May 21

 

WorshipGod UK 2015 was held in Bath from Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th May 2015.  People from 15 different nations and over 135 different church came together to devote three days to the theology, practice, and joy of God-honoring worship.

Our 2015 conference focused on discovering what it means to build our meetings around the gospel. Every meeting tells a story, and the story we’re supposed to be telling is clear: the story of the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

Kevin DeYoung (author and pastor of University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan) spoke during the first session on Friday morning on Gathering Around God’s Word from Psalm 119.

 

Listen now:

 

You can download the audio of this session here.

 

 

To help you cherish God’s Word, we recommend Kevin’s book:

 

godword

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Nathan Smith.

 

 

May 21

WGUK15_MikeReeves

 

WorshipGod UK 2015 was held in Bath from Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th May 2015.  People from 15 different nations and over 135 different church came together to devote three days to the theology, practice, and joy of God-honoring worship.

Our 2015 conference focused on discovering what it means to build our meetings around the gospel. Every meeting tells a story, and the story we’re supposed to be telling is clear: the story of the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

Mike Reeves (Director of Union) spoke the first night on Gathering to Behold from 2 Corinthians 3:1-4:6.

Listen now:

 

You can download the audio of this session from here.

 

 

To help you behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, we recommend Mike’s books:

 

goodgod_reevesv1christlife_reeves

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Andy Maybury.

 

 

Nov 08

 

The first WorshipGod UK conference will take place the 5th-8th of March 2014 at the Bath Forum in Bath. WorshipGod conferences have been going on in the United States for a few years now and are led by Bob Kauflin, Director of Sovereign Grace Music.

WorshipGod UK is designed to encourage and equip pastors, worship leaders, musicians, vocalists, songwriters, tech personnel, those involved in planning or leading congregational worship, and anyone who wants to grow in their understanding and practice of biblical worship.

Check out the website for full details of schedule, speakers, seminars and how to register!

 

Nov 01

[These “7 Shared Values” articles were originally written for and posted at the Sovereign Grace Plant & Build Blog. This third article is written by Benny Phillips.]

 

The Spiritual Gifts in 1 Corinthians

Paul paints a picture for us in 1 Corinthians 12–14 of what continuationist pneumatology might look like in the New Testament church. The passage is not primarily designed to explain individual gifts of the Spirit, but rather to place their usage in the context of the larger picture of local church worship. Continuationist pneumatology is about more than our corporate worship; it carries implications for how we live life with others, and that includes our times together as a local church.

Today’s church culture tends to highlight the theatrical. The music, drama and preaching all seem to be directed at an audience. The goal seems to be a good experience, including moving, engaging entertainment.

As someone recently said to me after visiting a church, “I felt more like I was at a good Christian concert than a time of worship.” I don’t know how conscious church leaders are of this, but the reality of it is undeniable. Today’s churches are competing for the affections and attention of a culture characterized by fast-moving images and slick technology. It’s not that God’s active presence can’t intersect with “cool”—but what Paul is encouraging is something mysterious and clearly supernatural.

 

Engagement with God

When contemplating the importance of maintaining our “charismatic distinctives,” it’s tempting to focus on what makes us unique as a network of churches. We all know that engaging with God is not unique to Sovereign Grace churches. In reformed circles, recognizing that utilization of all the spiritual gifts in the church today is not a secondary issue, but gets at the very mission of the church and how we live out our calling, may be. How we engage the world, deal with the enemy, minister in a broken world, and effectively engage God in worship needs an infusion of the utterly awesome activity of God.

At the heart of Spirit-filled worship is the desire to cultivate corporate interaction with God “for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:4). Paul states that the diversity of spiritual gifts are given by God “who empowers them all in everyone.” Whether these expressions of God’s activity are utilized in the corporate worship, in the dynamic of biblical fellowship in our small groups, or in sharing the gospel in the marketplace, they are designed to bring healthy engagement with God. Spiritual gifts are not God bestowing to his people something external to himself. They are God himself in us working his sovereign and gracious purposes through us. Sam Storms calls the charismatic gifts of the Spirit “God going public.”

