Church of the King, in Santa Cruz, California, was my place for public ministry this weekend. I taught three times on hermeneutics, with my dear friend Andrew Sandlin, yesterday. I taught on “Extravagant Forgiveness” (cf. Weekly Messenger, May 2, 2005) this morning and then preached in the morning worship celebration on “The Prayer Christ Will Surely Answer” (Matthew 9:35-38). Audio copies of these addresses, and the sermon on Matthew 9, will soon be available on our Web site at: www.reformationrevival.com. If you would like a free cassette copy of the sermon you may write us at firstname.lastname@example.org and request one until May 31. (Be sure to give us your mailing address.) We have a “Friends Tape” that includes the same message when it was previously given in February.
Church of the King (COTK) is a wonderful church family of about 150-200 people. It is served by six godly and effective elders who share the ministry without competition. These brothers, including Andrew Sandlin who serves as the primary teaching pastor, all minister both publicly and privately. The elders have shown me great love on my three visits to Santa Cruz and they have again and again proven that they are true servants of the kingdom.
Like more and more churches that I visit this congregation celebrates the Lord’s death every Lord’s Day by taking the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. COTK combines a fresh style of praise and prayer within a mildly liturgical framework that guides the service consciously, without ever being prohibitive, overly rigid, or somber . We sang hymns, choruses and prayers. We corporately confessed our sin, prayed for the church around the world, shared our common faith by saying the Nicene Creed, and received blessings that were Christ centered and evangelical. And the people listened to the preaching of the Word with careful and attentive response.
One of the things I like most about COTK is the manner in which the Lord’s Supper is given and taken. While the congregation sings worship songs the people come forward as families and sit in the front row. The elders, all of them, serve each family group one-by-one in very personal ways, blessing adults and children, praying and touching all the folks in the name of Jesus. It is well done and moves me to weep with joy every time I observe the work of Christ going on in this very personal setting. People are ministered to in powerful ways. The sacrament is powerful, in itself, but COTK understands that this time is one to be filled with both joy and deep reflection.
Churches like COTK, and the elders that lead this flock, give me great hope for the church in America.There are thousands of such churches in our land. Some are small, some very large. All are recovering the ancient-future emphasis that Bob Webber speaks about in his popular books with that theme in their titles. If the Spirit of God does move in reformation and revival, and one can say he is already moving in such ways in certain places, then local congregations like COTK will become even more important in the next wave of renewal.