Tuesday, May 19, 2009

service changes

Our sweet worship services a couple weeks back when we experienced the Lord's Table and Baptism on the same Sunday when everything seemed a bit more relaxed and at ease . . .


processing our conversation with the executive staff of Covenant Life Church at the Gospel Coalition Conference a month back. . . .

have together spurred a lengthy conversation among our Ministry Staff and Elders about the structure of Sunday mornings here at Grace and has led to some exciting decisions (which will be featured in this week's all-church email, but which you Life Together readers are privy to a few days early). . . .

  1. Beginning June 14, when we are scheduled to fall back to 2 worship services for the summer, we will also change the worship start times to 9:00 and 10:45 AM. (This is the way it used to be 4 years ago!).

  2. We will also lengthen the worship services to from the current 70 to 85 minutes to allow for more "body life" within the worship services. Currently, we squeeze things like communion, child dedications and Mexico send-offs into the current time frame, which forces us to trim both music and the message. A slightly longer worship service will provide a vehicle for these important dimensions of our life together, as well as others that we are not currently including, such as . . .

congregational testimonies & praise
vision casting for things like Serve Day
God @ work at Grace
more regular baptisms
financial updates
missionary reports
extended fellowship
and even more . . .

Currently we feel rushed most of the time and time management is our biggest challenge. Our vision is to relax, enjoy and create space for these vital aspects of our life together. There is so much happening at Grace that is not adequately represented in our worship services. It happens elsewhere outside the worship services. As a result, our worship services can appear and feel more scripted and professionalized than we intend. Our time constraints are stifling our creativity. We want to bring some of this vibrant "body life" into our very worship. We don't want to put on a program, but to facilitate real worship.

Children's Ministry Director, Dori Iunker, will be working with our amazing Sunday School Teachers, to help them creatively fill that time to make it a "win" for both teachers and kids. This is an issue and we're aware of it.

We'll use the summer to give it a go, evaluate along the way, and then decide what the fall will look like. Our leadership is very excited about these changes. We hope you are too, We understand, as with any change, not everyone will like the new direction, but our heart and desire is to lead the Lord's people at Grace toward the Lord God and a Gospel-centered life together.

Love your feedback either here in the comment section or via email at tim@graceslo.org


Anonymous said...

After the sermon Sunday on picking and choosing parts of the Bible, I thought this article was interesting. http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/05/15/bible.critic/index.html

Tim said...

Interesting in what way, Anon? Pretty common to me, actually: young person gets an education and in the process chucks his faith. Typical "Jesus Seminar" deconstructionist scholarship here.

Check out N.T. Wright's "The Resurrection of Jesus" for an 800 page treatment on why the disciples/early church did not fabricate the resurrection of Jesus. They had every reason not to believe the resurrection of Jesus, but did anyway.

Or check out Tim Keller's "The Reason for God" for a terrific rationale for the Christian worldview.

Anonymous said...

I love the possibilities with this new service schedule!
Oh, and any chance you can post the teacher appreciation video on your blog for those of us that missed it in the 11:00 service?

Jeannett Gibson said...

Love the idea. Can't wait to see it in action!

Anonymous said...

N.T. Wright - hasn't he too backed away from traditional christian beliefs?

Tammy said...

It sounds great, Tim, for all the right reasons...one of which is clearly NOT that babies will be happy to stay longer in the nursery ;) That's ok; it's worth it...we'll make it work for the sake of creativity, vibrancy, and body-life in the services. Thanks for having the courage to try new things.

BeckyandTroy said...

Anon, I think you will have to be more specific with your question. What do you mean by "traditional christian beliefs"? After all, you could argue that that in his time Martin Luther backed away from the dominant "traditional christian beliefs".

N.T. Wright is a fascinating listen or read (I prefer to listen). There are a bunch of lectures and debates that he has been a part of available online. Then of course there are the books that he has written. I know that some of the television interviews that he has been on have been unfortunately "selectively edited", so I would go directly to the source to make your evaluation.
Wright is if nothing else very very thorough.

If he has "backed away" from something it should be very easy to determine and it will be well argued.

Anonymous said...


No doubt NT Wright is thorough. But many scollars believe NT Wright is thoroughly wrong about his “fresh” view on Justification.

If you have time for a 240 pg read, check out Piper’s book online for free in pdf.

The Future of Justification
A Response to N. T. Wright

Here is the link.

D.A. Carson on Piper's "The Future of Justification"
"The so-called 'New Perspective on Paul' (NPP) has stirred up enormous controversy, especially, but not exclusively, in the English-speaking world. The issues are so complex that it has taken time to mount a careful evaluation. During the last decade many have undertaken the task, often with helpful contributions. John Piper’s work may not be the last word on the subject, but it brings to Christian leaders everywhere five enormous strengths: (1) By focusing on N. T. Wright, by far the most influential writer of the NPP, Piper brings to bear a badly needed focus. (2) Despite the interlocking complexities of the debate—Tom Wright has an amazing capacity to move theological and exegetical pieces around, creating such a new tableau that words have shifted in meaning and theological notions their conceptual location—Piper has written with admirable clarity. (3) Better yet, John has engaged Tom with simultaneous depth and courtesy. That is a rare but wholly admirable combination. (4) Certain parts of John Piper’s book have quietly broken new ground—not least his handling of “righteousness” and “justification,” their connection with the “gospel,” and his careful insistence that making the words mean different things for the Judge in God’s law-court and for the defendant in that law-court really cannot be sustained in the light of Scripture. (5) John Piper sees the moral and spiritual implications of what he is seeking to explain. Are men and women saved, on the last day, on the basis of the whole life lived? But if not, what is the nature of the connection between justification and good works? The issues are not secondary, and, pastor that he is, John Piper will not allow believers to put their trust in anyone or anything other than the crucified and resurrected Savior."
D. A. Carson
Research Professor of New Testament
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL

Anonymous said...

Here is a good "nutshell" presentation of the issue.

In historic Reformed exegesis, (1) a person is in union with Christ by faith alone. In this union, (2) the believer is identified with Christ in his (a) wrath absorbing death, (b) his perfect obedience to the Father, and (c) his vindication-securing resurrection. All of these are reckoned—that is, imputed—to the believer in Christ. On this basis, (3) the "dead," "righteous," "raised" believer is accepted and assured of final vindication and eternal fellowship with God.

In Wright’s exegesis, the middle element in step 2 is missing (2b), because he does not believe that the New Testament teaches that Christ’s perfect obedience is imputed to us. Thus the pattern is: (1) A person is in union with Christ by faith alone (expressed in baptism). (2) The believer is identified with Christ in his wrath-absorbing death (there is no identification with or imputation of Christ’s perfect obedience) and his vindication-securing resurrection. Both of these are reckoned—that is, imputed—to the believer in Christ. On this basis, (3) the “dead” and “raised” believer is accepted and assured of final vindication and eternal fellowship with God. (pp. 124-125)


Janice Phillips said...

I am so excited I don't even know what to say other than: YAY!!!

BeckyandTroy said...

I'll leave it to the scholars to comment on the debate between Piper and Wright. I thought you were going to say that his "backing away" directly related to Wrights "big-book" on the resurrection. This is the book that Tim was referring to. As I understand it (I haven't read it, I have only heard from those that have) Wright's big book on the resurrection stands or falls based on his scholarship and the weight of evidence that he presents, not on his differences with Piper.


BeckyandTroy said...

Also note that Tim Keller who partners up with Piper frequently (like at the last Gospel Coalition etc.) cites Wright's big book as reference on the resurrection whenever the historicity of the resurrection comes up. No doubt Keller and Wright disagree on (perhaps many) doctrines of the faith.


The Bauers said...

Tim, I LOVE the idea of lengthening the service to allow for more community life! Time to get to know your neighbors more, time to make a huge sanctuary feel more intimate. Tell Al now he can play that chorus an extra time if the Lord leads...

miss you guys!