What we believe
The River is called to be a place wherein the three major historic branches of the church are to meet as ONE – Liturgical/Sacramental, Evangelical and Charismatic. We believe when these three streams come together there is a strength and unity that is experienced as in the days of the Apostles. Our desire is to please God through the oneness of His Church as he instituted it between 29AD – 33AD. No divisions of color, denomination, or culture but that we all stand as the Body of Christ unfragmented before God.
- The act of converging and especially moving toward union or uniformity.
- A coordinated movement of the two eyes so that the image of a single point is formed on corresponding retinal areas.
- A coming together from different directions, especially a uniting or merging of groups or tendencies that were originally opposed or very different.
- The tendency of different species to develop similar characteristics in response to a set of environmental conditions.
- A service of worship, especially the celebration of Communion in a Christian service.
- A body of rites (or system of ceremonial procedures) prescribed for formal public worship.
- Prayers and ceremonies used in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, also known as Holy Eucharist.
- A rite that is considered to have been established by Jesus Christ to bring grace to those participating in or receiving it.
- Emphasis on the authority of the Gospels of the Christian Bible and salvation through the personal acceptance of Jesus Christ.
- Enthusiastic or zealous in support of a particular cause and very eager to make other people share its beliefs or ideals.
- Possessing great powers of charm or influence.
- Experiences such as healing, prophecy, and speaking in tongues.
- Spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, interpretation of tongues, and discernment of spirits.
- A restored commitment to the sacraments, especially The Lord’s Table.
From a more sacramental view, these expressions of the church are seen as holy and sacred unto the Lord, a symbol with true spiritual meaning used as a point of contact between man and God. The Lord’s presence and power is released in these acts as the worshiper encounters Him through the elements.
- An increased appetite to know more about the early church.
For many Christians, a vacuum has existed between the pages of the New Testament and the contemporary church. This has left a disconnected Body with no historic heritage. Like a boat adrift, the church can no longer explain who she is, where she came from, or why she exists. A recent shift in perspective has sent her searching for her roots, in order to find a common connection to the greater whole in God’s Kingdom. Studying the early church has given many an opportunity to see New Testament church principles being applied by those who were discipled by the Twelve, and their subsequent followers. These writings provide a window into an earlier time, explaining how the early church approached faith and practice, how they worshipped, and how they gave leadership to a growing movement. The bloodline of the Body of Christ can be traced through succeeding generations – seeing both the successes and failure in faith.
- A love and embrace for the whole church, and a desire to see the church as one.
The various expressions of Christianity have remained very distinct for many years through denominational separatism. Convergence churches are looking beyond these artificial barriers to encourage, appreciate, and learn more about the uniqueness of our faith. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 was for the church to become one – one as the Body of Christ, not through compromise of doctrine and dogma, but unity under the person of Jesus Christ – unity among our diversity. This sense of oneness does not require any church to dismiss their unique expression as Christ’s Body, but calls them to appreciate and embrace the variety and beauty of the church worldwide and throughout history. Convergence churches appreciate the investment that the various streams of the Church provide. The call is for churches is “be one,” move together in portraying a people united under Christ to reach a hurting world.
- The blending in the practices of all three streams is evident, yet each church approaches convergence from different bases of emphasis.
A church does not necessarily have to change its identity when it becomes a part of a convergence movement. Most convergence churches have a dominant base — one particular expression of’ the church that regulates the others. They can still look very Episcopal, Orthodox, Baptist, Nazarene, Charismatic, etc. while expressing additional elements of worship and ministry from other streams. Convergent churches are encouraged to maintain their original identity, denominational connection and distinctive theologically. And from their base they then add elements from the other two streams in their worship and ministry practices.
- An interest in integrating more structure with spontaneity in worship.
As God’s Spirit continues to move powerfully in the world, new wineskins (or structure) are required to contain the power and potential of His new wine. While most Christians expected these new wineskins to be composed of more open and spontaneous churches with a de-emphasized structure, the spirit of independence present, especially in North American Christians, underlines the impression that this would be like pouring wine into a fish net. God’s holy fire is now being kindled in furnaces of faith where structures such as liturgical forms are allowing power to be imparted in churches without the fear of moving into error. Liturgies are being reintroduced into the church in order to bring a balance in worship among all the elements Scripture reveals as necessary for worshipping God in spirit and truth. The word “liturgy” literally means the “work of the people.” Through the implementation of liturgical elements, worship becomes the work of the body in praise, repentance, the hearing of the Word, and the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection. Within these forms room can always be found for spontaneous moves of the Spirit. The historic creeds of the church – the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed – are once again giving the Body of Christ the foundational roots of orthodoxy. The Book of Common Prayer and other liturgical resources are also being blended with spontaneous praise and worship in convergence churches. The Lord’s table is being celebrated with a greater understanding of the sacredness of the event, and churches are following the Christian year and church calendar more consistently as a means of taking their people on an annual journey of faith. All of these expressions give local fellowships a greater sense of connection with the church worldwide and the church through history.
- A greater involvement of sign and symbol in worship through banners, crosses, Christian art and clerical vestments.
The contemporary church has begun to reclaim the arts for Christ. In this move, the use of sign and symbol serves as a representative of a greater truth. While banners and pageantry have found a new place in the church, other symbols are showing up as well, as contact points for bringing together two realities: the outward sign or symbol and the inward or spiritual reality. Crosses and candles now adorn processionals in some churches that for years had felt pageantry would be a signature of the death of vital faith. Some pastors are now wearing clerical collars and vestments in various services, worship settings and celebrations of the church. The collar serves as a sign of spiritual reality in being yoked with Christ, identifying with and speaking to the church as a whole, prophetically saying, “Be one!”
- A continuing commitment to personal salvation, Biblical teaching, and to the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Some who watch this “new direction” from the Evangelical or Charismatic sidelines are still skeptical. They are concerned that convergence churches are abandoning their heritage, and that the value of Biblical infallibility and personal conversion will be lost or compromised in the pursuit of the liturgical/sacramental side of the church. Often, this concern arises out of negative prior personal experiences with certain expressions of the church or an inaccurate. Those watching from the liturgical / sacramental side are usually as concerned about their churches embracing more conservative or fundamental expressions of faith and practice.
This movement is not the abandonment of a stream but a convergence. The work of God is inclusive not exclusive, bringing forth from the three streams those things which He has authenticated. Such issues as evangelism, missions, and the work of ministry by the power of the Spirit remain intact in this journey. His power continues to be released in marvelous ways in people’s lives, bringing about conversion, healing, release from bondages, and life change.
The Church’s rich and vital Biblical heritage in the power and primacy of the Word has been more completely undergirded as churches give more time in worship to the corporate reading of the Bible. This fulfills Paul’s admonition to Timothy to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching, and teaching.” Ironically, on Sunday mornings more Scripture is usually read in a traditional liturgical service than most Evangelical or Charismatic gatherings!
Our hearts are elated that you read this study to learn more about, What We Believe. With that said, it is our sincerest of prayers that you are compelled to join us in prayer, word, and deed to bridge any divisions or fragments within the Body of Christ so that we BE ONE in Him as He instituted between 29-AD – 33AD.
The Lord be with you,