The simple answer to this question is found in Colossians 2:6-8. Paul described how the Colossians had been “firmly rooted and built up in Him (Christ) and established in your faith, just as you were instructed…” This was designed to make them strong and to protect them from bring taken “captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (v.8). Those “elementary principles of the world” stand in direct contradiction to “Christ” — the elementary or first principles of Christ (cf., Hebrews 5:12), and can actually “capture” us, completely derailing us from the life Jesus has designed for us.
But what are these first principles of Christ? Entire libraries could be filled with the answer to that question, but when we look at the emphases of the teaching (didache) of the Apostles of Jesus found in the New Testament, the following “elementary principles” emerge:
- Become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Believe the good news of Jesus Christ — the proclamation (kerygma) or gospel — be baptized and then embrace the lifestyle of a disciple of Jesus. Lots of people claim to be Christians, but not everyone is willing to live like a disciple.
- Commit yourself to a family of families. The local church is the centerpiece of God’s plan in this age — it’s supposed to be like an extended family. Make it one of your highest priorities to participate in the community life of the church by serving and building up this family of families.
- Participate in the mission of the church. Every local church is a community with great purpose — a global mission. Join us as we participate in this mission in Lawrence, Kansas — cultivate opportunities with the people in your life, defend the faith with gentleness and respect and use your home as a mission center.
- Cultivate habits of the heart. A disciple of Jesus is called to disciplined living — to fully comprehend God’s fullness. Invite the Holy Spirit to work in your heart as you pray, put on the new self in Christ, integrate your faith into your family and community relationships and discover the lifework God has prepared for you.
- Strengthen your marriage. If you are married, or plan to be married, first understand God’s design for marriage and the right spirit of Christian marriage. Then work to strengthen your marriage and enjoy it as God intended by working within that design and spirit and by engaging in the community of a local church.
- Strengthen your family. Fight against the breakdown of the family in our culture by embracing God’s design for the family. Manage your household well. Recognize that parenting is a wonderful opportunity to shape a young life and model the importance of commitment to the church community.
- Pursue fruitful lifework. All followers of Christ are called into ministry. You have all been created for good works and this includes your “job” or “career” as well as the stewardship of your time, talents, money, home, gifts, etc. Develop a disciplined work ethic, become a cheerful giver and stay focused on discovering and fulfilling the lifework God has prepared for you.
- Build for future generations. Pursue true success. Sadly, many Christians are side-tracked because they choose to invest themselves almost entirely in that which doesn’t last. Instead, invest yourself and your resources in future generations by investing in the local church, in the progress of the gospel and in eternally significant things.
This is the way of life for a disciple of Jesus Christ as described in the New Testament.
So, what are we asking you to do? We’re asking you to do more than just attend, give money and stack chairs. We’re inviting you to become a part of our family by faithfully gathering each Sunday evening in a Neighborhood Church. We’re challenging you to become well-established in your faith, rooted and built up so that you will not be easily deceived. We’re challenging you to build on these first principles through lifelong learning. We’re asking you to embrace our vision of building a 21st century expression of the 1st century church.