Building Up The Body of Church Week by Week

Michael McKinley from 9Marks, a ministry dedicated to promoting church health, has recently attended a number of sessions with Australian Colin Marshall, one of the authors of The Trellis and the Vine with Tony Payne. The sessions looked at various ways to encourage each other, visitors and the pastor. Michael noted some practical things we can do when we meet on Sundays:

Before the Service

  • Read the passage in advance
  • Pray for the gathering
  • Greet newcomers (act like you are the host)
  • Think strategically about who you should sit with
  • Arrive Early

During the Service

  • Sing with gusto (even if you can’t sing)
  • Help with logistics (if there’s a problem, help fix it)
  • Don’t be distracted
  • Listen carefully
  • Be aware of your facial expressions (you may affect others and discourage preachers)

After the Service

  • Connect newcomers with others
  • Get newcomers information
  • Start a conversation about the sermon
  • Ask someone how they became a Christian
  • Stay late

Am I A Stone?

Am I a stone, and not a sheep
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number,  drop by drop, Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so, those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the sun and moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky
A horror of great darkness at broad noon –

I, only I.
Yet, give not o’er
but seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
greater than Moses, turn and look once more
and smite a rock.

Christina Rosetti

The Most Broken Vow of All

A couple of weeks ago Carl Trueman published this challenging article at Reformation21:

What is the most broken vow in the church?   The wedding vow?  Divorce rates among Christians are high, but rates of breach of this vow are probably higher still.   Ministerial vows to preach the gospel?  Conservatives in mainline denominations might point to those who are ministers and who deny key tenets of the faith from their pulpits week by week, though, ironically, such may not be in breach of vow if said vows do not explicitly bind them to uphold said tenets.   That’s the dilemma faced by many in mixed churches today.  Baptism vows, to raise children in the fear and nurture of the Lord?   Doubtless there is much delinquency here.  Perhaps it is this one.

No.  The most broken vow is almost certainly that by which church members submit to the authority and teaching of the elders in the church.   It is as solemn and serious as any other vow one might take — marriage, baptism, an oath in court — and yet what does it mean?  How many truly think about the implications?  How many truly act as if the vow really meant something?  The vows are voluntary, but once taken, they are serious and require focused commitment and a particular pattern of behaviour.  Yet members feel free to speak as they wish to, and about, church leaders; they move from church to church as, so some say, the Spirit leads them; and they trample their vow to submit again and again.  When political parties enjoy more loyalty from their members, you have a serious problem; and don’t gun for sports stars caught cheating on their wives when your own view of vows is at best selective in how they are honored.

Read more.

Being a Diligent Listener

This week, Tim Challies at ChalliesDotCom wrote a creat post entitled Being a Diligent Listener. We often concentrate on how good the preacher is, but Tim points out how important the way we listen is:

The church has no place for an audience. We are all to be involved in the preaching, even as listeners. We may drive home on Sunday muttering about the pastor’s lack of preparation after a less-than-engaging sermon, but how often do we drive away reflecting on our own lack of preparation? How often should we trace our lack of learning or our lack of engagement right back to our own lack of preparation?

He points to 8 areas in which our action effect the impact of the Word on our lives:

Weekly Preparation
Physical Preparation
Personal Preparation
Spiritual Preparation
Pay Attention
After the Service
Pray For Application
Be Bereans

I’ve printed out a copy of this post and stuck it on my wall to remind me of its’ message. Please take a few minutes to read it for yourself.

Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.

Psalm 119:18