a new church plant in San Diego, is part of The Resurgence, "a movement that resources multiple generations to live for Jesus so that they can effectively reach their cities with the gospel by staying culturally accessible and Biblically faithful." As my intro admits, I thoroughly edited this post eight later, and I know The Resurgence site was online recently because the last time I looked for it, I found it—probably within the past two or three months. The Resurgence is first Christian, then both evangelical and missional. And very conservative Reformed. This morning @ 11:00 I worshiped with The Resolved in its current space at the Musicians Union Hall on Morena Blvd in the approximate Bay Park/USD vicinity. Edit: since then they've moved to a larger, more settled location on Napa Street, San Diego. The Resolved Church self-describes as Glory Driven, Gospel Centered, City within the City. Each week the newsletter features one of Jonathan Edwards' resolveds, but there's more to being Resolved than the Northampton Preacher—later in this blog I quote Pastor Duane Smets, "We are The Resolved Church. In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul said, 'I resolved to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.' We need to be a resolved people. Resolved to have the gospel take root. Resolved to have the gospel change us. Resolved to repent. Resolved to follow Jesus and to plant his church in this city."
A little about the website: visually it's highly attractive and somewhat sophisticated without being obnoxiously slick, but the pale gray text against black is far too difficult to read; on some pages I couldn't select the text to get a more readable view and then figured out the text portions actually were images—how irritating! When I checked out the (edited eight years later: no longer live) designer's site, DMS Design Theory turned out to be Pastor D(uane) M(.) S(mets), who began college as a design major. By the way, I've long loved the convention of using lots of lower-case, though I understand it can be hard to read, and although sometimes I'm inconsistent regarding the Reformed convention of capitalizing adjectives and articles that reference God, I always capitalize the nouns God, Lord, etc., so I found the footer on the newsletter page, "much love to you all & soli deo gloria!" a little disconcerting. To continue, here's part of Duane's bio:
Pastor Duane's educational background includes a B.A. in Religion from Point Loma Nazarene University, a B.Th. from LIFE Bible College and an M.A. in Theology from Talbot School of Theology.The Doctrinal Statement explains "Neither papists nor hyper-Calvinists!" ¶ 1 under The Church reads:
Duane's ministerial background began in 1998 and since then he has served as a youth pastor, college pastor, evangelist and in 2005 planted The Resolved Church. His writings have appeared in Relevant Magazine, Kaleo Publications, and his Master's thesis, "The New Testament Evangelist" can be found both online and in libraries connected with Biola University. Duane is a gifted and passionate preacher who treasures Christ, his family and Jesus' church.
We believe the Church is the invisible spiritual body of believers in Jesus throughout all time (Ephesians 5:4-16). We believe the Church has many local expressions and is not a business or a building but a viceroy of the kingdom of God (Revelation 1:4-6). We believe in the autonomy of local churches and in a government of male plurality for the leadership of local churches (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-5; 1 Timothy 3:2). Thus, we are not ecumenicists, egalitarians, or mono-episcopists. "...government of male plurality for the leadership..."The authors page (no longer where it used to be, and I didn't try to find a current list) listed twenty all told—that's 20 guys, all white, mostly dead! To be fair, this is simply a small selection from The Resolved's broader theological tradition, but I'd like to see a few women and greater 20th and 21st-century representation.
Some exciting chunks of Duane's sermons I found online:
We are The Resolved Church. In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul said, "I resolved to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." We need to be a resolved people. Resolved to have the gospel take root. Resolved to have the gospel change us. Resolved to repent. Resolved to follow Jesus and to plant his church in this city.Almost everything on the website looked and sounded exciting, and this morning's worship proved a wonderful experience. The music in the churches I've been visiting always interests me, but today at the start of worship they announced that Michael, their music leader, was stuck in Jamaica waiting out Hurricane Dean. However, during holy communion they played an amazingly beautiful accompanied choral version of "There is a Fountain filled with Blood," from a CD recorded by one of the churches they're connected to (you probably could say in covenant with) so even these seemingly independent congregations aren't at all unaffiliated—they're just not part of what we in the mainline technically would consider a denomination or church body. I've been trying to make the blogs about the churches I've been visiting about my own faith journey, too; a while ago, when I told the North Park senior pastor I'd felt "deeply betrayed by the church" and he responded with, "what church is this?" I answered, "the protestant mainline—the only church I've ever known!" As I venture outside of the physical and jurisdictional confines of the American Protestant Mainline, I'm finding myself curious, refreshed and reflective, so this is becoming a Good Journey!
