How to Reach both the Lost and the Found on Sunday’s

February 27, 2009

In my previous post, “Is Too Much Bible Teaching the Problem or the Solution?” I wrote about the failure of many churches when it comes to systematic instruction in the Word of God and theology. My reader who writes under the name “beatthedrum” commented on perhaps the need for two different services on Sunday’s. One would specifically designed to reach the Lost the other to disciple the found. Now, what I am about to tell you is not earth shattering nor profound and is completely unoriginal. In fact, it is not even my idea. But a former fellow seminary student of mine has in his church developed what I think is the best setup to address this kind of need.

Ken Brown is Pastor of Community Baptist Church has developed what I think is an ideal solution to the problem of teaching the gospel to the lost and discipling the found. Now, Ken’s church was originally a church plant that he started so this is easier to do from the get-go than trying to do it in an existing congregation but here we go…

What is the normal time that unbelievers think “church” happens? Usually anywhere between 10:30 AM to 11:15 AM on Sunday morning depending on the specific time when churches operate. This will be the time they usually come to a church because this is when they believe they are supposed to come. The problem is, the morning worship service, in my opinoin, is not designed for unbelievers but for the believers. It is a time for the body of Christ to gather together to worship and study and grow together around the Word. Now, obviously unbelievers can learn the truth and repent in those services but these services are ultimately not designed for them. And most attempts at making them more “seeker friendly” fail from the beginning since they are changing a service for the saved to one for the unsaved and thus alienating both groups generally!

So, Ken did something different. He designed his Sunday mornings with the morning worship service happening before the normal time. His morning service happens at 9:30 AM when most churches are having their Sunday School time. Then, during the “normal” morning worship time, Ken has what he calls “DiscoveringGod.”

This is the main service designed specifically to reach out and speak to unbelievers without treating them as if they are not intelligent enough for a regular worship service. Instead, the church assumes that the regular worship service is really not designed for them. So, let’s create something new and different to reach the unsaved. I will post directly from Communit Baptist’s website to describe the nature of their “DiscoveringGod” service.”

At 11:00, we gather for Discovering God. In this hour, Ken Brown teaches us what the Bible says about God and how we can have a relationship with Him. Although designed for those who want to be introduced to God, all who desire to know more about establishing and nurturing a relationship with their Creator will benefit from this class. Pastor Ken teaches the truths of Christianity in everyday language and his messages are designed to address the needs of real people living in a real world. The sessions take place in a relaxed atmosphere (come as you are!) that allows for questions and, don’t worry, you won’t be asked to give money!

So here is how Ken reaches the lost in his congregation. He decided that there needed to be a specific time in the life of his congregation where the unique issues and needs of the lost would be addressed. This would be a time where the gospel would be taught and would be applied to the every day issues of life and would be used by God to show the lostness of people left to themselves and force them to reach out and embrace Christ as Lord and Saviour. Of course, ultimately, it is God who saves the lost but He has ordained us to be the means to accomplishing that end. Here is a helpful and effective means to accomplishing that end by having two unique services on Sunday’s. One that specifically addresses the saved, and one that specifically addresses the lost.

This may not work in every church nor should it be tried in every church. But this is one example amongst many of how to address both the saved and unsaved in the life of the preaching/teaching ministry of the church.


Awesome Contest over at “A Boomer in the Pew”

February 26, 2009

A chance to win a Calfskin version of the ESV Study Bible! This retails at $239.99 US and is therefore a steal at FREE! See the details here at A Boomer in the Pew.


The Future… Sad Isn’t It?

February 25, 2009


New Post on Pastors and Wedding Ceremonies

February 23, 2009

My good friend Keith Edwards, who blogs at Live Life! International has written an excellent thought-provoking piece on pastors and wedding ceremonies over at Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio called “Getting out of the Marriage Business.” I highly recommend you check it out!


Bible Study Magazine Giveaway!

February 23, 2009

Bible Study Magazine and Mars Hill are giving away 20 copies of Mark Driscoll’s new book, Vintage Church. Not only that, but they are also giving away five subscriptions to Bible Study Magazine and a copy of their Bible Study Library software! Enter to win on the Bible Study Magazine Mark Driscoll page, then take a look at all the cool tools they have to take your Bible study to the next level!


Book Review – The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards

February 19, 2009

The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards. By Steven J. Lawson. Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust, 2008. 168 pp., $16.00, hard cover.

