As a church, since January 2018 we have been seeking God in a process we are now calling 'Future Focus, in order to clarify, refine and focus our energies, to ensure that we are doing what - and only what - God is calling us to. As part of that process we have written down 'The Dream' to articulate the sort of church God is calling us to be. This is a long term vision of the future, and a document that will guide our decision-making, praying and leadership. It's also a work-in-progress, a living document reflecting how God has led us to see things, and so we will update it from time-to-time.
All of these words are an attempt to bring together the many things about which we, in OCC, believe God has spoken to us concerning our future together. We have not dreamt up this dream, but have rather received it. So too, it’s fulfilment is something that we will receive from the Lord.
We have been much helped by the description in Deuteronomy 11:8-15 of an ‘upgrade’ once promised to God’s people. They had been laboriously moving water to irrigate the land, but God promised instead to given them a land with springs and abundant rain. This reminds us we live by grace!
We recognize a strong tendency in the culture of the city of Oxford to trust in human cleverness and energy, and we are sorry to say that this tendency has sometimes found its way into our church life. As we rehearse this dream for the future of OCC, we remind ourselves that none of it will come to pass through human means alone. So, we resolve not to plunge into good works through mere natural energy, but to consult God, to abide in God and to act under His inspiration, that we might walk in the good works that he has prepared for us to (Eph 2:10).
We have begun to experience a season of ‘upgrades’, and this dream reminds us that there is much more yet to come!
God has a wonderful plan to fill the earth with the knowledge of His glory, with Christ-worshippers delighting in his love and reign.
God has a dream for Oxford. It will be a city at peace amongst its diverse communities, where people not only live alongside each other, but eat together, have fun and share deep bonds of friendship. It will be a city where people discover and grow in their God-gifted identity & purpose, and from which people go out in His love, His strength, and His goodness.
God has a vision for Oxford Community Church. In the years ahead, Christ will continue to lead us on, through the work of the Holy Spirit and the pages of Scripture.
This is our Dream, our conviction and our motivation. The Kingdom belongs to our God, and so does the Dream. We commit ourselves to becoming His disciples, to receiving His grace and freedom, and to being His hands and feet, as we hold fast in this life to the reality of the world to come: the Kingdom of God. As we follow Him, attentive to His voice, we believe He has given us some inkling of what this will look like, and so this is what we expect our future to hold…
“God is love” (1 John 4:16), and we want to be just like Him!
- We delight in God’s love for us, and love Him in return. We enjoy receiving of Father God’s love for us, and falling ever deeper in love with Him. We will be still before Him, and testify regularly to the love and goodness of God as he blesses, heals, saves and restores. We also expect to be heartfelt and passionate in our worship, as the Spirit leads us to love as He loves.
- We have genuine and servant-hearted love for one another. We follow Christ’s example in loving one another, and the loving quality of our relationships will create a culture in which every person will be confident that they are known and loved. We will be a community in which our God-given gifts are set free for the service of others, and spiritual life is nurtured. To this end, we will offer personalised pastoral ministry to every church member, as we seek to enter into deeper relationship with Jesus.
- We love people outside our church walls. In loving as God does, He will bring new friends who do not yet know Jesus into our family. By God’s grace we will grow in number, diversity and unity together, demonstrating as we do that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for all peoples. As disciples and learners, we want our ethnic and social diversity to match that of the city of which we are part, with people from all backgrounds, generations, and cultures finding a place of belonging in the church and in its leadership.
We will celebrate the synergy between three loves – for God, for one another and for those outside the church family. So; worship will fuel mission, prayer will strengthen community, our groups will prioritize reaching and including others, new birth will inspire further worship and prayer, and our love for God will move us to build community with those who are different from ourselves.
God made us alive with Christ (Col 2:13), and we will live the life He gives, abundantly to the full!
This new life is by God’s grace, which we receive freely!
- We long for our lives to bring glory to God. By the grace of God, our lives as individuals and corporately will be characterised by the freedom we find in Christ.
- We recognise that the church is the bride of Christ, made up of many parts, gifts and experiences. Our gifts will build up and edify one another, including the gifts of prophecy, evangelism, pastoring, teaching, healing, words of knowledge, discernment, administration, financial gifts and much more.
- We live in the light of the truth that God has set us free out of His great love for us, and that He sustains us by His great faithfulness. So, his joy will be our strength, and we will live open and honest lives in the reality of this world, while awaiting the world to come.
- We will point one another to the life God has for us, spurring each other on, so that men, women and children each discover their calling and gifts, and live such lives that others give glory to God.
- Being confident in God’s goodness, we walk alongside those who are suffering, until grief turns into joy, and that joy will become our strength.
God has prepared wonderful works for us to do, which we engage in gladly!
- We seek to become fluent in prayer, with sustained corporate and individual rhythms of prayer, leading to deeper devotion, heartfelt intercession, and miracles beyond number. The church will be known as a place of divine favour, as God’s power also features in our daily witness.
- We expect God to keep revealing to us more of what it means to live life in the Spirit, led by Him into adventure and spiritual battle, seeing the power of God transform lives and situations through our obedience, and seeing new life spring up in unlikely places.
- We will continually seek God for fresh ways to share the message of the crucified Christ, faithfully, humbly, and persistently. A growing number of communities and ministries within the church will connect flexibly to create accessible ways for which people entirely outside the church to see the life we enjoy, hear the gospel, explore faith and be born again.
- We will equip individuals to be effective in their Christian service and witness, and never forgetting the poor.
God made us to rule and reign with him (Rom 5:17), and so, through his authority, we will prevail in the struggle against sin and evil!
- Since God is all-mighty, we pray with confidence that his will be done. We love it that His answers to those prayers often involve us being led by the Spirit to do His will, and to see his Kingdom come.
- We pray for our hearts to be soft soil, so that the God’s seed-word will take root and bear fruit in us, and we open the Scriptures together and listen to solid and spiritual teaching that not only informs, but transforms.
- We expect the power and the knowledge of the love of God in Christ to free us from wrong habits of thought, and enable us to live abundantly for Him.
- By God’s grace, we will disciple other believers to become God’s ambassadors in all of life, cooperating with Him to see his Kingdom advanced, including through signs and wonders. We will think about the long term and prepare people well for it, through a combination of community and courses, through invitation to key roles and 1-to-1 mentoring.
- We stand with parents to raise children and youths to know, love and serve God.
- We will provide students with support and challenge that together prepare them to live and lead with God’s light in society.
- We seek to train believers to cooperate with Almighty God to see his Kingdom advanced, including through signs and wonders.
- We believe that people from every nation and tongue will gather to worship Christ, and it is our joy to inspire, send and support teams of Christians working overseas, especially those who live where there is otherwise no church.
- God has placed us in Oxford, so we long to discover new ways of serving Him and the people of Oxford. To this end, we will contribute generously to the common good of the city, creating and sustaining projects that demonstrate God’s love (such as providing schools and homes, and The King’s Centre in Osney), and working in partnership with others who share this goal.
- God has called us to strengthen other local churches, regionally and nationally, through generously sharing with them our gifts, our learning and our leaders. We gladly embrace that call, and delight in seeing life and growth beyond our local boundaries.