 

Experiencing and welcoming the presence of the Spirit

Most of us have experienced it at one time or another. A prophetic word discreetly whispers to shamed secrets a woman has never disclosed, and as tears falls she’s reminded that a holy God knows, accepts and loves her. A message in tongues peeks the interest of a man who has never heard this before, and the interpretation draws his heart to a powerful God who has everything under control (including his wife’s cancer). An impression that someone is battling guilt over unconfessed sin results in a teen confessing her sexual compromise to her parents. An exhausted and discouraged former youth leader shuffles into a meeting and receives personal ministry that addresses struggles the person praying for him could never have known without the Spirit’s prompting. These stirring stories are real life examples I have been privileged to witness in our new church plant by the moving of the Holy Spirit who knows, sees, and loves all.

The Holy Spirit moves in our churches and changes lives primarily through His powerfully efficacious word. Yet as reformed “charismatics,” we have both the awesome privilege and responsibility to robustly welcome rather than politely endure the mysterious yet life-changing and active presence of the Spirit of God in our churches.

 


Benny and Sheree Phillips

Benny Phillips and his wife, Sheree, grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. After leading a youth ministry called Saturday Night Alive, Benny founded Fairfax Covenant Church. After serving there for 20 years, the Phillips family moved to Orlando in 2000 where Benny served on the pastoral team at Metro Life Church in Casselberry. In late 2011, Benny and a team of people from Metro Life started Redeemer Church of Lake Nona. Benny and Sheree have been married for 39 years and have seven children and eleven grandchildren.

 

Oct 25

[These “7 Shared Values” articles were originally written for and posted at the Sovereign Grace Plant & Build Blog. This second article is written by my friend Ricky Alcantar.]

 

As I step into our church pulpit, sometimes one particular memory comes back to me: I remember being a kid, having a cold, and being unable to go to kids ministry. So I would sit with my parents out in that same auditorium. On the back row in the midst of sniffles and tissues, I heard our pastors preach. And I remember two things pretty clearly about the messages I heard: I remember that the pastors would yell a lot, and I remember that they would yell about Jesus.

Decades later, I’m proud that those two things haven’t changed about our pulpit—we still yell a lot, and we still yell about Jesus. Our family of churches has made gospel-centered doctrine and preaching one of our seven shared values. Let’s break down what that means and why it matters to my church and yours.

 

Gospel-centered—who we preach

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:3 what is of “first importance”: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Our gospel is good news because it is the news about Jesus and what he’s done for us. Jesus is the core message we treasure and proclaim. Being gospel-centered isn’t just about what we’re centered on, but who we’re centered on.

This has huge implications for our local church and our message to the city around us. In a relatively religious city like mine, it’s far too easy for our “gospel” to the world around us to become, “become a good person like us.” But the center of our faith doesn’t rest in what do but in what Jesus has done. We don’t preach simple moralism or vague spiritualism; we preach Jesus. We don’t preach ourselves; we preach Jesus.

 

Gospel-centered doctrine—what and how we preach

After his resurrection, Jesus meets two disciples on the road, and Scripture says that “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). The good news about Jesus shapes everything in Scripture and has implications for every doctrine in Scripture. The value of gospel-centered doctrine provides our theological framework with a center.

This affects our theology and ministry for our church. While God’s immutable nature is glorious, while eschatology builds our hope, while polity affects us on a day-to-day basis, none of those things are the center of our theology the way the gospel is. Then practically, this means that whether we are developing a theology for our benevolence ministry, considering an approach for kids ministry, or evaluating our approach to international ministry, the gospel gives us a place to be rooted and grounded.

 

Preaching—that we preach

In 2 Timothy 4:2 as Paul’s end is quickly approaching, he charges his protégé, Timothy: “preach the word.” I so appreciate that we value not just holding the gospel as of first importance but preaching the gospel as of first importance.

