The Crossing’s Third Core Value

In April of 2000, two months before we held our first worship service at The Crossing, Keith and I wrote out our Six Core Values that would shape who we are and how we do things as a new church.

And over the past eleven years now, we’ve discovered that it’s far easier to write core values than it is to actually stick to them. We experienced a fair amount of push back from new people who liked The Crossing for one reason or another, but they did not like a particular core value that was different than their own church background. So they complained and eventually left after they discovered that we wouldn’t change. No pastor likes to see that, but we had to decide along the way which one we were willing to lose: people, or our core values. We chose the former. We had to be willing to lose the people who didn’t like our core values.

If you’re a part of The Crossing these days, you’ll discover that the same Six Core Values we wrote out eleven years ago still describe The Crossing today. They are still our Six Core Values.

I’ve previously discussed our Mission Statement and our First and Second Core Value in previous blogs. Today I want to examine our Third. This is what we wrote eleven years ago:

Core Value #3—Cultural Relevance

The way we do ministry must reflect our commitment to cultural relevance. Our passion is to bridge the ever-widening gap that seems to separate the church from the culture in our day. In order to be taken seriously by our culture, we believe that mediocrity and church must never be mentioned in the same breath. Our standards must meet the standards of quality and excellence our culture expects. Bridging this gap means that our language, forms, and style must always be contemporary, while at the same time never compromising the timeless biblical message. In that way we enable people to hear and understand God’s Word in a fresh and relevant way. Our worship service will not be “culture driven,” but rather, “culture sensitive.” That’s our mandate as a church in our community, in our culture, in our time.

Most people probably read that and on the surface find little to nothing objectionable about it. That is, until they actually see us actually practice it as a real core value. Because what this value is actually embracing is the foundational belief that there is no sacred style or form or language of worship prescribed in the Bible. So churches are free to worship using the forms and styles and language of the culture they are trying to reach. Indeed, we actually believe that the Bible mandates that we do so (see 1 Corinthians 9:22, where the apostle Paul writes that his ministry style was to “become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel”).

Here’s what it means to be culturally relevant as a church (while always reflecting a desire for righteousness and a reverence for Christ):

  • Speak using the language the culture you’re trying to reach normally speaks and understands.
  • Use the styles of music the culture you’re trying to reach takes pleasure in singing or hearing.
  • Use the instruments in worship that the culture you’re trying to reach finds enjoyable.
  • Arrange the songs/hymns in the musical forms and styles and language the culture you’re trying to reach would want to sing and appreciate hearing.

Never compromise the truth of the Gospel message in order to appease the culture you’re trying to reach, for what then are you reaching them to? Never weaken biblical theology in order to appease the culture, for then what “God” are you attracting them to? There IS a sacred message in the Bible. There is NOT a sacred style or form or language in the Bible.

Upholding this important core value over these eleven years as a church has indeed caused us to lose some people unwilling to sacrifice their style preferences in order to reach a new generation with the Gospel. They liked our preaching, but believed their own musical style preference was too sacred to compromise. But, of course, it is also true that our being faithful to this core value is a large factor in why there are so many people from a new generation hearing and growing in the timeless truths of the Gospel more and more. I’m glad we stuck to this core value in spite of the costs along the way.

You can read about our Fourth Core Value here.

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