What a year!

November 2, 2012

What a year indeed!  In fact, so much has transpired that I haven’t been keeping up with this particular blog.

My apologies!

Briefly, we hosted our 2nd Annual Reformation OC Conference and had a wonderful time discussing: The Doctrine of Election.

Learn more by visiting www.ReformationOCconference.com where pictures and presentations will be posted in the upcoming weeks.

In the meantime, listen to a pod-cast with RevK and RefOC speakers on the topic: Reforming the Reformation, found here: http://www.apologetics.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=770:reforming-the-reformation&catid=43:kkla-995-fm-los-angeles&Itemid=74

The year of our Lord, 2012 also brings a major announcement regarding our ministry.  This will be posted soon.  Please check back.  We also invite your visit on Sunday mornings in Irvine.

Peace,

RevK

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RefOC Conference: Liberalism in the Church

December 9, 2011

Before you listen…

http://communion.sermon.net/da/119769986/play

My second presentation at the Reformation OC Conference occurred on Saturday morning as an “early breakout” session.  It was a bit too early for our facility manager because we got into our building a half hour late, and I needed to truncate the message — so it is a little helter skelter.

My main objective was to identify the markers of churches and denominations that begin their slide into what I call, “liberalism.”  I take this word to mean, the gradual encroachment of false beliefs, practices, and people who /which  promote compromise  regarding the: doctrine, history, mission, message, tradition, and purity of the church and her gospel!  Several points are delineated in the presentation (ie. Confessional “tampering,” the leading of the “spirit,” the inclusiveness of “love,” the abandonment of ordination standards, “cronyism” in presbyteries,  the corrupting influence of “publishers,” etc.  There are  more.

Much of this presentation is the result of my personal observations of the PCUSA while I attended one of their seminaries in Southern California:  San Francisco Theological Seminary.  I want to admit right here that I actually enjoyed my time at this school.  Apart from the fact that I appreciate the academic environment, I also enjoyed contending for a more ‘conservative’ approach to understanding and applying the scriptures.  I enjoyed several of the professors there whom I greatly respect and consider friends.  I even enjoyed some of the OTHER professors whom I regard as DANGEROUS to the church because they let me defend my perspective (and angst!)   I also greatly enjoyed meeting many classmates — among them were a majority of students from foreign countries.

However, while there from 2000 to 2003, I concluded then that what I was taught in class, in published literature, in expressed agenda, was that the PCUSA would not survive as an historic Christian Church.  Even though they claim to champion the Reformers, and especially the Institutes of John Calvin, they have long ago rejected the doctrines he mined from the Scriptures and have found him important only as a progenitor of a tradition which they hold hostage for “their kind of reforming.”

But their kind of reforming is usually devoid of the verbiage of  scripture and the historic confessions of the church.  Today’s modern liberal employs a “new speak” that is amorphous, nuanced,  and neutered.  What kind of fruit will that environment yield?

I began my presentation by reading a very popular “Letter to the Editor” found on the Presbyterian Layman website.  I termed the writer a “prophet” because he correctly predicted that a “conservative” would repeat his words (which I did entirely) to the faithful.  This letter, as the author  suggests, is what  we conservative folk believe highlights  the agenda of the PCUSA (And yet, at the same time, using phrases and affirmations to which I completely agree; but with a different context!  Interesting.)

The session concluded with questions.  The first question should have been anticipated, “How do we prevent this slide into liberalism?”

My first response was to note that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and Sadducees  in the language of parable — but they knew he was referring to them!  My point is to suggest might want to avoid the technical terminology (which really does promote precision… however…) because most congregations may glaze over and regard the ‘academic debate’ (and it usually begins in this arena!) as inconsequential bickering and below the dignity of Christian charity.

I would also add that we must properly teach our churches their creeds and confessions!  Becoming familiar with these documents and their catechisms is important for communicating our shared historic convictions (and again, will train us to be wary of NEW confessions that open the door to modern agendas  — I know that the ancient creeds and confession  had their own place and context; but please note that they are   highly footnoted with scripture references!  Compare that agenda with the modern ones!)  It is our practice at Communion Presbyterian Church to recite a portion of our historic creeds, confessions, and catechisms every Sunday in order to communicate that we are ONE church over time and connected to a faith, that was once and for all delivered to the saints.

My last point would be to simply become familiar with church history.  Modern movements have been among us before and we do well to note their telos.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy listening.

God bless,

http://communion.sermon.net/da/119769986/play

Crystal Crux?

November 18, 2011

I recently preached in the iconic Crystal Cathedral of Orange County.

How did this happen?

A group of local “Reformational” pastors combined  efforts to promote and present the Reformation OC Conference (ReformationOCconference.com).  Since our conference coincided with Reformation Sunday (the last Sunday of October, commemorating Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses on the church door of Wittenburg, Germany, October 31, 1517), I took it upon myself to locate a church where we could host an evening Reformation Service in Orange County.

Decades ago, I attended such services in the Crystal Cathedral.  This church has denominational affiliation with the Reformed Church in America (RCA), and had welcomed to their pulpit such Reformed luminaries as  RC Sproul, James Montgomery Boice, and others.  These services were a combined effort among the RCA and the Christian Reformed Churches (CRC) in southern California.

As a teen, I attended the youth groups of the Garden Grove Community Church.  As we would play crazy games in the parking lot, the internal structure of the cathedral began to loom over the horizon.  I later became involved as a summer day-camp counselor which met in a building across the street. This building was connected to the church property by a bridge that spanned over Chapman Ave.  We would board the buses with the campers for local adventures, but now in the shadow of new construction — a Family Life Center.  Years later, I would become a youth pastor at an RCA church and would engage in shared youth ministry events that took place in this new building complete with offices, classrooms, large group meeting rooms, and a gymnasium.

I would one day meet a beautiful Christian woman; a graduate of the Crystal Cathedral Academy, a choir member, and a flying angel of the “Glories of Christmas & Easter” productions.  In God’s gracious providence, I would marry this woman upon the very chancel of the Crystal Cathedral!

But things have changed over time.  And over this time I have walked an awkward path.  I have benefited greatly from the ministry programs and members of the Cathedral, but all the while, standing mostly in opposition to the message and methods that built the place!  Today, as a minister, I have regularly expressed my criticism of the Cathedral’s lack of conformity to confessional and governmental standards of a Reformed church.  However, I have also been deeply impressed by the many who minister there with no acclaim or prominence.  Unfortunately, these individuals are also without any real voice to counter the decisions made by “boards and personalities.”

One such servant of whom I am speaking is the volunteer pastor who oversees the Sunday Evening Services.  Upon attending one such service, I was surprised to hear an earnest message commending the Gospel of Jesus Christ and completely conforming to the standards of the Reformed faith!  A greater surprise still when he eagerly embraced the opportunity to host another Reformation Service in the Cathedral on the last Sunday of October! (The evening message can be viewed here: http://vimeo.com/31612257)

But what has all this faithful earnestness brought to the congregation of the Crystal Cathedral?  Bankruptcy! Cronyism! Disestablishment (from a denomination lax in her duty to hold the Cathedral accountable)! And exile by a new owner who probably won’t have to change much to fit in there!

It is Biblical history repeating — Again!  When Israel did not remain faithful, the Babylonians soon overran the gates!

Will there be another Reformation Service at the Crystal Cathedral?  Only the Lord knows!  It will be interesting to see where we nail the announcement!

Review of the Reformation OC Conference!

November 8, 2011

We recently held our first ever conference at Communion Presbyterian!  Our first annual,  Reformation OC Conference (see the website with the same name!) proved to be a wonderful success with heaps of encouraging feedback and an additional treat of preaching in the Crystal Cathedral (we’ll see if that ever happens again!)
A few important figures contributed to this  conference coming together:  Christopher Neiswonger of Apologetics.com provided great leadership and an impressive roster of speakers.  Additionally, our own Elder Stark provided a lot of foot work and organization for our conference.  Finally, I’m need to acknowledge my own Mom and Karen Vidal who oversaw one of our most popular venues — our kitchen!  Abundant snacks and drinks really kept the crowds in a good mood and greased the cogs of conversation!  Thank you to all!

