While our young churches are working to be missional, incarnational, relational etc. it's important for us to remember that the church has always been/must always remain confessional. Being confessional means that our community of faith is united around commonly held beliefs that serve to identify who and what we are by explaining what we believe in. Believers have been confessional from the beginning. The "shema" worked much like a confession for Israel, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." (Deut. 6:4 ESV) This theological confession is packed with meaning and importance, neither of which I have the time to go into at the moment. But this confession not only identified what they believed about God, but it came to give believers a peculiar ID as well. Paul sites a confession used by the churches when writing 1 Corinthians, "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures..." (1 Cor. 15:3, 4 ESV) Confessions are an inherent part of Christian community.
As young churches are seeking to find their way through an emerging and changing culture, as they hold out the Gospel and seek to follow Jesus, as they desire to avoid the mistakes made by their "parents" while following in their footsteps where they have been successful/faithful, it is critical that we do not lose our confessional identity. Many churches in our own Convention have forgotten our confessional history, and have birthed churches who have never known the place and importance of creeds. But many are rediscovering our heritage, and some were taught it from childhood. Today some young churches are writing new confessions reflecting ancient truth, while others are holding on to the catholic (universal) creeds as simple summaries of the Christian faith. I believe both are needed.
This Sunday at Grace (still a very young church at 2 1/2 years old) we will look closely at, recite together and sing the Apostles Creed. Spend some time with it this weekend.
The Apostles Creed
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
The third day he rose again from the dead:
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
I believe in the Holy Ghost:
I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
The forgiveness of sins:
The resurrection of the body:
And the life everlasting. Amen.