Pastor – Jim McCune
Thanks for visiting our church’s website! I’m Pastor Jim McCune and this is the place where I have the opportunity to acquaint you, just a bit, with our church and its ministry.
You should know that there are some things we take very seriously at Christ Covenant Church. For one, we’re deadly serious about the Bible. We really believe that the Bible is God’s Word.
It’s His message and through the help of the Holy Spirit, when we read it, we can hear God speaking to us in it. Everything we need to know for our faith and life is revealed to us in the Bible.
It’s through hearing the Word of God that God creates faith in us (Romans 10:17), and apart from faith in Christ, there’s no salvation. It points us to Jesus Christ, the only Savior and hope we have of salvation (Luke 24:27). God’s Word is also a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” (Psalm 119:105). It shows us how to live for Him, how to please Him. Once we’re saved, if we take heed to it, it keeps us from getting tripped up by our sin.
This seriousness about the Bible being the Word of God can be seen in the way we preach the Bible. Our sermons are expositions of Scripture—that is, they try to explain what the text is saying and apply it to our lives. There are many ways to preach the Bible, but I have found that expositional preaching best allows the hearers to hear what God is saying through His Word. That’s what we need to hear. You don’t need to hear my clever (or not-so-clever) thoughts. You need to hear God speak. If I preach a good sermon, it’s only good if the sermon has said what God has said in the text. It may not be entertaining, but entertainment was never the goal. The goal is to hear what God says. To really hear Him is life. I seldom preach topical sermons because a topical sermon relies too much on the ingenuity of the preacher to take scriptures from various places and put them together to convey a message. Anything which is so reliant on the preacher’s skill presents the danger that the hearers will become dependent on the preacher’s skill and ingenuity rather than on the message of God that’s right there on the page. At one time in my ministry I used to think I had to discover the relevant topics the listeners were interested in hearing and to preach about them. But I quickly discovered that I could not read my congregation’s hearts. I could not tell what each one of them needed to hear that moment. I’m just not that smart. I can’t see into people’s hearts the way God can. But the Bible itself has everything we need. If we systematically preach the Bible in a way in which its meaning is exposited and applied, people will benefit and God will be glorified. I may not know what the people need to hear, but God knows. And His Word, the Bible, is everything they need. It searches and discerns the thoughts of men’s hearts (Hebrews 4:12) in a way I could never do.
If you visit us (or listen in on line) you’ll find we generally preach through the Bible a book at a time. The technical name for this is lectio continua. The reason for this is that we believe that all of the Bible is God’s Word to us and that it would be very unwise for us to only read what we want to read. If I, as the preacher, am only choosing to let the congregation hear what I think they should hear, well, who do I think I am? Am I wiser than God? No way! We do alternate between studying books from the Old and New Testaments, and generally we alternate between types of literature in the Bible itself. That’s because the hearers need to learn how to hear the Word of God in whatever genre it comes—whether it’s in a gospel or a letter, a work of poetry, a wisdom writing, prophecy or history. God has given us the Bible in many forms of writing and we need to learn to understand it in whatever form He in His wisdom has given it to us. Hopefully, this way of preaching on the Bible will help each individual believer in his or her own personal Bible reading to rightly understand and apply what God is saying.
We’re serious about worshipping God. And this is something we seek to do in the way in which He’s revealed in His Word. We’re a church that tries to avoid like the plague introducing into our worship things that are the inventions of men.
We’re seeking to worship God in the manner He’s revealed in His Word that He wishes to be worshipped. The people of Israel got into big trouble when they introduced practices into worship which God had not authorized. For us the rule concerning the essential elements of worship is not, “if it is not forbidden, it’s allowed,” but rather, “if it’s not commanded or authorized, it’s forbidden.” That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some general circumstances of worship where the Lord has given us a fair deal of liberty in. He has. But our goal is not so much “what pleases us in worship” but “what pleases God in worship.” We don’t want to guess about what pleases Him. We look for what He has revealed in the Bible that He wants to be a part of our
worship of Him.
We’re also very serious about equipping believers for serving God in the world. Our goal is to equip each believer for a life of fruitful service to God.
If you really want to learn our philosophy of ministry, read the book The Trellis and the Vine
by Collin Marshall and Tony Payne (Matthias Media, 2009). Or look at what Mark Dever says about the book on YouTube. Our goal is to produce living workers for Christ’s vineyard. We have no formula for mass-production. Training disciples by working one on one and by meeting together to do one another spiritual good—that’s our goal. We’re not where we want to be yet, but we’re striving toward it.
And we’re serious about proclaiming in the world the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and only Savior for sinners.
We’re not trying to be all things to all people in order to gain members. In fact, we realize that there are a lot of people who just aren’t very interested in a church like ours. That doesn’t bother us. We’re not trying to be entertaining or striving to please people. Our goal is to please our Lord and Master in the most intentional way we can. He has told us to proclaim His message to every creature and nation. So that’s what we strive to do. Spreading the good news is the task of every member of the body of Christ and, as pastor, it’s my goal to train the congregation how to do that in the way the live as they rub shoulders with people who need to hear the gospel. Our goal is to faithfully proclaim and present Jesus Christ. He’s the one who converts people. We are simply to be faithful in bearing witness to Him. Since “faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17), we trust God to do the converting. But we take the task of sharing the word of Christ very seriously.
