J. Gordon Duncan

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We Must Have an Urgency to Create Personal Churches

Acts 2: 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Our communities need personal churches.

What is a personal church?

A personal church is one where intimacy with Christ and each other is emphasized and strategically created within a community.

A personal church is one where it is easy to break into communities (small groups, women’s/men’s groups) that already exists.

A personal church is one where the leaders intentionally seek time with each family or single in the church so as to know them, encourage them, and love them.

Why do I say this? I’ll tell you why. I think our communities need personal churches because I see so few of them and their lack is inhibiting growth with Christ and growth in the church.

Two things helped me realize this.

First, the elders and I at Evident Grace Fellowship decided that we were going to try to do home visits (or at least get one on one time) with every family or single in our church over the course of 3 months. My elders raced out ahead of me and returned with encouraging stories or prayer, honesty, and appreciation. Real steps of intimacy in Christ were taken. As I began to make my visits, I experienced the same. One family was overwhelmingly appreciative that the pastor would visit without something being wrong. I could sense God moving in people’s lives. Once the elders and I visit everyone, we are going to try to just keep it up (visit everyone every 3 months). Real face time created open avenues for growth.

Second, I’m witnessing the damage done by the impersonal nature of some churches. Listen, I understand that needs go unmet in churches. Leadership is imperfect like church members and attendees. But people are walking away from worship because too many churches are too impersonal. They are either too big or they just yell theology without any personal care attached.

So, how do we create personal churches? Here are 3 steps.

One: Leadership must meet with their people. It doesn’t have to be home visits (though that is pretty effective). Day to day discipleship or lunches or whatever work. Genuine questions of care from leadership to the crowd make a huge impact.

Two: Discipleship must be encouraged. Conversations about prayer, book studies, etc have got to be emphasized. Testimonies of discipleship have to become common place. People meeting with people over the cause of Christ creates a personal church that is welcoming and open to growth.

Three: Small groups are essential, but not just 8 people studying a book. Small groups centered on the word of God that encourage real-time application and accountability create a personal church.

Hey, I’m an imperfect pastor leading an imperfect church, but let’s get beyond the showy, impersonal, facsimile of church that is passing today. If we have a personal Savior and a personal salvation to offer, then we must create a personal church to proclaim Him.

Gordon Duncan is the pastor of Evident Grace Fellowship in the Spotsylvania/Fredericksburg, VA community. .

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August 1, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Icy Gospel Ramblings

So many changes in one year.

So many changes in one year.

Icy days move me to reflection (and apparently, random reflection).

This coming Monday, January 13th, will be one year ago that my family moved to Va.  We packed up, crashed with some friends, and asked, “Hey, who wants to help plant a church?”

At that point, we had acquaintances here, but no deep friendships.  Now, we have deep friendships and a growing congregation.

But even more than what is going on in the Duncan household, God is moving among us in the Spotsylvania area.  Honest, gospel conversations are happening each day.

Jesus is being spoken to people who don’t know Him.
Jesus is being spoken to people who want to know Him better.
Jesus is being spoken to those who know Him well but crave for more.
And Jesus is being spoken in places in which we are unaware.

Like my buddy, Andy Stager, says, “Gardens aren’t launched; they are planted.”  As it goes, Evident Grace is gradually growing and continually being planted.  Right now, we are in the work of planning, pruning, seeding, and reseeding.  We pray for growth and flourishment to honor Christ.

All of this makes me dizzier than the seizures I’ve worked through in the last year, but the big difference is that this dizziness is a lot more enjoyable.

I’ve been challenged a lot lately towards this end:  Preach Christ and not Evident Grace.  Invite people to Christ and not just to a worship service.  That is a good reminder and an obvious challenge of faith.  I know it is a good and right one though.

So, thanks for the icy rambling.  Just like driving in this weather, I write them carefully and hope to arrive at my destination without too much damage.  I hope the same for you.

January 7, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Evident Grace Preview for January 5, 2014

1.1-6Tomorrow, we are going to begin our “Ephesians” series.  So, let me detail a few things as we begin.

At Evident Grace, we value that the best way to understand a book of the Bible is to walk line by line through it.  This is called understanding a book exegetically or from my perspective, it is called exegetical preaching.  Every now and then, that means we look at some pretty strange verses, but this will give you a deeper understanding of the book and that will keep me honest as I can’t just skip around to whatever verse I want.

Also, if we are going to fully grasp whatever any book of the Bible is attempting to communicate, we need to know a bit of the book’s background.  So, if you don’t mind, let me tell you a bit of the history of Ephesians.

The Apostle Paul wrote this while sitting in a Roman prison somewhere between 60 and 64AD.    The sole reason that Paul was in jail was that he preached salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ and that Jesus was king.  The local governments didn’t care who you worshiped but that person couldn’t be the king of the entire world.  That title was reserved for Caesar.

So as Paul sat in a nasty jail, he wrote this letter to the church in Ephesus.  Paul had visited them earlier in his life, but since that visit, the church grew a great deal.  So, some of those receiving this letter would have known Paul really well, while others would never have had the chance to hear him or interact with him.

With all of that in mind, as we read and study this book, we should notice two themes.  The first theme is that Christ has repaired the broken relationship between the sinful world and God.  That repair is permanent and ultimate and accomplished.  The second theme is that now, Christ has created a worshiping community, the church, that is made up of all kinds of people, not just Jews, but all races.

And the wonderful thing is that this letter is written to this church out of affection and care.  Paul is not writing it out of a need for rebuke against a specific sinful teaching or against some incorrect belief or doctrine.  That’s rare these days but would have been even more rare in Ephesus.  Ephesus was a city full of heresy and even occult practices, but this church seemed to be free of those things for the most part.

So Paul is going to get started here reminding the Ephesians of how their relationship with God began, and then he wants to build on that understanding.   On that point, I think Evident Grace can relate.   For the past year, we have attempted to build a foundation of the gospel at Evident Grace, and now, I hope we can build on it.

In 2014, Evident Grace is going to continue to build on the foundation of the gospel.  We are going to build on the gospel in our worship services.  And I hope that through our Evident Grace groups, kafasoto and Bushiban groups, we can build on the gospel there as well.

So let’s look at the foundational teaching that Paul explains and pray that God will remind us of those things as we study the book of Ephesians.  And the first foundational gospel teaching that Paul gives us is the wonderful truth that God adopts us out of sin to be His child, and He does those things for His glory.  So with that in mind, it is going to be no surprise that we hope to pursue this Big Idea:  Our security is that God has adopted us for His glory by His will.

Having said that, please join us this Sunday.  We meet at 10:30am at the comedy club above Liberty Lanes.  You can find directions here.  Please come as you are, and we look forward to meeting you.

January 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Evident Grace Devotions to Further the Conversation

ImageOne of the things we are hoping to do at Evident Grace Fellowship is establish a conversation throughout the week about what we study on Sunday.  Since we launched for services three weeks ago, we have been studying the book of Philippians in a series entitled, “Partners & Partakers”.  During our services, we offer questions within the bulletin to enable that conversation, and we also offer a children’s bulletin tailored to various age groups.

But most excitedly, we are offering devotional pdf’s of the sermons to enable the conversations.  These can be downloaded and shared so that individuals, families, and pretty much whoever wants to study can dig in a little deeper to what we talk about on Sunday.  They are also great for catching up on the sermon if you miss a Sunday.

We offer these devotionals in two formats.  First, you can download them directly in pdf format at absolutely not cost.  The links below will give you the opportunity to pay if you want, but just type $0, and you do not have to give any credit card information.  You will receive an email with the pdf’s.  You can find the downloads at

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

We are also now offering these devotionals at Amazon’s Kindle.  These cost $.99.  Unfortunately, Amazon charges to distribute these, but any money made on from Kindle will be sent right back to Evident Grace.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

The goal here is not to sell or distribute a bunch of pdf’s.  The hope is to enable greater conversations around what we are studying as a church so the Gospel can form a culture among us.  We hope these help, and we will be updating them each week.

May 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Chapter Excerpt from The Gospel Carries Us

Below is one of the fifty plus articles from “The Gospel Carries Us” and its goal is to give frustrated, helpless people something they so desperately want:   a hope and an assurance.  I hope you enjoy it

In our daily ebb and flow of life, it is more than likely that we will become depressed either by our lack of accomplishment, lack of progress, or failure to attain what we want.

Why is this? Often it is because our view of history is as one who sees history as the telling of our story. But a redemptive view of history broadens our perspective. If we see the unfolding of our lives less in terms of our own individual perspective and more so in the perspective of our role in the outplaying of God’s redemptive work, we will find true hope. If we see history selfishly, we will find true despair.

We are either part of God’s work in bringing flawed people to himself for true glory or we will feel the weight of our own lack of ability to be good. Both involve very weak, non-perfect people.

One group has embraced grace (forgiveness for which we do not deserve) and another has embraced self-effort. But self-effort is self-torture. A friend of mine the other day said, “I just want to be good.” A good desire, but we just can’t be good on our own (ask my two year old).

But what if the meaning of history was God taking those people who try so hard to be good but aren’t, and truly redeeming them, calling them good because another was good for them? Then our lack of accomplishment or lack of progress would seem smaller in our minds b/c we have found real accomplishment and progress in the perfect work/life of Jesus Christ.

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

The Gospel Carries Us now available

So why call a book “The Gospel Carries Us”?  Simple. The New Testament imperative from Jesus is that we go into this world. We weren’t designed to sit at home and bunker ourselves away from everyone else. We are commanded to go, and the Gospel carries us as we do.

