For the past several years, Cedric Moss, senior pastor of Kingdom Life Church in Nassau, Bahamas, has been leading worship and preaching almost every Sunday. Cedric has only missed two Sundays in at least four years, but he wanted someone to help lead worship and partner with him in ministry. Crossway Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania heard about Cedric’s need for a worship leader and sent Keith Bunting to the Sovereign Grace Pastors College this past year with the goal of having Keith go to serve in the Bahamas. Now Keith is serving as the assistant pastor of worship at Kingdom Life Church.
Keith and Kristin, with their daughters, have been on the ground in Nassau, serving Cedric and the fine people of Kingdom Life Church for the past few months. Along with worship, Keith is also assisting Cedric in many pastoral duties as they seek to make the gospel known in this beautiful place. It is a beautiful place, but not one without people who desperately need to hear the good news about Jesus Christ!
Today, we provide you with a brief video update that Keith, Kristin, and their three daughters recently filmed for Crossway Church.
Through Crossway Church’s support, as well as through giving to Sovereign Grace Ministries, Keith was able to attend the Pastors College and be hired full-time at Kingdom Life Church after he graduated. Thank you for your generous giving; your support makes it possible for pastors like Cedric and Keith to partner together in ministry.
August 30, 2012 by
Categories: Church planting | Interviews
September of next year, Lord willing, Jon Payne will plant a Sovereign Grace Church on the north side of Austin, TX. In part 1 of this interview, Jon shared his call to pastoral ministry, his church planting history, and his plans for relational outreach in Austin. Today, Jon shares more about the city of Austin, the benefits he has experienced in partnering with Sovereign Grace Ministries, and how we can pray for this church.
Why Austin? What draws you to plant a church in that city?
Of course for anyone from Texas, the question might be “why not Austin…or anywhere in Texas for that matter!?” But I’m not from Texas so I’ll answer it for others like me. Austin is centrally located in the state and in the “Texas Triangle” which is the center of Texas population. My hope is that this location will be ideal for partnership with other Sovereign Grace churches in the region and for future church plants in the surrounding area. Austin has also experienced incredible growth over the last ten years and some projections predict Austin will gain another million people over the next fifteen years. I hope that as people move to the city we can join the other churches in the city as a witness to the gospel.
Austin also has an incredibly diverse culture—government (State Capitol), education (University of Texas), arts (South by Southwest, Austin City Limits), business (“Silicon Hills”)—and I am excited to plant a church that can draw a diverse culture into unity around the gospel.
As a church planter, what do you find helpful about partnering with Sovereign Grace Ministries?
Too many ways to enumerate…but I’ll list a few:
- Discernment and experience in church planting and leadership. To have access to experienced pastors and church planters around the country is invaluable and has already granted stability and guidance for our plant.
- Encouragement and friendship. Facing the planting challenges that lie ahead will be much easier because of our friendships with leaders throughout Sovereign Grace Ministries.
- Administrative and financial support. Simply put, our church is starting because Sovereign Grace Ministries is supporting us. I am so grateful for their investment.
- Partnership outlet for future mission. Even a church plant needs to remember that it does not ultimately exist for itself. I am so grateful to be directing our team from the beginning toward our call to partner with others churches in gospel advancement outside of our immediate locale.
- Gospel focus. Sovereign Grace Ministries is relentlessly committed to gospel centrality. In Sovereign Grace conferences, worship songs, and teaching resources, our church plant will be perpetually reminded of our cornerstone—the person and work of Jesus Christ.
What are your present needs? How can we pray for your church plant?
Thanks for asking!
- Please pray for the church plant team and for those praying about joining us. Pray for wisdom and clarity as decisions are made and for the provision of jobs and practical needs as people prepare to move.
- Please pray for the people in the communities north of Austin (currently we are planning on meeting in the north Austin town of Round Rock) that God will prepare them for our arrival and begin to move on people’s hearts to hear the gospel and join our community.
- Please pray for our faith—that we will trust in the promises of God that his word and his gospel will go forth and bear fruit.
- Please pray that we pray—that we live in dependence on the Lord and do not lean on our own understanding or abilities.
How can interested people find out more about the new church?
I’d love to hear from anyone! Feel free to contact our church in Gilbert, Arizona, and I’ll get back to you.
We will also be posting updates on our church blog and on my personal blog.
