mgpcpastor's blog


Leave a comment

Aware, Wise, and Intentional – The Missional Church (via Michael Milton)

Michael Milton provides a definition of a missional church and expands on how that definition functions:

A missional church is an ecclesial community of Word, Sacrament, and Prayer where pastoral staff, officers, and members are united in their commitment to the Gospel-driven practice of the Great Commission of Jesus Christ in every area of ministry and life.

I like the clarity of Milton’s position on the need for a theology that wants to embrace a city has to do so on the basis of the lostness of the city and the need for its citizens to personally experience redemption in contrast to the corporately experiencing the blessings of the kingdom:

The missional church is one that is aware of its parish’s socio-historical context, including an understanding of the development of the context, and responding wisely in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, every part of the church’s ministry is attuned to the surroundings andintentional in its outreach ministry to the community. We do not disagree with Alan Hirsch’s definition of a “missional church” as “posture toward the world.” However, we believe that such a posture must be that the world is lost and in need of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. Theologies that “embrace the city” without pointing to the sin in the city and the unbelieving city dwellers’ need for personal repentance and faith in the resurrected and reigning Jesus Christ are not missional as the word describes the urgent mandates of the Gospel.

Read the whole post at Christianity Today.


2 Comments

The Attitude We Have About The Church Is The Attitude We Have About Jesus (via Stephen Kneale)

The Church is the body of Christ. Not figuratively. Literally.
The way you’ll treat the Church tomorrow is the way you treat Jesus.

From Stephen Kneale at Church Matters:

If Christ is unified to his people, then what one does to his people is what one is doing to Christ. How one treats his people is how one is treating Christ. This is the clear implication of Jesus’ own words in Matthew 25:40.
Jesus’ words to Paul have far wider-reaching ramifications than how Jesus views the persecution of his people. It has clear implications for how the Lord’s people treat one another. It similarly has implications for how the Lord’s people treat the Lord’s stuff.
If we cannot be bothered to get out of bed to get to church on Sunday morning, we are not just failing to bother spending time with God’s people but we are spurning Christ himself. When we have no interest in serving and caring for the Lord’s people, we are failing to care for the Lord. When we drop the ball on stuff in church and put upon others, we are spurning the Lord and saying there are other things that take precedence over him.
If Jesus’ words to Saul tell us that those who persecute the church are persecuting Christ, it also tells us that how we treat the church is how we treat Christ. If we never go to church, if we constantly go away for the weekend, if we never serve, if we find anything else to do, these are not just holding the church in low esteem, it is treating Christ lightly and a direct reflection on our views of him.
By contrast, a high view of the church is a high view of Christ. If the church becomes a high priority, Christ is a high priority. Serving the people of the church is a measure of our love for Christ. Serving in the ministries of the church is a measure of our love for Christ. Turning up at weekly worship and engaging with the Lord’s people is a measure of our love for Christ.

source


Leave a comment

Not Running Ahead Of Him (via Jared C Wilson)

A reminder that a thoughtful and intentional Gospel ministry relies on supernatural power, not pragmatism for its outcome.
From Gospel-Driven Church Jared C Wilson :

One of the most frequent temptations pastors and church leaders face today is to replace a steady commitment to gospel preaching and revival prayer with human ingenuity and industriousness. Can these coexist? Certainly. But we must also guard against allowing ourselves to replace the work that only the Holy Spirit can do. The Holy Spirit can do far more than we think or ask, and his timing may not always follow our goals or fit our plans. But let’s not run ahead of him.

Jared Wilson, Gospel-Driven Church, Zondervan, 2019, pg. 77.


2 Comments

Songs Old And New (via Michael Kelley)

The church gathers to worship God receiving truths inherited from the past and expressing them in present contexts with a view to future hope.
From Michael Kelley:

During Joshua’s lifetime, the people worshiped faithfully, having their worship formed by their past. But they were only one generation away from forgetting all God had done, and therefore the Lord Himself. This is what happens when our worship is not rooted and formed by the past.
That does not mean we only sing old songs. But it does mean that when we sing, we sing with the aim of remembering old truths. We should care deeply about the substance of what we’re singing, for when we sing, we should always be recounting the old, old story of a Savior who came from glory. Who gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me. This is the greatest act of God. This is ultimately what all our worship should be rooted and formed by – recalling, remembering, and retelling the story of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our worship is formed by the past. But our worship shapes the present. Here’s what I DON’T mean by that – I don’t mean that we can somehow praise something into existence. That we can sing songs about victory and all our circumstantial problems will go away. This is not some name it and claim it worship methodology. What I mean is that when we sing, our understanding and perspective on the present is shaped.
Notice that verse 1 tells us that we should sing a new song to the Lord. This Psalm is part of a group of psalms that were sung to give praise to God as King. They’re sometimes called coronation psalms. And when these songs were sung at specific times in the calendar, there would be new songs composed.
That doesn’t mean that we need to write a new song every Sunday for worship; but it does bring a sense of freshness and present tense to worship. And we need our present to be formed by worship because we are emotional beings. God made us that way. The problem is that our emotions are corrupted by sin, just as every part of us is. That means that you cannot trust your heart, just like I cannot trust mine.

