Friday, 6 March 2009

Dream Church Plant

I'd love to see a good Reformed church plant in Glasgow.

Preferable would be a plant with a morning and evening service each Lord's Day. During the morning, something like Calvin's liturgy would be used to ensure that the gospel would be kept the central theme of the service. There would be a public prayer of repentance issued by the pastor/teacher to which the congregation would add an amen. After the intermingling of a-capella Psalm/Inspired text/theological hymn singing and extemporaneous prayers/Scripture readings from the men of the congregation, the word would be opened and a warm biblical/theological exposition would prepare the congregation for the Lord's Supper. Following the sermon, the congregants would line up to receive communion and the pastor/teacher would then assure the congregation of God's pardon to those who ate in faith, and a issue a warning to the unrepentant.

The evening service would combine biblical theological preaching and exposition of the Westminster Standards.

The kids would stay for the sermon and to observe communion, in the hope that the presence of the risen Christ would work miraculously beyond the cognitive limitations of our young.

There would be little 'religiousity'. The only offence to outsiders coming in will be the offence of the cross. Talk would be straight and big theological words explained. Doctrine would be labored over, heretics gored ferociously and weak believers fanned into flame by the clear promotion of comfort giving word/sacrament piety. People could dress as they please and dress to please the Lord. The minister would be free to wear a gown or not. No consciences would be held captive over matters indifferent.

There would be no choir except the congregation. There would be a Psalm of the month where the congregation learn to sing in three-part harmony.

Lord's Day observance would be applied with brutal/loving force. There would be no Sunday School during the sermon, no committee meetings, no evening youth group (maybe the parents of teenagers could have them round houses on an informal and rota'd basis), no proliferation of programs, no strong-arming the hard-working congregants into strength sapping, faith draining ministries. Instead there would be a complete focus on letting God work to renew His people for being salt and light in their secular, God-pleasing vocations.

The Regulative Principle for Worship would be applied with brutal/loving force. No one's cheesy or trendy preferences (no, not even the pastor/teacher's) would influence the form and content of sacred assemblies. Only what the word requires would be required.

Finally, it would not be a niche demographic making up the church. It wouldn't be a church for the young, the old, the hip, the not-so-hip or Reformed guys in their 20s with no girlfriend and a penchant for theonomy and downloading porn. It would be filled with people from accross the classes, races, ages and sexes.

Sounds good doesn't it? Am I naive? Probably.


Steven Carr said...

Brother, are you telling me that there are no such Churches in Glasgow, the place where over a hundred and fifty years ago Thomas Chalmers was preaching the gospel with great power??? What happened to Scotland???

Nick Mackison said...

Bro, I'm telling you that I can't find one. There will no doubt be a good Free Church of Scotland here or there, but I've yet to find one.

Scotland is in a sad state. It's not as if we're overrun with heretics. No one cares enough about doctrine to become heretical about it. Driscoll talks alot about Seattle having more dogs than Christians. I'd bet my last pound note that there is a FAR smaller percentage of believers in Glasgow.

Steven Carr said...

Well, I don't think that you are naive at all. I think that there could be some way to plant such a church with God's help in Glasgow. If you haven't read a biography of Thomas Chalmers, I would encourage you to do so. Chalmer's work in Glasgow transformed the life of that town. It could be done again. BTW, are you thinking of going into the ministry? You certainly ought to.

Nick Mackison said...

Steven, just because it's you recommending the book, I'll read it.

I've thought about the ministry many times. My big issue is whether I have the right temperament for such a calling.

David Shedden said...

Hate to spoil the Reformed love-in guys. Interesting comment about Seattle against Glasgow, Nicky. I fancy that you might be right.

But although the Chalmers experiment in Glasgow had some great ideas, it failed. Can I shout that... IT FAILED!! And Chalmers and the 19thC Scottish Presbyterians lived off a pietistic evangelicalism that transformed the Geneva style of worship that you guys are so excited about. It was 19thC evangelicalism that killed Reformed worship... wise up folks.

The social experiment was based on a godly commonwealth and parish life model that could not be sustained. (The rich people got tired of helping the poor people, the rich people moved south to places like Thornliebank, and the poor people got too numerous and too rowdy to look after.)

You guys really need to understand that historic Reformed models of church (16th, 17th, 18th, or 19thC) can't simply be transplanted into 21stC Scotland or wherever else you come from - you will always end up with a pick n mix of what gets your juices flowing.

So don't get dizzy about a golden age or a golden model of church life that isn't bibilical and probably doesnt work anyway.

Nick Mackison said...

Shed, I command you to stop being un-Reformed. I'm going to start calling you Esau for despising your birthright.

The whole point of an RPW congregation is not to replicate Geneva, but to keep a biblical climate in church.

Interesting note on Chalmers. Don't know anything about the man.

I'm right about Glasgow and Seattle. How many would Driscoll get along to a church plant here if he started from scratch as an unknown?

David Shedden said...

Driscoll in Glasgow? A guy - "Culturally, I am Irish,..." - who didnt drink or smoke until he was 30? He'd get laughed at for lacking cred. Why would you bother to slap such an individual?

There are so many North American church plants in Glasgow - genuine question here, how many are thriving and showing us how to do church properly?

I think Driscoll in his leadership illustrates well that the church needs to drop pietistic baggage before growth can happen - but it takes local Christians to make any real impact.