Sacred Roots: The Great Tradition and Christian Community

Re-forming Our Identity on the Apostolic Faith 

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One of our central passions is to help urban churches participate as fully-functioning contributors to the Church worldwide. We contend that urban churches can embody and defend the historic orthodox faith, anchoring their faith on a Christ-focused reading of the Scriptures, informed by the Great Tradition. These “common roots” of the ancient Church represent the underlying tradition that particular movements and denominations draw upon, embrace, and confess. We unashamedly anchor our resources in a Christ-centered, biblical confession that coincides with the Nicene Creed.
As an evangelical institution, we work with various other evangelical churches and organizations to confess the lordship of Jesus Christ, and to share the Good News of the Kingdom. We strive in all our endeavors to enable urban churches confess a faith and live out a spirituality that is rooted in historic orthodoxy. As we rediscover the confession of Jesus Christ given to the Church from the Apostles, we are transformed, renewed, and mobilized to be Christ's witnesses in the city. We move forward by looking back, going "back to the future," as it were. As we remain true to the historic faith, we are empowered for a fresh urban cultural application of the ancient faith and practice.

Drawing from the Ancient Sources: Retrieving and Embodying the Historic Christian Faith Today

Look for special resources and events TUMI will make available which are associated with our search for the Church's Sacred Roots. We invite you to join us as we seek to make the urban church more aware of and transformed by the Great Tradition and its Christus Victor motif!

Sacred Roots: Urban Christians Retrieving the Great Tradition
Read carefully TUMI’s commitment to helping urban churches rediscover and reappropriate the Great Tradition through a rethinking of our Sacred Roots. Explore with us new ways in which this tradition may renew evangelical faith and mission in the cities among the poor.

The Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future
Today, as in the ancient era, the Church is confronted by a host of master narratives that contradict and compete with the gospel. The pressing question is: who gets to narrate the world? The Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future challenges Evangelical Christians to restore the priority of the divinely inspired biblical story of God's acts in history.

Of Whose Spirit Are We? A Primer on Why We Seek to Retrieve the Great Tradition for the City Church
Today, the contemporary evangelical church finds itself situated in an age of postmodernism, civil religion, hedonism, pragmatism, and egocentrism, all of which (to some degree) have influenced the worship and service of the body of Christ. These challenges call for a new discovery and reappropriation of the faith once for all delivered to the people of God. To meet these threats and to take advantage of our present opportunities, we must be transformed by the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Read more on how we can begin!

The Importance of the Great Tradition for A Vital Shared Spirituality: A Safe, Easy Way to Renew Urban Churches
Vital healthy church planting movements among the poor assumes a richness in spiritual formation, a depth of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and an authentic love for all the saints. The key, therefore, to urban church renewal is finding ways for believers in community to discover and retrieve both the content and the expression of our one true faith, rooted in the apostles' doctrine and tradition. This graphic highlights the various dimensions of such a dynamic and enriching spirituality, one which balances personal piety with humble service, that emphasizes the Word and the Lord's Supper, that incorporates new Christians in a community focused on the life and mission of Jesus Christ. Renewal emerges from our commitment to live the Christ-life in community, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God. For those interested in building a confession, spirituality, and mission based on a retrieval of the Great Tradition, these documents can show you where to start!

The Purpose, Elements, and Advantages of Shared Spirituality argues how we can be transformed and renewed by a rediscovery of the power of the Great Tradition, i.e., that faith and practice from the time of Christ and the apostles to the fifth century. Sowing Good Seed: First Steps in Recapturing the Great Tradition in Shared Spirituality offers practical, easy-to-apply steps for individuals, groups, and congregations to learn how to keep “the main thing the main thing” in spiritual growth and missional outreach.

The Revised Common Lectionary
The lectionary is a Bible reading program drafted specifically in order to help congregations who participate read through the major sections and stories of the Scriptures over a three year period. The Years A, B, and C refer to the Gospel readings according to the evangelists, Year A referring to Matthew, Year B to Mark, and Year C to Luke’s Gospel. During these separate years the Gospel readings will coincide with these books. The practice of reading the Scriptures in public worship services dates back from ancient practices in the early Church.

