Thursday, December 20, 2007

CHBC Internship

Well, it has been leaked. Here's a short video that my intern class made as a reflection of our time at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Enjoy;)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Back to Iowa from 12/17/07 to 1/1/08

Lindsey and I will be coming back to Iowa for a few weeks for Christmas. Let me know if you would like to get together.

I'm looking forward to seeing family, friends, my cat, reading some books for fun and some for my upcoming j-term classes. Shoot me an email if you'll be around. I would love to catch up.

In Christ,

Reaction 1: Nominalism/Unbelief

I'm putting these two descriptions together because in most cases what is understood as "nominal Christianity" is actually "unbelief". So these are the kind of folks that don't believe what the Bible teaches about God, man, history, worldview, etc. and continue to maintain that they are actually Christians.

This reminds me of a conversation I had recently. The young man I was talking with said that he believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and worships Him. As the conversation carried on he explained how he views God as an entity that will just give him whatever he wants.

For example he said that he thinks that if he would pray for a car God would give it to him. I asked him if God ever has given him a car in response to a prayer like that, and he answered, "No." I then told him that this is not how the Bible represents the Lord, and he understood that; however, he said the this is how he is going to continue to approach God, because it makes him feel better.

So as we continued to talk I explained that just because something makes you feel better for a time does not mean that it is based in truth and is good. We can easily deceive ourselves. Our perception often times is different from reality. We also discussed how he likes to think about Jesus. From a lot of what he said it was clear that he was worshipping an idol that he had made Jesus out to be, not who Jesus Christ is in reality (according to the Bible). Also, he is pretty proud of some of the sins that he has committed in his life...because ultimately God used those sins to bring about good. He didn't understand, though, that this did not make the sins a good thing...but in God's common grace He will often use bad things or circumstances for good.

I explained then that if he is worshipping a man-made idea of who Jesus is (in contrast with who Scripture reveals Jesus to be) and he is not willing to repent of his sins...that his life is not consistent with what the Bible teaches a Christian is. He completely understood, and he said, then, that he is not a Christian. But he said that he is going to continue to call himself a Christian because it makes him feel better. I asked him if he were to die that night where he thinks he would go, and he told me that he would be going to hell. I explained who the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is and described that all he needs to do is to enter into a life of repentance and belief...but he was not willing to do that. Although, he insists on calling himself a Christian because he said it feels good.

The reason I spent so much time writing about this circumstance is because this is a classic case of nominalism or someone who calls themself a Christian, conforms themself to the morality of Christianity, yet they do not believe in what revelation teaches about God or repentance and belief.

I have listed this as a reaction to the problems in the church because folks like this are scattered everywhere in our churches. People who falsely believe that they are Christians. If the gospel is not clearly preached from the pulpit, if the gospel is not clearly displayed and spoken of in the lives of those in the local church then people may be seeking shelter in a church because it makes them "feel better." K. P. Yohannen (founder of Gospel for Asia) has a sobering quote that is very true in this regard, "Feeding a man without sharing the Gospel with him is like giving a sandwich to a man on his way to the electric chair…it is, in essence, simply making him more comfortable on his way to hell."

When churches do not embrace a biblical approach to discipleship of all of it's people (those that covenant with the congregation in membership), and allow non-Christians to shelter as if they were Christians (in membership or even attendance) that is a major problem in the church. So you can see how nominalism and unbelief can be supported by the local church.

The young man in the conversation that I wrote about above is regularly attending a church. In the way that the church functions he has never been confronted with his unbelief or the fact that he is not a Christian. This is a problem...and while the church has not caused his nominalism or unbelief it has not helped him see it, thereby contributing to his continuance in unbelief. Hence, his reaction to that basic problem of discipleship in that specific local church has been to continue in nominalism/unbelief.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Reactions to Problems in Churches

While writing a paper about discipleship the other day I started to think about the different models of how people respond to problems in churches that I have seen throughout my life. I could think of at least six different responses and I'll briefly outline them here.

I should give a disclaimer...I don't have everything figured out. I'm trying to think through these things in a public if you have ideas or suggestions please feel free to post a response here.

Also, when I am talking about what a Christian is I am talking about those who have an understanding of the gospel and believe it! Another word for the gospel is "evangel" which consists of an understanding and wholehearted belief of the following:
(1) There is one true and living God who always was, Uncreated, Eternal, Triune, Holy and Perfect who created all things and made a covenant with mankind. (2) This man, made from the dust, sinned by not keeping the covenant God made with him by doing what he wanted to do and not doing what God wanted him to do...therefore incurring God's right wrath against him. (3) The Lord Jesus Christ...God became man, fully God and fully man (the Son of God, the second person in the Trinity) and died as a substitute for sin. This substitute worked atonement on the cross making it possible for men and women to have a personal relationship with God. He took God's right wrath against our place. (4) Lastly, response...Jesus was a substitute for all the sin of those who will repent of their sin and believe on Jesus Christ. This believing in and on Jesus Christ positively is a belief in who Scripture says that Jesus Christ is...if we believe in who we like to think Jesus is...we could be worshipping an idol. Belief in Jesus as he truly is consists of a stepping into a life of worship of who Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ is in both word and deed. So there is a cost to us, but the good news is that Jesus saved us from God's wrath. God paid the price for our sin if we will repent and believe.

This great gospel or "good news" is the fact that those who are saved are justified before God by faith alone, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Works are indicative of the gift of faith that God gives to us. Our works have no merit...Aquinas was wrong! William Tyndale described the joy of the gospel as follows:
Evangelion (that we call the gospel) is a Greek word; and signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a man's heart glad, and maketh him sing, dance and leap for joy.

So... Here's the list of different reactions I have seen to problems that exist in churches. I'm hoping to blog through each of these and describe a bit how it appears that each of them function.
(1) Nominalism/Unbelief
(2) Isolation
(3) False Unity
(4) Schism based on an attempt to Biblical fidelity.
(5) Reformation based on "cultural contextualization"
(6) Reformation based on Biblical principles and what the church has had biblically correct in the history of Christianity

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Reflection 12/04/07

Wow, it's been a busy, full, and awesome last four months. As I'm sure you have noticed I haven't been blogging very much. Hopefully someday I can resume more regularly.

For now though I'll just write a little reflection on how things are going. When I was in college I wrote a song called Things Changing. Since it was a jazz tune it didn't have any lyrics, but it was really an expression of how I was feeling at the time. Friends were getting married, graduating from college and leaving, getting jobs keeping them from having the flexibility to get together. I also knew that soon I would be graduating and getting married myself. I was feeling the combination of feelings of being a little scared and excited at the same time about what was about to happen.

Well, last year was a time that I started to have some of these feelings again...the only difference was that I had now been married for about four years, and I had been working for The Principal Financial Group for about three years. I was feeling an increasing desire to give my life to full time Christian ministry, I had taken about 20 credits toward a 94(ish) credit Mdiv program, and was waiting to sell our house...quit my job...and move to Washington D.C. to participate in Capitol Hill Baptist Church's (CHBC) internship program.

Well, the internship is bearing to an end and I'm feeling some of the same stuff I was feeling approaching the internship. A little scared and excited wrapped into one. We are putting our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that it would be best for our growth in grace to stay at CHBC while I finish seminary through correspondence at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. I believe wholeheartedly that a theological education is one of the necessities for effective Christian ministry...not that theological education has to be acheived through a seminary...but somewhere and somehow. I believe that the biblical model for training pastors is in the context of the local church. What good would a seminary education be if one isn't heavily involved with a local church...and what good would involvement in a church be unless one is growing in a knowledge of the Bible, knowledge of theology, and love/knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ? How much more is this true in regard to those who are called to lead, love, teach, exhort, rebuke, sacrifice-self, serve, delight in, shepherd, and pastor a flock of the Lord's sheep.

So there it is! Lord willing, Lindsey and I are going to be staying in D. C. for a few more years. We would appreciate it if any of you could pray for us: (1) that we would grow in humility before the Lord, (2) that the Lord would reveal Himself to us more fully and that we might love His people more, and (3) that in all things Christ would be magnified in our lives. I have learned so much, and I have so much more to learn.