Jon has been on staff at Sovereign Grace Church of Gilbert, Arizona since 2005 and leads the Youth Ministry called G2. As well, he counsels and serves small group leaders. Jon graduated the Sovereign Grace Pastors College in 2005. He currently lives in Gilbert with his wife Lory and their 3 children.
August 29, 2012 by
Categories: Articles | Pastors College
It was a simple conversation in the afternoon during a lunch break. I had called my wife to see how her day was going. I could tell she was a little flabbergasted as my three young children were screaming in the background. I miraculously found myself listening and asking questions.
Rewind one year.
Same conversation. Same people. Different outcome. I got upset because my wife wasn’t listening. I hung up. I didn’t call back to apologize. Why would I do such a thing? I was annoyed that I wasn’t getting the attention I deserved. My desire for pleasant conversation was ruined by screaming and distraction. My children were a nuisance to my three-minute agenda.
The latter conversation took place during what I have called our “Remedial Year” of marriage. I was finishing up some work at Southern Seminary when we moved from Louisville, KY to Gaithersburg, MD so that I could attend Sovereign Grace’s Pastors College 2011-2012.
Sure, I was going to be taking classes on systematic theology, hermeneutics, preaching, counseling, etc. But I told my wife that we needed to focus on our marriage–a focus she had been gently and patiently waiting for me to admit. This emphasis on marriage and parenting and life application at the Pastors College is what won my heart. Since being a Christian, my only mentors had been dead ones or only accessible by ink in a book. I readily welcomed people into our lives to ask questions and counsel us in how we could communicate better and worship Christ in the midst of arguments. Yet, people were too busy. I get that. I don’t blame anyone for my proclivity toward laziness or deferment.
I remember sitting on the couch in Gary and Betsy Ricucci’s living room and saying, “We feel like we are home.” There was a sensitivity and desire to help us in our marriage that we had not experienced before. There was flavor of grace where before we had tasted blandness. The reminders to care for our wives, while at the Pastors College, was not rote. . . rather, it was a lifestyle that permeated the thoughts for Mr. Ricucci. His love for Betsy helped me see that my wife was more than merely a helper, but she was God’s gift in my sanctification and ministry.
This tendency to prefer my wife was experienced the first time I spoke to Mark Prater on the phone, as I sought to move toward partnership with Sovereign Grace Ministries.
I remember our first phone call when Mark asked me how Ashley was thinking through a move to Gaithersburg. You see, I had interviewed with a few churches before this imminent move and my wife’s feelings and thoughts were not asked or considered. It was merely assumed that she would be alright with it. From the start I began to sense a different emphasis in how the pastor and his family are viewed. His wife and his family make the man. They are not mere accessories to his ministry, but they inform and influence and imply his ministry outside the home.
What had subtly happened in my pursuit of ministry is the presumption that the world revolved around me–my desires, my ministry dreams, my papers, my sermons, my relationships. Because I was blessed with an amazingly patient and forbearing wife who stood beside me, I began to feel entitled to her service. I had not given too much consideration to how moves and vocational decisions would shape her life. Philippians 2 was applicable to other relationships, and even in the day-to-day grind of conflict with Ashley, but as a way of perpetually thinking, it was seemingly inoperable in my marriage. Sure, Ashley would say that I am too hard on myself or over-stating the case, but I know that thinking what was best for her was not preeminent in my thinking.
BUT God had mercy on me. God gently led me to a place where people cared that I was cross to my wife on the way out the door...and they weren’t afraid to ask and enter into that uncomfortable conversation I just had on the phone.
As a result, instead of hanging up this time, I waited...And then asked if I could pray for my wife as she had to train and teach and admonish our sweet and sour children. A year ago, I had cut off the opportunity for grace. Through the genuine care experienced at the Sovereign Grace Pastors College, I learned to wait on the phone...and to wait on God.
Matthew is a Church Planting Resident at Crossway Community Church in Charlotte, NC (2012-2013). He attended The Bethlehem Institute in Minneapolis and received his MDiv at Southern Seminary in Louisville and is waiting to defend his dissertation (PhD) at Southern Seminary on the self-witness of Scripture. He plans to plant a church in the southeast United States that evangelizes, disciples, trains, and plants other churches. He is married to Ashley and has three daughters. You can read more from Matthew at his blog, Off the Wire.
