Pastoral Backstory – July 16th, 2015


(What is the Backstory and why?)


July 16th, 2015


“Monsters U,” 2014

We may not be the fastest in the pack. But we are persistent.

We first alluded to this back in September.

We formally introduced the idea near the end of a sermon last February.

And with Mark Kull’s election to the office of elder last month we took a giant step forward toward making this idea a reality.

We’re talking about something we’re planning to call the “Mercy Cohort” (“MC”). It will be a long-awaited and much-needed dimension to the overall ministry of CtK.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.00.56 PMFor those of you who need to brush up on your Roman history, or who haven’t been in educational settings for a while, a cohort is a group bound together with a particular characteristic or purpose, both of which in this case will be defined by mercy. We’ll take some time starting in this Sunday’s sermon to drill down on what mercy is.

The mandate for the MC will be broadly defined because we envision its specific functions to derive from the unique interests, aptitudes, and experiences of those who end up becoming part of it. In simplest terms the MC will be a group of male and female members of CtK responsible for extending mercy both within and beyond CtK, as well as mobilizing the membership to participate in those efforts. 

Those who serve on the MC will have shown the requisite blend of compassion and courage needed to tailor sympathy and firmness as the moment calls for it. They will have demonstrated both integrity in the use of resources and the capacity to serve on a team.

"Jesus the Homeless," Timothy Schmalz

“Jesus the Homeless,” Timothy Schmalz

While this brief introduction to the nature and function of the MC is something of an invitation to serve on it, there will be an online application and interview process, followed by a brief, four-week training in September for applicants qualified by the session.

"The Death of Ananias," Raphael

“The Death of Ananias,” Raphael

It might seem odd to (re)introduce this new and vital dimension to CtK’s vision of Faithful Presence on the Sunday we look at the swift and summary judgment upon Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 4:32-5:11). Doesn’t “mercy triumph over judgment” (James 2:13)? That juxtaposition isn’t lost on us; and we hope to show how that very collision burnishes the pertinence and poignancy of each. But what we’ll find in that text, and the passage coming in two weeks time (Aug 2nd–Acts 6:1-7), is that the Kingdom of God comes through a community defined by mercy.  We are only true to our identity, and to the mission entailed by it, when we take up the work of mercy as a whole community.

The Mercy Cohort will therefore not be the group that does the work of mercy for us, or instead of us, but rather the group that helps us incarnate mercy among us and beyond us.

ThyKingdomComePromoWe’ll share more over the next couple weeks about what committing to the MC entails, the process of application and training, and the sequence for its formation. For now, we’d like you all to pray. For wisdom and courage to know how we take these next precious steps toward seeing the Cohort coalesce. But also for whether the “one thing” in addition to worship you commit to in CtK might be serving on the MC. We’re not expecting people with Masters degrees in economics, social work, or counseling (but we sure won’t turn you away if you do!). We’re only looking for those who desire to extend wise, compassionate care, and who realize just how central mercy is to the coming of the Kingdom.


Never Cry Wolf (1983) Click the image for the scene!

Never Cry Wolf (1983) Click the image for the scene!

Meanwhile last Sunday we talked of how the Kingdom comes with a gospel-centered boldness. Such boldness is neither out for a the thrill of adventure, nor to attract attention to itself. But it does mean to speak plainly and openly in such a way that requires clarity and courage–especially in a world where trying to persuade someone of your metaphysical point of view is now regarded with anywhere from deep suspicion to outright revulsion.

Which is why comedian and magician Penn Jillette’s comments about proselytizing are so remarkable, since he takes every chance he can get to ridicule most expressions of religious faith. In the sermon I shared the highlights of his candid retelling of an experience with a Christian who shared with him a bible. Here are those comments in full.


Some people thrive on speaking of things that incense others; stirring it up invigorates them. While still others experience as much uneasiness in speaking what’s unpopular as those with whom they might actually find the courage to share it. But Jillette’s simple logic and the humble sincerity of his brief conversationalist challenges both the moxie and the hesitancy.

spiral-of-silence-communication-theorySo Sunday next (Jul 26) during 2nd hour we’re going to hear from our own Bill Harris flesh out a bit more fully what gospel-centered boldness means. As the Preacher in Ecclesiastes tells us, there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. Bill will help us see what it requires to do both in their proper season.



Community Notes:

We will soon transition sharing prayer requests to a group on The City dedicated to prayer which any and all registered can post to. Today, this one last time, we call for prayers for:

  • Jan Van Staalduinen as she heads to Africa in August to begin teacher-training for a literacy agency
  • Karla Pollock’s sister-in-law diagnosed with a brain-tumor
  • Pastor Dee of Fairmeadows Baptist still fighting cancer
  • our ongoing search for a more permanent location for CtK
  • and now, alas, for Chattanooga



Author: Patrick

Pastor of Christ the King Church (PCA)

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  1. Please remember to pray for four Marine families tonight who thought their father, or son, or husband, was now safe here in this country. Marines are close to my heart. My Marine brother served in both Korea and Vietnam, and his Marine grandson is now on active duty. Please pray for the recovery of the sailor, the other Marines, and the policeman.

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    • Thank you, Suzanne, for the reminder that these tragedies are not happening in a vacuum isolated from impacting us or anyone we know. Rather, when I’m informed of such events I should recognize there is a real community of people being permanently wounded and scarred far beyond what the cameras will ever be able to show. It is kind of like the reverse of Proverbs 25:25. I wonder if there are any organized prayer groups out there somewhere that use the evening national news program as their prayer guide.

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