We are committed to be a Deep Church that promotes evangelism within community. It believes in the power of belonging before believing and that this belonging takes place in supportive small groups and the larger community; people being drawn closer to the Well. A deep gospel draws them, confronts their idols, and offers forgiveness, justification, and adoption into God’s family and new life in his kingdom. The following four components make up the core of practice at The Well.
- Deep Gospel – Since the gospel is at the heart of everything we do at The Well, it is of utmost importance that we put into practice a complete gospel. The gospel is more than a message about personal salvation and it is also more than a message about recovering a robust view of the kingdom of God. The gospel itself has many facets and each of them must be faithfully proclaimed. We believe that this message leads us into the kingdom of God right here and right now. It is the forgiveness of sins and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that allows us to bring the kingdom of God; i.e. reconciliation and the restoration of all things through acts of mercy and service wherever we find ourselves.
- Deep Worship – This is perhaps one of the most emotional topics that church leaders must engage in. How can we keep worship in our gatherings from becoming a performance, faddish or locked in a style that doesn’t speak to new generations of Christ followers? We believe the answer is found in using the Bible, Church tradition and our cultural context to form our worship services. These three create a service that is culturally relevant and accessible to outsiders and at the same time uses historic tradition to forge new forms of corporate worship that take seriously both our histories and contemporary realities, all within a framework of biblical theology. Using all three and holding them in slight tension opens up all the great history and tradition of the church, but at the same time enables gifted worship leaders the freedom to apply new methods to ancient meaning. In this way we aren’t creating new meaning, but we are breathing new life into the ancient traditions; “ancient as relevant”.
- Deep Teaching – It is not our intent to discuss all the types of teaching and analyze the pros and cons of each. In his book called, “The Homiletical Plot”, Eugene Lowery says that “traditional teaching tends to be deductive; that is, it makes three points and sets out to prove them using logical arguments, illustrations and application. This type of teaching lacks homiletical drama.” At The Well, our teaching will follow the natural flow of a dramatic story; problem to solution. In the scriptures the author is addressing a problem; it may be sin or idolatry or simply ignoring God. The author then lays out the solution, be it forgiveness or the kingdom or the providential care of our Father. Like any good story the Bible dramatically presents the problem, slowly demonstrates how left unchecked it hurts the main character(s) and then takes our breath away with the sudden turn of events that shocks us with unexpected grace. Lowery calls this the “aha moment… where along with the Biblical characters, our lives are suddenly and dramatically turned upside down by the surprising grace of God.” Teaching that is Christ-centered with a homiletical plot is our goal at The Well. We don’t want to set up boundary markers to keep Christians safe or to keep those who don’t agree with us out. We will instead teach Christ in every text, exposing the human condition through the scriptures and our experiences, and offering the radical, shocking grace of God that enters our present situation, transforming and empowering us to actively live in His kingdom.
- Deep Community – In John 17:16-19, the Bible calls us to be in the world not of it. Jesus calls us to be salt and light. At The Well, we hold to the truth that in order to follow the commands of Christ we must not be cultural pacifists. We believe that as the Church we are called to critique culture, but we are also called to create it and affirm good culture when it is created by nonbelievers. Christians need to be engaged in culture, but in the right way. Deep community comes from an understanding of the church as both an institution and an organism. The church as institution must be strong. It is called to teach the Word, discipline and disciple its members, build community, raise up leaders and reach out to the world through acts of mercy and service. The church as organism means that Christians are called to take their new hearts, minds and perspectives into the surrounding communities as salt and light. This means that Christians are called for example to work in public educational institutions, build businesses, organize neighborhood groups, create charities, be artists and musicians and writers and start political action groups. In other words we are to influence and make culture.
The Biblical scriptures testify to this in Jeremiah 29:5-7 when he writes, “5 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."
At The Well, we believe that the institutional church is where people are educated to be shalom makers. Christians learn to live as servants to the world and they also learn how to speak the language that enables them to communicate, work together and build a city of shalom with those outside the church. This language is called “common grace” at The Well. Common grace is defined as the universal bestowal by the Spirit of natural, moral and artistic gifts to believer and nonbeliever alike. Public conscience and mercy, a common consensus on what is just and moral exist in everyone to some extent. Our goal is to train believers in the language of common grace so that they can work with nonbelievers for the shalom of the city in every area of life.
In short we believe we are to be a distinctive counterculture and should live an alternate way. At times we need to be critical toward the surrounding culture. But this countercultural attitude must not rule us. We will not become insulated and tribal. Critique, although necessary to keep us from being pushed into the world’s mold, is secondary to our posture of culture makers which compels us to be engaged with culture to bring shalom. We want to be known as a community of people that create culture for the common good, for all people and not just fellow believers.