I'm excited to get back to posting. Only one more week of the internship. Crazy!

In Christ,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Manualist??...I'm Speechless!

These videos are incredible!
Seinfeld Theme...

Bohemian Rhapsody...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Gospel Growth Conference: Wrap Up

Here is a compilation of the posts I did for the conference.

Gospel Growth vs. Church Growth Conference

I. Gospel Growth Conference: Introduction [Mark Dever]

II. The Beginnings of Gospel Growth [Tony Payne]

III. Church Growth Paralysis [Phillip Jensen]

IV. Behind the Scenes

V. Evangelism "What it IS, and what it ISN'T" [Mark Dever]

VI. A Fresh Understanding of Church [Phillip Jensen]

VII. A Fresh Understanding of Gospel Growth [Phillip Jensen]

VIII. Resources for Gospel Growth [Tony Payne]

IX. Living in the Last Days [Phillip Jensen]

X. Panel Discussion [Mark Dever, Tony Payne, & Phillip Jensen]

XI. Gospel Growth Day by Day [Tony Payne]

XII. The Task, The Tactics, And The Telos [Phillip Jensen]

XIII. Final Word [my quick reflection and some pictures]

Friday, November 02, 2007

Gospel Growth Conference: Final Word...

This was really a good conference, not a perfect conference but a good one. These guys expose the Scriptures a little differently than I have heard before. The other thing about conference that I also enjoy is getting exposed to ministries that I'm not very familiar with and learning about their passion for spreading a passion for the supremacy of Christ and His gospel in the world. That is definitely what Matthias Media is about. I was also able to pick up a few books that I'm really excited to read. I hope that I didn't misrepresent or butcher the talks too bad. Thanks for following along on the "almost live-blogging". As an intern at CHBC I have reading assignments, papers to write, hospitality to tend to, set-up and clean-up my apologies that these didn't all get out here as the conference was going. I'll do a post at the latest tomorrow of a wrap up of posts from the conference. Thanks again for reading!

Grace and peace!

Here's a pic of me with Phillip Jensen

Here's a pic of me with Tony Payne

These last pics are of what was left of the bookstore. Compare these pics to the ones from the first day.

Gospel Growth Conference: Day III, Session II

Session III: Phillip Jensen "The Task, The Tactics, and the Telos"
[11/1/07 10:30am]

Preface and Clarification:
Phillip started by talking about how it’s hard for them to communicate from the outskirts of a culture to the center of it. In communicating as Christians…this is the difficulty, because they are in a different position from what we are exposed to in reading and other forms of communication. He talked about how Matthias Media has doubled its sales since they have had an American agent who does translation work and understands our cultural perspective. They are helped enormously by us, but we never send missionaries there...and they could certainly use some [it seemed].

He then talked about how the Q & A last night showed them that the cross cultural thing was coming into our conversations with regard to their fighting different battles in Australia as opposed to here. The 2 ways to live doesn’t say much about the incarnation…and they got in trouble quite a bit of controversy a while ago over that. Phillip’s has no problem with the incarnation, but it’s not spoken of much in the New Testament, and in Acts in their sharing of the gospel the incarnation is not something that is said spoken of [in the New Testament accounts]. At a conference a while back they were battling this topic. Since the material didn’t cover this then the cross cultural transfer wasn’t occurring well.

Specifically in regard to last night's Q & A...they had conversations afterwards and there was a misunderstanding of where they are coming from with church membership. Mainly in how the Emerging church philosophies of church had an impact on this thinking…he clarified that two Christian people on a golfcourse is not a church. He’s for people being in two or three churches…he’s a churchman [where I would think that people would need to be a member of one particular regular gathering or assembly coming to hear the Word of God]. They run three or four churches a week. Because he defines it by the separate assemblies. Two different congregations means that there are two different churches. So if a certain ministry has three services...each service then, in Phillip's view, would be churches [I agree with this, which is why I don't think that a local ministry should have more than one that they are one assembly/congregation/church. He said that everyone, Christian, should be committed absolutely to the church they are in. His concern with membership is that it’s not strong enough and that people should be called instead of membership he wants to use the word partnership [read some of the 9Marks material on membership to get a well rounded view on this topic so you can see how different folks think about this].

He talked about how In the 1950’s 30-40% of the population of Sydney came to church…many weren’t Christians. Now the people they have are "all boots in". They are solidly committed to church that they are in. He then said that since their culture is a fair bit more secularized than ours, "They fought this battle a long time ago and lost." He called this period the great pruning…because God has pruned them back to the bare bones of believers. They are praying for growth…but they aren’t dealing with the large population of culturized Christians. He’s sorry for confusing the issue with ours.

The advantage of being an outsider is that you see things more clearly. But the disadvantage is that you are not smart. Outsiders ask obvious questions that look dumb…but it gets to the heart of your issues [I have found this to be true in many areas].

The Lecture: The Task, The Tactics, The Telos

Growing in Christian maturity in Christlikeness in character.

1 Corinthians 8:1-11
Paul taught us to teach and preach according to expounding the Scriptures. First, in explicating this passage he wondered “What do we do with food offered to idols?” This doesn't really happen in Australia other than food to the idol of our belly. Then he became conscious that a quarter of his congregation were Chinese and they were offering food to idols of the family. “Do I bow to my ancestors or not?” was a legitimate question which this suddenly had a lot of relevance to. The doctrine of Christian liberty is essential to doctrine of justification by faith alone. Having the minister not being the pope is very important.

1 Corinthians 10:31 "The task of ministry"
I. To glorify God
We are to be imitators of Paul as he is an imitator of Christ. This passage has the greatest command to us for every member evangelize. Much more even than Matthew 28. Because if I am to grow like Christ I am going to do the things of Christ. We need this model of Jesus Christ so that we can be a model that others should follow in a manner that we aren't to please everyone in everything for our advantage, but so that they might be saved. Our chief end and purpose of evangelism is the same as the chief end and purpose of man. Not to save souls but to glorify God. The secondary category then is saving souls…primary is to glorify God. This means faithfulness is the true test of evangelism…not success. This is a big albatross to get off of our necks. To the glory of God, but not in deliberate offensiveness to unbelievers.

In this way Phillip is a "man pleaser", not for his own benefit, but for the salvation of others. He will cause offense if the purpose is against those that will not support what the Bible teaches. Men are macho in Australia and the last thing they want to do is to listen to the gospel, he will cause offense for things of that matter. We need to have Christian liberty with people in this because it is difficult to discern where the line is.
a. WWJD: To be like Christ Many people say, "if I was Jesus I would do this, so I’m going to do this..." WWJD means that we must do what Jesus did. We must bring the gospel of salvation of other people because we are imitating Christ. Jesus Christ pu aside His own self interest to become a human, not only a human but a servant, not only a servant but to be a servant who died a death on a cross. What is it that we would refuse to do to save another? Jensen then said, “I’ll put on a dress if that’s what it means.”

b. The heart of a man is evil. "I don’t know If I really know my own heart," he said. The judgemnet is the jdugement of God one day. What is required of me is trustworthiness, faithfulness…not success. At one level it is terrificly liberating, but on another level it’s extremely difficult because, “I have to do the right thing.” It also liberates from competitiveness. Frees from temptation to play fast and loose from the Word of God. This frees him from feeling like he has to go to conferences trying figure out how to “sex-up” church life.

II. The Fundamental Strategy of God
It’s his strategy but we participate in it by His will. The builder of the church is Christ (in the Trinity) Matthew 16:18. It is His church, His activity I’m involved in. I’m not the church builder, but He is the builder through me. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 uses a metaphor of a agricultural metaphor. We are the field and God is the grower. When talking about how to grow the church it’s like saying I must be born again. It’s not our work but God’s work. 1 Corinthians 3:9-15 says that we are the building…god’s holy building. We are fellow workers with God.

