1. Bring Heaven to Earth.
Kingdom of God as a concept in scripture is key to biblical understanding. It was Jesus' favorite topic of discussion. At the beginning of his public ministry his opening message was, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is near!" He taught his disciples to pray, "...Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven..." In the days between his resurrection and ascension, as he spent time with his followers, they discussed the kingdom of God. He ushered in the kingdom of God and displaced the kingdom of darkness by destroying the works of the devil. He gave his followers access to the completed work of the kingdom as it is in heaven so that the glory of heaven can overtake the earth here and now. Our aim is that the reality of heaven be made manifest in the earth.
2. The Bible
We accept and agree with God's written word. His word is reliable, accurate, and the foundation of all that we believe and practice. Meditation on God's word is a vital spiritual discipline that is key in our maturity as believers. We understand that the Bible is one big story broken up into 66 smaller stories. Because all meaning is context dependent, no one section of the Bible can be fully understood outside of the big story.
"As much as it is possible, be at peace with all." Peace with God and the peace of God is important. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. At the announcement of the coming Messiah, the angel of the Lord proclaimed, "Peace on earth and good will to all men." Peace in the family, peace with neighbors, and peace in this fellowship are treasured.
4. Everyone gets to play
The same Holy Spirit dwells in all believers. Young, old, male, female, new believers and seasoned believers are able to participate in the work of ministry. We recognize and honor the individual. The people on the stage at church are not the only ones who get to do the fun stuff; everyone gets to play if they are willing and available.
We must reproduce ourselves and our ministries. There should not be only one person in any area of the church who can perform a task or function in an area of ministry. It is important to point to God, who is the source, rather than draw people to ourselves. It is important for any leader to work themselves out of jobs. Why? God is a God of multiplication. The more people who are equipped and involved in ministry, the more people we can reach. As we give away what we have, there is always more for God to give. The truth is God will always have an assignment you - you won't be out of a job.
6. The manifest presence of God
The normal Christian life is hosting the presence of God. We are being transformed day by day into the image of Christ. Christ in me is the hope of glory. God's glory is his manifest presence. Peter's shadow and articles of Paul's clothing carried healing anointing. The Holy Spirit that lived in them is the same one who lives in each of us today. Just as Moses and the nation of Israel were set apart from the other nations because they carried the presence of God, the church today is to be distinguished from the world because we carry his presence. Our aim is that we carry his presence well in the same way that Peter and Paul did.
"How blessed it is when brothers dwell together in unity...it is the place of commanded blessing" (Psalm 133). Unity is not uniformity, but with unique expressions we join together in a common purpose to love God and love our neighbors. We want to be a blessing to the community and serve the church at large as good stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us.
8. More love and more power
We serve the God of the impossible. We are not limited to our natural abilities, but we expect God to come through and go beyond the natural. Paul discusses the grace of God given to his people to empower them for service in the form of gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12. In 1 Corinthians 13 he makes a case for the importance of love. If I exercise gifts without love I am nothing and I gain nothing. Then in 1 Corinthians 14 he continues, "Pursue love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy."
Passivity is not an option in the pursuit of God. To say that we are open to the gifts of the Spirit is like saying that we are open to the idea that the Bible is true. We are instructed to proactively and eagerly go after love and the gifts, and especially desire prophecy. Why prophecy? God continues to speak today and his people are to cultivate hearing ears. To prophesy we hear from God and then communicate to others what we have heard. New Testament prophesy is for strengthening, encouraging, and comforting (1 Corinthians 14:3). Prophecy takes on two forms, foretelling and forth-telling. Foretelling is revealing the future and forth-telling is creating the future. God knows the future and he reveals the future to his prophets. Just as God creates by speaking, his children are able to do the same. Ezekiel prophesied to the dry bones that they might come to life. Knowing that our words are powerful is a sobering thought. The tongue must be bridled (James 3:9-12).
Since all humans are created in the image and likeness of God, there are great gifts and callings within each person. Through the use of the prophetic gift God reveals to us the destiny he has placed in others. We breath life into destiny, inspiring hope that enables people to grab hold of it by faith. Many times the unbeliever is led to repentance through this kindness of God toward them.
9. Hope/God is bigger
We acknowledge that there is a kingdom of darkness and that we are at war, but our focus is not on the devil. If we live in a defensive posture, we tend to react and end up in the ditches on the side of the road, rather than maintaining our course on the road. Our focus is not on evil and how to manage it, but on God and the unlimited riches of his provision. As we fix our gaze on him we become like him and we position ourselves under the shadow of his protection. We are his ambassadors and we go in his authority. We naturally influence the world with who we are.
This is not passivity or disengagement from the world. As God's people we are charged with the task of expanding God's garden to cover the earth. Our expectation is filled with hope for heaven to invade the present circumstances with the miraculous. No matter how dire circumstances seem at the moment, God is always bigger.
Non-hype - High energy expressive worship and communication is good and so is laid back meditative worship and expression. Personalities and personal preferences are different and that is celebrated in New Life culture.
Casual - Our approach is laid back and informal. We preach and teach with a conversational style. Our services are not too formal. We like to drink coffee during our meetings. Some prefer to dress up and others prefer to dress more casually. Come as you are and you will be loved. Our relationship with God is more friendly than formal or religious. Even the manner in which we minister to one another is casual and non-hype.
Self-government - Some boundaries must be established to keep order, for safety and consideration of people, and for the protection and maintenance of property. However, in general, the fewer the rules in our community the better. "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" is a powerful ruling guideline that maintains most of the order that is needed.
11. The Individual
In Galatians 3:28 the Apostle Paul states, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Race, gender, socioeconomic class, age, or any other distinction that we might normally use to separate or segregate individuals are not applicable in the church. We are one in Christ and the same Holy Spirit dwells in all believers, therefore individuals maintain distinct differences, yet can be equally powerful. Men and women, young and old, red, yellow, black, and white are precious in God's sight and all are free to function in whatever gifting and leadership positions God calls them to.