In a previous blog post, we introduced the concept of a wheel, made up of HUB, SPOKES, and TYRE, as an analogy for the identity of the local church. We’ve spent a fair amount of time reflecting on the identity of the local church generally and on who we God is calling us to be specific to our context in Wolverhampton. As we’ve wrestled through theology, doctrine, ideas, and practical issues, it has become apparent that there are three key areas which together constitute a local church’s identity.

  • Core Rhythms – TYRE
  • Core Values – SPOKES
  • Core Beliefs – HUB

The word ‘core’ was intentionally chosen because there are many beliefs, values, and rhythms a local church could adopt, but not all of them are core. The identity of a local church is these three areas working together in tandem. Every local church works through them, whether consciously or unconsciously.

City Church Wolverhampton + wheel hub illustration

HUB | CORE BELIEFS

Core Beliefs make up the HUB of the wheel. Core Beliefs include things like: our confessional statement or statement of faith (more on that here), a biblical worldview (Acts 17:22-31), biblical theology (Luke 24:27, 44; Acts 28:23), and a biblical hermeneutic (Acts 2:14-36; Rom. 4:1-25; Gal. 4:21-31). The HUB is the ultimate source of drive for the local church; the core motivation for who the local church is, wants to be, and what it does. Core Beliefs provide a timeless anchor in an ever-changing world. If the local church’s Core Beliefs (HUB) are off-centre, her identity as a whole (the wheel) will be steered off course from the normal, healthy functioning of a local church.

KEY QUESTIONS: When a local church begins to ask, “who are we?”, “where did we come from?”,” where we going?”, and “how can we know these things?”, both as part of the Church Universal (macro) and as a local church in a particular time and place (micro), they are beginning to ask HUB-related questions.
City Church Wolverhampton + wheel spokes illustration

SPOKES | CORE VALUES

Core Values are represented by the SPOKES on the wheel. Core Values are the key to ensuring that the Core Beliefs and Core Rhythms rightly relate to one another. The ‘co-worker’ relationship between Christ and his Church is most visible in this area (1 Cor. 3:9; Phil. 2:12-13; Col. 1:29). Core Values transfer Gospel drive from the Core Beliefs (HUB) to the Core Rhythms (TYRE) by ensuring that a local church’s Core Beliefs produce the right Core Rhythms as well as verifying that their Core Rhythms accurately reflect their Core Beliefs. They are also key to maintaining the shape of the church’s identity (the wheel as a whole) by holding Core Beliefs and Core Rhythms in tension. A local church without Core Values is like a wheel without spokes, it loses its shape, the HUB comes off-centre and the TYRE falls off. Some Core values are actualised, while others are aspirational, and still others are subconscious or unstated. Core Values are key to giving a local church’s identity strength and flexibility while staying on course.

Key questions: When a local church begins to ask, “how do our beliefs affect what we do in practice?” and “what do our Core Rhythms say about our Core Beliefs?”, they are beginning to ask SPOKE-related questions.
City Church Wolverhampton + wheel tyre illustration

TYRE | CORE RHYTHMS

Core Rhythms are represented by the TYRE. They are where the rubber meets the road. They are the practical working out of a local church’s conscious or unconscious Core Beliefs and Core Values. Core Rhythms are established as a local church seeks to obey God’s commands by marshalling the resources (time, talents, treasure, and people) which he has entrusted to it. We chose the word ‘rhythms’ because it lends itself to the idea that the local church’s practices must be patterned after its Core Beliefs and there ought to be a regularity to them. Just as the TYRE is the part of the wheel that leaves an observable imprint on the ground, the Core Rhythms are the part of the local church that is most visible to the watching world.

Key Question: When a church begins to ask, “what are we doing with the resources the Lord has entrusted to us?” and “how are we doing with practicing and obeying our Core Values?”, they are asking TYRE-related questions.

THE GOAL

The identity of a local church is the sum of these three parts – HUB, SPOKES, and TYRE – expressed together. The danger for any local church is that what goes into each one may be unconscious, unstated, or simply wrong. Therefore, the goal of the wheel is to allow a church to intentionally consider and become conscious of, what things lie in each area. For a church plant, the wheel is helpful in considering and praying through what needs to be put into it in order for it to become a healthy, growing church. One local church may naturally begin with the Core Rhythms, while another may want to start with Core Beliefs. At the end of the day, the key is not in starting from the right place, but intentionally considering all three areas.

PERSONAL IDENTITY

We believe that the analogy of a wheel for the identity of the local church is also applicable to other organisations, as well as families and individuals. So they question then becomes, as an individual, what are your Beliefs, Values, and Rhythms? What does how you spend your time (Core Rhythm) say about your Core Values, and, ultimately, your Core Beliefs?  If a personal Core Value is that you prioritise your marriage and children over career, further study, leisure, personal time, etc., what Core Belief (HUB) does that come out of? And are you regularly prioritising time with your spouse and children (Core Rhythm)?

Author

  • Timothy Berry

    Tim and Renske met and were married in Toulouse, France. They have three wonderful children: Matthijs, Anouk, and Jaana. Before planting City Church Wolverhampton, they served at Mendham Hills Community Church in Chester, NJ as the Pastor of Worship Arts. Tim is ordained by the Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA).