Biblical Church Culture

Since we began Midtown Midtown church our goal was to be as biblical as possible Over the past 6 months we have taken a journey to assess how Biblical our culture was, and then make improvements.

Our Vision
We desire to be The body of Jesus Christ, functioning under His Lordship, intentional discipleship, active relationship building, worshiping, serving and giving based on Scripture.

Our Values

Scripture / Family / Prayer / Generosity

Our Cultural Imperatives Based on Scripture
Intentional Discipleship / Family Shepherding / Empowered Prayer

Humble Servanthood / Collective Generosity / Authentic Worship

Gospel Partnerships.

The vision of Midtown Church begins and ends with Jesus the Christ. We believe He is GOD: the resurrected Incarnation, who claimed specifically to fulfill all the old testament scriptures….Christ Jesus defines Biblical Culture.

What did Jesus say HIS followers should focus on?

Intentional Discipleship:

#1 Priority… if we do this well , everything else flow from it!

INTRO: Jesus is addressing those who did not believe He was from the Father…”for unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” “Who are you?” they demanded. I am who I have said I am, sent from The One… Once you have lifted the Son of man on a cross then you will know that I am He and I say only what the Father taught me. And the one who sent me is with me…

Then many who heard him say these things believed in him. So He said to them:

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:31-32

  • This standard is only for believers
  • Real deal disciples of Christ are faithful to HIS teaching…(this includes the O.T)
  • You have to do things to be faithful… applying Christ’s teaching to your life
  • This should be the most important thing in our lives as Christians!
  • A life living out Christ’s teaching will lead you to the truth, and true freedom

Application: We must now Christ’s teachings and live them out (practice)

Family Shepherding:

INTRO: Jesus predicts his betrayal & basically identifies Judas as the one who will do it… He speaks of how He is going to glorify the Father & be glorified by the Father… Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going.”

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” ~ Jesus @ John 13:34-35

  • This is directed to ‘Dear Children’ / Disciples…
  • Love (Agape) is understood to be displayed through action (not feeling, deeds)
  • The example Jesus has given and will give them is to love sacrificially
  • Jesus’ followers loving each other as Christ loves us, will prove our allegiance

Application: We are to love and care for each other sacrificially

Empowered Prayer:

INTRO: Jesus that same night…walking through the valley…doing His vine & branches talk…The branches need to stay connected to the vine to produce fruit (kingdom stuff)

But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” ~ Jesus @ John 15:7-8

  • To remain it is assumed you are already there (disciples)
  • ‘Pray’ basically means to ask… When we direct our requests to God = Prayer
  • Jesus says that constant connection is needed in order to get what you ask for
  • Remain in me = Connection (H.S.) My words remain in you = Bible Application
  • It is the idea that the closer to God we get the more we want what HE wants

Take delight in the Lord, and HE will give you your heart’s desires. ~ Psalm 37:4

  • Producing ‘fruit’ that God desires proves who our master is & brings HIM glory
  • A basic purpose of the New Testament Church is Glorifying God to the max!

Application: Our Prayer life must flow from our intimacy with Christ

Humble Servanthood:

INTRO: Jesus had just predicted how He would die and rise again…Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. What is your request?” he asked. She asks: “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

Jesus tells them they don’t know what they ask… yes they will share in His sufferings (as all of His followers will) but the right and left hand thing is not His to decide…When the others heard this they were indignant…

But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~ Jesus @ Matthew 20:25-28

  • Among you = among my true followers
  • The World’s Way: Those in charge selfishly oppress those under their authority
  • Jesus’ Way: Those in charge humbly serve those under their authority
  • Jesus says among HIS disciples (The Church) Leader = Servant
  • He Says among HIS disciples (The Church) Top Dog = Slave
  • Being a servant or slave to Christ means that you’re those things to His Body
  • Christ set the example of servanthood going to the cross
  • He gave His life to ransom many..
  • Those of us who have been ransomed are servants and slaves of HIS Body

Application: We are to practice servanthood and aspire to be slaves of Christ

Collective Generosity:

INTRO: Jesus was teaching in the temple courts after arriving to Jerusalem (holy week). Jesus had just talked about how the Jewish Religious leaders were hypocrites… Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” ~ Jesus @ Mark 12:41-44

  • Because Jesus addressed this insight to His disciples it is for the church
  • Our giving to the local church is to be compared with giving to the ‘Temple’
  • Jesus says she gave more! (As God sees it) because of what it cost her
  • Jesus says it’s not the amount but rather the sacrifice made that matters
  • We are to be God dependent in our giving, walking by faith, not sight

Application: Giving to Christ’s body should cost us something

Authentic Worship:

