Evangel has developed a reputation in our city for being out-of-the-box, as far as churches go. The rumours are probably justified. We make no bones about it when we say that we are culturally liberal, taking as much liberty as we can to show the world around us God’s love. And that impacts who we are and the image we put out there on so many different fronts. For example:
– You'll find a small group with winemaking as a relational hook
– Biggest events of the year are on Halloween instead of Christmas
– We’ll throw a rap into Sunday morning worship
– People from every walk of life, and every moral position are in the crowd on Sundays.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Because of this “out there” approach to local church, some might assume we are also morally “out there”. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
If you took the time to scratch below that flashy, “cool” surface, you would discover a very Biblically conservative view of Christian doctrine and ethics.
First, Sara and I, as the primary leaders of Evangel, are straight-shooting, no-BS, traditional – to the core. Even when it comes to some of the ways that we engage culture (ei. Candy Planet at Halloween), it is never done without serious consideration to things like: 1) what the Bible says on the subject, 2) traditional views and the reasons behind, and 3) prayerful seeking of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Secondly, Evangel Chapel, as part of a wider organization called the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, also has a conservative approach to Biblical ethics and morality. In fact, our view on many things (some that are widely accepted in our culture) are actually locked into the constitutional statement of beliefs and fundamental truths
. In other words, our views on everything from sexuality, to marriage, to sanctity of life, to financial integrity and tithing – are written into the core of who we are, and very difficult to change (and rarely do they ever).
I’ll make a few key points:
1. We believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God
We don’t just draw a random line in the sand on ethics. Our code of ethics is very much derived from the Bible, so if a command is in there (and obviously so, being found in both OT and NT), we try to line up. If it ain’t in there (and obviously so), we’re not so uptight.
Turns out, a lot of the stuff that Christians get all freaked out about, is not really Bible truth, but religious tradition. We don’t have any problem stepping on religion, but we hold the Bible at a very high place in setting the bar for morality. We admit that sometimes it’s a little tricky interpreting a book that was written to a Jewish audience 2000 years ago, but we also believe that there is an unshakeable code of ethics written into the heart of Scripture.
2. We believe that Jesus’ makes us righteous before God.
We preach this, and we preach it a lot – it’s by grace you are saved, and not by your works of righteousness, or unrighteousness. You can’t ever be good enough to measure up to the standard of “good” that Jesus showed us. Even your best actions are often selfishly motivated. So you need Jesus to save you, and Him alone.
3. The world should not be expected to maintain Christian Ethics.
We aren’t lobbying in the government for the enforcing of a Christian world-view in society at general. When it comes to the world around us, we would much rather be known for what we are FOR instead of what we are against. Although we are saddened by sin and the consequences of it in peoples lives, we do not think it is realistic to expect people, who have not surrendered their lives to Jesus, to live by Jesus’ teaching.
4. For those that have made a decision to follow Jesus, we believe it is our responsibility as a church to help them do just that.
This means that we empower and enable them to walk towards God, and away from sin. Having said that, we will never place a heavy yoke of do’s and do not’s on people, nor will conduct "witch hunts", looking for hidden issues. We believe that if they have made Jesus their Lord in life, that they ultimately should hear His voice, and be able to follow his lead.
5. Leaders are expected to live out Christ-centred ethics.
One of the ways I believe you can assess whether or not your church is maturing spiritually is this: the standards for leadership keep getting tougher as time passes. ~ Rick Warren.
This does not mean that they never sin, but that it is against their deepest longings and better judgement. Anyone can come to Evangel and feel the love – not everyone is given the mantle of leadership. While we encourage everyone in Evangel to walk the walk according to God’s Word, the level of expectation rises for those in positions of leadership and influence.
6. We believe that their are levels of conviction about moral issues.
A. Moral Absolutes
The first and most important, is what the Bible says – you might call these moral absolutes. They do not change, and are not up for debate. They never need to be revised or updated. For a list of those absolutes, you might refer to the 10 Commandments
, or Paul’s list in Galatians 5
. Among hot topics today that we feel are moral, Biblical absolutes would be the following:
Sanctity of Human Life
Believing that people are created in the image of God from the point of conception, we object to any activity that destroys or defames the human race. This includes (but not limited to) racism, murder, rape, and abortion.
We believe that sex was created by God and is solely to be expressed within a lifelong marriage covenant – heterosexual and monogamous. All other sexual acts fall outside of God’s intended purpose and this includes pedophilia, polygamy, homosexuality, adultery, and sex between unmarried people.
Check out Evangel and Sex for more detail. It's a juicy read :).
While we believe that God created all things for our benefit and even for our pleasure, that they are inherently good, and that they can be misused to our detrement and desruction. The Bible is very clear on the fact that drunkenness (or getting high) is a sin that dishonours both God and your body.
I wrote this blog recently that might give you more insight into my view on social drinking here
B. House Convictions
Then there are House Convictions, where we have adopted moral positions on things the Bible is unclear on, or quiet about. House convictions vary from church to church. Some of our House Convictions include the following:
Working Out Financial Stewardship.
While being a good steward of what God has entrusted to you is actually a moral absolute, how that get’s expressed needs interpretation. We believe that it includes being generous and others-centred in life, as well as regular giving (tithing) to the local church, and regular giving (offerings) to various things. We believe that giving 10% is a starting point only.
While being “in the world and not part of the world” is a moral absolute, how that’s gets expressed is as varied as you can imagine among various churches. We believe we should engage culture in any and every way possible without sinning. We are more likely to cross religious “boundary” lines in doing this than our peers may be. Like Paul, we will try to adapt to our culture as much as possible so that we can more effectively speak to, engage, and minister in that culture.
C. Personal Convictions
Lastly, there are personal convictions, where the Holy Spirit guides each of us uniquely in every area of life. Personal convictions should never differ from Biblical Absolutes, but can and often do differ from House Convictions.
Personal convictions should be arrived at prayerfully and carefully with God’s word as your foundation, and the Holy Spirit as your guide.