Guiding Ideas

Our Guiding Ideas....

So often churches talk about values, but we believe that what matters most are not values but Guiding Ideas. Values may be cited in an answer to a board or leadership team, and might be important to state biblical values as aspirations, but Guiding Ideas communicate what make us as a church unique from every other church in Squamish.

Here's a question. How many different species of Beetles did God create? Did you know that over 350,000 different species of beetles exist in the world, and many more are being discovered on a regular basis. God continues to create new species all the time. Each new species adapts and evolves to it’s unique environment. Shoudn’t the church be the same? Adapting, evolving, to fit it’s unique environment? So many different Beetles, and yet we can only think of one way to do church!!   You’d think God is way more creative than that.  

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “The first thing God corrects in us is our dream for the church.” So the River Church wants to create an environment where people are released to dream.

Here are some of our Guiding Ideas


We have embraced 7 Guiding Ideas that spell out the acronym GET REAL. We desire to be a people who are real, not fake. If God loves us for who we are, accepts us as we are, that means we don't have to feel like a bunch of posers, wanna-be's or fakers. We believe the table Jesus invites us to is a table of grace and mercy, and that means He invites us to GET REAL.

We want to be authentic, not always presenting our best - like we've got it all figured out. Like we've somehow arrived. We want to take Jesus' Word seriously where it says that we can boast about our weakness, knowing that God's strength is somehow made perfect in our weakness. We desire to be a people who model what it looks like to GET REAL knowing that Jesus' "Way" is the best way. 

Refreshingly Grace Filled

1 Corinthians 15:10 says, “But whatever I am now, it is because God poured out His special favour (grace) on me – and not without results.”

The world doesn't understand grace. What it understands is KARMA - it understands Religion. Karma and Religion is all about self-effort. What I can do to make the cut or better my future life. It's working for God's favor rather than just receiving His grace, which is found in the person of Jesus. Karma and Religion take the position of work; Grace takes the position of Rest. Jesus invites us to enter the rest only He can provide (Hebrews 4).



We are saved by grace, we live by grace and we live to extend grace to others and ourselves. But we can only give away what we have first discovered ourselves. The scriptures tell us "freely we have received, now freely give." Jesus was full of grace and truth, so we too desire to be a people full of grace. 


Joyfully Engaging

Philippians 2:13 says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him.”

One of the things working against us is that we live in a culture shaped by consumerism. We have been trained right from birth to consume, rather than contribute. So in order to resist this trend, we have created a spiritual pathway that lends itself to contribution rather than to consumption. Simply put, we desire to be a people who engage - not consume. No spectators - no consumers.

The River is all about diving in. God does not play it safe, nor does He invite us to play it safe. He doesn't play in the shallows or the shore - He calls you and I from the edge, to the deep because that's where we grow the best. He calls us to use our gifts (1 Cor. 12:4-11; Eph. 4:11-13) and to see our faith as something active not passive. This is part of what it means to embrace the priest and the priestess in you (Rev. 5:10). So the invitation is to come along and experience what it means to be joyfully engaging.

Undividedly Truth-Based 

Romans 12:1-2 says, “This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing what you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

We can believe a lie about God, others or ourselves. And let there be no mistaking it - a lie is powerful. It can rule our lives. We have all been labeled as kids, some positive labels and some very negative. But biblically we see that only God has the power to label us. And when we embrace what He says about us, we begin to experience freedom.

So how do we begin to shed the lies we believe? By beginning to submit to a different mantra: God's mantra for you and I. Where do we get to know that life giving mantra? Ultimately it is in and through Jesus' life and giving Word - the Holy Scripture. How are we transformed? By renewing our minds through the Truth. We desire to be people who as a result of knowing the Person of Truth, become a people undividedly truthful, not a bunch of fakers, posers and wannabes. Knowing we are loved right where we are at, we can be real. We don't just speak the truth, but live out what it means to be true.

Wholly Relational 

Galatians 5:13 says,  "For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love."

More than 50 times in the New Testament the phrase "one another" is used: "love one another;" "encourage one another;" "accept one another;" "bear one another's burdens;" "build up one another;" "pray for one another."  A Simple Church is the best place to be there for "one another" in all these ways.

Life and "ministry" is all about relationships, not programs. Look back on your growth and development as a follower of Jesus and you will see that your growth didn't come through taking another class - pounding more and more information into your minds. It came in the context of a trusting Spirit-led relationship. We believe that we are transformed as we do life together. As we put ourselves into environments where we are known by others, we experience more of Jesus. This is why the Church is described as Christ's Body or as a Family. The Christian life was never meant to be walked alone; it has always been about community.

Unashamedly Experiential

Psalm 34:8 says “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”
The Greeks read the scriptures to inform their intellects; the Jews read the scriptures to experience their God. This walk with God is meant to be experienced. The invitation is to taste and see - experience God with your whole person.
The scriptures speak of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As we consider this idea of a relational experience I can't help but think of the Orthodox teaching on Trinity. The Trinity as an eternal dance of Father, Son and Spirit sharing mutual love, honor, happiness, joy and respect is a beautiful picture. God is inviting us more and more into this eternal dance of joy, not to reflect this same kind of community. Sin means that people are stepping out of the dance, corrupting its beauty and rhythm - crashing and tackling and stomping on feet instead of moving with grace, rhythm and reverence. Then in Jesus, God enters creation to restore the rhythm and beauty again. It is in and through Jesus we can enter the dance and grow in intimacy with the Father. God the Father invites you and I to press into all it means to live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. 

Wildly Authentic 

2 Corinthians 4:7 says “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”


I heard Elizabeth Elliot tell a story of her time as a missionary in Ecuador working with the Auca Indians, the very tribe who killed her first husband Jim Elliot in 1956. She tells this story of when they as missionaries would walk miles outside the camp to get fresh drinking water. When they would return to their village with large containers filled with cool spring water, the Auca people would surround them with excitement. She made this connection that they were not at all interested in the containers, but the contents the containers held. I think the same thing is also true of us. We as followers of Jesus have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Paul in the book of Romans tells us that God has poured His love into us by the Holy Spirit. People are not so interested in you and I, for we are simply the broken clay pots which contain God’s Spirit. We all know how easy it is to hide our true selves from one another and from God. Present well. We need to be reminded often that they are not interested in us anyways. We are simply the containers. This is why we believe that it is through the very cracks in our lives that the light of Christ shines. Cover the cracks, and somehow the light of Christ in us is diminished.

We don't want to run from our weaknesses, we want to learn what it mans to embrace our weaknesses. As we embrace our weakness, we can discover the reality that Jesus wants to be strong in our weakness. We believe that as we live lives of authenticity, we begin to live in greater dependence on God. Dependency leads to greater wonder, safety and trust. This is what helps create a hospitable, warm and inviting community.

Practically Loving 

Romans 5:5 says “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

The ancient Holy Scriptures had multiple words for love. One of them is this word: agape.

Our world tells us that love is often seen as a need, something we get from others. Agape is the opposite. Agape gives and gives no matter what. It is unconditional love. On our own we don’t have what it takes to love this way. But it is Christ in us that enables us to love this way. I like this picture - In order to love this way we need to have a blood transfusion with Jesus. Only then can we have liquid agape flowing our veins.

No spectators. No consumers. Love is an action word, not just a nice concept. Jesus left the nice gated community of heaven to show us what God is like. In the same way Christ’s love in us gets us off the couch. As we are immersed in the grace of God found in Jesus, the Holy Spirit enables you and I to live this love out to others.