August 28, 2012 by
Categories: Church planting | Interviews
On Sunday, June 24th, Sovereign Grace Church of Gilbert, Arizona formally announced their intent to send Jon Payne to plant a church in Austin, Texas. This decision was the culmination of years of prayer and conversation among their pastoral team. Today, we interview Jon about this plant so we can support him, his family, and his church planting team in prayer.
First of all, when and where will your church begin?
Lord willing, our first public meeting will be September 8, 2013. We are not sure of a meeting facility yet, but we hope to find one in the north Austin town of Round Rock or somewhere in that vicinity. My family will be moving to Austin in May and we hope to be joined over the summer by the church plant team members.
How long have you been in ministry?
I served as a worship ministry intern at Covenant Life Church for one year in 2003, attended the Sovereign Grace Pastors College in 2004, and have served as a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Gilbert, Arizona for the last seven years.
How did you first become interested in being a pastor in Sovereign Grace?
I’ve had the privilege of being in Sovereign Grace Churches for the last twenty-two years, since I was nine years old. Growing up in this family of churches has granted me countless blessings. I’ve enjoyed gospel centered preaching, exuberant worship, humble leadership, passionate community life, and exhilarating extra-local partnership. I am so grateful for the pastors that have cared for me over the years and now for those in my own pastoral team. These men have shown me what wise, gentle, theological, courageous leadership looks like—and from a very early age I wanted to follow in their footsteps.
Where have you pastored before deciding to plant a church?
I love Sovereign Grace Church of Gilbert! I remember when my wife and I first pulled into town with our moving truck and the early process of getting to know the church, experiencing their kindness, welcome, and trust of a new, young pastor on staff. Over the last seven years, my gratefulness has grown as we have experienced so much of God’s grace together. The great pain of church planting is leaving my dear church family in Arizona.
How did you become interested in church planting?
For as long as I can remember, I have been exciting about seeing the gospel spread and people reached with the good news. I have loved celebrating Sovereign Grace church plants and seeking to support them. Over the years, my burden to lead a church and take on the primary role of preaching and leadership increased and was confirmed when our pastoral team agreed that this was God’s call on my life.
Where is your church planting team coming from?
We are still early in the planting process, so we don’t know yet where all the team will be from. We are certainly hoping that a number of people from our church in Gilbert will be moving with us—to this point, many people have expressed faith to pray about joining the team and some have expressed their decision to go. Due to the long distance nature of the plant for anyone from Arizona, we are also hoping others from the Sovereign Grace churches in Texas will join us, as well as others from Sovereign Grace churches around the country who are excited about a church plant in Austin.
What are your plans for outreach when the church begins?
We certainly plan to have outreach events scheduled early in our process that the whole church will participate in. However, our main vision for outreach will be personal relationships. We are wanting our church plant team to each take on the responsibility of building relationships with neighbors, co-workers, classmates, and anyone that is around us. We want each of our church members to experience God’s strength to share the gospel and invite others into our community. May the Lord help us!
Check back on Thursday for part 2.
Jon has been on staff at Sovereign Grace Church of Gilbert, Arizona since 2005 and leads the Youth Ministry called G2. As well, he counsels and serves small group leaders. Jon graduated the Sovereign Grace Pastors College in 2005. He currently lives in Gilbert with his wife Lory and their 3 children.
A year ago, I wouldn't have been able to imagine all that God had in store for our little church plant. We were just trying to get our bearings from our recent move leaving friends and church family in Charlotte, NC to moving to the “Lowcountry” (the eastern part of South Carolina that is flat, swampy, and to me…beautiful.)
In the Spring/Summer of 2011 my family (along with 9 other adults) moved to Summerville, SC to plant Sovereign Grace Church of the Lowcountry. During that first Summer, I was going through training with many “missional” church planters and we talked about really “owning” the “lostness” in our area. I wondered what that looked like. What does that mean for my church plant and what does that look like for me, personally? Jim Hawkins (our other pastor) and I began praying about how we would reach out to the community with the love of Jesus Christ.
In July 2011, I approached Sangaree Middle School’s administration about coming alongside them. We wanted to be in the community and we had heard from many books and other church planters that if you know the schools, you know the community. We were welcomed warmly and we began slowly partnering with Sangaree Middle. We helped the teachers set up their classrooms, we did Family Movie Nights with them, we watched the students during lunch at times so the teachers could have a break, and we simply sought to build relationships. The teachers began loving Sovereign Grace Church and many in our church loved serving in the school.