The following is a review of the conference by Elder Stark originally printed in the Aquilareport.com:

“The dust has settled here in Orange County, following a very busy, but ultimately successful and encouraging weekend which saw the first everReformation OC Conference take place at Communion Presbyterian Church in Irvine. There are many positive things to be said for the Conference, and I doubt I’ll have enough room to mention them all.

First, the people: The first thing I observed as people started showing up was “I don’t know any of these people!” That was actually very encouraging! It reminded me that there are many Reformed churches in the Orange County area and many more saints who hold the Doctrines of Grace dear than those who meet together every Lord’s Day at Communion Presbyterian Church.

Second, the speakers. Both main session speakers and breakout session speakers were excellent! On Friday, Kent Moorlach kicked us off with an early breakout session on the topic of Justification. He compared the sermons we find in the Book of Acts to what the Reformed Churches and the Roman Catholic Church teaches, demonstrating that it is the Reformed Church which follows the apostolic teaching found in Scripture.

Next, during our first main session, Christopher Neiswonger gave an excellent overview of the history of the Christian Church, with a special emphasis on the Reformed churches. This was followed by our first regular breakout session. One of our speakers had to cancel at the last minute, so I was asked to substitute and talk on the subject of Grace in the Westminster Standards. I got a lot of nice feedback from the folks who came to my session.

While I was presenting on that topic, Lindsay Brooks was presenting on the subject of music in worship, and Sam Welbaum was talking about the Doctrine of Sin. I only heard good things about both these talks, so I look forward to hearing them, once they are made available. Finally on Friday, we heard fromPastor Paul Viggiano on the Apologetics of the Reformation. Having studied at Biola, where presuppositionalism is not taught, it was refreshing to hear a consistently presuppositional apologetic put forth. Friday evening ended with a group of folks from the conference fellowshipping over pizza and Newcastle at a pizzeria around the corner (for more on that, see my “Third” point below).

Saturday’s sessions were equally as encouraging. The day got started off byRev. Kent Moorlach speaking on the subject of the New Speak of Liberal Christianity. He challenged us all to maintain confessional fidelity, especially when it comes to admitting men to our presbyteries.

Following that, Rev. Danny Hyde spoke on Welcome to a Reformed Church, which chronicled some of his own journey from conversion to the Reformed Church, as well as expounding the things that make us different from the rest of the evangelical world. After Rev. Hyde spoke, there was another breakout session two different talks (our third speaker for this breakout session was providentially hindered from being there): Rev. Hyde spoke on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Reformed Tradition while Rev. David Stark spoke on the preservation of Scripture. I attended Rev. Stark’s talk, and must say his defense of the traditional Greek text of the New Testament sparked a lot of post-talk conversations.

After a break for lunch, the conference resumed with Rev. Philip DeCourseyspeaking on the importance of the Word of God in the Protestant Churches. The Conference concluded with a final breakout session. Rev. Jonathan Moerschspoke on the difference between infusion and imputation. Rev. David Starkspoke on the importance of the Lord’s Day Sabbath for the Christian Church.Rev. John Sawtelle spoke about Ulrich Zwingli and his example being appropriate for 21st century reformed pastors.

Third, the fellowship. Friday evening, after the conference concluded, a number of the speakers and attendees went out for dinner to a local pizzeria. This was a great time of fellowship where I was able to meet many pastors and members of churches in my area. But, the fellowship wasn’t limited to after the conference. Just about everyone who walked through the door was friendly, and there were a lot of introductions being made the whole time. The fellowship of the saints was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the conference!
Sunday evening, conference attendees were invited to participate in a Reformation Sunday Service at the Crystal Cathedral of Garden Grove. Rev. Kent Moorlach was invited to preach at that evening service on the topic of Soli Deo Gloria. There were so many people in attendance, that the ushers had to make extra copies of the order of worship! Apparently, the attendance was double what they were expecting. Praise God that the Gospel was preached in that building! (video of the message preached can be found here: http://vimeo.com/31612257)

There were a few bumps in the road, but having been through it once, we are better prepared for next year. And, based on how many people are already expressing interests in another conference, Lord willing, there will be a next year!