Cultural Incarnation & Transformation—A City within the City
How does that work? How does that play itself out? What the heck are you talking about? Let’s talk about culture, "Cultural Incarnation & Transformation - A City within the City." This is how God’s mission, of bringing glory to himself by drawing everyone to him through Jesus all the time, this is how that happens.
So we hold the message dear. But we partner with the city and live lives within it. Non-christians need to see you dying and living for the gospel. ... Non-Christians need to see Christians who inhabit their city but they are different. They need to see people who are radically like them but also radically different.
The physical feeling alone of worshiping in that space would be enough to make me resolve to return to The Resolved! There were about three dozen worshipers, mostly adults, in a large room; both front and back doors were open, with a fan blowing for added ventilation. Four electric torchière lamps and ten candles on the black-cloth-covered communion table provided the only ambient lighting (light from the projection screen, too, of course), and in some ways the room was dim, especially since the mostly black and gray palette of the website carried over into almost everything except the already-painted walls, but it was restfully peaceful rather than being remotely oppressive. Unlike in some whereabouts, all of worship was on the same physical level, and above the stage we didn't use they'd hung a long version of the banner I posted at the top of this blog with its city skyline and the words a glory driven - gospel centered - city within the city. (By the way, please notice I didn't even attempt to approximate any measurement of anything.) I got the impression that worship usually begins with singing, which in Michael's absence didn't happen today, so a guy (deacon or other church officer, maybe?) opened with two readings about God, explained how a huge part of who we are and how we live has to do with what we think and believe about God, followed with prayer, and then Duane preached. "Two If's and a Walk Stronger than Death," was today's title—the first of a pair of sermons on Romans 8:9-13, part of a longer The Walking According to the Spirit Series. I'd describe Duane's preaching as apologetics-driven, but he has a degree in apologetics and this community attempts to link, interconnect and to theologically integrate heart and head, so that approach was appropriate, as well as being something I try to do in my own preaching and teaching.
Post-sermon we celebrated the Eucharist, explicated on the screen as, "Thanksgiving - Holy Communion - Lord's Supper - Mass." My appreciation of their celebrating the sacrament weekly goes without saying; they introduced it with what I'd call a "means of grace" theological perspective. In my usual churches we always make a point of serving each other communion, whether it's passed in the pews, we gather around the communion table or process single-file to the front, so it felt (and it was) unfamiliar for people to wait in their seats until they felt ready and then walk to the Table at the front to break off a piece of the (tasty round) bread and dip it in the chalice. In fact, we so insist on serving each other, I have happy memories of my former next-door neighbor SaraLyn holding her then maybe 2-year old son plus other stuff in her lap and going through some awkward motions to offer the cup to me to show Christ's hospitality; last winter or so the North Park senior pastor was doing something and I said something about his behavior being related to "serving yourself communion." He replied, "I wouldn't be that heretical!" I'm gaining new outlooks all-around.
Around noontime, after the word "Liturgy" appeared on the screen, we heard a gospel portion from John 6:60-69 (not today's RCL gospel) and recited a responsive Psalm 34:2-3, 16-22, "Taste and See." After a couple of announcements about the coming week's activities, we could consider ourselves dismissed, though without a formal benediction or "Go in peace; serve the Lord."
When I first entered the room before worship began, I approached the guy I thought was the pastor (hey, I'd been to the site) and later a couple other people came over and talked to me, but nothing hard-sell or off-putting. Lately I've been considering my own self-presentation a lot (for example, outgoing, open friendliness usually works great when you're interviewing and candidating for a church staff position, but the exact same attitude and behavior may impress routine folks and lay leaders as assertive or overtaking in a church where you're trying to get involved in ministry), so it was fun hearing Pastor Duane's telling us he'd worn his "suit and glasses" for a meeting with the folks the church rents from. On my way out I chatted with Amy, Duane's spouse (they're expecting a baby girl, their first child, in November). Again, just casual and cordial. By the way, Duane has a left armful of beautiful, elegant tattoos! These days at least one pierced ear has become almost commonplace for guy pastors, but most of them seem to keep any additional body art hidden.
In closing, this is a church plant, and y'all y'all know plants need deep roots, and a thriving plant branches out far enough to help heal, nourish, and keep its environment (its habitat, its city!) sustainable. Altogether this was excellent; I'll be going back.