Key Features

Key Features

WORD: A Community shaped by the Word of God

As P.T. Forsyth rightly warned, “If we are not going to use our Bible, it is of no use building our churches.”[1] Ministry must be founded on Scripture. The Bible itself gives us a description and prescription for what the church should be and do. Our desire is to shape the Park City community of faith around the Word. We believe that the Bible contains everything that we need for life and godliness. William Still says, “The answer to every problem, even the ones that have no full and final earthly solution, is in the Word. Pin your faith to that. Let the Word solve or settle all.”[2] Further, ministers are called to preach the whole counsel of God. One of the primary tasks of eldership is the ability and desire to teach the Word. So, at Park City, we are shaping our ministry around the priorities that the Scriptures present to us.

The centrality of the Word will be a key feature in our gatherings. “At the heart of corporate worship is the ministry of the Word. Preaching should be expository and Christ-centered.”[3] This ministry of the word has a tremendous affect on the people of God. “By interpreting properly and following inspired Scripture—obeying its commands, trusting its promises, heeding its warnings, acting on its instructions, following its wisdom—Christians will be sufficiently prepared to please God in whatever he requires of them.”[4]

It is also noteworthy to consider that revival occurs when the Word is restored to a place of prominence in the community of faith. This principle is true in Scripture (see Josiah’s reform in 2 Kings 22), its also true in revivals found throughout church history[5], and its been true in my own personal experience.

GOSPEL: Being a Gospel-Centered People

Park City desires to be a gospel-centered church. This means that the gospel is explicitly explained, taught, and modeled. The gospel has to be the central content of our messages, it has to be the motivation for our obedience, the relief from our shortcomings, the dynamic that restores and maintains our relationships, and the hope to which we constantly cling. In other words, the gospel is central to everything we do. But, in order to rescue the term from obscurity, let’s carefully define what we mean. The gospel is the historic news that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to live the life we should have lived, to die the death that we deserved, to offer forgiveness and reconciliation to God Himself, and to empower us to live by faith in him while we wait for the blessed hope of his return. We believe that the gospel of God’s grace, in his Son Jesus, is the central message of the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). That doesn’t mean that every sermon and every service is identical. We firmly believe the gospel is incredibly rich and inexhaustible. As Jason Helopoulos has said to pastors, “Don’t rob the gospel of its multifaceted application and complexity… The Scriptures do not repeat one line over and over again.”[6] If we build our ministry on the gospel, we will be furnished with content that will never run out and will never grow old.

Furthermore, we want the character of our church to embody gospel culture. As Ray Ortlund compellingly argues, the gospel should show up not only in our doctrinal statement and preaching, but also in the very culture of our community. “Gospel-centered churches are living proof that the good news is true, that Jesus is not a theory but is real….[A gospel-centered church] becomes a surprising new kind of community where sinners and sufferers come alive because the Lord is there, giving himself freely to the desperate and underserving.”[7] I will willingly spend my life to serve this kind of church.

MISSION: Being on Mission with God

Park City prescribes to an understanding of church-life that invites every member into the mission of God. “We need to recapture the sense that gospel ministry is not something done by the pastors with the support of ordinary Christians but something done by ordinary Christians with the help of pastors.”[8] So we like to say, “Every member a minister, every member on mission.” We are adopting a posture of mission because we believe this is what the Church is called to be and do. Jesus himself says, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). Furthermore, ordinary believers are called to function as ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-20). That means that we go everywhere on behalf of God and as spokes-men and women for the King.  We have to continue to press this truth home because the default of most Christians is to view the pastors as the “real ministers”, whereas the Bible calls every believer into some form of ministry. John Stott writes:

We do a great disservice to the church whenever we refer to the pastorate as “the” ministry. For if we use the definite article, we give the impression that we think the pastorate is the only ministry there is. I repented of this decades ago and invite my readers to join me in penitence today.[9]

We, like Stott, want to avoid language that makes it sound like ministry is something that happens in a building by our staff. Furthermore, our ministry structures will reinforce this truth that every believer is called to exercise their spiritual gifts in ministry for the good of the church community and consequently the world. 

As a new church plant, it is critical that our people grasp this concept. The ministry is too grand and too varied for only a handful of people to pull it off. We need every individual member on board acting as a missionary to our neighborhoods.

COMMUNITY: Life together On Mission

The life of the church will be experienced most prominently in our Small Groups. These community groups meet in various neighborhoods around the area. We believe that this is the most attractive feature of the church. In fact, Francis Schaeffer calls these communities “the apologetic of the gospel.”[10] A community that is shaped by the gospel is a compelling argument for the truth. We want unbelievers to have a hard time finding fault with the claims of Christianity because the community life of our church is so beautiful. If the gospel shapes our community groups, I believe it is possible. Tim Chester and Steve Timmis write; “We need to be communities of love. And we need to be seen to be communities of love. People need to encounter the church as a network of relationships rather than a meeting you attend or a place you enter.”[11] Our efforts and strategy aim to help people easily move toward experiencing this kind of missional community.

