29 April, 2010

John Knox Would Roll In His Grave

What could possibly make John Knox roll over in his grave, so to speak?

  • Scotland losing their Reformation heritage for Secular Humanism? Sure.
  • His grave being made a parking spot, which is a great disrespect to a man of God? Yep.
  • The saddened state of the Church of Scotland? Of course!
  • The fact that mosque attendance will soon be higher than church attendance? Sad. Yes.
All of these things would add to John Knox proverbially rolling; but how about this one:

26 April, 2010

Church Planter Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles

"One thing is certain, unless we see visions, dream dreams, and make plans, there will be no great steps forward in the work of the Gospel." -James Montgomery Boice

What is your congregation's and denomination's vision and strategy for church planting? It is worth thinking about. In Romans 15 Paul spends some time discussing his strategy with the Roman Christians. He begins with telling the Romans that Jesus Christ is the hope of the nations and gives some of the biblical background for why he does missions. He then goes on to tell them that his role is one that reflects the offices of Christ as he does the work of Christ. Paul describes himself as a priest, prophet, and kingdom builder. Paul then tells the Romans what his strategy includes and the places that he plans on visiting on his last missionary journey.

As pastors and church planters we can learn a lot from the strategy of Paul in Romans 15.

Here are some thoughts on Paul's vision for church planting:

23 April, 2010

20/20 Vision and Open Pulpits

The RPCNA Home Mission Board has a goal to see 100 congregations by the year 2020. We are currently at 88 congregations and/or mission churches in North America. Please pray that the Lord would raise up 12 new church plants over the next 10 years.

Currently there are a few open pulpits in the RP Church. May the Lord also raise up men to labor in these areas of the country as well. (These are organized by presbytery.)

Open Pulpits in Organized Congregations
College Hill (Beaver Falls, PA) (Looking for a head pastor. They have an associate.)
Cambridge, MA
Westminster (Prairie View, IL) (They currently have stated supply.)
Hetherton, MI (They currently have stated supply.)
Orlando, FL
Second Indianapolis, IN (Looking for a head pastor. They have an associate.)
Mineola, KS
Washington, IA
Walton, NY (Will be open in June.)
Rochester, NY
Owego, NY (They currently have stated supply.)

Open Pulpits in Church Plants
Aurora, OH
Terre Haute, IN
Lafayette, IN (Looking for a resident in training.)
Saint Louis, MO
Christian Heritage (Endicott, NY) (Looking for a resident in training.)
Berkshire, MA (Currently have stated supply.)
Hutchinson, KS
Manhattan, KS
Bryan, TX (In the exploratory phase.)

Two Daughter Churches That May Be On the Horizon
Colorado Springs, CO
Shawnee, KS

Please pray for these pulpits, plants, and possibilities. Also consider where God may be calling your congregation to begin a church plant. May the Lord Jesus build up his Church.

16 April, 2010

Dissatisfied With Dissatisfaction: What Should Emergents Do?

There have always been those in the Church of Christ that have been searching for something more, something exciting and better. Since the time of the Reformation, there have always been those who were dissatisfied with the simplicity of biblical Christianity: Trinitarian God; salvation through Christ alone; a Bible as our guide; Simplicity of worship; Living out the great commandment while doing the great commission.

People want more- they are dissatisfied. How can Christ be enough? How can worship and witness be enough? How can a relationship with God that spills over into our relationship with others be enough. Dissatisfied.

During the Reformation we had anabaptists. They sought something more and something outside of Scripture.

Over the past 50 years we have seen a section of the Church move from Fundamentalism to Evangelicalism to Seeker-Friendly-ism to Emergent Church. Dissatisfied with being dissatisfied, one branch of Christ's Church leaves their father's church to seek a new way, a new beginning, a new start... a New Kind of Christianity. But things rarely last forever. The dissatisfied are again dissatisfied. The Emergent Church has become another example of this ongoing problem in the Church of Christ. What is next? What is the newest craze? Only the next 5 years will tell.

So what was a reaction to Modernism will remain as Fundamentalism.
What was a reaction to Fundamentalism will remain as Evangelicalism.
What was a reaction to much of Evangelicalism will remain Seeker Friendly.
And what was a reaction to much of the Seeker Friendly will remain Emergent.

Dissatisfied with dissatisfaction. The Emergent Church is locked in as just another reactionary movement, thus making it dead.

What do these wandering Former-Fundamentalist-evangelical-seeker-friendly-emergents do? Well, they have been seeking genuine community. They have been seeking a genuine faith. They have been seeking a genuine experience with Jesus.

The Reformed faith remains here. You are all welcome to stop reaction and stop being dissatisfied with being dissatisfied. You are welcome to come and to look at the Reformation and what it sought to accomplish. Community. Christ. Biblical simplicity.

Friends, another movement has died. Call them back to what remains: authentic Christianity.

Original Article: http://online.worldmag.com/2010/04/14/farewell-emerging-church-1989-2010/

14 April, 2010

Popery Potpourri: Should Pope Benedict Go to Jail?

Richard Dawkins is calling for the arrest of The Roman Catholic Church's highest officer for crimes against humanity. It seems as though Benedict was involved in covering up sexual abuses against minor children. Now, there is no evidence that he committed any sexual abuse at this point, let's get that clear; but there may be evidence that he knew about certain cases and made sure that the church was protected at the expense of the victims.

What should happen in this case? I guarantee you that if I was involved in covering up a sexual abuse scandal in my church, the police here in Los Angeles would not care about the degrees I hold or the seminary I attended or the languages I know or where I was ordained to the ministry or what sort of liturgical gowns I wear in the pulpit. I would be placed under arrest. Period.

