Our core values are the primary qualities that form our foundation, and are drawn from biblical teachings.
These values relate to:
the upper life (God-focused aspects)
the inner life (self-awareness aspects), and
the outer life (other-focused aspects),
although these three areas obviously intersect at various points.
At The River Fellowship, we value the following:
We have come to know and experience deep love from God, as we have entered into an awareness of the Father heart of God, friendship with Jesus, and the intimacy of the Holy Spirit. Because God has poured out his love on us so generously, we are called to reciprocate this by loving him passionately in return, by loving our neighbour, and by loving ourselves. All intimacy begins with love. God is always good (regardless of the degree to which we understand the mystery of what he is up to at times); and God is love. Or, stated simply, God is good—sometimes mysterious, but always good.
At The River, we value the authority of Scripture as inspired and given by God, which is enlightened for us by the Holy Spirit who brings understanding and application to the hearing and preaching of it. We also believe that God speaks today through various expressions of the Holy Spirit—through prophecy and other gifts of the Spirit, and through the outworking of the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the believer.
Although we value prophecy and hearing God’s voice, we emphasize the need to carry these and other sign-gifts in a spirit of humility, reflecting the character of Christ. Gifting without character is deficient. And manifesting the fruit of the Spirit is just as important as the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit.
We celebrate the constant presence of God and honour him with focused, intimate worship and Christ-centered praise that is at times characterized by joy, laughter and dancing; at other times, by reflective silence. We choose to receive God in the manner that he decides to come to us, and in our meetings, we allow the Holy Spirit to hold the agenda, and to have the time he requires to do his work. We are not in a rush.
Although we usually worship the LORD with instruments and music at our regular gatherings, we believe in a lifestyle of worship—expressing reverence and adoration for God in everything we think, say and do.
Prayer is a cardinal value at The River, a key facet of our culture and lifestyle, and always plays a part at our meetings, whether through one of many forms of intercession, corporate prayer, or public prayer ministry—often accompanied by the laying on of hands. We believe in hearing God's voice, which denotes our concept of prayer more as a dialogue than a mere monologue. We value prayer in the home, encouraging husbands and wives to pray together regularly, and we also walk in what we consider to be obedience to prayer and fasting when called to it. Fasting is a regular part of our River lifestyle, and we rejoice in the breakthrough that consistently comes along with it.
We value the truth that we are the church, rather than that we merely go to church. When we meet, we are the church gathered, but we believe we are called to embody a lifestyle in the world that reflects the faithfulness and goodness of God. For us, the practice of spiritual gifts like prophecy and healing is not restricted to the gathered church meeting, although they are welcomed there, but functions as a powerful witness to non-believers outside the church of the relevance and goodness of God.
Our identity is that of sons and daughters of Father God—those of us who have received his forgiveness through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. We have fellowship with one another as family in Christ, and seek to live as his children together in a culture of honour—seeking to encourage and lift one another up, to call each other forward into greater spiritual maturity, and to reconcile with one another if and when necessary. We seek to walk in grace together.
Although we are a communion that forms a community of brothers and sisters in Christ, we also believe that God wants us to participate in the restoration of brokenness within actual family units and marriages. And we love our children at The River. One descriptive for our body that we have played with is: "The River: a fellowship of Jesus followers; friends becoming family; hungry for God."
HEALING & THE FINISHED WORK OF THE CROSS
We value the gift and practice of healing, both as a gathered body and also outside our meetings, to release a greater awareness of God’s presence in the world. We believe that the finished work of Christ on the cross does not just result in our salvation for some future date when we die, but also invites healing and the presence of God into our present lives in a special way, on earth as in heaven. We believe that God is good and that he desires to heal, despite our not always seeing every prayer answered.
Sometimes we need to pray for deliverance from spiritual oppression, or demonic opposition of some sort. At other times, inner healing is more what is needed, and walked out in a process over time.
SPIRIT, SOUL, BODY
We value the whole person, not just some ethereal spiritual dimension. The Greek notion of the human person is the triad of spirit, soul and body. The Hebrew worldview keeps it much simpler; nephesh (translated “soul”) covers the whole being. We believe that God wants to engage us in every part of our being: mind, will, emotions, body, spirit.
At The River, we believe that God has called us to reflect his beauty to the world through walking in holiness—being set apart from pride, and things like idolatry and ungodly sexual behaviours that detract attention from the beauty and goodness of the LORD. We believe that repentance and confession are gifts to the body of Christ, and, although we realize that our welcome and standing of acceptance before God are not based upon our personal conduct but based on what Jesus has done on the cross, we want to honour him by walking in the new nature he has given us. This is usually referred to as sanctification.
We value the process of taking up our cross daily in solidarity with Jesus' self-denial. Although Jesus has completed the work of salvation for us on the cross, he calls us as his followers to deny the sinful parts of ourselves (referred to biblically as our flesh), metaphorically to die with him, and to walk in the resurrected power and authority he has given us, the hope of a new life and a new nature.
GENEROSITY & STEWARDSHIP
We value walking in and releasing the overflow of Kingdom generosity. We truly believe that, as followers of Jesus and therefore as constituents of his Kingdom, everything we have and are belongs to God, and it is our goal to learn to steward his resources with wisdom, discernment, and generosity. We believe that it is important for us to tithe to the local church that we are a part of, to walk in Spirit-led giving and offerings to whomever the LORD may direct on top of our tithing, to sow into ministries outside of The River Fellowship, to give to individuals as the LORD leads; even to continue the Kingdom flow by releasing God's goodness through things like tipping generously in restaurants etc., provoking discussion and an opportunity to share the love of God.
As The River, we tithe more than 10% off the top from all monies received, and contribute to things like the building of houses for widows in India, support for orphans in Mozambique, humanitarian aid in North Korea, evangelism and churchplanting in Canada and elsewhere, and the spreading of the word of God through vernacular translation and also educational betterment in various other countries.
FORGIVENESS & RECONCILIATION
Forgiveness is one of the foundational theological tenets of Christian theology, and we value trying to be a community that cultivates both the receiving of forgiveness from God, and also reflecting what we have received by offering the gift of forgiveness to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Many of us find communication a challenge, especially when conflict is involved. But we want to walk out the Gospel of reconciliation in our body. So when there is conflict of some sort, or something needing to be worked out, in a spirit of honour, we encourage people not to talk about this with others but instead, to work it out as soon as possible between the parties involved, in order to come to a place of restored relationship. Love, forgiveness, reconciliation. That's what we want to reflect to the world; and to one another as brothers and sisters. The goodness of God taking on flesh. Our flesh. Reflecting his goodness and unity.
The Greek word for disciple, mathetes, means "learner" (the name Matthew comes from this word), and at The River, we value teachability and a heart of humility for learning from God and his word that looks like the fertile soil that receives the seed in Jesus' foundational parable of the sower. We value participation in discipleship (teaching foundations), spreading the Gospel through the Great Commission to reach the world through missions and evangelism, and serving the underprivileged both overseas and with local needs when appropriate, ministering to the whole person.
We believe that a life of discipleship is characterized by servanthood and a spirit of hospitality towards others, but this is carried out on the strength of knowing our identity in Christ as sons and daughters of the Father, and walking in the resulting authority that comes from this knowledge. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to release his authority, to engage in spiritual warfare, to spread the Gospel and baptize those who receive Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Saviour.
A life of discipleship is not just about what we do but about what and who we are; what we walk in, what we are being restored to. Character matters, and humility and servanthood in discipleship are the way of the Kingdom.