For a concise yet meaty bibliography on the early church and the Great Tradition.

Lectionary Resource Links

Once Upon a Time: The Cosmic Drama Through a Biblical Narration of the World

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The following storyline chronicles the testimony of Scripture to the Story of God from creation to re-creation. This outline, by definition, is both selective and representative, and is meant to provide the reader with an overarching sense of the biblical Story’s plot line and development.

Welcome to Your Sacred Roots: Learning, Loving, and Living The Story of God

Dr. Davis met with the staff of a church in Wichita regarding Sacred Roots and how to integrate the Story of God into the training and planning of their church life.

Listen or download audio (mp3)
Print the outline (pdf)



The Primacy of The Scripture's Historical Witness: Understanding the Story of God

Understanding the Bible as a continuing narrative from creation to consummation follows both the theological and logical flow of the unique library that the Word of God is, and corresponds to the exegesis of Christ and his apostles. Hopefully, by familiarizing ourselves with this plot and storyline here we will be in a better position to integrate its message into our theology, worship, spirituality, service, and mission.

In our judgment, many of our churches today are making two critical mistakes when it comes to understanding the story of God in Scripture:

  • We have abandoned the Scripture’s fundamental mode and language of communicating God’s saving acts in history: God’s story!
  • We have misread culture which is desperately looking for a story big enough and true enough to shape its course, and lacking our story, feeds on shallow, hollow, and paltry little narratives.

The only answer is to rediscover the Story of God in Christ, to love it with all our hearts, and live it out with honor and joy in the presence of our neighbors, inviting them to see things, as it were, from the vantage point of the Storytelling God.

Why We Must Explore Our Sacred Roots: To Retrieve the Great Tradition

Our use of the phrase "Sacred Roots" refers to our efforts to retrieve and appropriate in broad outline the Great Tradition, i.e., that distinct and determinative Christian faith and practice which developed from the Scriptures from the time of the Lord Jesus Christ to the middle of the fifth century. With hearts determined to be both historically credible and freshly contemporary, we strive to understand this rich body of tradition, recognizing it to the "sacred roots" of our Christian identity. Together we explore ways that these Christ-centered, biblical roots can renew evangelical faith and mission in the cities among the poor.

TUMI is dedicated to draw together urban churches, pastors, denominations, and associations in order to recover for spirituality and mission the Bible’s own salvation history in Abraham and the people of Israel. Furthermore, we want to regain in our theology that prophetic and apostolic witness to Jesus Christ about which that biblical history articulates. The majesty of the prophetic and apostolic witness to Christ can recenter our worship and witness from idiosyncratic emphases on culture to the deep roots of Scripture informed by the Great Tradition.

sacred rootsWe affirm that the revelations of Scripture and the apostolic witness the Church has believed and defended are indeed sacred, not in a hokey or oddball sense, but fundamentally as testimonies of God's acts in Jesus Christ. That is, these roots are sacred because Christianity is at its core a historical revelation: God has spoken to us in history, culuminating in Jesus Christ. Only in the faithful acts of the covenant-making and keeping God of the Scriptures do we come to know God’s story of love in Christ, and by faith in him, we make that story (his-story) our own. These acts and the testimony concerning them, these roots, when retrieved and embraced, can renew and refresh all branches of urban spirituality and mission. Contemporary urban church worship, discipleship, and mission can be enriched and transformed as it reestablishes the wisdom embodied in the ancient Church’s theology, liturgy, and mission.

Those who share an affinity with us in rediscovering our Sacred Roots seek to encourage urban Christian leaders and congregations to rediscover the power of the Christus Victor motif of the Great Tradition, and to restore in our worship and mission today the same the Christ-centered passion displayed by the ancient, undivided Church. This rich legacy of faith, theology, and action is the spiritual heritage all believers, predating the distinctions of Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant thought.