Township church; the complexity of answering the question, “What can we do?”


Township Evangelism, church planting

Outreach to Grace Baptist Church, Daveyton. Published on the Crystal Park Baptist Church blog.

I read an excellent article this morning written on the blog Township Reformation. In summary the writer makes the point that we need to plant Bible centric churches in the township because there is an absence of Bible centric churches. Consider this closing statement:

“Our townships not only need more churches, they are desperate for more churches. Churches that are biblical, confessional, and faithful. Not tossed to and fro by any wind of doctrine blowing in this land. Let us pray earnestly to God to raise a new generation that would plant such churches. Also, let us support brothers who are in process of planting or have already, by Gods grace, planted such churches” (TR).

Yet there are so many genuine obstacles to planting township churches one wonders how it may be achieved short of a miracle*. Consider first the competition any Evangelical work faces:

“The open areas [in townships] where we would play as kids have now been occupied by church tents… …Every school is packed with 3 or more churches using classrooms as places of worship on Sundays. This is on top of many old mainline churches that have existed for years… …and not forgetting the hip mega-churches that attract thousands of people from that same township.” (TR)

Then there’s the issue of finances. Now I get there’s financial diversity in the township. Shanty towns are very different to RDP towns which are as different to areas of bonded houses but a key constraint which Evangelical works face is finances. Actually all church plants face this problem alike but the issue is magnified and exponentially harder to overcome in areas where poor teaching regarding the People of God and their finances abound.

In fact, short of a miracle, it’s impossible to plant an Evangelical church into a township. Yet God is a God of miracles so I’d like to posit 3 ways we can answer the question “What can we do?”

1. We can pray

Even if our church isn’t already planting a church into a township we can speak to churches that are. Find out the name of the Pastor. Find out the location of the church. Commit them to pray in your services, in your prayer meetings in your personal devotions. Consider praying for Chris Mnguni at Grace Baptist Church in Daveyton. Or maybe John Ndhlovu at Cosmo City Baptist Church. God hears prayers, and while we remain silent is it any wonder that His Hand is stayed?

2. We can go

Nothing creates more opportunities for a Suburban pastor or congregant than getting a little township dust on their shoes. Once you’ve walked down a dusty street, had to fetch water from a dripping tap 50m away from where you’re working or used a smelly longdrop you quickly get a vision for the need and opportunity in the township. There’s nothing more powerful in a Suburban congregation than 5 people with a heart for a mission. There is a great cookie cut opportunity with an organisation called 3D-Outreach that you as a church might want to investigate. Check out we did here.

3. We can sacrifice

I mean it. Church planting into a township is a long term commitment. The challenges are huge. But the need is desperate. The Church, our church, your church, you in fact need to be prepared to sacrifice. For a limited time only we get to take the Gospel message out to a world that is dying without it. It is a great privileged to be used as an instrument of the almighty God as He goes about His work of calling in the lost sheep. When the time comes remember Paul’s pray for the Philippians,

3 I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, 4 always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, 10 so that you can approve the things that are superior and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God” (1:3 – 11).

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Three reasons why you return to your sin like a dog returns to vomit, and three reasons why you don’t have to


Dog vomit, sin, shackles

Sin has a power, it festers, it makes you a slave. Click image to enlarge.

What, you think because I’m the pastor I don’t understand the power of sin? It’s festering grip? Enough about me, let’s talk about Joe Soap (that’s you by the way). Why can’t Joe shake off the shackles of sin? Why do you keep on doing precisely what you don’t want to do? Actually, there are tons of possibilities, here’s a stab at three:

1. You enjoy it, you love it, you revel in it.

Oh, I’ve heard plenty of testimonies of how bad things were before a person came to Christ, and how rosy things are now; but maybe that’s not you. Maybe you think back and you’re not quite sure things were as bad as the guy weeping his heart out at the front of the church says it was.

2. You’re not a mass murderer, it’s not like anyone’s getting hurt by what you’re into.

Like we all know of someone who gets drunk and beats up their wife or kids. Those guys really need Jesus. For their own sake, and the people around them. But you’re not that bad. You’re not hurting anyone. Your sin is under control.

3. You’re on top of things. Yes you sin, but you’re trying really hard to keep Mr Hyde under wraps.

Like everyone else you’re doing what you can. Trying really hard not to get cross, really hard not to watch porn, really hard not to drink, really hard not to… I don’t know what you’re wrapped up in but I know if you try hard enough the neighbours’ll think you’re a saint.

