Center-focused Spirituality The Seventh Core Value

by Rev. Paul Votaw

In recent months my newsletter articles have focused on the core values of our denomination. So far we have addressed the first six core values. Jesus-shaped Identity, Biblical Integrity, Thoughtful Theology, Accountable Community, Egalitarian Ministry, and Missional Centrality.

The seventh core value is Center-focused Spirituality.

In center-focused spirituality “we believe in calling people to the core of what it means to be followers of Jesus – what ‘mere Christianity’ is and does – and not fixate on the boundaries.”

I must admit that I am struggling a bit with how to approach this core value. My understanding is that the last six words (and not fixate on the boundaries) mean that we are not to be “the truth police,” going around being sure everyone is staying on the straight and narrow. Yet, ECO came into being in large part because the truth, the straight and narrow, was being compromised. So we cannot disregard the need for biblical truth and upholding that truth.

At the same time when being “truth detectors” takes so much of our attention and effort that we ignore the call to service, compassion, and sharing the good news we fail to live out the very truth we seek to protect.

Given the above, center-focused spirituality is living the truth of God’s word so that his truth comes alive within us.

For example:

  • Rather than making sure everyone else is following the rules, I focus on applying God’s word to my life.
  • Rather than getting up in arms because there are so many poor people, I do all I can to help the poor.
  • Rather than condemning people who are caught up in sin, I find ways to love people and help them find ways out of their bondage.
  • Rather than simply talking about theological concepts, I translate those and apply them to everyday life.

Center-focused spirituality has to do with discipleship, being a student of the Master, learning from him, and living in his way. What does center-focused spirituality mean for you?

It has been helpful to me to think through this core value. I hope it has been helpful for you as well.