So with that motivation behind me, I’ve gathered over fifty articles and essays that I hope are some encouragement to you and your “going”. The book is full of stories of life, love, gospel, mission, culture, church, and church planting.  It has been designed so that you don’t have to read straight through, but you can. I tried to divide things up into some categories that made sense. At first, I had a dozen or so topics, but for simplicity, I’ve reduced them to three.

You’ll find thoughts on planting and growing a church.
You’ll find my musings on the holidays.
And you’ll find a bunch of articles on relationships.

Feel free to jump around or read straight through. Either way, I never take it for granted that anyone wants to read this stuff, so thank you for taking the time.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll post clips, musings, and chapters from the book as samples of what folks might find.

As I read through seven years’ worth of writings, I realized something.  I can never write to greater explore or greater reveal God.  He has done that just fine for that Himself.  Instead, what I can do is remind my heart (and hopefully yours) that God is gracious and loving and meets our needs so well beyond our expectations.  If my writings can serve those purposes, I’ve succeeded.  One article says it this way:

The word supplies in this verse is the same word in the Greek used during a first century wedding service.  It is the declaration of a groom to his bride.  It is like the groom who sees his beautiful bride and says, “I will provide for you because I love you.  Anything you need, I will supply.  You don’t have to earn it.  I just want to do it for you because I love you.”

In the language of scripture, that is exactly what Jesus does.  Jesus looks at His church the bride and says, “I love you, and I will make you beautiful.”  Because of that, no one improves on what God has done by their own efforts.  You can’t go out and try to earn His love.  All that the child of God has, He has graciously given.  It is not payment for a debt incurred by work.

Thanks for even thinking about reading my book.  If you would like to explore it further, you can find it available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and in print here.

Thanks.

August 21, 2012 Posted by | church, gospel, mission, missional | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Gospel Carries Us Cover and Table of Contents

Releasing on Kindle, Nook, and Paperback on Tuesday, August 21st, ” The Gospel Carries Us” is a collection of essays, articles, and publications exploring how life intersects with the Gospel in the most surprising of places.  The article titles are below, and hopefully a sample chapter will appear soon.  Thanks.

Table of Contents

Intro.. 4

The Death of Thom Duncan Moves Many to Tears.. 5

Relationships. 6

A Brief History of Time.. 6

Celebrating Fifteen Years of Marriage.. 6

Close at Work but Distant at Home.. 7

Exhortation.. 9

Functional Addicts.. 9

Grace and Change.. 10

How to Win a Fight. 12

I’m so Happy for You (Not Really). 12

Is Toughness a Virtue?.. 13

Jesus Risk.. 15

Label Makers.. 16

Like Father Like Son.. 17

Lonely Child Prodigies.. 18

Loose Lips Sink Ships.. 19

Meets Supplies Every Need.. 19

No Offense is a Good Defense.. 20

No Rest for the Weary.. 21

Scrapped Sermon Intro.. 23

Spiritual Bullying.. 23

The Gospel According to A-Rod.. 25

The Day after Taxes Blues.. 25

The Gift of Perspective – Don’t Waste It. 26

The Weaker and Stronger Brother – Alcohol 27

Three Issues Men Face in Communication.. 29

Ugly Betty and the Problem with Self-Image.. 30

You are Undefiled.. 33

Holidays. 35

Celebrating Lent in a Small Town.. 35

A Good Friday Devotional 36

Easter in a Small Suburban Town.. 37

To Trick or Treat?.. 38

Pagan, Pious, Patriot. 39

Service Should Not Be Seasonal 40

Vacation Musings.. 41

Church Planting.. 42

A Church Celebrates Five Years.. 42

Canceling a Service Ain’t Easy.. 43

Change in the Life of a Church Officer. 44

Church Buildings are Merely Tools.. 46

Church Planter Rock Star. 46

Dreaming through the Morning and Dreaming through the Night. 47

Everybody Hurts.. 48

Four Benefits of Blogging.. 49

I Didn’t Plant the Church I Thought I Would Plant – Thank God.. 50

Lead, Follow, and Getting Out of the Way.. 51

Letter on Expectation, Worship, and Faithfulness.. 52

Marketing the Church.. 52

Money is the Root of All Steeples.. 54

Passion to Serve.. 55

Redeeming Space.. 56

Shrinking Faith.. 57

The Best Frappuccino Ever. 57

The TMZ of Jesus’ Day.. 58

Tips for Teaching.. 59

Training to Win.. 60

Who Encourages the Pastor?.. 61

Why Would Anyone Visit My Church.. 62

About Gordon Duncan.. 64

Paperback can now be purchased here.

 

August 20, 2012 Posted by | church, gospel, mission, missional | , , , , | 2 Comments