What Makes Us Different?
In many ways, churches are very similar in their beliefs and practices. At the core, our Christian faith is centered around the belief that Jesus is God in the flesh, and that He came to redeem humankind from sin and death through His own death on the cross. Many churches revere the Holy Bible, meet together for worship on Sundays, and hold many other beliefs and practices in common. So, what is it that makes The Sanctuary different? How do we stand out among the many other churches out there?
1) We are affirming.
Probably the most distinctive of our characteristics is that we are an affirming church. While this primarily relates to matters of sexuality and gender identity (i.e. being LGBTIQ+), we mean it in a more widespread and general sense. We affirm all people, regardless of race, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other inherent trait that, sadly, has been a cause for division so many times throughout Christianity’s history.
If you trace that history back to the Church’s founding on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), you’ll discover that from the very beginning, we have ostracized those we considered “others,” even to the point of doubting their ability to be reconciled to God! During the days of the early church, the “others” were Gentiles, whom the first Christians (Jews who believed in Christ) didn’t believe could receive salvation. Moving forward in history, we find a number of groups that the Church has “othered” at one time for another, including women, Blacks, and members of the LGBT community.
The Sanctuary stands as a congregation that affirms all of these groups, and seeks to destroy the margins that traditionalists and religious conservatives continue to create. In Christ’s Church, there should be no “other,” for in Him, we are all one (Gal. 3:28).
2) We are diverse.
Generations ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked that the most segregated hour in America is 11am on Sunday morning–the time that many Christians traditionally gather to worship. How horrible is it that we, who proudly bear the name of Christ, allow the stain of racial separation to continue to infect our churches, all these years after Dr. King lay bare this brutal reality?
Well, this is not The Sanctuary’s testimony. It is our heart and passion to have a ministry that looks like Heaven; and we know that there is no “White Heaven” or “Black Heaven,” or “Gay Heaven” or “Straight Heaven.” All of God’s people will be together, with none of these superficial divisions between us. But why wait until we get to Heaven to enjoy this ideal? The Sanctuary strives to live out this reflection of God’s love and impartiality in the here and now.
Our church family is comprised of Blacks and Whites, gays and straights, males and females, older and younger, cisgender and transgender, Democrats and Republicans… and this is a big one–right-handed and left-handed people. Imagine that!! All are welcome at the Lord’s table; and unlike so many churches that make the claim, when we say, “Whosoever will, let him (or her) come,” we actually mean it!
3) We are charismatic.
One of the biggest dividers of Christian churches in this generation is what we believe about the work of the Holy Spirit today. Some churches believe that all of the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit that we read about in Scripture were only evidenced in the early church, during the time of the original apostles. Others believe that while those gifts/manifestations may happen today, they’re fairly rare, and only manifest in the lives of those specifically chosen by the Spirit. And then, there are congregations like The Sanctuary, who believe very strongly that the supernatural manifestations of the Spirit are not only available today, but are available to all believers, and should be a natural part of both the corporate life of the church, as well as the individual lives of each member.
When read through the proper lens, Scripture is actually quite emphatic about the fact that these supernatural manifestations are a major part of the Kingdom of God. Not only were they central to Jesus’ ministry (everywhere He preached the Kingdom, He healed the sick and cast out demons), but they were also central to the ministry of those who took up the mantle after His ascension; and not only the apostles, but many others, as well. The apostle Paul went so far as to say that the Kingdom of God isn’t about words (i.e. good preaching), but about power (1Co. 4:20), and that without this dynamic, supernatural power, we’re living way beneath our heritage and responsibility as citizens of this Kingdom.
So, at The Sanctuary, you will see both the pursuit and practice of God’s divine empowerments, including speaking in tongues, prophecy, divine healing, seeing in the spirit realm, casting out demons, and more. It is not done as a show, or put on with great fanfare and production, but as an expression of our loving God, who has empowered us to live naturally supernatural lives!
We Are The Sanctuary
It is a bold thing to call oneself a sanctuary. Whenever I see a church that dares to take the name, I can’t help but wonder if it was just a cute word for them (an easy branding opportunity), or if they really are a sanctuary–a place of safety… of rest from the worries and pains of a brutal world. Sadly, much of that brutality is being found in the Church these days, so I can’t help but be concerned whenever I see a church called “Sanctuary.”
But this is precisely why The Sanctuary bears its name. We strive to be a place of safety and refuge for all, even and especially those who have been ostracized, marginalized, or kicked out of more traditionalist, conservative churches. This is especially important for believers who happen to be relatively conservative in their theological beliefs, e.g. holding a high view of Scripture, being charismatic (believing that the miracles attested to in Scripture are literal and available today), and believing in the realities of sin and death, and salvation through Jesus Christ. Some of the more progressive or liberal congregations that may be affirming do not always hold to these fundamental truths, so The Sanctuary offers, in a manner of speaking, the best of both worlds–an affirming environment that holds to a high view of Scripture.
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These are just a few of the things that make The Sanctuary distinct among the many congregations around. We hope you’ll stop by and experience these awesome characteristics together with us, and discover even more that can help you decide to make our church your home.