Love Jesus. Love people. Invade the darkness. Bring the kingdom.
Who we are: A family on mission.
The church is not a building but a people. And this people is a family, made such by the person and work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. One of the first things he speaks to Mary Magdalene on the morning of his resurrection is, "Go tell my brothers that I am going to my Father and your Father" (John 20:17). We are adopted into the family of God, made sons and daughters, by the life, death, and resurrection of the Father's true and only Son, Jesus of Nazareth -- Messiah, Lord, Creator, King (Ephesians 1:5). And as a family, we are on a mission to see others brought into the family by sharing this good news. In this vein, the Apostle Paul calls us "ministers of reconciliation," making this urgent plea with everyone we encounter: "be reconciled to God" in this one way, through the blood of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
What we do: Love Jesus. Love people. Invade the darkness. Bring the kingdom.
While on earth, our Lord was tested by religious scholars and leaders on his Bible knowledge. They asked him, "What is the most important command (of the 613 we are given in the Law)?" His response was unequivocal, "You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your stength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27). All of God's revelation and command to us hangs on these two related commands, and Christ alone makes us willing and able tto keep them, having kept them for us and given us his heart through His Spirit. So first and second, we seek to love God in Christ and then to love his image-bearers for whom he died. Thirdly and fourthly, just as Jesus entered darkness and brokenness to save the worst of sinners (John 1, Isaiah 61), so has he called us to do. For "the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost," not the found. It is the sick, not the well, who need a doctor (Luke 19:10, Matthew 9:12). Father, send us to the sick. We ask it in Jesus' name and by the power of your Holy Spirit. In so doing, "may your kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). As our Lord did and still does, we want to wage war on religiosity and call the sick and those trapped in darkness and bound in prison to freedom in Jesus Christ, friend of sinners. Jesus has no patience for religion. He came to set men free.
JOINING JESUS IN THE RENEWAL OF ALL THINGS
SATURATION & RESTORATION
In the beginning, God made all things through His Song and is in the process of remaking all things through Him, the radiance of His Being (Hebrews 1). Our salvation is part of the larger pageant of the renewal of all things in Jesus Christ. Behold, He is making all things new (Revelation 21)! Because of the work of our Redeemer King, all things matter, and all is worship, or ought to be. Jesus came not just to save sinners and certainly not to evacuate us to Heaven but to restore all that He made and which sin corrupted, to bring renewal through his cross "as far as the curse is found" (Isaac Watts), to "make everything sad come untrue" (Sam Gamgee).
Sojourn Galleria is part of Sojourn Houston, a family of churches that seeks to mutually care for one another and to collaborate in saturating our city with the gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God and the good of our neighbors and coworkers. In keeping with our founding Scripture, Isaiah 61:4:
- We see joining Jesus to restore broken people and places.
- We see oaks of righteousness scattered throughout the Galleria, filling it with the beauty and strength of Jesus Christ.
- We see small fires of the Holy Spirit buring in every neighborhood in the geography God has given us, joining with God's children around Houston to see a city aflame with the glory of God.
- Praise: We are made to worship God, that is, to love and enjoy him forever with our whole being (Deut. 6:4-6). This is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:35-40) and the reason with exist. Nothing works right when we don't love, enjoy, and worship God. Everything works right when we do, even when everything is going wrong. King David said he had one desire, to be with God and to gaze on his beauty (Psalm 27). This is the key to life and to everything we value at Sojourn Galleria. Our other values cascade out of this one. We want all we do as a church, as a people of God, to flow from our worship of him, from our delight in our Maker and Redeemer, the One who gave himself for us and to us. We give ourselves to him (Hebrews 13:12-13).
- Pray: Our Lord was a man of prayer. He was in constant communion with His Father, perennially drawing away to hear from and speak with Him (Mark 6:46). We want the same, not only to follow Christ's example but to have His Spirit in us crying out to the Father just as He did while on earth. We believe this maxim: when man works, man works; when man prays, God work. We don't want to be a people of prorams and human effort but of prayer and Divine power. May we become a praying people that God might work among us, in us, and through us for his glory and the salvation of many souls.
