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I read an excellent post today by Thabiti Anyabwile regarding the common complaint that traditional preaching should be rejected due to it being a monologue rather than a dialogue.  Thabiti responds (rather clearly, I might add) that traditional Protestant worship service is not centered around a monologue (i.e. preaching), but it is a dialogue between God (who speaks by His Word and Spirit through the preacher) and His people who respond back to Him in praise and worship (i.e. prayer, song, etc.)

Read the post for yourself.  You can find it here http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2011/02/08/whos-doing-the-talking-in-our-church-gatherings/.

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–          For a review of this week’s study:

–          Homework for week # 10:

  • Review your Scripture memory verses (Luke 10:2 and I Corinthians 15:1-4.)
  • Spend some time each day going over the 4-point outline of the gospel (i.e. God, Man, Christ, and Response) and the 4-point outline of redemptive history (i.e. Creation, Fall, Redemption and Recreation) either out-loud or in writing.
  • Spend some time thinking about common misconceptions in our culture regarding the 4-points of the gospel: God, Man, Christ and Response.  Engage in a discussion with a fellow Christian this week regarding these misconceptions and how to address them biblically.
  • Engage in at least 1 gospel conversation this week with an unbeliever.
  • In preparation for next week’s class, consider the following passages of Scripture:
    • Matthew 5:13-16, John 13:34-35 and Philippians 2:14-16. (Note:  In each of these passages, the terms translated “you” and “your” are all plural in the original Greek, implying that these are statements and commands regarding a group of people rather than simply an individual.)
      • What do these passages teach us about the role of the church in evangelism?
      • Read Acts 2:42-47 and think through the questions below:
        • What is the context and setting of this passage?
        • Make a list of all the characteristics of the early church.  Be specific.  Define each characteristic clearly.
        • What was the impact of this church on the community around them?  (Think carefully about this.)
        • How is evangelism described in this passage?  (i.e. What does the church “do” in this passage in order to evangelize the lost?  Think carefully about this.)
  • Reflect on the following questions and issues:
    • Does the church today in our culture resemble the church as described here in Acts?  In what ways are we similar?  In what ways are we different?  How does this affect our evangelism?
    • Consider what you can do to facilitate your local church becoming more like the church described in Acts 2.

 

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I read an excellent post today by Jason Helopoulos regarding good and bad reasons for leaving a church.  It is an excellent, short answer to this very common problem.  The whole article is worth reading (you can find it here http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2010/07/23/good-reasons-for-moving-on/), but here are the bullet points:

His list of good reasons for leaving a church:

1) Providential moving.

2) Church planting.

3) Purity is lost.

4) I am a hindrance in the church.

Here is his list of possible reasons for leaving a church:

1) Spouse will attend a different church with me (read the post.)

2) Special needs.

3) Special gifts needed elsewhere.

Here is his list of bad reasons to leave a church:

1) Children’s ministry is better there.

2) Buzz.

3) The youth group is better there.

4) My church has changed.

5) New pastor.

6) “I’m not being ministered to…”

7) Music

8) Virtually anything else…

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Kevin DeYoung is one of my favorite bloggers right now.  He is a bright guy with an awful lot to say.  Recently, he posted a series of articles on Dealing with Disappointment in the Church which were excellent.  He approaches this issue from the perspective of both the pastor and members of the congregation.  These are well-thought out and insightful posts… certainly reading.  You can find Part 1 here http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2010/04/07/dealing-with-disappointment-in-the-church-1/, Part 2 here http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2010/04/08/dealing-with-disappointment-in-the-church-2/ and Part 3 here http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2010/04/09/dealing-with-disappointment-in-the-church-3/.

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I came across this blog post today by Tim Keller and I thought it was very thought provoking.  In summary, he suggests five things which the church needs to take seriously in order to engage the world in which we live:

1) The local church has to support culture-making.

2) The local church needs a renewal of apologetics.

3) There need to be greater variety of church models.

4) The church must develop a better theology of suffering.

5) We need a critical mass of churches in the biggest cities of the world.

A couple of these will require greater reflection on my part… but, all in all, I think he has a point.  Read the post for yourself (found here http://theresurgence.com/handle_the_big_issues.)

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Following is an excerpt from an article posted by R.C. Sproul over at the Ligonier blog…

““Church is boring”—this is the most oft-stated reason why people stay away from church. It raises some important questions. How is it possible that an encounter with a majestic, awesome, living God could ever be considered boring by anyone? God is not dull. If worship is boring to us, it is not because God is boring. Sermons can be boring and liturgies can be boring, but God simply cannot be boring.”

I hear this same point from people all the time and it never ceases to amaze me.  Is our church attendance only about us and what edifies (read “entertains” in many cases) us?  If worship is boring than it must be because we fail to grasp the greatness of the glory of the God.

You can read the rest of Dr. Sproul’s post here http://www.ligonier.org/blog/becoming-worshiper-god/

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The following is a quote from a blog post by Ray Ortlund on both preaching and living grace in our churches…

“A major part of pastoral ministry is preaching the doctrines of grace and managing an environment of grace.  The latter is harder to accomplish than the former.  It is more intuitive.  It requires more humility and self-awareness.”

This is so true!  So often we succeed in preaching grace from the pulpit (or Sunday School podium, etc…), but then we live and relate within the community of the saints as if our standing before God is all of works.

I don’t know that I have any of the answers to this common problem, but I have found in my own life that apart from reminding myself of the gospel on a daily basis, I tend to fall into this performance trap, both in my own personal walk with the Lord and my relationships with other Christians.

Dr. Ortlund’s post is a helpful reminder of what really binds us together in the church… not our works… but the grace of God.  You can read the whole article here http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/rayortlund/2010/02/12/centered-on-one-or-the-other/.

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