The Ministry of Presence

Sunday’s coming! Many of the people reading these words already know they’ll be going to church on Sunday—it’s their habit, it’s their pattern, it’s their joy, and nothing short of illness or natural disaster will hold them back. A few of the people reading these words already know they won’t be going to church this Sunday. There are some very valid reasons not to attend church on a given week, and we understand that God’s love for us does not …

What Not To Say at the Beginning of a Worship Service

A few weeks ago Jared Wilson wrote an article titled “3 Things to Be Careful About Saying at the Start of Your Service.” In his article he offered some common service-starting cliches that are “worth weighing in terms of their helpfulness to the congregation’s worship.” They were, “How’s everybody doing this morning?”; “I can’t hear you. I said, How’s everybody doing?”; and “Where is everybody?” I’ve heard all three of these many times and expect you have as well. And …

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A Pastoral Prayer

From time to time, probably every month or so, I like to share an example of a pastoral prayer that was prayed at Grace Fellowship Church. The pastoral prayer is a time for one of the pastors or elders to pray on behalf of the congregation and to intercede on their behalf. It’s a precious element of a service. This particular prayer was prayed by Dwight, one of our pastors. *** O, great God, your word is true when it …

The Care of Souls

Have you ever read an “if this is true…” book? An “if this is true…” book is one that challenges you so deeply that you realize that if what it’s saying is true, then you’ve got to make some major changes to your life. R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God is one of those books—many who read it suddenly realized they had never actually known God as he is, as the God who is three times holy. Nancy Pearcey’s Total …

On Preparing Your Hands for Church

Sometimes I almost prefer not to tell who I am quoting. Sometimes people see the name and either tune out altogether, or they respond so enthusiastically they fail to exercise due discernment. But in this case, this quote is so good and helpful that I wanted to share it with you. I will even tell you where it’s from, but read it first, and I will tell you at the end. I hope it provides you a suitable challenge as …

How We Worshipped One Sunday in August

From time to time I like to share one of our worship services from Grace Fellowship Church. In that vein, here is how we worshiped on one August Sunday morning. This week’s cast of characters included Paul as service leader and preacher, Josh as lead worshiper, Gideon as our Scripture reader, and Steve as the elder who prayed and read the sermon text. Welcome and Call to Worship (Paul) “I invite you to disconnect from your phone or other device …

An Interview with Keith Getty

I recently had the opportunity to ask Keith Getty a few questions about the church and hymnody and whatever else I wanted to talk about. I figured that’s an opportunity I ought to take. Here’s what I had to ask and what he had to say… What do you see as the “lay of the land” in Christian worship right now, perhaps especially as it pertains to congregational Christian worship? What positives or negatives have we seen in the past …

A Pastoral Prayer

From time to time I like to share an example of a Pastoral prayer that was prayed during a Sunday morning service at Grace Fellowship Church. This one comes from pastor Paul Martin. *** Lord, it is true. We faint for your salvation, and long for your help, because sin has messed up our lives. Our desires are out of line. We value what we shouldn’t. Our words are stained with anger, coarseness, stabbing at others. Some of us are only here to impress others, to get a …

Does Your Church Truly Care for True Widows?

An especially important ministry of the earliest church was the ministry of caring for widows. In fact, early in the book of Acts we see that the church’s first conflict was related to widows, when some were unjustly favored over others. The Apostles responded by appointing a body of men of good repute to oversee and ensure the equitable distribution of charity. And though that was undoubtedly the right course of action, it did not solve every problem or answer …

Love Is Not Heavy-Handed

Whatever else we learn about church life, we learn quickly that it will at times come with conflict. We are, after all, sinful people attempting to share community with other sinners. It’s inevitable that problems will arise, inevitable that there will be angry words, unfortunate misunderstandings, unintentional insults. While there will be many great blessings that come through the local church, there will also be real sorrows. Thankfully, God has not left us unequipped when it comes to dealing with …