Monthly Archives: August 2014

Church Plant: Approaching September

God is good.

We’re officially leaving Westminster Chapel on 31st August in order to form our new church plant, Grace London. As the weeks and months have passed the team have grown more excited. Allow me to take a moment to update you on a couple of important steps towards this being a reality.

1. Venue Update

As we’ve been praying about making a start in the Autumn, we’ve been able to find a venue! We’re meeting in the Horse & Stables on Westminster Bridge Road, just a few minutes walk from Waterloo Station. It’s the upper room of a lively pub, and a perfect size venue for us to begin our Sunday meetings. The doors will be open at 4pm on 28th September, 2014. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are hoping that throughout the Autumn term people will begin to join us on this venture with a view to launching more officially in 2015.

2. Website

Thanks to the hard work and skill of our resident designer, we’ve put together our website and it’s now live. Feel free to have a poke around and forward the link on to anyone you know who may want to come and visit the church.

website

grace.london

For those of you who want to stay up-to-date you can sign up to our mailing list using the link on the Grace London website. I will occasionally send out some news and prayer requests as the months roll on.

How shall I stand if such mighty pillars have been cast to the ground?

fallen_pillarNothing is sadder or more destructive for the church than when leaders crash to the ground in a public way. It can be so disillusioning and disappointing for those of us who have loved and admired them (a point Matthew Hosier makes so well here). I know very little of the circumstances surrounding the decision of the Acts 29 board to remove Mark Driscoll and his church, Mars Hill, from the network. But I feel the crushing disappointment of the whole thing, given how much admiration I feel for the ministry of Driscoll.

This morning I read these unbelievably relevant words from John Owen in a book of daily readings. Read this slowly and carefully:

“It is the great duty of all believers to use all diligence that we do not fall into temptation. Adam was created in the image of God, full of integrity, righteousness, and holiness. He had a far greater inherent stock of ability than we, and there was nothing in him to entice or seduce him. No sooner had he entered into temptation but he was gone, lost, and ruined, and all his posterity with him. What can we expect if we also enter into temptation? We, like him, have the temptation and the cunning of the devil to deal with, but we also have a cursed world and a corrupt heart to increase the power of temptation. Abraham is an example for all believers to follow, and yet he entered into temptation about his wife and was overpowered to the dishonour of God. God called David ‘a man after God’s own heart’, yet what a dreadful thing is the story of his entering into temptation! I might mention Noah, Lot, Hezekiah, Peter and the rest, whose temptations and falls are recorded for our instruction. Certainly any with a heart for these things will cry out ‘How shall I stand, O Lord, if such mighty pillars have been cast to the ground? If such great cedars were blown down, how shall I stand before temptation? O keep me that I do not enter into temptation!’ Are any without a wound or blemish that have entered temptation? How will we fare? Assuredly, if we see stronger men fail, we will seek to avoid the battle at all cost. Is it not madness for a man who can barely crawl up and down (which is the case for most of us), if he does not avoid that which has brought down giants in the undertaking thereof? If you are yet whole and sound, take heed of temptation, lest it happens to you as with Abraham and the rest who fell in time of trial.”

(John Owen in Voices from the Past, edited by Richard Rushing, p.96)

On the back of this, three pieces of counsel come to mind.

1. Try not to judge that which you know nothing about

None of us have been privy to the discussions that have happened behind doors regarding all the issues surrounding Mark Driscoll. I trust the Acts 29 board because, from what I know of them, they seem to be a well-rounded and wise bunch of men. But I’m not going to dismiss Driscoll or write him off. On the contrary, my hope and prayer is that he would come through this stronger and more effective. God knows many of us have been inspired and helped by him.

2. Look at your own life and make a double effort to root out the sins of your heart

For those of us who are in positions of leadership in the church, or aspire to get there, the sentiments that Owen expresses here are poignantly relevant. I am not a pillar or a cedar, and if even they can come crashing to the ground, I had better take a look at my own life and root out the sins of my heart by the grace of God.

3. Avoid the battle of ‘entering into temptation’ at all costs

This is Owen’s main point. He’s not talking about the battle of the Christian life (which we are all engaged in), but the battle of facing down temptation, of ‘entering into temptation’. This is a situation in which the lusts of your own heart meet timely opportunities to sin, and the outcome is your inevitable downfall. Just as Jesus told us to watch lest we enter into temptation, Owen wants Christians to see that, rather than just avoiding the sin itself, we need to make every effort (through prayer and wise choices) to avoid entering into temptation. Don’t go there. Flee. Make it impossible to get tempted in the ways you know you’re vulnerable. Of course, how you do that will depend on your makeup and your situation, but we can learn from what little we know of Driscoll’s circumstances, and the far greater knowledge we have of our own hearts, to make sure we are careful in this.

Church plant: A request for your prayers

I first announced the church plant in May, a little over two months ago. During that time our small core team have been meeting together regularly to pray hard about the future, and I want to invite you to put us on your prayer list too.

Every time I meet with the team who are helping to plant this church I’m amazed and grateful to God for the rich array of gifts and skills they possess. But over and above that, there is a real sense of faith, of believing that God’s with us.

A couple of big milestones are in front of us, and if you want to pray in a focussed way these are the things I would encourage you to pray for. Continue reading