Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

A Successful Assembly?

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Today begins a series of posts from guest bloggers on their post-General Assembly reflections. Today’s blog is by my friend, Stan Gale. Stan serves as a pastor in the Philadelphia Metro West Presbytery.

Stanley D. Gale (M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary; D.Min. Covenant Theological Seminary) has served as a pastor for 25 years.  He and his wife, Linda, live in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  He is the author of several books, including The Prayer of Jehoshaphat: Seeing Beyond Life’s StormsWhat is Spiritual Warfare? (Basics of the Faith Series) and most recently, Making Sanity Out of Vanity: Christian Realism in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He can be reached at sdgale@CHOPministry.net.

What makes a “successful” General Assembly?  I guess it depends on whom you ask.  James River Presbytery, who hosted this year’s GA in Virginia Beach, might answer “an assembly that runs without problems.”  Tim Schirm, manager of the PCA Bookstore, might be happy with good sales and less inventory to cart back to Atlanta.  Sponsors of the various overtures would likely delight in an affirmative answer.  Exhibitors might well revel in contacts made and seed sown to further the cause of their respective ministries or offerings.

For me, success can be described in three F’s.

The first F is faithfulness.  My church paid for my travel and time.  I was present as a commissioner.  My job in service to Christ was to be engaged in the business of the Assembly—digesting reports, processing debate and voting intelligently.

That meant long hours and a worn out body.  We finished up about 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, having to reconvene after the worship service to deal with backed up business.  I am not one accustomed to late nights.  That plus an aggregate weariness from the travel and meeting demands meant fatigue.  That late night was greeted with an early Friday start. But that’s just part of the cost of diligence in my role as a commissioner.

The second F is fulfilling.  Sometimes at GA I am able to enjoy the area attractions. Not this year.  Holding the Assembly at Virginia Beach was a big tease, promising fun in the sun but at arm’s length because of the weight of responsibilities.  The extent of my tourist activity was noticing the statue of Neptune at 31st Street as I drove by on my way home.  However, refreshment was to be found in other ways.

General Assembly offers far more than a business meeting for the work of the church.  It provides an opportunity for replenishment.  The worship, the fellowship, reconnecting with people I only see once a year, the change of pace from regular pastoral responsibilities, the wealth of resources from the exhibitors, the seminars covering a wide range of topics—all contribute to sending me back to my local church with renewed enthusiasm for Christ and his church.

I confess that I did go with an agenda of my own, which I shamelessly promote here.  I suppose the appropriate F here would be fruitfulness.  For me, GA is an opportunity to promote ministries and tools I have developed for the work of the church, what might be called networking.  A book I had just written was released at GA.  In fact, I saw it in the PCA bookstore before I had seen it myself and had to buy a copy.  (The PCA bookstore is offering my book, Making Sanity Out of Vanity, at the GA 50% discount while supplies last.)

I held a seminar on “Reformed Evangelism,” in part to let the larger church know of a resource for evangelism I had developed for resourcing/equipping Christ’s disciples in their witness for the gospel of the kingdom.  (The bookstore also carries my booklet, How Can I Know Eternal Life?) Two articles of interest I referenced in my seminar are “Goldilocks and the Gospel,” a description of the booklet  and “A ‘Reformed’ Presentation of the Gospel,” currently posted on the byFaithonline website.

Was the Assembly a success for me?  Unequivocally yes.  In this case, three solid F’s means passing with flying colors.  Each one represents an answer to prayer in which God allowed me to faithfully serve him, to find renewed fulfillment for his service and the encouragement of fruitfulness as evidenced by contacts made and strong interest expressed in my ministry efforts.


Reformed Evangelism

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

I grew up in a church context that placed a great deal of emphasis on soul winning. I’m glad for that because it left an indelible impression on me of the importance of the never-dying souls of men and women and the urgency and necessity of repentance and faith. There was no doubt in my mind that the most important thing I could do was get the gospel to people and get people to Jesus.

Even after I became Reformed in my theology, I could never be persuaded by the hyper-Calvinistic argument that if God has chosen who will be saved, he doesn’t need our help to get them saved. The desire for missions and evangelism should throb deep in the heart of every Christian, and the free offer of the gospel should be proclaimed to everyone who has ears to hear.

My friend, Stan Gale, is a Calvinist, a pastor, and an evangelist. He fishes for souls, and I praise God for him. At this year’s PCA General Assembly, Stan will be leading a seminar on Reformed Evangelism. A recent byFaith article outlines several main points that are at the heart of the issue.

Stan begins by writing, “Jesus is the only way to God, but there are many ways to explain this. What, uniquely, does a ‘Reformed’ presentation of the gospel include?

God works according to His good pleasure. He can—and does—use stammering testimonies about Jesus; He also uses the well-crafted messages of trained pulpiteers. This, however, does not mean we can be careless about what we say, or how we say it. As appointed ambassadors for Christ, we must seek to honor God and be true to His Word. That is what it means to be Reformed—it is being consistent with the whole counsel of God. A Reformed understanding of the gospel deals not with packaging, but with systemic concerns related to the glory of God.”

I hope you will take time to read the rest of his article. If you’re attending the General Assembly in Virginia Beach, Stan will be presenting his seminar on Tuesday, June 7, from 2:00—3:00 p.m.

Stan has also written an excellent evangelism booklet entitled How Can I Know Eternal Life? It’s a great resource to share the good news. I encourage you to get several copies and give them to friends, family members, and co-workers. Using this booklet will help you to make the gospel clear to those you love, and the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16)!