Perplexed but not discouraged

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

2 Cor 4:1-2

My parents were Baptist missionaries in Papua New Guinea before returning to pastoral ministry. I grew up in Baptist churches.

I left the church in my teens and came back to faith through the influence of a Baptist youth leader. My early years of discipleship were spent in a Baptist church.

Eventually I served as an intern in that church before being sent out with my wife Michelle to plant a Baptist church in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

Today we serve with now MOVE multiplying churches. We're back at the Baptist church I grew up in. It has adopted us as one of their missionary families and is the only Baptist church in our state intentionally planting churches.

Baptist churches were not the only influence on my development, but they have been at the centre.

Many years ago I studied Reformation history at the Baptist College. I was struck by the fluid nature of church history. Great religious movements come into being, they exist for a time and unless they are renewed by the Word and the Spirit, they decline.

My denomination is in decline and desperately needs to be renewed by the Word and the Spirit. It’s the sort of decline that cannot be fixed by missional initiatives, management consultants, or church growth principles.

The Christian movement is a missionary movement. The book of Acts tells the story of the ministry of the risen Christ as he deploys his word and the Spirit to advance the spread of the gospel through his people.

Despite insurmountable odds, the gospel advances because of Jesus Christ, the risen Saviour of the world. We are not the masters of our destinies. He is. We do not determine truth from error. He does.

The church of the prosperous West has been captured by the spirit of the age, and is paying dearly for its unfaithfulness. In the West we have the learning and the resources, but our secularized faith cannot win disciples and plant churches. Instead we empty churches, and close them down.

Meanwhile I rejoice that all over the world the gospel advances where God’s people place themselves under the authority of his Word and are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is Lord and will have the final say.