On Sunday, March 11, 2012 our partnership turned into a kinship. I received a text from one of the teachers at Sangaree Middle telling me that the Security Officer at the school had committed suicide the previous evening. Later that day, I talked to Mrs. Day, the principal at Sangaree Middle and she asked me to come to the school on Monday morning as she was going to inform the staff what had happened. She told the teachers that I would be around the school that day if anyone needed to talk. I talked with many tearful faculty members, but I had one teacher who particularly sought me out. Her name is Cassy, a young single woman in her mid 30’s…and I will never forget my first interaction with her.
“I don’t know much about this Jesus thing,” said Cassy, as I entered her classroom. I had never met Cassy, but she had asked to speak with me. She said, “Can we talk?” I said “Sure.” For the next 45 to 50 minutes Cassy asked me question after question about God, Christianity, and death. She cried a lot. I came to find out that Cassy had been an atheist, but had recently been thinking that there was a God, but she had more questions than answers. As she asked questions about the afterlife, I assumed she was asking because her friend had just committed suicide. I told her that if he had turned from his sin and trusted Jesus as his Savior, Jesus saved him and her friend had a hope for eternal life with Jesus. However, if he had not, I could not give her hope for where he was now. She then looked up at me and through her tears she said, “I have stage IV breast cancer.” I was speechless. Cassy was not just asking about eternal life because of the suicide. She was staring death in the face and trying to figure out where she was going. She has an incurable form of breast cancer. And as a women in her mid-30s her cancer has bluntly forced questions into her mind that many try to avoid.
The next day, I came back to check on Cassy and we had another good discussion and I was able to talk with her more about Jesus substitutionary death and resurrection. My wife, Kristin, invited Cassy to a ladies conference (hosted by local like-minded church) that upcoming weekend and Cassy was willing to go. Our ladies surrounded her with love and the speaker (Ann Voskamp) spoke to Cassy about Jesus. The Lord used this conference to open her eyes and heart to the truth of God’s hand in the midst of hardship.
Over the next few weeks, Cassy would send many emails to Kristin and me. And we would have lots of conversations. Many times she would ask a question and I would think that my Biblical response would push her away. I remember telling Kristin, “Okay, I’m going to point her to what Scripture says, but I don’t think she is going to like it.” I even felt the temptation to make things more palatable for Cassy, but by God’s kindness, I never sought to do that…and Cassy kept coming back with more questions and more intrigue.
Then came April 16, 2012. We invited Cassy over for dinner and enjoyed getting to know her better. She explained her various religious experiences and background, but continued her deep philosophical questions. It was funny watching my four daughters interact with Cassy and seek to ask her questions as well. Cassy would describe a type of meditation that she did and my girls would start asking, “what is that like?” or “Why did you do that?”
Later in the evening, when the children were in bed, I asked Cassy what was keeping her from trusting Jesus as her Savior. She said, “Control, I like being in control of my life.” About ten minutes later, in the middle of more conversing, Cassy announced, “I’m ready!” I said, “What, you’re ready… really?” Kristin’s jaw hit the floor and we made sure that Cassy did not feel any pressure from us to “make a decision.” Cassy said that she wanted Jesus as her Savior. So, she prayed…and I’ll never forget the first words of her prayer: “Jesus, thank you for hounding me.” She understood that Jesus had been pursuing her. We had often talked about how God is the “hound of heaven.”
A few months later, Cassy stood up in front of Sovereign Grace Church of the Lowcountry and shared her testimony. The next day, we baptized Cassy at the beach.
Disciples Making Disciples
Cassy e-mailed me last week telling me that her mom had read her testimony on her blog and wanted to know more about Jesus. Cassy is encouraging her to read the Bible and now Cassy, the former atheist, shares about her Savior, Jesus Christ!
The Story Continues
Our relationship with Sangaree Middle School has continued and our church actually began meeting in their facility on August 5, 2012. We were not anticipating using this school, but their administration warmly welcomed us and now we will continue to partner with them as we seek to be a blessing to the community and our church will seek to be a witness of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
As a guy who has never planted a church before, I’ve learned a host of lessons throughout my interactions with Sangaree Middle School and Cassy. First, I learned that the gospel goes forward through friendships. I’ve become good friends with many teachers and administrators at the school. They know that I (and our church) love them and I frequently get email prayer requests from them.
