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Welcome to Willo

G’day,

Thanks for visiting our church website. You may have checked us out for a number of different reasons. Maybe you're looking for a church, maybe you are just exploring the Christian faith, maybe you’ve been invited along by a friend, or maybe you want to just visit.

Our church is a community that God has drawn together because of love that He’s given us; for Him and for each other. As with every community we have ways of doing things and important things we believe. This website, as well as offering a library of sermon audio, is intended to give you a snapshot of our church community, what we believe, and ways you can be involved if you wish to be.

We hope to meet you. If you have any questions about our church or about spiritual matters, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our contact details can be found here.

ATTENTION: New Evening Service Time (Trial) – 26th August 2018

On the 26th August, for our Prayer & Fellowship Service, we'd like to trial the earlier start time of 5:00pm. This is part of our ongoing review of the second services, determining whether an earlier start will make the service more accessible. Please make a note of this in your calendar and come at 5:00pm instead of 6:00pm. Supper will follow the service as usual.

God's Providence

Last Sunday night we were reminded how God uses opposition to the gospel in order to advance the gospel. Like water on a grease fire, the more people try to quench the good news, the more rapidly it grows and spreads.

This is has always been God’s way. To use bad in order to achieve good. To use imperfect people in order to achieve his perfect plan. To use the weak and foolish things in order to reveal his strength and wisdom. To send his Son to death on a cross in order to save the world.

We’re currently facing a lot of change at Willo – even just in this coming weekend! Staff changes, vision changes, ministry changes, etc. Hopefully it stirs in us a healthy mixture of enthusiastic excitement and careful circumspection. But it’s not just our church that’s experiencing change at the moment. It’s no secret how much our society is also changing.

I don’t need to repeat all the ways that the West is departing from its Christian values – it’s dead obvious. And I don’t need to remind us how opposition to Christianity is growing alongside these changes – that’s obvious too. But far from diminishing the opportunities for the good news, this opposition will only increase them. It will shake the church up, for sure, but it will ultimately lead to an advance of the gospel.

The vision and cultural changes we are seeking to implement are not an internally focussed thing. It’s just as much about what’s going on in the world around us. The push for discipleship is not just about having more members committed to serving in programs. It’s more about equipping disciples in Christlike maturity in order to be effective witnesses in an increasingly hostile world. The formulation of a new vision is not about words for the sake of words. It’s about a conviction that we won’t back up towards comfort in the face of this pressure, but that we will testify to Jesus in the way we might suffer that pressure.

Less and less will churches have room for nominalism and people who only pay lip-service to God. More and more will we need to fully invest and own the challenges of being partners in the gospel.

But none of this is about our strength or levels of commitment. It’s God who is strong. It’s God who advances the gospel. It’s God who will uphold us when trials and opposition comes. And it’s God who comforts us with that incredible reality that he is in control of all things. Everything falls under his sovereignty, providence and power.

Which brings me to the sermon series for this Term. On Sunday night Jordan gave as a teaser from the life of Joseph, reminding us of that well known verse: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Ge 50:20, NIV) This reference was providential (as well as some talks at Oxygen), because we’re going to spend this term on the life of Joseph.

Why? (i) Because Joseph’s story is in many ways an exile story – all about serving God in dire circumstances and when things seem hopeless. (ii) Because God uses the Joseph story to plow ahead with his plans and promises to bring redemption and salvation to the world, no matter how things look or how sinful the characters may be. (iii) Because we need to see that things are not always as they seem, no matter how many years pass, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how much people intend to harm us. We serve the mighty, sovereign King. He is the designer of time and the architect of circumstances, and he will work for the good of those who love him.

So, we begin the Joseph story next Sunday, 22nd July, in sermons and Small Groups studies. The approach will be somewhat back to normal (after Term 1), but I want to encourage you all to read the story (Ge 37-50) a few times before we start and as we work it through. Studies won’t preempt the sermons, but if you can read and reflect on the passages before the sermons, there is so much more to gain.

Ownership

There’s a word that often comes up when a church is engaged in future planning, and that word is ownership. It’s a call to own the change, own the plans and own the vision. It’s a call to responsibility and stepping up to the mark – to be good stewards of the challenges and opportunities that face us. And it’s not just for the leaders, but for everyone in the church. To own it.

Of course, if you’re talking about who actually owns the church, there’s only one answer isn’t there? God does. He’s the only One who truly possesses the church and its people. But he chooses to make us stewards of it and to use us for it’s growth. Christ is the Head, but we are the living, functioning members.

So, it’s a tension. It’s God’s church and it’s your church. It belongs to Him and it belongs to us. He owns it, but He wants us to own it too. And both of these realities have implications for us.

i. We need to know it’s God’s church when we’re tempted to worry. When the future is unknown and change is in the air. When a church plant goes out or a Pastor retires. When a family moves on or your kids move away. When numbers reduce or a ministry dwindles. We need to remember it’s God’s church.

God provides for his church. He cares for it and guides it and nurtures it. It’s his bride, his family, his household. He will never neglect it. History proves this time and again. In this church, in this denomination, in every church – God provides for its needs. As the Psalm says of God’s city, so it is with the church: “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” (Psalm 46:5, NIV)

ii. We also need to know it’s God’s church when we’re tempted to be possessive. When we’re feeling entitled and owed something by the church. When we’re demanding (of God or leaders) that things don’t change or when we’re getting defensive of our traditions. When we’re acting self-righteously or dishing out ultimatums. We need to remember it’s God’s church.

None of us possess it the way God possesses it. None of us are entitled to our way (“or the highway”) or our personal preferences. None of us are owed any religious comfort or worldly contentment. And none of us are exempt from the call to discipleship, transformation and ongoing change. We all have the comfort of knowing God’s church is in God’s hands, but also, we are all confronted with the cost of following Jesus. The church is not yours to demand expectations of (beyond expecting the gospel, of course).

iii. Yet, we need to know that the church is ours (as stewards) when we’re tempted to slack off. When we’re taking no interest or making church a Sunday-only affair. When our trust in leaders becomes an excuse to fob the needs off on them. When we’re deliberately keeping our distance so church doesn’t impinge on the rest of life. When we custom-build our church package with only the things that suit our lifestyle. We need to remember that it’s our church – all of it.

We need to own it. The ups and downs, the highs and lows, the joys and trials – we need to own it all. It’s not just for pastors and elders to deal with, but all of us. Whether we’re talking about Sunday services or Small Group culture or staffing needs or youth & kids programs or future direction – it needs to matter to each of us.

The problem churches can so often have, is that members will express ‘ownership’ by demanding preferences or highlighting problems, but then refuse to offer any ownership of the solution or change. The church is not a horse that we get a free ride on, kicking it frequently to make it go faster. The church is God’s house and God’s family, which we tend to and work on, together.

On the one hand, it’s hard to urge you to own the upcoming changes at Willo when there’s a possibility I won’t be around to own them myself. On the other hand, whatever decision Cath and I make is all about owning the call for God’s church (both here and elsewhere), while trusting that he will provide for his own. So, I would humbly like to encourage you to own the decisions Willo needs to make about the future, just as Cath and I need to own our decision about ministry calls and service within the kingdom. The congregational meeting (mentioned below) is one excellent opportunity to express this ownership.

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29, NIV) Let’s trust God with the unknowns of the church’s future and obey him in the call to move it forward on his mission.

– Dan

Willetton Christian Church
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