"MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD"
WHY DIVERGENT? It is a bit weird isn't it? Isn't that a movie? Are you trying to be different from other Churches? There are a number of different questions we have been asked about our shift to Divergent and why this name matters for us as we move forward, how it helps shape and reflect our identity and call.
Below we hope to answer some of your questions and feel free to send us any you might have.
1. diverging or causing divergence
2. (of opinions, interests, etc) different
3. having no limit...
Greek: ἐκκλησία 1557
1. an assembly, gathered community, congregation, church; the Church, the whole body of Christian believers.
ekklēsía(from 1537 /ek, "out from and to" and 2564 /kaléō, "to call") – properly, people called out from the world and to God, the outcome being the Church (the mystical body of Christ) – i.e. the universal (total) body of believers whom God calls out from the world and into His eternal kingdom. Strongs: 1577
For us, Divergent is not just about reasons but a season, a story, ten years ago LIFECITY CHURCH had our very first Sunday gathering. It was not our public launch, more like a 20 week ultra sound. It was a significant Sunday on the road to becoming LIFECITY CHURCH.
And… I don’t remember that service at all, I don’t remember what the sermon was about, I don’t remember the music that was played, I don’t remember who came… because I was not there and neither was Ange. We were driving to Cooma in a rush, Ange was in labour with our second son, Isaiah. He would be born on that day. The Church that God had placed on our hearts that day had it’s first Sunday gathering and we did not even participate in it. It was both amazing and weird.
That day, deep in our soul’s as we considered what had transpired we felt God clearly remind us that it would be him that would build his Church. Our job was to make disciples, our job was to obey, our job was to plant and water seeds but he would bring the growth. He would build the Church.
That day has become a deep prophetic echo in our soul each time we forget that the Church is not ours, it’s success or it’s perceived failure is also not ours. This bride being beautified is Jesus’. Until Thursday we had forgotten that this would be the tenth anniversary of that first Sunday. We did not plan this to be the case but I have no doubt that God had been planning this the whole time.
When we are tempted to be successful in the eyes of the world or even the Church we must be reminded of Christ’ mandate. He builds the Church.
All too often we trade being genuinely significant in the plan of God for being successful in the eyes of those that compared to God himself are simply breathing dust.
Well before the birth of LIFECITY CHURCH I wrote these words that have become a central heart cry for our community as it moves in Christ’ cause.
Imagine… a Christian community that reaches beyond itself, reaching out in contextually and spiritually dynamic ways, imagine a community of ministers that have laid their own desires down to reach a hurting world because of their undying love for Christ. Imagine a local congregation that desires nothing more than to continuously expand God's kingdom through church planting and resourcing the church around the world. That is our dream.
As an eighteen year old I would travel to Canberra and joke about planting a church. I would even point to a specific location. Often you find God has slipped his desires under our radar and this is certainly what God has done in my own life
Our desire is not to simply see a church planted. It is to see a seed planted that will continue to be transplanted across the world in the form of new dynamic, relevant and spiritually powerful churches. LifeCity Church is simply the first seed planted in this specific vision and it too is simply a seed planted out of the hearts of our home church. To be the manifestation of God's love to this hurting world.
The slogan of LifeCity Church is 'City Church Global Reach. Already in our hearts from day one is that this desire comes to fruition. We imagine a day when hundreds of churches around the world can link their spiritual heritage to a church called 'LifeCity Church' that wanted nothing more than to reach beyond itself and reach and bless a world without the saviour.
A dream can pull us into the future, we believe that this dream is birthed from the heart of God and we invite you to join us in seeing God's dream fulfilled.
Josh, Ange and the LCC Team
That dream has constantly drawn us into the future. For ten years our passion and primary focus has been about pushing out into this City and region. That dream has seen us start six new communities in this region with more on the cards, it has seen people come to Christ with a number now actually leading communities themselves.
In John 12 and Matthew 26 the story of a woman, anointing Jesus feet is told. She, bringing her brokenness and worship pours out in the perfume every security, with her hair wipes even his feet with what culturally was considered her ‘glory’.
“She has done a beautiful thing ( ‘a wonderfully significant thing) to me” Matt 26:10
Our heart has always been to be a significant Church, not a successful one in the eyes of people but a significant one in the eyes of Christ, one which pours out all our security on his feet, laying down all our ‘Glory’ before him.
This passion has led us to continual unpackage what God has put in our DNA from day one, a passion to see the good news of Jesus Christ declared and demonstrated to the very least and the most unreached. It has seen a passion for movement over monument building become central to our expression as ‘Church’.
As such on Sunday we announced a number of key shifts, the biggest in many ways, a change of identity that will culminate in a formal name change on our tenth birthday.
Now as a Church, we are in the journey of ‘becoming DIVERGENT CHURCH’ (local expression) and ‘DIVERGENT GLOBAL’ (movement focused expression)
WHY DIVERGENT? Isn’t that weird? Divisive? From a movie? Why does it matter?
