The Church of the Good Shepherd is a thoughtful community of believers who exist, by the grace of God, to enjoy the Real Jesus, transform Real People, and bless every sphere we touch in the Real World.
Here is a pictorial representation of our community here at CGS:
At the center of the graphic above is our “white-hot core” – a white circle representing the Real Jesus. Someone has said, “God created us in His image and we keep trying to return the favor.” So it is that Americans conceive of an American Jesus. Conservatives conceive of a conservative Jesus. Liberals conceive of a liberal Jesus. And so on. At CGS, we confess our own tendencies to imagine Jesus after our own biases. But we’re committed to pursuing and enjoying the real Jesus together, as He is revealed in all of the Bible. To the extent we get this right, Jesus will alternatively disturb and comfort us; offend and thrill us; deconstruct and reconstruct us; humble and grace us.
Our goal is for Jesus to be at the center of everything we are and do. We take the whole Bible seriously because it takes the whole book to reveal the whole Jesus. At the center of our church is a Person, not merely a set of beliefs. Our lifelong aim is to delve deeper and deeper into relationship with this Jesus. That involves devoting ourselves to the Word of God and to prayer. It also means yielding to Jesus as King over every aspect of life. If Jesus has truly broken into our world, died and risen from the dead, this reality changes everything. That is why, in the graphic above, the Real Jesus is the “white hot core” in the center.
We believe in “Messy Christianity.” We are walking contradictions! On the one hand, we are created in the image of God, with a dignity and purpose beyond our knowing. On the other hand, we are sinful and broken individuals, also beyond our knowing. Each of us is a mixture of faith and doubt, health and woundedness, trust and anxiety, truth and error, etc. We seek to be a church where it is safe to take off our “masks” and stop pretending that we have it all together. The more we do this, the more we will become a humbly welcoming community.
In addition, in our lonely and polarized society, we’re pursuing increasingly “thick” community. At the core of our humanness, we seek real community. But at the core of our fallenness, we resist real community. Once again, contradiction! Even so, Jesus is redeeming real people for real community.
We strongly encourage those who attend our church to become members of Community Groups (represented by the smaller dark circles). These are groups of people who aim to create a safe space for people to practice being vulnerable with each other, to pray with and for each other, to study Scripture and live lives together. We also provide opportunities for larger groups –such as Sunday Morning Classes (SMCs), neighborhood gatherings, affinity group gatherings, and church-wide activities – represented by the medium-sized dark circles. These aim to provide an entry-point for newcomers, broaden our relationships with others, and bring every aspect of life under the reign of grace in Christ. In these ways, we become a maturing community.
At CGS, we resist escapism of every kind. Our world was wonderfully made. Our world is horrifically cursed. We believe that the only hope for our world is to bring it, as it really is, before Jesus, as He really is. It is our mission to bring the redemptive blessing of God into every sphere of the cursed world that we touch.
We have identified five specific areas to reach out beyond the campus of CGS (depicted in the five larger circles on the outer edge of the graphic above). No church can involve itself in every good task. These are the priority areas we have identified for our church at this time:
- First, as residents of a university community, we seek to engage more fully with the Universities in Durham and Chapel Hill.
- Second, as all of us are engaged in some sort of work (either inside the home or outside the home), we seek to live more missional lives in our vocational callings.
- Third, as those commissioned by God to “seek the welfare of the city” where we live, we will increasingly involve ourselves in justice and mercy ministries.
- Fourth, as those placed by God around our region, we seek more ways to demonstrate the love of Jesus with our neighbors (both our immediate neighbors as well as those in our larger regional neighborhoods).
- Fifth, we seek to spread the love of Jesus globally through our commitment to international missions. In these ways (and more), we seek to be a missional community.