A. The Evangelist
In 1 Peter 1:10-12 Peter alludes to the fact that Paul is difficult to understand (e.g. Ephesians 1:3-10). Paul has so many subordinate clauses. Like Paul, Peter here in verse 12 is tricky. The evangelist is the Holy Spirit and this work happens through people. Ephesians 1:8-10 says there is no two stage Christian experience. This is talking about how the gentiles have been sealed. The plan of God from the beginning was to include the gentiles and it was done by “hearing the word of truth”.

So what about our actions? His plan includes our actions. It’s extraordinary grace, real grace. We should pray prayers like 2 Thessalonians 3:1…we aren’t fatalists…we know it’s going to be happen (that "the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified"), but we ask God to do that which is His plan. Paul in Ephesians 6 wanted people to pray that he would have the boldness to proclaim the mystery of the gospel. He said then that it's nice to know that apostles were normal men dependent on God.

B. Proclamation
In Romans 10 faith comes from hearing the word of God. Tell people to just come to church and listen. Phillip then recalled a tim that he tried to argue an atheist into the kingdom…but all that his friend needed was to hear the word of God. Another circumstance that he recalled an atheist read the Bible and after reading he told Jensen he became a Christian, "He was reading the Bible and he was asking himself if he believed this stuff or not, and he thought, 'yeah, I do'." Phillip asked this man what he was reading and he said it was Leviticus. Yet another reason why we must faithfully, and rightly dividing the entire counsel of God.

C. People In Matthew 9 it speaks of “sheep without a shepherd”. Phillip also discused the kind of music to we use…"you use the kind of music that the kind of people that you are trying to reach like." Because all that music is about is ambiance and emotion. People are what matter…not music. Become all things to all people that we might save some.

III. The Tactics

According to 2 Timthy 2:7-10 Christian tactics always involve suffering and hard work.
The science of organizing and manoeuvring forces in battle to achieve a limited or immediate aim.
- They always would try to get the "newcomer" to come→

- Then they tried to establish them in a church…(Phillip did all that work by himself and after three years he almost had a nervous breakdown)→

- Then Cole Marshalll came along and said you’ve got it all wrong or in Australian, “stop being stupid”→

- Then Phillip started to develop 2 Ways to Live and training people in ministry (The only way you can train people to do it is to get them involved in the work)→

- Just train one person properly→

- Then you train a few people properly→

- The only way you can do this →

- Then the people Phillip trained were then looking after more people (newcomers) than he ever could→

- They look fo self-starter so that when they leave they will continue, they will then join a church and start ministry by themselves→

- The objective is to teach people to train other members for ministry→

- It’s the people that teach it that know how to do it→

- This is about church growth…not gospel growth, then after figuring out all of these steps they found out about gospel growth.

“Blokes worth watching”
These are the folks that have a capacity for teaching the Word of God uniquely well. They identfy them and put these men into a ministry called the Ministry Training Strategy for 2 years. This is a training of people in ministry and training self-starters. Then they send them to theological school (Moore College)…and then they send them out into the world.

[As you can see in the picture that Phillip drew there are two columns three categories in each... the first on the left is the lay movement (1) New Comers "NC", (2) Training people for Ministry "TM", (3) Self Starters "SS". To the right in this picture is their "professional" plan (1) Blokes Worth Watching "BWW", (2) Ministry Training Strategy "MTS" two year apprenticeship, (3) Moore College. Notice all the arrows in between the two tracks...they feed into and off of each other to grow healthy God glorifying churches. Then they do church plants sending out vocational ministers that have been through the "professional" track and lay leaders that have been through the lay track. Oftentimes they will even move people that have reached the bottom of the lay track over to the first stage of the "professional" track.]

So there is a lay movement, and a “professional” movement. If they would have held on to these people their church would have gotten very big…but they sent them out…intentionally to the effect of diminishing the ministry of their church for the cause of taking the gospel into all of the world. He said though that God is gracious, because the more they sent “blokes out” the more “blokes” God kept giving.

IV. The Strategy for the Present
These are sinful days as 2 Timothy 3 indicates. Therefore, our strategy comes from the Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:10 forward lays out their follow the Apostle Paul as he imitated the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, "Never be surpised that you are opposed and persecuted. Go ahead with one fight or another. These are the normal consequences of Christian ministry." This is the science of art of planning and conducting a war or a military campaign.

The 3 C’s are what they look for in the "Blokes Worth Watching"
1. Character
2. Convictions…out of convictions will come caracter (these first two are the important ones) if you haven’t got a character shaped by convictions then you won’t read the Word of God right.
3. Competency(s) with a “Bloke worth watching” the most important thing is not his skills…but his character and conviction. You have to have certain people skills to teach people the word of God…but this is not as important.

The church growth is all about tactics, but it’s not what the ministry is about. But there is only one strategy…prayer, proclamation, people. Gospel growth is about:
1. 2 Tim 4:1-5 “Faithfulness to the task of prayerful preaching of the Word to people.”
2. 2 Timothy 2:2 "entrust to faithful men."

This is what we look for in the “blokes worth watching.”

V. Questions…

Phillip then took a few minutes to answer any questions people might have.
Question: "Explain strategy of Bible exposition?"

Jensen:He tries to subsume his mind and agenda to the word of God by allowing the Bible to be determing preaching rather than his mind. Isaiah 30...let it determine the agenda of the preaching. Last night (Wednesday evening) he was showing us how he preaches. It’s not an oral commentary…rather it is an explanation of what the passage is itself saying to us now...“explicating” the Word of God. He gives up on the phrase expository preaching because even those without opening the Bible do it. So he explicates. The word of God controls the agenda rather than his mind…he tends to love his mind, and his ideas. Frankly, that’s not what we need to hear from the pulpit.

Question (by Dever in the pic above): "What are your thoughts of pastors moving from one pastorate to another? Are there some that are more strategic than others?"

Jensen: There are no reasons...which means he’s an Anglican (jokingly). There is no more important ministry other than the one that you are in. Some men have to move because they cannot lead a flock anywhere else other than what he has already done. Survey’s have shown that in the first 1-5 years pastors tend to be positive, years 5-10 pastors tend to be negative, then 10 years plus pastors tend to generally be positive. Tactics…culture moves from the center outward. So there are certain places from which you can influence peole far greater than other places. So a city, or a University would be a strategic place. By the year 2020 a large percentage of people are going to be born outside of Sydney that live in Sydney. So he looks for people that have feet in two worlds culturally speaking. Strategically the "latch" onto people. They haven’t found enough bi-cultural workers like a factory worker to reach different folks in that culture.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Gospel Growth Conference: Day III, Session I

Session I: Tony Payne "Gospel Growth Day By Day"
[11/1/07 9:00am]

Tony started by saying that to focus on growth or, “making my church bigger,” is the wrong focus. It’s a false goal that drives us motivates us and gives us a wrong expectation. He said that we are to prayerfully proclaim the truth to eachother and to other people in the three ways discussed yesterday:
(1) Proclamation
(2) Pray
(3) People

These are the three foundational things that biblically we are to do to grow the church. What then is the fruit that comes from these foundations?

Some people respond and are converted. This is what happened in Colossians, and what is happening today. What does the personal incremental day by day growth look like in a Christian life? Are they growing and bearing fruit, or are they faltering? Are people really growing, becoming more like Jesus. Are they growing in maturity?

Colossians 1:9-14

I. What is it that Paul is praying for?
First, in verse 9 he is praying that they would be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding. The key word here is "understanding". This is the same word that is used earlier in verse 6. To, "understand the word of truth". He prayed that they would be filled with wisdom and understanding, and for God's the grace of God in truth will fill them.

Then he went to Paul’s prayer in Ephesians which is similar (Eph 1:15). The idea is the same here…Paul is not praying for people to read their Bibles more everyday. He’s praying that they would come to a more deep understanding of God’s Word. For us to get it to understand and be filled with the gospel.

It is the work of God’s Spirit that we would walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. He talked about how the more people know others the more they want to please them. He talked about how he loved the television show Westwing he watched all seven seasons! He reiterated then that the more we understand an know God then we can really grasp what His plans are, then the more that we want to walk in a manner that would please him.

