J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

First Review of The Gospel Carries Us is In

And the first review of “The Gospel Carries Us” is in.  Great thanks to M. Orr for her kind words.  She said:

I am always interested in receiving practical advice about how to keep the Gospel in my mind, proclaim it with my lips and keep it in my heart – things that I grapple with daily and fail at over and over again. “The Gospel Carries Us” tells me I’m not alone in my struggle. You’d think I’d know this, but it never hurts to be reminded. This volume is a collection of sermon notes and musings on spirituality and culture that warrant more than one reading. I think any reader, regardless of their particular denomination, will find these passages uplifting, comforting and in some cases, challenging. I’m looking forward to reading more from Pastor Gordon Duncan.

Thanks to any and all who are purchasing “The Gospel Carries Us” – reviews at Amazon and Barnes and Noble are a huge help.
You can purchases “The Gospel Carries Us” in three different formats:

Kindle at Amazon
Nook at Barnes and Noble
Paperback

August 22, 2012 Posted by | church, gospel, mission, missional | , , , , | Leave a comment

I Didn’t Plant the Church that I Thought I was Going to Plant (and Thank God for That)

I didn’t plant the church that I thought I was going to plant.  Oh, I pastor a church that I wouldn’t trade for any other on the face of the planet, but we are not who I thought we would be, and my peace with that has made all the difference.  Let me explain.

5 ½ years ago, Amy and I moved to Garner to start Sovereign King Church.  At that time, we did not know a single person in the town, and we didn’t have anybody already committed to the church.  We started from scratch if you will.

Needing to get to know folks, I set up each day in the local coffee shop.  I would spend 4-6 hours at a time there trying to meet as many people as possible.  Within a month, a Bible study of 18 – 22 years old sprung up and the makings of a core group began.  Simultaneously, the web was working for us, so 2-3 families were catching the vision and wanted to join in with us as well.

I thought I was planting this suburban church that would have a strong, younger contingent which would reach out to the post-church, college aged generation.  We would have a solid base of foundational families guided by energetic young adults that would keep us invigorated and focused.

Within 4 services, every one of my 18 – 22 year olds was gone.

Over the course of the next few years, we’ve regained some folks in their 20’s, but even to this day, we are not identified by a strong contingent of post High School/early college members.  We have some, but we are not primarily a church of that demographic.  That means that we have a wonderfully different energy – one that I never could have designed or even imagined.  And I still pray that God gives us a great showing of that generation, much of whom is lost to the church these days, but that too is in God’s hands.

I guess the question is, “What happened?”  Where did those guys go?

Well, I had conversations with many of them without ever getting a definitive answer.   So, I used to worry that maybe there was something systemically wrong within SK.  I don’t worry about that much any more though.  Here is my best guess.

There is a big difference between attending a coffee shop bible study and attending a worship service.  In both, Christ is lifted up, but the Bible studies were simply a presentation of the character of Jesus.  While a worship service better be that as well, the full breadth of worship includes elements like Times of Repentance, Biblical Exhortation, and the examination commands surrounding the Lord’s Supper.  That is a completely different world.

Our services are designed to experience God in full worship, and that must include the confession of sin met by the glories of Jesus’ grace.  We could have redesigned our worship services to exclude the elements that made them squirm, but that would be compromising the full Gospel of Jesus.

I know that grace was proclaimed to each and every one of those folks, but the wounds of their prior worship experiences were still fresh for many of them (that is probably another post all together).  Some of those relationships remain, and I pray that each of them find a wonderful, worshiping either with us or some else, but the challenge is still before SK (and many other churches).  Our communities must be ones that proclaim Christ without hesitation, and at the same time, we need to call all people to faith and repentance of sin.  Grace is not grace unless it is the meeting of our sin by God’s love.  My prayer is that generation (and all others) will see and meet that love.

So thankfully, we have the church that God has designed for us, and each week, it takes on a new persona as we grow.  We don’t look like I thought we would look like, but we look as God wants us to.

May 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 7 Comments

I Love Me Some Me

narcissismHands down, we live in one of the most narcissistic cultures of all time.  If not the most, we are at least one of the worst cultures at flat-out loving ourselves.  Two recent books, “Generation Me” and “The Narcissism Epidemic” by sociologist Jean Twenge highlight this growing phenomenon in America.

The premise of Twenge’s research is that, “We’ve built up the confidence of our kids, but in that process, we’ve created a generation of hot-house flowers puffed with a disproportionate sense of self-worth (the definition of narcissism) and without the resiliency skills they need when Mommy and Daddy can’t fix something.”

