Simple & Focused
We are focused on our mission at Garden City. We evaluate everything we do on the basis of whether or not it helps or hinders us from being disciples who make disciples. As a result, we have a very focused and simple philosophy of ministry at Garden City. We say that we are like In-N-Out Burger, a place that focuses on doing just two things (burgers and fries), but does those two things really well. In line with our mission and our core values, Garden City is focused on doing just two things really well: Gathering and Scattering.
There is so much ministry and activity happening in and through our church, but it all flows from our rhythm of gathering and scattering. At Garden City you’ll find friends meeting for coffee, people serving the poor, one-on-one discipleship meetings, people playing together on a softball team or praying together downtown, parties and events, and so much more. But all of this is ministry and community, which is not officially planned by church leadership. It’s ministry that happens as an outflow of our rhythm of gathering and scattering.
Every Sunday Garden City gathers as a big family to worship God, hear the preaching of God’s Word, grow in discipleship, love and serve one another, take part in the sacraments, be equipped for ministry, and be a gospel witness to Silicon Valley. Sundays fuel us for a new week of ministry in the city.
During the week, Garden City gathers in smaller family units called Life Groups (LGs), which are the backbone of our church. LGs are the place where knowing and loving one another, disciple-making, and advancing the mission take place at a more intimate and accountable level. Groups range in size from 5-20+ people. Every LG operates around 3 commitments:
- We will pursue life-giving, life-changing discipleship together, advancing the mission of our church and the adventure of following Jesus.
- We will gather regularly as a family to eat together (or some other form of “table fellowship”), know and love one another, study along with the Garden City sermon series or other approved content that deepens discipleship, and pray (Acts 2:42).
- We will reproduce. We will develop and send people out of this group to start new LGs that reach, care for, and disciple more people in our city. We aim to reproduce our group within 2 years or less.
Gathering on Sundays and in your Life Group is critical to your own health, our whole church’s health, and it’s what fuels you for each new week of ministry in our city. Members prioritize gathering at the top of their weekly schedule. We are a church body that needs each member of the body to be present and functioning as a member of the body. We live in a city that is highly individualistic, where decisions are made only in reference to “me” and where even many Christians believe that passively attending a church service once or twice a month represents healthy Christianity. We are seeking to directly challenge and change this culture, to show our city what it looks like to belong to something much more exciting: a family on a mission to enjoy God, love one another, and love our city. We are seeking to be obedient to the New Testament, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Cor. 12:27).
From time to time we also gather at events that are sprinkled throughout the year — training classes, meetings, conferences, retreats, etc. — that supplement our mission to grow disciples, but our focus remains on Sundays and Life Groups.
We want everyone at Garden City to see themselves as missionaries to Silicon Valley. Most of Garden City’s ministry to the city happens during the week as software engineers, teachers, stay-at-home moms, carpenters, business leaders, college students, baristas, and entrepreneurs live as unique image bearers in their workplaces neighborhoods, and homes with gospel intentionality and with a view toward growing as disciples that make disciples and impact our city for Jesus.
Instead of asking you to attend a busy week of church programs, we want you scattered throughout our city, discovering the unique ways God wants to use you in our city. Our strategy for reaching the city is simple. Our strategy is people. Our strategy is the members of our church. Our strategy is you. God has already placed you in a particular place with particular relationships where you are called to advance the mission. We’re all learning from each other and we’re excited to learn from you and the unique ways God will use you to impact our city.
Making Disciples: Knowing, Loving, Training, Sending
At Garden City, we define discipleship as “growing in truth and love through relationship.” Through involvement with our rhythm of gathering and scattering, we want people to get engaged in discipleship relationships/friendships where they grow in truth and love—where they make progress, move forward, and mature as a disciple of Jesus. We have a simple discipleship process at Garden City where we help people move forward through four stages: Known, Loved, Trained, and Sent.
As you move deeper into the life of our church our hope is that you grow deeper as a disciple and wider in your reach of growing other disciples. Our expectation is that every member at Garden City enjoys relationships with Christians inside our church or non-Christians outside our church who they are intentionally, dependently growing towards maturity in Christ. We expect the members of our church to be personally growing as disciples, and to help others grow as disciples.