II. What does this gospel growth look like? He gave three participles that exegete what it is to walk in a manner that is worthy of the Lord.
(1) Col 1:10 "bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God" (same words as verse 6) good works that spring from knowledge of God.
(2) "In all power they would be empowered to walk in endurance and patience" Col 1:11…in all power endure, be patient, and don’t give up. For people like us endurance and not giving up is a bright marker of gospel growth. That they are patient, they endure, they don’t give up, they don’t wander off, they are still here in 10 years time.
(3) They wait patiently for the inheritance with joyful thanksgiving Col. 1:12…"not grumbling, and they have a heart of thankfulness."

III. Is this gospel growth happening in your own life?
If it isn’t and you don’t see your life marked by good works…etc. then you have to speak the Word of God into your own heart that we might grow in godliness first. Patience, endurance, good works, and thankfulness.

VII. What does gospel growth look like in your congregation?
In hard spots have thankfulness and joy. Gospel growth looks like this. It looks like increasing fruit born in our lives. In Galatians there is also the fruit of the spirit. The knowledge of the truth in accord with godliness, it says at the beginning of Titus.

IX. There are 3 Final implications of biblical gospel growth
(1) Growth comes by sticking with Christ. Not a new program, not a new Jesus, etc. Col 2 is a good representation of this. Don’t be seduced by the latest ministry philosophy.

(2) Biblical gospel growth is long term and it is slow. It’s a process and takes place over time. It’s a long slow marathon…a process of growth. How can you spur someone to progress to become more mature in the future? Thinking about each person in your congregation and thinking about how you can help “this person grow over time to be more like Jesus.” Gospel growth is more than two Bible studies and patting the disciplee on the head giving them tracts to hand out...this is not “follow-up”. Outreach, Follow-Up, Growth, and Training are the different categories of materials they produce. These processes are what drives gospel growth. Equip and train your people to speak the truth to one-another. To admonish one another (Colossians 3). How many people are equipped and trained to help train other people in your congregation? Who is being trained to speak Word of God in a Bible study?

(3) It is a work of God. Without prayer and dependence on the work of God’s Spirit it’s like a hot dog without mustard if we aren’t dependent on the Spirit. We actually must pray for the work of the gospel as we preach it.

X. Matthias Media's resources are not a trick, or a new technique.
They are simple resources to help with this sort of ministry. It is longterm slow work and they are designed to help in this work.

XI. Identify train and support people who have potential in being a leader in ministry.
The phrase that they like to use about potential disciplees is “blokes worth watching”. These are the kind of folks that will one day become fulltime ministers. They will train more that will train others. Gospel growth happens when there are more people that are out there preaching the gospel to others. This is the idea behind what they call the Ministry Training Strategy center. This is a two year apprenticeship to test gifts then then go off to seminary training “it’s about passing the baton to the next generation.”

Give yourselves to gospel growth, and pray for it as Paul does in Colossians.

Gospel Growth Conference: Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion: Mark Dever, Tony Payne, and Phillip Jensen
[10/31/07 8:15pm]

This discussion was mainly a question and answer I'll post the question and then the corresponding answers.

I. Emeris from Ninevah, NY... "According to your definition of a church gathering around the word as opposed to our normal language of worship please define for us the Word of God around which we gather."
Jensen: "The word of God is the gospel encaptulated in the Scriptures which are the Words of God. Jesus Christ is the Word…I take it as the gospel of Jesus Christ in God’s words the 66 books we call the Bible."

Mark Dever then gestured at Tony Payne who just nodded...typical Dever humor;)

II. Rod from Gainesville... "Does the Bible teach membership?"
Dever: "Rod, are you asking how do we deal with our members that sound like Phillip Jensen…you don’t share with them that talk (jokingly)." He said to encourage your people to enflesh love of the congregation in which they are with.

Jensen: "Do everything Mark says…we have different histories…fundamental to Baptist thinking has always been membership." Then Jensen said that if he had no tradition he would be a Baptist…however, he thinks membership is not the right word. "Partnership in the gospel" is the right biblical word. He suspects that what is meant by partnership. In Australia membership is a consumeristic and passive word. He believes all Christians should be partners in the gospel in their local congregation. He finds this as a more common word in the New Testament. It is an expression in the local church that will reflect true membership to the invisible church. Not some consumeristic tendency or a "from time to time attendance".

Payne: He then shared the story of a school that St. Matthias church did something for Anglicans, namely that it instituted a partnership of people in the local congregation. This is against an Anglican thinking of the local church.

Dever: He agrees with a surprising amount of Jensen…if he lived in another century he would be a Baptist as well. Because of the way that church literature uses and has used the word membership he uses it as well as opposed partnership. He then pushed on being a member of numerous churches. Do you understand that any has a different responsibility to “partners” at one service as opposed to another.

Jensen: He thinks we can have dual membership in more than one church. Then if you go to war then you have to say where your real citizenship is (similar to countries). If you aren’t at war then you have the same responsibility to every congregation to which you are a partner.

Dever: He agrees…in regard to college students in practice. But he has a pastoral concern with how he thinks it would be used if someone in unrepentant sin they may use a multitude of relationships to dodge church discipline. Churches need to coordinate together to take care of their sheep.

III. Bob from VA... "To Phillip Jensen, Can you clarify eschatological position to show your perspective of the Old Testament church?"
Jensen: No, primary thought he had in regard to his lectures was not out of his millennial view. It does work with eschatological view that is presupposed into the text. Revelation 20 has only one reference to the millennial view. Technically he is an Amillenial. Believes we are in the millennium now…thinks that 1000 is a symbolic number. Thinks it is the character of apocalyptic literature. He respects both other views. Eschatology doesn’t influence enormously how you read the Bible. Hebrews shows largely how the Old Testament and New Testament are connected. He was working with what Hebrews does with Deuteronomy and Exodus. Jensen holds to insistance of reading both Old Testament and New Testament…it’s the only right way to read the bible. The interplay between the two is the only way to read the Bible properly. Better than trying to work from one’s view of the millennium backward he works forward.

IV. Peter from VA... "He is excited by the participation of multiple denominations...How can we partner together across denominations to work for gospel growth?"
Dever: As pastors we can encourage a larger view of churches by praying for other churches by name in our pastoral prayers. We aren’t in competition. That ungodly sense of competition often comes from the pastor.

Also, every couple months there will be several prospective new members that are from other local churches. They contact the pastor from that local church. Sometimes they send them back based on the circumstances that they have.

Jensen: He mentioned Iain Murray's book "Evangelicalism Divided"…as a helpful analysis of unhelpful divisions in churches. And another by Robert Horn "Student Witness and Christian Truth" outlines principles in which we can unite in common work and areas how we can’t.

Dever: Mark then invited Mike Gilbart-Smith down to describe the vision for what CHBC does with lunch time evangelistic talks. They are lunch time evangelistic talks around the city in partnership of Baptists, Evanelical Anglicans, Presbyterians, E-Free, another Baptist churches...and they are all partnering together for the sake of the gospel. They can’t be members of the same church, but they do agree on the gospel and work together for gospel purposes.

V. Stan from Mass... "Unpack the "avoid such people" phrase…he is looking for broader discussion of this…his context of ministry is in the most liberal mainline denominations of churches"
Jensen: His view of the church doesn’t think that membership partnership is the issue…rather what is the relationship between churches…but what about the relationship of churches? Dneominations are an association of churches…a religious real estate company. Allocation of religious resources…secular organization. It’s not a church…it’s a real estate company. Avoiding such people is avoiding in any kind of Christian fellowship. 2 John, "don’t even treat with these people." He said to resist giving a cup of cold water as a way to work with them. He said then that he goes to the real estate company does business…but he won’t eat with them, do tea with them, and won’t pray with them. Passage says avoid…but doesn’t say when…how far etc. He’s on a bus and won’t get off the bus, but he won’t go to a dinner party with them. Dinner table is an expression of fellowship. Should he not have realestate company with them? That is just the circumstances of his history. There are times that a minister will have to leave the building that his congregation built. If others are unrepentantly religiously…practicing adultery and participating in ministry…don’t put pearls before swine.

