(The recent Nexus2015 Conference “A cross shaped ministry” thought through the implications the cross has on how we think about gospel work in our churches. These are some of my personal reflections.)
3. The cross sets the terms of gospel ministry
The cross was divine judgement for sin, and Jesus’ resurrection brings the Spiritual renewal and transformation from sin. This lead to one of the most practical comments on the day… we must beware a common shift in our churches where “sin” only refers to “personal brokenness”, where “growth” only refers to “self-improvement” and where “sacrifice” only refers to “the personal circumstances I’m in at the moment”.
No. Sin is the rebellion against God, the defiant disobedience of His commands in heart and actions. Growth is the miraculous spiritual transforming power that allows Christians to say no to sin and obey God in the midst of pain. Sacrifice is giving up things for a better heavenly reality – it hurts and we need to stop fooling ourselves that we’re doing it.
4. The cross shows us the the pattern of gospel ministry
Since we follow a master who was beaten, ridiculed, persecuted… we should expect the same things, and we should call others to follow.
This is similar to the 1st point about our personal motivations, but it must go further. When we call on others to follow and serve in our churches, we must be wary we are not suggesting they do it for their own glory, or in their own strength, or for us – the under-shepherd! Rather the “recruiting conversation” should be a call to serve their master and his plans.
Next post… “Nexus2015 – What was missing…”
On Monday I had the pleasure of getting able to attend the Nexus conference. Some reflections…
- Pete Orr did a careful and considered job of showing that “the work of the Lord” that is “not in vain” in 1Cor 15 is not just general Christian living… rather Paul’s thinking of the work of evangelism and maturing Christians. This helps set up the perspective that gospel work is a special work that all Christians are called to.
- Archie argued that the shape/DNA/essence of reformed evangelicalism is that we’re on about conversionism. The next generation won’t just turn up… they need to be converted with the gospel. And they need to be converted into people who are on about converting others with the gospel.
It was the type of talk that I hope people will think back to in 20 years time and say, “that helped me realise what we’re on about”.
More to come tomorrow.
Every Christian in that room is a “convert”.
They may not be your convert (but who cares). They may have converted years ago (but again.. so what?!). They may have converted as a child in a family that never knew a day when they weren’t a convert (praise Jesus!). But they are all converts. Every soul in that room is someone who God, my the majesty of his Holy Spirit has chosen before the beginning of time to drag into his love in Christ.
We need to keep preaching the gospel to ourselves and remember this, so that we don’t loose heart. So that we don’t fall into the trap of thinking that God saves this nice bunch of people because they turn up every few weeks or so.
Rather, we need to remind ourselves, and our congregations, “If God saved me, the wretch I am, he can save others.”
Sometimes sermons don’t hit the spot, they don’t resonate, they don’t touch a nerve, they don’t point to our sin and Jesus’ grace, etc…
So make sure the gospel is in your meetings.
Use the gospel to explain why you meet. Use the gospel to explain why you pray. Use the gospel to shape your songs, and the welcome, and the farewell, and the interviews. Just a sentence here and a mention there. Wrap Jesus into and through everything.
And one step further; shape the whole meeting on the gospel. Start with the good God who we’ve rebelled against, hear his word — that he initiated for our sake — respond to his word in prayer and songs. Encourage each other to live in line with the gracious calling we’ve received.
And not just Sunday meetings; youth group, Growth Groups, special events, 121s, etc…