For those who enjoy singing the Psalms, this is a brilliant resource: New Psalter online.
“I don’t know who needs to hear this, but: small groups are neither a necessary nor a sufficient means of building relationships in a local church.
A few follow-ups to yesterday’s provocation about small groups: First, to say that something is neither necessary nor sufficient is not to say anything at all about whether it is or can be helpful. For instance, the cup of coffee I drank this morning was neither necessary nor sufficient to supply the energy I need this morning. But was it helpful? You bet. Tasty too. Can small groups be helpful? Of course! Are they often helpful? Of course.
But the problem is that small groups can become simply equated with how to have fellowship in the church. Yes, we have some biblical examples of what look like small groups (e.g., Acts 2:46), but nothing like a universal pattern. So, small groups seem to be one form for fostering fellowship that churches should feel free to use, develop, tweak, and drop as seems wise to them.
So why make the twofold negative point that I did? B/c often, small groups function for an individual Christian like a certain style of “worship music” can. The person who can “only worship” in a certain contemporary style has made that musical style necessary to worship. Similarly, sometimes Christians approach small groups with an attitude along the lines of, “If I’m not in a small group, I can’t get to know anyone or have fellowship in the church.” That turns something helpful but optional into something essential.”
Andrew Wilson: “Lockdown makes me grateful that the magnificent theology of Ephesians, Philippians and Revelation was written from the isolation of prison or exile.”
Steve Palframan: “I wonder if a mistake we’ve made with “online church” is trying to make it look like our ordinary gatherings. An impossible & false goal. Instead accepting we can’t meet we need to try a whole range of things online, on the phone & on the doorstep to keep shepherding our churches.”
Here’s a great example of communicating to your church about what Sundays will look like under the current Government guidance.
“Paul was in Thessalonica for three Sabbath days (Acts 17:2). During that time, he converted a bunch of people and taught them some stuff. Four times in his letters to them, he gives details about what he taught. I find those details both surprising and convicting:
1) ‘For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.’ (1 Thess 2:11-12)
2) ‘For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honour, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress or wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.’ (1 Thess 4:2-6)
3) ‘For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?’ (2 Thess 2:3-5)
4) ‘For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.’ (2 Thess 3:10)
What’s striking to me is that Paul thinks that these very young believers apparently needed urgent instruction in ethics (3 of the 4) and eschatology (2-3 of the 4). And neither is presented with kid gloves: The Lord is an avenger in sexual matters!
He really meant it, too. He mentions twice how he worked with his hands in order to provide them with an ethical example. (1 Thess 2:9, 2 Thess 3:7-9) That means he surrendered, what, 30-50 hrs/wk of potential Bible studies! It was *that important* that they learn to work hard.
I’ve taught young believers before, and I’m ashamed to think how little I gave them and how wetly I gave it.”
Sam Allberry: “Nice sermon feedback: “You were amazing!” Better sermon feedback: “That passage is amazing!” Best sermon feedback: “Isn’t Christ amazing!”
From Every Nation is a new online resource related to world Christianity, world church and world mission.
Billy Graham: “Jesus prayed briefly when He was in a crowd; He prayed a little longer when He was with His disciples; and He prayed all night when He was alone. Today, many in the ministry tend to reverse that process.”
Tom Buck: “Every time you pray, “Father,” you know you’re not just another face in the crowd. He knows you by *name.* We parents sometimes forget and call one child by the name of another. But God is *not* like that. There’s no child lost in the middle in God’s family.”