Reflections on our partnership

Dear Christ Church,

Last week I had the privilege of attending the Regional Assembly of Elders with Pastor Jeff and some of the other men who are in pastoral training. This was for the Northeast Region of our denomination, Sovereign Grace Churches. Pastor Jeff asked if I would be willing to share about my experience of our time at this event, and I was more than happy to.

 I found this time incredibly encouraging and walked away with a fresh excitement for our partnership in the Gospel with Sovereign Grace Churches. While I've been a member of Sovereign Grace Churches for the past fifteen years, I can honestly say I've never been more encouraged at what God is doing in our family of churches. Here are three ways that I walked away with a fresh excitement for what God is doing in our denomination:

1. I saw men with a heart for the poor: I saw men who care deeply about the Gospel being shared and churches being planted in poorer areas. It was so encouraging to hear updates from Stephen Bowne, who has preached at our church, about the recent church plant in the Frankford neighborhood of Philly. What was particularly encouraging was a proposal that was adopted by our region to increase giving to churches like this one significantly over the next few years, as it will take much longer for churches in areas like this to become self-sustaining. It was great to see how Sovereign Grace Churches are committed to planting churches in economically oppressed areas for the long haul by dedicating a significant portion of the annual budget to these endevours.

2. I saw men with a heart for the gospel to spread internationally. We had the privilege to hear from and fellowship with Sean Taylor and Joel Bain who are getting ready to plant a church in Jamaica. Right now, these men are being trained for pastoral ministry in two Sovereign Grace churches in Pennsylvania. We also heard an update from the Croatia church plant, which was planted out of one of our sister churches, Christ Community Church in Reading, PA. It was great to see God using our local churches to train, equip, and send men and women to other nations to spread the Gospel. I found it particularly encouraging that a percentage of our giving as a church goes to Sovereign Grace, which in turn helps fund international missions like these. We have people from nations from all over the world right outside our door in South Philly, I’m looking forward to seeing how God will use us in particular as a church as we partner with other Sovereign Grace churches to spread the Gospel internationally.  

3. I saw men who take their calling to pastor very seriously.  It was obvious that these men share a deep respect and affection for each other. Fellowship and encouragement flowed throughout our time together. There was much laughter and joking in our meetings and over meals. Yet despite the love this group of men has for each other, they are willing to have difficult conversations, and even challenge one another. Surprisingly, these disagreements and hard conversations may be what I found most encouraging about my time there. I saw men who took their charge to pastor so seriously that they are willing to vote down a proposal by a friend or push back on something shared by someone they respect if they felt it was not the best way to honor Christ. I saw men that wanted above all else to be faithful to Christ and be good stewards of the pastoral charge they have been given.

These are just three of the many ways I was encouraged by our time at the RAE. I could write much more about the churches that will soon be planted, how our new polity is strengthening us as a denomination, and the many other ways God is at work, but time does not permit.  Christ Church, be encouraged; God is moving, and bearing much fruit through our partnership in the Gospel with our family of churches!

In His Grace,

Matt Slingerland