Dever: He just recenty spent time last week in Greenville, SC with Fundamentalists…he was the liberal. They were pressing on this doctrine of separation. They would applaud the things he does…they are afraid of the confusion of the gospel in association with the false gospels that liberal churches put forth in the same denominations. He thinks that hinks that participation helps perpetuation of untruths farther.

Jensen: Every movement encounters this at some time in the future…so should we all leave…try to have them removed…but then disassociate ourselves with them? He doesn’t see why Christians should give up realestate…he thinks they should kick him out...not that he should leave.

VI. Bill from KY, "Does the Anglican church receive state support?"
Jensen: They are a free church and receive support only from local membership. However, "down under" they can teach Scripture in state schools…it's not quite as bizarre as "in in God we trust" we cannot talk or teach about it.

VII. Gary from Long Island... He asked a question about Vanhoozer's new book "The Drama of Doctrine"...
Payne: "The Drama of Doctrine" (Vanhoozer) is a proposal that we don’t cherry pick things from the Bible. It’s like Sydney Theology as understood as Biblical Theology. Unfolding the Bible as a whole…this has very much informed the thinking of "Two Ways To Live".

Jensen: "Theodramatic presentation sounds like too much"…but Jensen doesn't know what Vanhoozer's talking about. He said it sounds like rejecting propositional revelation. The attempt of postmodern of narrative as opposed to propositional truth is not the gospel. It is an accommodation to the culture. Most helpful books he read on this Harry Blema “On the Christian Mind” If you are going to be a Christian think Christianly. We are the people of the Word. He’s a premodern…he thinks as the Bible thinks…believes in knowledge and words and the capacity of words to teach knowledge. One man was converted (postmodern) by Jensen’s brother’s preaching because he listened over 5 or 6 weeks of his expounding of the Scriptures. His worldview that words have no meaning was undermined by the demonstration of how words do have meaning.

Payne: He alluded that Jensen indeed wasn't understanding Vanhoozer;) He said that David Wells has been very helpful on this. His point is that when confronted with this worldview it’s not for tactics, but it’s a time for proclamation and action. You have to confront and preach the truth.

VIII. Greg from CT... "If a church is gathering of God under his Word…how does the para-church fit in with evangelism and discipleship of Christians?"
Jensen: He denies that there is a para-church. Local churches won’t support it if it says they are churches. Baptism, and the Lord's Supper marks of the true church. That’s not the issue (hmmmm???). He calls it a church…goes to a different church on Sunday. Thinks you can’t make it separate. He can’t find this in the Scriptures. He's happy with Christian development…but was upset that they would be their church taking up pew space. They came because they were required to by the para-church statement of faith. He sees them as different associations of Christians for different purposes. He doesn’t think it’s biblical. Para-church always undermines the church because the first loyalty of it's participants lies with the para-church organization. It’s like outsourcing it’s Bible study. It’s gutting itself of it’s purposes. Hatch, Match, and Dispatch.

Dever: He said that it's wrong to have just a jewish church or just a gentile. It’s okay to have a para- church organization called Anglican…etc. Thy are not in the Bible but they are good trying to coordinate good work for the gospel. He said it is problematic to define the para-church as a church because you are not defining to the world what it is and isn’t to be a Christian. You aren’t there for professors, janitors…just the students.

Jensen: He asked then, "Why don’t para-church ministries start taking responsiblity and become churches doing the sacraments?"

IX. Graham a fellow inten and he's from the UK... "If any gathering around the Word of God is best defined as a church then how do we apply passages such as discipline in those settings? How are we to understand other passages?"
Jensen: He doesn’t see a problem with Matt 18 and 1 Cor 5 in the context of his definition of a church…if people want to hides sins they will hide sins. You trust people until they show they are untrustworthy. Then you withdraw trust. Level of intimacy of the relationship will determine the level of trust. The level of discipline relates to the level of relationship that you have. Wary of going beyond the scriptures in discipline. Lax is an error, and cult is an error. We have to avoid both. A great deal of Christian wisdom is needed in this regard.

Payne: He argued that we should just use the word gathering. Short term, Long term, etc. Tyndale’s translation of ekklesia is of gathering's all Henry VIII's fault.

X. Bryan from Mass... He was discipled by 4 or 5 guys in Sydney years ago. His question was, "Why would you spend so much time building into someone that is only going to be there for a few months?"
Jensen: Because you’re only going to be there for a few months. "The church that gives away it’s members," should have been their mission statement. Their aim was to always give their members away. It’s their commitment to the people that are there. To disciple and build them up whil they have them.

Gospel Growth Conference: Day II, Session V

Session V: Phillip Jensen "Living in the Last Days"
[10/31/07 7:00pm]

I. 2 Timothy 3:1-9
Jensen started by discussing that this is what he preached this las week in Sydney. He mentioned that Bible exposition is interesting because in the course of preaching through books of the Bible you come across passages and topics that you would never choose to try to explain. He also mentioned that this sermon upset some people who left in a encouraged others to stand firm in the faith, and it concerned others that they would be kicked out of the Anglican church (which would basically be the same as standing for the truth). He then ended the introduction with a pretty funny quote, "If this is what I think of the Anglican’s to whom I belong you can only imagine what I think of you!"

II. Times that We Live in
He believes that these are the last days. Along with these last days will come times of difficulty. In some ways these are (or appear to be) easier times…but we have to understand the last times are going to be days of difficulty. The opposition to God’s people will grow. As we preach the gospel we must expect hostility. We are to expect persecution, discrimination and hostility. In the West for ages we have had governmental support. But as the antithesis of secularism grows more militant we come more and more under threat. We must not think that democracy will help us. Democracy is only the tyranny of the majority. For the majority, morality will have not track with Christians when Christians are the minority. In Sydney among Anglicans seduction is the problem.

Notice what God says about these last difficult times in this passage. Verse 2 says, “because the people really will be evil.” That is not to say that all the evil people will be wholly evil all the time.

Look at how we entertain ourselves…or what fills our minds and aspirations…we live in a society dominated by individualism (where nothing matters but ourselves), materialism (bigger is better), hedonism (pleasure, fun, enjoyment, happiness, etc.). Australia is a people that are committed gamblers. They send busses to the poorest areas to take people for free to the casinos.

Verse 4 describes lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. There is an interesting rejection of God that took place this week in what is called Australian Idol. Of the six finalists four are evangelical Christians, and they have been banned from talking about God on the show. This shows how their society loves the wrong things.

Verse 2 and 4 are good descriptions of Australian lifestyle. Last week Phillip had to pick his way through Bicyclists who are trying to ride in the sun to avoid the shade. He tried to avoid pub full of all night drinkers that were watching the World Cup rugby match between South African and England and they had been drinking all night past 5:00am. He then had to walk around the motor show and on the bridge and walked by all the Corvettes in the Corvette club…almost all of which were cleaner and more polished than his own teeth.

There is a second list of these people in verses 6-8. These are the religious charlatans. Also, amongst the women some are weak…and some are particularly vulnerable to religious Charlatans. 60% of Christians are female. And where the gospel is not preached the number of women rises. There is a female bias to religion and that’s what he is saying in the passage.

Jensen then discussed how you don’t have to know everything about someone to know them. This is how he knows Jesus…but these people never come to a knowledge of truth. Because they are ignorant of the truth. They’ve never met Jesus.

He then mentioned how last year we were challenged by the Da Vinci Code…he didn’t read it…didn’t read a critique of it. These things are always coming and going. Every time he yawns at every "world shattering new discovery every Christmas or Easter" (e. g. The Gospel of Judas, The box that says Jesus rests here, etc.). The secularist media has to report on Christmas and Easter but they don’t want to say anything godly so every year these things keep coming out.

