Theological Foundations

  1. Jesus is Lord – Christology
  2. Mission is an attribute of God and the regenerate Christian – Missiology
  3. The Church Defined – Ecclesiology
  4. Christology – Missiology – Ecclesiology – Recalibrate
  5. Shema Spirituality
  6. Commissioned by Christ – Make Disciples
  7. Mustard Seed Beginnings
  8. Let God be God
  9. Evangelism is essential
  10. Evangelism goes beyond words
  11. Evangelism is about relationships
  12. Conversion leads to more than personal salvation
  13. Authentic conversion leads to good works and personal change
  14. The “Priesthood of all Believers”
  15. Scripture is Inerrant, Translation is Not

 

Jesus is Lord – Christology 

This is paramount to our understanding of how we “think, feel, and do” in all aspects of our lives. All aspects in our lives, thoughts, actions, and feelings are placed under this paradigm.  We offer everything back to Christ. We understand that Jesus is the ever-present King and Lord through the Holy Spirit.  He is worshiped as the central one true God.  We worship him on Monday just as much as Sunday – thereby, practicing non-dualistic spirituality.  We filter all of life’s decisions through the prism of Jesus.  We filter our understanding of God through the prism of Jesus. We practice a Christocentric monotheism.

Jesus reveals himself not only as the door into salvation (John 10:7) but also the entry point into the knowledge of the one true God.  This makes Jesus Revealer and Mediator at the same time (John 14:6).

For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1 Cor. 8:6).

All things are from and for God.  However, all created things go through Christ.  Our creation is only made possible through Christ.  Our connection to God the Father is only through Christ.  Christ is our revealer and our mediator to the father.  When we accept Jesus as Lord, we glorify the Father.

Mission is an attribute of God and therefore, an attribute of the regenerate Christian – Missiology

Missiological Ecclesiology:  The classical doctrine on the missio Dei as God the Father sending the Son, and God the Father and the Son sending the Spirit (is) expanded to include yet another ‘movement’:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit sending the church into the world…. mission is not primarily an activity of the church, but an attribute of God.  (Bosch, 390)

We wholly accept this truth.  It is why mission and evangelism are our catalyzing principles for ministry and organization.  We are going on mission anytime we “go” to others in the name of Christ – this can be going half-way across the world (global missions) to strangers or across a room to a close friend of family member (local or neighborhood missions).  The way God pursues his mission is through his people in community, expressed in local churches or small groups, but also through larger expressions of the Church in networks and mission-focused ministries (i.e. Catalyze, Inc.).

We believe, as regenerate creations -infused with the “missional” God / Holy Spirit – that Christ calls us to be his hands and feet in his mission of glorifying the Father and redeeming all of Creation. We are called to participate by going to others, leading others into His Kingdom, and ushering in the New Earth “as it is in heaven.”  We believe every Christian should understand mission as one of the personal and essential attributes of being a follower of Christ and should “act” upon that responsibility to the best of his or her capability.  We realize that there are many other attributes that are essential towards being a Christian (love, truth, justice, mercy, etc.) and becoming more like Christ, but raise “mission” to its rightful place of belonging with the others.

We understand that being allowed to participate as the incarnate Body of Christ and Temple of God is an incredible honor and gracious gift.  Therefore, we understand that being Christian innately means being missional and understand mission as a Christian attribute as much as a Christian activity.  Jesus stressed the importance of bringing forth the Kingdom of God far more than personal salvation.  Christianity should not be selfish, but selfless.  It should not be about our own selfish interests over the interests of others.  It is about “me,” but it should also be just as much about “you” – “love your neighbor as yourself.”  Mission focuses on “the other” whether going physically or going spiritually (prayer) – but is most effective when practicing both.  We believe a “missional” Christian and a “missional” Church are vibrant, alive, healthy, and pleasing to God.

