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Six Transcendent Values

Six Transcendent Values

Mecklenburg Community Church (Meck), the church I had the privilege of planting in October of 1992, just celebrated its 31st anniversary.

Reflecting on those many years, it struck me that there were six transcendent values that, over the course of much methodological change, provided our sense of true north and were still fueling our continued growth. In fact, it is because we continue to have these six values in place that after 30+ years, we are actually growing faster than ever before.

1. Children Matter

Jesus famously said, “Let the children come to me” (see Mark 10). That was the heart of Jesus toward children. For 31 years, it’s been our heart, too. We’ve said that we are going to do everything in our power to let the children come. To welcome children. To prioritize children. 

2. Relevance Matters

From day one, we have believed that the church should be culturally relevant while remaining doctrinally pure. We are trying to bring the message of Jesus to our world—and not just to our world, but also to our nation, in our city, in our time. Which means it has to be done in a way that is culturally relevant. All that means is that what we say and do must make sense to the person experiencing it.

The apostle Paul once wrote that his style of ministry, based on what Jesus had done as well, was to become “all things to all men so that by all possible means [he] might save some” (see I Corinthians 9). We believe that the message of the Christian faith is timeless and unchanging, but the method of communicating that message must change according to the language, culture and background of the audience. 

3. The Arts Matter

Part of the founding vision of Meck was that we would establish a community of artists and that as a church the arts would be celebrated, put forward and used. We believe God gave us the creative arts and supernaturally gifted artists to use for Him and the pursuits of His church (see Exodus 31). But somewhere along the line it seems we reduced the church to four walls and a Bible. God made us to enjoy and respond to art, which is why it’s so powerful in connecting with people. The arts are able to sneak past the defenses of the heart unlike anything else.

4. Unity Matters

A fourth value that has marked Meck and is essential to who we are and God’s work among us, is that from day one we have held firm to the idea that unity matters. We believe that loving relationships should permeate every aspect of church life. And we don’t just believe it, we practice it. We do everything in our power to relate to one another lovingly, truthfully, compassionately and graciously. And when there is conflict or tension, stress or misunderstanding, we tackle it head on within the context of love. There may be people you feel a little “allergic to,” but we can still be loving in our spirits and gracious in our hearts—and fiercely loyal to each other. We want to always take the high road, giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, instead of being eager to be suspicious, wounded or offended.

That spirit matters, because it’s compelling. It’s what draws people in and makes them want to find out more about this Jesus (see John 17). The ultimate witness to everything about Jesus is the demonstrable unity and love between His people.

5. The Bible Matters

We believe that the Bible is true and is the catalyst for life change in individual’s lives and in the church. From day one, whenever it comes to what to believe, how to think, how to operate, where we should land on a particular position or issue, we’ve had one simple value: Go to the Bible, and then go with the Bible. We have been committed to building the church on a biblical blueprint in every conceivable way. We believe that the Bible is the Word of God to our lives (see Hebrews 4). 

6. Lost People Matter

At first, that might not hit you as that big of a deal. But it is. To us, it’s one of the most important values we hold. It drives us, because it drove Jesus (see Luke 15). The driving force, the ultimate reality, of Jesus’ life was that He had been sent on a mission. And that mission was singular in focus—it was to those who were in desperate need to be in a saving relationship with God. 

I have no idea what will happen between now and our next anniversary as a church—between Meck turning 31 and Meck turning 32. All I know is that children, relevance, the arts, unity, the Bible, and lost people,

... will still be mattering to us.

James Emery White

 

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Hybrid Church: Rethinking the Church for a Post-Christian Digital Age, is now available on Amazon or from your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast. Follow Dr. White on XFacebook and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Hybrid Church: Rethinking the Church for a Post-Christian Digital Age, is now available on Amazon or from your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast. Follow Dr. White on X, Facebook and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.