INTRO: Jesus and the disciples are traveling through Samaria (not usually done). Alone sitting by a well, Jesus meets this woman… After Jesus offers her water that will permanently quench her thirst, He asks her to go bring her husband… She says: ‘I have no husband’ (implying that she is a widow). Jesus says: you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You told the truth!” (kind of a backhanded compliment), She says, “you must be a prophet… so tell me what is the deal with worship places? Jesus tells her the problem is not where you worship but what you know about who you worship, and that salvation comes from the Jews… (as in Jesus of Nazareth)

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” ~ Jesus @ John 4:23-24

  • Jesus says: in the future, starting now… here is what is going to matter…
  • 1st Jesus say: ‘True Worshipers’… that must mean there are ‘untrue worshipers’
  • Jesus says the authenticity of our worship of God / Christ is based on 2 things
  • Understandable Knowledge & Unfathomable Mystery (Spirit & Truth)
  • There are definable, explainable facts about God (Truth)
  • And at the same time God is amorphous, intangible and metaphysical (Spirit)
  • As ‘True Worshipers’ we worship God because His Spirit is indwelling us
  • And because we belief in the truth we have about Him

Application: Our Worship should express what we know and mystery as well

Gospel Partnerships:

INTRO: So when the apostles were with Jesus, (AFTER THE RESURECTION) they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know…. BUT…

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ~ Jesus @ Acts 1:8

  • Every person who God brings to ‘Biblical Salvation’ is indwelt with the H. S.
  • One of the things the indwelling Spirit does is to empower our witness
  • To be a witness is to provide information about what you know
  • As Christ’s followers we are to provide information to others about Jesus
  • We do that in our own spheres of influence and help others do it in theirs
  • Jesus says we are to be part of witnessing to who He is everywhere…
  • Jerusalem is where they were = Atlanta (Jerusalem = Atlanta Care Center)
  • Judea is the surrounding area = Georgia (Sumeria = GABN & WDA)
  • Ends of the earth = City of Grace in the D.R. / Stokes Family in Turkey / WDA

Application: We are to support the spread of the Gospel where ever we can

Everything in our church culture flows from the Scriptures, read as Jesus Christ’s followers have read them for 2000 years!

We read & pray the psalms knowing Christ. We are His church, the gathering of God’s called out ones…The Nation of Israel was called and gathered around God’s presence in the Tabernacle & Temple. As Christ’s Church, called by His love and indwelt with His Spirit, we gather around the presence of the living Christ and are His body.

There is incredible richness of seeing how the whole story weaves together. Reading these Psalms as fellow Christians have for getting on 2000 years we can join in the longing for the next life as we pass through this life… Because we believe Christ has fulfilled the hope that is breathed through these psalms, WE can pray for the future knowing who we are and what we are doing, now and forever!

We will look at two Psalms about being God’s people and then what Jesus Christ said about HIS church: Three Things Regarding Jesus Christ’s Church. Who we are…What we have been Given…What our focus is.

Who We Are: Chosen in Grace. What We Have Been Given: Eternity. What We Do: Focus on The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Identity / Blessing / Purpose.

Who We Are / Identity: Psalm 87 (NIV)

1 He has founded his city on the holy mountain. 2 The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwellings of Jacob. 3 Glorious things are said of you, city of God. (Selah)

  • This is a vision of Heaven / Symbolized by The city of Jerusalem
  • HE founded it on ‘The Holy Mountain’ (Jerusalem is symbolic & literal)
  • Entering this place represents the apex of God’s love
  • The city of God can only be described in glorious terms
  • The writer & The Author want us to take a moment to contemplate (selah)

4 “I will record Egypt and Babylon among those who acknowledge Me— Philistia too, and Tyre , along with Cush — and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’” 5 Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High Himself will establish her.” 6 The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” (Selah)

  • God will redeem & has redeemed some from amongst nations hostile to Israel
  • God predestines people from ALL ethnic and language groups
  • He is the lone actor in the salvation of human beings (we do NO THING)
  • God alone is responsible for salvation

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. ~ Eph. 2:8-9

  • Our eternal life was birthed by what Jesus Christ did in Zion on the cross
  • Compares to the ‘Book of Life’ in revelation (6 times; ch. 3, 13, 17, 20, 20, 21)
  • Being ‘Born in Zion’ equates with being ‘Born Again’ (Jesus @ John 3:3-8)
  • Being born in Zion is a marking. It identifies you as belonging to God

You also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. ~ Eph. 1:13-14

Again we are invited to pause and contemplate these amazing truths…then this…

7 As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in You.”

  • Recognition of God’s Grace results in true worship, it is a given
  • The natural reaction of God’s Chosen People is to give Him ALL the Glory!

How this happens is by surrender to The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

That is the means by which God moves people from spiritual death to eternal life.

What We Have Been Given / Eternity: Psalm 84 (NIV)

Our life in Christ is a pilgrimage, What He is calling us to: Eternity! This is what Christ Has given us: The hope of Eternal Life with God!

