The Gospel, rightly understood, brings freedom, rightly enjoyed. That’s the message of Paul’s earliest letter, his letter to the churches in Galatia.
Galatians is a letter written for freedom. And its message is a message we, in our modern age, desperately need.
What is a Christian? What is Christianity? There may be a variety of ways people approach such questions, but there is only one message that defines us. There is only one message that is at the heart of our faith.
In this new sermon series, we will dive into that one message, exploring its content, and seeing why it is relevant for us today… and every day of our lives!
In a world that is rapidly changing, and in a life that often takes twists and turns that we weren’t expecting, it is easy to find our hearts growing frustrated. We feel trapped in a marriage that is far different than we expected. Our job feels more like a burden than a blessing. We feel surrounded by a culture that is running from the things that we value.
How do we face the frustration of a world that is far from what we desire?
God has given us powerful answers to that question in the small, yet rich, Old Testament book of Habakkuk.
Redemption Bible Church is excited to partner with Sports Outreach Northwest in order to offer a free youth football clinic in Bonney Lake. This clinic will be for 5th through 8th grade students, and will be held at Bonney Lake High School on Saturday, May 14th.
For more information, see the flyer below. Click this link to register.
Is Jesus enough?
That question is what drives Paul’s letter to a young church in the ancient city of Colossae. In that church, many were being enticed away from the simplicity of their faith and entangled in a “Jesus plus” approach to Christianity.
But Paul’s words to that young church were not only relevant for the 1st century. Paul’s question, and his profound answer, is desperately needed by the Church in the 21st century.
In this series, we will work to unpack this beautiful letter, seeking to understand Paul’s message and see how it applies to our lives today.
The doctrine of the Trinity is a beautiful, foundational, and powerful truth of Christianity. However, it is also something that too many Christians have neglected to study, either because of confusion or an inability to see the significance of it for their everyday lives.
In this series, we dive into the truth of the Trinity, exploring the richness of this doctrine and unpacking how to find our delight in the Triune God.
Where is God when life hurts? When we lose a job, lose a friend, lose our health, or lose a spouse it can feel like He’s abandoned us. Or worse. It can feel like He’s turned against us.
In the ancient book of Ruth, we meet a woman named Naomi who knew all about that feeling. But in spite of her feelings about God, and the bitterness that flowed from them, God met her in her sorrow, and overcame her grief with His love.
During this Sunday sermon series at Redemption, we’ll be exploring how God’s love, sovereignty, and faithfulness were shown in the life of this woman, Naomi, and how He used the community around her to be the instrument of the redemption He planned for her.
And through her story, we’ll discover the even more amazing story about how her redemption led to ours.
Join us on Sundays at Redemption for this exciting new study!
At Redemption, we pursue Scriptural Fidelity, that is we desire to be faithful to the ways of God as revealed in the Word of God. One of the ways we want to flesh-out this pursuit is by committing together, in 2015, to read through the Scriptures.
Below is a challenge from Pastor Ryan, unfolding the blessings of this pursuit, as well as links to our Bible reading schedule for this new year.
At Redemption, the Christmas season allows us an opportunity to focus in on the glory of the Advent. In this section, you’ll find a collection of our special Christmas sermon series. We hope these messages lead you to worship the greatness of our God and marvel at the wonder of his plan for our redemption.
For many people, the significance of October 31st is that it gives them an opportunity to pretend to be something they aren’t and get a variety of free, tasty snacks. However, for many Christians, this date holds a different and far greater significance. It’s about more than costumes and candy. It’s about a monk, a mallet, and a message that rescued the Church and changed the world.
On October 31st, 1517, a monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 theses for debate to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. And that act became the spark that reformed the Church and recovered the Biblical understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Each October, at Redemption, we celebrate that spark by focusing our attention on one of the truths for which the reformers fought. In this sermon series, you’ll come to know more about the Protestant Reformation, it’s Biblical foundation, and why we still need to proclaim it’s message today.
This summer, both our men’s and women’s small group studies will be working through John Piper’s book, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy. This book introduces Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, and then shows how God’s transforming grace worked its radical power in their lives.
