Resources to check out:
* Galatians For You by Tim Keller is The Good Book Company’s free ebook this month.
* There is much in The Crowded House Independent Learning Review from thirtyone:eight for pastors and those involved in church leadership to reflect on.
* Logos has as its free book of the month a commentary on Romans.
* Dan Steel did a webinar recently on why church plants don’t work. Check it out HERE.
* Check out Heaven Has Come, the new Christmas album from Sovereign Grace Music.
* A 7 Days of Creation book to make with your kids.
Some things to reflect on:
* Various lockdown thoughts.
Andrew Roycroft on the danger of distraction from word and prayer caused by COVID-19:
“I’m not sure if I’m alone in this, but with all of the ministerial and logistical management of Covid-19, concentration seems to have been at an all time low for me. There is so much information to digest, and opinion to navigate, that mental energy is at a premium. I haven’t been fully aware of this until the past few days when I have been on leave, and feel a renewed engagement with theology etc which I have had to scrape together at times in 2020. This surely has to be a major victory for Satan, if servants of Christ are so distracted? The year is fast waning, & I feel a fresh determination to close it out with a redoubled focus on the core elements of my life and ministry. The debates and debacles that rage matter in some way, I suppose, but not as much as deepening love for Christ, & concern for his kingdom. For me this might mean a better managed ‘mute’ button on social media, and a more widely publicised policy in the ‘real world’ of the local church that Covid-19 issues can be the equivalent of Acts 6 table waiting. Important. Vital. But always secondary to the word & prayer.”
Steve Palframan shares some lessons he has learnt:
1. Big is not always beautiful. I’ve envied large churches and their resources in
the past, but I’ve been grateful during this season that because of our relatively small size staying in touch has been possible. It makes me wonder if big ever was as beautiful as I thought?
2. Church unity is precious and fragile. COVID guidelines have brought a whole new area of disagreement to our churches. What looked like grace and love towards one another before has been shown to be just a shared culture. Disagreeing with those you’ve always agreed with before gives you a window into your heart. That’s messy and has certainly caused me to repent.
3. All member ministry is vital. Not only because we have needed a surprising range of gifts during the pandemic, bringing different people to the fore, but also because the one-another ministry has been able to continue when our programmes have stopped.
4. Gathering is a privilege of grace. COVID is like Babel, scattering people, preventing them from gathering, a warning of hell. Too often I’ve taken gatherings, church and otherwise, for granted when truthfully I need the mercy of God to enjoy the company of others.
5. Hearing God’s Word and declaring our faith in Christ together is at the heart of our church life. If you went to church for the performance, or for the coffee, or even just the company, then socially distanced gatherings are not only disappointing, they’re distasteful and horrid, but for the hungry Christian, although still longing for more, the taste of God’s Word is joyful and life giving.
6. Churches aren’t instinctively prophetic voices into the world. Sadly we moan louder than we preach. COVID shouts to our world that we are less than we thought we were, we’re not the gods we told ourselves, defeated by the microscopic. We have good news for people like that.
7. We’ve lost the art of lament. We’ve become so obsessed with answering the “why would a good God allow suffering?” question that we’ve forgotten that it’s not about knowing the reason it’s about knowing where to go. We will never know why God allows particular suffering, but we can know that he is the only safe place to bring our tears and sorrows. When we can sing together again we need to learn some more sad songs. Churches are to be places where the weeping find comfort, not distraction!
Paul Levy shares some encouragements from door knocking in the local areas:
1. Loads more people in – say 50%.
2. People are far more responsive and chatty.
3. People are grateful that you Church’s are open and appreciated what we’re doing, in a way I’ve not heard before.
4. People have responded to being asked how they were doing, in a way they wouldn’t have a year ago.
5. People are lonely.
6. People are very fed up.
7. No one has resented having their door knocked.
8. It’s helped having something to invite them to – lunchtime service, kids and youth clubs.
9. There have been a couple of homes where I’ve been able to write cards to afterwards.
10. The make up of the area is always different to how I imagine.
11. The New building has helped make us known.
12. There’s no substitute for long haul being in the community.
* This quote from Peter Leithart’s commentary on 1 and 2 Chronicles: “1-2 Chronicles is one of the Bible’s great texts about music. The Psalms give us words to sing. Chronicles tells us who sings when, and why… a manual for church reformers, as well as for church musicians.”
* An encouragement for preachers from Jeff Wiesner: “The soft pillow for every preacher’s head on Saturday night is that God’s Word works.”