Firstly a little background on our journey and identity. Many years ago when we started praying about and preparing to plant a Church in Canberra the name we embraced initially was actually Harvest City Church. We bought the domain, we used it in our initial proposals to our Eldership in Cooma, then we asked a local Church called Harvest Christian Fellowship if they minded if we used Harvest City Church. They minded, so we decided that it was most honourable to the kingdom and that Church community to honour their request to refrain from using a similar name.
So… in short we chose LIFECITY CHURCH, we could get the domain, it reflected in many ways a ‘centre of the road’ identity that we could embrace. The new community became LIFECITY CHURCH. It is an identity that has become our family name, it has reflected a period of focus in this City but as we move forward LIFECITY CHURCH no longer reflects who we are becoming.
The first ten years has been about ‘growing up’, the next ten will be about being absolutely confident in who we are, unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus name, people who do not conform to the pattern and principles of this world, a people that truly believe in being light in the darkness, love in the midst of hate, truth in the midst of falsehood, sacrifice in the midst of selfishness.
DIVERGENT prophetically speaks to a different era in the life of our Church as a movement.
For us 'Divergent' speaks of the nature of Jesus' kingdom. It is a different kingdom, one which does not match the principles and practices of this world.
Jesus' kingdom is a place where faith replaces fear, where life swallows up death, where love reigns over hate. It is a radically different kingdom to the patterns of this world.
There is a great deal of pressure both from the world and even from many Christians to 'conform' to the expectations of this world but the Apostle Paul makes the call clear for each believer and community.
"DO NOT BE CONFORMED to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Romans 12:2)
1. diverging or causing divergence 2. (of opinions, interests, etc) different 3. having no limit... (mathematics)
We believe that the meaning of Divergent matches the general nature of Jesus' kingdom.
We pray we would walk different paths, we aim to call and cause people to a different way, that of Christ. We believe that all believers are called to be unashamed about being 'different'. We also love the sense of the mathematics definition though it's context is somewhat different and that is 'having no limits'. The Church of Jesus Christ is called to be a community dedicated to the cause of Jesus Christ, a catalyst for radical change, one without limits. Jesus’ kingdom is a different kingdom, a divergent kingdom. We pray that we can be just one expression of Jesus' wider kingdom as expressed in this City, nation and world.
Our heart is that this name will be genuinely reflected in being a Divergent Church and Divergent Global movement.
Jesus himself said "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36)
…LIGHT OVERCOMES THE DARKNESS
…GOD LOOKS AT HEARTS NOT HEAD SCARVES
…TRUTH STANDS OUT FROM THE DARKNESS
…WE WERE NOT CHOSEN FOR THE COMFORTABLE ROAD BUT THE ONE MARKED AS THE ULTIMATE CAUSE
…we are part of a kingdom that is not of this world but brings a declaration and demonstration of the life of Jesus into every household, into every workplace and into every sphere of life.
We have been LIFECITY CHURCH, today we start the journey of becoming DIVERGENT CHURCH.
No doubt you may have other questions. What does this mean practically? Are we trying to be ‘different’ than other Churches? Is this a divergence from the word of God or historical doctrines? On this page you can explore other questions and answers or ask a new one through our contact form.
You can also follow the new Divergent social pages at www.facebook.com/divergentchurch and www.instagram.com/divergentchurch
COME FOR THE JOURNEY - BE DIVERGENT
JOSH & ANGE
DOES DIVERGENT MEAN YOU HAVE DIFFERENT BELIEFS TO OTHER CHURCHES?
No, not at all. We celebrate the diversity of the wider Church and maintain a wholehearted commitment to the core historical doctrines as espoused by all mainstreams Churches whether they be Pentecostal, Protestant, Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox.
Together we affirm the Apostles and Nicene Creeds.
We do have some relatively minor differences in that we affirm more Pentecostal/ Charismatic doctrines centred around our conviction that all can be empowered by, enabled by and sent by the Holy Spirit to effectively outwork the declaration and demonstration of Jesus kingdom. We also recognise that these beliefs and the working of the Spirit is in no way limited to any one expression or tradition of 'the Church'.
If you want more detail on our beliefs check out - What do we believe
DID YOU RIP THIS OFF THE MOVIES?
Hmm... the word 'divergent' has existed long before the movies or the books and we think it describes Jesus kingdom so well. The movies might have helped in confirming our thoughts toward the name and meaning (and admittedly also make it a little awkward as well)
What we do know is that this name has been on our hearts for years (before the movies)
We used to watch a pretty negative blog that used to own the domain name hoping they would 'drop' it. They did, we bought it in hope that this day may come.
On the movie theme, we think that they speak in many ways like a parable that can be quite closely aligned to our heart. Some of our team LOVE the movies others think them a little too generic Hollywood but that is ok, we feel called to be 'divergent' anyway :)