Archive for the ‘Planting’ Category

There’s an interesting article over on the Anglican 100o site entitled Bad Reasons to Plant a Church. It offers an interesting glimpse at a secular perspective on church planting as well as a challenge to examine the real reasons to plant a church.

Planting a church is not an endeavor to be entered into lightly. There are many hazards along the way. There is uncertainty and sacrifice, not least of all by the sending church. It is hard work that demands all that you can give spiritually,  mentally, and emotionally. It is entrepreneurial but for the kingdom of God. I cringe at the thought of it being considered a franchise in some consumeristic way.

In the course of the discernment process to begin planting Holy Trinity, and even now, it has been  important to constantly hold this mission loosely, openhandedly before God and our community. It is vital to earnestly examine our hearts and be skeptical of our motivations. Planting a church is apostolic work. It is noble and it is important. But we do not seek to plant a church for power, authority, or some foolish desire to have it our way. We plant a church, which is the fullness of him who fills all in all, to see Christ glorified and his kingdom come.

As we continue, may we constantly hold before us the reality that this church is not  for us to have a local franchise of faithful Anglicanism. There are people we do not know who will come and encounter the living God here. There are many unknown to us who are being summoned even now to come and encounter the reality of our Lord and his grace at his table.  There are many with gifts and passions we don’t have, who will come and join in with what God is doing here. As we press on in obedience, praying, fasting, and trusting in his grace, we continue to hold this all loosely, knowing it is the Lord who is the Great Shepherd, the maniacal Sower, and the faithful Harvester. May he bless this work and give us joy as we serve him.


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The Table at Holy Trinity

At Holy Trinity-Chatham, we are actively thinking and praying about when to move to Sunday morning worship services, as well as where to hold them. As I was thinking, the thought occurred, “What are the essentials to equip a place of worship for the ministry of prayer, and sacrament?” Having been a part of a church plant that moved into temporary Sunday morning facilities in a school and is now in a rental space, there can be a number of challenges to doing worship well on Sunday mornings. What did Anglican churches do in the days before amplifiers and powerpoints?

From the Canons of 1604, LXXX–LXXXIII, Cardwell, Synodalia, pp. 292–3.

LXXX The church-wardens … of every church and chapel shall, at the charge of the parish, provide the Book of Common Prayer.… And if any parishes be yet unfurnished of the Bible of the largest volume, or of the books of Homilies allowed by authority, the said church-wardens shall within convenient time provide the same at the like charge of the parish.

LXXXI There shall be a font of stone in every church and chapel where baptism is to be ministered; the same to be set in the ancient usual places: in which only font the minister shall baptize publicly.

LXXXII Whereas we have no doubt, but that in all churches within the realm of England, convenient and decent tables are provided and placed for the celebration of the holy communion, we appoint, that the same tables shall from time to time be kept and repaired in sufficient and seemly manner, and covered, in time of divine service, with a carpet of silk or other decent stuff, thought meet by the ordinary of the place, if any question be made of it, and with a fair linen cloth at the time of ministration, as becometh that table, and so stand, saving when the said holy communion is to be administered: at which time the same shall be placed in so good sort within the church or chancel, as thereby the minister may be more conveniently heard of the communicants in his prayer and ministration, and the communicants also more conveniently, and in more number, may communicate with the said minister; and that the Ten Commandments be set upon the east end of every church and chapel where the people may best see and read the same, and other chosen sentences written upon the walls of the said churches and chapels, in places convenient; and likewise that a convenient seat be made for the minister to read service in. All these to be done at the charge of the parish.

LXXXIII A pulpit to be provided in every church.…

The Canons of 1604 spell it out fairly clearly:

  • The Book of Common Prayer and then the Holy Bible. 
  •  A font of stone for baptisms.
  • A table properly appointed, the Ten Commandments displayed to the east, and chosen sentences in view upon the walls.
  • A pulpit.

“The Book of Common Prayer”: The BCP contains the means by which the people of God can pray and worship together. The liturgy is, in large part, mostly Scripture or at least rooted in Scripture. The Psalter in its entirety would have been provided and many would know them and their set tunes by heart. By having the BCP, each church ensured that each participant was just that: a participant in the worship of the Triune God. At Holy Trinity, we make the liturgy available as much as possible in our orders of service. We print the Psalm appointed for that day, the full Gospel passage, and the Eucharistic prayers in their entirety to encourage full participation.