One final, closing note. I would be remiss in my account of the conference, if I didn’t mention the many tireless volunteers from Communion Presbyterian Church who gave their time and energy to make sure everything behind the scenes ran smoothly. From the registration table, to the snacks, to our own church’s table and everything else: the people who make Communion Presbyterian a wonderful church also made this Conference a wonderful event!

I look forward to seeing you all at next year’s Reformation OC Conference!

Seth Stark serves as a Ruling Elder at Communion Presbyterian Church of Irvine, CA (
http://www.communionpres.org), a church plant of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He has a Master’s Degree in Science and Religion from Biola University and blogs at TheRulingElder.com (http://www.therulingelder.com).”

The Book of Acts is About “Conversions!”

August 9, 2011

 I’ve been preaching that the book of Acts is a book about “Conversions.”  Not simply about individual converts coming to faith such as an Ethiopian Eunuch, or a Roman Centurion named Cornelius, or even a Jewish Pharisee named Saul; but also a story of how the Jewish faith of the first century was also “Converting!”  The Holy Spirit has now come upon all people, not simply prophets, priests, and kings.  It was now kosher to eat bacon in Gentile homes!  And recently, a called meeting of the synod of the church in Jerusalem has just declared that circumcision in no longer a requirement to be in full communion with God – These are all HUGE changes in the identity of Jewish believers now living in the Kingdom of their Messiah!  Now layered on top of all of this is the fact that the Messiah’s Kingdom was now a missionary organization!  Missionaries were not a part of the Jewish identity in the Old Testament.  In the OT it was obey God’s commands and defend the Promised Land.  Now the Christians are leaving the land and planting churches in pagan regions outside the boundaries of the lands promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This NEW emphasis of the church has great impact upon us today as we seek to be God’s people with His calling upon our lives.  It raises some questions:

–         How does God want us to go out into the world in order to advance His kingdom?

–         What priorities are most important as we mix among a world ignorant of the Scriptures?

–         What is the best way to honor God among unbelievers while at the same time, making sure that they don’t think we are crazy?

It seems that in Paul’s mind, and certainly, it should also be in our mind, that if we are in fact seeking conversions of individuals – WE MIGHT JUST want to think about CONVERTING a little bit of ourselves in order to remove barriers so that others might give us a hearing when we share the Gospel!

Let’s turn to the passage where Paul appeals to a missionary’s strategy in reaching the culture by “converting” certain behaviors in: 1 Cor 9.

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

–> Now we could have fun with this all day, and more…
–> Would you only wear ankle long clothing all the time if the culture only wore that fashion?
–> Would you give up eating beef and pork if the culture refused to eat that diet?
–> If you are a Young Earth Creationist, could you become a Theistic Evolutionist – for the sake of winning someone to Christ?
–>  If you are a Republican…?

I.  Here are some observations based on the missionary focus of our faith:  In 1 Cor 9, the passage is riddled with parenthetical statements in order to remind us of what is most important to the Christian – we are NOT permitted to compromise proper doctrine and clear moral standards… There is never a time that we become “sinful” in order to proclaim Christ – we must be mature enough to understand this!
II.  Secondly, there are areas of life that are Adiaphora – The Lord does not have an opinion about the model car you drive – there may be some principles related to a purchase during a mid-life crisis; but a Ford is a Chevy is a Honda is a Hyundai – but I will never buy a Dodge!  IN areas which are indifferent, we must be sensitive to the culture – If you lived in Detroit in the 70’s and you bought a Datsun — Hey, God doesn’t judge you; but the local union might pay you a visit!
A.  Paul knew that he was entering a region run by the Jewish union who were unbelievers. Why stroll into town with someone who was uncircumcised and certainly going to create a barrier to the hearing of the Gospel
B. (NOW< Parenthetically speaking, a young man being circumcised would be a profound discussion on what really changes a person’s standing before God. Really? Does a surgery on the flesh make you acceptable to God, or a heart of faith, as Jesus clearly stated in Matthew 8 – where outsiders will have table fellowship with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — but the sons of the circumcision will be cut off? In fact, isn’t this what circumcision represented all along – if you don’t keep the covenant, you will be cut off?! Israel was cut off and that’s why Gentiles kept ruling their land!!  Jesus was ‘cut off’ as a sacrifice in order to unite us to the love of God – but these are parenthetical thoughts…)

III.  Thirdly, Paul could speak of different settings in which he would match the culture in order to reach the culture in which he was set. What does this tell us?  That culture changes over time and space!
A.  One day the culture likes one style of music, the next day it won’t.  What happens to the church if the culture does not like praying, or preaching, or the sacraments?  Do we just give those up?
B.  On the other hand, as individuals, as ministers of Grace, we must acknowledge cultural boundaries and not purposely try to violate them.  If that is our game, then we only look like people who are trying to pick fights!