EVANGELISM: Proclaiming the good news

Park City believes that in order to effectively become an evangelistic church that is reaching the area, we must enlist every member in the activity of sharing the faith. We want to be good news people. We long for an evangelistic culture within our church. We recognize that our community groups are going to be key to our success. “People are often attracted to the Christian community before they are attracted to the Christian message.”[12] As John Stott has said, “The church is supposed to be God’s new society, the living embodiment of the gospel, a sign of the kingdom of God, a demonstration of what human community looks like when it comes under his gracious rule.”[13] So, in a strategic move, we are outsourcing the majority of our evangelism. We will certainly hold evangelistic events and invite the community to participate, but our normal strategy will be teaching our people how to be good news people. Chester and Timmis comment: “It is not simply that ordinary Christians live good lives that enable them to invite their friends to evangelistic events. Our lives are the evangelistic events.”[14] We will train and equip every member to share their lives and to share the gospel. We will craft multiple series on evangelism, train our people well, and obtain and distribute resources to help every member feel equipped to present the gospel.

DISCIPLESHIP: Helping each other mature in Christ 

At Park City we desire to engage every person into the process of life-on-life discipleship. Randy Pope offers a loaded statement on what we mean by discipleship: “Life-on-life missional discipleship is laboring in the lives of a few with the intention of imparting one’s life, the gospel, and God’s word in such a way as to see them become mature and equipped followers of Christ, committed to doing the same in the lives of others.”[15] I believe this is the desire of God for His people. Mark Dever once quipped, “If you call yourself a Christian but you’re not making disciples, I don’t know what you mean.”[16] He states it so provocatively because he believes (and we agree!) that the Bible presents disciple-making as the normal activity of every Christian. At Park City we’re asking that every member is in the process of being discipled and is involved in making disciples. Our structures will reinforce this value. Much of our leadership training and evaluation will be focused on disciple making. The question that we will constantly ask is: Are we making more and better disciples of Jesus? Dr. Phil Sell says that when it comes to church assessment, “measuring what you can do is irrelevant, measuring what your people do is what counts.”[17]

WORSHIP: God-centered gatherings and God-glorifying lives

To this point, it may sound like we are uninterested in a weekly gathering. That simply is not the case. We value the time when we gather as a church family to open the Word together, to sing truth together, to enjoy fellowship, and to partake in the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper. We believe that this should be a priority of every member and we will strategize to see to it that our weekly gathering and our community groups are intentionally tied together. We believe that this gathering is crucial for the health of the church. First, it is where the Word is made clear. Mark Dever writes, “If you establish the priority of the Word, then you have in place the single most important aspect of the church’s life, and growing health is virtually assured, because God has decided to act by his Spirit through his Word.”[18] Through the expositional teaching of God’s Word we will seek to train our people to live distinctly Christian lives. Second, worshiping God together with other believers is a transformative experience. We will thoughtfully order our services in a way that is simplified, replicable, and able to help our people worship God in every season of life. Third, our gatherings will present us with opportunities to make fresh applications of the gospel as we corporately confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. Fourth, baptisms and regular participation in the Lord’s Supper will serve as constant reminders and encouragement that the gospel is the power of God to save sinners and transform lives.

OUTREACH: Living in and Serving the World

Park City desires to serve the community and the world. We will partner with strategic organizations to help us accomplish this goal. For a list of our local partners in ministry, please see the partners page.

We also enlist our groups to serve. Each semester, we offer our groups a list of serving opportunities. Furthermore, we financially assist groups in their outreach efforts.

MULTIPLY: A Movement of Multiplication

Park City desires to be a part of a multiplication movement. We will aim to multiply disciples, ministries, community groups, campuses, and churches. According to “The State of Church Planting in the U.S.” report, “Churches who are committed to multiplication seem to experience a consistent increase in attendance. This commitment to multiplication is an externally focused one where churches are committed to planting other churches. In other words, the commitment to be a church planting church seems to result in higher attendance year over year.”[19] This can be observed in our budget. We designate a portion of our resources to help other churches and pastors. We believe that the kingdom is advancing in the world and we want to pray for the work of God to increase in all places.

[1] As quoted by Allison. P.114

[2] Still. The Work of the Pastor. 46-47.

[3] The Gospel Coalition Confessional Statement.

[4] Allison. Sojourners and Strangers. P. 113

[5] Kent Hughes recounts that one key to revival is when “the emphasis on the Word of God as the center of worship is restored”. See The Pastor’s Handbook. P. 41

[6] The New Pastor’s Handbook. 167.

[7] Ray Ortlund, Jr. The Gospel. 65, 83

[8] Everyday Mission. 96.

[9] Living Church. 74.

[10] As quoted by Keller. Center Church. 31

[11] Total Church. 59.

[12] Everyday Church. 56

[13] John Stott. The Living Church. 66

[14] Everyday Church. 89

[15] Randy Pope. Insourcing. 106.

[16] Dever. TGC 2011.

[17] Phil Sell. “Personal Assessment Course.” TEDS Madison Extension Site. Spring 2016

[18] Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Third Edition. 43.

[19] The State of Church Planting in the U.S. Lifeway Research.