Who We Are
Grace Blue Ridge is a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).
The PCA is one of the faster growing denominations in the United States, with over 1450 churches and missions throughout the USA and Canada. There were over 306,000 communicant and non-communicant members as of December 2000.
“Reformed” defines the doctrinal beliefs of the PCA, which holds that the purest expressions of scriptural doctrine are found in the Calvinistic creeds, particularly the Westminster Confession of Faith.
The PCA’s representative form of church government is rooted in its name — presbyterian. Local churches are governed by elders (presbyters) elected by the church members. This form of government extends through the regional presbyteries, which facilitate connectionalism, to the national General Assembly, which expresses PCA’s connectionalism and the bond of union between/among all the churches. You can learn more about PCA at http://www.pcanet.org/
WHAT WE BELIEVE
We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God (inspiration). We believe it is without error in the original writings (inerrant), that it is the complete revelation of God's will for our salvation, and that it is our supreme and final authority in all matters of our faith and life (infallible and authoritative). 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21.
We believe there is only one true God; and that it is He alone whom we must serve and worship, and that He alone is worthy of our lives and trust. We believe God is eternal, infinitely perfect, all-powerful, all-knowing, and holy (separate from humanity and morally perfect). We believe this one God exists and works in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (trinity). We believe He owns and controls all things according to His will. Eph. 1:11; 3:11; Acts 4:24-27.
We believe that God alone has existed from eternity past and, in His wisdom, decided to create the universe using nothing which had pre-existed. Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 11:3; Isaiah 44:24.
We believe that human beings were created by God in His own likeness (image) in order to have an intimate relationship with Him (fellowship) and to bring Him glory. Therefore, we believe humanity has tremendous dignity and value (Gen. 1:26; Col. 3:17). We also believe, however, that humanity broke that relationship through rebellion and disobedience (sin), and thereby became spiritually dead, separated from God, under His condemnation, totally unable to please Him or earn a restored relationship (salvation). Rom. 3:9-19; 8:7,8.
We believe that Jesus Christ is truly God (Rom. 9:5), and that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, becoming also truly human (Luke 2:1-40). We believe He did this in order to represent both God and humanity (as a mediator) and to become the bridge that restores our relationship to God. Because of His humanity, and His suffering and being tempted in every way like we are (yet without sinning), He is also able to be compassionate and sympathetic toward us (Heb. 4:14-16). We believe that Jesus is the only savior and way back to God (1 Tim. 2:5); that He suffered, died on the cross and took the full punishment of our sins as our substitute and sacrifice (Rom. 3:25a), and thereby redeemed us (bought us back) and reconciled our broken relationship with God (Rom. 5:10). We believe Jesus physically and truly came back to life after three days (resurrection; Matthew 28), demonstrating His deity and power, and the effectiveness of His sacrifice. We believe that He then ascended into heaven in the sight of His disciples and now reigns with God the Father (Luke 24:50-53). We believe He is now our advocate (continually "standing up" for us; Rom. 8:34).
The Holy Spirit
We believe that God sends the Holy Spirit to live in in each believer. He gives them the strength and wisdom to trust Christ and follow Him, produces the strength for a new way of living, creates new character (fruit), and brings new abilities (gifts) to help the church grow together in love.
God's Plan of Salvation
We believe in the Gospel, the Good News: that, through Jesus and His sacrifice, sinners (like we all are), can have an intimate, loving relationship with God again, and one day live with Him forever. We believe God's plan and provision to send Jesus to redeem us was purely out of love for us and by grace alone (doing good for those who deserve the opposite). We believe that only faith, trusting in who Jesus is and what He did, is the means to receiving the gift of salvation; and that nothing we do by the way of good deeds or religious exercise can earn it. We believe faith is the gift of God and the work of the Holy Spirit; and that it is accompanied by our admitting we are great sinners in need of a great savior (repentance). We believe the results of salvation by grace through faith alone include: the total forgiveness of our sins (past, present and future), the complete removal of guilt in God's sight, acceptance and approval by God, the crediting of Jesus' obedience to our record, our adoption into God's family as His sons and daughters (with all its rights and privileges), the power to become more and more like Jesus throughout our lifetime, and the guarantee of being united with Him at our death in order to live with Him forever. John 3:16; Rom. 3:22-24; Eph. 2:1,4,5,8-10.