IV. Lastly, Paul begins his argument in 1 Cor. 9 with the phrase, “I have made myself a servant to all.” – Now who speaks like this in the Bible?  None other than Jesus!  Paul recalls the type of servant Jesus was in Philippians, chapter 2, and speaks eloquently of what Jesus “set aside” in order to please the Father!

A.  In Paul’s discussion of ministry, he models the ‘servanthood’ of Christ!  Consider what Jesus set aside in order to see people reconciled to God again!
B.  There is a converting power in our lives! There is a Spirit of  change that captures God’s people.  At some point, we might just want to change a bit of our privileges in order to introduce others to the privilege of knowing Christ!

Reformation OC Conference

August 3, 2011

Back in the 90’s there were some groups promoting conferences in the OC that had  “reformational” theology and worldviews.  I seem to remember a group that was overseen by David Bahnsen that would meet at Cal State Fullerton on an annual basis (What were those initials?? SCSFRF??  Sorry, escapes me…).  There was also the ascension of CURe (Christians United for Reformation) that was spearheaded by Michael Scott Horton, Kim Riddlebarger, and Rod Rosenblatt — Now of the Whitehorse Inn radio (pod-cast) fame.  Of course, an occassional Ligonier’s Conference hosted by Dr. RC Sproul could come to the OC every few years… But a standing conference exploring the benefits of Reformation theology has been sorely absent from our beloved county for over a decade. (Oh yeah, there was always a “Growing Reformed Churches” conference in Chino that was worthwhile — but again, out of the OC, and only among those former Dutch dairy lands!)

This might mean something.  Perhaps Reformation theology just is too specialized among the broader evangelical culture and therefore is not a “draw” in the land of mega-churches.  Perhaps churches which are “Reformed” are too busy with their own denominations that they don’t have time to collaborate.  Perhaps Reformed folks are generally overwhelmed with homeschooling all their children and writing all their books!

But something has happened in the OC in the dos-mil’s!  There ARE a number of conservative Reformed/Presbyterian churches being planted in the county (of this stripe, there are): 3 (possibly 4) in Irvine, 1 in Newport, 1 in Orange, 1 in Yorba Linda, 1 forming in south county — even a confessional Baptist plant in Orange.  [Of course, they join some long existing churches in Aliso Creek, Costa Mesa, Westminster… and yet, all of this is contrasted with plenty of Reformed/Presbyterian Churches that have dissolved in these same areas — some of their beautiful campuses becoming locations for mega-church minded ministries, or others on the verge of bankruptcy — Most of these Reformed/Presbyterian churches won’t even mention their denominational affiliation in their church name].

However, there does seem to be some kind of resurgance of reformational theology in the broader evangelical culture.  Wasn’t it Time Magazine that claimed that Calvinism was a Top 10 Trend in our nation currently?  There is some evidence that this could be true.  Restless and Reformed evangelicals ARE now collaborating with one another.  Affiliations such as Together for the Gospel and the Gospel Coalition, are making an impact.  Movements such as Sovereign Grace and Acts 29 are becoming widely known.  Preachers such as Begg, Driscol, Piper, Tchividjian (like it sounds), and others who have been branded as “Reformed” are actually popularly accepted.

So it is time to build on this movement!  A movement that continues to look back at the Biblical categories established by the early church for worship, service, and evangelism.  A movement that is clear about God’s reign over mankind in all matters — ESPECIALLY salvation.  A movement that must reclaim the clarity of doctrine and distinctions championed at the Protestant Reformation — because we have been wandering a bit here in the OC.  Maybe we should acknowledge this current momentum and train church members to understand the nature of the church and bring reformation to our lives, ministry, and this truly blessed county!

