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Coming To The Place That Doesn’t Exhaust Us (via Sarah Condon)

It’s a worry if the church simply transfers the exhausting, life-draining, joy-sucking demands of the rest of life to its own agenda and programs.
The Gospel demands that people need something very different than to feel that their church sees them as a resource to meet their goals.
Worse still, the thought that coming to church is some sort of activity they need to perform in order to gain or keep some sort of spiritual capital.
I hope the disciples of Jesus who gather week by week at Mount Gambier know that they’re gathering in the one place that doesn’t want a piece of them.

From Sarah Condon:

We do not come to church because we get a gold star. We come to church because we have tried everything else and it turns out we continue to be exhausted by the world and our lives. Church is a last-ditch effort for many of us. It is what happens before we start drinking more or isolating more or doing whatever it is that harangues us, more.

Read more here.


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The Job Of Getting Out Of The Way (via Darryl Dash)

God uses people as a means to the end of having people meet and come to have Jesus as their Saviour and Lord.
Pastors have a particular role as one of those means.
It is possible for focus on the pastor and their personality and leadership to become the point at which people stop.
They’ve got some sort of relationship with the pastor, but not with Jesus.
Darryl Dash observes the problem, and the tendency in some sections of the church to be fuelling the focus on individuals and their ministries, and provides the solution.

Our job as pastors is to get out of the way.
Look for ways to move out of the spotlight. Shine the spotlight on Jesus. Make the focus of your ministry him. I’ve found that the Spirit seems to work powerfully when the focus is on Jesus, and less powerfully when I try to sneak my way into the spotlight. Make Jesus’ glory the focus of your ministry.

Read the rest of his post here.


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Pulpit Chair, Penola

This chair is in the pulpit of the Presbyterian church at Penola.

No one sits in it anymore, but it’s still there.

A chair is not what the church is about, but it is a reminder of the centrality of the word in that place. It represents a wonderful legacy.


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At The Right Time (preparing for MGPC 22/12/19)

Song: The Love Of The Father
Welcome:
Call to Worship
Song: In Tenderness
Prayer Of Confession
Song: On Jordan’s Bank The Baptist’s Cry
Affirming our Faith: New City Catechism 51
Song: Now To The King Of Heaven
Bible Reading: Luke 21: 1-38 – While teaching at the temple Jesus prophesies of its destruction.
Bible Memorisation:
Song: Who Is He In Yonder Stall
Bible Reading: Romans 5: 6-11
Sermon: At The Right Time
Announcements:
Pastoral Prayer:
Closing Blessing
Song: Saved My Soul


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Analysis Of 50,000 Sermons From The USA By The Pew Research Center

One of the more fascinating things I read this year was David Cook’s effort at auditing the preaching of the Presbyterian Churches of Victoria (Australia) in preparation for conducting a pastor’s conference in Melbourne.

This report from the USA based Pew Research Center computer analysed more than 50,000 sermons from a variety of churches in the USA over an eight week period around Easter 2019.
It’s interesting reading, though it provides mostly observation and doesn’t offer conclusions, except that there are differences in language, length, and Biblical referencing among various streams in the church.
That these sermons are from the period around Easter suggests that language, specific Biblical references, and themes might have their highest degree of commonality, so the differences may be all the more telling in how these churches focus on the same biblical and theological events in what would seem to be different ways.

Read the report here at the The Pew Research Center.


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Captive Congregation (via Atlas Obscura)

This Victorian era prison chapel placed the congregants/prisoners in seperate booths so they couldn’t see one another.
Today they just have worship with the lights out instead.
Though I accept that putting a roomfull of malcontents together in a dark room would have made for a very risky environment.
These days we could market it as introvert church.

Source: Atlas Obscura.


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If You Arrive At Church Early (via Cornerstone Community Church)

Here are some benefits of turning up to church early.
(Roughly defined as more than 60-120 seconds before the appointed starting time, though in reality that’s actually arriving dead on time. Early would be sooner than that.)
If you consider your attendance as ministry to others, rather than as something that you do, or something that is for yourself, these are just a starting point.

If you’re early:
Your heart will be more settled and ready to worship our majestic Creator God.
You can take a few minutes to sit quietly and think about the Lord you came to worship.
You can get your children to the appropriate classrooms without rushing.
You can take a few minutes to encourage one another in fellowship before the service.
You can take a few minutes to read through the church bulletin before the service starts.
You can encourage your church leaders by showing greater respect for their careful and prayerful planning of the worship service.
You set a good example for your children in holding high the principle of love for others.

Read the whole post at Cornerstone Community Church.