What We Believe

Mary Magdalene and Some of the Twelve from ‘The Chosen’ TV SeriesMary Magdalene and some of the Twelve - © The Chosen We hold and practice traditional, orthodox Christian beliefs. Among those are the belief that the one true and living God exists in three persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — who are each fully God, and the belief that all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, and for training in righteousness.

We also recognize that there are many beliefs that honest, intelligent, sincere Jesus followers disagree on. While we do not affirm beliefs that are clearly contrary to Scripture, we are guided in all things by the same love that Jesus showed everyone. We strive, in everything, to love and welcome people just as he would have.

Beyond these beliefs, there are four concepts that provide the framework for everything we do.


The concept of the Kingdom of God is referenced more than 100 times in Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s writings about Jesus. It is the message that he preached (Luke 4:43) and the reality that he embodied (Matthew 4:23).

It’s also a concept that many have missed. Dallas Willard writes:

When all is said and done, “the gospel” for many on the theological right is that Christ made “the arrangement” that can get us into heaven. In the Gospels, by contrast, “the gospel” is the good news of the presence and availability of life in the kingdom, now and forever, through reliance on Jesus the Anointed.

Willard’s Divine Conspiracy brings us back to the fullness of God’s plan for us — a plan that begins with his kingdom:

To gain deeper understanding of our internal kind of life in God’s present Kingdom, we must be sure to understand what a kingdom is. Every last one of us has a “kingdom”—or a “queendom,” or a “government”—a realm that is uniquely our own, where our choice determines what happens.
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Our “kingdom” is simply the range of our effective will. Whatever we genuinely have the say over is in our kingdom. And our having the say over something is precisely what places it within our kingdom. In creating human beings God made them to rule, to reign, to have dominion in a limited sphere.
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Now God’s own “kingdom,” or “rule,” is the range of his effective will, where what he wants done is done. The person of God himself and the action of his will are the organizing principles of his kingdom, but everything that obeys those principles, whether by nature or by choice, is within his kingdom.
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The Old Testament book of Psalms comes to a joyous, breathtaking celebration of God’s kingdom in Psalms 145-150. The picture there presented must be kept in mind whenever we try to understand his kingdom. Then we will not doubt that the kingdom has existed from the moment of creation and will never end (Psalm 145:13; Daniel 7:14). It cannot be “shaken” (Hebrews 12:27f) and is totally good. It has never been in trouble and never will be. It is not something that human beings produce or, ultimately, can hinder. We do have an invitation to be a part of it, but if we refuse we only hurt ourselves.

It is critical to understand that we have all been invited into this kingdom and that it is a present reality:

The reality of God’s rule, and all of the instrumentalities it involves, is present in action and available with and through the person of Jesus. That is Jesus’ gospel. … New Testament passages make plain that this Kingdom is not something to be “accepted” now and enjoyed later, but something to be entered now (Matthew 5:20; 18:3; John 3:3,5). It is something that already has flesh-and-blood citizens (John 18:36; Philippians 3:20) who have been transformed into it (Colossians 1:13) and are fellow workers in it (Colossians 4:11).
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The damage done to our practical faith in Christ and in his government-at-hand by confusing heaven with a place in distant or outer space, or even beyond space, is incalculable. Of course God is there too. But instead of heaven and God always being present with us, as Jesus shows them to be, we invariably take them to be located far away and, most likely, at a much later time—not here and not now.

Jennifer M. Rosner sums up well what the concept of kingdom means for SoFo Church:

The gospel of Jesus is about God’s kingdom and its power and presence in and among us. It is about God’s final and definitive no to all of the forces that work against human life and flourishing. For us, it is about living into this kingdom, shaping our lives around it, and pointing others toward it.


So Jesus tells us that life in the kingdom is now one of our options. How do we choose it?

Many of us recognize what Willard describes:

So as things now stand we have, on the one hand, some kind of “faith in Christ” and, on the other, the life of abundance and obedience he is and offers. But we have no effective bridge from the faith to the life. Some do work it out. But when that happens it is looked upon as a fluke or an accident, not a normal and natural part of the good news itself. Prayer also may seem to “work” for some. But who knows how or why? In any way, effectiveness in prayer is not required—either to go to heaven when you die or to be committed to the cause of liberation.

