We hope you enjoyed celebrating Easter this year as much as we did! As the Easter festivities subside (and with it the associated public holiday season), we are reminded that we constantly live our lives in proximity to the empty cross.

Which is just another way of saying ‘Gospel Culture’!


While the sermon series is now in the rear-view mirror, we thought it would be helpful to keep the series summary on the windscreen!

Not literally of course, at least not on your car! However you might like to keep it on your computer & phone’s ‘windscreen’ aka your desktop!

To that end we have designed a Gospel Culture series diagram, which we think quite aptly depicts the overall series.

It’s a kind of ‘cultural web’ where you can see in the visuals how the different Gospel Culture codes overlap each other. For instance:

• ‘Transformative Reconciliation’ clearly requires ‘Comprehensive Forgiveness’.

• ‘Mutual Correction’ along with ‘Authentic Vulnerability’ leads to spiritual growth.

Intuitively for most, love overlaps all the Culture Codes! If we truly receive the unconditional love of God, and love others in the same way, we will be well set to manifesting a Gospel Culture.


You can download these desktop wallpapers here.
Feel free to spread it around, and invite others to listen in on the series if they haven’t yet


Watch the Gospel Culture series on YouTube, and listen to the specials podcast here


We think it will be helpful to be reminded of these Culture Codes throughout the year, as we sincerely intend to see this embedded in the ministry direction of our Church. So watch this space!

Warm greetings,
Richard

P.S if you’re wondering what’s happening next with our sermon series for the year, I can tell you that we have a major series starting at the beginning of June, through a timeless Old Testament book, that we will seriously get stuck into in unprecedented ways! Coming to your favourite church soon..

The season is changing: cooler air and warmer colours. I’m not a fan of winter, but Autumn I can do! Beautiful days for being outdoors, enjoying the green before it gets brown. It also means Easter is around the corner!


Easter Series

Easter is without doubt our biggest, most important, favourite time of the year! This year we have something special for you: a mini-series called ‘Gospel Images’, where we’ll re-tell the Easter story through some of its symbols. Intrigued? Diarise your Easter times with us!


End of the Gospel Culture Series

The start of a new series also means the end of our Gospel Culture sermon series. This coming Sunday is the grand finale, so be sure to join us as close the series out with a ‘boiling intensity’ (that will make more sense on Sunday!

In the next few weeks we will have some Gospel Culture digital wallpaper downloads for you, which will helpfully keep these Culture Codes in view throughout the year. Look out for these in the coming weeks (Warning: it’s a diagram!)

The end of the series also means a time of reflection for myself and the preaching team on the series. Did it go the way we wanted? Did it achieve what we hoped? Could we have said things better?

Answers: Mostly, Not sure, Yes! We’re going to process all of this in a special, once-off Scratchpad podcast episode. Look out for this in the coming few weeks.


Structural Change

As a Church we have obviously been concentrating our attention on Culture Change for the last few months, but there has also been some structural change going on!

Last week we had our Church AGM, and at that meeting approved a completely revised version of our Constitution, as well as some improvements to our Rules. You can see these documents and catch up on our AGM here. We believe this new constitution better reflects who we are as a Church in 2022, and will hopefully anchor RUC for the next 100 years!

At our AGM Bruce, our Treasurer, reported on the generous giving in 2021 which resulted in a healthy surplus at the end of the year. However, he also reported that in the first two months of this 2022 that surplus had eroded, funding a significant deficit in our year to date offerings. If you are in a position to start, or increase, your tithe, or give an additional once-off offering, it would enable our ministry to remain strong heading into this next quarter.

Ministry strength is something we celebrated at the AGM for 2021. There is a stunning video reporting on our work in 2021 which you can view here, or download a digital brochure here.


End of Restrictions?

I have been so grateful that we have been able to start the year the way we’re supposed to: Doors wide open, ministries pumping, people gathering for (mostly!) unrestricted for worship. We didn’t have that opportunity last year, and we certainly didn’t take it for granted this year! We’ve been excited at the steady growth in our Sunday gatherings and Next-Gen ministries.


Launch of JBC in Alex

We also saw the exciting launch of the JBC campus in Alexandra, the culmination of a year’s work from the team and the generous giving of our Church and Gospel Partners.

If you missed the update video this past Sunday you can see it here.


Now as the seasons change, and we look towards Easter, it’s a chance to really immerse ourselves in the central story of our faith.

