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I got this flyer today for a new church plant in Carbondale. Having just preached Sunday about how new churches help provide vigour, enthusiasm and “young blood” to established churches, which in turn provide wisdom, resources, funding, experience, etc. and how the two can have a symbiotic relationship which blesses each other and their community for the Kingdom, part of me was excited to see a new work happening “in our backyard.”
As a Carbondale pastor, who heard nothing in advance about this new work (launch day is Sunday), I have to confess I felt a little slighted, even as someone on my way out-of-town. A recent church planter who came to Carbondale made a point of reaching out to the other pastors in town while he was laying groundwork, and it went a long way to getting us “established” pastors on-board with, excited for and supportive of his new work (they are now using our old building as a worship space). I think I’m going to go look up churches in our target area and make some new pastor-friends…

 

Thomas Hooker on the pastoral task

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The scope of [the pastor’s] Office is to work upon the will and the affections, and by savoury, powerfull, and affectionate application of the truth delivered, to chafe it into the heart, to wooe and win the soul to the love and liking, the approbation and practice of the doctrine which is according to godliness… his labor is to lay open the loathsome nature of sin, and to let in the terrour of the Lord upon the conscience, that the careless and rebellious sinner may come to a parley of peace, and be content to take up the profession of the truth.

–Thomas Hooker (founder of the Connecticut Colony), A Survey of the Summe of Church Discipline, 1648.

Praise update:

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We had a wonderful weekend reconnecting with folks from the church we called “home” for seven years in St. Louis, Old Orchard Pres. It was great to get to see so many friends and worship with them for the first time in more than four and a half years!
We also received pledges from a couple of new financial supporters, putting us just $2,300 from the “half-way” mark!

On the quiet revival: alive and well in MA; pray for CT!

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“Park Street defies the myth that Boston and the rest of New England have shed their religious heritage for a secular society. It also defies the institutional hold that the Catholic church has on America’s most Catholic city. In fact, evangelical Christianity is thriving in Boston. During the past 30 years, church growth, fueled by evangelical university groups and immigrant communities, has dramatically outpaced population growth. At the same time, mainline denominations have dwindled and the abuse scandal in the Catholic church has forced the closing of dozens of parishes. Evangelical leaders expect this “quiet revival” not only to continue, but to blossom into another Great Awakening.” (see more here)
Pray for the same thing to happen a little ways to the south in Greater New Haven!
Yale was once the bastion of Christian teaching in New England after Harvard’s Unitarianism led it away from the faith. Pray for Yale and Connecticut colleges to experience the same revivals that Massachusetts colleges are experiencing!

 

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A quick praise: the only casualty of the motorcycle odyssey last Tuesday was that when I tried to turn my computer on when I got home nothing happened. I did research online, reset a bunch of things, pointed a fan at it for two days… nothing. Today I took it to the store, explained what was happening to the guy and he said, “let’s take a look at it” and pressed the power button… and it came on! Praise God!

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Today is my last Sunday preaching at our church in Carbondale; please pray for the service and the reception to follow that it would be a good time of worshiping together and celebrating what God has done during our time here.

Swimming and evangelism: 

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Watching Ellie’s and Hudson’s swim teacher work is fascinating. The first two levels are mostly just about getting comfortable in the water. Level three is actually about technique, but every action is broken down so far that kids who are scared don’t even realize they’re doing something they’d have been scarred by. Diving, for example, doesn’t start with standing I the diving board, but with sitting on the edge of the pool and launching with arms and head in the right position from there; then again while kneeling; eventually, a few days later, with standing; one day, from the diving board.
Evangelism in a post-Christian culture is similar. You don’t start with a propositional argument, or memorized presentation, but with small steps. Letting people get used to saying “hi,” then asking their names, then learning about them, then doing things with them, then having them over… in short, the slow steps of building a relationship; incarnating the gospel–as Christ did–in the lives of those who need it by our presence–which is, by our union with Christ, His incarnation into the lives of those He is using us to minister to.

Of motorcycles and downpours…

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I had the opportunity to meet with the MNA Committee of Missouri Presbytery today! But I got caught in an unexpected downpour while making my way home on the motorcycle. I holed up in a Denny’s for a while, now I’ve wrapped a plastic bag around me under my motorcycle jacket (brought the one that’s not waterproof unfortunately) and am heading home in the dark and the wet – pray for me! The headlight on the motorcycle isn’t that great, so I have to go really slowly at night to avoid overriding it.

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Talking with Missionary Moose at Highlands PCA’s (our home church when we were at Covenant College) VBS this week, where we’re the highlighted missionaries! Big thanks to Highlands and please pray for their VBS outreach – it’s an evening VBS that attracts a number of community kids from outside the church.