FiveStone Churches offers a few suggestions--in the form of a seven-point convictions list--for the local church in the midst of cultural upheaval and broad heartburn.
The seven points are to protect churches in the FiveStone network. From what? From narrow perspectives that feed divisions and from cultural factions that detract from the church’s primary responsibility to make disciples of Jesus Christ and to baptize and teach those disciples. Church shepherds should speak to cultural issues from the Bible and for the proclamation of the gospel.
Even as the the culture in the U.S. and Canada shifts, the church's core mission must not shift with it. The cost of acting on the church's mission is rising. Regardless, Christ works primarily through his salvation gospel presented in his local church. That's the source of lasting change in individuals and in culture.
Here's the seven:
- We will focus on Jesus Christ—through His gospel—as the change-maker in the human heart, leading to authentic, God-pleasing relationships.
- We will speak truth in biblical love, which can be expressed in firmness as well as in tenderness as the need requires.
- We will not allow cultural issues to set the local church’s agenda or define the local church. The church is to be gospel-centered, not issues-centered. Cultural issues may be addressed as they impact the church’s core responsibility of disciple-making.
- We will be deeply wary of joining with non-evangelical voices and, while we may quote or reference them, we will clearly state that we do not necessarily advocate their causes or agree with their rhetoric or positions. We will diligently research all sources so we accurately reference their views.
- We will consider valid perspectives on various sides of cultural issues, but will present perspectives from biblically sound followers of Jesus Christ.
- We will not flatten complexities of cultural issues; these issues will not be distilled into stereotypes or simplicities. We will be diligently thoughtful in issues of race, ethnicity and other human relationships. We will seek to understand varied perspectives, but our views will comply with our best understanding of the breadth of the Scriptures' teaching.
- The local church elders have unique responsibility and authority to shape the church’s teaching and preaching. A plurality of elder voices from the pulpit and throughout the church are to forge biblical and thoughtful responses to cultural issues. Elders will focus on Doctrine, Discipline, Direction and Discipleship in the local church.
The complete document is linked here.