Thursday, April 12, 2007

Always Reforming

A couple of years ago we (Redeemer) started running some short spots on the radio (KCCV 92.3) in order to provoke the thinking of our evangelical brothers and sisters, in light of modern trends and practices. We still run these spots regularly (3-4 times daily) and get lots of interested feedback. Here are some of the first ones I crafted-

While church membership is reportedly increasing, the influence of the Church on culture seems to be fading. Just turn on the TV or read the paper to see the downward flow of culture. God’s intended Salt and Light is not having it’s cleansing effect. Our Culture needs transformation…Reformation in the Church is the answer. The pressing obligation for the Church in our day is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him. When our view of God rises to it’s proper echelon, it will have a supernatural purifying effect on our culture. Let us agree with James Renwick who wrote- There have been great and glorious days of the gospel in this land; but they have been small in comparison of what shall be.

Worship ought to reflect our belief that the church, which Jesus builds, spans the ages and is universal, bringing many different histories and nationalities into one new family. In an age of historical amnesia, worship liturgy must have a memory. It should not be odd to be sing what was originally an ancient Hebrew Psalm, a sixth-century Gregorian chant, a sixteenth-century German anthem, an eighteenth-century English hymn, a nineteenth-century African spiritual or a recent American melody. It is wise to join our spiritual forefathers by reciting the great creeds of the church, such as the Apostles’ or Nicene Creeds. These historic worship expressions remind us that we walk a path which others have walked. Our faith is their faith. Our hope is their hope. Our God is their God.

We must guard against the “chronological snobbery” of our day which tends to dismiss many of the historic forms of worship delivered to us by our spiritual forefathers. I have heard some worship planners criticize what they perceive to be thoughtless, irrelevant, empty tradition in worship liturgy. They suggest that the church should be clever and innovative, able to capture people’s attention with something “relevant.” At Redeemer, we would share a similar criticism against thoughtless tradition. However, the problem with thoughtless tradition is not necessarily the tradition but the thoughtlessness. A helpful distinction is made by Jaroslav Pelikan who writes, “Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living; tradition is the living faith of the dead.”

Church members or visitors are not customers to the church, any more than family members or children are customers to their respective families. The Church is not a business, it’s a family. The Church is a service organization, not a sales organization. The purpose of the Church is not really to serve it’s members but to serve Jesus Christ.

Rather than changing the church to make it relevant to the world of “seekers,” we ought to be aiming to make seekers relevant to the world of God. It should be our desire for strangers who come into our assembly to conclude, “God is certainly among you.” As God wills, God-centered worship causes the seeker “to fall on his face and worship God”.

When we gather each Lord’s Day in congregational worship we are responding to an ancient invitation from the Holy Scriptures: “Come, taste and see that the Lord is good”. As we worship together each Lord’s Day, God comes near to us; we come near to him. We gather together out of a hunger and thirst for God. He comes near to feed and satisfy us.

Central to becoming truly human is recognizing our dependence upon God. Our most basic posture before God is one of need. We need forgiveness, direction, spiritual food and strength for living. The good news we hear each week is that God is wildly extravagant about giving to us. He has given us His very own Son- the Lord Jesus!

At times today the church looks like a circus aimed at entertaining people with slick technology, quippy sermonettes, and pop music. At times the church looks like a lecture hall where a talking head aims at cramming information. These things obscure the more awesome spectacle of an assembly of saints summonsed into the presence of the living God.


Frontier Forest said...

My Dear Pastor Tony,
O the Joy in remembering! After hearing every one of these powerful pontifications several times, the Holy Spirit finally go my attention! These messages were the catalyst that finally convinced us to visit Redeemer on January 23, 2005. Praise God, for as the uncompromising ‘word went forth, they will never return void, and will always accomplish and reach those to whom they were intended!’
Here is a letter sent to friends on Monday, January 24, the day after our first divinely appointed worship experience:
“Dear Faithful and Frustrated Searching Brothers and Sisters in Jesus,
If you haven't heard about Redeemer Presbyterian Church let me share with you all about our wonderful experience this past Sunday. (9333 W. 159th, between Switzer and Antioch) Pastor Tony Felich preached right from the Word and his message was on 1 John 5:1-5. The main theme was ‘Life in Christ (the New Birth) is what transforms us from slaves of sin into victors, conquers and saints!’
For the first time since I can remember, Cheri got so excited she was doing some "AMENEN" herself! Haven't felt such a peace and the 'joy of the Lord' in a very long time. (previous church mentioned but omitted)
Pastor Tony is a young man, 35-ish of Spanish origin, I think?? He was raised and reared with a former Catholic background. In the message he shared a bit of his own powerful testimony.
He came to Christ as a 16 year old teenager and when he surrendered his life totally to the Lord, he knew the Lord had his life planned for him.
Graduate from the great Moody Bible College, Pastor Tony has been the senior pastor here for about 6 years. It is a small congregation (probably 200 at the 11:00 service) They have broken ground for a building and looks like they will about triple the size of their existing steel structured building.
I know with my firm and very fundamental Baptist doctrine, combined with a pretty well,
died-in-the-wool, Wesleyan theology, switching to Reformed theology with Calvinistic thinking is going to be an interesting twist. But when you have great men of God like John McArthur, RC Sproul and Dr. D. James Kennedy as mentors and leaders in the PCA can you go wrong following these leaders?”

We knew after our very first worship service we had finally found HOME!
By the way, I printed off your Thursday, April 12, 2007, "Always Reforming" message for a lady I met at my bank. She and her husband are also searching for a HOME. She promised to come this Sunday.

AJF said...

Woodster, I got a kick out of the "Spanish" comment...

TB said...

It's nice to hear theologically sound doctrine at around 4 am from a voice one knows personally. Fortunately for me, the same messages are repeated often so that it soaks into my thick head.

I also knew after our very first worship service that we had found Home. The same thing happened to us when we lived in Texas (Spring Cypress PCA).

Frontier Forest said...

Tony, now TB has shown real dedication! Reading, meditating and then posting a comment at 3:41 a.m.