Misson and Principles
Our Mission Rationale
From the beginning, Harvest has focused on reaching the world for Christ locally, nationally, and internationally. Locally, we believe we are to invest in people and invite them to join us at one of our local campuses so that they might hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nationally, we are willing to help plant churches and aid various ministries. Internationally, we believe that we are to plant churches and aid the cause of Christ not only with money but with real people and the Word of God.
As we continue to adapt our methods and actions to best accomplish the mission of Jesus in the world, we have a need of being able to define our mission in a way that does not change, lest we lose our focus. With this in mind, we hold the following foundational principles:
- We exist to "increase the health and size of God's church everywhere."
- We are "a community church with a world-wide vision."
- Our Biblical Mandate is summarized in these words: "To Know Him and to Make Him Known," for by knowing Him we become like Him and learn to love one another in true community. We make Him known not only in our church community but in the wider world also.
- We are church-builders, by making and being disciples.
- We “Know Him” by exalting Him in offering our lives as worship.
- We make Him known by declaring His excellencies to a lost world.
- We “Make Him Known” by "loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves."
- We "Make Him Known" by planting indigenous-led churches that rapidly grow and multiply.
Our Guiding Texts for Mission
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." [John 15:8-14; Matthew 7:12; Romans 13:8-10; 1 John 3:10]
1 Corinthians 3:6-17 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. . . . 9 For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building. 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw- 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. [Matthew 16:18; 1 Peter 2:4-5; 1 Tim 3:15; Ephesians 3:10, 20-21; Ephesians 5:22-32]
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." [Mark 16:15; Luke 24:45-48; Acts 1:8; John 9:4; Ephesians 2:10]
Harvest Community church exists to glorify and love God by seeking to grow a healthy church of disciples who know God and make Him known in our community, by establishing various campuses while also working towards the planting of churches anywhere in the world that do the same.
Principles for Mission
- We trust the Word of God and believe that in its clear proclamation, faith is born and much good is done in the hearts of people. [Romans 10:17; Matthew 5:18; Matthew 4:4; 2 Cor 4:2]
- We trust the Spirit of God to guide all of our efforts, and so all endeavors are to be prayer efforts from beginning to end. All good works of the church must be based on prayer. Therefore, we seek to foster prayer as individuals, at the family level, and as a church community. [James 5:15-16; John 16:24]
- We see the cross as central to all we do and proclaim. Therefore, we commit to declare the death of Jesus Christ for sins and His resurrection repeatedly and give the cross the priority in our songs, sermons, funerals, weddings, and all other events where proclamation is possible. [Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 2:2]
- We believe God to be sufficient for all things in our church and in our lives. Therefore, faith plays an essential role in our function. All plans and ministries are based on the idea that God is good to us and great enough to do through us all that we ask or think according to his will. [Hebrews 11:6]
- We honor Jesus as the head of the church, our captain, our Savior, our Lord, our commander, our keeper, our guide. No man is head of the church, but Jesus alone. We seek Him in all things and work and live with hope surrounding us, knowing that our labor is not in vain and that He is with us, guiding us, and returning soon. [Ephesians 1:22]
- We pursue mission work with our planned financial investment, as well as human involvement of all kinds. This means that we will remember to give regularly to the work of missions from our offerings; likewise, we will send our people, both in short and long term missions. Church planting anywhere in the world is our responsibility as the Lord leads us. This must remain a priority of each elder and a responsibility of all members of the body. [Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Timothy 6:17-18]
- We seek to promote communication with the body, knowing that each member of Harvest has a right to know what their leaders are planning and have the opportunity to be persuaded that the Lord is indeed leading in each ministry activity. Communication is hard work among fallen man, and we are committed to diligence and constant improvement in this area. [Romans 12:10; 2 Timothy 4:2]
- We are theologically rigorous, yet we are flexible on non-essentials that divide churches. The essentials, as we see it, are outlined in our statement of faith. Let each individual be subject to the word of God, reason, and his conscience as regards issues that are non-essential. [Romans 14:1-5]
- Common sense and reasonableness are valued in decision making, especially when a definite plan or course of action is not mandated by the Bible. [James 3:17; Acts 15:22; Acts 15:24-25; Titus 2:2; Titus 1:8; Titus 2:5; Titus 2:6]
- Church government is to be as lean as possible, flexible, and conforming to the items the Bible outlines. [Titus 1:5]
- We use technology as a tool for the Gospel and strive to remain innovative in all we do. We believe that nothing is unclean of itself. Therefore non-traditional methods of church ministry are to be measured by their possible help in furthering the mission of Harvest. Creativity, art, advertising, and new ways of doing things are always options as the Lord leads. [1 Corinthians 9:22]
- We seek to be opportunistic for Jesus. We are committed to risking in faith and taking chances for the Gospel. Along with that comes a commitment to change quickly as ministry opportunities present themselves. [Colossians 4:5; Galatians 6:10; Luke 19:11-27]
- We seek to do all things well, constantly improving on our ministry efforts. [Ephesians 6:5-8; Ecclesiastes 9:10.]