The Church Defined – Ecclesiology

The Church is understood and expressed both universally and locally.  Universally as the covenant community of Christ, all of God’s People, and the Bride of Christ.  The church is also expressed locally wherever at least 2-3 people meet together with Jesus.  We believe God is not overly concerned with church models, types, organizational structures, and denominations.  When Christ is present, he will save and transform individuals, communities, and cultures regardless of church expressions – whether highly organized with all the “Marks of the Church – including deacons, elders, etc.” or a vastly decentralized network of small groups, whether highly attractional or highly missional, whether strictly fundamental or intensely liberal, whether Catholic or Protestant or Pentecostal – we believe when Jesus is present with others, the church exists, and He utilizes all models and types of the local church effectively within varying contexts towards his Glory.

Our calling is as an apostolic and evangelistic ministry and decentralized network focusing on neighborhood mission, activism, discipleship, and evangelism.  However, we clearly understand that scripture denotes the importance of the prophet, shepherd, and teacher.  Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have created churches that meet these needs more effectively than Catalyze, Inc.  We fully support them in their calling to meet the needs of their members to grow in Christ through prioritizing worship, shepherding, and teaching.   We encourage all participants of Catalyze Inc. to explore and plug into larger communities and groups while still taking part in our ministry and movement. 

Christology – Missiology – Ecclesiology – Recalibrate

Our Christology (understanding of Christ and what he asks of us) comes from scripture, mission, and community.  In agreement with Alan Hirsch, we believe Christ should always come first and we should always and continually recalibrate with Christ.  Furthermore, in order to avoid an apparent problem commonly seen in today’s organizational church – passive attendance with minimal involvement and action – we believe missiology – deciding “what our mission is” should precede / determine / and be the primary organizing principle for our ecclesiology (our understanding and expression of the church or covenant community for Christ  in our context).[i] This in in contrast to the common practice of organizing church around worship. Recalibrating back to Christ means that we understand that our mission and our community/church shapes our ever-changing understanding of Jesus and what he calls us to do.

Christology

We agree and found our church, ministry, and movement upon the theological principle that Christology (our primary theology) determines Missiology (our purpose and function) which determines our Ecclesiology (the forms and expressions of the church).[ii]

We clearly understand that the church is not the Kingdom.  The Kingdom is the entire cosmos.  The church is an expression of the Kingdom and the missio Dei.  The church is the result of God’s mission in the world.

The church will develop naturally through the mission.  We must allow the church and its design and organization to be developed by and through mission.  Mission comes first, church develops later:

The Bible does not instruct us to plant a church, but to make disciples.  The church does not have a mission.  The mission has a church[iii].  

We understand that we should imitate Jesus and do as he did:

Jesus did not come to found a religious organization.  He came to found a missionary movement that would spread to the ends of the earth.[iv]  

Shema Spirituality

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” [and] “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:29-31)

We understand that Jesus had a commandment “Greatest Hits List”:

  1. The Great Commandment:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  (Matt. 22:37-38)
  2. The Second Greatest Commandment:  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39-40)

We will make decisions, translate scripture, and base our actions upon and through the prism of these two commandments.

The Great Commission

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them … teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20)

We focus on making disciples.  We understand that discipleship means becoming like Jesus – being re-born of the Spirit and being authentically transformed.  Evangelism is framed through discipleship.  It is understood as anything that leads others towards becoming like Jesus and towards the rebirth.

Mustard Seed Beginnings

With the scriptural truth of the parable of the mustard seed or the parable of starting small and growing large (Mark 4:30-32), we will plant the gospel seed (scripture) and have faith in God to create the growth and develop the church and the movement.  We will always understand growth and reproduction as starting with developing disciples and the base unit of life (2 or 3 people):[v]

 Jesus described the Kingdom of God with the parable of the mustard seed, which starts small and then eventually grows very large (Mark 4:30-32).

 Jesus calls and sends workers two by two.  A group of two or three is ideal for the most intimate and accountable relationships.[vi]

“For where two or three have gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst” (Matt. 18:20).

