The following vision statement was written by the Rev. Michael L. Lindvall, The Brick Church's current senior minister:
- In a period of church history that is witnessing increasing distances between conservative and liberal Christians, I imagine a Brick Church that continues to be characterized by what I would name “a generous orthodoxy.” By this I mean a faith community that is theologically centrist and is clearly centered in Jesus Christ, well rooted in the gospel, proudly set in the Reformed theological stream and an engaged part of our Presbyterian denomination. That’s the orthodox part. At the same time, I imagine a Brick Church that is welcoming and supportive of the many seekers in a community like ours, people whose faith is not so clearly centered, in fact, often tentative or still in formation. That’s the generous part. This is to say, I believe that as Christians we should focus more on our theological center and not fuss quite so much about setting the boundaries.
- We are a church with a singular heritage of thoughtful, formal, liturgical worship. Brick Church members care about good worship and excellent music and are prepared to reflect theologically about how we worship. In an era of church history characterized by carelessness and stress around worship in many churches, I believe that The Brick Church can offer exemplary Reformed worship, generally traditional and formal, worship that will both nourish all who worship with us and be an example to the larger church of worship done well. Our Presbyterian tradition is said to be one that is “reformed and always reforming.” This is true of worship as well as theology.
- We are a congregation blessed with extraordinary resources, financial resources as well as exceptionally talented members — this in a city, a nation, and a world of desperate human need. The Brick Church has a 250-year history of mission engagement to the world around us. I imagine building on this heritage to become ever more a church reaching out to the city and the world in mission and service. I imagine that such outreach might mean not only a gradually growing percentage of the budget going to benevolences, but also and perhaps more importantly, more and more of our members volunteering time and talent through Brick Church mission partnerships. Frankly, the Christian integrity of a church as blessed as ours, the integrity of Christians as fortunate as we are, calls for nothing less.
- Some historians say we are moving into a “post-Christian era.” I’m loathe to be so glib, but I do know this: the world around us knows less and less of the Christian story. Members of our churches, seekers who come through our doors, even men and women who become officers in the church know less about the faith, know less Bible, less theology, less of the history and governance of the church than they once did and that not so long ago. This fact, which is a common lament across all regions and traditions, means that our educational programs: Children’s Sunday Church School, youth programs, and adult education are more important than they ever have been. To that end, I imagine a Brick Church ever more focused on an educated, intelligent faith that is more Biblically literate, more theologically curious and engaged, and better informed as what it means to be a Christian and a Presbyterian.
- Finally, we are a city church, a church in a wonderful city that can also be frantic, alienating, lonely, selfish and cynical. So more than most congregations set in easier and lesser places, we are called to be a church of gracious welcome, a healthy, supportive, and loving Christian community. This must be true everywhere throughout the church —the staff, the officers, and Sunday worshippers in their demeanor toward the lonely young girl who just moved to Yorkville from Tennessee, worked up the courage to come to Brick Church on a Sunday morning and slides into the pew in front of them. We are called to be a place where all are welcome: young, old, rich, poor, straight, gay, black, Asian, or white.
We are called to be a place that works differently than the world around us. That is, in order to be faithful Christians, we sometimes have to become downright “countercultural.” If the world is frantic, we have to be an island of peace. If the world is alienating, we need to be a hotbed of hospitality. If the world is lonely, we need to be place of intimate community. If the world is selfish, we need to be a center for sharing. If the world is cynical, we must be people who trust each other. People don’t come to church for more of the same old world. They come seeking God, of course. But they, just like you and me, also come seeking a family of faith where they will be embraced for who they are and where their abilities will be used for the blessing of the world.