III. We’ll be dealing not only with irreligion, but with religion.
Verse 5 has to do with the appearance of godliness but denies it’s power, "have nothing to do with them." There is an appearance of religiousness. We should ask, "Are we this people…are we being described here…have we only the appearance of godliness and are not in reality?" Muslims and Buddhists have the appearance of religion. Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicanism have the appearance of godliness.

IV. Phillip then described how he went to bed one night a reverend, and then in the middle of the night became reverent. It happened while he was asleep so he missed it.
He explained that there is nothing wrong with appearing godly. There is nothing wrong with it. The real problem with these people is that they appear to have godliness…but they DENY IT’S POWER.

He then described how there was a preacher in Australia who thought the God of the Old Testament was dead…he claimed that Jesus died with us and rejected the idea that God would judge anyone. He stood in a cathedral in Australia dressed in the robe of a bishop. It’s not just the truth this preahcer denied, but the power of religion he denied.

The power of godliness is the power of the gospel. It is the power to endure suffering knowing the saving power of Jesus. This preacher was being transformed by the power of God. This was the case of our apostle Paul…a more powerful character has hardly walked across the face of history although it didn’t look like it at the time.

There are people in churches who’s religious credentials are impeccable, but the deny the power of God to change lives. They have degrees in divinity from the very finest institutions. They have all the appearance of godliness and deny the power of it. Avoid such people. Don't avoid just their teaching…or their ungodliness…rather, we are not to fellowship with these people. This unbelief spreads like gangrene spreads into all that come in contact with them. Below is the prayer that he often shares at the end of many sermons.

The first paragraph reminds us of how to be a Christian and how to become one. We don’t deserve eternal life.
The second paragraph is a thank you.
The third paragraph is the prayer of the plea.

"If you are a minister do not let your religious pride stand in the way of seeking the mercy of God," he said. He then described that that liberal minister was him. He invited us to pray this prayer like he did…he was not a Christian and he has become one. To be thought little by men is a small thing in comparison to being thought little of God.
Dear God,

I know that I am not worthy to be accepted by you
I don’t deserve your gift of eternal life
I am guilty of rebelling against you and ignoring you,
I need forgiveness

Thank you for sending your son to die for me
That I may be forgiven
Thank you that he rose from the dead
To give me new life.

Please forgive me and change me, that I may live with Jesus as my ruler. Amen

Gospel Growth Conference: Day II, Session IV

Session IV: Tony Payne "Resources for Gospel Growth"
[10/31/07 3:30pm]

"You know that an Australian loves you when he insults you," Tony started out. He said that Aussies like many things from the United States: Krispy Kreme, Coca-Cola, Westwing, etc. But he isn't glad tht they have also received our "infomercials". Then he assured us that the next session was NOT an infomercial. It was a bit like an informercial...but it was great one because it pertains to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The resources that Matthias Media creates are truly helpful in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.

We are talking about God’s resources…

I. What resources does God give us for ministry for growth?
(1) God’s own true and powerful word (Proclamation)
(2) Spirit…(Prayer)
(3) People…eachother (people)

This is the kind of ministry that God has built…proclamation, prayer, and people. Speak the truth in love to one another. Titus 1 shows that older women are building up younger women. Men must be building up younger men as well. We should be equipping each other that we might be able to teach the Word of God to each other in dependence on the Holy Spirit, and then with other people we share with other people what is going on by the power of Christ.

Payne then pointed to the recent repentance of Willow Creek that their ministry programs over the last 20 years are not working. Programs simply were not working and a bulk of their congregation was not reporting spiritual growth. The process was that they would (1) feed people into a program, (2) measure participation, and then (3) it should mean spiritual growth. That wasn’t happening. They want to teach people to be self-feeders. Self-feeding is an excellent idea. But if the ministry had been driven by the Bible’s methods and priorities they would have known that the responsibility for spiritual growth is not just the pastor’s responsibility, or just the individuals responsibility. Rather, it is a mutual responsibility. We should be building each other up in love. Hebrews 3:12 says, “exhort one another every day as long as it is called today.” Then Hebrews 10:24 says, “consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds.”

It’s up to us to speak the Word to one-another. We must help each other be involved in the ministry of God’s Word to each other. How do you do do you get one another to come into eachother's lives? Take people along with you. The approach has often been to train in this way… “you’ve seen me do it, now you try while I watch.” There is a problem…of cloning another you. This ends up turning up “mini-me’s” of people trying to be someone other than themselves and this is almost never helpful.

A good teacher will point ou to the essentials and say watch me…then you try and transfer the essentials and I’ll come and watch you do it...not necessarily, "imitate me and all my tendencies." Trying to find out how to have transferable skills from one person to another that is what Matthias Media is about.

They were looking for resources that would do this and couldn't find any. So they started to produce them. This is basically the purpose of Matthias Media. And that’s why a bunch of Aussies came about with resources even though it's pretty much against their nature to publish.

II. “How do you train someone to teach the gospel to others?”
We must first clearly understand the gospel, and then practice how to say it in our own language. The tract is not two-ways to live. Two ways to live is the content in the is really a six point outline of the gospel. It is designed to be used as a framework for conversation, not a booklet that you blindly leave in the hands of a stranger. Tony and Marty Sweeney then role-played as a Christian and non-Christian to demonstrate how to use the material.

III. 2 ways to live came out in a rampant secularistic society.
(1) Conversion…Someone is converted...
(2) Follow-up…Then there is the material of “Just For Starters” this material is basic Bible training. They found that no one was doing this.
(3) Helping people growth…tools to help people speak the Word of God to each other.

The main goal of their material is, "Helping people share the Word of God with people."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Gospel Growth Conference: Day II, Session III

Session III: Phillip Jensen "A Fresh Understanding of Gospel Growth"
[10/31/07 2:00pm]

I. Introduction: How do we use the word "Worship"
Phillip started his introduction talking about possums! "Never stir the possum…they have terrible claws and nasty fangs." He said that by picking on worship he’s kind of stirring a possum (this reminds me of a time when I was little and my older sister carried what she thought to be a death possum into the wood...a few minutes after she set it down it got up and walked off).

Jensen has found that folks don’t mind critiquing the Bible but they surely do when you critique an understanding of worship. He started by looking at the words the Bible uses and the way that the Bible uses them... He discussed how we say phrases in certain ways because they roll off the tongue better: "Ladies and gentlemen" "Men and women" "humankind" as opposed to "humanity". We noticed the linguistic use of the order when the feminist movement came about. The words we use in English are deep seated in our consciousness…but the way we use them might not be how the New Testament writers used the words (as he is showing is the case for the word "worship").

So you take worship. What does worship mean for people today: “Take part in a religious service.” Then of course worship is church, and church is worship. But if you don’t know what church is then you don’t know what worship is.

Recently worship has come to mean singing hymns. This is seen as a “worship leader” so if the preacher preaches then the music leader is often referred to as the “worship leader”. A pastor's primary role biblically is not to be a counselor, "but we’ll have to take that up another time," he said. Some songs are not honoring to God. And the songs tend to take up the meaning of how you sing and how you feel when you sing…it’s the way you do it.

Praise is a similar term. This can take a different form in either music or spoken communication of speaking (or singing) well of God. Then he “praised” Tony Payne with a compliment as an example just speaking. Then he sang the same “praise” of Tony. It wasn’t any different rather, “[he] just distracted us,” with his singing as he said.

Why do we have a church service. If worship is a vertical coming up to God…then why would a horizontal act represent it. Service is depicted by liturgia (etc.). Most of the words are of cultic worship. They are words hardly used in connection with church gatherings or meetings. They are used in regard to Israel, or in fulfillment of the temple of Christ Jesus. They are used metaphorically (Romans 15 “Romans offered up as a sacrifice to God”). The metaphor is used, but the church is not seen as a center of worship…the temple yes, but the church is not seen as the temple. The temple is Christ, the temple is heaven…and the worship language gets caught up in heaven. The language of church is of serving each other. We worship all the time in all of our lives, but we don’t gather together for the sole purpose of worship in our regular gatherings biblically.

