Strategic Plan 2012-2016
Goal #1: Core Message
NCC Ministerial Director Walter Groff serves as senior pastor of the Gracepoint church in Rocklin. As a conference director, pastor and member of the NCC Mission, Vision and Planning Committee, Groff has done a lot of thinking about goal number one, “core message,” and ways it can be implemented in the conference.
Why did the committee select this specific core message?
Grace and mercy are the foundations of our Church, but so much of what we teach has to do with behavior, choices and obedience. It’s very easy for people to lose that understanding of grace. Everything else in our lives is based on works and achievements, but Christ is saying to us, “That is the world’s way of doing things; the way I do things is completely different.”
If you recall Ellen White’s vision of the narrowing path, the Advent people are walking up this path, and Christ is leading the group. There’s a great abyss on one side, and the path is narrowing as it moves to this light up ahead. The people who take their eyes off Jesus fall off the path. The people who keep their focus on Christ make it through. We hope to keep our people focused on Jesus.
In what ways do you communicate this core message at your church?
Several years ago, we changed our name from Sunset Oaks to Gracepoint. We decided we wanted a name that faced outward, which communicated a message about Christ. We wanted to focus on that point where grace meets our need, as in the story of the Prodigal Son—when the Father runs out to His son—there is a collision of God’s grace with the son’s need.
When I study the Bible with a new believer, I make sure that grace is the foundation. I tell him or her: “I’m going to be talking about aligning yourself with Scripture, with obedience, but I don’t want you to lose sight of grace.” Once grace is in place, obedience then becomes a means to and the measure of faith. When God says to do something, you have to decide if you are going to trust Him. When you trust Him in a challenging situation, your faith in Him grows. When you refuse to trust Him, you’re getting a true measure of where your faith is.
We try to incorporate grace into everything that we’re teaching and doing at our church. Greg Webster [associate pastor] and I have elders that help hold us responsible for acts of grace as we lead our congregation.
How can NCC church members apply this core message to their lives?
When asked “How am I saved?” many people give an answer that has to do with some behavior. We need to help our people learn to give a gospel presentation: a solid biblical, grace-oriented answer to how salvation works. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Gifts are free 100% of the time. It’s not “grace plus,” not “grace but”; it’s just “grace.” This is so foundational that to lose sight of it is to misrepresent God in this most critical of moments
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