I also learned that it is God’s favor that paves the way for a church plant. Jim and I could not make any of this happen. In fact, we usually just watched doors open up and conversations start that we neither initiated nor anticipated. Jesus says that HE will build his church…and I’ve found that it is one thing to believe this and another to watch it unfold.
On a practical level, I learned that Middle Schools are a great place to reach the community. Many people enjoy serving in Elementary schools with those cute Kindergartners and funny 3rd graders. Many people also like serving in High Schools with their athletic programs and nice facilities. However, not many people like serving in Middle Schools. If you are like me, you didn’t even enjoy your middle school years. Pimples, voice cracking, social awkwardness, school dances…I’m getting nervous just thinking about it. I hated middle school…but this is precisely the reason these teachers and administrators (and parents) could use the support of a loving church who comes alongside them. A church who prays for them, cries with them, and when it is legally allowable…shares the Gospel with them.
Lastly, I learned that our doctrine of sin is linked to our evangelistic friendships. Because of the Fall, people are going to suffer, sin is going to happen, and people are going to need hope. They will go to their friends for counsel and comfort. Over the last year, I’ve learned to have true friends who are nonbelievers. They know I’m a pastor and they know I love Jesus, but they also know that I am there for them and that I am only a phone call (or text) away at any time.
I’d like to conclude by thanking Sovereign Grace Ministries and Crossway Community Church (Charlotte, NC). Our church plant does not exist without your financial and relational support. We are blessed to be a part of Sovereign Grace Ministries and thankful for your investment in us! I know that this story is one of many in Sovereign Grace and I hope it was encouragement about our amazing God who pursues sinners and can use schools, suicides, and cancer to bring about his unstoppable plan.
August 24, 2012 by
When we think of significant moves of God in history, one that immediately comes to mind is the Great Awakening. The Great Awakening was a remarkable and sustained outpouring of the Holy Spirit that swept through colonial America in waves during the middle of the 18th Century. It was a period of powerful evangelistic preaching, repentance from religious formalism, conversion and passion for holy living. The towering figures of the Great Awakening are George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards, and the most well known accounts of the period are Edward’s experiences in New England and his theological interpretation in writings culminating in his classic Religious Affections. But the Awakening had profound effect throughout of the Colonies and maybe nowhere was its effect more lasting than in the Middle Atlantic colonies of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
It was this aspect of the Great Awakening that brought together a group from three Sovereign Grace churches who spent a warm day in early August kicking around sites where the Awakening touched down. Churches represented include Covenant Fellowship Church of Glen Mills, PA, Grace Community Church of Souderton, PA and Trinity Fellowship Church of Toms River, NJ. Among the crew piling into a rented van were assorted pastors, interns, lay leaders, a church planting resident, a couple of guys headed to the next Pastors College class, a seminary student, an international Christian relief worker and an African pastor.
A great time was had by all. Research ahead of time had focused on the life and ministry of William Tennent Sr. and his sons. Tennent was a Presbyterian minister who had a vision to train potential pastors for Gospel ministry at a time when the only accepted schools for ministerial education had lost their Gospel moorings. So next to his house in Warminster, Pennsylvania he constructed a one room rough hewn building and sought out young men who had a passion for the Gospel and wanted to be equipped to preach it and build churches founded on it. It was the ministry of the men trained at this little ‘Log College’, (which Whitefield dubbed the ‘school of the prophets’) through whom the Great Awakening fires were stoked and tended in the Middle Colonies. All four of Tennent’s sons became Gospel ministers and two, Gilbert and William Jr, became key leaders in the Awakening throughout the colonies.
The tour was more of a wandering search, the group not quite sure what might turn up. It led to William Tennent’s church and the original site of the Log College. From there it was an hour drive to Freehold New Jersey and Old Tennent Church, where William Jr pastored for 47 years. This small building is still in use as a church and is likely the only place where the Tennents and George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards and David Brainerd all preached from the same pulpit. The tour ended at Old Princeton Cemetery, where Jonathan Edwards and several Log College graduates are buried.
The group was astounded at how well preserved these important historic sites are, even though they are virtually unknown to most Americans. But the most significant impression left was how men from diverse religious traditions – Anglican, Presbyterian and congregational – could find such commonality and cooperation for the advance of the Gospel. The eternal fruit and the shaping of our national identity that has come from this colonial expression of Gospel centrality reminded us all of what we have been given and the privilege of promoting it in our mission together in Sovereign Grace Ministries.