Another thing we’re serious about is living the Christian life. We’re a church that practices church discipline. What that means is that we practice accountability.
When someone becomes a member of Christ covenant Church, one of the things he or she promises to do is to submit to the government of the church. We believe that the biblical pattern for the governing of the local church is that each church be ruled by elders whose task it is to watch over the flock (Acts 20:28-30, Titus 1:5-9). The pastor is responsible to and under the authority of the greater body of elders known as the presbytery. In the local congregation the elders oversee the lives of the members. If any member should wander into false belief or into some scandalous sin or simply be living his or her life in a way that is not glorifying to Christ, the elders work to restore the member’s life and faith to that which conforms to God’s will as it is revealed in the Bible. At the time one becomes a member of the church, a member promises to take seriously the counsel the elders may give them. And, particularly, if either their doctrine or life is out of accord with what the Bible teaches, they will listen to what the elders say and seek to conform their lives to the teaching of Scripture. As Christians, we all can sin and go astray. We thank God that He has given His church elders who watch over our souls, to try to return the straying to the Great Shepherd of their souls.
Finally (and who can tell where a list like this should end?), we’re a church which seriously believes that God is sovereign in the world and in the way He saves sinners.
This one isn’t last because we’re trying to hide it. It’s last because it’s something so important I want to leave you thinking about.
There is nothing too hard for God. He’s almighty and all-knowing. He transcends time and space. He’s the Creator of all that exists. There’s nothing in this universe He has made that He doesn’t rule over and direct. Even the bad things happen in this universe of His come about by His plan and His ordaining that they come to pass. And God who uses the things He ordains to happen for His own wise and good ends.
As far as our salvation goes, we’re so lost in our sin and depravity that only God can save us. We could never save ourselves or do the least bit to put God in our debt where He would have to save us. Sin has affected everything we do, say, and think. Every bit of what it means to be human has been contaminated by sin. Our wills have become enslaved to our sinful hearts where they are no longer free as when God created Adam. By nature we are rebels against God and we deserve His punishment. We have no hope of saving ourselves. Unless God saves us, we’re lost.
But the good news is that God, though He would be perfectly just to condemn all men eternally on account of their sin and rebellion against Him, in His mercy had a plan for salvation. Before the foundation of the world He appointed His Son as the One who would redeem men from Adam’s fallen race. In the fullness of time God sent His Son and He was born of a woman and fulfilled all the obedience the Father required of His human creatures, but which they failed to fulfill. Jesus Christ, the Father’s only-begotten Son, completely paid the price of human sin and rebellion by dying on the cross in place of those sinners He came to save. He came for His sheep—those given to Him by the Father from eternity and He died for them. They were chosen in Him, not for any goodness or other quality they possessed. God chose them because of His own good pleasure.
Salvation is something that starts and ends with God. God initiates it and He brings it to fruition. God has a people, chosen by grace, whom He has determined to save. Will all be saved? No. Does that mean God is unfair? Not at all, for He is under no obligation to save anyone. He saves those He has chosen in Christ and given to Him before the foundation of the world. In time, through the work of the Holy Spirit, He calls them inwardly, drawing them to Himself. He causes them to become regenerated and works in them repentance and faith to believe on His Son. When they do, they are declared righteous in Christ. God declares their sins are forgiven and He imputes to them the perfect righteousness of His Son. The Holy Spirit who dwells in them works to sanctify them. And He preserves them in the faith He has given them until they reach the glory of the kingdom He has promised.
This understanding of the way God brings about salvation in a sinner indicates the way we share the gospel with sinners. We understand that sinners can never meet the demands to repent and believe apart from the work of the Spirit of God transforming their hearts. Yet, as God has said that the way He is pleased to do this is through the proclamation of the Gospel, we declare truly what God has said, knowing that those whom God is calling will believe and others will be hardened when they hear the Word. We do not set out to do the work of the Spirit of God in bringing conviction and conversion—only He can do that. We aim to present Christ truly in all His glory and saving power and let God do the saving. All the glory belongs to Him. We’re just privileged that He has allowed us to have a part in bringing His message to sinners.
There’s a lot more I could say, but these comments (especially if you read the expanded portions by clicking More), have been long enough. You can read our Confession of Faith and Catechisms (The Westminster Confession and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms) and that will spell things out in more detail. I’d also be happy to talk with you about any of these things written above.
in Christ’s Service,
Pastoral Intern – Michael Bowman
“Michael Bowman is a husband to Emily, father to Haddon and Martin, and pastoral intern. He received his M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is currently a licensed candidate pursuing ordination with the Wisconsin Presbytery of the PCA.”