But, it doesn’t work does it? Ever watched a dog return to it’s vomit? It’s a disgusting thing. But they do; again and again and again. Good News is you don’t have to and here’s why:

1. If you love your sin more than Jesus I’ve got to tell you about my saviour.

Sin’s lying to you. Remember Eve in the garden of Eden? Remember the snake? The fruit? Remember what he said? “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Satan lied. In a way Eve did die that day, and with Adam she lost her ability to choose good of her own free will. Maybe that’s you? Maybe you’ve fallen in love with the forbidden fruit? Don’t feel alone; the Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and it says that “the wages of sin is death” and it says that “God’s wrath remains on them.” If you’re a great sinner you’re in need of a great saviour. Jesus Christ lived a perfect live and died so that you may be saved from that wrath, from that death. A wonderful life in eternity is promised, free from sin; and an abundant life in the present can be experienced too, no longer living as a slave to one’s sin.

2. If your sin is as black as night I’ve got to tell you something of God’s grace.

I’ve got one of those testimonies where I tried everything. Well maybe not everything but enough to make my ears burn red and leave me knowing I needed a saviour. For the longest time I didn’t trust anyone who said they’d become a Christian when they were a kid. I just couldn’t see what drove them to the cross unless they’d done something dreadful, something wicked, like me. I underestimated the sinfulness of sin. Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and whoever else you put up on a pedestal all have something in common: they have a condition they share; sin. Oh their sins may look a little whiter than yours or mine but we’re not their judge. Comparing ourselves to Adolph Hitler or Lady Gaga isn’t helpful when one day we’ll stand before a holy God who’ll compare us to His perfect standard. Even our good works on that day will be like filthy rags. But His grace; His infinitely, brilliant, saving grace, which makes me weep right now even to think of it, is enough! It’s enough to turn you and save you and keep you.

3. If your best isn’t good enough I’ve got to tell you about His best.

I was a dreadful student at school. I remember once or twice my dad sitting me down and saying, “Son, just do you best, that’s all I ask.” God doesn’t demand your best, He demands perfection, and you’re never going to measure up to that. That’s why He sent Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God, is the best. Ever heard that hymn “Jesus paid it all?” We’re beggars at the foot of the cross with nothing to offer. “Jesus paid it all.” Your work, your effort, it’s stupid hypocrisy. Trust in that and on that Day you’re standing on sinking sand. But trust upon the name of Jesus Christ, His finished work upon the cross, and you’re standing on a sure foundation.

What am I saying? Maybe you’re struggling with sin because in truth you’ve not laid the burden of it down at the foot of the cross and come empty handed to the saviour, trusting in His finished work rather than your own; God’s abundant grace rather than your own excuses or a professed a love for the beautiful saviour rather than a lust for the things of the flesh. Maybe this note’s for you.

Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo – Pastor to Pupils


From Pastor to Pupils

Presenting the National Anthem in a School environment

Crystal Park Baptist Church

This is our church’s local area evangelism board. It shows our primary evangelistic outreaches. Over and above the schools and the police station we also go door to door on Sundays. Click image to enlarge.

I love South Africa. I want to make a difference in my country but I’m not always sure where to start. More than anything I desire to see revival in my land, my nation turning to the one, true God, faith in Jesus Christ His Son, a repentance, which is a turning away from sin and a turning to Him. It is to that end I strive.

Crystal Park Baptist Church has established great relationships with the schools and the police station in our area. In the last three blog spots (see bottom of this post for links) I’ve spoken about going to our local High School once a week and the local Primary School too. We also go to the relief parade at our local police station every Tuesday morning and address the officers and members going off and coming on shift.

In the following set of articles I briefly describe the devotionals that we’re currently presenting to the schools and police station in our area. We work line by line through the national anthem at the primary gathering or assembly. The Gospel goes out each week, which is what the church wants, and the school or police station benefits because currently nation building and the national anthem are in the spotlight. We’ve been attending to this ministry for the last year and have begun to see much fruit.

Again, this is a work in progress and I’ll be most grateful if you gave me feedback.

Lesson 4

Lord bless us, We are the family of it – Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.

The forth line, ‘Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo’, translates to ‘Lord bless us, We are the family of it’.

In the second half of the Book of Acts, the apostle Paul goes from city to city in the Roman world preaching the Good News of the Gospel, that while God is Holy and separated from sin, and while man is sinful and therefore separated from God, God made a plan, He sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners. Jesus paid the price we could not and so, if we believe in Him, trust upon His finished work on the cross rather than our own efforts, repent from our sin and turn to Him, we will be saved.