So what should happen in the case of Benedict? Well, I believe that the Prophet Isaiah has a few words to shed light on the issue:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Woe to those who who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right! Isaiah 5: 20-21; 23

So where do I stand? I think I agree with Dawkins. If Benedict was involved in a cover-up; arrest him and charge him. As far as what Benedict himself should do? He should repent of his sin, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ alone and be saved.

I am not agreeing with Dawkins because I am Presbyterian and have some theological bone to pick with Benedict. I am agreeing with Dawkins because God loves those who protect the innocent. He loves those that do good, love mercy, and walk humbly before him. Oppressing the innocent to protect men in high powerful places is not only shameful-- it's evil.

Original Article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/7578024/Richard-Dawkins-planning-to-have-Pope-Benedict-arrested-over-crimes-against-humanity.html

09 April, 2010

Look at All the Colors in Antioch!

Many people think of Christianity as a Western religion. They see Europe in the middle ages and they say, "That was the church." Or they see the Protestant Reformation and the mission movement to the Americas and they think, "More Western thinking." People rarely see Christianity as the international, intercontinental, interracial, intercultural phenomenon that God intended it to be. Remember that Christ called his Church to go into all the world; not just the western world.

When we think about the early church, this Western mentality was not present. The Church knew that she was an international, continental, racial, cultural force that was being driven by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, which declared that there was neither Jew nor Greek, but we are all one in Christ. Look at the urban ministry that flowed from Antioch. James Boice notes, "The church at Antioch, which backed Paul on his missionary journeys.... had as its leaders Barnabas, who was a Jew from Cyprus; Simeon, a black man; Lucius, who was probably a Roman, from Cyrene; Manaen, an aristocrat who had been raised with Herod the tetrarch; and Saul, the Jewish teacher from Tarsus. What a collection!" (Romans, p.1820)

So next time someone tells you that they are not interested in Christianity because it is a way for the west to show supremacy or to oppress, or whatever other excuse they make to despise Christ's Church- remember God's intention and how he modeled that intention in his early leadership.

Christian Hipsters and the Los Angeles RP Church

The Los Angeles Reformed Presbyterian Church is not known for being a city of refuge for Christian Hipsters. But it doesn't have to be that way. Hipsters are more than welcome to join with us. Los Angeles as a city is becoming a haven for Christian Hipsters and the church's neighborhood, in particular, is moving in that direction as well.

What is a Christian Hipster you may be thinking? Well, one author summarizes Christian Hipster as, "Christian hipsters love breaking the taboos that used to be taboo for Christians. They love piercings, dressing a little goth, getting lots of tattoos (the Christian Tattoo Association now lists more than 100 member shops), carrying flasks and smoking cloves. A lot of them love skateboarding and surfing, and many of them play in bands. They tend to get jobs working for churches, parachurch organizations, non-profits, or the government. They are, on the whole, a little more sincere and idealistic than their secular hipster counterparts." (Source)

The Christian Hipster, of course, may fall anywhere on the theological spectrum of Christianity. The trend that the Church has seen in the past 5 years though, is there are two camps for Christian Hipsters: emergent theology types (read: neo-neoliberals), and those within the Reformed Tradition (both baptistic and presbyterian).

So why do I think that the Los Angeles RP Church would be a good fit for Christian Hipsters? There are numerous reasons, including our artists, writers, independent bookstore owners, people in the film industry, and independent fashion-types. But the demographics are also in favor of the LA RPCNA becoming a church home for Christian Hipsters. I will give you two reasons:

1. A recent study of cities in the country that are becoming havens for Christian Hipsters has Los Angeles as the 6th best city for them (Portland was one, and Seattle was two).

2. Our neighborhood was recently featured in Los Angeles Magazine and they write, "The prospect of more square feet for your buck has driven hipsters and hipster babies to Eagle Rock, a sleepy hamlet of hilly streets and old homes that is sandwiched between Glendale and Pasadena... There's an air of independence here. (Los Angeles Magazine, April, 2010)"

So as Christian Hipsters choose LA to be a city where they can come and minister, and they choose Eagle Rock to be around other like minded people; remember the Los Angeles Church. We may not have what the large emergent churches have; but we do have what you all need: The Gospel of Jesus Christ and a Christian community in which you may grow and flourish.

Christian Hipsters Welcome!

06 April, 2010

Sanctify Them By Thy Psychologists For Thy Psychologists are Truth

How does a Christian become more like Christ? How does the Church view sanctification today? It seems that many in the Church see the role of the Church as one dealing with only salvation. Many in the Church are fleeing to pills, psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists for their real problems. It is a sad thing to see the Church giving up their duties to 'the professionals'. It has not always been this way. The Puritans were masters at preaching in such a way that dealt with all of the problems of the human experience. Tim Keller (yes, that Tim Keller) said,

By modern standards any person struggling with deep patterns of self-gratification or self-will might be told, 'You aren't responsible' or 'A real Christian wouldn't feel like that' or 'you must have a demon'. By contrast, the Puritan counselor first exhorted the person to mortify the sin through contrition, confession, and repentance. The counselor encouraged the individual that the struggle with sin was a good sign, indicating that there was reason to hope that the pattern of sin would be broken through the truth of the Gospel. The English Puritans would be appalled at the emphasis today on self-esteem; they would eschew talk of unmet needs, because in their view the only real need to be met was the need to worship. That is why Puritans practiced sanctification by theology rather than by psychology.