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We Belong To The Day – Sunday Songs (Queensland General Assembly Opening Service)

A wonderful service at a great facility to hear a clear message about the urgency of responding to Jesus’ call that prayer be raised up for workers to be sent to a waiting harvest field.
The opening of the Queensland Assembly at the Queensland Theological College saw the installation of Rev. Mike O’Connor as Moderator by outgoing Moderator Rev. Greg Watt.

Mike preached from Matthew 9 and reminded everyone present (and himself) that the call to reach out starts not with strategy or persons, but with prayer. Strategy and persons flow from God’s answer to that prayer.

Mike O’Connor (r) and Greg Watt

One of the songs was Michael Morrow’s We Belong To The Day.

The lyrics:
We belong to the day
To the day that is to come
When the night falls away
And our Saviour will return
For the glory of the King is in our hearts
On that day we will be seen for what we are
We belong to the day
Let us journey in the light
Put on faith, put on love
As our armour for the fight
And the promise of salvation in our eyes
On that day the proud will fall, the faithful rise
Strong as a mighty rock
Our refuge in the coming wrath
The heart of the bride belongs to Jesus, Jesus
The earth in its turning stops
To marvel at the Son of God
And all of that day belongs to Jesus, Jesus
We belong to the day
We were bought with Jesus’ blood
Soon he comes as the judge
In the power of his word
We must tell of his salvation while we wait
For the day when Jesus comes will be too late
Oh, if ten thousand years go by we will wait
Let us tell of his great love, he will come
For his patience means salvation!

© 2006 Michael Morrow

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Why Did Jesus Make So Much Wine? (via Erik Raymond)

If you’re preparing to gather for corporate worship tomorrow there’s encouragement in Erik Raymond’s answer to his rhetorical question about why Jesus turned so much water into wine at the wedding at Cana.

Jesus made so much wine to show the long-promised age has arrived and the blessings that accompany his kingdom are overflowing.
Gathering week by week may be like a taste, but there’s so much to partake of.
Read the whole post here.

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The Redemptive And Restorative Experience Of Being Part Of The Church (via Derek Thomas)

While no family is without some level of disfunction, those whose experience of family has left them hurt and alienated can experience what family is truly meant to be as part of the church.
It’s one of the reasons I look forward to gathering with Christians week by week:
From Derek Thomas:

…the church is an assembly called together into a homogenous, integrated unity. Several perspectives reinforce this in the New Testament. The church comprises the “family of God.” Each member of the church has become an “adopted son” (huiothesia; Rom. 8:15; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). Now we are “members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19), in which Jesus Christ is our elder brother. Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers (Heb. 2:11). We come to God in prayer, saying, “Our Father” (Matt. 6:9). To those whose experience of family is dysfunctional in this world, the experience of belonging to a community of brothers and sisters is redemptive and restorative, particularly when they experience the loving concern (fellowship [koinōnia]) of “those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).


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Getting Rid Of The Messiah Complex

If you’ve talked to folk in churches that have a culture of decline they generally all agree there’s one reason that caused it and one solution to fix it: their pastor.
They seem oblivious to every choice they make as a church that cultivates decline, and wistfully yearn for the person who will see people come to their church while they continue to exercise the same churches that have resulted in decline.
What’s more disastrous is when the incoming pastor embraces the same narrative.
Churches so often get indulged in their disfunction.
That’s why this point from this article on five essentials to turn a declining church around by Joel Rainey appealed to me:

Get rid of the Messiah Complex.
There is a parable about a new pastor who, upon moving into his office, found three envelopes in his desk drawer. Each was marked to be opened for the first, second, and third major crises he would face. Before the end of the first year, he opened the first envelope in response to a major kerflufle to find these words; “This is from your predecessor. Blame everything on me.” It worked! But only for another six months. So when he opened the second envelope he read these words; “This is from your predecessor. Blame everything on my predecessor.” Again, that tactic managed to assuage the division. But three months later, in the midst of some of the nastiest conflict he had ever seen, he found himself opening that third envelope, where he read these words; “This is from your predecessor. Take a little time before you leave to prepare three envelopes for the next guy.”
The point? Presuming we are somehow “better” than those who came before us and thus will “save the church” is both arrogant and dangerous. In revitalization, we have a critical role to play, but just as former pastors aren’t solely responsible for a church in decline, we can’t be solely credited for bringing it back to life. That is the work of God alone. At the start, a number of God’s people will try to place you on that pedestal. For your own good, and theirs, refuse to sit on it.


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The Church Ladder No One Can Move

Pastors who watch this video about the immovable ladder of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre may find the scenario to be somewhat familiar.

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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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Who Owns The Culture? (via Karl Vaters)

I’ll be getting a copy of Karl Vater’s book Small Church Essentials.
While the main cross-cultural issue is that characterising a congregation of under 250 people as a small church in Australia is an over-reach, the observations about group dynamics in groups of varying sizes should hold true.

This excerpt about who shapes culture in a local church strikes me as true:

In bigger or newer churches, the culture is more likely to be determined by the pastoral staff, with the congregation more willing to follow. In smaller and older churches, the culture is more the property of the congregation and its history than the pastor. The smaller or older the church, the greater impact the culture will have on any new ideas, projects, or changes a pastor wants to implement, especially if the congregation has had a high pastoral turnover.

If this point isn’t taken into calculations cultural change in smaller groups will be a struggle.