaped by Christ; by his personality and priorities … by his attitudes and teachings … by his character and calling. Our primary task is not to grow our congregation numerically or build buildings and set budgets or even perpetuate a particular church tradition. It is to incarnate Christ—to embody Christ—in all we say and do and think. The principle question we ask of ourselves is not “what works” or “what are others doing” but “what would Jesus do”? As your shepherds, we want this singular focus on Christ to become the defining characteristic of our congregation.

This statement of vision points us in four directions.

Christ Above reminds us that Jesus is Lord and Savior, that he is God, that he sits enthroned in the Heavenly Realms, that he is working hard and tangibly to fulfill the purposes of his Father, and that he remains the Head of the church. There is a spiritual sphere that exists beyond our physical realities and Jesus Christ has all power and authority in that sphere.

Christ Within affirms that Jesus lives not only in Heavenly Realms but in each of us. He is present with us and in us—a living reality for every believer who has submitted his/her life to Christ. The Holy Spirit is the gift and power of God in the heart of believers: encouraging and equipping us … empowering and transforming us … teaching us what we need to know to accomplish God’s business and testifying with us to God’s goodness.

Christ Among sets the standard of our interaction with one another as God’s people. We recognize in one another the presence of Christ. We treat each other as Christ has treated us. We conduct ourselves within the community of faith in Christ-like ways. Our words, deeds, feelings, and attitudes about our brothers and sisters in Christ are determined by Christ.

Christ Into helps us recall that Jesus loves the world. He devoted his life to loving and serving lost and broken people. In similar ways, our lives must demonstrate a sacrificial commitment to the people outside our church-walls. “Go into all the world” is not just good advice; it is Christ’s mandate for all those who claim to be his true people.

Although this statement of vision helps to “focus” our congregation on the essential elements of our life together (Christ and his Lordship, presence, love, and sacrifice), it still remains “general” in the sense that it doesn’t prescribe the means and methods we intend to use as we honor Christ. What does this commitment to Jesus mean in terms of the Fernandina Beach Church … at the present time … given our context and opportunities? Becoming the church of Christ (in fact as well as in name) is an “elephant”—a huge and daunting task. Where do we begin?

We, as your Shepherds, are committed to establishing “annual themes” for the Fernandina Beach Church of Christ that will allow us to “eat the elephant one bite at a time.” We will not become the church God wants all at once or overnight. But we can become more like the church God wants by taking specific, intentional, faithful “bites” to pursue his purposes for our life together. These annual themes are an attempt to break down the general call of God on the church by focusing on specific ways God is calling our congregation to do his work … specific opportunities God is making available for us here and now.

The “bite” we propose to chew on during 2012 involves Christ Into: a plan for engaging more fully with our community and the people around us.