What is our vision as a church?
As a church we have a mission statement that expresses our vision. It is very simple and says: ELT exists to see the gospel changing people for good. ELT is in the business of gospel change. That begins when people hear the gospel and are converted and continues right through their lives as the Holy Spirit works in them. And it is a change for good.
This means that when a person is converted he or she begins, however imperfectly, to do the good that pleases God. This "change for good" is for good in the sense that it is permanent. What God has begun in those saved by his grace he will bring to completion. East London Tabernacle exists to see this change happen in our own lives and in the lives of people in our city and beyond.
Formative to our thinking about this as a church has been Paul’s letter to Titus. Paul writes seven times that the Cretan Christians are to learn to do what is good. The key to this is the gospel of God’s grace.
So our vision is to see the life-changing grace of God in Christ released into our lives, city, and world for his glory.
From Titus there are four things that we are here as a church to do
equipping people to minister the word of God
Paul begins his letter with a greeting which reminds Titus of Paul’s ministry (Titus 1:1-3). The basis of this ministry is the hope of eternal life (v2) and its focus is the preaching of the word which brings it to light (v3). There are no apostles like Paul today, but there is the ministry of the word based on the foundation that he and the other apostles laid.
Our church in East London exists to nurture godly ministry in all the forms it takes; not just Sunday preaching, but the ministry of the word in small groups, youth work, midweek ministries and one-to-one discipleship. We want to bring the word of the gospel to light as we minister it in many different ways to ourselves and those outside of the church.
training leaders for every area of church life
Godly leadership is essential if any church is to fulfil its mission. This was a priority for Titus who was to appoint elders in the new congregations (Titus 1:5-9). Developing leadership is also our priority--both for ourselves and other churches and ministries with which we are linked.
Leadership is broader than eldership, though elders take a lead in the local church. Leadership is necessary for every area of church life and we commit ourselves to training leaders using both internal and external training resources.
For Paul, godly character is even more important than gifting. We want to nurture leaders whose devotion to God is actively expressed in the way they live and relate to others inside and outside the church.
building attractive lifestyles rooted in the gospel
Titus was in Crete when Paul wrote to him. Much like modern culture, it was characterised by deceitfulness and dishonesty (Titus 1:1-16) and it must have been difficult to be godly. However, it is in exactly this kind of setting that our godly lifestyle is to be worked out in the practical realities of life. Older and younger people, men and women, rich and poor are to apply the gospel to their particular circumstances (Titus 2.1-10). This makes the "teaching about God our Saviour attractive" (v10).
As a church we aim to help one another develop attractive godly lifestyles, rooted in the gospel. Only the gospel of grace has the power to enable us to live the "self-controlled, upright and godly lives" that please God.
preparing people to engage with the world
While it is true that God’s people are distinct from the world, it is also true that God’s people should be actively involved in the world. We are citizens of the heavenly city of God, but we are also citizens of the early citizen of man (Titus 3:1).
In his letter to Titus, Paul explains that wherever Christians live they should be devoted to doing good (Titus 3:8). This means active involvement in our community and culture. We want to see our city and nation transformed spiritually, socially and culturally by the gospel.