“A font of stone for baptisms”: Yes! It is essential to emphasize the sacramental reality implicit in Christian Baptism and to let your worship space reflect that reality! For reasons I understand, there aren’t many contemporary church planting resources which would encourage one of your first considerations for worship to be a baptismal font. Yet if we believe as we pray that in the waters of Baptism we are both “buried with Christ in his death [and] by it we share in his resurrection,” shouldn’t there be some water in the room when we gather to worship? There is the little water mixed with wine in Communion. But there is something to the making of water available for the faithful to touch, to sign themselves, and to remember their baptism.

“A table properly appointed…”: The table, as the place where our “souls and bodies are quickened to eternal life,”  the apex of each of our services. It should therefore be attired appropriately with the season’s liturgical color, clean linens, and beautiful patins and chalices. One of the things we are more and more convinced of here at Holy Trinity is the call of God to be a local parish church, committed to and standing in solidarity with Christ and this community. We are hopeful to be able to appoint our worship space with locally crafted furnishings and ornaments to reflect our commitment to this place – rather than choosing the convenience of catalog shopping.

“…the Ten Commandments displayed to the east, and chosen sentences in view upon the walls”: Not only does the Decalogue provide the revealed “way of living a God-pleasing life,” but it provides a visible reminder by which you should “judge yourselves, therefore, lest you be judged by the Lord.” The Law reveals our limitations and our inability to live as we should. But for those of us in Christ, it  kindles our dependence upon and our gratitude for grace.

“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).

“A pulpit to be provided in every church…”: The pulpit is the place where God’s Word is proclaimed afresh. According to the introduction to “Book I” of the Homilies: “Considering how necessary it is, that the word of GOD, which is the only food of the soul, and that most excellent light that we must walk by, in this our most dangerous pilgrimage, should at all convenient times be preached unto the people, that thereby they may both learn their duty towards God and their neighbors, according to the mind of the holy Ghost, expressed in the Scriptures.” At the moment, we’re content with a music stand. But one day…. When that day comes, I’d like to have inscribed these words from John 12:21, so that every preacher who ever preaches in this church  will be reminded  before they preach:

Sir, we’ve come to see Jesus.
Our Anglican grandparents in  the faith have much to teach us about what to prioritize in our places of worship. If we were to take these canons to heart at Holy Trinity, not only would we major in the majors, but we’d be aligned with some very time-tested practices of the church. We’d likely save money for more almsgiving, as well. There’s much to consider. We appreciate your prayers.

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Four Things

Four things we see St. Paul deemed necessary for the establishment of his churches, and only four:

1) A tradition or elementary Creed

2) Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion

3) Orders

4) Holy Scriptures

St. Paul trained converts in the simplest and most practical form. He delivered to these to them. He exercised them as a body in the understanding and practice of them, and he left them to work them out for themselves as a body whilst he himself went on with his own special work. He was ready at any moment to encourage or direct them by messengers, by letters, or by personal visits, as they needed direction or encouragement; but he neither desired, nor attempted, to stay with them, or to establish his ministers amongst them to do for them what he was determined that they must learn to do for themselves. He knew the essential elements, and he trained his converts in those and in those alone, and he trained them by teaching them to use what he gave them.

– taken from Roland Allen’s Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?

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We had a wonderful Advent Vespers service and Eucharist last Friday here in Pittsboro. It was a sweet time to be with friends here in Chatham County, to proclaim the Gospel, and to duly administrate the sacrament! Glory to God!

We met in Martha’s studio. It was fun to hold such a service above the din of the local pub that was having its holiday party directly below us. Seems about right that every preacher worth his salt should grow accustomed to preaching  the Gospel over the noise of a bar!

By God’s grace our service was attended by 50 people. Many who came expressed interest in joining us in breaking new ground for the Word and Sacrament here. A good core of our launch team is forming and growing with great unity in a sincere commitment to planting a faithful Anglican parish in Chatham County. I am astounded at God’s goodness!

Here’s an excerpt from Our Story: If you’re interested in finding out more, just let me know! I’m quite excited to share.

Back in 2006, a small group of Chatham County residents who were commuting to Durham to worship at All Saints Church began gathering regularly in our Chatham County homes to share life together as friends and fellow Christians. Over time, our group grew in numbers and in our conviction that God was calling us to break new ground to plant a biblical, liturgical, eucharistically-centered
church in the Anglican tradition here, at home, in our community.

We have collectively noticed a hunger in ourselves and in our neighbors for Christian worship rooted in the traditions of the church and longings for genuine community, radical discipleship, dependent prayer, and committed mission. It is our sense that God is calling a church into being, by his grace, to directly address these needs.

Last week’s service was a first step in answering this call.

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Church Planter

h/t (long overdue) to 2 Sparrows.

When older men stop investing in younger men, younger men stop caring.

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