As we study through this book this summer, one of my hopes for our time together is to build excitement for the study of Church History. Too many in the modern church are ignorant of the story of the Church for the last 2,000 years. This ignorance blinds us to see old dangers that rise up in new disguises, as well as limits our understanding of both the breadth and depth of the Church. The study of Church History is a blessing too many overlook.
So, to help those interested in digging in beyond our summer study, I’ve put together this resource page. Feel free to add to the list, via the comments section, the titles of (and links to) other resources that have been help to you.
General Church History
Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley
Pocket Dictionary of Church History by Nathan Feldmeth
History Lives: The Chronicles of the Church (great for kids!) by Brandon and Mindy Withrow
Introduction to the Reformation
The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World by Stephen J. Nichols
The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation by Michael Reeves
The Reformation for Armchair Theologians by Glenn S. Sunshine
Augustine of Hippo by Peter Brown
Augustine for Armchair Theologians by Stephen A. Cooper
Confessions by Augustine
Martin Luther: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought by Stephen J. Nichols
Luther for Armchair Theologians by Stephen D. Paulson
Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther
Calvin by Bruce Gordon
John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, Doxology ed. by Burk Parsons
Calvin for Armchair Theologians by Christopher Elwood
Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
One of my favorite fictional reads is John Bunyan‘s classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress. Each time I go through it, Christian’s story of his journey to the Celestial City both encourages and challenges me. Bunyan’s powerful descriptions remind me of the rich spiritual treasures we possess and also of the abundant dangers we encounter on our pilgrimage “from this world to that which is to come.”
A few years ago, I came across a wonderfully illustrated and faithfully updated version of Bunyan’s classic, put together by the good folks over at Crossway. I saw this as a great way to pass on one of my favorite works to my two daughters, Rylie and Anna. This last fall, I began to do just that. And we found the experience a blessing for our entire family.
Which lead me to the following idea: Why not encourage our entire church family to gather together around this great work? So, as we enter into 2014, that’s just what we’re going to do.
Beginning the first week of January, we will venture -together- through Pilgrim’s Progress. Below is the reading schedule we will be using. It breaks down to no more than a chapter a week, and I’ve designed it to be used with the Crossway edition of The Pilgrim’s Progress (both the hardback and kindle versions).
I hope you join us for this great, and edifying, adventure. I’m praying that many of you do and we find Christian’s story capturing many generations of pilgrims at Redemption.
In his book, Fatherless America, sociologist David Blankenhorn pens the follow, shocking paragraph:
“A generation ago, an American child could reasonably expect to grow up with his father. Today, an American child can reasonably expect not to. Fatherlessness is now approaching a rough parity with fatherhood as a defining feature of American childhood. The astonishing fact is reflected in many statistics, but here are the two most important. Tonight, about 40 percent of American children will go to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live. Before they reach the age of eighteen, more than half of our nation’s children are likely to spend at least a significant portion of their childhoods living apart from their fathers. Never before in this country have so many children grown up without knowing what it means to have a father.”
Today we live in the midst of a culture where many simply don’t know what it means to be a father. Because of absentee dads and men who push off the responsibility of parenting, generations are growing up without understanding this key role in the family. So, how will this trend be reversed? Where will this generation go to learn what it looks like be fathered and to be a father?
“There is no knowing that does not begin with knowing God.” –John Calvin
One of the most influential people in my life was Mrs. Frisbie, my eighth grade cooking teacher. She taught me all the basics of good cooking—or, more accurately, she drilled them into me. Her class was kitchen boot camp, and no one got out of there without having mastered the tools and the rules of culinary competency. As my children will tell you, the name of Mrs. Frisbie was invoked in our kitchen on a regular basis during their growing-up years. Mrs. Frisbie said keep the bread dough warm and the pie crust cold. Slow and moist for chuck roast; open and dry for rib roast. Always proof the yeast; never double the baking powder. And never, ever wash the flour sifter, because flour and water make (shudder!) paste.
Mrs. Frisbie’s rules of cooking got me successfully through my early marriage and the raising of kids. In fact, to this day I think of her when I perform routine cooking tasks. But my cooking experience went from functional to fascinating when I discovered Alton Brown and Good Eats.