- Proclaim: We have been given the privilege of hearalding the best news there is (Romans 10:14-15). We want to shout it from the mountain-tops but also to consider carefully and prayerfully how to best proclaim the gospel in the post-modern world, with our neighbors, coworkers, friends, family, and all those God brings across our paths. We want to share the gospel in the way we live and love, but we also want to speak it, because gospel content must be articulated: the cross of Christ tells us at once how unable we are to approach God on our own merits and how Jesus of Nazareth brings us all the way to God and to peace wtih God through his life, death, and resurrection from the grave (Acts 2:22-41, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
- Plant: Acts is the only book in the Bible wholes whole content is devoted to telling us what the early church was doing, or rather, what Jesus was doing through the early church, His Body (Acts 1:1). And the Acts church was basically doing two things: they were proclaiming the gospel and planting churches. This is God's plan-A for the growth of Christ's kingdom. There is no plan-B; so we want in on the plan! As an Acts 29 church, we are crazy about church planting. We want to plant as many neighborhood parishes (house churches) and churches (that plant churches) as we can. Preaching the gospel, making disciples, and planting churches -- these are the flywheels we want to turn until our dying day, and we hope to pass the work on to the next generation so it won't stop when we do. God will do it! Maranatha!
- Partner: God's love of justice and call to his people to pursue justice permeates Scripture. But Micah crystallises this concern: "He told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" As Gary Haugen has said, "When God tells you to do 3 things, you pay attention, and when he begins the lsit with doing justice, it must be really important to Him." It is, and it should therefore be important to us. A lot of people and organizations are doing great justice (and mercy) work in Houston and around the country and world. Rather than recreating the wheel, we want to partner with them.
We want to saturate the city and see restoration of people and places in the geography God has given us through:
- Making disciples (Matthew 28:19)
- Life on life discipleship. Discipleship is undertaken in all we do, as we walk together "along life's narrow way." After giving the command on which the whole of His special revelation hangs, God tells us to teach his words to our children while sitting, standing, walking -- essentially in whatever we are doing at the time. Jesus was a Master at this. As God, he had given the command to do life-on-life discipleship; as a man he was enacting it. He made disciples where he walked, and as he walked, and sat and stood. Grain-fields, mountain, taxes, inheritance, Samaritans, vineyards --- these things of everyday life-- these were his classroom. And they should be ours. To share our life with someone else is to disciple them. They see us at our best and at our worst, and they discover whether our faith in the real God is real, is genuine. Before grocery shopping, working out, praying, eating, sitting down to watch an Astros game, taking our kids on an errand, walking the dog, cooking, doing Saturday renovation on our home, we should pause and ask ourselves, "Whom can I invite into this?" Because this, this moment, this life and all within it, is worship, because Christ died and rose to make sacred all that is not sin. This is discipleship as we know it and want it to be, because our Lord has commanded it and lived it out. All that said, this is by no means a way of saying " we don't need to articulate the gospel." We do! We need to-- we get to-- share the good news of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ regularly in word and deed! Evangelization is part of discipleship.
- Disciples who make disciples. We are disciples, or followers, of Jesus. We follow him and call others to join us. This is our understanding of discipleship. We want to say to others "Follow me as I follow Jesus" but also and perhaps more fundamentally "Let's follow Jesus together." We are thus sojourners following our Savior and calling all who will to join us.
- Disciples who make disciple-makers. So we seek to follow Jesus wholeheartedly and to call others to do the same alongside us, but we also want to train those disciples to be disciple-makers. As disciples who make disciples who make disciples, we ant to focuse on three things: (1) Being with Jesus (2) Being with each other (3) Being with the lost.
- (1) Being with Jesus looks like spending daily time with Him in Bible study and prayer (which means talking and listening)
- (2) Being with each other looks like being committed to a neighborhood parish and to an anchor group, which is an extension of the neighborhood parish that helps provide the accountability and intimacy needed for growth in Christ.
- An anchor group is 2-5 people that meet at least weekly to do 4 primary things:
*Pray (Acts 1:14). Praying together constantly. Andrew Murray said, "We pray as we live because it is the life that prays." Pray with you life, throughout your day, without ceasing. Weave it into the fabric of yoru time together, and alone, with the Father.