We settle back into de facto alienation of our religion from Jesus as a friend and teacher, and from our moment-to-moment existence as a holy calling or appointment with God. Some will substitute ritual behavior for divine vitality and personal integrity; others may be content with an isolated string of “experiences.”

We must learn from Jesus how to live life in the kingdom — actually become like him. Willard:

Jesus came among us to show and teach the life for which we were made. He came very gently, opened access to the governance of God with him, and set afoot a conspiracy of freedom and truth among human beings. Having overcome death he remains among us. By relying on his word and presence we are enabled to reintegrate the little realm that makes up our life into the infinite rule of God. And that is the eternal kind of life. Caught up in his active rule, our deeds become an element in God’s eternal history. They are what God and we do together, making us part of his life and him a part of ours.

We grow to be like Jesus by becoming a disciple of Jesus. Unlike 2,000 years ago, that’s not a word we hear in everyday life anymore. We hear “apprentice” more than “disciple”, but still not very often. At SoFo Church, you’ll usually hear us use the term “Jesus follower”. Those terms all mean the same thing, though: We are committed to following Jesus with the intent to become just like him, which is his goal for all of us (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18) and our primary mission (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:11-13).


We have all been invited to live in the kingdom. We do that by following Jesus and becoming more and more like him. One of the things that happens as we do that is we begin to see the world as he did. Willard:

Jesus’ good news about the kingdom can be an effective guide for our lives only if we share his view of the world in which we live. To his eyes this is a God-bathed and God-permeated world. It is a world filled with the glorious reality, where every component is within the range of God’s direct knowledge and control—though he obviously permits some of it, for good reasons, to be for a while otherwise than as he wishes. It is a world that is inconceivably beautiful and good because of God and because God is always in it. It is a world in which God is continually at play and over which he constantly rejoices. Until our thoughts of God have found every visible thing and event glorious with his presence, the word of Jesus has not yet fully seized us.

We live the same lives we live now, but in an increasingly different way. Willard again:

Because we are spiritual beings, it is for our good, individually and collectively, to live our lives in interactive dependence upon God and under his kingdom rule. Every kind of life, from the cabbage to the water buffalo, lives from a certain world that is suited to it. It is called to that world by what it is. There alone is where its well-being lies. Cut off from its special world it languishes and eventually dies.

This is how the call to spirituality comes to us. We ought to be spiritual in every aspect of our lives because our world is the spiritual one. It is what we are suited to. Thus Paul, from his profound grasp of human existence, counsels us, “to fill your mind with the visible, the ‘flesh,’ is death, but to fill your mind with the spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

As we increasingly integrate our life into the spiritual world of God, our life increasingly takes on the substance of the eternal. We are destined for a time when our life will be entirely sustained from spiritual realities and no longer dependent in any way upon the physical.

As we do that, we begin to see God working through us to do the same thing he was doing through Jesus:

God was pleased to have all of himself live in Jesus, and through Jesus to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven (Colossians 1:19-20)

Everywhere Jesus followers go, society should become more like the good that God wishes for it to be. He has a strategic plan and purpose for each of us to continue Jesus’ work of making all things new (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-19). That work won’t be fully complete until he returns, but the world should be increasingly better because we are in it and letting God work through us.

If our jobs, our neighborhoods, and our communities aren’t better because we’re there, we’re not yet doing the same things that Jesus did (John 14:12).


Bob Roberts says, “If you start with the church, you don’t always get the kingdom. But if you start with the kingdom, you always get the church.” We can go to church all our lives and never even hear about the kingdom, much less learn to live in it. But for people following Jesus — being transformed by him and being used by him to transform the society around them — church is absolutely essential. We can’t live this life on our own. That’s why kingdom comes first for us. Church will follow naturally if we get the right things in the right order.

We want to be a first-century church for the 21st century. We want SoFo Church to have the same power and impact on the world that the early church had on theirs.

In his letter to Theophilus, Luke said there were four things that characterized that first church:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. . . . And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42,48)

What does a healthy, kingdom-focused group of Jesus followers look like? They are devoted to four things: Learning about God and his ways, deep relationships where they share one another’s burdens and struggles, spending regular time together, and prayer.

At SoFo Church, we will focus on those four things. We believe when we do, we will see God work with power in the same way that he did then.