source


Leave a comment

“There Is No Other Way To Be A Disciple Of Jesus Than To Be In Communion With Other Disciples Of Jesus” (via Fleming Rutledge)

An observation from Fleming Rutledge about the Gospel of John and how it demonstrates that while Jesus was relating to individuals, he was creating a community, a family, a body, branches joined to a common vine.

Taking the Gospel and the Epistles of John together, no writings in the New Testament are more concerned with the church than John. You wouldn’t necessarily notice this, however, if you read the Gospel without looking for it. Our typical American individualism tends always to focus on the single, supposedly autonomous person, so we typically read the Bible through that lens. And it’s true that for the first two-thirds of the Gospel, John features a striking number of personal, intimate conversations between Jesus and single individuals: the Samaritan woman, Nico- demus, the man born blind, Thomas, Martha of Bethany, Mary Magdalene. These stories stand out because they are beautifully crafted by John, a master dramatist. So, most people tend to read the Fourth Gospel that way. But the overwhelming emphasis in John is not on individuals, but on the organic connection that Jesus creates among those who put their trust in him. This theme reaches its apex in chapters 15 and 16, during the last hours of his life on earth, when he teaches, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5).
There is no other way to be a disciple of Jesus than to be in communion with other disciples of Jesus. Why do you suppose the Lord didn’t separate out each one of his followers, stand us up separately, pronounce us each a unique individual, and then bid us go off and create ourselves?
He did the opposite; instead of making us independent and self-centered, he makes us mutually interdependent and other-directed.

Fleming Rutledge, Three Hours, Eerdmans, 2019, pgs 31-32.


Leave a comment

Attractional Is Not A Style. It’s A Paradigm. (via Jared Wilson)

In Gospel-Driven Church Jared Wilson offers a critique of church growth that is not confined to a style or a size of congregation:

I also want to be clear about what I don’t mean. When I use the word attractional, I am not referring to “contemporary” worship styles or megachurches. Some critics of the attractional church movement easily lapse into a megachurch critique, and while there may be valid criticisms of megachurches, that is not my concern in this book. The size of the church isn’t the point.
There are traditional and nontraditional, denominational and nondenominational, small, medium, and megasized attractional churches. Attractional is not a style. It’s a paradigm.
An attractional church conducts worship and ministry according to the desires and values of potential consumers. This typically leads to the dominant ethos of pragmatism throughout the church. If a church determines its target audience prefers old-fashioned music, then that’s what they feature in order to attract those people.

Jared Wilson, Gospel-Driven Church, Zondervan, 2019, pgs. 24-25.


Leave a comment

Church With The Lights On (via Murray Campbell)

Murray Campbell provides an encouraging report about a gathering of people from different churches in Melbourne.
As part of that he writes of his appreciation for speaker Mark Dever asking that the lights in the auditorium be turned up.
The practice has crept into Christian gatherings with increasing frequency and serves to decrease the corporate and participatory nature of worship and emphasise a personal and observational based experience.
From Campbell:

The venue hosts (to whom we are greatly thankful for their generosity and hospitality), were setting up the auditorium’s lighting and sound when Mark requested that the lights be turned up. Why? Christian ministry isn’t a show with the spotlight shining on the preacher and where he can’t see the faces of the congregation/audience. Christian ministry, including the public teaching of God’s word, is not an exercise of spiritual manipulation or creating chasms between the ‘expert’ preacher and the congregation. Mark wanted to see and engage with the people present. For example, during question time, he would ask for peoples’ names and the church they belong too.
Observing this short interaction just prior to the event beginning reminded me of this salient point; ministry isn’t performance. It isn’t about the preacher or whoever is standing on the stage. Sometimes we complicate ministry by adding unnecessary elements which can create unhelpful theological and pastoral barriers. In public teaching or certainly for Sunday church, are we relying upon or utilising special effects in order to create the moment or to elucidate a response from the congregation? Does our architecture, our stage managing, and our use of multimedia support our ecclesiology and our trust in the power of the Gospel and the sufficiency of Scripture, or are we undermining these things? The topic of church music came up during question time: Does our music encourage the saints to sing, to encourage each other and to glorify God, or are they passive bystanders watching, admiring or criticising the band? Does the band function as an edifying accompaniment or as the main act? The point is so simple and yet we sometimes miss it. I am less seeking to answer these questions here, but to raise them for others to wrestle with them in their own context.

source