This is something that is not the main purpose of gathering. Do you go to chuch to breathe? We worship God all the time everywhere in every aspect of my life similar to breathing.

Now what do we mean here? Every Sunday of your life you are greeted by a minister saying, “We come together today for worship.” He said then that the definition of the word “worship” becomes what he is using it as. Time and mode of use of words redefine the words.

Why do we import the language of worship for coming together on Sunday? What we should say is, “We gather together today to hear God’s word.” Now we know what we are doing when we gather.
[This was a great summary of what is covered very thoroughly in David Peterson's book Engaging With God]

II. A Fresh Look at Gospel Growth Acts 6:7
The word for growth or increase here is in the context 9 ideas...
1. Growth of the church in quality (Eph 4:15-16) not numerically but into Christ in the context of a congregation, (Col 2:19) growth in godliness…quality

2. Growth in individual (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18) Christians grow personally and spiritually as we grow spiritually as churches

3. Growth in numbers markers in the development of the gospel as it goes out (Acts 2:41 [3,000 souls]; 2:47 [those being saved not the church but believers]; 5:14 [believers added to the Lord #’s of conversions]; 11:24 [many people added to the Lord]; 6:17 [disciples multiplied])

4. 2 Occasions there is growth of churches (Acts 6:35 [churches strengthened and increased in number]; 9:31 [being built up…it multiplied]) What does it mean that the church multiplied? Church and growth connected…

5. Growth of the gospel (Acts 6:7 “Word continued to increase”; 12:24; 19:20 “increased and prevailed”; Col 1:6 “bearing fruit and growing”; ) sower sows the seed and the seed is the Word, and the seed grows…and God gives the growth.

6. Growth of the kingdom Matthew 13 with the mustard seed parable. Kingdom in a sense grows. That which is small has great significance. We often pray for the kingdom to grow, but it

7. Oikodomeo…to build…translated as build up…rather then build out. Matthew 16:18; 1 Cor 13; Eph 4…to build the church in Christ likeness.

8. Saints refers to all Christians…the saints in Paul (he thinks) refers only to the Jewish Christians.

9. The strengthening of the church. Acts 15, and 14 “the strengthening of the disciples” qualitative rather than quantitative.

He then discussed how we are not to grow the church…we are to preach and pray, but not necessarily build. It’s a great danger to our individual selves in our sinful natures to do things that are beneficial for our selves, "You have to be wary of theological conclusions that benefit yourself."

He talked about how Tim Keller's insistence on church planting as opposed to church growing is more biblical and actually has proven to be successful in their experience, "We reach more people with the gospel than we ever would if we grew the size of our churches." Rather they increase the number of churches and along with that brings the ability of each church to reach different people in their vicinity.

He also discussed how the church of Christ is always in session. He tried to show that the New Testament gives us some flexibility in meeting times. However, the smaller the churches and the more numerous those smaller churches are, the more people they will reach. There is nothing sacred about being big or small.

In 1 Corinthians 4 what is required is that we be faithful not successful numerically. The thing that is growing is the gospel…not the growth of the size of church. It is the Word of God that gives growth in the gospel. Because the Word of God is active that is at work in those who believe. It is by the Word that the church comes into existence…and it is by the Word of God that churches grow. That is why Timothy is told to look to life and doctrine and not to give up on his reading and teaching. We are more concerned about saving souls, glorifying God, and being faithful.

Many people are under the influence of numerical success and in the name of pragmatism have led their people away from the Word of God for what appears to work. One technique is by giving people jobs in the first couple weeks of their attendance. He wants to give people the gospel first before he gives them a job. He jokingly added that, "if they aren’t a Christian he finds that they are much more difficult to handle anyhow."

A book that you received called, "How to grow your church," is a book for the waste paper basket!

He is trying to relieve people from the guilt trip to which Church Growth Movement moves people. And encouraged us to grow people into Christlikeness by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What then does the Bible teach about church? What does the Bible teach about growth?
1. The church gathers to hear the gospel.

2. The gospel that saves people is the same gospel by which people grow.

3. The reason the church gathers is to preach to the saved because the church is the gathering of the saved.

4. If any outsider attends they should hear the gospel…and maybe in the providential grace of God they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 12 shows this very thing when an "idiot" that comes to the meeting…it’s open to all, but those that aren’t saved are not the focus. "Tongues" are the judgment of God…for unbeliever’s condemnation. Prophecy is for the salvation of Christians.

5. Outsiders should see if they should come in that we are Christ’s people by the way we love one another.

6. The powers of the heavenly places see the victory of Christ in our unity.

7. As a church, Christ’s people, we are always open to newcomers welcoming them as we have been welcomed in by God. How can we not have a gathering that is warm and open to outsiders.

8. Our prayers and the people growing in godliness will be going out to preach the gospel to others. The church is the springboard of evangelism out to the world. The church as it is doesn’t evangelize. You can’t be like Jesus without laying down your life for the salvation of sinners, and this should be our response to WWJD. Go out and preach the gospel…in order that they may be converted to come to the assembly of Christians.

Gospel Growth Conference: Day II, Session II

Session II: Phillip Jensen "A Fresh Understanding of Church"
[10/31/07 10:30am]

Unfortunately my battery was dying and somehow my notes didn't get saved. I'll ask tomorrow for some notes that I can make sure I accurately fill in some of the outline...

The point of this talk was basically to discuss what the church is before we can discuss and come to a better understanding of "Gospel Growth". Namely, an assembly (church) is a congregation of Christians that comes together to hear the propositional Word of God that is laid out in the 66 books of the Bible (I would say that it is a regular meeting of a particular congregation in a particular place that preaches the Word of God and practices the sacraments of the Lord's Supper [hence discipline] and Baptism). Below is the ten point outline of Jensen's talk...

Hebrews 12:18-19
I. The Church is too Important not to Understand

II. The Problem with Understanding the Church

III. The Starting Point

IV. Gathering and dispersing in the Old Testament

V. The Gathering

VI. When is A Church The church?

VII. The Biblical Church

VIII. The Two Churches

IX. The Christian Church

X. The Purpose of the Meeting

UPDATE: I didn't track anyone down for notes on this. Sorry 'bout that. I got a bit too busy.

Gospel Growth Conference: Day II, Session I

Session I: Mark Dever Evangelism "What it is and what it isn't"
[10/31/07 9:00am]

Mark started with a confession...that members of his own denomination are usually condounded in his views in regard to evangelism. Mark is bothered and distressed about the naïve desire of many for numbers. He is always encouraged in evangelism by his Sydney Anglican brothers.

I. He then layed out what five mistaken identities of what evangelism is
I. Imposition
His main point is that it is indeed wrong to impose beliefs on others. Sometimes the way evangelism is done he can understand that people understand it to be that way. It is often treated like a club that many hit someone over the head with.

He said it's nto a matter of imposing beliefs. It is displaying first…facts. Like the pilot of his plane coming back from St. Louis recently didn’t impose his beliefs about where the runway was we are doing the same thing in evangelism. It is a fact. When we are talking of facts we don’t say that we are imposing something. The message Christians share is not our message…not like it’s yours in that it uniquely pertains to you and your ideas. We shouldn’t say, “This is how I see it,” or, “This is how I like to think of God.” This is the Christian gospel and it isn't only unique to individuals (although it does pertain to individuals).

"We didn’t invent this message. We don’t have authority over it. It is simply telling the good news…not making sure people respond properly." As in 1 Corinthians 3, “Apollos and Paul planted seed but God made it grow.”

He then discussed his conversations with a friend in Cambridge (a muslim friend). His friend wanted another more worldly muslim friend to become a better muslim and Mark wanted him to become a Christian. His friend would talke about how corrupt the Christian country that Great Britain was. Mark responded, "There is no such thing as a Christian country." His friend said that that’s Christianity's weakness. Mark responded that that’s why Islam doesn’t have a good view of human nature and reality...because you can't force someone to become a Christian if it consists only in outward acts. The fact that they can put a swrord to a throat to convert is wrong. As a Chrsitian we believe no one has any good in them that they have the ability to turn to God…and that we ourselves cannot make others to become a Christian by force. God does that. We share the gospel, but God does the work.

