An archbishop from a previous century famously said “The Church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non–members.” “If only that were true” I hear you say! Well that is certainly our ambition and vision; we want to be a church that primarily exists not for ourselves but for those who do not normally go to church and for the blessing of the city of Dublin as a whole. Let me unpack those two things a bit more.
(1) Skeptics Welcome!
Firstly, we want to be a church that is for those in Dublin who don’t go to church, hate church, laugh at church, fell out with church, don’t understand church or any combination of the above. Our aim on Sundays and through our City Groups is make everything as relevant and engaging as we can. We don’t want to water down what we believe and we realise that tonnes of people are going to think we’re nuts…and we probably are! But even if we are nuts, we at least want to be relevant and engaging.
What does that mean practically? We explain everything we do. We assume nothing. We keep things short (1 hour max). We don’t mind if people don’t participate or want to stay anonymous. We don’t use ‘christianese’ and speak in a language which no-one else understands. And we give permission to anyone to call us on it if we fail to do any of the above! We accept that most people in Dublin have huge questions, doubts, criticisms and objections when it comes to Jesus and his church. We welcome all of the above and try to tackle those in the talk, in discussions down the pub afterwards or at our next Intro Course. We don’t mind if people disagree with us, in fact we expect it. That is why we wrote The Intro Course in the first place! But even when people disagree we respect them, love them and make sure they feel welcomed and valued. We hope that is reciprocated! And they are welcome to keep hanging out with us, even if we disagree…I think that is what ‘true love’ is all about!
Someone recently put it like this and it captured what we’re about – “The gospel of Jesus Christ is a big enough idea to try to get your mind around; we don’t want to add the additional burden of insider language, tasteless music or impenetrable rituals. We try to explain what we’re about to do throughout the service and to always bring what we say and do back to Jesus. After all, unless you have come to accept that Jesus is who he says he is — God himself come to restore and reclaim his broken people — then why should you care about Christian opinions about this or that secondary issue?”
Being a church that is not for ourselves means, in our Sunday Gathering and City Groups, we place the highest importance on the needs of those outside our church, over our own comfort and preferences. It means we desire to serve our neighbors as much as each other, which leads me to point 2.
(2) Committed to helping make Dublin a great place to live
My first point was about the ‘way’ we do church so that those who don’t belong to the church feel welcomed and included. However, a church should really exist for a far greater vision than just gathering people. It should exist, as Jeremiah put it in the Bible, “for the peace and prosperity of the city”. Our vision is to make a positive impact to Dublin spiritually, culturally and socially. We want to be the best citizens of Dublin, helping people discover their purpose in life, changing and shaping the culture of the city in anyway we can and serving the poor and oppressed in the city with acts of mercy and justice. We want to play our small part in making Dublin the greatest city it can be.
So that is our vision, we want to be “a church not for ourselves” but a church that includes and engages those who don’t go to church and brings blessing to Dublin as a whole. You can read more about our vision here and if you catch us doing anything that is not in line with anything outlined above then please do tell us (and I will pay for the coffee!)
**This is part 6 of a series of 6 looking at our vision and values. The vision of Christ City Church Dublin is to make a difference to the city spiritually, culturally and socially. Our four values are mission, discipleship, community and leadership. Check out more on our vision and values page.