  1. Because of this: www.ReformationOCconference.com

Happy to hear your thoughts (especially on all those names and groups I butchered!),

“Shifting” Elders (Examination of Acts 15)

July 10, 2011

Acts 15:2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.

–> From this verse, it seems rather clear that Paul and Barnabas did not have a slam-dunk argument to silence these Bible trained, zealous advocates!  So a far reaching decision is being proposed: Call a council to decide the merits of this theological question and let’s unify all of the church with a clear doctrinal standard – especially as it relates to the gospel and the salvation promised by it!

–> Why do Presbyterians send their pastors to annual meetings?  And why do they always meet in Vegas?  They meet to promote unity – sometimes because there is a problem that needs to be addressed.  Hopefully to mostly gather to report on how God is blessing ministry!

–> Acts 15 is known by Presbyterians like evangelicals know John 3:16!  We know that the church gathers to affirm core doctrines and to ensure unity.  It is in this setting that creeds and confessions are written and embraced by the entire body called the church!

–>  Now recently, one Presbyterian denomination met and created a firestorm of disunity.  A group of them wanted unity for the sake of unity; but not based upon the authority of the Scripture – based only upon the supposed value that unity should trump purity!  Well, that decision has sent, last year, 61,000 people out of their churches.

–> And the question is:  Why can’t we all get along, even though we are different?  It ALL DEPENDS on what makes us different?  If it is race, or gender, or culture, or even political party – these should not divide us!  BUT, if it is in how the GOSPEL is defined?  IF it is about foundational understandings of Who God is and What He calls the Church to be – we MUST part ways with those who do not uphold the clear implications of the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ!

–> Another burden: The phrase “Apostles and Elders” explodes in Acts 15!  Why?  Luke first defines elders as leaders of the Jewish councils which had earlier condemned the Apostles.  Now the Christians must meet and they will do it through the same vehicle that had at one time been used to brand them as ‘heretical.’  We also read that Paul and Barnabas, with congregational vote, elected elders to the churches they planted on their first missionary journey.  Now they need to resolve a doctrinal problem and it is NOT just the Apostles, but ELDERS too!  Prophets are around, former Jewish Priests who are converts are around – but they’re not being consulted.  ELDERS are.  “Elder” is the OT/NT term that survives as church leadership – and notice, it is and always has been since the OT a PLURALITY of leaders who make decisions for the household of Israel.  Jesus is the King of the Church, and he rules over his Kingdom through the hearts of his people.  His people are first directed by Apostles who see as their calling to install elders (See Info following…)

–> Two ways that churches both grow and stay healthy – plenty of conversions; but nourished by the maturity and shepherding of qualified elders!

“Shifting” Elders:

Luke 9:22
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the  elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Luke 22:52
Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?

Acts 4:5-8
The next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family… Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders,

Acts 6:12
They stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council,

Acts 11:27-30
In these days prophets came down… The disciples determined… to send relief to the brothers living in Judea.  And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 14:23
They had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Acts 15:2
Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.

[“apostles and the elders”] = Acts 15:2,4,6,22,23; 16:4

RevK’s Top 10 Apologetics.com Broadcasts of 2010

December 27, 2010

RevK’s Top 10 Apologetics.com Shows of 2010 found at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/apologetics-com-weekly-radio/id91466394?ign-mpt=uo%3D4

  • Feb 10 – Avatar Review
  • March 10 – “The Genius of Protestantism”
  • April 16 – “Who Do You Think You Are?”
  • May 4 – “Evangelical Liberalism and Post Conservative Theology”
  • June 8 – “Are You Trying to Manipulate Me?”
  • July 5 – “The Dead Sea Scrolls Come Back to Life!”
  • August 21 – “The Next Big Thing”
  • September 5 – “Good News for Muslims”
  • November 7 – “The Power of Prayer”
  • December 6 – “Christ and Culture”

Many of these shows still accessible (of 12/10) at: http://www.Apologetics.com

Church “Business” (?); RevK Reflects…

October 4, 2010

1). State your opinion about the general desires for a healthy church organization (congregation):

I believe a healthy church is one that understands its mission.  Now, plenty of churches do understand that they have set themselves apart by being unique or emphasizing something in particular.  Often times, this is exactly why certain churches grow quickly because they have tapped into some emergent trend or cultural phenomenon (ex. A heavy metal rock band church, the “tattoo” church, the church with the “radio” pastor, etc.) So it is here that I state that a church that is growing quickly is not necessarily healthy!

