Our Core Values
Our Mission: Worship God, Love One Another, Serve the World.
We are committed to making disciples who make disciples. We believe that every believer is gifted, called, and has a unique purpose in God’s kingdom. Our mission is to make disciples by inviting and equipping every believer to embody at least four marks of discipleship: worship, connect, serve, and give.
Worship is at the very heart of who we are as God’s people in the world. It is the one things that Christians know for sure is present on both sides of the grave. The Church’s task in between Jesus’ first and second coming is to praise God, witness to God’s mighty acts of salvation, and invite the world to join in the heavenly chorus that acknowledges one God who is “over all, through all, and in all” (Ephesians 4:6). Worship is something we do together as the Body of Christ. It is also something that should give shape and form to everything we do every day of the week. At Swansboro UMC, we strive for all our worship services to be engaging and participatory as we come together fully expecting to be renewed and changed by an encounter with the living God.
We were created for community. We are social beings. Even the most introverted person in the world desires some form of occasional human contact and connection. Yet we live in a world with a very strong and unrelenting focus on individualism. “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps,” we hear. “Asking for help is a sign of weakness,” we are often led to believe. The cultural forces around us are desperate to convince us that we are self-made, self-sufficient, and self-actuated. In such an environment, it is easy for life to move toward disconnection, isolation, and alienation – all of which are part of the sour fruit that comes from worship of the unholy trinity: me, myself, and I. The result is that we too often forget a very simple and straightforward truth – We need each other.
Why connect? Because that is what Jesus did. Because that is what the early church did as well. Since the earliest gatherings of Christians, believers came together and “devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42) The early church spent plenty of time in the temple, but they carved out regular time with the place and space to “break bread from house to house and eat with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.” (Acts 2:46-47) That means, at the very least, that the early Christians understood the importance of spiritual friendships and connections that took place on a day to day basis in other small groups throughout the week in addition to the larger gatherings that took place in the temple and on the Lord’s Day. Swansboro UMC also understand the importance of spiritual friendships and small groups where people can make connections as we seek to grow together in faith, love and mutual accountability.
Churches are most often judged by their “seating capacity.” How many people are sitting in the pews every week? How many chairs must be set up for Sunday worship? The problem is that too much focus on “seating capacity” can distract the Church from her core mission and purpose. Jesus did not come to earth, die on the cross and rise again on the third day only so the rest of us could sit in comfortable seats once a week. We were created for more. We are called for a greater purpose. We have been given gifts and graces that God desires for every Christian to discern, discover, and deploy – in our lives, our homes, our community, and our world. Swansboro UMC strives to come alongside every believer helping them to discover their God given purpose so that they might find ways to serve God and their neighbors in need.
Human beings have been created in the image of our giving God (Genesis 1:27). That means that when we are intentional about finding ways to cultivate greater generosity in our lives we are seeking to grow in the very image and likeness of the God who created us. Put simply, we were created to give. In the Gospel of John, Jesus uses the image of “living water” to describe himself to the woman in Samaria (John 4:10). “Living” water literally means “running” water. It is water that is moving and alive, not stagnant and contaminated. Stagnant water poses great health risks. It can quickly become a breeding ground for many kinds of bacteria, parasites, and mosquitoes that carry diseases harmful and potentially deadly to human beings.
The metaphor describes the spiritual life well. All that we have and all that we are is gift from God. As Jesus said to his twelve disciples: “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8 KJV). When we only receive and fail to be channels of living water, grace, love, and generosity – spiritual stagnation is the result. A stagnant spiritual life is one that poses great risk to our relationship with God and with others. Why give? We don’t give to others or to the church because they need it, though that may well be the case. We give so that we can grow more fully into the likeness of Christ, our Lord, our Savior, and the Giver of Life.