- Meditate (Psalm 1:2). Meditate on and memorize Scripture. Feed on it. Enjoy it. Digest it. Let it become part of the bone, muscle, and sinew of your soul. Here are a few recommended resources.
- Confess (James 5:16). Confess sin. We all have it. And when we admit it, we have an advocate before the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous (1 John 1:9, 2:1). When we deny it, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). Regular confession keeps us humble and strengthens us and our fellowship with family members.
- Eat food (Luke 5: 29-32). Good stuff happens around the table. So eat and drink together. Share the normal stuff of life. Go on walks. Do errands. Sit on the back patio. Enjoy one another and all God provides for your good.
- (3) Being with the lost looks like making sure we do not spend all our time with believers, which is easy to do. Rather, we seek out and cultivate relationships with unbelievers that we might know them, that they might know us, and that they might know Jesus Christ, the Author of LIfe and the Lover of our souls. This will require sacrifice, carving time and space out of our busy schedules.
- A few resources:
- An anchor group is 2-5 people that meet at least weekly to do 4 primary things: *Pray (Acts 1:14). Praying together constantly. Andrew Murray said, "We pray as we live because it is the life that prays." Pray with you life, throughout your day, without ceasing. Weave it into the fabric of yoru time together, and alone, with the Father.
- Multiplying parishes (Acts 2:46)
- Gather weekly. A Neighborhood Parish is a smaller expression of the church made up of ordinary people learning to follow Jesus and live on mission together in the context of everyday life. A regular touchpoint is the weekly parish gathering. Once a week, the parish gathers in a home to eat, reconnect, testify to God's work among us, use the gifts he has given us, and pray. We hopw to share life throughout the week as well, but the weekly gethering is a guaranteed touchpoint we rely on as regular means of God's grace to us as a family.
- Organized geographically. Parishes are organized geographically, which means we encourage Sojourners to pick their parish family based not on affinity but on proximity. Which parish gathers closest to your home? That's your parish. The geographical focus means two things: first, you can share more of life as a family and secondly, you can reach your neighbors. The parish's neighborhood becomes at once your family and mission field. Neighborhood parishes thus underscrore our calling to be a family on mission.
- Made to multiply. Living things grow or die. As families filled with the presence of God, we aim to grow as we mature in Christ and see neighbors brought int our fellowship and saved. As we grow and outgrow the homes we meet in, we seek to send two new leaders and part of the parish family with them to the leaders' home, where a new neighborhood parish will begin. The hope is that parish will grow and multiply as well, and so on. Leaders must be constantly raised up, neighbors reached. Our desire is to see a parish on every street, that the kingdom of God might grow "block by block" (Fidel Castro) until the revolution of Christ's redeeming, recreating love covers the Galleria area like the waters cover the sea.
- Planting churches (Acts 16-28)
- Throught the New Testament, we see the people of God interpreting the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) as a call to plant churches. And we believe planting churches is still the most effective and sustainable way to make and teach and grow disciples. In "Why Plant Churches" Pastor Tim Keller writes, "The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for (1) numerical growth of the body of Christ in a city and (2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else -- not crusades, outreach programs, parachurch ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renrewal processes -- will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is a eyebrow-raising statement, but to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial." Our hope is to join in God's historic, redemptive movement to see the gospel of Jesus made non-ignorable in Houston by saturating the landscape of our city with neighborhood parishes and gospel-centered churches. In addition, each Sojourn Houston church is engaged in mutual partnerships, we hope to mobilize men and women to engage in long-term church planting ministry overseas. In order to pursue church-planting, we have strategic partneships with :
- Engaging in strategic partnetships (Micah 6:8)
- See "Partner" value above.
Warning: We are not a commuter church.
The church is a family, not a building. It’s a collections of persons bound together by the blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:19-22, 3:10, 4:11-16, 1 Peter 2:9-10). As God’s family, we do what healthy families do: we eat together, play together, work together, learn together, speak truth to one another in love, share our struggles, doubts, and joys. This cannot happen on Sundays during a shared hour or two. It takes time together, lived over months and years, and this means living in close proximity, not commuting. So if you are not in this area or quite nearby, know that you are always welcome but know too that we encourage you to find a family of God near your home. If you do live in this area, come on! Join this growing family on mission. Sinners and skeptics are most welcome.