This fact has been born out with a major shift among the “church growth” industry which now emphasizes, “church health” as opposed to “church growth.”

So again, a healthy church would recognize that their mission is defined by the founding document of the Christian faith, which is the Bible.  Within the Bible we read statements about identity, purposes, problems, and goals.

As the Apostles define life in the church, they regularly reference organic structures such as “the body,” or “the family,” or a “household.”  These references signify the importance that each person plays within the church and also speaks to an organizing structure of the church.

A healthy church has a healthy leadership.  A leadership that serves in humility, with maturity and with a clarity for vision.  All of these characteristics are important because organic structures are constantly dealing with internal and external forces.  Often times, one of these dynamics will save a church from ruin if the leadership can demonstrate these qualities, and gain trust among those who support them.  When problems cannot be resolved, it is usually the foundational commitment to a vision (rather than a particular leader) that will be the final determiner of whether people stay or go.

Correspondingly, a healthy church will be made up of people who recognize that they contribute not simply to the desires of a leadership team but to the overall vision, of which, they ought to be convinced that they have also received from the Lord.

Most churches envision their calling as ‘gospel proclaiming’ enterprises.  Again, this objective may create varied ministries; some emphasizing “outreach,” others “discipleship,“ others “missions and service.”  A healthy church would incorporate a vision and structure to accomplish all of these facets of ministry.

Above all, a truly healthy church would be defined as a group of people who loved to gather in corporate worship to share in a mutual expression of that love.  This love would also be identified and known among the members of this worshiping community as a shared devotion for the living God, and for one another – extending to those outside the church yet to be enfolded.

2). What are the 3 biggest things a church should accomplish?

I believe that 3 things should be accomplished:
1) Church members should be able to recognize and identify with a spiritual kingdom that exists that exalts the Lordship of Christ and is therefore, contrary to the standards of this world.  As a result, all of life (family, vocation, entertainment, etc. and NOT just Sunday meetings) would be a conscious expression of living for the King of the true kingdom.  Furthermore, there would be a greater appreciation of the value and importance of formal church membership with credible vows.
2)  A commitment to discipleship that leads both to the sanctification of the church in and through worship, personal holiness, and maturity, as well as a commitment to full cycle evangelism.
3) “Outsiders” would be able to identify such people as being unique and having sincerity and integrity – the goal of which would lead outsiders to conclude that “God is in there midst.”

3). From an organizational (congregational) standpoint, what do you think is leadership’s biggest requests?

Healthy organizations, as they grow and expand, must take notice of needs and opportunities to serve people and not simply programs.  How this is ultimately carried out will be connected to the desires of:  the leadership and congregation working together, the initial vision of the congregation, and the geographic / social setting of the church.  Therefore, some churches may have as a primary goal, the project of planting more churches and expanding their ministry in smaller clusters over a broader area.  Other congregations may wish to grow very large churches in order to provide multiple services and ministries supported by an expansive donor base.  Still others may decide to meet social needs determined by where they may be situated.

Apart from this, a healthy church would have a balanced leadership that would oversee the functions of spiritual and physical concerns.  In Presbyterian parlance, this refers to Elders who teach, visit, encourage, and equip the congregation; and Deacons who are charged with meeting physical needs and managing the financial and logistical concerns of the church.

4). What would you tell church leaders to avoid if they want to be efficient?

I imagine that this would vary upon each situation.  Of course the phrase, “Many ministries are important; but there are others which are more strategic,” should come into play.  I can’t imagine a church pursuing a “square dance” ministry today – however some church with a unique context could make that a  valuable meeting.

I don’t want to make light of various ministry opportunities that might work in other contexts.  But as far as the commission of the church, we are to focus on preaching the word, making disciples, and spreading the message to the end of the earth.

Perhaps one thing to avoid is obscuring the task of raising up true servant / leaders by pursuing ministries that don’t aid this objective.  Time and energy must be spent on training the saints to carry on the mission.

