Desert Rivers Community Church exists to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. As a result of this relationship, we endeavor to reach out to lost people, defeated believers and unaffiliated disciples in order to draw them into a vibrant spiritual environment where they can experience the saving, healing and restoring power of Jesus Christ. Our aim is to establish an atmosphere, based on God’s Word, of love, encouragement, enrichment and acceptance as we glorify and serve Christ at home and abroad.
The Mission of God
All things exist and are being worked according to the triune God’s passion, pleasure and plan (Ephesians 1:11), which is the demonstration of His own intrinsic glory. God creates, calls, rescues, redeems, saves, restores, restrains and grants all to the end that He might be praised.
His desire, which He will surely fulfill, is that the knowledge of His glory would cover the earth as the waters do the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). God’s mission is the manifestation of His magnificence. His mission is glory.
What is the glory of God? The glory of God is the gravity that keeps those who see and savor it from spinning off into the spacious trivialities of sin. God’s desire is that He might be known and enjoyed for His nature and character. He seeks to be recognized as supremely valuable, supremely worthy and supremely splendid. God’s glory is sensed when we feel the reality of His presence, goodness and superiority.
The Mission of the Church
The mission of the Church universal is to glorify God by making disciples through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God’s mission and the mission of His Church are inseparably linked. If God’s mission is to be glorified through the redemption and reconciliation of a people, the Church’s mission must orient around the glory of God and seek to glorify Him through redemption and reconciliation.
The mission of the Church is highlighted in 2 Corinthians 5. As those who have been reconciled to God through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are now ambassadors of reconciliation to a lost and broken world. We plead, urge, implore, reason, pray, serve, preach, teach and gather to see God glorified through reconciliation.
What is the Gospel?
To explain the gospel fully, it takes a combination of two perspectives – the global work of God to reconcile all things to Himself and the life, death, resurrection and future return of Jesus Christ. The combination of the two perspectives provides a more crisp, clear and lifelike expression of the story.
The gospel is the historical narrative of the triune God orchestrating the reconciliation and redemption of a broken creation and fallen creatures, from Satan, sin and its effects to the Father and each other through the life, death, resurrection and future return of the substitutionary Son by the power of the Spirit for God’s glory and the Church’s joy.
We are gospel-centered because the gospel stands at the center of God’s redemptive plan, and in it we see Him most clearly for Who He is and what He has done.
Our mission statement intentionally emphasizes the centrality of the gospel in all that we do. We never graduate from or outgrow the gospel. It is the very work of God for salvation from beginning to end (Romans 1:16-17).
If the ultimate purpose of God is His glory and if the Church’s underlying purpose is to bring Him glory, why are we “gospel-centered” and not “glory-centered” or “God-centered”? We are “gospel-centered” to show the centrality of the gospel in the mission of the Church.
In the gospel we see the most vivid and comprehensive demonstration of God’s glory. It is the very manifestation of His glory. In it, we see more clearly the love, justice, wrath, grace, mercy, holiness and patience of God. We see the humility of the Son, and we experience grace.
What is a Disciple?
A disciple is a person who has been reconciled into relationship with God through new birth by trust in the gospel and is subsequently growing in a love for God and love for others.
In giving the command to “make disciples” in Matthew 28, Jesus gives two qualifications. The first is baptism, which is the ceremonial initiation into the Christian life as a symbol of entering into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The second is teaching for the sake of obedience to all that Christ commanded.
What did Christ command? The Scriptures summarize the teaching of Christ in two inseparably-linked ways: belief and love. A person who truly trusts or believes the gospel will love, and that person loves because he or she has first entered into relationship with God through faith.
Life consists of constant worship. Every thought, word, desire and deed involves the ascribing of worth and value – glory. Each attitude, affection and activity is an expression of our allegiance, whether to our Creator or His creation. God is alone worthy of our worship.
Worship is related to every area of our lives. We are called to eat, drink, speak, think and work to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Worship cannot be narrowed down to a particular time and place as if God does not claim authority over certain aspects of our lives. There are no neutral desires or deeds; everything is an expression of worship.
Gospel-centered worship is to be pursued in every facet of our lives as we consider how all-encompassing the gospel is to us. It is nurtured through the gathering of the saints in a corporate service – primarily weekend worship services and Elder-led Prayer. Within these venues, we worship God by remembering the gospel through preaching, teaching, singing, praying and celebrating the ordinances of baptism and communion. Each presents an opportunity for the church to receive, remember, respond and rejoice in the work of our great King.
We worship a triune God, Who has eternally existed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In identifying the tri-unity of God, we recognize that God is communal. The Godhead has perpetually dwelt in perfect harmony, unity, joy, love and bliss. Bearing the image of God, mankind is called to reflect this reality. We are called to be communal creatures imaging the community of our Creator.
Though each Christian has a personal relationship with God, that relationship is not individual or private. The Christian faith is not intended to be lived in isolation. We were made for community – relationship with God and with each other. The local church is not merely a place that we attend but a people to whom we belong. The Bible calls us members of the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) with the expectation that we contribute to the body for the glory of God and the good of His people.
Gospel-centered community is a radical call amid a culture of mere attendance and casual involvement. It involves mutual love, care, consistency and authenticity as we seek to adorn the person and work of Christ with our lives. Where these elements are lacking, we have moved away from gospel-centered community and into the realm of social clubs.
Gospel-centered community is primarily expressed through our Groups ministry. Groups are not perfect and those who participate in them will find them messy at times. However, our hope is that group members will be radically committed to reform from within. This takes time, prayer, effort, patience, love, trust and hope.
In John 13:1-20, we read the account of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. This was no regular rabbinical task, but was instead reserved for the lowest of all servants. Here was the anointed King, the eternal Son of God, the blessed Lord, doing the inconceivable.
By humbly cleansing the feet of His disciples, Jesus gave an abiding example of service and issued a command for us to follow in His steps. We were saved that we might now serve.
Gospel-centered service is motivated by the reconciling work of God and seeks to extend His grace and mercy to others for His glory and not our own. It is an expression of love and stewardship of grace marked by humility, generosity and hospitality and empowered by a passion for the glory of God.
Service can and should be pursued in various ways by all recipients of varied grace. Those who have been impacted by the gospel have countless opportunities – both formal and informal – to serve others by greeting at the doors of the church, volunteering in one of our Next Generation ministries, teaching, singing, serving communion, giving financially to the needs of others, opening their homes to their neighbors, etc.
In perhaps the most famous passage on discipleship, Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus issues the Great Commission for the Church, which involves multiplication. We are to become better disciples through love for God and love for others by equipping and empowering others to do the same. We are called to growth as we extend the gospel of life to a dead world.
Numerous opportunities exist for the work of multiplication. God has determined the exact time and place in which you live, work and play for His glory (Acts 17:26). God was intentional in directing our lives, so we should live with intentionality in all that we pursue.
We multiply the kingdom by living with the purpose to make God known and enjoyed. Those who have been reconciled to God through the gospel have ample opportunity to enter into the work of gospel-centered multiplication. From missional living in interacting with neighbors and coworkers to missional outreach or short or long-term mission trips, our lives have been infused with purpose and meaning. The disciple’s call is multiplication and replication through the gospel – for the glory of our God.