I have never visited your church, but I know a lot about your ministry and worship. Your congregation has a well-developed vision for ministry, and you make worship a priority. You plan your weekly services carefully and creatively. You place a priority on member participation in worship as well as in ministry, with balanced emphasis on youth and adults, men and women, singles and couples. The Word, music, prayers, and giving are well integrated in your services. Your congregation is also sensitive to visitors.
Articles in this issue:
Do we really want visitors to our "church to come back?
What a silly question. Of course we do. We spend a lot of time talking about how to attract new people and make them feel welcome. Our evangelism committees discuss that challenge every month.
Sunday November 1, was beginning to loom large on the horizon. I was scheduled to occupy a nearby pulpit. Reformation themes were already crossing my mind. I was bracing myself more than usual, for this promised to be a rather unusual weekend. Instead of Saturday leading up to Sunday, Sunday would likely draw heavily upon Saturday. For that Saturday was clearly marked: October 31. Every year on that date, loyal heirs of the reformers faithfully relive the sounds of Luther's hammer blows centuries ago in Wittenberg.
The psalmist encourages us, "O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things!" (Ps. 98:1). In recent years, more and more Christians have been taking this encouragement to heart. Their "new song" often takes the form of the praise choruses that are taking many congregations by storm.
The legend began on a Good Friday in Bermuda, sometime before the turn of the century. A Sunday school teacher was having a difficult time explaining Christ's ascension to his students, but he finally had an idea. He took his class to the beach, where he launched a large kite on which he had painted a likeness of Christ. When the kite reached its maximum height, he snipped the string, allowing the kite to ascend even further and become lost in the clouds.
My first impression of John Bell was that of a modern-day John the Baptist. From his piercing eyes down to his sandal-clad feet, he projected the intense charisma I've always associated with that desert prophet.
In every March issue, Reformed Worship offers resources and reflections to celebrate the ascension of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Those festival days are worth celebrating by offering joyful worship to the Lord. We also reflect on the implications of those feast days for doing the work of the Lord, to exercise the power given us by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Connections Between Worship and Evangelism
Go Now in Peace
June is often a month of partings. Children finish another school year, families leave on vacations, and many young couples get married, leaving their parents' homes to begin new homes. This little parting song of blessing would be appropriate in a number of these settings.