So Paul is going around the known world teaching this Gospel to whoever would hear it and in Acts 17 we find him in Greece, in the capital city, Atheans. And here he addresses the crowd. I want to to hear part of his sermon:

Acts 17:22 – 27,

22 Then Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect. 23 For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed:

TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it—He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands. 25 Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things. 26 From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. 27 He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

Three things about the text above (I’m a Baptist, we do everything in threes):

Number 1, at any school, police station, hospital (or any other place I can think of… your church?) if you ask the following question you get a delightful answer, “How many nations are represented here this morning?” At the police station this morning there were Englishmen, Afrikaaners, Zulus, Pedis (biggest smile on the planet when I acknowledged him), Xhosas… God did that. If we’re a rainbow nation it’s because we serve a God who is creative by nature and without limit. What an awesome God He has revealed Himself to be.

Number 2, Maybe even more amazing to me is that the creative diverseness that occured in the station house this morning is no accident, rather God, as the sovereign ruler of the universe, determined the times, place and people who were there collected. Sure in the strictest sense the meaning of this passage is a little broader than that but it doesn’t exclude the providence of God to bring together a specific people at a specific place and specific time. As Paul says in another place, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!”

Number 3, God is not doing all this for nothing. He has a plan. He has a plan to save sinners. And it’s not a small plan. He plans to save nations! Another apostle, John, when describing what heaven looks like says this, “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

God’s is the creator, planner and saver of the nations. Let the nations be glad! Amen!

Previous lessons can be viewed here:
Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika – Lesson 1
Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo – Lesson 2
Yizwa imithandazo yethu – Lesson 3

Yizwa imithandazo yethu – Pastor to Pupils


From Pastor to Pupils

Presenting the National Anthem in a School environment

Crystal Park High School

Crystal Park High School Assembly. Click image to enlarge.

When we say we want to see our country renewed, revived, renaissanced [sic], what do we mean? Well if our desire falls anywhere short of seeing our nation turning to the one, true God, faith in Jesus Christ His Son, a repentance, which is a turning away from sin and a turning to Him, we’ve missed the point of the Gospel. Social concerns need to be addressed, divisions of all kinds need to be confronted, but primarily people need the Lord. All else flows out of right relationship with Him.

Where to start? I don’t have a silver bullet, but we have established relationships with the schools in our areas. We provide various services to them (I go into the High School once a week and provide counselling, the Primary School once a week comes to the church and does drama, singing and other activities), but those activities are all rooted in the Word. I guess you could call it Gospel focused social concern.

In the following set of articles I briefly describe the devotionals that we’re currently presenting to the schools in our area. We work line by line through the national anthem of South Africa during the school assembly. The Gospel goes out each week, which is what the church wants, and the school benefits because currently nation building and the national anthem are in the spotlight.

Again, this is a work in progress and I’ll be most grateful if you gave me feedback.

Lesson 3

Listen also to our prayers – Yizwa imithandazo yethu

The third line, ‘Yizwa imithandazo yethu’, translates to ‘Listen also to our prayers’.

Listen to this text, Philippians 4:6 – 7,

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Three things about the text above (I’m a Baptist, we do everything in threes):

Number 1, what can we take to the Lord? EVERYTHING! How cold it was this morning, that we’re hungry, that our parents are cross with us, that our school work isn’t done, that we don’t understand something about the world, that we’re happy, that we’re sad, that we’re grateful, that we love Him, that we’re confused… EVERYTHING! God is our Father, He wants to hear our prayers. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything…”

Number 2, is very closely connected to number 1, and that’s how are we to approach God. The text says by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Speaking to God is a little like phoning your Gogo (granny) on a Sunday evening. You thank her for the presents she sent up last week, you tell her about your school day and how hard your exams are and how scary your teacher is and how horrible Temba on the playground is, and you tell her how much you’re looking forward to visiting her because she’s the best cook in the world, and, and, and… you communicate. Different things, maybe you ask for something, maybe you say thank you for something, maybe you tell her that you miss her. Prayer is the same. It’s not a robotic activity, it’s an open conversation. Our Father wants to hear from us.

Number 3, If you’re in grade three and you go to your father and you say, “Tata, ndifuna imotor” (“Dad, I want a car”), he’s going to say “?!” don’t be mad, you don’t even have a driver’s licence yet. Thing is not everything we ask our father’s for they give us. And often the reason they don’t is for our own good. Here’s the thing, if our earthy parents know enough not to pander to our every whim how much more so our heavenly Father? What then is the result of our prayers? “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The peace we have is that we’ve handed our problem over to God. He is big, He can handle anything.