Good Eats taught me the deeper things of cooking. It brought Mrs. Frisbie’s rules to life in a way I never imagined. There was an episode where Alton showed me how fat, starch and acid repel one another to form the flakes and layers in pastry. It changed the way I view and handle pastry dough. In another episode, I learned why gentle simmering in a heavy-lidded pot effectively melts away the tough membrane between the fibers of a piece of chuck, creating a tender pot roast–the why of Mrs. Frisbie’s slow and moist!
I could cite many examples of how learning the science of cooking, as opposed to just the rules of cooking, deepened my understanding and made it all make sense. But not many people get thrilled at the wonders of kitchen alchemy the way I do. So I’ll get to the point and talk about theology.
Theology is to the Gospel something like what Good Eats is to cooking: It teaches us the deeper truths behind what we already know. It takes us beyond the stifling rules that define the Christian life for so many and reveals the vast, wonderful vista of God’s love and grace.
Theology begins with the study of God himself –who he is, what he is like, and how his eternal plan works as a whole. Since how we think about God affects the way we live and experience the Gospel, it is critical that our thinking be based in solid truth. And the truth is fascinating.
“When we know the truth about God, it fills us with wonder,” writes Joshua Harris in his book Dug Down Deep. “If we fail to understand his true character, we will never be amazed by him.”
On Thursday evening, September 13, the women of RBC will begin a study in theology and doctrine using this book. Harris presents biblical truths in an easily understood format that lends itself well to discussion. But more than that, he approaches God’s word with a joy and enthusiasm that is contagious. We hope you will join us as we dig deep to lay a secure foundation of truth. There will be no homework except the reading, and as always, there will be good eats.
Yesterday, we had a wonderful time together as a church family, celebrating Labor Day with a “Grill Off.” One of the member families of our church opened their home (and beautiful property) to us and we spent that day enjoying live music, sunshine, food, and fellowship. We had a bounce house for the kids (that at one point, the adults invaded) and a BBQ competition in which I think the judges were the real winners!
But as I was reflecting this morning on the great time we all had together, it led me to rejoice in the wonderful summer we’ve enjoyed as a church. Over the last few months, we’ve moved to a new location, welcomed new members, connected with new families, and grown through our time together in God’s Word.
Now, don’t misunderstand what I mean by “wonderful.” I’m not saying that this summer was easy. Several folks in our church family walked through some deep waters (with health concerns, family situations, and the loss of loved ones), but each step of the way God has proven himself faithful.
One of the great testimonies to the faithfulness (and the wisdom of God) is the way that he has used his people to minister to his people. Time and time again, those in this fellowship have- out of genuine love and concern- been Christ’s hands and feet to one another.
And I praise God for that. I praise God for how he is raising up this community, a community that enjoys being with one another, learning together, and is more than willing to step up to meet the challenges that arise in one another’s life.
[The following post is by RBC member, Susanne Greenman, who is one of the teachers for our Titus 2 Tea.]
The first time I got a hint that I could not sing was in seventh grade choir. It was the morning after tryouts for the Christmas Cantata and the results were posted on the choir room door. I saw my name at the top of the list—that was a good sign! I saw the assigned part written next to my name: Narrator. Same thing for the Spring Concert: Narrator. The next semester I changed my elective to drama.
Over the years, faced with school musicals, lullabies and favorite hymns, I have longed for the ability to sing out in a clear and perfect voice. It wasn’t meant to be. I’m told I will sing in heaven.
A speech therapist once explained to me that I have a physiological inability to translate tones from my brain to my voice. In other words, God designed me unable to sing. I want to protest, but a fragment of scripture sticks in my head: “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’”
The mental image is humorous. There is the lump of dull gray clay on a potter’s wheel, the Creator’s wise and skillful hands molding it into his chosen design. The lump is painfully screaming out, “Noooo… not tone deaf! You’re making a mistake! Really, I can serve you so much better with perfect pitch!”