“The kingdom of Heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”  (Matt. 13:31-33)

Let God be God:

Most of our churches focus on the growing phase (maturing phase) of Kingdom Life.  We focus in the phase of breaking the soil and planting the seeds.  We plant the seed and are a seed planting ministry. We then rely on and adamantly pray for Jesus to touch hearts and minds and produce the growth.  We must rely on the Spirit and God to do the work.

Jesus described the work as casting out seed, going to bed at night, and rising in the day.  The soil produces the growth “all by itself”. (Mark 4:26-29) 

Evangelism is Essential

Christ came to save the lost, make disciples, and bring forth his Kingdom on Earth.  However, to be saved, become a disciple, and assist in bringing forth Christ’s Kingdom – one has to “believe” in Christ.  The Bible clearly states that faith (belief) comes from hearing the word (scripture) of God.

17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

Evangelism is vital to kingdom expansion, for it is by evangelism that the church leads new converts into God’s kingdom.  Proclaiming the gospel via evangelism is an essential part of the conversion process.

Evangelism is more than Words:

“To evangelize is to cooperate with God and others to bring people one step closer to Christ.”   Evangelical Covenant Evangelism Associates (circa 1995). Functional def. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Evangelism should be appropriately and holistically defined as the proclamation, challenge, and intentional actions – partnered with the Holy Spirit – that move someone closer to accepting Jesus and towards initiation into the Kingdom. This understanding is important because it involves both personal salvation and a Kingdom-orientation.  The activities can take on many forms – social activism, authentic witness through action, loving others, serving others, etc. – but actions alone do not define evangelism.  Therefore, communication with, or prior to, action – (words & works) – in partnership with the Holy Spirit is the most appropriate way to understand the practice of evangelism.  Within this understanding, we all have the capacity to participate in Evangelism.

Evangelism is embedded in all aspects of our ministry.  It, along with mission, is the foundational backbone behind all our practices and ministries.  Evangelism is understood as not only words, but also deeds, and signs. This is how Paul, Philip, John Wesley, and the Celtic Christians understood evangelism.

18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished[c] through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God.  (Romans 15:18) 

Evangelism is about Relationships

Conversion is a social phenomenon; it is often about accepting the faith of one’s friends.[vii] Therefore, developing relationships is more important than developing programs.

“Whom you would change, you must first love.”  Martin Luther King Jr.[viii]

It is not manipulative to build a friendship with the goal of sharing Christ:  it is loving – as long as we stay committed to our friends whether they respond to our appeal or not.[ix]  John Wesley believed in “belonging comes before believing” – evangelism is about helping people belong so that they can believe.[x]  We practice “inclusion” and understand conversion as a “centered-set” process.  In other words, people can become a part of our network and ministry if they are moving towards Jesus even if they have not fully accepted him as Lord and Savior.

Conversion is more than personal salvation:

Although the goal of personal salvation and going to heaven has been the primary motivating factor for conversion to Christianity over the past several hundred years, it was not Jesus’ primary objective.  In Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells his followers to “seek the kingdom of God above all else.” It is the kingdom of God that is taught to be of the greatest importance.  Christianity should be a religion that focuses on the “other” as much as the “self.”

Accepting Christ provides more than just eternal salvation; it allows new converts to be healed from addictions, transformed into Christ’s image, and to enter and participate in Christ’s Kingdom in the here and now.  The Kingdom of God is available in the here and now, but is yet to be consummated in its complete glory and won’t be until the return of Christ. The Kingdom began with the resurrection of Jesus Christ and has grown with every new convert since.   For this reason, many theologians refer to it as the “Already, but not Yet” Kingdom.  Participating in the Kingdom and allowing Christ to work through us to bring forth the Kingdom and bring others into it is a wondrous and glorifying honor for those that accept him.  Each time the gospel is heard and someone is converted, they not only receive eternal salvation and a personal relationship with Christ, they also become members within the Kingdom and get to partake in being Christ’s hands and feet towards God’s healing of the world.