God’s people present their needs, their desires, their hopes, their thankfulness, their adorations to their God.

The Gospel message is very appropriately expounded at this point, because the Gospel is appropriate for every point. God is Holy; this means that He is separated from sin. Man is sinful; he is separated from God. In actual fact, by default God is not our Father. Yet Jesus, the Son of God, died in our place that we might be called sons of God. By believing in Him, trusting Him completely, turning from our sin and turning to Him, receiving the free gift of salvation, we are reconciled to God. Then we might boldly approach the throne of grace, not in our own righteousness but in his Son Jesus’.

Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo – Pastor to Pupils


From Pastor to Pupils

Presenting the National Anthem in a School environment

Crystal Park High School

Crystal Park High School Assembly. Click image to enlarge.

So my premise is if South Africa is to experience a renewal, a revival, a renaissance, it will come when the ethics, the moral fibre, the direction of our people is aligned to the Word of God.

Roll up your sleeves and get started.

In the following set of articles I briefly describe the devotionals that we’re currently presenting to the schools in our area. We work line by line through the national anthem of South Africa. The Gospel goes out each week, which is what the church wants, and the school benefits because currently nation building and the national anthem are in the spotlight.

Again, this is a work in progress and I’ll be most grateful if you gave me feedback.

Lesson 2

Let its horn be raised – Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo

The second line, ‘Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo’, translates to ‘Let its horn be raised’.

Yes, this line troubled me. Greatly. I had heard the translation a number of times but I had no frame of reference to wrap my mind around it. Maybe it’s because I’m a ‘Mlungu’ (whitie) but I really thought this line was a little weird. It is wise to familiarise oneself with some of the basics of the national anthem before one tries to interpret the song (and by the way I couldn’t find an interpretation of the lyrics online so this may be a first). Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika was composed in the year 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist school teacher. It was originally sung as a church hymn. Armed with that I went to my Bible and did some searching.

Listen to this text to read in this lesson is Numbers 6:24 – 26,

1 Then Hannah prayed and said,

        “My heart exults in the Lord;
        My horn is exalted in the Lord,
        My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies,
        Because I rejoice in Your salvation.
    2 “There is no one holy like the Lord,
        Indeed, there is no one besides You,
        Nor is there any rock like our God.
    3 “Boast no more so very proudly,
        Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth;
        For the Lord is a God of knowledge,
        And with Him actions are weighed.
    4 “The bows of the mighty are shattered,
        But the feeble gird on strength.
    5 “Those who were full hire themselves out for bread,
        But those who were hungry cease to hunger.
        Even the barren gives birth to seven,
        But she who has many children languishes.
    6 “The Lord kills and makes alive;
        He brings down to Sheol and raises up.
    7 “The Lord makes poor and rich;
        He brings low, He also exalts.
    8 “He raises the poor from the dust,
        He lifts the needy from the ash heap
        To make them sit with nobles,
        And inherit a seat of honor;
        For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
        And He set the world on them.
    9 “He keeps the feet of His godly ones,
        But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness;
        For not by might shall a man prevail.
    10 “Those who contend with the Lord will be shattered;
        Against them He will thunder in the heavens,
        The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
        And He will give strength to His king,
        And will exalt the horn of His anointed.”

The word horn in the text above is interpreted to mean a person’s spirit or a person’s power. And that makes sense when you take into account the rest of Hanna’s Song.

The text above is unlocked by seeing how it advances our understanding of God’s sovereignty. It is God who makes men strong in battle (4), prosperous and numerous (5), has power over death (6), elevates and deprecates (7), exalts and creates (8), protects and shuns (9).

God’s people recognise God’s sovereignty in all things including their present circumstances.

The Gospel message is very appropriately expounded at this point. God is the creator of all things and as such He is sovereign over all things. Because He is sovereign He has the right to determine the order of things. Man has rebelled against God’s order, His commandments, His rule, His standard, in thought, word and deed, and even in what we’ve left undone. Because God is Holy – separate from sin – and because man is sinful – he is separated from God. In a very real way we are under His righteous wrath. Jesus died for our sins as a substitute. By believing in Him, trusting Him completely, turning from our sin and turning to Him, receiving the free gift of salvation, we are reconciled to God.

