Shepherd's Community Church
Thursday, September 20, 2018

Our Beliefs

At Shepherd’s Community Church, we are Christians who are proud to be part of the global United Methodist Church. While the United Methodist Church is the second largest Protestant denomination in America, we have churches all over the world. We speak many different languages, live in many different countries with many different cultures, national histories and understandings of Christian faith and practice. However, several things unite us as a community of faith.

First and foremost, we are united in our affirmation of the the historic doctrines of the Christian faith contained in the creeds and confessions of the early church. For example, we believe that Jesus Christ is the embodiment and living expression of the character and will of God, and that his life, death, and resurrection make salvation available to all people.

(Apostle's Creed)

Second, we are united as Protestants, which means that we uphold three central teachings that emerged out of the Protestant Reformation. (1) We are saved only by the gift of God's love, which is received in trust and gratitude. While good works are the natural fruit of a loving relationship with God, God loves us and offers us forgiveness before we even recognize our need! So we never earn God's love or salvation by performing good works. God saves us because God loves us. (2) Scripture as prayerfully interpreted in the worshiping community of faith with the guidance of the Holy Spirit is the final authority on issues related to Christian faith and practice. (3) There is only one mediator between human beings and God, Jesus Christ, through whom we have direct and personal access to God. There is no need for a human high-priest to mediate salvation. Christ is our high priest, and all those who enter into a loving relationship with God through Christ are (by virtue of baptism) ministers of Jesus Christ. Clergy in the United Methodist Church claim no "special status" with God unavailable to the laity. Rather, we are gifted, trained, and set-apart to serve special functions in the church. 

Third, we are united as mainline Christians. While centered in Christ and grounded in scripture, we are not fundamentalist. Although we believe that the Bible is inspired by God, we are not biblical literalists who claim that the Bible is infallible or inerrant in every respect. Rather we believe that scripture is a record of the people of God living out God's promises in their own historical-cultural context, and that the Holy Spirit works through this testimony to communicate the message of God's character, will, and plan of salvation, all of which must be applied in contemporary life. We discern God's will by interpreting scripture as a community of faith with the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the light of tradition, reason, and experience. As a result, we value the intellect and the modern sciences as gifts from God, while affirming that the Bible is the authoritative guide for Christian faith and practice. We cultivate passionate faith with strong convictions, but we also recognize that the world is not black and white and that we do not possess the answers to every conceivable question. Rather than developing a comprehensive list of doctrines and rules and then enforcing them by the threat of exclusion, we try to cultivate a safe and compassionate environment in which people can deeply engage scripture, ask questions, and wrestle with difficult issues.

Furthermore, we teach that the goal of Christian life is not attained in a momentary event or single decision in which we are transformed from citizens of hell into citizens of heaven. Nor do we believe that Christianity is primarily about intellectual assent to a set of prescribed teachings. Rather, life in Christ is characterized by an ongoing loving relationship with God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, and it is through this ongoing relationship that we are progressively set free from slavery to sin, healed of our spiritual and emotional wounds, and empowered to become the people God created us to be. Being a Christian is a life-long journey of following Jesus in which we become like Christ and experience deepening communion with God and others.

Fourth, we are united by the belief that God nurtures us in the community of faith for a reason: God transforms our lives to be agents of positive change in the world. We are nurtured by God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit to be servants of Christian love, mercy, and compassion to all people--regardless of race, gender, socio-economic class, religion, or background. We see all people as children of God and try to live the unconditional love we proclaim. This is reflected by the fact that for over 200 years the United Methodist Church and its predecessors have worked to help the poor, sick, orphaned, aging, disabled, oppressed, and imprisoned. We advocate for racial reconciliation, equality for all people, and peace and justice in a violent world. In all of this, we acknowledge that hypocrisy and judgmentalism are two of the most sinful attitudes of "church people," but at Shepherd's Community Church we are committed to being authentic and accepting.

If you are not a Christian and are interested in learning more about our faith, we extend a warm invitation to visit our church. You can expect to meet caring people who will give you space to learn and grow. If you are a Christian and are looking for a new church home, you can expect well-informed and relevant preaching, meaningful worship, small groups where you can grow in faith and be supported in fellowship, and opportunities to serve our community in the name of Jesus Christ.

Our denominational motto is "Open hearts, open minds, open doors," and we welcome anyone interested in learning more about the Christian faith. If you would like to speak with someone about God's gift of abundant life then shoot us a message through this website.

Sermons by OUR FOUNDER, John Wesley

 (Click here for a more in-depth treatment of our basic beliefs on our denominational website)