Why We're here

We hope this site serves as a helpful introduction to the various ministries of Emmanuel. But you may want to know how and why those pieces fit together. While there are many ways a church can describe their ministries, we see Emmanuel like a revolving wheel, with a hub, a rim and spokes.

The Spokes: the ministries of Emmanuel

The spokes of a wheel connect the hub to the rim. The paths of a Christian’s growth are like spokes, connected to the center and leading outwards. That connection is critical: instead of our outwardly trying to conform to God’s ways in our own strength, God’s Spirit lives in his followers, remaking us from the inside out. By grace, we are living out the new life that God has put within us.

What does that new life look like? What does God call us to do as a Church? The Bible includes many descriptions, but it’s particularly helpful to go back to the beginning, to our original design. In the book of Genesis, we see that we are created for three things, sometimes called the creation mandates. First, we are made to know God, or to “walk with God” as Genesis puts it. Second, we are told to be “fruitful and multiply,” which means we are to grow community by being knitted together through extended families and the broader social fabric. Third, to “have dominion” over the earth means we are to follow Christ in all aspects of life, through the wise stewardship of our time, treasure and talents. This is what we are made for and where we will find our deepest joy: to know God, grow community, and follow Christ.

Each mandate is expressed at Emmanuel in ways that make our church both a home and a mission. Knowing God is expressed in our worship on Sundays and throughout the week, and through our outreach, by introducing others to a relationship with God. Growing community is expressed in our congregational fellowship, as well as our mercy and justice ministries that help restore broken relationships. Following Christ is expressed in our equipping ministries of teaching and discipleship, as well as through the stewardship of our God-given gifts, including our vocations. The relationship of our six ministry callings can be seen in the following diagram:

The Hub: the gospel

A hub is the center that a wheel revolves around, and that holds all the parts together. For Emmanuel, that center is the gospel. The gospel is the good news of what Christ has done for us: he redeemed us from our insatiable need to be in the center of our lives, through our self-assertion, self-reliance and self-justification. A life that revolves around itself leads to alienation from God and others. But Jesus offers us freedom, not because of our goodness or merit, but simply out of love. To be gospel-centered means our lives now revolve around the grace of Christ, defining everything we do and holding all the parts together.The gospel is the good news of what God has done for us—both in coming to faith in the first place and in every moment thereafter. This gospel alone has the power to transform individuals, relationships, and whole communities. And in a world of ungrace, what will stand out is our being captivated by God’s gracious work in all aspects of our lives. In fact, the only thing our church has to offer the world that it can find nowhere else is grace.

The Rim: complete in Christ

At the cross, Jesus offered his life for ours, giving us his life in exchange. Not only were our sins put on Christ, but Christ’s goodness was also put on us. One result of that exchange is now God the Father sees us with the full affection he has for his perfect Son, Jesus. All of Christ’s goodness has been credited to his followers. And because we received it by grace, we can never lose it. That means our position is secured, forever. Like the rim of a wheel, we are seen as fully formed and complete in Christ.

Practical Implications

Looking at the ministries of Emmanuel this way helps us be more intentional as individuals and a church, in several ways.

First, we want everything we do to be touched by the gospel as our primary motivation. If it doesn’t connect to grace, we won’t be part of it.

Second, while we will have particular passions and gifts, we are also designed to be “well-rounded” and complete. We will seek to grow in all six ministry callings as a church, as well as help individuals assess and develop these ministries in their own lives.

Third, instead of seeing the Christian life as linear or sequential, we will return to these areas repeatedly, to develop and nourish them. To do that, Emmanuel will have a year-long emphasis on either knowing God, growing community or following Christ. This revolving emphasis will include both in-depth teaching and practical opportunities. In a transient area like Arlington, this three-year rotation will help ensure the intentional growth and development of our members, even if they are in the area for a limited time.