It is sometimes difficult to come to terms with how God made us, or the circumstances in which he’s placed us. Physical limitations, unsatisfactory appearance, financial constraints, difficult circumstances—we can feel that these things keep us from being who we want to be. But in reality they are the raw material God will use to make us who he wants us to be.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” This and the surrounding verses in Psalm 139 remind us that we are designed in a very purposeful way. Yes, we have amazingly perfect biological systems, but that’s not the whole of it. More amazing still is that we have hearts that can connect with God and minds capable of grasping spiritual truths: “Wonderful are thy works, and my soul knows it very well…How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!”
The Lord God is my maker. My temperament, my emotional nature, my genetic makeup, my talents (or lack thereof) are given by him. They are not accidents; they are an integral part of his plan for me. Dissatisfaction with how he made me works against his plan. Acceptance of how I’m put together is the first step to understanding how he wants to use me.
I have a dear friend who was born with cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. She loves to pray and intercedes constantly and fervently for everyone she knows. She also has a ministry of encouragement to others with disabilities, especially children. She regularly encounters Christians who insist on praying for her healing. This makes no sense to her. The Lord himself has formed her to his liking, and why would she want to change that? Her disability is a means of blessing others and glorifying Christ.
The Bible shows us that Christ’s Body is made up of individuals covering a vast range of gifts and personalities. There is a unique beauty and harmony in this symphony of believers, and there is fulfillment in finding the place of usefulness our Creator has intended for us. When we have found that place and experience how God can uniquely use us, we will see that our Potter has been very wise indeed in how he made us. And what’s more, we will have new appreciation for how he has made others.
This month at our Titus 2 Tea, we will be wrapping up our study in the book Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. Our discussion will focus on self acceptance, growing through adversity, and choosing to trust. Please join us on Saturday, July 14, 10:00 a.m. at the Wood’s home, for brunch and fellowship.
Over 7 years ago, my wife and I boarded a plane and headed for Rabka, Poland. We traveled there to join up with a church planting family and help them with an evangelistic “English” camp for college students. The week and a half we spent there, building relationships and sharing the Gospel, will be something I will always treasure.
And that treasure was revisited as these church planters from Poland, Doug and Lila Groth, joined us this last Sunday at RBC.
7 years ago, when we ministered together, I had no idea Amy and I would be part of planting a church here in the states. Nor did I imagine that we’d have the blessing of the Groth’s traveling here and being able to minister in our church plant. The irony was not lost on me this last Sunday.But the irony of the moment wasn’t what had my attention. My attention, just like 7 years ago, was fixed on the difficulty of church planting in Poland. Less than 0.4% of Poland’s population fall into the category of “protestant” Christians and even less would be characterized as “evangelical.” The majority of the country views the Biblical Gospel as the teachings of a sect and sees those who embrace it as those who have abandoned what it means to be Polish.
Yet in this difficult soil, God has shown his faithfulness and planted a church. Sunday’s service, for both Amy and myself, was a time for rejoicing as Doug gave testimony to the growth of the church in Rabka and their desire to begin a new work in a new community. What a blessing to see God building his church in the difficult places and how we pray for others to partner with them to reach the dear people of Poland!
And that joyful celebration was followed by another.
Yesterday afternoon, the family at RBC gathered together for a baptismal service. We were blessed by the weather, blessed to use an outdoor pool for our baptistry, and blessed to hear and see the testimonies of what God is doing in people’s lives.
After the service, we had a fellowship meal together, and then the kids (and some adults) took to the pool. It was a great way to close a day full of rejoicing in the God who works, building his church in the town of Rabka, Poland and here in Bonney Lake.
Oh, me of little faith!
As we originally began talking about and praying about doing a Jesus Well campaign for our June missions project, I thought about pushing the limits of what is usually given to our projects. Typically, we’ve been getting in around $1,300 to $1,500 for each month’s project.
However, because of the nature of this month’s project and because we could share it on-line (inviting those beyond our RBC family to give) I thought we should put the bar a little higher. Originally, I wanted us to try for 3 Jesus Wells. That would require $3,000, or around double what is normally given. But then I thought that might be pushing things too much, so I backed it down to 2 Jesus Wells. Still, I knew this would be a stretch for our small church. However, I prayed we’d be able to see the project through to completion.
