Tuesday, 22 January 2008

What Does The Church Offer?

For the past two weeks I've been on holidays. The hardest thing about being a pastor on holidays is that you can't go to your own church. I love my church and don't just attend it because I'm the pastor. But holidays does present the opportunity to visit other churches. And this is what my family and I have been doing. It has enabled us to see where some of the church crowd are going.

I pastor a church that is affiliated with the Australian Assemblies of God which causes people to make certain assumptions about what our church must be like. The general assumption is that we are a church driven by emotionalism and preach an overly simplistic message akin to the Word-of-faith heresy. But when people actually visit our virtual church or our ministry site they assume that we are a "Word-heavy" church devoid of prayerfulness or care. But none of these assumptions are correct.

While the general direction of the Australian Assemblies of God in the past few years has been a syncretism of Word of Faith and Seeker-sensitive-services, we have not 'joined in'. Most Australian AOG churches are essentially Arminian. We are essentially Calvinistic. Nearly all Australian AOG churches are Futurist. We are Partial-Preterist. Our church was recently described by a visiting evangelical Arch-Deacon of the Anglican Church as "the most unusual AOG church in Australia!". We are not interested in going along with the crowd.

And where is the crowd going? It seems that prayer, preaching, congregational worship is either being replaced or subjugated for x-boxes, Wii game consoles, coffee and cake, and "40-Day" programs. But is this what Christ was dying to build?

What does the Church offer? If it's merely more entertainment options then it will hurtle toward total irrelevance- which would be ironic since this is what many in the church crowd are desperately trying to avoid!

I consider that the Church offers the Gospel. The Gospel is the message of God's love, grace, and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. It is presented through prayer, worship, devotion, community, service, but most importantly: preaching. It is offered 24/7/52/365.25 - but especially on Sundays ("the Lord's Day", 1Cor. 16:1; Rev. 1:10). And it is my prayer that as long as I am pastor (and even long after I have gone) that Legana Christian Church will be passionately committed to delivering the Gospel without succumbing to "the crowd". I pray that we can take the faith of the early Pentecostals along with their willingness to pray and seek God for the miraculous and galvanise it with the best historic Reformed scholarship and offer ourselves unreservedly to God. Let's pray.

Andrew Corbett
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