College Church has made available a short book to accompany our Christmas series. It’s called How Christmas Can Change Your Life: Answers to the 10 Most Common Questions About Christmas. You can pick up a copy at College Church in the Commons or at the welcome desks in the Narthex. Give one to a friend, and invite them to join us this Christmas as we think about how Christmas really can change your life.
The video from Sunday’s sermon, “Overcoming the Darkness,” from John 1:1-5 is available online, along with discussion questions. This is the first sermon in our new Christmas series, “How Christmas Can Change Your Life.”
For a full list of the Advent and Christmas services at College Church this month, click here.
The Advent and Christmas services begin this Sunday, December 1, at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 a.m. at College Church. Our series this Christmas season is “How Christmas Can Change Your Life.”
For the first Sunday of Advent, I’ll be preaching a message entitled “Overcoming the Darkness” from John 1:1-5.
For a list of other services this month, visit the College Church website.
John 1:1-5 (ESV):
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Our Thanksgiving Eve service is tomorrow night, Wednesday, November 27, at 7:00 p.m. in the College Church Sanctuary. Bring your friends and family and join us for this special time of thanksgiving. Nursery and a young preschool class will be offered. Following the service, we will have a Thanksgiving pie celebration in the Commons!
Our series “The Gospel of God” on Paul’s letter to the Romans will resume after the new year on Sunday, January 12. Until then, we invite you to bring your friends and family and join us for College Church’s Thanksgiving Eve, Advent and Christmas services. More information on upcoming services is available on the College Church website.
The following article was written for Evangelicals Now and published in their news publication for November 2013.
From a British point of view it is scarcely believable.
But coming soon to American TV is a reality TV series based on the flamboyant lifestyles of preachers from Los Angeles. Called Preachers of L.A., it promises a behind-the-scenes look at how certain kinds of megachurch pastors really live. The concern that this announcement has generated has largely been about the evident ‘prosperity gospel’ emphasis of these ‘Preachers of L.A.’ (see last month’s column). I am reminded, though, a little of the old quip about Mary Baker Eddy’s ‘Christian Science’ movement, that it is neither Christian nor Science. Similarly the ironic aspect of the prosperity gospel is that it is neither offering true prosperity nor the real gospel.
I am mentioning Preachers of L.A. not so much to comment on the prosperity gospel but to remark on the sheer cheese factor. It continues to amaze me because my background was so different but there really are people who grew up in an environment where most, if not all, of the cultural conversation revolved around church, Christian media outlets, and general subcultural Christian norms of a fundamentalistic type.
If part of the purpose of this ‘Letter from America’ is to explain American evangelicalism to its British counterpart, then it is important to stress this subcultural phenomenon. J.I. Packer nailed the issues related to it in his Fundamentalism and the Word of God. It is important to read that classic book, or at least understand its context, because otherwise a lot of the books published over here, the books that are read, the church models that are promoted will make little sense — or worse they will be adopted unthinkingly in a British context without realising that the target that they are aiming at exists in Tallahassee but not Sevenoaks.
Reacting to culture
Many American evangelical leaders who appear to be writing in a way that moves away from Christian orthodoxy are doing so because they are reacting to a culture in which they grew up where there was a hardline connecting ‘do not drink’ or ‘do not go to the movies’ with ‘believe in substitutionary atonement’. I barely can conceive that such a thing can exist — and it is rarer now than it was — but, believe me, it has not gone away here.
Different context from Britain
It can be more subtle than that too. Some models of church growth, or church health, are really sending the message, ‘we are not a bunch of ignorant fundamentalists but know the Bible and church history quite well’. That is all fine, I suppose, but it has little relevance to someone who is unlikely to think that the vicar from St. Peter’s down the road is an ignorant fundamentalist. More likely to think that he is wet, or out of date, or a very nice man as long as he doesn’t insist that everyone has to believe in Jesus and go to church.
Few then in the UK are likely to ape the more outlandish models of ministry soon to be broadcast in Preachers of L.A., but there are other preachers who do not appear in reality TV series, and who are not prosperity gospel preachers, whose models of ministry are nonetheless designed for their cultural context, a context that is remarkably different from other places in the world. Remember the Bible does not provide us with 16 ways to do church just like we do. God seems to have left more up to the creativity, maturity, and common sense of the leaders of his church (insisting on orthodoxy and orthopraxy, of course) than we might have done if we had been designing or writing a manual for church that was to last thousands of years. Of that we may be grateful, feel a little scared, and rather more free than preachers of L.A., San Francisco, D.C., New York, Dallas, or anywhere else that might spring to mind.
This Sunday, November 24, I will be preaching a sermon titled “The Unlikely Motivational Secrets of an Apostle” from Romans 1:13-15 in our series “The Gospel of God.”
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.