Visit to St. Andrew’s

This past weekend I had the privilege of flying down to Sanford, Florida to attend the wedding of my good friend and fellow blogger Dan and his new wife Karisa.  The two met at the NEXT conference in Orlando and then the Ligonier Ministries National Conference.  Karisa is a member of St. Andrew’s church in Sanford which is the home church of R.C. Sproul, who is undoubtedly one of the greatest theologians of our time, and Ligonier Ministries.  The wedding was lovely and was held at St. Andrews with Dr. Sproul presiding over the ceremony.  For me, this was the first time seeing Dr. Sproul in person and it was a great pleasure!  Over the years I have benefited greatly from Dr. Sproul’s ministry and teaching, whether it be hearing sermons online, listening to his podcast “Renewing Your Mind”, or reading the monthly magazine “Tabletalk” his contribution to Christianity and my personal walk has been immeasurable.  So it was undoubtedly a great privilege to sit under him at the wedding and at church the next morning.

St. Andrew’s is quite a large church, a modern version of an old cathedral.  The exterior is a beautiful white with stained-glass windows and huge wooden doors and beautiful architecture.  The interior is a huge sanctuary with beautiful vaulted ceilings and ornate columns.  In standard Presbyterian style the pulpit is raised in the middle of the “altar” area where Dr. Sproul expounds on God’s Word with authority.  With the combination of the architecture and the traditional worship style it’s really like a trip back in time to the Protestant Reformation when you attend the services there.

St. Andrew’s is a Presbyterian church that holds closely and dearly to the ideals and theology of the Reformation.  The congregation proudly affirms the five solas of the Reformation; Sola Scripture; Scripture alone, Sola Fide; faith alone, Sola Gratia grace alone, Solus Christus; in Christ alone, and Sola Deo Gloria; glory to God alone.  Dr. Sproul and the other ministers hold a profoundly high view of the holiness of God and promote a reverence and awe of God that has been largely forgotten in our day.  It was quite a joy to see a congregation that follows a traditional worship style, including corporate prayer and confession, singing of hymns, and of course the organ, be so spiritually alive!  In my past experiences with churches like this you can barely detect the Holy Spirit among the congregation because a vast majority of the congregation is spiritually dead and are not true followers of Jesus.  This congregation was alive!  They sung the hymns with fervor and joy, and the way Dr. Sproul preaches they hang on his every word.  Of course Dr. Sproul has a great amount of gravitas when he address the congregation.  His authority as a preacher is so much greater in person than when listened to on the computer!  He has a passion for Scripture and his greatest desire is to see his congregation grow in holiness by the preaching of God’s Word.

Overall, I was very encouraged by my visit to St. Andrew’s and left feeling joyful in the Lord and the work He is doing through the ministry of Dr. Sproul and Ligonier Ministries.  I can only hope that God would give me a chance to visit there again.

For more info on St. Andrew’s and Ligonier Ministries check out their website.

“Misguided Christian Outrage”

I just stumbled across this article while browsing the Resurgence website a minute ago and thought I’d pass it along to you readers.  I was specifically thinking of the attitude Christians take when dealing with political issues, such as gay marriage, school prayer, or whatever moral or ethical issues we generally get upset over.  This article by Russell Moore is short but thought-provoking.

http://theresurgence.com/2010/03/02/misguided-christian-outrage

I’m not a nerd…OK, yeah I am!

As a follow-up on my last post (which was almost a week ago now); the topic of the use of technology in the church is a very interesting and broad one.  I recently just finished reading Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll which was very educating and inspiring on the whole subject of ecclesiology.  But in specific, there were two chapters I was very interested in reading.  One was about multi-site churches and the other on how a church can utilize technology effectively.  A few of the main points from these chapters were:  1) that technology is a gift from God 2) technology can and should be used to accomplish and enhance the mission of the church 3) it is not a one-size-fits-all model that works for every church, different churches require different levels of use and different kinds of technology.

For example, Mark’s church is very large and has 11 different campus in the Pacific Northwest.  They use live video to broadcast his sermons from the main campus every Sunday which are viewed live at the other campuses or recorded to be played at a later service.  Obviously if your church is not multi-site you don’t need a video feed of your sermons.  But every church now has a need for sermon audio in the least.  The available technology used by the church should allow people (members and non-members) to freely consume the church’s resources such as sermon audio, sermon notes, and transcripts if necessary.  The church is called to be generous with its resources and should not charge for a sermon download to avoid being seen as greedy.  Since the main responsibility of the church on Sunday is the preaching of the Word it should be made available to everyone who needs it, whether members who missed because of serving in children’s ministry or illness, or newcomers who want to make an informed decision about visiting your church, or non-believers who simply want to hear God’s Word.

I could go on forever on this topic, but I will limit it to one more paragraph :0.  Another aspect of a church’s use of technology would be its online presence.  Does your church have a website?  Is it easy to find and use?  Is it visually pleasing?  Is the gospel and the church’s mission clearly presented?  Will you take advantage of social media such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, The City, etc….  The main objective of having an online presence for your church is to reach as many people for Jesus as possible and to give a new dimension to community for the members of the church.  Having an online presence, and a strong one at that, will help a church reach those people who might be out of their geographic area (future residents, troops overseas, missionaries, etc…).  The best way to approach the use of the Internet is to make it as much as possible an extension of the life of the church.  In the church we have the preaching of the Word, many and various ministries, counseling, leadership training, prayer requests, fellowship, and more.  All of these aspects of church life should be as present as possible in the church’s use of the Internet.

For example, Mark Driscoll’s church uses a program called The City to bring church life online.  A member at the church actually designed it and implemented it and has since sold it to the Christian publishing company Zondervan. The City functions as a Christian version of Facebook, where church members are able to communicate with each other, lead and coordinate ministries, submit prayer requests, buy and sell goods and services, and even search for jobs in a password-protected environment.  Many churches across the country have implemented The City at their own churches as well.

In summary, technology is a vast and limitless topic where something new is always on the horizon that can make our lives easier or better.  The church’s job is to take these things that God has given, which man has twisted and perverted, and redeem them for the use of God’s kingdom and the Church’s mission.  At the end of the day, our use of technology must be evaluated by the points from above, 1) Are we using technology in our church to glorify God or conform to the world? and 2) Are we using technology by God’s grace and the best of our ability to enhance the mission of our church to reach more people for Jesus?  When we do these things we will see a church that is more in love with Jesus and as a result, reaching the culture for Jesus, thus bringing glory to God.  In the church age we are constantly on a mission for the fame and renown of Jesus Christ and we accomplish that by loving Jesus and being faithful witnesses to the lost and being good stewards of the gifts which God has bestowed to us.