Andy Farmer joined the Covenant Fellowship Church staff in 1993. He currently oversees the small groups and counseling ministry of the church. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from St. Andrews Presbyterian College and a Masters in Biblical counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary. Andy is the author of The Rich Single Life and the forthcoming Real Peace (Crossway, May 2013). He is never bored, endlessly distractable, and is always looking for new things to turn into hobbies. Andy and his wife Jill live in West Chester and have four children, two of whom are married, and a growing number of grandchildren.
August 23, 2012 by
Today, C.J. Mahaney will speak (4:00p.m. EST) at the Strengthening Your Marriage in Ministry conference hosted by The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The conference messages will explore practical aspects of strengthening marriages and families with special attention given to men and women preparing for gospel ministry.
This morning, Dennis Rainey, President and CEO of FamilyLife, spoke on "40 Years of a Grace-Filled Marraige." This was followed by an outstanding address by Russell D. Moore, Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at Southern Seminary, on "Moral Purity in Your Marriage."
Albert Mohler Jr., President of Southern Seminary, will speak at 1:00p.m. on "Leading Your Family Through Ministry Crisis." There will be a panel discussion at 2:45p.m. Finally, C.J. will conclude the day with an address on "Marriage and Pastoral Ministry."
Be sure to tune in for these messages via the live feed.
August 22, 2012 by
Categories: Board updates
The Chairman of the Polity Committee, Phil Sasser, wrote the following letter to update the Sovereign Grace pastors on the work of the Polity Committee. We pass this letter on for your information and continued support through prayer.
Since it has been a while since our last update, the Polity Committee thought that it would be good to let you all know how we are progressing in our work. The polity presentations in Louisville in July went very well. There were many excellent presentations made by our pastors on behalf of their elderships. As you would expect, the meetings were marked by good discussions on the topic at hand, godly demeanor in presentation, and mutual respect in discourse. We would like to again express our appreciation to all those who presented as well as all of those who wrote polity position papers for their hard work. It has been very helpful to the Committee to hear your thoughts.
After hearing the presentations, the Committee is now deliberating in earnest over the polity decisions before us. In addition to our own discussions, we are interviewing leaders from a range of traditions to benefit from their perspective, experience and wisdom. We thought it best to tackle the extra-local piece first, i.e. how Sovereign Grace Ministries should be defined and organized and how it should relate to the Sovereign Grace churches. The remaining two pieces, a book of church order and rules of discipline, logically follow the more fundamental decision of what exactly Sovereign Grace Ministries is in relationship to Sovereign Grace churches. We expect to be making those most difficult choices of polity in the coming weeks. Please continue to pray for us that we will be led by the Holy Spirit as we seek to base our polity upon the clear teaching of Scripture and to use prudential wisdom in those areas that are not as clear or where there is greater freedom.
It should be noted that there was a wide variety of polity positions that were defended before the Committee during our meetings in Louisville last month. Given the mutually exclusive nature of the polity options before us, it is clearly not possible to develop a polity that will accommodate every view. Choices will have to be made. We are aware, as I am sure you are, that polity could potentially be a source of separation between some, if only a few, of our churches. Although this is not our desire, it is a possible outcome. But polity has historically been a basis of acceptable separation between solidly orthodox Christian churches. And if we separate for these doctrinal reasons, may God grant us the grace to do so in a God-glorifying way. Remember that Sovereign Grace churches have enjoyed a wonderful history of connectivity that will never be erased; even if we no longer share the same governance, we will still have much more in common with each other than we do with any other churches or denominations with which we presently enjoy fellowship. In the coming months, every church in Sovereign Grace will have to make a decision about its polity and about how it will relate to other churches. It seems wise then for each eldership to think through how best to prepare its local church for this inevitability. The Polity Committee is working hard to not drag the process out too long but at the same time to carefully consider the options and the implications of each option. The Committee has not yet decided whether to adopt an apostolic, presbyterian, or independent polity. And there are several variations of each of these basic polity structures that are under consideration. As noted above, we have also been consulting with other leaders outside of Sovereign Grace in the last couple of weeks, and we will continue to do so.