Well, yesterday we took our offering. We didn’t have an abnormally large Sunday attendance. We had some visitors, but the attendance was typical for our Sunday meetings. So, when Dave Tindell (our Elder over finances) told me that the offering for the Jesus Wells was over $3,000 yesterday, I was stunned.
And I just had to laugh. When will I learn? Our God is more than able! As he so often does, he overwhelmed my small goals to show his generosity through the actions of his people.
What a blessing to know that THREE impoverished villages in Asia will now receive clean water for their physical thirst and the message of living water to transform their eternal destiny.
Praise God that his ability is far bigger than my faith.
“The greatest sorrow and burden you can lay on the Father, the greatest unkindness you can do to him, is not to believe that he loves you.” –John Owen
Recently I was at a beach on Lake Washington with my three grandchildren– two energetic boys and their very self-confident little sister. The boys took off ahead of us to run up a pier which bordered on some pretty deep water. When the three-year-old began to run after them I sped up and took her hand, forcing her to slow to a walking pace. Immediately she snatched her hand from mine and focused a most baleful glare my way. “Why do you have to hold my hand?” she demanded. “I want to run.”
I heard myself answer her with these words: “Because I love you, and you’re just going to have to trust me.”
This silenced her, because she couldn’t argue with it. She understood the implied message: Because I love you, you can trust that I have your best interest in mind. But as the words came out of my mouth, I almost laughed out loud. I am asking this child to trust in my love for her well-being.
Isn’t this exactly what my Heavenly Father asks of me?
Now, the love of a grandmother is a very great love; greater still is the love of a parent. The best of parents seek to love their children with wisdom drawn from biblical understanding. But even at its best, human love is tainted with sin, and wisdom can falter where it meets that sin.
But God’s love is executed in pure and perfect wisdom. It’s not your mother’s love. It’s a love that wants to change you profoundly and bless you beyond imagining. And it’s a love that, in its wisdom, will allow trials in your life that would make your mother weep.
We surely can’t doubt God’s love. Our Heavenly Father designed all of creation, all of history, and all of eternity to speak this love to us.
“Here was the masterpiece of divine wisdom, to contrive a way to happiness between the sin of man and the justice of God,” wrote Thomas Watson. And at the heart of that plan God gave his own heart, his beloved Son, so that we might be joined to him as sons.
But can we trust God’s love to guide and order our daily lives? How do we cope when we just don’t feel loved? How do God’s love and wisdom work together in his plan for us? These are some of the topics we will be discussing this month at our Titus 2 Tea, to be held on Saturday, June 16. Please join us–we guarantee you will be challenged!
The story of the woman at the well (John 4:7-39) is a beautiful testimony to the transforming power of an encounter with Jesus. That day, as she came to address her physical need, Jesus revealed her true thirst and everything changed. Instead of the village outcast, she became the town missionary. What a transformation!
And her story serves as the inspiration for our June Mission Project. For years now, Gospel for Asia has taken the example of that story and applied it in communities all over India, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Cambodia among other countries. However, before people could “meet Jesus at the well,” those with Gospel for Asia had to provide the well.
And that is where our June project comes in. This month, we are partnering with Gospel for Asia to provide two impoverished communities with new wells. These wells will provide fresh, clean water for the area and help radically transform the health of that community.These wells will also be located next to the church. All in that community will know that the well is there because the church is there. At the well, those in village will meet the local pastor and those in the church to learn the truths Jesus communicated in John 4- that there is water that truly satisfies your deepest thirst and it is found in Jesus Christ alone.
We at RBC are very excited about this month’s opportunity. We’r so excited that we want to share this joy of serving this way with others. If you would like to partner with us to help reach our goal of a new “Jesus Well” for two communities in Asia, please go to our site www.mygfa.org/rbcjesuswells and find out more.
What a blessing to be a part of other beautiful testimonies to the transforming power of Jesus!
Maybe fifty years ago you might hear the words “wrath,” “dice,” and “Gospel preaching” in a revival sermon on the evils of gambling. However, this weekend at RBC they were all part of building and enjoying God-given community.
Allow me to explain.
On Friday, a group of our men gathered together to enjoy a “shrimp boil” dinner. But we weren’t just there for the savory bottom feeders.
