In Matthew 28:18–20 our Lord gave a mission to the visible, institutional church: preach the gospel, administer the sacraments, and make disciples. He did not give that mission to a million evangelical para-church organizations. He gave it to the visible church. The official proclamation of the gospel by Christ’s ministers is evangelism. All of God’s people should give witness to the faith (see the recent chapter on this in Faithful and Fruitful) as the Lord gives them opportunity but the official proclamation of the gospel is distinct. That is a hard word for Americans to hear. We struggle with the very notion of the institutional church with its offices, its policies and procedures. We are a busy, pragmatic people. We want to be about things not let the details settle themselves. As I mentioned in yesterday’s episode of the Heidelcast, the Kingdom of God is not a democracy. It is, as the fellow said in Chariots of Fire, a benign dictatorship. It is a Kingdom after all and Jesus is King. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. He sets the rules and he did so in Matthew 16, 18, and in chapter 28. He did not ordain efficient ministry. He ordained his ministry. He gave the keys of the Kingdom to his ministers, not to para-church campus ministries or to neighborhood Bible studies—this is not to say that God the Spirit is not free to work when and where he will (John 3). He is and he does. He uses irregular means but they are just that: irregular. As far as we know from God’s Word, the work of mission (sending and being sent) is the work of the church, which is the embassy of the Kingdom of God to this world and his ministers are his ambassadors. Collin Welch is a friend, a former student, and now on his way to ordination and a church planter. He is planting a confessional Reformed congregation (URCNA) in Madison, Indiana: Madison Reformed Church. They are about to hold their first public worship service. They are also holding a conference. Please let your family, friends, and acquaintances in the Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio tri-state area know (think Louisville and Cincinnati). Pray for pastors planting new confessionally Reformed congregations and for those pastoring established congregations. Pray for the Lord’s blessing on the preaching of the law and the gospel, that the Lord will use it to convict the lost and to draw all his people to himself everywhere. Pray for strength for the organizers of these events, and for Collin. Planting a confessional congregation can be a monumental challenge and all the more in an area where the Reformed theology, piety, and practice is not well known. Obviously there are financial challenges but think of starting a small business without much in the way of resources and no staff. In other words, bricks without straw. It is the Lord’s house, however, and he has blessed this work and I am confident that Collin will be a blessing to the congregation and to the area as he announces the good news, administers the sacraments, visits his this new congregation, and brings the gospel to Madison, IN. Below are notices about both events.
First: What’s Reformed Church?
We are hosting an event called “What’s a Reformed Church?” I will make a quick case for planting a Reformed church in a town already filled with churches and explain what it is and what it is not, by asking and answering five smaller questions. The goal is to demonstrate how important these topics are by posing a thought-provoking question and answering it simply. By doing this, I will touch briefly on covenant theology, the regulative principle of worship, the means of grace, church government, and creeds and confessions.
Who: I will be leading the event, giving a brief presentation answering the question “What’s Reformed Church?”
What: Refreshments & a brief presentation
When: Tuesday, November 17 at 6:30pm
Where: The Moose Lodge (1340 Michigan Rd, Madison, IN 47250). In accordance with the facility’s protocols the tables will be distanced, and we ask that attendees mask up upon their entrance, exit, and when up from their seats. Food will be available at individual tables and drinks will be served to attendees.
Second: Our Very First Public Worship Service
Just a few days later on Sunday, we are holding our very first worship service in town.
Who: The service is called by the consistory of Westside Reformed Church (Cincinnati), our planting church. Pastor Zac Wyse will lead the service and I will preach on Hebrews 7:15–22.
What: a formal public worship service, followed by a celebration dinner
When: Sunday, November 22 at 4:30pm
Where: St. John’s United Church of Christ (406 East St., Madison, IN 42750). In accordance with St. John’s protocols every other pew is sectioned off, and they ask that attendees mask up upon entrance, exit, and during the service. Dinner tables at the celebration meal will be distanced, and food and drinks will be served.
It is hard to overestimate how important these milestones will be for us as a core group. Please let your family, friends, and acquaintances in the Indiana, Kentucky, & Ohio tri-state area know (think Louisville and Cincinnati).
In the meantime, you can support us by praying for us, sharing these events online, and encouraging others to visit our website: madisonreformed.com.
“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” – Psalm 127:1