- We are committed to grace when things do not go according to plan, focusing on behavior and performance improvement, not on castigating the person. We know that ministry is messy and does not always go according to plan. [James 2:13; Ephesians 4:32; Proverbs 14:4]
- We value biblical teaching and view the avenues of biblical teaching (i.e. Regular Bible Classes, Sunday Morning Bible Classes, etc.) as means to an end, and not an end in themselves. In other words, our teaching ministries exist to help meet the mission of the church; we cannot define success as merely having well-attended programs. We are free to re-schedule, cancel, or begin new classes and new formats for education as seems best in the present situation. [Matthew 9:17]
- We aim to have orderly and vibrant worship of God through song, remaining flexible in our styles and inviting participation from all the church family. God must be glorified among us in song, and we must do all in our power to encourage focused and enthusiastic worship among the family of God. [Psalm 150; Hebrews 13:15]
- We are committed to promoting a Christian worldview, engaging the culture, responding to current concerns and philosophies, and bringing Christ's unchanging and eternal perspective to bear, so that we may teach Christians to understand their times and be wise. [Romans 12:2]
- As Jesus instructed the first believers to reach their local area ("Jerusalem"), their nearby neighbors ("all Judea"), their more distant neighbors ("Samaria"), and people in all places no matter how far ("even to the end of the earth"), we believe that we can reach Western PA and the ends of the world from Harvest Community Church. [Acts 1:8]
- We are mindful to honor the Lord's command to be devoted to one another in brotherly love. We are a family in Christ. We emphasize, therefore, hospitality, the sharing of meals, and the fellowship of believers in organized as well as casual meetings. Also, we are committed to meeting the basic needs of the saints, bearing one another's physical and emotional burdens, and sharing in one another's joys. [Acts 2:44-47]
- We are committed to crossing cultural boundaries in order to achieve the unity Jesus desires for His church. This means that we will continually seek to reach out across racial, generational, ethnic, and economic barriers that divide the world. [Ephesians 2:14; Galatians 3:28-29]
- We value individual discipleship as the sure path to increased Christ-likeness. Spiritual maturity for each believer is God's desire and is necessary to fulfill His goal of building the church, His bride. As Jesus has commanded us to "make disciples", so we must train each believer in the basic doctrines and disciplines taught by the Bible. [2 Timothy 2:2; Colossians 1: 28-29]
- We take seriously our responsibility to minister compassionately to those with emotional needs. There are those who come to Christ with deep hurts and in great need of loving attention and godly healing. When hurting people want to be a part of Harvest, we seek to bring such people to a point of victory in Christ, so that they can serve Him with peace and joy. [1 Corinthians 12:23-24; Galatians 6:2]
- We see our congregation as a part of the worldwide body of Christ. Accordingly, other believing congregations are not our competitors but members of our family. We seek to strengthen those churches engaged in the same work as ourselves. Furthermore, we have a responsibility to pray for other congregations and to support their ministries as we are able. [Mark 9:40; 1 Corinthians 10:24]
- We believe that many Christians are refugees from unhealthy churches. We want to reach out and intentionally minister to these people, giving them a place to rest, heal, and re-enter the local church of our Lord. [Galatians 6:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:14]
- God intends for healthy churches to raise up leaders. These leaders can work within Harvest's expanding ministry field or pursue the Kingdom of God in other places. Nevertheless, we are committed to identifying, mentoring, and training leaders from within Harvest's ranks. We believe that it is our job to "train the called" and not simply to "call the trained." [Matthew 9:38; 2 Timothy 2:2]
- All believers are called by God to do good works. We seek to enable every member of Christ's body to complete that work. [Ephesians 4:11-12; Ephesians 2:10]
- We value the family as a God-ordained institution and the basic unit of society. We are deeply committed to building and supporting godly marriages, promoting biblical parenting, and family worship. Furthermore, we will encourage the family to be the primary vehicle for training children to be followers of Jesus. Along these lines, the primary role of our ministry with children will be to enable parents and care-givers to be the primary pastors of their own children. [Genesis 2:24; Psalm 78:5; Malachi 2:16; Ephesians 5:22-33]
- We value marriage and will seek to put first importance on the health of the marriages of all our people, especially our leaders. [1 Timothy 3:2; Ephesians 5:22-33]
- As the church, the family of God, we seek to minister in the areas where families lack. It becomes the responsibility of the church to love and minister to children without Christian parents, widows and widowers without family, single parents, divorcees, and others living with family structural loss in order to fill the gap. [James 1:27]
- In all things we seek to glorify God. We seek to increase our worship for Him in all ways according to His great holiness and power. He is the founder and focus of all that we do. We rob God if we will not worship Him with all of our strength, increasing His glory in the earth. [Deuteronomy 6:4-5]
- Above all, our rule is love. When all else fails, we ask, "What does it mean to love God?" and "What does it mean to love one another?" in every situation. [Romans 13:8-10]