Authentic conversion leads to transformation and good works:

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

We believe, as James describes, that authentic conversion achieved through the Holy Spirit regenerating and transforming a person’s heart will lead to personal change, transformation, and good works flowing freely like a spring of water.  Salvation has nothing to do with works and is only achieved by belief in Christ and the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8 – 9).  However, once we have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, our lives will demonstrate that we are new creations through good works and a changed life.  Professed faith without works is dead because it reveals a heart that has not been truly transformed by God – a heart that still does not know Jesus.  We discuss this with others because we love them and want them to be sure of their salvation and conversion.

The “Priesthood of all Believers”:

Understanding that the Holy Spirit is in each regenerate follower of Christ, new converts will be encouraged to lead groups, evangelize, teach, and even baptize those they lead to Christ.  We accept Jesus as our mediator and High Priest between us and God the Father.

“You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ … But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:5-9).

This belief and these practices are essential in propagating and multiplying small groups and catalyzing the Kingdom of God – especially in downtrodden neighborhoods.   Acceptance of this belief does not mean that we discredit or disrespect the ministers, priests, and pastors that have dedicated their lives to Christ, their congregations, and their denominations – to the contrary, we look to learn from them and their experiences.  Furthermore, this does not predispose us to oppose higher education as the founder of the ministry, Todd Warner, is a Master’s Degree graduate in Evangelism and Leadership from Wheaton College and we plan to provide financial assistance towards college scholarships in the Christian field for chosen young leaders in our movement in the coming years.

Scripture is Inerrant, Translation is Not

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:1-17)

“The very nature of inspiration renders the Bible infallible, which means that it cannot deceive us. It is inerrant in that it is not false, mistaken, or defective”.[xi]

For most practical purposes, then, the current published scholarly texts of the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament are the same as the original manuscripts. Thus, when we say that the original manuscripts were inerrant, we are also implying that over 99 percent of the words in our present manuscripts are also inerrant, for they are exact copies of the originals.[xii]

Therefore, we believe the Bible to be the Word of God and inerrant.  Reading and hearing scripture is absolutely essential – scripture is the “Seed of God” which leads to belief and acceptance of Christ, salvation, and transformation.

However, we realize that “Only God has a God’s eye view.”  We are not God.  Therefore, we hold our translation and understanding of controversial doctrines loosely.  We realize that someone can read a verse one hundred times, but that God may reveal a new truth to that person on the 101st time.  We take on the posture of “continual learners.”  We are a seed-planting (scripture planting) ministry, so we realize the importance of interpreting scripture to the absolute best of our abilities.  For this reason, we critically analyze, diligently study, and discuss scripture.   We accept that interpretation includes distinguishing between what statements are metaphorical and which are literally true.  We believe that scripture is best understood and taken most literally when interpreted “through the eyes of the writer.”  We do not condemn or judge those that hold to more literal, conservative, or dispensational interpretive beliefs.

[i] Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, ReJesus (Peabody, MA:  Hendrickson,  2009)  p. 43

[ii] Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch,  The Faith of Leap  (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker,  2011)  p. 21

[iii] Neil Cole,  Church3.0  (San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass, 2010)  p. 58-59

[iv] Steve Addison,  Movements That Change The World  (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press,  2011)  p. 113

[v] Neil Cole,  Church3.0  (San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass, 2010) p. 139

[vi] Neil Cole,  Church3.0  (San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass, 2010)  p. 142

[vii]Steve Addison,  Movements That Change The World  (Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press,  2011)  p. 75

[viii] Harold Myra and Marshall Shelley,  The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 2005)  p. 315

[ix] Rick Richardson, Evangelism Outside of the Box:  New Ways To Help People Experience The Good News  (Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity Press, 2000)  p. 27

[x] Rick Richardson, Evangelism Outside of the Box:  New Ways To Help People Experience The Good News  (Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity Press, 2000)  p. 54

[xi] Harold Lindsell,  The Battle for the Bible (Zondervan, 1978) p. 31

[xii] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine (LeicesterInter-Varsity Press, 1994)  p. 90