mgpcpastor's blog


Leave a comment

‘Developing A Good Pause Tolerance’ a.k.a. Leading Quiet Bible Study Groups (via Richard Sweatman at GoThereFor)

Dealing with Bible studies or Growth Group studies where people are reticent about sharing their answers can seem awkward.
This article on GoThereFor provides some encouragement and practical strategies to encourage the sort of participation through which the group will help each other learn from God’s word.
This paragraph is about ‘developing a good pause tolerance’.

As you get into more questions, work hard at developing a good pause tolerance. By this I mean the ability to withstand silence. Ask your question clearly and with confidence and then pause. Count to fifteen slowly in your head and commit to not speaking. Look calm, smile, and make eye contact briefly with people around the room. If it helps, visualize the petals of a flower slowly unfolding, as an illustration of peoples’ thought processes at work. If someone speaks, respond with as much positive affirmation as you can. If your silence count reaches fifteen (or longer), invite one of your more confident members to share what they think. Encourage them that whatever they say will likely be helpful. Your coleader might break the silence once or twice during the study, but doing so more often will signal to group members that if they wait long enough the coleader will provide the correct answer. Both of you need to learn to wait—it will make a huge difference in leading a quiet group.

Read the rest of Richard Sweatman’s article at GoThereFor


Leave a comment

Enjoying God Together (via David Mathis at Desiring God)

Being part of God’s family is belonging to God. Together.
From David Mathis at Desiring God.

In corporate worship, we gather together expectantly, reminding ourselves that God is our giving Father. This is who he is. This is what he loves. God delights in cheerful givers because he himself is one. This is what he produces in the hearts of his people. Not dutiful, reluctant, obligatory worship, but willing, eager, cheerful praise. The kind of worship that comes to him as a rewarder, not a killjoy. As a treasure, not a troll. As the great satisfier of our souls, not as a slavemaster conscripting our service.
How might it change corporate worship for you to scan the room and think, “These men and women around me, of all ages, not only believe in the truth of Christianity but they enjoy the God of Christianity”?
As we sing, we are enjoying Jesus together. As we pray, we are enjoying him together. As we hear his word read and preached, we are uniting our hearts together in the God who himself, in the person of his Son, became one of us, and lived among us, and suffered with us, and died for us, and rose triumphantly from the grave, and now sits in power — with all authority in heaven and on earth — at his Father’s right hand bringing to pass, in his perfect patience and perfect timing, all his purposes in our world. For our everlasting joy. Together.

Read the whole post here.


Leave a comment

On The Public Reading Of Scripture (via Stephen Presley)

In addition to reading the section of the Bible on which that week’s sermon is based, at MGPC we also sequentially read about one chapter a week from another book of the Bible.
We do this as an application of the exhortation for the Scriptures to be read publicly, and as a recognition that the Bible is not dependent on someone to explain it in order to be understood.
I’ve observed before about the way in which churches that pride themselves on being Bible believing can have less Bible read during their services than churches that seeming have departed from orthodox expressions of the Christian faith.
Stephen Presley writes about the way in which has followed the injunction to read the Bible when the church gathers.

The New Testament, though, gives clear apostolic directives to read Scripture publicly. The Apostle Paul, for example, charges his disciple Timothy to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:13, ESV). He also commands the church at Colossae to read his letter and then pass it on to the church at Laodicea (Colossians 4:16). The Apostle John urges the public reading of his revelation when he writes, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear…” (Revelation 1:3, ESV).
Following these examples and exhortations, the early church has always prized the public reading of Scripture. They could not image a worship service without some one reading healthy portions of Scripture drawn from across the canon. The thought that a pastor might read only a few verses (or no verses at all!) and then entertain the congregation for forty minutes with funny stories and pop culture references would strike them as bizarre at best.
On the contrary, the early church believed that the regular encounter with the word of God through corporate Scripture reading was one of the most spiritually formative acts for the people of God.
In the early church, public Scripture reading was also not a mundane exercise done out of obligation, but a vital part of the church’s corporate worship and they thought carefully about (among other things) the passages that were read, the character of reader, and the style of reading.

Read the whole post here.


Leave a comment

When The Church Sings The Church Learns (via Michael Kelly)

Michael Kelly writes about why the church should pay careful attention to the lyrics of the songs that it sings.
One of those reasons is that the words we sing become truths that remain in our minds.