We don’t do things by force or imposition. We share and pray for them. Evangelism doesn’t include cooercion, or manipulation into life. Imposition…the gospel is not that!

II. Personal Testimony
Psalm 66 is an example of personal testimony “what He has done for me.” The New Testament is a personal testimony of people. 1 Corinthians 1 says, “our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you.” The truth of the gospel is proved in our daily lives. We should delight in God an verbally with others. But personal testimony is not evangelism!

He recalled a story of a non-Christian professor who leaned over to a student and said I don’t believe in any of this (regarding an evangelistic talk taking place). And the student responded, “yeah, I know, but wouldn’t you love to?” He said that she then began to weep.

Further, the blind man in John 9...Jesus heals him, “one thing I do know, that I was blind and now I see.” This is a verbal testimony to the power of God, but not evangelism...or the gospel. What the blind man did…is NOT evangelism. It is part of it, but there’s no gospel in it. The man didn’t even know who Jesus was.

Mark then discussed baptisms in at CHBC…they were getting great individual stories but the gospel wasn’t being shared in many of the testimonies people would share. So they then they made sure that people would give manuscripts of testimonies ahead of time to the pastors…to make sure the gospel was witnessed to in the ordinance.

"We as pastors need to be the ones to teach people that it’s not enough just to share what God’s done in their life…not telling them not to share that…but they need to make clear what Christ’s demands are on people"

Testimony is popular in Postmodern culture…people love narratives. Who would object to you saying something good about our lives. Mark is contending for the fact that it is sharing the message of the gospel that is evangelism…and personal testimony is not that.

III. Social action or public involvement for evangelism
This tends to come about from the New Perspective on Paul folks using "kingdom" language to. Mark then said, "This sounds like turn of the century liberalism."

He then discussed William Jennings Bryan who was a democratic candidate for US…he may be the only man to run unsuccessfully three times in a row for the US presidency. He was a fervent Christian. In laboring for social action some friends believed he was sharing the gospel. However, he was not.

Many friends are confusing implications of the gospel for the gospel itself. Don’t confuse the implications of the gospel with the gospel itself. Social action is always more popular with non-Christians.

In the New Testament we don’t get a long treatise from paul of the abuses of the Roman government. He then quoted some of the passages that Social Justice Gospel folks point to: (1) Matthew 5:16 “see your good deeds”; (2) 1 Peter 2:12 “see your good deeds and glorify God”; (3)Matthew 25 “the least of these you did not do for me”.

But this action is not evangelism. Such actions commend the gospel. In and of themselves they share the gospel with no one. They can avoid the propositional, thorny truth that the gospel is. Social action tends to focus on horizontal solutions and normally take away our shame and avoid our dealing with our vertical problems with God.

Social powers are too limited to fix the problems in the world…they can’t reach the problems of our sins before a holy and just God. Proverbs 11:30 “He who wins souls is wise”. Evangelism is not declaring God’s political plan to the nations…it is declaring the gospel to men and women. He then invited those that disagree with him to come and talk after his lecture.

IV. Apologetics
People often mistake apologetics for evangelism. They are a good thing and Mark’s not against them (likewise he's not against social justice!). 1 Pet 3:15 “give a good reason for the hope that we have”.

Apologetics argue for the truth of the gospel. Christianity fits better with the state of reality…frankness of death…etc. They are good arguments for the truth of Christianity. Mark then recalled a talk at Cambridge...the leaders that invited him said thanks…BUT. Not everyone there was as critical as agnostics as he was before he was a Christian…he may have brought more doubts to people’s mind in their Agnosticism and Atheism then helped to share the gospel with them.

Sometimes his personal addiction to apologetics can be a cowardice. Like Jacob and Esau…he has inadvertantly put many things out there to soften the blow. Apologetics can present wonderful opportunities for evangelism. They discuss the purpose of life…what happens when you die, etc. They can also easily lead to evangelism…but it’s not the same thing as evangelism.

Mark led atheist group in college. They set the agenda and the questions and they would just discuss for hours. He can’t say that they were helpful sessions. They were kind of fun…but it sets everything up with the wrong attitude. Like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

He said that it is rather better to have straight up presentation of the gospel and then deal with questions as honestly and sensitively as they come.

Just because we don’t know everything doesn’t mean we don’t know anything. All knowledge in this world is limited. We proceed from what we know and then we work out. Even the youngest child does this.

The greatest danger in evangelism is being distracted from actually sharing the gospel. It is the positive act of telling the good news of Jesus Christ for the salvation of others.

He used to get into so many arguments with non-Christians about the inerrancy of the Bible. He doesn’t see this kind of evangelism pursued in the book of Acts. Tell the gospel and pray that God will convert hearts.

V. Don’t do evangelism for evangelism itself...
Evangelism should not be mistaken for the fruit of evangelism. Evangelism may not be defined in terms of results, rather the faithfulness of the gospel preached. 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 describes a “fragrance of life and smell of death”. Ministry certainly has these two separate effects. It is not how the seed is planted but the nature of the soil.

We can’t judge the rightness of preaching by the results that we see. Pragmatic results oriented, outcome oriented businesses…is not evangelism… Evangelism has become emotionally manipulative rather than the supernatural act of God toward the heart of a sinner. He then quoted Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “If what happened last night has not lasted twenty four hours I’m not interested in it.”

Many are undermining real evangelism in real churches…history is full of people coming to Christ years after they heard the gospel. Most don’t respond the first time they hear the gospel.

He then introduced us to Luke Short...and it took him a long time to be converted. He was a New England farmer who lived to be 100 years old. He was recalling his life...and he recalled a sermon he heard in England as a boy. He was converted to Christ 85 years after hearing John Flavel preach the gospel!

Evangelism is not to persuade people to make decisions…we do want them to make decisions…but we give God the glory. We fail only if we don’t tell them the gospel at all. Telling what it is to be converted, and then how to be converted.

II. The gospel is NOT these things
Positively the gospel is telling the wonderful truth of God, the good news about Jesus Christ for the salvation of sinners. Understanding this increases evangelism when it is not a guiltrip…and it becomes a joy. What it is is: (1) Honesty, (2) Urgency, (3) Joy, (4) Using the Bible, and (5) Backing it with praying to the glory of God.

Then he quoted from the evangelism chapter in the 9Marks of a Healthy Church book… It was how to maniuplate people with "psychological pressure." It is a controlled conversation technique "new" in evangelism… “get your prospect alone”…etc.

Mark also recalled that an attender one morning after preaching told him that the sermon was, “Best sales pitch I’ve ever heard. But I have one didn’t close the sale.” Sounds like a modern follower of Tillich.

We need to know what kind of sales we can close and ones we can't. The eternity of one soul is not one that we can accomplish. We shouldn’t let what we preach be molded by what it gets as a response. The problem is too deep that we are dealing with. God must change hearts!

Liberalism generally comes with a concern for evangelism. Look back…the desire to present the gospel in a way with people that don’t agree with you. Hence it changes the message in order to get a response. Relevance often holds in it's hand the very gospel itself (and can leave it out).

What we need to know is that instead of us to use our powers to change sinners…I should resolve to preach the gospel like a gentleman. Preach the gospel unashamed…God will use us to do it, but it won’t be is God at work. Like God used Moses the stutterer to get His message to Israel, and Paul the Jewish National to share the gospel with Gentiles

Like George Whitfield scoffers the "Hellfire Club"...the leader was mimicking Whitfield to his cronies…then he was converted and he was so pierced that he sat down on the spot and prayed for forgiveness of sins.

As we heard last night, the gospel is what produces fruit!

Gospel Growth Conference: Behind the Scenes!

Here are a few pics...

First, here are some of the 9Marks folks hanging out.

Second, these two guys are really the secret weapon of this conference so far. On the left is Josh Coover (who really makes everything that 9Marks does work) and on the right is Marty Sweeny (director of Matthias Media - US).