When I first started writing articles for a blog, it was because my boss (the CEO of Lifeway) encouraged me to use the blog as a way to encourage church leaders—as that was part of my role at Lifeway. Since becoming the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church five years ago, I realize that sometimes people in the church I serve are also reading.
This article in particular is a response to church leaders who have asked for our position papers as they are in the process of creating their own. The position papers we develop seek to graciously provide clarity around theological and ethical issues based on the questions of people we serve. We believe that we should be clear in our positions and kind and gracious in our tone, knowing that we are not merely talking about ideas or positions, but people God created and loves. Before I attach our position papers, here are some guiding principles in how the papers should be viewed:
Position papers are source documents; they are not sermons.
Our Statement of Faith has never been preached as a sermon, but we believe all of our sermons should be in alignment with our Statement of Faith. In the same way, these position papers should be viewed as source documents and not as sermons or Bible studies.
Positions papers articulate the positions we pastor from; they are not pastoring.
We must meet people where they are and share God’s truth in the context of relationships. The position papers help equip us, but we must not equate them with pastoring. We don’t merely email someone a position paper; we must be willing to sit with someone in their questions.
Position papers are answering questions; they are not attacking positions.
The position papers represent our responses to key topics people continually ask us about. There are a myriad of other important issues we don’t have papers on because we are not commonly asked about them, and currently our Statement of Faith is sufficient on those issues.
Our Statement of Faith and current position papers are attached below. We have another one in the works; it is about a year-long process, and I am sure others will be developed too. I wrote about the process here. People have asked me if they can take, adapt, and use these papers in their context. The answer is absolutely. If these can be helpful to you in your process, we are glad to serve you in that way—but I do encourage you to go through the deep work, as opposed to simply copying and pasting.