Mission and Values
Our values explain our core beliefs about what’s important to us, who we are as a church at St Mary’s, and what we’re here to do.
WHAT WE BELIEVE:
We believe that there is one true God, who is perfectly just and perfectly powerful, and who created the universe and everything in it. He exists eternally both as one being, and yet remarkably also in the intimate and perfectly loving relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For that reason, created in his image, we too are intended to live both in intimate relationship with him, and to be in loving relationship with one another (Matthew 22:37-40). The incredible good news and unique promise of Christianity is that, as God the Son, when he gave up his life on the cross, Jesus opened up the way for us to enjoy that intimacy of relationship with God when we put our trust in him, and he then sent God the Spirit to equip us and empower us to live in it.
Our relationship with God takes root and grows when we give ourselves to him in worship. Worship is something that can never be contained and involves the whole of our lives. We recognise, though, that for us to worship God as he intends, we need to make some things a priority. When we come together to worship, we therefore look to ground ourselves deeply in the Bible, which we recognise as the authoritative Word of God, through which he reveals himself and his will for our lives. We also seek, both corporately and individually, to give ourselves to him, to know his presence among us, to be led by his Spirit in passionate praise, and to come to him in intimacy in expectant prayer.
God did not wait for us to get ourselves sorted before he welcomed us into that intimate relationship but rather, knowing that each of us and our entire world needs to be rescued, in his love for us 'while we were still sinners, Christ died for us' (Romans 5:8). That's why we try constantly to extend that same attitude of welcome to anyone who comes to us at St Mary's, regardless of their background or circumstances. As we show genuine hospitality and practical love in the way that Jesus did, we leave all judgment to him. We trust that, as people come to know Jesus for themselves and grow in their own relationship with him, he will not leave any of us where we are, but gently correct us and lead us all deeper into the richer and more fulfilling lives that he has in store for each of us.
WHO WE ARE AND WHERE WE'RE AIMING:
When we place our faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit makes us God’s children (Matthew 12:49-50, Romans 8:15-16). For that reason, being a true and lively family is important to us - a whole family in unity, with people of all ages embraced and valued. Like any family, we try to have fun together, and to invest in friendship and relationship with each other. We don’t hide behind ritual or formality, but embrace traditions where they still help us to worship together, while not getting too caught up in them. In everything we aim to be genuine and personal. We also recognise and celebrate our belonging within the wider Church, working together with other denominations as much as we can, and drawing strength from our own place as part of the Oxford Diocese, in the Church of England.
Families care for each other. At St Mary’s it’s no different. Following the model of the Acts 4 church, we take our responsibilities seriously to share what we have whenever we perceive a need. We seek always to support and encourage one another, extending God’s grace practically by caring for each other, listening and bringing strength to each other however we can. We also invest in resourcing the nurture of our children, drawing wisdom from the Bible as we encourage them ever closer towards Jesus.
God’s desire for us is that our lives will take us on a journey in which we grow towards Christlikeness. A healthy church, empowered by the Spirit, will be led into truth and grow in maturity to produce fruit (Galatians 5:22-3). We therefore want St Mary’s to be a place where people are always growing spiritually - through faithful Bible teaching, training, and exercising faith, through obedience, surrender and through commitment to serve.
WHAT WE'RE DOING:
God’s church is intended to be a blessing to his world (Genesis 12:2). When Jesus summarised God’s expectations towards us, as well as loving God, he told us to love our neighbour and reminded us that ‘our neighbour’ included everyone - even our enemies. Our place in Chipping Norton is to love our whole community, and to be found at the heart of our community. We are called to be an outward focused church, reaching out wherever we find doors opening.
Because he knew that it was the only thing that would ultimately bring fulfilment in a broken world, Jesus’ final instruction to his followers was to go out, making disciples of all people (Matthew 28:19-20). Inseparable to any other aspect of the life of the church is therefore our desire to share the good news of Jesus, proclaiming it afresh to each generation here in our local community and playing our part in taking the good news to all corners of the world so that we can share in the joy of seeing lives changed by his life-giving love.
Jesus’ life-changing love was never passive, and never will be. When we come to know what he has done out of love for us, we will always want to turn our lives back to serve him in practically. A constant theme in the Bible is the call for us to express God’s love practically by seeking justice and serving the poor. Chipping Norton is a small community with more than it’s fair share of people living on the margins. At St Mary’s we are uniquely placed to know and to serve our whole community and so we actively seek to step out constantly in compassion, coming alongside the lost and the vulnerable, no longer living for ourselves, but for but for the one who died for us.
Bringing these values together:
To guide us in our life together, our mission at St Mary’s is to share the life-changing love of Jesus, serving our whole community.
We’d love you to be a part of that mission!