Songs help us learn. They always have. They helped us learn the ABCs, the days of the week and the months of the year, and the colors of the rainbow. Beyond that, though, consider for a moment how many song lyrics you know.
Now if you want to go a step further, compare the amount of song lyrics you can recite with the number of Bible verses you can quote. See what I mean? Songs teach us, even if we don’t know they are teaching us. This is why , throughout the history of Christianity, one of the greatest tools for teaching theology has been music. After all, one of the earliest Christian hymns is the great Christological passage of Philippians 2.
If it’s true, then, that we are learning from our songs whether we mean to or not, then we ought to pay very close attention to what we are singing as a means of guarding our hearts and minds.

Read the other two of his reflections here.


Leave a comment

What A Local Church Really Needs (via Premier Christianity)

Churches can have all sorts of assumptions about what the people who visit or regularly attend them want, and then tailor themselves to meet that felt need. And then share the Gospel. Sort of a Jesus ‘bait and switch.’
This post doesn’t take issue with excellence, but makes a heartfelt observation about what is important.
From Kimberli Lira at Premier Christianity.

When I walk into church I am not paying attention to the décor. I don’t want to smell freshly brewed coffee in the lobby. I don’t want to see a trendy pastor on the platform. I don’t care about the graphics or the props on the platform. I am hurting in a way that is almost indescribable.
Since my husband died, my days are spent working full time. My nights are spent homeschooling and taking care of two young children. I don’t have shared duties with a spouse anymore so everything is on my plate. When I go to church I desperately want to hear the Word of God.
There are days when the tears won’t stop and a trendsetting church is not what I need.
This is not a criticism of churches that have coffee bars, nice lighting and catchy sermon titles. But, in everything that is done, we need to make sure that Jesus is at the centre. It is also a reminder that there are hurting people sitting in your congregation.
There are people whose marriages are crumbling, people whose finances are deteriorating, people whose children are rebelling and people like me, whose husband has passed away after a brutal fight with cancer. And these people are not impressed with the stage lighting. They could care less about the coffee flavour. They don’t need to be pumped or hyped. They need Jesus.
My social media feeds are full of churches boasting about the trendy new initiatives they have begun. Their coffee bars and lighting don’t appeal to me.
I want to see how Jesus has changed a person’s life. I want to see the power of prayer. I want to see how the Word of God can be applied to life. I want to see how Jesus can help the hurting. I want to see how Jesus can heal the sick. I want to see how a broken heart is restored. I want to see how mourners are comforted. I want to see how lives are restored.

Read the whole post here.


Leave a comment

Love God, Love People, Preach The Word And Make Disciples (via Karl Vaters)

Karl Vaters observes that there are plenty of extras that commend themselves as necessary for congregations to grow in the ministry and mission.
Rather than focus on these, he commends local churches focus instead on the basics – without which no amount of extras will help.

Don’t spend your time on cool new ideas until you’ve got the essentials locked down.

  • Preach the Word with passion and truth
  • Love each other
  • Welcome guests with genuine friendliness
  • Forgive when you’re slighted
  • Support the weak and vulnerable
  • Make disciples

Don’t spend your time on cool new ideas until you’ve got the essentials locked down.
A cool new church logo is nice. But it’s not nearly as impressive or important as a church that’s doing the essentials well.
After all, we don’t go to a restaurant to be impressed by a server’s memory skills. We go for good food and good service.
People who come to our churches are the same. They’re not looking for fancy graphics or oratorical flair.

  • They want to know God loves them
  • They want a chance to make a difference
  • They want someone who will be there when they’re hurting
  • They want to know the scriptures better
  • They want to experience forgiveness and hope

And they want the same for their friends and family.

Source


Leave a comment

Going Back Where The Church Belongs (via J.A. Medders)

A post in which J.A. Medders points out that any sentimental, nostalgic appeal to become more like the early church is not the solution to the church’s current problems and challenges.
After all, much of the New Testament was written to address the needs of the church, not because of its strengths.

So, tell me again, which early church you want to go back to? Immorality, persecution, division, theological confusion, legalism, and attacking the apostle Paul is what’s on the menu.

The answer to our present need is the same answer that was provided to the early church for their problems and challenges:

We don’t need to go back to the early church—we are already like them. But we do need to go back somewhere.
The only perfect church, filled with non-problematic people is in Heaven. Be faithful in the present without wishing for the past.
We must always go back to the teachings of the early church, the New Testament, but the church itself was a mess. Much like today. We are a mess, too, so we go back to the teachings that went to our messy brothers and sisters. We learn from them and the teachings—not to be like them, but to be faithful to our risen Lord.
We go back to the apostolic teaching. We go back to the Bible. We go back to Christ. A church that does that is who we should want to be.

Source.