5). What would you think would be the best course of action for leaders to feel like they were accomplishing something?

Ask the question, “Who is being trained to carry this vision to the next generation?”  Churches must certainly reach out and meet the needs of those who are immediately in their midst; but future leaders must be raised up or the mission will not continue.  Evaluate the depth of a ministry by how many quality leaders are being identified, trained, and sent.

Naturally, the provision of financial security would also be a great benefit!  None of this could happen if it were not for faithful people who contribute finances to the vision of the church.

6). How would you prevent leaders and members from suffering burnout?

A) By constantly reminding people that the vision is ultimately God’s calling and His work – sometimes the Lord permits us to experience great joys, other times, gut wrenching defeats.  In the end, He is accomplishing His spiritual purposes and glory – be captured by God’s mysterious ways!
B) Monitor ministry leadership as to their need of rest, vacations, and Sabbaticals.
C) Remind leaders that once they have discipled someone to take their place; they should have the freedom to pursue new ministry opportunities within the organization or beyond if they wish.

7). If the church wanted to adopt “successful principles for church success” where/how would you guide them and why?

There is no shortage of this material in books, journals, and magazines.  I suppose that a proper way to find such resources is to locate a ministry that closely matches your vision and interview the leadership to see what they recommend. If that church has been around for many years, a newer congregation can learn from the successes and failures of an established church (and consider accordingly).

8). What would you tell church leaders to avoid? Why?

Trying to duplicate a ministry simply because it is successful in another location.  While some principles are certainly transferable, whole leadership teams and ministry dynamics cannot be duplicated simply by copying.  It is important for the leadership to have personal convictions and to live them out in their own context.

9). Why do you think church workers get frustrated?

-We want a certain measure of “success” that permits us to enjoy days of health, security, and relaxation with our families!

-We would like to accomplish important tasks that draw people into a deeper understanding of their purpose in Christ.  Often times we spend much time and energy with people who are physically and spiritually depleted.  Too much of this, and our own resources may not be able to sustain a healthy leader.

-We want to share in a community of people who find it a blessing to minister together in a way that extends beyond our initial dreams.  Often times leaders are called to work with those whom Jesus described as, “O ye of little faith!”

-We don’t want to hear and deal with bad news constantly!

10) Is “Elder Rule” the best way to direct a congregation (organization) in order to achieve their goals (projects)? Would consensus (committee) rule be better, or even a pastor/CEO instead?

Long term, Elder rule, properly trained and adhering to Biblical theology, is best.  One only need witness some mega-churches with famous pastors who have aged, fallen, or moved on from their ministries that are now in great distress to affirm this conviction.   Being a “hiring and firing” church in order to seek the best staff does not breed the long term commitment to a “kingdom of Christ” mindset.  Some old school denominations have time honored succession procedures in place to sustain ministerial longevity – especially if the congregation has been trained to adopt such.

That being said, in the short term, dynamic pastors, who get to call most of the shots, can build large churches quickly. This is an enticing model because they are efficient and adapt to many outside pressures.   A church that can string along a series of “successful pastors”  can exist for multiple decades – but I’m confident that such a church would not recognize each other from one generation to the next.

11) Is it wrong for churches to adopt secular gimmicks, marketing ploys, and business models to generate “success”? Why?

On occasion, making a statement to the broader culture in some creative way is acceptable (if it really is creative and “hits home” with the people you are trying to reach – there is a risk here!)  So it is most important that a church determine from Scriptures what their top priorities are and unashamedly state them as directives from the “God of the universe” (found in the scriptures).

God’s values and objectives are more important than any temporary gimmick, ploy, or model!  In this respect, the church may even be seen to be “counter-cultural,” and if so, let it be; because the church ought to embrace the eternal word of God which will always speak to the true eternal needs of of every individual, society, and period of time.

206th Meeting of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Synod

June 16, 2010

Although this video will not tell  you much about the ARP, it will tell you something!  And may that “something” be used of the Lord to advance His kingdom!

Either scroll down our “Family Page” and find the video here:

http://www.communionpres.org/family.html

Or…

For those who have Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=413914707840&ref=mf