This shapes our calendar and our life as a church. We love and pursue many types of ministry––for women, for active duty military, for youth, for our city community––yet none of these take the place of our Sunday meeting, and our Sunday meeting is centered on the preaching of God’s Word. When we gather, we hear preaching. Then we leave to preach Jesus to others as witnesses of the good news about Jesus (Acts 1:8).

All this is why I’m so grateful that my church and our whole family of churches has put a stake in the ground here. While the cultural winds may blow here or there, while our churches may grow and change, we are binding ourselves to this value of gospel-centered doctrine and preaching. As long as we plant and build, may there be pastors in pulpits yelling loud and long the glorious good news of Jesus.

Now excuse me, I need to get back to working on my sermon.

 

———————————————————————————————————————————————————
Ricky serves as the lead pastor at Cross of Grace Church in El Paso, Texas. He grew up in El Paso and has a deep passion to see the gospel proclaimed in the city. His primary responsibilities include overseeing vision, preaching, and leadership of the pastoral team. Ricky graduated with Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from UTEP in 2008 and graduated from the Sovereign Grace Pastors College in 2010. He is happily married to Jenn, and they have one son. You can watch Ricky share his testimony here.

 

Oct 18

[These “7 Shared Values” articles were originally written for and posted at the Sovereign Grace Plant & Build Blog. This first article is written by Mark Alderton.]

 

God does everything to save sinners

One of our shared values in Sovereign Grace churches is what is called “reformed soteriology,” which is a name for how we understand the doctrine of our salvation. If I could state the doctrine simply, it would be this: God does everything from first to last to save sinners; we don’t save ourselves. We’re so dead in our sins that God even has to grant us the repentance and faith in Jesus we need to be saved. Yet this is what God does by his sovereign and merciful choice. Truly the whole process of being saved by grace through faith is the gift of God and not our own doing (Ephesians 2:8–9).

I find that this concept is a bit of an oddity if not an offense to many who visit our church. It has been the reason a good number have decided not to join. So why hold onto this understanding of God’s role in salvation as a core value? Couldn’t we grow more if we put this on the back page somewhere? Well, in good preacher fashion, let me share three points!

 

Humbling us and exalting God

First, we hold this doctrine dear because it humbles us and exalts God. We need the humility that comes from recognizing that the only thing we contribute to our salvation is our need for it. And we need to give God the credit he deserves for rescuing us out of our hopeless captivity and slavery to sin. This truth has power to create a church environment where we approach God with great joy and approach the lost and broken people around us with great sympathy. After all, our situation wasn’t so different from theirs.

 

Great assurance in a fallen world

Second, this is the basis for great assurance in a fallen world. Think about Jesus’ strong statements like Mark 13:13: “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Where is the confidence that we will endure to the end, in light of our often weak faith, and in light of our cultural environment that is increasingly hostile to Christianity? Will we make it, or will we flame out and lose it all? God’s answer is: you will make it, because I am holding onto you. “Those whom he predestined [to salvation]… he also glorified” (Romans 8:30)—no dropouts! This realization gives the church the strength and stability we need to press on with confidence.

 

Hopeful evangelism

Finally, it makes evangelism hopeful. No, we don’t believe that because God does everything to save people, that makes our evangelism unnecessary. To the contrary, we believe it will make evangelism effective! When we go out into our city with the gospel, we seem to be of little power, humanly speaking. How encouraging to know that when the elect hear their Savior call, they will respond! The seed that lands on the good soil will produce a harvest (Luke 8:8, 15). This is freeing, not burdensome, because God will accomplish what we are incapable of.

For those reasons and more, we love the “Sovereign” in “Sovereign Grace.” To God be the glory!

 

———————————————————————————————————————————————————
After working as a scientist for 15 years and serving in the local church leadership, Mark Alderton left his career to attend the Sovereign Grace Pastors College in 2002. After graduating, Mark served as a pastor at his home church, Sovereign Grace Church in Minneapolis for five years. In 2008, he moved with his family to Colorado to become the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Aurora. Mark and his wife, Mary, live in Aurora with their five children.