The timeline has shifted, but only slightly. The Committee had hoped to make its polity recommendation to the Sovereign Grace Board of Directors at their fall meeting in September. Due to the schedules of several Board members and Leadership Team members, that date has now been pushed back to October 9-11, 2012. The Committee will make its polity presentation then. If the Board approves the polity recommendation, it will be sent to all the pastors in Sovereign Grace for their consideration. It is our hope to have a period of active discourse with Sovereign Grace pastors in order to solicit their feedback, bring greater refinement, and make appropriate changes before a final polity adoption plan is executed. Also, the Committee has not yet made a recommendation to the Board on the final adoption plan, since such a plan depends somewhat upon the actual polity that we recommend. Thank you for your patience on this most important aspect.
We are grateful for the many who have been praying for this process, as well as those who have worked hard to provide wise biblical input. We are trusting God to lead us into a future polity that will honor Scripture, serve the health of our churches, and best promote our gospel mission together.
Phil Sasser on behalf of the Polity Committee
Once again, thank you for your continued prayers for the Polity Committee, the Sovereign Grace Board, and our family of churches. We are most grateful!
August 21, 2012 by
The Sovereign Grace senior pastors from the northeast region of the U.S. are gathering for mutual encouragement, prayer, and instruction from God’s Word in Annapolis, Maryland over the next few days. This morning Warren Boettcher delivered a inspiring message from Nehemiah 4 reminding these pastors that, “God’s greatness empowers our faithfulness in times of adversity…Trusting the Lord doesn’t lead to passivity in adversity; it leads to continuing to press on in the midst of it.”
Mark Prater, who is leading this gathering, has asked us to pray for the following categories:
- Please pray for the Spirit to work in a way where these men are encouraged, strengthened, and edified for future ministry.
- Pray that God would deepen the friendships among these men so that their partnership in the gospel would be even stronger for years to come.
Thank you for your support through prayer. We are most grateful for your partnership!
August 20, 2012 by
Martyn Lloyd-Jones once had a man come to him asking why he refers to Good Friday as “good.” Lloyd-Jones asked him what the day should be called. The man paused and said “You should call it Bad Friday. It was the day on which that terrible thing happened.” He simply could not understand why anyone would call that awful day good.
Lloyd-Jones later said he believed this man failed to understand the true meaning of the cross. In fact, Lloyd-Jones was convinced that we cannot glory in the cross of Christ as we ought until we come to see that Friday as “good.” Until we see that day when our Lord bled and died for us as the greatest day in the history of the world.
In his death, Jesus is revealed not only as the silent Man of Sorrows, but also as the majestic Prince of Glory. Therefore, we must learn not only how to mourn at the foot of the cross, but also how to rejoice there. We know of no place where the humility of Christ is more clearly revealed, but we also know of no place where the glory of Christ is more readily evident.
Hugh Martin, in his book The Atonement, speaks of the danger of leaving the glory of Christ’s triumph “deep buried in the shame of Calvary, and in the grave of Golgotha.” This is my concern as well. If we fail to see the death of Jesus as glorious, “[There] is not any glory in the resurrection that can in that case reflect back upon the Cross, and light it up with a glory not originally and intrinsically there.” In other words, Martin writes, “The Cross itself is glorious; not from the subsequent resurrection and enthronement, but glorious from itself. It is itself a chariot of triumph.”
I believe Christians today, especially those of us battling weariness and discouragement, would do well to spend more time reflecting on the glory of the cross. The death of Christ is a chariot of triumph, and viewing the cross from this vantage point is a source of great comfort and help to our souls.
What do you do when the devil tempts you to despair by reminding you of the record of debt that stood against you? You turn and see the One who disarmed the devil and his minions and triumphed over them in his death (Col. 2:15). In your moments of weakness, what is your strength? You discover Christ crucified to be the power of God (1 Cor. 1:24), and you abide in him (John 15). Where is your power when death seems imminent and you experience fear in your heart? You look to a crucified Jesus, who died to destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb. 2:14-15), and rose from the dead so that we might possess the hope of glory.
Looking upon a crucified Savior will not make us miserable if we realize what Christ was doing as he was suffering at Golgatha. Rather than misery, we are those who boast in his death. We are those who know that the cross of Christ is a chariot of triumph. We are those who dare to call that Friday “good.”
Jared Mellinger joined the Pastoral Team of Covenant Fellowship Church in 2006, upon graduating from the Sovereign Grace Pastors College. He assumed the role of senior pastor on October 12, 2008. Jared graduated from Kutztown University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education. He enjoys reading, rollerblading, poetry, drinking coffee, building fires, and listening to Josh Garrells. Jared resides in Glen Mills, PA with his wife Meghan and their five children.