Archive for the ‘Congregational Life’ Category

Exalting Christ Conference in Vallejo, CA

Dates: September 15-17, 2010

Location: Community Bible Church in Vallejo, CA

Speakers: Bruce Ware, Anthony Carter, Steve Fernandez, Brian Shealy

Cost: $99

Purpose: “to assist and encourage pastors and church leaders to preach and exalt Christ as they shepherd their local churches and spread the gospel in their communities and beyond”

Check out the conference website.

Ekklesia Conference in Jupiter, FL

Dates: September 17-19, 2010

Location: Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, FL

Speakers: Jerry Wragg, Jon Anderson, Rick Holland, Jesse Johnson, Smedly Yates

Cost: $35

Purpose: “to instruct Christians in the inseparable truths of Christ’s church and His gospel” so that “believers would passionately serve and commit to the advancement of those realities with lifelong conviction”

Check out the conference website and the promotional video.

Knocking down the house of cards

C. S. Lewis has reminded me lately of a few truths as only the great Oxford don could do. About the only thing I have in common with Lewis is that we have watched first-hand as our wives suffer from cancer. After his wife Joy died from her struggle, Lewis penned a series of journals that would become his book A Grief Observed. I was able to read it a few mornings ago and found not a few poignant passages. In one entry, Lewis interacts with the common refrain that we often hear when suffering, “God has sent it to try us.” I couldn’t tell you how many people have lovingly reminded me of this in recent days. While there is ample biblical warrant for this (e.g., 1 Cor 10:1-13) it’s not the whole story. Lewis writes:

God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.

Afflictions help to convince us of our preaching

“Come to a man that hath the world at will, and tell him, This is not your happiness; you have higher things to look after; and how little will he regard you! But when affliction comes, it speaks convincingly, and will be heard when preachers cannot.”

Richard Baxter, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest (chap 12, sec. 3), 208.

Are you “burned-out” from ministry?

People-trouble is wearying indeed. It’s easy to grow cold and sarcastic about those particularly difficult people whose afflictions are largely self-induced. When a man takes the role of spiritual leader and comes in with selfish expectations, swift discouragement results when those expectations aren’t met. The church today calls it “burnout,” but in many cases it’s a simple matter of wanting ministry to function a certain way and resenting it when it doesn’t. Habitual cynics don’t make good shepherds. I pray for individuals who look at the church and see, not whiners and complainers to be avoided, but broken lives and needy souls who’ve been purchased by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19). Hopeful optimism in ministry is like fresh water in the desert: People’s thirst for the tender care of a shepherd is fully satisfied.[1]

[1] Jerry Wragg, Exemplary Spiritual Leadership,130.

Consumerism in the Church

In C.S. Lewis’ 1942 classic The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape advises his young disciple Wormwood on how to promote consumerism in the church:

If a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that “suits” him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches. The reasons are obvious. In the first place the parochial organization should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the Enemy desires. The congregational principle, on the other hand, makes each church into a kind of club, and finally, if all goes well, into a coterie or faction. In the second place, the search for a “suitable” church makes the man a critic where the Enemy wants him to be a pupil (pp. 72-73).

By the looks of things, I’d say it’s working.

Evangelism training question

Has anyone used the evangelism training course from Matthias Media in their church? I am very familiar with their tracts but would like to know if anyone has found the “Two Ways to Live” course to be helpful. Was it something that your congregation was able to understand and implement? Did everyone use a training manual? Did you use the DVD in the training or only in preparation? What were the strengths/weaknesses if any?

Poll: Church discipline and non-members

disOrder of Worship

Piper on Idolatry

“The idols of the nations are…the work of human hands. They have eyes but do not see…. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them!” (Ps. 135:15-18). Make and trust a blind idol, and you become blind. Apply that principle to the modern world, and think of the idols of our own day. What do we make and what do we trust? Things. Toys. Technology. And so our hearts and our affections are formed by these things. They compress the void in our heart into shapes like toys. The result is that we are easily moved and excited by things—computers, cars, appliances, entertainment media. They seem to fit the shapes in our hearts. They feel good in the tiny spaces they have made. But in this readiness to receive pleasure from things, we are ill-shaped for Christ. He seems unreal, unattractive. The eyes of our hearts grow dull.

—John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, p. 58

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