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The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) Of Christianity (via Gary Millar at Gospel Coalition Australia)

Gary Millar reflects that in contemporary culture, making the idea that a local church is ‘just like you’ as central to its efforts to reach out into the community is no longer effective.
His conclusion:

Ultimately, the gospel itself is the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of Christianity. God in Christ has made it possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection for people like us to know and enjoy him forever, as part of his family. I suspect that we need to throw ourselves into, not just proclaiming the gospel, but also demonstrating its implications with fresh enthusiasm. Because of the gospel, church really is different kind of community. Through the gospel, we have been reborn into a community marked by love, joy, peace and hope. The gospel announces that in Christ we really aren’t just like everyone else, but have been brought from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Perhaps it’s time to start proclaiming that with a renewed confidence. Because that really does set us apart from the ‘competition’.

Read the whole post at Gospel Coalition Australia.


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The Deceit Of Riches (via Mez McConnell)

Mez McConnell reflects on Jesus observation about wealth being an obstruction to entering the kingdom of God and the implications of that for evangelism and church planting:

The Danger of Wealth
Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, right? What he’s saying is this: When you’ve got money, when you’ve got material wealth, when you’ve got comfort, you feel invincible. You feel like you don’t need God. You don’t feel—at least in your outward portrayal—a spiritual need.
And so people become very hard, very bitter, very intellectually opposed to gospel truths. Whereas in less privileged communities, people are not necessarily happy, but they are more likely to admit they’re sinful, to admit that their lives aren’t perfect, to admit there’s a problem.
People in poor or ethically deprived communities are very supernaturalistic, so you meet very few atheists in such communities. These people’s problems aren’t necessarily with God (although they can be), but with the concept of church. People in that community see the church as a middle-class intellectual institution—which it largely is—and so apologetically, that’s the battle we’re fighting.
I think people in rich communities—with two cars on the drive, a nice house, and a full bank balance—in many ways are much harder to reach because all that wealth and comfort makes them think that they’re invincible. It may make them think that they don’t need anything outside of themselves. I often say that in many ways, my friends who work, reach, and plant in these communities are in very, very hard places.

source


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QuizWorx At The Assembly

QuizWorx share Jesus with over 100000 kids this year.

We heard about the SE Qld unit at Assembly this morning.

There was singing with action.

Moderator Mike singing and dancing


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Billy Graham In Sydney (via Philip Jensen)

There’s no shortage of Billy Graham reflection pieces since his death.

I watched Peter Jensen be interviewed on Dominic Steele’s The Pastor’s Heart webcast where he mentioned his response to the Graham Crusade of 1959 as a 15 year old, and that his 13 year old brother followed him forward.
Philip Jensen provides his perspective of being that 13 year old.
But it’s the human story of the impact of Graham’s ministry that remains.
From Jensen:

However, the main impact of the Graham crusades was felt at the grass roots of our society rather than in the public domain. Certainly, many who made a decision for Christ, later fell away – but the long-term impact in the lives of individuals, families and churches can still be found across Australia. Half the students training at Moore College to become Ministers during the 60’s were converted at the ‘59 crusade. Nearly all the youth group I lead were converted in the ‘68 crusade. The church I pastored doubled in size during 1979, largely as a result of the that year’s crusade. At university I met a girl who, as a young teenager, was converted in 1959 listening to Billy Graham on a landline in Broken Hill. That’s how my wife became a Christian.
Read the whole post here.


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The Living Heart Of Mission In Corporate Worship (via Zac Hicks)

Zac Hicks on corporate worship as true mission activity, perhaps in contrast to being evangelistic activity.

The symbiotic relationship between worship and mission means, first of all, that it would be unthinkable to ever replace corporate, gathered worship with missional acts of evangelism and community service, just as it would be unthinkable to remove a heart and simply tie the remaining veins and arteries together. Missional momentum halts when the heart of worship is removed. Second, if your church is struggling to be a truly missional body, worship must be a very real place of examination. Is the gospel clear and present in worship, or is it crowded out by other things? Ironically, our quest for a more evangelistic worship service, friendly and easy to swallow for non-Christians, has often muted the gospel in worship, rendering the service impotent of missional, transformative power. While we should always strive for worship to be intelligible and understandable to non-Christians, nothing short of prizing the gospel and making much of Jesus will create the kind of awe-inspiring zeal in the church that causes the watching world to cry, “God is really among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:25).

The Worship Pastor, Zac Hicks, Zondervan, 2016, pg 100.


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Vale Cliff Barrows

Cliff Barrows, along with George Beverly Shea, was synonymous with the musical aspect of Billy Graham’s evangelistic ministry.
Barrows died earlier this week.
Part of his ministry was leading the singing of the massed crowds that attended Graham’s outreach meetings.
Here’s a short background video from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.


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How Christianity Flourishes (via Jared Wilson)

Christianity flourishes at the margins, not when it controls.
Jared Wilson:

Christian mission has always thrived by surging in the margins and under the radar. When we somehow get into positions of power, the wheels always come off. This is pretty much the way it’s always been. I once heard Steve Brown relate this story on the radio: “A Muslim scholar once said to a Christian, ‘I cannot find anywhere in the Qur’an that it teaches Muslims how to be a minority presence in the world. And I cannot find anywhere in the New Testament where it teaches Christians how to be a majority presence in the world.’”
Indeed, as Christianity spread throughout the first few centuries as a persecuted minority people, the conversion of Constantine paved the way for its becoming the official state religion of the Roman Empire by the end of the fourth century. That’s quite a turnaround for some backwater sect splintering off an oppressed Palestinian Judaism. But as my old religion professor in college, M. B. Jackson, used to say, “When everyone’s a Christian, no one is.” And once Christianity became the official religion, the church lost its prophetic voice and its vibrancy.

Read the whole post here.