We seek to glorify God through praise, obedience to God’s word and Spirit-filled living as we support one another, and reach out to our communities and to the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We seek to be...
We desire to keep the cross central in our teaching and in the way we live our lives...
We believe that the cross must be central to all that we do. The cross should be preached in our public ministry and proclaimed in our personal witness, whatever the cost.
The Lord’s Supper is a constant reminder to us of what Jesus has done to secure our salvation and points us forward to our ultimate goal of perfect communion with Him in glory. We want this to motivate our living so that we recognise the centrality of the cross in all that we are and all that we do. The cross is the basis of our relationship with God and our relationships with one another - because it is the basis of our relationships it should also shape our relationships.
Taking up our cross expresses a personal and individual commitment of obedience to the Lord. This life of discipleship means following Jesus and involves:-
- denying ourselves (this includes putting Christ first, others second, ourselves last), and
- taking up our cross (this involves sacrificial living and facing persecution in the world).
Jesus provides the supreme example of this. None of us is likely to be required to take up our cross literally, but obedience to the will of God for us will be marked by denying ourselves. We see cross centred living as being evident in our dealings with one another; this means seeking the good of others above our own good. This is a call to humility and a putting to death of pride. It will mean both asking for forgiveness where we know that we have wronged somebody and forgiving those who wrong us.
We desire to be dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit in every area of our lives...
We believe that a Spirit Filled Community is one which recognises the dual importance of the Word of God, which is “... the sword of the Spirit ...” (Eph 6:17), and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within the believer. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit cannot be separated.
We believe that the Holy Spirit is given to us by the Lord Jesus as one who comes alongside us. He is described as our paraclete (Greek) – that is our comforter (in the sense of strengthener, counsellor, helper, supporter, advisor, advocate, ally, senior friend) sent by the God the Father and by Jesus to represent the Lord Jesus in our lives as individuals and as a church. We believe that we are as dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit in our individual and corporate life as were the first disciples.
In the words of J I Packer in his book entitled ‘Keep in Step with the Spirit’; p.55:-
The essence of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, at this or at any time in the Christian era is to mediate the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ ...J I Packer in Keep in Step with the Spirit
We believe that this is very important because it is so easy for us to see the Holy Spirit simply as the One who meets our personal needs. But, in fact, the Holy Spirit was given to the first disciples in His place after His ascension, as promised by Jesus (Jn 14:15-20). Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come to them - He would be alive in them through the presence of the Holy Spirit in them. This is a most wonderful promise that is true of every Christian.
We believe that our Christian lives are powerless without the Holy Spirit, in fact we cannot even be Jesus’ disciples unless we have been quickened by and are filled with the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9). It is the Holy Spirit who brings conviction to us and leads us to Christ and who brings us to repentance. The Holy Spirit works in us and through us so that we will live our lives to the glory of God. The Holy Spirit empowers us for witness (Acts 1:8). Without the Holy Spirit we can do none of these things. We cannot truly worship God, we cannot honour Him, we cannot desire Him, we cannot serve Him, we cannot pray to Him. We may try to do all of these things but we will succeed in none of them.
There are many New Testament passages that refer to the Holy Spirit. He is a Person; the third Person of the Trinity in fact. The following is a summary of the many aspects of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer:
- He is the means by which Christ dwells in our hearts (Jn 14:17-20; Rom 8:9-11; I Cor 3:16)
- He comes alongside us as Comforter (strengthener, counsellor, helper, supporter, advisor, advocate, ally, senior friend) (Jn 14:16)
- He convicts us of sin (Jn 16:8-11; I Thess 1:5)
- He glorifies Jesus (Jn 16:14)
- He is an internal witness and assurance to our hearts (Rom 8:14-17; Gal 4:4; I Jn 3:24; 4:13; 5:6)
- He is the revealer of truth to us (Jn 14:17, 26; 16:13; I Cor 2:13; I Jn 2:27)
- He guides and directs us (Acts 13:2, 4; 16:6-7)
- He enables us to please Jesus and bear fruit (Rom 8:5-11; II Cor 3:17-18; Gal 5:16, 22-23, 25; 6:8; II Thess 2:13)
- He helps us to pray (Rom 8:26-27; I Cor 14:13-15)
- He enables us to witness to Jesus (Acts 1:8; 4:31)
- He empowers us for service ( Acts 1:8; 4:31)
- He gifts us for service (I Cor 12:4-11; 14:1-12, 26-39)
This demonstrates the many faceted work of the Holy Spirit in our lives without whom we cannot live to please God. We believe that the New Testament encourages us to experience more of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
We desire to grow in our knowledge and experience of the Lord by our teaching and study of God’s Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit...
We believe that teaching God’s Word is a fundamental component of the Church’s ministry in any age. Lifelong learning is vital for healthy discipleship.
A Learning Community is a Bible-centred community which recognises both the importance of the Word of God, which is “... the sword of the Spirit ...” (Eph 6:17), and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within the believer. The Scriptures and the Holy Spirit should not be separated – the Holy Spirit is the source of and gives power to the Word.
The Scriptures are not an end in themselves (Jn 5:39-40).The object of effective teaching is that sinners will be brought to faith in Christ and that God’s people will grow to become more Christ-like disciples of the Lord Jesus. To that end teaching, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, is part of a learning process that leads to transformed lives and relationships (Matt 28:19-20). Unless this is happening, teaching is not effective.