National Policy on RELIGION AND EDUCATION


Over the last few months and especially since the last post I made I’ve received many questions regarding whether or not churches may operate in a public school system or if we do so “on the sly”.

I was very happy to hear Barbara Creecy, Gauteng Education MEC, addressing questions to this point yesterday on the radio and decided to go and find the National Policy on Religion and Education and make it available to any interested parties who may read this blog.

A couple of points to highlight which were applicable to me:

  • 61. School Governing Bodies are required to determine the nature and content of religious observances for teachers and pupils, such that coherence and alignment with this policy and applicable legislation is ensured. It may also determine that a policy of no religious observances be followed. Where religious observances are held, these may be at any time determined by the school, and may be part of a school assembly. However an assembly is not necessarily to be seen as the only occasion for religious observance, which may take place at other times of the day, and in other ways, including specific dress requirements or dietary injunctions. Where a religious observance is organised, as an official part of the school day, it must accommodate and reflect the multi-religious nature of the country in an appropriate manner.
  • 63. A school assembly has the potential for affirming and celebrating unity in diversity, and should be used for this purpose. Public schools may not violate the religious freedom of pupils and teachers by imposing religious uniformity on a religiously diverse school population in school assemblies. Where a religious observance is included in a school assembly, pupils may be excused on grounds of conscience from attending a religious observance component, and equitable arrangements must be made for these pupils.

You may view the whole document on the government website here: http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=70211

I’ve begun to put together an approach which is mutually beneficial to a local church and a public school here: https://markpenrith.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/nkosi-sikelel-iafrika-pastor-to-pupils/

Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika – Pastor to Pupils


From Pastor to Pupils

Presenting the National Anthem in a School environment

Crystal Park High School

Crystal Park High School Assembly. Click image to enlarge.

If South Africa is to experience a renewal, a revival, a renaissance, it will come when the ethics, the moral fibre, the direction of our people is aligned to the Word of God.

To that end Pastors ought to apply themselves diligently to reaching out to their communities with the Gospel. One door which is open to the church is that of schools. The opportunity to address a local high school or primary school’s assembly on a regular basis is a blessing to the local church on a number of levels.

However, how does one start? I have found that a principal faced with a compelling value proposition is most inclined to be accommodating to a local church. Our church has the opportunity to address the local high school and primary school on a weekly basis because we went to the school principal and clearly stated what content we would present, how long we needed to present that content and how the school would benefit from allowing a pastor to conduct devotionals in the school’s morning assembly.

In the following set of articles I briefly describe the devotionals that we’re currently presenting to the schools in our area. We work line by line through the national anthem of South Africa. The Gospel goes out each week, which is what the church wants, and the school benefits because currently nation building and the national anthem are in the spot light.

This is a work in progress and I’ll be most grateful if you gave me feedback.

Lesson 1

Lord bless Africa – Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika

It is wise to familiarise oneself with some of the basics of the national anthem. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika was composed in the year 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist school teacher. It was originally sung as a church hymn but later became an act of political defiance against the apartheid government. Die Stem van Suid-Afrika is a poem written by C.J. Langenhoven in 1918. Our anthem is unique in all the world in that it includes 5 languages and is the only anthem to begin in one key and end in another.

The first line, ‘Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika’, translates to ‘Lord bless Africa’, the key word to transfer in the first lesson is the word bless, what does it mean? why did the author use it?

A good text to read in this lesson is Numbers 6:24 – 26,

    24 “‘“The Lord bless you
        and keep you;
    25 the Lord make his face shine on you
        and be gracious to you;
    26 the Lord turn his face toward you
        and give you peace.”’

The text above is unlocked by seeing how it advances our understanding of how God’s blessing extends those whom He loves. Firstly there is a prayer, a desire if you will, ‘The Lord bless you’, this is clarified by the sentence, ‘the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you’, and then further enhanced by the phrase, ‘the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.’

God’s blessing is experienced by God’s people when He turns His affections towards them, when He presences Himself amongst them.

Consider the companion blessing in the New Testament, 2 Cor 13:14,

    14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Communion with God, experience His very real presence, His love, His grace, His blessing.

The Gospel message is very appropriately expounded at this point. God is Holy, He is separate from sin. Man is sinful, he is separated from God. In a very real way we are not under blessing but under curse. Jesus died for our sins as a substitute. By believing in Him, trusting Him completely, turning from our sin and turning to Him, receiving the free gift of salvation, we are reconciled to God, we enter into His presence, we enter into His blessing.