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who we're trying to be

In May of 2016 a team of us from Salem began a process of seeking the Lord for His vision for our church. After over a year of praying, fasting, searching Scripture, having conversations, and listening to God, we discerned what He wants Salem to be:
We long to be a beckoning lantern
by exalting and listening
to Jesus, the Living Word, and
to Scripture, the written Word
  • The first word is "we." Not "I", not "you", but "we." The bible talks a lot about the importance of unity within the church and the word "we" captures the Lord's heart for us to be united as we pursue what He has for us. 
long to be:
  • We do not believe that we are what God wants us to be yet. The phrase "we long to be" is a future-looking phrase because vision by it's very nature is future-looking. What follows is what we want to become in the future. 
a beckoning lantern:
  • At the core of our identity is that God wants us to be a beckoning lantern.
  • In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus tells his disciples "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." This is central to the identity of every church and every Christian.
  • As a light we are different than the dark world we live in but we also influence that world. Light needs to come into contact with darkness to be effective. Our desire is not to spend all our time in the four walls of our church building but to be present in the middle of the darkness and brokenness and problems and imperfections of our community and our world.
  • We are a light on a hill and we shine into the darkness of the valley.
  • As we sought to discern what kind of light we are to be, the idea of a lantern very clearly emerged.
  • Light exists to illuminate something else and as a lantern we're not trying to point to ourselves; rather, we are trying to point to Jesus. He is the true light of the world (John 8:12) and we want to shine him forth as a faithful lantern.
  • Why do we long to be a beckoning lantern? Because when you beckon to someone, you encourage them to come nearer or follow. We don't want to sit back and wait for people to come to us; we want to beckon for them to come and see what we have seen - the grace, forgiveness, freedom, community, purpose, and life that is found in Christ alone.
  • We believe a beckoning lantern captures the heart of Jesus in Matthew 5 and many other places - to be a light that is different than the world but at the same time influences that world. 
To hear a sermon about our call to be a beckoning lantern, click HERE
by exalting and listening to Jesus, the Living Word:
  • How will we be the beckoning lantern that God is calling us to be? First, we will be a beckoning lantern by exalting and listening to Jesus.
  • When we talk about exalting Jesus we are talking about holding him in very high regard. Scripture describes Jesus as being exalted at the right hand of God after his resurrection (Acts 2:33, 5:31, Philippians 2:9) so we simply desire to give him what he's due.
  • We raise him to the highest height, we make much of his name, we praise him for who he is and what he has done, and we hold him in the highest regard.
  • We worship Jesus with our songs, we talk about Jesus a lot, we constantly remind ourselves of the gospel - that Jesus died for our sins and rose again so that we can be right with God, we pray in Jesus' name, we don't take the Lord's name in vain, and we listen to what Jesus says. 
  • If we truly exalt Jesus, we will listen to him, as individuals and as a church.
  • Jesus is the Living Word of God (John 1:1) so we are called to listen to what he teaches, what he commands, and the stories he tells. We are also called to look at his life.
  • In John 12:32 Jesus says "And I, when I am lifted up (exalted) from the earth, will draw all people to myself." We believe that as we exalt and listen to Jesus his beauty will attract people, just as flies and moths and beetles are attracted to light. 
To hear a sermon about our call to exalt and listen to Jesus, the Living Word, click HERE
and (by exalting and listening) to Scripture, the written Word:
  • The second way that we will be the beckoning lantern God is calling us to be is by exalting and listening to Scripture, the written Word.
  • We don't exalt Scripture in the sense of worshiping it; we exalt Scripture in the sense that we hold it in high regard. And we hold it in high regard because Scripture is the very Word of God - it's what God has spoken to humanity and it's how God, through His Spirit, has chosen to reveal Himself to us. 2 Timothy 3:16 says "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness..." 
  • We do not worship Scripture but we do worship the God that is revealed to us in Scripture and hold Scripture in high regard.
  • Again, when you hold something in high regard, you tend to listen to what it says.
  • We look at the parable of the sower in Luke 8:4-18 and realize that there is a great difference between hearing and listening. In that parable, three groups of people just hear the word but one group (the good soil) actually listens. 
  • We desire to be good soil that listens to Scripture, meaning that we order our lives (as individuals and a church) around what it tells us to do.
  • God's word is our ultimate rule of faith, meaning it gets to tell us what to believe, and our ultimate rule of practice, meaning it gets to tell us how to live and how we "do church." 
  • Truly listening to the word of God means that we listen to everything that's in the bible, not just the things that make us feel good about ourselves. 
  • The refrain of the book of Acts (6:7, 12:24, 19:20) is that the WORD OF GOD continued to advance and spread. It wasn’t the message of the disciples, it was the message of God.
  • That is our goal at Salem—to proclaim the word of God so that the gospel might spread to those around us.
To hear a sermon about our call to exalt and listen to Scripture, the written Word, click HERE
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