The Bridge City Ethos
Who we are. Who we want to be. What God is calling us to.
A phrase often heard around Bridge City is, “Go be the church!” We say this because we believe that the church is not a building, a set of programs or even an organization. The church is the people – a community on mission with Jesus. We are a community of people called together by God to receive and extend His grace, to reflect His character and bring Him glory.
We acknowledge that we didn’t start this or dream it up. God is the initiator of all spiritual seeking and growth. It is only through grace that we can have a relationship with God, find healing and transformation. It is only through grace that we can engage in life-giving relationships with those around us. Grace is the starting point for our journey, but it is also the ongoing context that allows us to be vulnerable, to learn, and grow. Receiving and extending God’s grace is the fundamental basis of our community. It defines our relationship with God and each other, and it governs how we will interact with the world around us.
This document identifies the core guiding principles that express how we believe Bridge City is uniquely called to be the church. These principles, however, do not represent an ideal destination we are trying to reach; they define the process we believe we are called to – how we will be the church. We do not expect to live these out perfectly as individuals, or become a church that does these things right every time. But even when we fail, we will return to this path, because we know that how we go about our mission is as important as the destination we we aspire to reach.
Love God. Love People. Bless & Serve the World.
We equip people to live well in the three vital and interconnected relationships of a healthy and growing spiritual life:
• Circle One – Their relationship with God. (John 15:4-5, Matthew 22:37-38)
• Circle Two – Their relationship with other followers of Jesus. (Matthew 22:39, Galatians 6:2)
• Circle Three – Their relationship with their oikos* & the world around them. (Galatians 3:8)
The interconnectedness and sequence of these relationships is explained in the visual metaphor of the ripples. A drop of water falls toward the surface of a still pond. This is God’s initiative in our lives, reaching out to us. As the drop impacts the surface, ripples can be seen spreading that energy outward. First one ripple, then two, then more across the surface of the water.
The first ripple – Circle One – is our personal relationship with God where our sense of value and purpose is shaped by God’s presence. The second ripple – Circle Two – is our web of relationships with other followers of Jesus in community, where we practice what it means to receive and extend grace in practical ways. The third ripple expanding outward – Circle Three – is our relationship with the world around us, as we extend God’s grace to people in our circle of influence and beyond.
On the surface of the water these three ripples cannot be separated or removed. They all flow naturally from one to the next. In the same way, our spiritual life grows from the inside out, and each of these areas are intimately connected as God’s impact on our hearts flows into the world around us.
God’s Guidance – “God sets our agenda.”
The church belongs to God and its direction comes from Him through scripture, prayer, and the counsel of biblical community. We will seek God’s guidance because we want to know Him, and we believe that transformation and healing comes from Him alone. (2nd Timothy 3:16-17, James 1:5.)
Authenticity – “Truth sets us free.”
Acceptance, authenticity and truth-telling create the atmosphere where people can become whole. In the church there is no need to pretend we are better or worse than we are. In the context of truth and love, God’s grace works among us, bringing healing and spiritual growth. (John 8:32, Ephesians 4:11-15, Ephesians 4:22-25.)
Life Change – “Followers of Jesus grow.”
It is God’s intention to form us in the image of Christ, where we continue to grow in love for God, love for people, and servanthood, becoming more humble, obedient, content, reconciling, generous, and missional. While we have no expectation that we will perfectly accomplish this, we believe that it is normal for followers of Jesus to grow in these ways. (Matthew 22:37-40, John 15:5, Galatians 5:22-23.)
Community – “Following Jesus happens in community.”
God has called us to be a safe community of radical inclusion and committed intimacy where we both experience and grow in love, grace and truth. (Hebrews 10:24-25, Acts 2:42-47.)
Compassion – “Love takes action.”
The church is called to be a blessing in our world by caring for and serving those who are hurting, in need, poor, oppressed or marginalized, in our circle of influence and beyond. This is a practical expression of the good news of Jesus’ new kingdom. (Luke 4:17-21, Deuteronomy 10:17-19, Micah 6:8, Matthew 25.)
Creativity – “Creativity results from spiritual growth.”
God made us in His image, to be life-giving and creative. The more we are engaged spiritually, the more apt we are to live creatively, taking risks to grow as we apply our best ideas, effort and excellence to our mission, our relationships, and our service to the world. (Colossians 3:23, Matthew 25:14-30, Ephesians 2:10.)
This statement was compiled and arrived at over time through much study, prayer, and discussion, by various people including the founders, trustees, and pastoral staff of Bridge City Community Church. This is it’s second significant evolution as we continue to strive to say things that are both truthful about who we are and in alignment with where we believe God is leading us. We are committed to being a community that is continually open to God’s direction, and as such we put this statement forward as a developing document, able to grow and change as God leads and shapes our community.