About Us

Greetings! We are Josh and Karlene Clark. As we continue on the adventure of nurturing a new church community in Springfield, we want to share our thoughts, ideas, and visions behind this dream and invite others to participate and add to what is beginning.

We began talking about church planting together almost before we were dating each other. Our dreams of what this church will look like have evolved over time. Here are some of the pieces of our church-planting puzzle. Our understanding of how they will all fit together changes as our community changes. At times we wonder if they all even belong to the same puzzle, and all the time we keep finding more pieces. Here is a glimpse at how some of the pieces are starting to come together. For more about who we are, read our Values page as well.

CCDA

We stumbled upon the Christian Community Development Association while doing research for a project on economic class reconciliation. Karlene was exploring class reconciliation with our church plant in mind, wondering how a church can engage in ministry among the poor successfully. The best of what she found came from people and churches who are part of the CCDA. We were fortunate to be able to attend their annual conference in 2007 in St. Louis and were deeply inspired and moved by what we experienced. We see the principles of the CCDA being large in our vision of this church, and we look forward to exploring as a young community how we can adapt them to our context. We are challenged to the core by the implications of CCD, but we see how much this incarnational understanding of the church reflects the life and ministry of Christ.

Emerging

The very word “emerging” is starting to carry a stigma that is causing even some of its most committed participants to cringe a bit. It’s easy to be cynical about some of what is going on in the Emerging church world, but like the word ‘evangelical,’ it is still useful even with its baggage, we believe. The Emerging piece of our vision means that we are in the conversation and find great value in some of what has taken place and continues to grow there. Among these ideas is a vision for ‘missional’ church – a buzzword that means the church does not exist for itself and must live its mission outside its own walls and in the world beyond its own self-formed boundaries. God is not contained within church walls – neither should be the Church! We also appreciate the Emerging emphasis on justice and peace, and the idea that Christians are called to work for these things in the world as citizens of the Kingdom of God . We embrace shaking up (some!) of our ecclesiology (understanding of church), theology (beliefs about God), eschatology (how the world ends) and soteriology (what it means to be saved). We appreciate the emphasis on Christian unity over theological differences that have historically divided Christians along denominational lines. We welcome the addition of ancient spiritual practices and ways of worshiping God that were lost to those of us who grew up evangelical in the late 20th century. We recognize that the world is changing (ala post-modernism, post-colonialism, post-foundationalism, post-reformation) and that the church must understand and engage those changes.

We do not endorse all that gets said and done in the name of being ‘emerging,’ and we are really cringing about the wars heating up between the fringes on either end of the conversation. We don’t want to get sucked into the negativity of being disaffected Christians who are oh-so-much more authentic and Christ-like than the churches we come from.  But we still find great hope for the future of the Church in the ‘Emerging Conversation.’

Progressive AND Evangelical

It is possible to care about individual souls and societal systems at the same time. It is possible to give a fish, teach fishing lessons, and demand just access from the pond owner. We believe in Jesus Christ and the power of the gospel to change lives. We rejoice that we worship one who is both savior of the world and intimate friend. We are evangelical because we believe that knowing Jesus and entering into a life of faith in Christ is both the beginning of transformation and God’s desire for us. We are progressive because we believe the gospel speaks not only to the salvation of individuals, but to the restoration of all creation. We believe it speaks to families, communities, nations, and economic systems. We desire for this church to exhibit the best of being both progressive and evangelical.

Community Life

Some new churches follow a model of advertising and launching that targets a certain demographic and tries to get as many people gathered at the first public service as possible. That’s not the model we feel called to follow. It is our desire to start small and grow up together as a community, and to grow by way of relationship rather than advertising. When we dream of public space we aren’t picturing a traditional church building. We hope to be in a space that is inviting to people who wouldn’t feel comfortable in traditional church settings. When we choose to obtain a public space, we hope that space will be in use throughout week, facilitating the various ministries that will grow from the gifts and callings of people within our community. We look forward to wonderful worship services together, but we also hope that our own worship services do not consume so much of our time and energy that we have little left to give beyond ourselves.


One Response to “About Us”

  1. CCDA, Emerging, Progressive, Evangelical, Community – What a great collection of puzzle pieces! And they are much stronger and more complete together than each one would be alone.

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