Everything we do as Christians, whether ministering to the poor, evangelizing the lost, engaging with the culture with a view to influencing it with biblical values, praying for the sick, encouraging one another and holding one another accountable, exercising spiritual gifts, etc., must be grounded in and flow out of our relationship with God.
Knowing our great Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and thereby growing in progressive conformity to the image of Christ, is the source, fountain, and reservoir out of which all other ministry flows. And the primary resource made available to us by which we can experience this multi-faceted spiritual growth is the Scriptures, made known and applied to our hearts by the power and anointing of the Spirit (see especially Romans 10:17; 15:4; 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Timothy 4:6; 1 Peter 1:23,25; 2:2; Hebrews 4:12; Psalms 19 and 119). Therefore, Gatlin will focus energetically on building into the lives of God’s people the understanding and joy of who God is as revealed in the face of Jesus Christ and what he has done in the Gospel for broken and rebellious sinners. We will focus energetically on “building up the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:12ff.).
We embrace Paul’s aim as our own: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28).
We take very seriously Paul’s counsel to Timothy and make it our own: “Command and teach these things. . . . devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. . . . Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:11, 13, 16; also 1 Tim. 6:2b-3, 20; 2 Tim. 1:13-14; 2:2; 4:2-3).
We must also never lose sight of the fact that it is in the context of relationship, accountability and mutual encouragement with other believers that we more clearly see the love of God in Christ and grow in our delight in him. As we are stretched to go outward and engage the world around us with the Gospel of Christ we discover the importance of doing it in community as well as for the purpose of bringing others into the experience of knowing and worshipping God.
All this is simply to say that we view one’s personal relationship with God (as nurtured by the Scriptures, empowered by the Spirit, strengthened by the spiritual disciplines, and expressed in worship in its many forms) as foundational to a healthy, Christ-honoring life in community with other believers and a passionate and persevering missional commitment as we seek to bring others into the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus.