Your Church Is Too Small – Review

Your Church Is Too Small: Why Unity in Christ's Mission Is Vital to the Future of the Church Your Church Is Too Small: Why Unity in Christ’s Mission Is Vital to the Future of the Church by John H. Armstrong

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Next week, I’ll be meeting with a couple pastors and friends from our little town in North Carolina. We’ll be a diverse little group, but we will be exploring ways to work together in our town, to present a united witness, as well as create a network of Christians who can respond to needs and hurting people within our own community.

Now, I’m naturally a shy and retiring person. I’d rather write about this, than actually do it. What would motivate me to do this? Well, John H. Armstrong’s new book, Your Church Is Too Small: Why Unity in Christ’s Mission is Vital to the Future of the Church, would! I didn’t actually get the idea from Armstrong (I heard about a similar group in Colorado), but Armstrong confirmed my resolution, and gave me a solid kick in my sectarian, Reformed rear-end.

This a fantastic book! This week marks the official “blog tour” for the book. You can find other reviews at the Koinonia blog.

Here are some highlights:

“My thesis is simple: The road to the future must run through the past” (17). Armstrong is concerned with recovering a true sense of “catholicity,” a vision we share at the Reformed Liturgical Institute.

“True Christian faith is not found in personal religious feelings but in the historical and incarnational reality of a confessing church. Therefore, if we refuse to come to grips with our past, our future will not be distinctively Christian. The result will be new forms of man-made religion that embrace recycled heresies” (18).

Armstrong chronicles his journey into greater catholicity. He stresses the theological and Biblical mandate for unity, and shows how this unity must be Trinitarian–unity in diversity. While Armstrong appreciates the aspects of the “Great Tradition” preserved in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions, he does not surrender Reformed distinctives.

What is most encouraging are the stories of actual churches working together in their towns, guided by a shared love of Christ, and motivated by the Spirit that brings ultimate unity (Ephesians 4:4-5).

There are many details to consider, and much more work to be done in this area. Armstrong doesn’t claim to have all the answers. But, he does believe that Jesus actually wants a unified people, and he shows how this is our ultimate apologetic (Jn. 17:22-23). For this, we should all be grateful.

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Special Need for the Slavic Reformation Society

From the chairman of the Slavic Reformation Society:

“Greetings in the Lord Jesus Christ! As chairman of the Board of the Slavic Reformation Society, I wanted to give you a year-end update on our ministry in Russia. In September, ten pastors from Russia, the Ukraine and Kazakhstan attended our pastors’ training session in St. Petersburg. Another six ministers applied for this two-week intensive course but for one of the first times we had to turn qualified men away because we were unable to pay their travel/living expenses.

Currently, we have 18 pastors applying for our March 2010 session! This as an encouraging endorsement of our teaching and mentoring. The American professor who taught in September reported that these men were the most mature men he had witnessed in his fifteen years of ministry in Russia. The pastors we are mentoring represent more than 1,000 congregants, so your investment in the ministry multiplies 100 times. As you may know, Blake Purcell is in Texas this year and is visiting churches and supporters with a goal of raising our ongoing monthly support. But, we have a special need to raise $25,000 by the end of this year to meet our short term budget requirements.

This amount will cover our operating costs in St. Petersburg and meet our obligations to the Purcells. Additionally, it will provide the foundation to expand the March 2010 intensive course to include the 18 pastors desiring to attend. Help SRS see the Word of the Lord multiply and prevail in the Russian-speaking world by giving a special end-of-year gift of $100 to $1,000 or more.

You may mail your tax-deductible contributions to SRS PO Box 794 Louisville, MS 39339 or contribute via PayPal on our website.

 If you have any questions or would like to have Blake share the ministry with your congregation, you may call him at 940.613.9611 or write blakepurcell2000@yahoo.com.

Yours in Christ, Mike Forster, Chairman Slavic Reformation Society

Stop Child Trafficking Now!

Stop Child Trafficking Now! – Slavery still exists. Sexual exploitation of children is rampant throughout the world. Each year, thousands of enslaved and sexually exploited children are brought into the USA! Virtually no one in the US has been convicted of child trafficking in the last 10 years. Get involved–your salvation may depend on it (Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-13).

(Regular readers know I don’t often post on topics outside the parameters of our mission statement, but I thought the magnitude of the problem deserves the widest possible exposure.)

Urgent Help for the Slavic Reformation Society

(From Blake Purcell, in Russia):

I wanted to let you know how excited I am that Patch Blakey, the executive director of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, will be our key note speaker at our 7th Annual Theological Conference here in St. Pete, March 5-7. The Conference theme is taken from Colossians 2: In Him are All the Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge: Seeing Christ in Every Field of Study. This conference will hopefully be a huge factor in helping Christian parents, teachers and leaders here gain a biblical worldview. Jim Jordan and Bob Donaldson and I will join him in speaking at the conference, along with other local speakers. After the conference concludes, Jim and I will host a two week intensive course of our seminary. This two week course is normally held twice a year and allows us to gather church leaders from Kazakhstan, the Far East, Siberia, European Russian and the Ukraine together. We hope to have as many as 17 ministers, pastors, and elders attend the course in March. This year we are on the verge of not having the funds to provide travel assistance for many of these church leaders to come hear Patch, and continue work on their essential ministry training and master’s degree. I am asking for you and your church to please prayerfully consider providing a special gift to between $100 and $2000 to support these two vital programs in our ministry. We need a total of $15,000, to properly fund them both. That funding would allow these church leaders from around the former Soviet Union to be able to see “with new eyes” the warp and woof of the Scriptures and to return to their home churches better equipped to continue to preach the Word in some of the most un-reached places on earth. ——————————————————————————– We have the opportunity to match gifts received during the next 10 days through our existing matching grant program. There is some urgency as we need to begin purchasing travel for our attendees this month, so please send whatever you are able to provide before the end of January to Slavic Reformation Society, PO Box 794, Lewisville, MS 39339. Alternatively, you can visit our website http://www.slavicreformationsociety.com and make a contribution on line. Blessings in Christ, Blake Copyright 2009

The Company of the Fathers

The Company of the Fathers is starting up again!  We are reading Tertullian’s Apology right now, and it is startling to realize that the Church has weathered all the same problems, hundreds of years ago.  Our economy may be in the tank, but the Church has been through all this many times before.  We suffer from a lack of perspective, and one of the best ways to gain a more balanced view of history (and our place in it) is to read the Church Fathers.  Join us!

Society for the Study of Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism

As a follow-up to the last post, I just learned that The Society for the Study of Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism is starting up again.  Anyone interested in being on the mailing list should contact Brock Bingaman at Loyola University Chicago: BBINGAM@LUC.EDU

 

King’s Meadow Endurance Team

This Christmas, consider supporting the King’s Meadow Endurance Team.  George Grant is an advocate for substantive, classical Reformed liturgy, and they have exciting plans to expand into a full liberal arts college! 

Read a more detailed letter here.

Call for Editors & Writers

Although this site continues to get steady traffic, I find myself too busy in my family and my studies to develop it as it could be.  If anyone out there would like to contribute, either as a writer or an editor, let me know.  The original vision was for this site to be a resource, and the more heads involved, the merrier!  E-mail me at gsoderberg@nc.rr.com

Academic Mission Opportunity

I came across an exciting mission opportunity for academics.  This organization sends Christian teachers into other countries, finding positions for them in secular universities.  A quote on their home-page says it all: 

“The university is a clear-cut fulcrum with which to move the world. Change the university and you change the world,”
declared Dr. Charles Malik, former president of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.