The centerpiece of our evening was a discussion on the reality of God as judge and the Biblical teaching about his wrath. Part of our guide through this was J. I. Packer’s excellent work “Knowing God,” but our conversation was dominated by diving into the biblical text. We worked together to get to know and understand better the ways of our God. It was an awesome time of challenge, really calling one another to be faithful servants in proclaiming Gospel realities (including God’s judgment) to those we encounter in our daily lives.
Sunday morning, we continued our discussion of this call to faithfully serve our Lord. The text for the morning was Mark 1:16-20, and we allowed Jesus’ call of four fishermen to challenge our self-understanding- specifically asking the question, “How has Christ’s call upon our lives radically redefined us?” It is a powerful text, and I’m so thankful for being able to work through that text in community. By that I mean that I’m grateful to approach the strong call of this text as part of a body that is working to embrace that call together.
And Sunday afternoon we worked on our together part.
In a young and growing church, one of the obstacles to overcome is helping all of the new folks get to know and connect with each other. It is difficult to encourage one another on this mission if you don’t really know one another and care for one another. So, Sunday afternoon several of us joined together to just have some fun.
One of the families at RBC organized a “Bunco” party. The dice were flying and there was a lot of laughing. (There was also quite a bit of competition!) We had a great time connecting with each other and getting to know a little bit better some of those God has called us to partner with on this mission.
As I sit here Monday morning and I’m humbled by the mission God has called us to, I’m also so thankful for the crew of “fishers of men” I’m part of. May our community increase and may our God be glorified through our Gospel faithfulness.
Warning: If you believe pastors don’t struggle with sin, you might want to look away. If you’re willing to accept that God uses the weak and the foolish, then read on.
Several years ago I came across an illustration that compared the human heart (and its desires) to the workings of a tea bag. With a tea bag, all the flavors are contained inside. They remain there, somewhat hidden, until you place the bag in hot water. Once in the hot water, all the flavors are exposed- you get to taste what the tea bag has been hiding.
The author rightly explained that the same is true of the human heart. Inside are hidden all manner of desires. However, put that heart (and the human it belongs to) in some ‘hot water’ situation, and -just like the tea bag- you’ll learn what’s inside.
Over the last two years, my hot water has been pursuing planting a new church. Now, saying it is hot water makes it sound like it has been excruciating and extremely difficult, which has not been the case. But it has been an intense situation filled with all kinds of twists and turns. Very clearly it has been drawing out what is in my heart.
I wish I could say that all that I’ve seen has been good flavored tea. However, like Calvin warned those many years ago, I’ve found that this heart of mine is a perpetual idol factory and church planting has been exposing several of those idols.
Chief among these idols is simply a desire to be liked. Some might call it low self-esteem, but actually I think the root of it is too much esteeming myself. Probably the best way to explain it is to call it the fear of man- an over-concern about what others think and how they perceive me and what I’m doing. It is something I believe many of us suffer from (too many of us in ministry), and it is a dangerous and wearisome idol.
It loves to manifest itself on Sunday afternoons or Monday mornings. After the Sunday excitement has quieted down, and before I get to dive into the text and ministry for the next week, thoughts like these coming out of the tea bag:
“Why did those visitors have that look on their face the whole time I was preaching?”
“Where was everyone this Sunday?”
“That sermon was a long, boring, confusing mess!”
“This would be a great church if they could find a decent pastor.”
“This whole thing is going to fail and it will be all my fault.”
Yes, I wrestle with thoughts like this- and a myriad of others. [I warned you, didn’t I?] I wrestle with them as my heart locks its attention on the approval and acceptance of others. This fear of man is a nasty idol!
However, I’ve also seen the sufficiency of God’s grace. In exposing this idol (and many others), he graciously meets me in my shame and cleanses me with his truth.
Text like Ephesians 1:3, 1 Corinthians 3:5-6, and 2 Corinthians 12:9 have become a source of refuge and strength. Proverbs 29:25 stands as a faithful warning. I daily reminding myself that God has brought me here, he is doing something, and he is allowing this weak and foolish man to be part of it.
