Church Leadership Team Efforts
Our goal is to establish a “root system” of relationships and a common vision and mission that will support the larger Body of Christ in the region, and one that brings and maintains a long lasting presence of the Kingdom. Previous “unity” efforts have been event based, focusing on collaboration around Sunday’s Together and Serve Day or the city wide evangelistic crusade but did not require or focus on these ongoing relationships. Going forward we want to build relationships between the pastors of various churches by creating opportunities for fellowship in order to develop trust and friendship that will make it easier to work together in the future. We also want to provide the opportunity for pastors to really wrestle with some of the critical issues facing the community and to discuss these issues from a perspective of “our city” and “our problems” that “we” can fix (or, at least, address) together. And then from that develop strategies that we pursue together as The Church of the Valley that will impact our Valley for the Kingdom. Two examples of this would be a comprehensive prayer strategy and the adopt-a-school program.
What Unites Us
As we move forward, for obvious reasons, it is important to clarify and articulate that which unites us. With all the various Christian ideas and doctrine out there, we needed to find that which provided the broadest appeal while having enough “meat” and specificity to create true unity and a call to action. With that in mind, there were / are three underlying principles that we have chosen to emphasize: The Kingdom, The Church as God’s Transforming Agency, and The Church as One.
By The Kingdom, of course, we mean the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven that all of us are part of and for which we were taught to pray, “your Kingdom come.” It is also broadly understood and accepted, based on the words of Jesus, that it is that which we should seek first. (Matt 6:33) And, even though there may be various interpretations of it, we know and agree that His Kingdom comes where His will is done “on earth as it is in Heaven.” We also understand that the Kingdom includes the idea (or doctrine, if you prefer) of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and Sovereignty of Father God over all creation. Therefore, the primacy and centrality of the Kingdom is our cornerstone of unity.
The Church as God’s Transforming Agency
Secondly, we understand and commonly agree that The Church is God’s transforming agency on the earth. It is to the Church that Jesus gave the Great Commission. In Ephesians 3:10, Paul tells us that it is through the Church that God intends to “make manifest” His wisdom, His plan for mankind and all of creation. We know that we are supposed to be salt and light to the world, a City on a hill that is not hidden but shines the light of God through the preaching of the Gospel and good works of love and compassion that reveal who God is to the world around us.
The Church as One
Thirdly, we understand and commonly agree that there is one universal Body of Christ. And, therefore, to make it more specific to our local region, when God looks down from Heaven on the Yakima Valley, He only sees One Church, One Body with many expressions. We also refer to it as the big “C” with the local churches being the little “c’s”. And that, in so much as that prayer of Jesus, “that they be one,” can and should be applied to every expression of the Body of Christ, we apply it to our region and say that for the prayer of Christ to be fulfilled and for the “world to know” that we must come together as the big C in the Valley. It is not up to one local church, nor would they be able to fulfill this on their own. It is the whole Body that needs to come together so that all of the parts of the Body are there to fulfill its function.
With these foundation stones in place, we crafted the following Leaders’ Agreement, which, at the time of this writing, has been signed by nearly 40 pastors.