 

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) is probably the most well known American preacher and theologian of the 18th century and perhaps any century. Interest in him and his theology grows each day with the body of secondary literature rising at an unbelievable rate. Beyond the body of secondary literature, Edwards was a prolific writer and the primary materials take up 26 large hardcover volumes from Yale University Press. Some know only of his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and perhaps only from studying it in school as part of their American literature. Some disdain his Calvinistic theology and some extol it. He was a theologian of revival and prayer. But, the question is, is there a need for another volume on Edwards? Steven Lawson proves there is!

 

Lawson, Senior Pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, Mobile, AL and President of New Reformation Ministries (a ministry dedicated to bring biblical reformation to the church today) has already proved himself with his volumes The Expository Genius of John Calvin, Foundations of Grace: A Long Line of Godly Men (both from Reformation Trust), and Famine in the Land: A Passionate Call for Expository Preaching (Moody Press) amongst others. He has other volumes coming out soon in his “Long Line of Godly Men” series. And if his existing books are any indication, future ones will be just as profound. Lawson is the prophet Evangelicalism needs to highlight the famine in the land with the hopes of God bringing the rain of expository preaching.

 

In this current volume on Edwards’ Lawson focuses on an area that should be of great importance to many of us today, the unwavering resolve of Edwards. Lawson’s focus therefore are on Edwards’ personal resolutions he made. These seventy “purpose statements for his life” (p. xiii) were written in 1722 and 1723 at the ages of 18 and 19. Lawson notes as a result of these resolutions, “this young Puritan minister wrote and worked hard to keep these seventy vows. Here is the key to his spiritual growth–Edwards disciplined himself for the purpose of godliness. He understood that growth in holiness is not a one-time act, but a lifelong pursuit, one that requires a daily determination to live according to the truths taught in Scripture” (p. xiii).

 

Essentially this volume on Edwards then is on the personal piety of the great 18th century theologian and pastor. Lawson argues that more important than Edwards intellect or anything else is his personal holiness. We live in a day of great spiritual interest and confusion. As Evangelicals we must turn to a spirituality that is rooted in the Word of God. Studying the godly men of the past gives us a helpful look at how to apply that Biblical spirituality in our lives today. That makes looking at the personal holiness and resolutions of Edwards of utmost importance.

 

This book then uses Edwards resolutions as a starting point and then includes material from his diary and his “Personal Narrative” to see how he implemented these resolutions in his life. The book begins with a detailed but simple chapter outlining the life and legacy of Edwards. He then moves into looking at the resolutions directly. The first section deals with the purpose and historical setting of the resolutions as well as the theological roots behind them. Then Lawson looks at the resolutions under the broad categories of “the prerequisite of faith,” “the priority of God’s glory,” “the putting away of sin,” “the precipice of eternity,” “the passion of discipline,” “the practice of love,” and finally “the posture of self-examination.” Especially important for today’s believers in this last section. The Puritan practice of self-examination is lost in today’s generation. The journals and diaries of various Puritan authors outlining their lives and highlighting where improvement could be made is a valuable discipline that most today have lost. Journaling our spiritual lives is something of great value as we continue to grow in Christ that we can learn particularly from Edwards.

 

Lawson highlights the major importance of studying Edwards today and learning from him for a new generation in his conclusion. He writes, “In this day, some three hundred years after Edwards’ time, there is a desperate need for a new generation to arise onto the scene of history that will prize and promote the glory of our awesome God. Beholding the soul-capturing vision of this all-supreme, all-sovereign, and all-sufficient God transforms in life-altering ways. This is what we learn from Edwards, and this is what we must experience in our own lives. Our lofty theology, centered on God Himself, must be translated into daily living in practical ways” (p. 154).

 

Truly Lawson will encourage those who already love Edwards and his God but will also encourage those who know not the great American theologian. This book should be in the hands of every pastor especially but in the hand of every believer in Christ to encourage them and challenge them in their constant walk with the sovereign God of the universe! Soli Deo Gloria!


New Blog Dedicated to John Gill

February 17, 2009

My friend Jerad File (a ThM student studying John Gill at SWBTS) has started a new blog called For the Cause of God and Truth. This blog will be dedicated to the life and thought and scholarship of the Baptist theologian John Gill (1697-1771). He has asked me to contribute to it which I have excitedly agreed to. He has also asked another Gill student to help but I will not mention it until I get confirmation he is joining our little scholarship foray into Gill.

Gill of course, in my opinion, is a neglected Reformed theologian of the Baptist tradition, even by Baptists! Any discussion of Gill focuses on the hyper-calvinism debate and does not go beyond that to look at his other valuable contribution to Reformed thought. I look forward to sharing more of my own studies on Gill there and encouraging others to learn more of this great saint of the past!

“While true religion and sound learning have a single friend remaining in the British Empire, the works and name of Gill will be precious and revered.”

A. M. Toplady – July 29, 1772