1 How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty. 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young — a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.

  • Nothing more lovely than where God is…(His Dwelling Place)
  • The enlivening of the soul for it’s true home: eternity in God’s presence
  • When we understand what we have been given, it ignites our desire for God
  • When we understand we are as deserving as a sparrow, yet we get a place
  • When God is All in All…HE IS:
  • Almighty Lord=Absolute Control
  • King= Absolute Protection
  • God…Absolute Worship

4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

  • This speaks of the ‘eternally blessed’ occupants of the Kingdom of Heaven
  • The response to that blessing: praise!
  • Receiving this eternal gift is to let God be your strength
  • We are given the grace to take the journey, to seek HIM
  • Part of every pilgrimage is suffering (Valley of Baka means ‘Valley of Tears’)
  • Living now in Christ and trusting in eternity with Christ we pass through ‘sorrow’
  • Knowing God (dwelling in His house) we are refreshed & strengthened until…

This present world is to us this valley of weeping; in our passage through it we are refreshed by the streams of divine grace, flowing down from the great fountain of consolation.” ~ Bishop George Horne

What is our consolation? Heaven…but until then. We get to communicate with God through His Spirit He puts in us!

8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob. 9 Look on our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one.

  • Christ’s Body can expect God to hear our prayers, by HIS Spirit indwelling us!
  • The church can ask God to look not at us but look at Christ
  • Scripture says God looks at those He has given His Spirit to and see His Son

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. ~ Eph. 1:4

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation. ~ Col. 1:22

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. ~ Col. 3:3

The hope the members of Jesus’ church have: We are without fault in God’s eyes!

10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. 12 Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.

  • One day in heaven would be better than ANYTHING!
  • The lowest place in the Kingdom is better than the best place anywhere else.
  • To His Church, Jesus Christ is the Light, the protection, the giver of grace
  • To His Church HE gives every good thing because HE makes them blameless
  • This is eternity & now: we trust now and get all good things (Heaven) eternally

Our identity as members of Jesus Body: He chose us, we belong to Christ. Our hope and future as His: Eternity in His Presence. So what do we do here and now? Let’s See what Jesus said we should do (Big Picture).

Jesus only used the term Church twice and only once did he call it ‘my church’. The one time He said ‘my church’ was to give His followers the overarching purpose of His ‘called Out Ones’.

What We Do: PURPOSE: Matthew 16:13-19 (MOUNCE)

13 Now when Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

  • He asked what the word on the street was… How does the world see me?

15 Then Jesus asked them, “And who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

  • Do the disciples see Jesus differently than the rest of the world? Should we?
  • Peter, in his role as spokesman, says what they have all agreed upon: Messiah

17 Jesus answered, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because no person taught you that. My Father in heaven showed you who I am. 18 So I tell you, you are Peter. On this rock I will build my church, and the power of death will not be able to defeat it.”

  • Jesus used blessed the same way Psalmists did: to express eternal blessing
  • The answer and the blessing that comes with it does not have human origins
  • What the ‘THIS’ is in this passage is very important and often misunderstood
  • God the Father showed the disciples, and Peter specifically, who Jesus is
  • The church is built on the confession by it’s members that Jesus is ‘The Christ’
  • ‘THIS ROCK’ is Peter’s wholehearted belief that Jesus was God!!!
  • Jesus had already changed Simeon’s name to Peter, (Matthew 10)
  • Jesus says: The foundation / Rock my church will be built on is ‘I AM GOD’
  • The church is built solely on the reality that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate
  • That is who we are at the most basic level: We know who Jesus is
  • Biblical based faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to defeat death
  • It is the purpose of the church: to defeat death by spreading the Gospel

19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.”

  • Jesus is addressing ALL DISCIPLES, the keys are given to the church
  • The key represent stewardship what matters to God
  • Binding and loosing is representative of allowing and disallowing
  • Notice the verb tenses, the action comes from Heaven
  • As the church we are to do what heaven dictates (Scripture’s Importance)
  • Our purposes come from God and God only
  • Our primary function is focused on eternity

19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; the things you don’t allow on earth will be the things that God does not allow, and the things you allow on earth will be the things that God allows.” (NCV)

Everything we do should serve the purpose of people getting Saved! And Jesus defines getting saved: ‘Give up your life for Me and the Gospel’!


Pray for God to establish the identity of each member of His Body.

Pray that you and others know that God has chosen them for eternal life with Him.

Pray in ways that acknowledge the grace of God in granting eternal life.

Pray for life that emanates from the hope of eternity Christ offers.

Pray for our Body to gather around Christ in Word & Sacrament.

Pray that we make the confession of Jesus Christ as as God the center of all we do.

Pray that we never lose focus of the eternal things God would have us do.

Pray that our purposes flow from knowing our Identity and knowing Jesus’ identity.