Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pretending to be a "normal" church

Sunday school, Sunday services, and Potluck...all in a "normal" Sunday, in any "normal" church right? That's what we had planned for church: Sunday School, Sunday services, and Potluck...normal. Except it's -52F outside. At that temperature when you turn the key on our vehicle it sounds like a teenager on a Saturday morning when you're trying to wake them up to do chores. It doesn't start, we'll put it that way. I don't think I've ever posted anything condescending on Facebook before, but I was tempted this Sunday. It would have said something like, "It's -52 outside and our van won't start, so I drug a sled with my daughter and a crockpot of soup 3/4 of a mile to get to church on time...what's your excuse for not going to church today?" I think Dale Carnegie said that this was not a good way to win friends and influence people though.

We have excuses all the time for why we don't do what the Lord commands for us to do.  In the above picture (which was taken this past -52F Sunday) there were 8 vehicles parked in front of the church. The rest walked. I'm so grateful and humbled by this group of believers that wants to be together, and be in worship and the Word!

Things you can be praying for:
  • I (Chris) will be attending an Arctic Barnabas Men's retreat in Soldotna this week. Pray that it is a time of rest, and connection with other missionaries and pastors around the state.
  • Pray that the Lord would give protection to the men in Galena from the spirits of depression and hopelessness. Pray that the Lord would make them receptive to the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus.
  • Pray for our sister church in Huslia as they harvest logs for an addition to their church building. Pray that they would be protected as they work to fell the larger trees.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
(Romans 12:4-5 ESV)

Why is it that, historically, the Church in Alaska has not “played well together”? Starting from the first missionaries in the late 1800’s, missions in Alaska has been drawn into denominational and organizational lines. Growing up in Alaska I watched firsthand how denominations and ministry organizations focused on their individual kingdoms and movements, to the detriment of the Body of Christ.  All of that said I see signs of life today: A children’s ministry organization being willing to partner with a church planting organization, or a Church with a particular theological bend being willing to become “all things to all people” to break through their stereotype for the sake of the Gospel.
What does the Body of Christ look like if we view it as individual push pins on the map? It exists (not lives) remote, disconnected, isolated, and alone: A member without a body, and a thread without a purpose. But what if those pins are tied together or tangled, if you will, with another entity, church, or individual? What starts to happen? Things get messy. The map begins to look like a jumbled mess. As well it should. What we have historically done is try to ‘weave’ our organization along ideological, theological, demographic, and affiliations lines. What happens when you pull on a tread that’s woven in such a way? It comes unraveled. But what about a tangle? How does it respond when you pull a tread? Not so easy to come apart. And why should it be? You do not separate a part of the human body without pain. Why would it be any different for the body of Christ? My members are tangled together, with nerves, blood vessels, muscles, bone, and skin. I don’t come apart easily. And if a part is weak, I don’t cut it off, but I compensate for it, heal it, nourish it, and seek out care for it if it is beyond my ability to help it.
Let me give an example of what I’m talking about from my ministry context. Galena Bible Church currently has 13 denominations represented in our regular attendance. THIRTEEN!! When asked if we are a “non-denominational church” I reply “No, we are a VERY denominational church”. I can state a theological statement and have someone that is 100% in agreement, and 100% in disagreement. From five point Calvinists to five point Armenians, I’ve got them. What a mess! You’d think we would certainly be locked in irreconcilable differences. BUT, don’t try to pull this body apart or you’ll have a fight on your hands. These people love each other, need each other, serve each other, pray for one another, study scripture together, argue theology with each other, and engage in missions together. They love the community, serve the poor, befriend the lonely, teach children, minister to teenagers, and work on church planting. The Galena Bible Church is a body. It’s a tangled mess of lives and I LOVE it! What would happen to missions in Alaska if the Body of Christ in Alaska could be so tangled? I think revival would be too weak a word to describe what the Holy Spirit would do. Who are you tangled with for the Glory of God?

Things you can pray for:
  • We've had two women who became Christians in the past two months. Pray that the Lord would guard them, and that we would have wisdom to know how to best disciple them.
  • A native elder that attended our church past away this past weekend. He was 81 years old. This will be the first non-catholic funeral in Galena that anyone can remember. Pray for me as I seek to share the Gospel with this community through the service. 
  • Our financial support has been going very well over the past two years, however we've recently heard that one of our church supporters may not be able to financially continue their support. Pray that the Lord would richly bless this church that has been so faithful in giving so that their personal finances would be met in excess.
  • Next week I (Chris) will be traveling to Soldotna for a men's retreat. Pray that this would be a time of rest, and tangling with other missionaries from around the state.

The Work of the Gospel: Propitiation

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Does the world really need another pastor with a podcast? It's a question I've asked myself a lot. There are literally HUNDREDS of top notch, doctrinally sound, eloquently spoken preachers who are podcasting sermons, interviews, and Bible Studies. So why do we need another one? The only answer that I can think of is: The people that we're trying to reach don't know any of those preachers, and those preachers don't know anything about living in the bush.

How can we serve a student that attends our church while going to school at the Galena Interior Learning Academy when they return to a village where there is no gospel presence? How, as we seek to plant churches in villages throughout interior Alaska, can we offer relevant discipleship until more permanent leadership can be put into place. And how can we do this EASY for all involved?

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