Essentially, parenting styles today make every action a success and every entitlement an expectation.  The author cites a few examples.  For example, in her research, she found that 30% of college students today think that they should get at least “B” in a particular subject if they never miss a class.  When the author asked the same question to a group of college students in Connecticut, nearly 100% agreed with statement.

The author offered this suggestion as a cure for the prevailing attitude of our day.  She says an antidote to a skyrocketing self-worth is humility, evaluating yourself more accurately, mindfulness and putting others first.  Now that sounds incredibly Biblical doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, this type of narcissism has not escaped the church.  The reduction of Christianity to a mere “personal decision for Christ” has taught many believers in Jesus that that the Kingdom of God is here for one reason:  to serve them.  For example getting people to truly care about a hurting neighbor is incredibly difficult.  For many, if your neighbor disagrees with you politically, environmentally, or sexually, you can forget most Christians helping them out.  Why?  Well the prevailing thought is, “If you have the audacity to disagree with me, then your problems are your own fault,” and completely lacking humility, we use words like “dumb” or “stupid” or whatever else makes us feel morally superior.

If you want to gauge your own sense of Christian narcissism, take this little test.  Recall your most recent prayers.  Are there more petitions for your self than there are prayers for others and praises for God?  If so, perhaps you should ask who you think is serving whom?

Sadly, if your church preaches that the intention of God is to make you personally healthy, wealthy, wise, and completely remove your life of suffering, you can pack the place out.  In fact, you can build a tower of Christian Narcissism very easily; it’s just that you get to call it a church building.

But what we are going to see from the book of Romans this week is that the redemptive work of Jesus is about saving individuals, but it also about so much more.  Not wanting to make that mistake, let’s ask this Big Picture Question this week:

Big Picture Question:  The work of Jesus is about redeeming sinful people, but how is the work of Jesus about so much more than just that?

If you would like to join Sovereign King for worship, we meet each Sunday at 1030am.  Directions to our facility can be found here.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Welcome to My Nightmare

insomniaWhat keeps you up at night?  What gives you nightmares?  The answer to that question in your community is precisely the place where the church needs to be.

Sovereign King Church recently began walking through larger vision plans in our community because we have been looking at new facilities.  Our space now sits off of a service road without any direct community around it, so we have always done mission answering that question in the broader context of Garner.

But as we consider new facilities, we have to consider the needs of the area in which the new building will reside.  That community’s needs become our church’s missional focus.

According to demographic data that we paid for about 5 years ago, the top 2 needs in the town of Garner have been “quality education for our children” and “elderly parent care.”

Sovereign King has been able to address the schooling issue by mentoring at risk students while addressing elderly parent care has been more difficult to address beyond visiting retirement homes.  I can see both of those issues having a huge weight in our community, but I wonder if they are still the top 2.

Any Gospel believing, Christ proclaiming church should be about taking the Kingdom of God to the hurting places in their community.  If we don’t, the church runs the risk of just hanging a shingle out that says, “Good preaching here (if you have it)” and hoping that people walking in the door.  But that model seems to lack the “going” of the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19-20

So, the big question is, “What keeps your community up at night?”  More specifically, “What keeps the citizens of Garner and the surrounding areas up at night?”  Once we know those questions, we can ask, “What can the church do about it?”

I would love to hear your specific community’s concerns as well as any church’s response to those concerns.  Thanks ahead of time.

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

A Dozen Do-Nots: Church Planting

Dozen-DoNotsLearning from other people’s mistakes might be the single most valuable skill for a church planter.  There is just no need to duplicate other people’s errors.  As you read some of these Do-Nots, you might think, “If I don’t do that, my church won’t meet for services.”  If that is the case, you might have some tough decisions to make.

Some of these are mistakes that I have made while others I have observed.  I hope they are helpful.  Enjoy.

A Dozen Do-Nots:  Planting a Church

  1. Do not think that sermon prep is the same as personal Bible study.
  2. Do not meet with women alone.
  3. Do not make your children the window dressing for your ministry.
  4. Do not start services if your wife is in her 3rd trimester or on bedrest.
  5. Do not finance the church with your personal credit card.
  6. Do not skip your vacations
  7. Do not cast a vision for your church until you cast one for your family.
  8. Do not have an affair with your job.
  9. Do not start services until you have at least one person you trust implicitly.
  10. Do not sign a lease for a worship space that is bigger than your budget.
  11. Do not make your spouse do every thing that nobody else wants to do.
  12. Do not assume your congregation understands the mission or vision.

Other Dozens in the series:

Marriage Communication – http://bit.ly/IERbQ

Being Civil to Others – http://bit.ly/4nnOim

Mountain Biking – http://bit.ly/vdZ6r

August 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 5 Comments