Fort Myers Progressive Church

Refuge.Church was founded in 2016 with a simple guiding principle: no rules but the gospel. We are a non-denominational church that welcomes everyone and believes that all may use their gifts to serve and minister to the body of Christ. Because of this reckless extension of grace, we have been labeled by some as a progressive church.

Progressive Christianity is defined by a willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity, a strong emphasis on social justice, care for the poor and oppressed, and environmental stewardship of the earth. Progressive Christians have a deep belief in the centrality of the instruction to “love one another” within the teachings of Jesus Christ. This leads progressive churches to promote values such as compassion, justice, mercy, and acceptance.

We generally dislike labels other than being called a christian, but using this definition, Refuge could be labeled a “progressive church”.  This does not mean we are “soft” on the Bible.  We take a high view of scripture and its authority on our lives, continually challenging each other to open up scripture and our perfectly folded faith to explore the depths of God, tasting (and savoring) the richness of his goodness and mercy.

The Bible is never changing. Humanity’s understanding and knowledge are constantly changing.  This is why views held in the past (i.e., on slavery, woman’s authority, etc.) progress as we better understand the original authors’ language, context, idioms, attitudes, assumptions, and general worldview. To that end, our weekly teaching works through books of the Bible, verse by verse, as we explore the full text together, seeking the truths that it holds using all modern scholarship available.

We do not believe that the Bible is evolving or progressing, as truly progressive churches would claim. We do not view the Bible as an encyclopedia or a rule book, as fundamentalist churches would claim. Rather, as C.S. Lewis says so well, we believe in steeping ourselves in its tone and temper to understand the full story of scripture, God’s eternal plan of redemption.

C.S. Lewis // The human qualities of the raw materials show through. Naivety, error, contradiction, even wickedness are not removed. The total result is not ‘the Word of God’ in the sense that every passage, in itself, gives impeccable science or history.

It carries the Word of God; and we (under grace, with attention to tradition and to interpreters wiser than ourselves, and with the use of such intelligence and learning as we may have) receive that word from it not by using it as an encyclopedia but by steeping ourselves in its tone or temper and so learning its overall message.

We might have expected, we may think we should have preferred, an unrefracted light giving us ultimate truth in systematic form—something we could have tabulated and memorized and relied on like the multiplication table. 

But there is one argument which we should beware of using: God must have done what is best, therefore God has done this. For we are mortals and do not know what is best for us, and it is dangerous to prescribe what God should have done, especially when we cannot, for the life of us, see that He has after all done it.