Churches are known for and driven by all kinds of things. Many are known for their tradition and have as their motto: We’ve never done it this way before.” Some churches are finance-driven and the only thing the membership wants to know before making a decision is "How much will it cost and can we afford it?" Others are numbers-driven, having as their bottom line--a bigger budget, a bigger building, and a growing membership roll. Others still, are known for a certain theological perspective such as being reformed or non-reformed, charismatic or non-charismatic, seeker-driven or non seeker driven, contemporary/blended worship or traditional, etc. Finally, there are churches known for and driven by programs, activities, ministry, personality, social causes, and a plethora of other possibilities.
So, what is your church known for and apparently driven by?
Personally, I think that whereas its not a bad thing for churches to be known for what they believe and stand for or against they should, by all means, strive to be grace-driven and here are some reasons why. First, grace-driven churches are driven by God’s saving grace-in forgiving sinners-to preach the gospel. Second, they are driven by God’s sanctifying grace-that grows believers in grace-to preach the Word of grace to one another as well as to deal with each other in grace, correcting one-another in grace, accepting one another as Jesus accepted them freely, unconditionally, and over and over again. Third, they are driven by God's extravagant grace-in which He gave His own Son Whom He loved to save sinners whom did not love Him-to take serious risks, expend great energy, significant resources, and exhaustive creativity in communicating and demonstrating the Gospel of grace to unbelievers both nearby and far away.
God is grace-driven. His plan of salvation, His desire to redeem, and His move to crush His own Son (Is. 53:10) so as to save us were all grace-driven acts. But, while grace-driven, these acts were not simply carried out to make much of us and our need. No, God’s grace-driveness is not about making much of us which is often what many a church's "pet" distinctions and preferences are driven by. God's grace-drivenness is not an end in and of itself just as we are not an end in and of ourselves. To think that would be to terribly misunderstand and pervert God's grace, which is a means to a much greater end. That end is God’s glory. God is grace-driven because God is passionate about His own glory. He justifies for His glory. He forgives for His glory. He redeems for His glory. He saves for His glory and He keeps us saved for His glory. God’s grace-driveness is first, foremost, and fundamentally about and for His glory.
And this ultimately is for our good in that whereas, God's grace saved us-God's glory satisfies us. You see, God's grace is the means by which we are able to see, enjoy, revel in, and forever be amazed by the glory of God. This is what Jesus wants for us. That's why He asked His Father in John 17:24 that we who have been given to Him by the Father be with Him so that we may see His glory and be forever satisfied. Grace is the means to glory!
And thus, if any church really desires to glorify God as well as to enjoy and be amazed by God and His glory—she absolutely must be, among other things, grace-driven!