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Church Is A Slow-Cooker, Not A Microwave (via Aaron Earles at Facts And Trends)

A simple reminder from Aaron Earles that the a very significant part of the enduring fruit of Christian discipleship happens in the context of relationships and takes time.
The conclusion:

Because conversion, discipleship, relationships, and leadership all take time, it’s no wonder that change usually takes time in a church as well.
When we see new people come to Christ, grow in their faith, form committed relationships with others, and develop into new leaders for the church, change and institutional growth will happen.
In the meantime, however, progress and change can seem to be moving so slow. But it’s worth the wait.
You could probably microwave a pot roast and cook the meat, but the results taste much better with a slow cooker.
You can’t rush everything in church—and we are better off for it.

Read the article at Facts And Trends.


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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.

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Encouraging Involvement In Small Group Ministries (via Ed Stetzer)

Ed Stetzer writes a post about encouraging involvement in small group ministries:

Through teaching biblically, promoting incessantly, and leading organizationally, we can encourage our brothers and sisters to get involved with small group ministries.
+++
On promotion:
Promote it incessantly
People need to hear about small groups all the time. The more you can promote it, the more likely they are to understand the importance of small groups. I would try to mention small groups in some form or fashion in every service. An ongoing, incessant discussion of small groups is key.

Read the post here.


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Anxious Pastors Leading Anxious Churches (via Sarah Condon)

Local churches don’t need more people to come along to save them.
They have the task of sharing with others about the one who has already saved them.

From Sarah Condon:

The fact of the matter is that most of our ideas about how to fix the church are terrible, my own included. We over-exaggerate what we can do, and we forget that nothing happens that has not first be named by God. We figure that our ministry du jour will grow the church because we love our latest idea, and if we love it, how can anything be wrong? Well if we love it, then everything can be wrong with it.
All of this makes for anxious pastors leading anxious churches. When we do not care about the ancient of days God who we worship, when we fail to see his hand guiding us, then we have only ourselves, our egos, and our interests to fall back on.
I believe this description applies to a great many of our churches: nice places, full of kind people, who are told, Sunday after Sunday, that they need to bring more people to church or do more work for Jesus. It can feel like scrambling to please an absentee parent. Our anxious hearts suffer, all a while trying desperately to do more and more for God Almighty.

Sarah Condon, Churchy, Mockingbird, 2017, PCs 152-153.


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Two Expressions Of A Grace-Filled Church

This morning it occurred to me that in striving to nurture a grace-filled culture in a local church that there are two expressions of grace required.
The first of those is a culture of grace that frees people to be who they are; liberated from carrying the pretences and masks of self-protection that make them appear as people who have it all together.
The second of those is a culture of grace that enables us to love and support each other when we find ourselves with all these imperfect people around.
Otherwise you encourage people to be themselves, only to find yourself frustrated that they won’t get their acts together.
A grace filled church: a place where people can be who they are – instead of who they think people want them to be; a place where people accept each other and love each other for who they are – not what we’d like them to be.


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The Comforting Church (via Christina Fox)

True Gospel comfort is meant to be shared.
From Christina Fox at the Gospel Coalition:

This story of gospel comfort in 2 Corinthians reminds us that we’re all united to Christ, and that when he is at work in one of us, it affects all of us. God’s grace multiplies as it works through the life of a local church.
The comfort God gives, however, isn’t for us alone. We can’t hoard it. The ways the gospel has changed us must be shared; the truth of who Christ is and what he has done must be voiced.
Based on this truth, the comfort we give to one another in the church isn’t the “you can do it” and “everything will be okay” comfort of the world. No, this comfort is honest about sin and its effects. It doesn’t sugarcoat or wish things away. Instead, it seeks hope and help outside of our own strength and in the only One who can save. It’s grounded in the glad news of who Christ is and what he descended to do.
What does such comfort look like in the church?

  • When the Spirit helps us put sin to death, we share that joy with other believers so they too can rejoice in the gospel’s power at work.
  • When we’ve endured a season in which God met us in our pain, we share it with other believers so they too can see God’s faithfulness.
  • When God provides what we need in the eleventh hour, we share that joy so others can know that God is Jehovah-Jireh, our provider.

When God strengthens us in weakness, when he heals and brings redemption, when he teaches us through discipline—in all these ways and more—we share that comfort for another’s spiritual good.
May our friendships in the church be unique. May they be marked by gospel comfort. And just as Paul, Titus, and the Corinthians experienced God’s comfort, may the gospel come full circle in our own churches as we witness and testify together to what our King has done.

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Rejoicing In Revival Whereever It Happens (via Nicolas Alford)

Nicolas Alford writes about three unhelpful reactions that Christians can have to revivals.
When God sends revival to a church other than the one we belong to there is a strong temptation to not recognise what is happening as being the fruit of the work of God’s Holy Spirit.
An excerpt.

When we assign to apparent revival in other quarters a “broad way” condemnation because of the various ways they aren’t like us and therefore aren’t faithful to God’s Word and therefore couldn’t possibly be enjoying his blessing while we aren’t, don’t we betray the cynical elitism in our hearts?
Let’s not do that. When our Christian brothers and sisters in other denominational contexts see real blessing from God on their labors, let’s not let our various disagreements with them over doctrine and practice prevent us from recognizing the true work of God in their midst. Let’s not betray a belief that if God isn’t blessing us (or those most incredibly like us) whatever we are seeing must be a mere mirage of revival. Being different from us doesn’t put another group beyond the reach of God’s blessing anymore than it puts them beyond the reach of His grace. This of course doesn’t apply to those who hold to outright heretical views–I’m not talking about that. But not all doctrinal disagreements are heretical. There are a multitude of second tier issues which Christians will always disagree on. Are we really ready to say that those who we disagree with over Baptism, or the exact role of the Law, or the precise nature of the Spiritual gifts or many other issues we rightly make distinctions over are so far gone that we can’t grant to them the genuine blessing and favor of the Lord? Do we really want to say with our dismissive attitudes that we are the only ones who are deserving of His favor?

Source.