We believe Jesus promises to personally and visibly return again one day and bring all things to their completion and culmination. We believe there will be a final judgment by God, where He will take His own to be with Him forever and will deliver all others to be separated from Him forever. 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Rev. 20:11-15.
We believe in the invisible church: that we are one with all God's people, everywhere, throughout history. We also believe in the visible church: where God's people in particular places and at particular times in history express their unity by visibly committing themselves to mutual encouragement and accountability. We believe these local churches are the ordinary means through which God spreads the Gospel and helps His people grow in love and faith. We believe the church uses the Bible, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper (visible signs of invisible grace), and prayer to accomplish this.
Our worship simply seeks to connect believers to Jesus Christ. Our worship is rooted in grace and the gospel, and wishes for Jesus to always be the focus. We strive for authenticity and avoid emotional manipulation at all costs. We encourage whole hearted worship, and ensure all songs and lyrics match the teaching and theology of GBR.
We also occasionally perform preludes that provide a window into art and culture that relates to that weeks sermon. All special preludes and worship songs are selected with purpose and the intent to point to Jesus Christ.
WHAT WE VALUE
We value people over programs.
This does not mean that programs are not important. However, we do not seek to implement programs in order to grow the ministry, our emphasis is on growing the person in order to grow the ministry.
Ephesians 4: 11-12 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
We value cultural engagement not cultural antagonism.
The Gospel is for both the believer and the unbeliever.Our preaching, teaching and worship are purposeful to reach both audiences. We believe we must engage our culture with the gospel, not moralism. We seek to train our people to be involved in the community neither by cultural adaptation or cultural antagonism, but rather through cultural transformation. By engaging our culture, we believe we are modeling Christ’s mission to come to the world to save it.
Acts 17:23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
We value leading from a position of vulnerability and weakness.
Leadership is often very complex which can tend to push leaders to hide their faults from others for fear of losing the respect of those they lead. We see that Christ taught his most trusted leaders (his disciples) to serve their people not from a position of authoritarianism, but rather a posture of humility. Our leadership is committed to stewarding their leadership gifts while also humbly acknowledging their brokenness. John 13:16 Truly, truly, I say to you,a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
We value emotional health.
Spiritual knowledge and learning are very important in the discipleship process. At the same time, emotional health is often neglected in the discipleship process. We believe it should be integrated in the believer's life. We want to help believers know not merely that they sin, but also why they sin. We want to help people look to Christ for their sufficiency and self worth.
Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
We value Christ centered expository preaching.
We value preaching series through books of the bible deriving our main topic from the scripture text. This means we preach through passages that often are neglected or deemed confusing. We believe all of scripture is useful and applicable to our current culture. We also value preaching Christ as the motive and means for transformation that each text calls for.
Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
We value ownership by the congregation.
Most ministry is done both in the church and outside of the church. We encourage each member to own a particular piece of the church by becoming vested in a ministry in or outside the church. Our members help move the church forward and it is done by creating an atmosphere of ownership.
1 Peter 4:10
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace
We value discipleship
Sunday’s are a small part of church. Community and opportunities to grow in the gospel are facilitated through discipleship whether that be through a one on one opportunity with a mentor, and adult education class or through a small group.
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
What makes GBR unique?
Diversified Community: GBR has a unique community made up of all ages, backgrounds and understandings of Christianity. The Gospel is the unifying thread at GBR which has been the primary impetus behind fostering such a diverse body.
Vulnerability from the pulpit: Sermons are taught from windows not blackboards. Vulnerability from the pulpit allows the body to engage their own heart and understand how it is engaging the pastor’s heart as well.
Good balance between organic and structured: Structure leads to freedom. We are very careful to make sure new ministries fit the vision and values of the church. Most ministries have developed through organic growth matched by careful planning.
Unique music ministry: Our worship is centered on engaging God through music without being emotionally manipulative. Our worship is a mix of both old and new hymns played through a contemporary style
Safe: Jesus is not tame nor does following him result in a safe life. However, GBR is a safe place to be honest about your doubts, struggles and fears. Our worship service and church culture help facilitate a community that is safe to grow and be challenged