who we are
The Renewal of Lagos
The story of City Church is borne out of an aching vision to see the city of Lagos renewed through the Gospel. When Femi Osunnuyi and his wife, Tosin, were living in the UK they had both been Christians for some time and were immensely grateful for the Christian heritage that had been faithfully passed down to them. However, after a few years they discovered a Christian world that met their deepest intellectual, moral, spiritual and emotional needs in a way that neither required sticking to old lifeless forms of religion nor reinventing Christianity in a way that broke with 2000 years of faithful, godly witness. What they discovered was a Christianity that was ancient in its truth commitments and contemporary in its application.
our vision and mission
Catalyse & Build
The church exists for one vision –to be Christ’s light to the unbelieving world 1; and is tasked with one mission –to preach the gospel of His kingdom to all the corners of the earth in anticipation of His return 2. Each local expression of this universal body is tasked with contextualising this vision and mission for their time and location in history. For City Church, answering the question “Who we are?” is best expressed in our Vision, Mission and Values.
Our Vision is to:
Catalyse a gospel-centered movement that renews the city of Lagos spiritually, socially and culturally.
Our Mission is to:
BUILD A COMMUNITY OF WORSHIPPERS ON MISSION.
At The Core
Our Vision and Mission are rooted in the following three value statements:
Love Jesus | Love People | Love Lagos
Our Values are centred on love. We believe love to be the central Christian ethic 3. Christians worship one God who is a community of three Persons that have loved each other from all eternity 4. Furthermore, the Gospel that makes us Christians is rooted in the overflow of God’s love 5. The Old Testament People of God, Israel, were commanded to love God 6, neighbour 7, stranger 8 and resident city 9. As Christians living in the city of Lagos we believe we are called to follow those same commandments in light of the epochal event of Christ’s first coming. To do this we have adopted the values to Love Jesus, Love People and Love Lagos. Here’s what they mean:
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment of the Law given to Israel was, He said it was to love God with our entire being 10. As Christians, we understand Jesus to be the supreme revelation of Israel’s God to mankind 11. And therefore, what it means to love God is essentially to love Jesus 12. Practically, this means that City Church is a community that places an unashamed primacy on Christ-centered worship, preaching/teaching and prayer.
After speaking about the love of God, Jesus proceeded to speak about the love of neighbour as the second great commandment 13. As Christians, we understand this primarily to be a command to live in sacrificial love for members of our church family 14. Hence, what it looks like to love Jesus is to love people 15. Practically, this means that City Church is a community that emphasises deep communal and generous relationships. This requires crying together, rejoicing together, eating together, studying together, praying together and holding one another accountable.
Finally, we love Lagos. This is because our love for one another is intended to overflow to others outside our church community 16. We follow the example of the gospel where the Father and Son’s love for each other overflowed to save sinners, like us, and establish the church 17. Additionally, our love for our city is rooted in the fact that God loves cities 18 simply because He loves people 19. We are called to love the strangers to our church community, because they are God’s image-bearers in our wider community. Therefore, in our geographical context, what it means to love people is to love Lagos. Practically, this means City Church is a community that is concerned with brokenness and passionate about the flourishing of the city of Lagos. This requires contributing both creatively and redemptively to the city of Lagos’ development by being fervent about mission and social justice.
1 Matthew 5:14-15, Acts 13:47 | 2 Matthew 24:14, 28:18-20 | 3 1Corinthians 13:1-3, 13 | 4 1John 4:8b | 5 John 3:16 | 6 Deuteronomy 6:5 | 7 Leviticus 19:18 | 8 Leviticus 19:33-34, Deuteronomy 10:18-19 | 9 Jeremiah 29:11 | 10 Matthew 22:36-38 | 11 John 14:9, Hebrews 1:3 | 12 John 14:15, 21:15-17 | 13 Matthew 22:39 | 14 John 13:35, 15:12, 1John 3:16-18 | 15 1 John 4:20 | 16 Galatians 6:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:15 | 17 John 15:9-10 | 18 Psalms 122:6, Jeremiah 29:7 | 19 Jonah 4:11
Building A Culture
Our Emphases are the underlying themes that result in various activities which help to build a unique culture rooted in Our Values. These themes, drawn from Acts 2:42-47, are: Worship, Community, Learning, Mission, Justice, Prayer and Generosity.
