Every community has certain values that define it. At The Story, these values help shape us into the kind of community we are called to be:
a messy community embracing the call
to whole-heartedly follow Jesus,
love our neighbor,
and cultivate beauty in our world.
(Click each value to expand.)
In everything, we believe that Jesus provides the model for how we are created to live. And at the very heart of Jesus, we see a God of radical love. Jesus’ relentless love compelled him to get messy—he left his lofty position to become one of us, entered into the messes of our world, took on the full weight of our brokenness, and ultimately died a brutal, shameful death to bring us life. Even toward his enemies, he expressed love and not vengeance. Jesus invites us to embody that same brand of self-giving, radical love towards everyone we encounter.
Quite possibly the greatest barrier to whole-heartedly following Jesus is the crazy-busy pace with which we lead our lives. We live over-scheduled, hurried lives and we’re killing ourselves because of it. If we feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done, it’s because there isn’t. And that’s okay. God didn’t create us with the capacity to do it all. We are finite and time is finite. But we believe there are rhythms we can cultivate in our lives to help us slow down, cut out some of the noise, reduce the clutter, and allow us to live more intentionally. It’ll be hard to do this on our own, because it’s so counter-cultural. But together as a community, we can help each other foster a more intentional way to live in our chaotic culture.
The church is called to be a community where there is room for everyone at the table. Jesus’ own life and teachings demonstrated this. Jesus partied with those whom the religious types shunned, and he taught that when creation is fully restored, the seats at his celebratory banquet will be filled with a beautiful diversity. Until we choose to make space for all, we will miss out on being the kind of community Jesus has in mind. Whoever you are, wherever you’ve come from, and whatever you’ve done—there is a place for you here. You belong.
As Christians, we’ve gained a reputation as killjoys. That’s a bummer. Most people don’t think, “Christian = life of the party.” And yet, we believe that when we truly grasp who God is—when we look at Jesus and see the heart of a God who is head-over-heels for us, a God who delights in us—our life should be full of joy, laughter, and delight. In the midst of the brokenness and pain of our world, we are surrounded by people, places, and situations that are beautiful and meaningful. We believe it is possible to develop a more intentional awareness of these opportunities for delight.
One of the things that has been lost in our commuter culture is a sense that we belong to our community. The fact that you live here and not there should mean something. Especially in the church, it’s vital to remember that the presence of Jesus-followers in a given neighborhood should make a difference in that neighborhood. This requires us to be attentive to what’s going on in our surrounding community, and to be present to the realities facing our neighbors. Jesus was always present to those around him, looking to meet the needs of others even at his own expense.
Becoming the people God created us to be requires vulnerability. Vulnerability asks us to lay bare our struggles and allow others to see us for who we really are, rather than who we want them to think we are. As a community, it means that collectively we trust each other and desire the best for each other, helping each other through periods of struggle, and lifting each other up when we fall. Deep relationships always open us up to potential pain, but vulnerability is absolutely necessary for meaningful connection. In fact, it’s the only way Jesus’ vision for community can be cultivated.
Ultimately we believe Jesus is working to make right all that is wrong, heal all that is wounded, mend all relationships that are broken, rescue all that is lost, and make all things new. The fancy word for that work is redemption. Every one of us finds ourselves falling short of who we want to be and who God created us to be. While God always meets us and loves us exactly where we are right now, God also loves us too much to leave us there. God has even better days ahead. And because Jesus invites the church to play a critical part in his redemptive mission, restoration is the goal of everything we do.
What about beliefs?
Lots of beliefs fall under the umbrella of Christianity. While important, too often they cause unnecessary divisions or quickly become distractions from what matters most. There is only one critical center holding our community together:
As Jesus’ defining action, we believe the cross—the symbol of a relentlessly loving God-become-human dying to bring liberation to his beloved creation—gives us the perfect picture of God. God’s scandalous love for us shapes every other belief we hold.
If you have questions regarding this or any other particular belief, please let us know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Story is part of the broader Covenant Church family. Find out more about Covenant beliefs and doctrine here.