I’ve never been able to remember what an “Ebenezer” is. It always bothered me when a song leader would say something about “raising an Ebenezer” in the middle of a worship set and confuse 90% of the congregation (much less the outsiders who are visiting that day).
I don’t think I’ll ever forget what Ebenezer means again.
Samuel and Ebenezer
I want to briefly share two stories. One is a recent experience of God’s faithfulness to us and one is a story of God’s faithfulness to a group of Israelites who were huddling together in fear in a town called Mizpah nearly 3,000 years ago.
With the threat of attack by the Philistine’s, Samuel the prophet reminded the Israelites to abandon their worship of other gods and to worship and serve the One True God.
This post is part of The Disciple Making Preacher series. This series attempts to answer those who are against preaching and to propose that preaching is an irreplaceable means of disciple making in the church today.
The prophets of doom in today’s Church are confidently predicting that the day of preaching is over. It is a dying art, they say, an outmoded form of communication, ‘an echo from an abandoned past’. John Stott
Modern forms of communication have had a profound effect on preaching, preachers, and parishioners today.
Some preachers have shortened their messages to cater to the dwindling attention spans of their people. Others have supplemented their sermons with video clips and other visual aids in preaching.
But perhaps worst of all, there are those who have decided that preaching is completely outdated and must be replaced altogether. While supplementing a sermon with video or drama on occasion is not inherently bad, supplanting the sermon completely is a big problem.
A Media-Saturated Problem
The average American watches nearly 5 hours of video each day on TV’s, phones, and computers according to the latest Nielsen Cross-Platform Report.
The average YouTube video is 2 to 3 minutes. Most hour long TV shows might have 6 or 7 commercial breaks.
Hollywood movies have even found a mathematical formula that lets them match the effects of their shots to the attention spans of their audiences.
Over the past few months, God has been giving us clarity on our church planting vision for Queens, NY.
Without even planning it this way, the vision God has given us has become more than a vision of what we will see happen. It is also the process to accomplish the vision. In fact, our vision is our disciple making process, our church planting plan, and an embodied apologetic.
First, here is our mission:
Our mission is to glorify God by making disciples of all peoples.
The mission is larger than us. It’s simply the mission that Jesus gives all of His followers. Our church in Queens isn’t going to accomplish this mission entirely on its own, but, as far as it depends on us, the above is what we will strive for.
Our vision on the other hand, is how we will pursue the mission in our particular time and space.
Our Church Planting Vision
We will be a multiplying community of Jesus’ followers in the heart of Queens who will go on mission, grow in grace, and gather in His name for the glory of God among all peoples.
I know. I know. What good are statements like these, right? However, when God gives you a vision for what He is calling you to do it helps to capture it in a clear statement. Otherwise, you might find yourself building something flashier and trendier and otherwise different than what God intended.
…if you’ve got money to waste. My family doesn’t really have that problem. 😉
We live in New York City but I’m not too worried about my kids being spoiled. We’re more Madison, WI kind of spenders.
[Infographic by Simon Kerr]
I’m a big advocate for giving through the local church. Beyond that, I try and support other causes and ministries that are important to me. With our giving we can build wells for people without water, we can advocate for modern day slaves, we can feed hungry children, we can translate the Bible, etc.
But there’s one group of people that need our faithful support even more than others. They need it because they are the ones who are building the wells, rescuing slaves, and translating the Bible. They are the ones who are sharing the gospel with those who have not heard.
Who am I talking about? Missionaries.
I’ve been thinking about the benefits of sponsoring missionaries recently because I’ve been sending out some fundraising letters of my own. I’m a church planter in Queens and I rely on the prayers and gifts of others to bring the gospel to a place that has very few gospel-centered churches.
As William Carey said to his financial supporters, “I’ll go down into the mine, if you’ll hold the ropes.”
But what’s in it for those who give? What’s in it for those who hold the ropes?