So, like Paul, I’m rejoicing in God’s abundant grace. Grace to place me in the hot water. Grace to show me the idols of my heart. And grace to replace the idols with the overwhelming sufficiency of himself.
Waiting isn’t always easy. Ok, often it isn’t easy. But it is frequently worth it. What’s the say? “Good things come to those who…?”
And I’ve found this holds true with church planting.
When Amy and I began to sense the call to plant a new church, one of the things that became very clear was that we couldn’t do it on our own.
Now, this isn’t true for everyone. Some are natural pioneers. God has wired them in such a way that they can roll into a new location with nothing but the Spirit and the Gospel, and a new work will spring up. However, I think those types are few and far between. Amy and I were quick to admit that we weren’t one of them. God hadn’t wired us that way. We needed a team.
But building a team takes patience. Getting two or three people on the same page takes effort, but getting an entire team on the same page takes prayer, work, and waiting.
However, the lesson I’ve learned is that it is well worth it.
On the sending church level, myself and the other leaders patiently and diligently worked for months, discussing our approach and our philosophy to church planting. I had numerous conversations with our senior pastor, as we worked together to make sure that this vision for church planting was driven by and grounded in the local church. We both wanted to see the sending church as the one planting the new church, not just one couple.
Some might have looked at this season as a waste of time (there wasn’t a lot of action in that season), but I would passionately disagree. It was part of the process of planting as a team (and doing mission work as part of a local church, instead of bypassing the local church- which is too often what happens). Now two years from those discussions, I’m so thankful for them and for such a committed and involved sending church.
Part of their commitment was the team of people who went with Amy and I to plant this new church. I cannot say enough about these folks. I praise God for them on a daily basis, as His grace and His Spirit are so evident in their lives and service.
But we didn’t just have people sign up for the team and then start Sunday services the next week. We first had to take the time to build the team.
We met weekly for months, studying through God’s plan and purpose for the church. We prayed and discussed how God was leading us to pursue that plan in this culture- in this community. And then we worked through the roles and responsibilities each person would fill.
We then started a small group Bible study in which every team member was involved and serving. We added other studies to make sure the team members were being built up. Then came a Sunday evening service. A few months later, we transitioned that service to Sunday mornings.
Now, as other ministries are starting and developing, they are being built on the foundation of the team and their commitment- not on Amy or my schedule or abilities.
And as the church grows, this “team” mentality is growing as well. It’s part of the DNA of RBC. I praise God as I watch that happen. It took more time at first (maybe more time than some folks thought we should take) but from where I now stand, I’m so thankful God gave us the patience.
Yesterday I preached on one of the essential topics for church growth: suffering.
Although that probably isn’t a chapter or topic you will find covered in a lot of church growth or church planting manuals, that doesn’t make it any less essential. Speaking on this topic most likely won’t draw crowds, but what it will do is strengthen and encourage the church to grow in the way that he truly desires- that Christ desires. And his desire makes it essential.
I’ll be honest: it wasn’t easy to preach on this topic. We were brought face to face with a reality we don’t like to think about, let alone talk about. However, the topic of suffering is clearly there. It is all over the Word.
And it is all over the Gospel of Mark. Yesterday was our first exposure to it, but it won’t be our last… nor will it be the strongest dose we will get.
In this world, suffering is part of the way of this King and his kingdom. But those who face it, those who walk through it, will find Jesus walking with them. They will, as Paul explains “know… the fellowship of his sufferings.” And such fellowship is far sweeter than the life of ease and comfort offered by this world.
So, we talked about this reality yesterday- this reality of suffering. And as I began, I warned our folks that they were most likely going to want to tune me out (nobody really enjoys listening to a message on suffering, do they?).
By God’s grace, they didn’t. The Spirit moved among us and kindled our hearts yesterday with a greater love for Jesus and a greater devotion to his ways.
I’ll offer you a similar warning. This sermon is probably one you don’t want to hear. However, if you do choose to listen to it, I pray that the Spirit uses its truth to encourage your growth… your growth in this truly essential area.
Here is a link to the sermon audio: “The Arrival” part 2. If you live in the Bonney Lake area and don’t have a church home, I’d encourage you to join us on Sunday mornings as we walk with Jesus through the Gospel of Mark.