Two weeks ago we gathered together as one church to hear about God’s plans for our church for the year ahead and to enjoy a fantastic meal together.
The big focus following on from Revive (Co-Mission’s annual bible festival) is our Open Hand commitment to cross cultural mission. You can read more about that exciting vision from Richard’s talk here.
However, read on to remind yourself of what we heard from Richard or to catch up on what you missed.
What a wonderful opportunity these dinners provide each year to focus our minds on where God is leading us through his Word.
Some things always remain the same; our values are unchanging: loving God with all our heart soul mind and strength, loving each other with sacrificial kindness and compassion as we have been loved by God, and loving our neighbours in every way we can, especially with the good news of Jesus. These values will continue to shape our church culture every year.
And as we have emphasised for a few years now, reinforced by Paul’s first letter to Timothy which we’re currently studying in our daytime sermons, Dundonald belongs to God our Saviour who wants everyone to be saved; so
we cannot settle for being like a relaxing cruise ship for passengers dedicated to our own comfort;
nor like a splendid tall ship for traditionalists to enjoy a nostalgic taste of a bygone era;
nor like a speed boat competing with other churches to prove ours is the best;
nor a militant battleship for moralists to fire off angry broadsides at the evils of society;
but rather a LIFEBOAT for crew dedicated to rescuing everyone who is drowning in sin – and praise God, it’s happening!
Just last week I asked a Dad who’s been coming for a while, “Would you call yourself a Christian now?” “I would!” he said; “Are you praying yet?” “Yes – most days and with the children now!” I said later, “You know, your wife would love it if you prayed with her – it won’t matter tuppence if you get things mixed up but she’ll be so excited!” He said, “OK!” And she is!
Praise God, we’re a lifeboat and people are being rescued from hell for heaven forever constantly. Three small but important developments I’m praying for:
1. A Theology Of Joy In The Gospel
For myself and all our church family I long for an ever deepening joy in the God of the Bible; not just a manufactured emotional experience but the real experience of God that his Holy Spirit gives us in Christ through his Word; the writings of heavyweights like John Owen, Jonathan Edwards and John Piper teach us that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him, even amidst suffering, but I think we’ve lacked the language and categories within which to explore deep communion with God!
I read this fantastic book over the summer, “Union with Christ” by Rankin Wilborne, who directs us to a core Biblical concept celebrated by Puritan giants of the past, of being “in Christ by faith”: the Apostle John says, “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God” (1 Jn.4) so Rankin writes, “God in Christ reaches all the way down into the depths of the human experience and pulls us all the way up into his very life” We can rejoice in communion with God through our union with Christ.
More of this in coming sermons! Or pick up a copy of this great book; “Union with Christ” by Rankin Wilborne
2. A Commitment To Partnership In Mission
We rejoice in God’s miraculous answer to prayer in the appointment of Charlie Lamont, a fine Evangelical who’s been training with Co-Mission, as Vicar of St Andrews, our own parish church. We want to partner generously with them! Together with his wife Hannah and baby Ezra, they’re attending The 4; Charlie and his apprentices Dan and Harry are attending our ministry training, and we’re helping them financially.
In time we plan to encourage people to join them, so we can develop a double‑barrelled mission: a traditional Anglican Evangelical outreach from the parish church and a more independent ministry here!
Our sacrificial generosity also needs to keep extending to supporting Co‑Mission, our church-planting network; e.g. with our money, my time, and in hosting the Resources Team. I’m delighted to report that Matt Dalton from The 4 has been appointed as the new COO of Co‑Mission. The goal of Co‑Mission is, “by God’s grace to assist in evangelising London by planting and strengthening 360 diverse reformed evangelical churches for the salvation of many and the glory of God” – and while this will always be costly for our church, we delight to contribute to the extension of God’s kingdom across London
If you’d like to find out more about Co‑Mission’s ministry convictions do read Gospel DNA
3. A Desire For Excellent Media
We pray that God will continue to grow our church in number and maturity in Christ (so we’ll sing “Oh for thousand tongues again tonight”)
It’s become increasingly clear that we need to recruit someone to help with our communication processes and media production – so do pray that we’ll find the right person.
If you want to explore the ministry principles for growing a medium-sized church like ours, Ray Evans’ book, “Ready Steady Grow” is highly regarded.
All of this is to reinforce our strapline: we WITNESS to grow DISCIPLES: for the 7 themes of ministry across our church, WORSHIP, INSTRUCT, TRAIN, NETWORK, EVANGELISE, SERVE, SUPPORT (WITNESS) serve the goal of growing disciples from all nations for Christ: we WITNESS to grow DISCIPLES!
But our primary theme tonight is Open Hand: our commitment to cross-cultural mission, an initiative we launched at our summer Revive Bible festival across all the Co‑Mission churches.
The words from Revelation 7 read, “…a great multitude that no-one could count from every nation, people and language, standing before the throne…” – this is what God promised to Abraham in Genesis 12, what our risen Lord Jesus commanded in his great commission, the celebration that awaits us in heaven: a vast multicultural people praising and enjoying God together.
It’s the reason Christ died and it’s the reason God delays the end of the world. Indeed, it’s a marvellous privilege of living in London, the most multicultural city in the history of the world, to reach the nations right here. This is the direction of travel that our Saviour wants for every church; God prefers the messy diversity of Liquorice Allsorts to the shiny uniformity of Ferrero Rocher!
With the help of 5 Evangelical mission agencies we’re now committed to 5 themes of cross-cultural mission: so mission will not be the sore thumb we resent but the whole hand. Please read more detail about our commitment to cross-cultural mission here.
Most of us know, this year will be an incredibly exciting year as we prepare to leave this building to return to our roots on mission while this building is rebuilt. There are four dates here for your diaries:
A VISION PRAYER EVENT to clarify our mission
Wed 6 Mar 2019
THANKSGIVING PRAYER CELEBRATION to thank God for the Factory
Wed 3 APR 2019
WELCOME TO OUR INTERIM MISSION BASES while a wonderful new building is built
Sun 28 APR 2019
PRAYER & PRAISE LAUNCH when we hope to move back into a wonderful facility for gospel ministry in the next generation; more of this in the spring
Wed 4 NOV 2020
For all of this we will need to prepare for mission: for Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (and we’ve begun our training by studying “The Reluctant Evangelist”) But we want to focus at the beginning of this year on our Open Hand minimal commitment to cross-cultural mission, to ensure it doesn’t get lost in talking about buildings; so join me in a fresh commitment before God to WELCOME, HOST, PLANT, SEND and PRAY people of every kind here in Raynes Park