Teaching and learning takes many forms. Jesus taught great crowds, but also taught small groups and individuals. The early Christians met in their homes as well as the Temple and would have received instruction in this context. The public proclamation of God’s Word is of primary importance but teaching and learning take place in other contexts too (e.g. small groups, informally on a one to one basis, as well as through personal prayerful Bible study).
We aspire in our teaching and discipleship to seek to meet the needs of people at all levels and stages of age, experience and individual capacity, being sensitive to the needs of all those we teach. Teaching involves being an example to those we teach (I Thess 2:7-9), as servants of God and servants of those to whom we minister.
The whole counsel of God should be taught in a way that helps people to think and live biblically. Our primary conviction is that, as God’s word is faithfully expounded, God’s Spirit addresses the lives and needs of us all. We believe that teaching is carried out in a variety of forms including systematic expository preaching, addressing specific doctrines, contemporary issues and topics and giving overviews of Biblical teaching. People need to be equipped to apply the teaching of the Bible to the whole of life.
Our teaching and learning should equip us and free us to be effective in our daily service to God at all times and in all situations.
We desire to reveal Christ in our lives as we demonstrate love and care for others...
Demonstrable care and compassion flows from an understanding of what it means to be a cross-centred community. It flows from our fellowship with God and as a response to what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.
Throughout the Bible, in the Old Testament and the New Testament, we have examples of God care for His own people and for those outside of the community of His people.
The greatest example of God’s care for His people is the gift of His own dear Son who He did not spare but gave Him freely as an atoning substitute for our sins.
Jesus Himself displayed a loving and caring attitude in His teaching and His living.
As Christ’s body on earth, His church, as His body, is His representative by His love and care is communicated within the church and into the community in which the church is situated.
Care is a manifestation of grace and is a culture not a commodity. To care in a godly way requires godly power. To demonstrate care to those close to us is not difficult. To do so to those we find difficult, to the unlovely and to our enemies is more demanding; but it is godlike.
We want our caring to have both an internal and an external focus:-
- Internally - represented by our caring for one another
- Externally - represented by our active concern for the needs of our community
We want Jesus to be our example and our motivation for expressing our care towards one another.
Care has to be multi-layered and part of body ministry. It has an organised component and an informal component.
We desire, through prayer, to express our total dependence on our Father in heaven in everything...
We believe that prayer is an outward expression of our dependence on God and that without prayer we are spiritually impotent. We believe that prayer links us to the only source of power – it is the enabler. We believe that the example of Jesus in prayer convinces us of the necessity of this in our own lives.
We believe that prayer is recognition that Jesus Christ is Lord and we reflect our total submission to Him when we pray. We believe that prayer is a true indicator of our relationship with the Lord.
We believe that prayer is as important for our corporate life as it is for our individual lives. We believe that there is an important dynamic in corporate prayer that makes a difference to our corporate life and contributes to our fellowship together and our caring for one another.
We therefore want prayer to be at the heart of the community life of the church. We do so in a variety of ways: in our public services; in our times together mid-week at Church Night and in our Home Groups; in the organised group at lunchtime on Fridays; in prayer triplets and in a variety of other contexts when we meet together as the community of believers.
We desire to give praise to God in thanksgiving and by the way we live...
We believe that a praising community is one that expresses thanksgiving to God for all that he has done for us. It is the expression of glad hearts that overflow with thanksgiving and worship.
We believe that we are commanded to praise. It is something which we do that makes the church distinctive in the world, it shows non-believers something of God and it is primarily for the glory of God.
We want this to be expressed in our corporate life and in our individual living:-
- In our corporate life in our expression of praise and worship.
- In our individual living in lives offered in service in everything that we do.
We express our praise to God in a variety of ways – in our singing, our praying, our conversations both with fellow believers and with those who are not believers where we seek to spread the fame of our wonderful Saviour and encourage one another to do the same. We express praise to God when we live according to his word and by the way we treat one another.
We praise God by bringing glory to the name of Jesus through our fruit-bearing which Jesus describes in terms being obedient to his commands and loving one another as he has loved us (Jn 15:9-17).
We desire to demonstrate Christ by our lives and words...
As God’s people we are called to have a passion for witnessing to the Gospel of Christ in our communities. The first century church was given the commission to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19) and to be witnesses commencing in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, as well as to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). As they obeyed this command the church grew under the power of the Holy Spirit.
At Widcombe we see this as a commission to 21st century disciples.
- We want to see ourselves first of all as disciples of Jesus, individually wherever God has placed us – our work, home, neighbourhood, classroom, lecture room, etc. We want to see these places as our ‘front line’ and we want to see ourselves as the ‘Scattered Church’ in these places. As the ‘Gathered Church’ we want to equip, support and encourage one another to be effective disciples for Jesus on our ‘front lines’.
- We also want to work together as the ‘Gathered Church’ to encourage one another to invite our friends, colleagues and family members to events when we are together. We also want to reach out into the immediate community in which God has placed us as the ‘Gathered Church’ to witness to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We want to create opportunities for every member of our community to share suggestions of ways in which we can reach out effectively with the gospel of Jesus and so fulfil the great commission of making disciples of Jesus who promised to be with us always, to the very end of the age.
We desire to equip, send and support disciples to serve the Lord in long-term mission at home and abroad...
For more details please see Global Mission.