What undergirds all these however, is our gospel-centric DNA. We truly believe that the gospel changes everything. It is the gospel that: makes us worship acceptably, births community, causes hunger for biblical learning, propels us out on mission, challenges us to work for justice, humbles us into prayer and inspires us to generosity.
Though biblical worship is related to our entire life’s disposition towards God1, here we are speaking more narrowly about our life when gathered together. Our gospel-shaped worship services are designed to exalt God, edify Christians and evangelise non-Christians. This is reflected through expository Christ-centered preaching, exuberant Spirit-filled songs of praise, collective confession of sin and our beliefs, congregational prayers and celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
Due to personal achievements and our natural bent towards Individualism, Lagosians tend to be instinctively self-autonomous. Despite being sociable, far too many of us lack deep, sacrificial and accountable relationships. In keeping with the biblical injunctions and models, City Church emphasises living together in vibrant community2. The importance of worshipping, eating, learning and serving together as a church is not only be verbalised but, built in to the structure of our operations. For example, our Gospel Communities, smaller groups meeting in homes, are at the heart of spiritual growth, community formation, accountability and mission of our church.
In order to address the appalling level of biblical illiteracy and theological ambivalence present among most Nigerian Christians bible teaching/study is a major part of City Church’s ethos. Though ‘theology’ is often seen as a dirty and alienating word, we are motivated to the central place of truth in the church3 by teaching (the doctrine and drama of the Bible) slowly, accessibly, consistently and applicably. This is why we are either studying Gospel-centred curricula or biblical books in our Gospel Communities or the whole church gathers together for Theology Days.
By mission we are referring to the broader spiritual, social and cultural impact made on our wider community by those who have been transformed by the gospel. We’re a church that emphasises inward gospel transformation with the goal of outward gospel blessing. We’re constantly trying to build a missional dynamic within our church by particularly focusing on: church planting, network evangelism (to non-Christians, nominal Christians and disillusioned and unchurched Christians), intersection between Christianity and Work, and the relevance of forming a biblical worldview to think Christianly about the arts, political activism and service. Our annual Lagos Questions Christianity event and our involvement in a variety of church planting networks demonstrate our commitment to Gospel-centred mission.
Most professional working Lagosians have established themselves through meritorious and diligent work. As a result, far too few of us have developed the softness of heart and compassion that comes with a life transformed by the gospel of God’s grace. As a gospel-centred church, we are committed to showing the social implications of the gospel by actively being involved with and promoting socially-just causes. This means we challenge our congregants to see that deeds of kindness for the marginalised and disenfranchised of society is simultaneously to show mercy and act justly4 as God simultaneously granted us mercy and acted justly in the Gospel5. One of the formal ways we demonstrate this is through the mandated Justice Initiatives adopted by each of Gospel Communities. We’ve been involved in helping Orphanages, clearing hospital bills for patients and working with unjustly held prison inmates.
While it is possible to have prayerful church that is not gospel-centred, it’s inconsistent to have a gospel-centred church isn’t prayerful. Prayer is probably the most vivid expression of Gospel centredness because God’s identity to us as Father as expressed in prayer6 only happens because of the Gospel7. Therefore, at City Church, not only is some form of prayer done in all our meetings, we have dedicated times of prayer in our Gospel Communities as well. Finally, we also have whole-church prayer meetings called Kingdom Centred Prayer days where we gather to pray, not for our personal needs as important as those are, but for the advancement of God’s kingdom in the city of Lagos.
The Gospel is premised on the basis that despite our rebellious worldliness God demonstrated his love towards us by giving his Son to perish in our place8;and on account of this he also generously poured out his Spirit on us9. The God of the Gospel is a giving God10. This is why Christians ought to be generous as well. The Gospel provides us with the most natural and strongest inspiration to be generous with our time, talent and treasure11. However, because God knows our hearts aren’t necessarily always disposed towards giving, he not only inspires us to give but he commands it as well12. At City Church we emphasise giving both as a command and as a necessary outcome of the Gospel in building a culture of generosity. It is no coincidence that God has ordained that the church’s needs and mission13 should be supported by the church’s living out its Gospel identity through giving14.
When the Apostle Paul planted churches he generally followed a certain pattern that resulted in establishing leaders in the church he called ‘elders’. After initiating a regular gathering of Christians, over time he would identify, train and appoint certain men to exercise overall leadership over the church. We intend on following this pattern. Along with, and led by, the lead pastor, City Church has a team of leaders we trust will become elders in the not-too-distant future.