Our priorities are captured by three words: HEAR, WORSHIP, and SACRIFICE.
We come to know God's love as we HEAR His word by faith.
We love God through WORSHIP and we love others through SACRIFICE.
1) HEAR -- Hearing the Word of God by faith is the first priority at Poplar Springs. We emphasize expository teaching and preaching of the Scriptures.
The Word of God reveals God's love through Jesus Christ to us. His love is foundational, primary, and revelatory. Apart from divine revelation, fallen humans cannot know God and therefore do not know true love. How can we love one we do not know? Faith in God produces love (Gal 5:6), but faith only comes by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17; also note the connection between the command to love God and all-the-time instruction in Deut 6:4ff). Prior to knowing his love for us, we did not love God and could not love others. Thus, we had broken the two greatest commandments, but God loved us while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8). Only by his transforming love in us are we now able to fulfill God’s will. God forgives sin and changes hearts so that we will love him with all that we are in accordance with the promised New Covenant (Deut 30:6; cf. Jer 32:38-40; Ezek 36:25-29). Although we are not perfect, we now struggle against the sin in our lives by his power, knowing that it has ultimately been defeated. In addition, God's love becomes the source of our obedience to the second commandment to love others. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." (1 John 4:9-12; ESV).
This priority undergirds our preaching and teaching ministries.
2) WORSHIP -- Loving God through worship is the second priority in terms of order since we must first come to know His love for us. However, loving God is the ultimate goal and mission of our ministry as a church.
We are commanded to love God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our might (Deut 6:4 -5; Matt 22:36-40; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). This is the greatest commandment. To love God with all of one's being is synonymous with making Jesus Christ one's First Love (Matt 10:37; Luke 10:16; John 5:23; 8:42; 15:23; 1 John 2:23; 3:23).
This priority undergirds our Worship Ministry.
3) SACRIFICE -- Loving others through sacrifice is the third priority. Love for others is the inevitable result of knowing and loving God (1 John 4:7-8, 19; 5:1, 20). Thus, love for others is the culmination of love for God and the fulfillment of God's will for humanity (Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:14; James 2:8).
The essence of biblical (i.e. true) love for others is sacrifice as exemplified by Jesus Christ (John 15:12; Rom 5:7; Eph 5:2, 25; see also Luke 10:25-37; 14:12-14). We love others sacrificially in order that they might come to know God's love through us and make Jesus Christ their first love.
This priority undergirds our compassion and missions ministries.