We look forward to this next season with you!

Richard

Dear Rosebank Union,

On behalf of the staff and leaders of the church I would like to wish you a wonderful new year! As the Joburg busyness ramps up this week we hope and pray you are feeling refreshed and ready for the year ahead.

All our ministries ramp up as well this coming weekend, and we’re excited to get started. Our Youth & Childrens programs are ready to launch on Friday, our evening service is back on Sunday, and we kick off our first major teaching series for the year at both services.

This first series will be something of a ‘theme’ for the year, and is called ‘Gospel Culture: Where Faith comes to Life’.


The gospel is the good news about the person of Jesus, that is announced through words, spoken or written.

But the gospel, when truly believed, doesn’t remain just as a concept in our minds. It travels to our hearts and starts to change the way we see our lives.

We start to see ourselves and the people around us in our communities differently, indeed our view of the whole world changes! This inner transformation then leads to an outward change in behaviour, in all three of these dimensions.

This is the inevitable Gospel trajectory: from minds to hearts into all practical areas of life!

What this quite simply means then, is that the gospel is something that should be visible. To be sure, it is first heard, and then believed upon, which are all very internal! But the gospel comes not just as a doctrine but also as a power (Rom 1:16, 1 Cor 1:18, 1 Cor 2:4 & 4:20, 1 Thess 1:5), a power which ultimately transforms us from the inside out.


This journey is essential to every Christian individually, but as a Church we have a particular burden for this as a community.

Churches can very easily default to working only on their doctrine. To be sure, that’s always where we start: orthodox gospel doctrine! But true gospel doctrine must create a gospel culture.

By ‘culture’ we mean the intangibles of our church community or, everything that is said without actually being said directly! It’s what you truly experience as a person having been part of our community for a while.

Tragically, a church can unsay by its culture what it says by its doctrine, and never even realise it. In other words, our behaviour can contradict our beliefs. This is terribly dangerous for those already in the community, but also for those on the outside looking in.

For example, it’s one thing to say we believe in the doctrine of grace, but if a person only feels condemned in our Church community, then clearly our gospel culture doesn’t match our gospel doctrine.

Only when an orthodox, true and comprehensive Gospel Doctrine combines with a Gospel Culture that is visible and felt in the beauty of human relationships, will we be truly harnessing the power of the gospel.

Gospel Doctrine + Gospel Culture = Gospel Power.


This is the subject of our first teaching series for the year, and will be a theme for the duration of 2022.

We’re really serious about being a Church where the gospel comes to life!

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name

John 20:30-31

With you in gospel living,

Richard

My deepest prayer for you, beloved RUC, is that as we approach Christmas Day, the ‘tidings’ of the story of Jesus our Saviour would ‘make you strong and valiant’.

We were calling it ‘Super Spring’. Our staff were getting pretty excited back in early August about the prospects of open gatherings again, coupled with a spring-time sense of renewal. So we packed our September & October calendar with some of the most important events we could think of:

  • The Prayer & Praise Party
  • Our X-Squared Youth Camp
  • A Campus Outreach evangelism event

The Disciple-Makers Conference

Now coming up this weekend is a flagship event for for 2021: The Disciple-Makers Conference.

Finding & implementing a personal disciple-making curriculum for a Church is a bit of a ‘holy grail’ in Church circles. As a team we had been searching for a long time. Eventually we just decided to put our heads together and try come up with something as unique as the wonderful Church of RUC.

That’s what Justin, Zwai & I will be launching this weekend: RUC’s own pathway for personally making disciples.

There’s plenty of space for you. We have all the conference trimmings. Come and check it out. Whether you’ve intentionally been making disciples for years, or never really knew it was something you should be doing, this will be a worthwhile weekend to stir up a renewed sense of purpose in your life. 


New Teaching Series

This conference will coincide with the start our last major teaching series for the year: The Gospel of God

‘The gospel has been described as a pool in which a toddler can wade and yet an elephant can swim. It is both simple enough to tell to a child and profound enough for the greatest minds to explore’. 

Timothy Keller

In this series we’ll wade out to the gospel depths where elephants swim. It could be one of the most important series I’ve yet done, and I’m very excited for it!


To get the most from this, come gather at Church on Sunday. We have space. We have reduced a lot of the hassle around Covid-19 protocols (yet still being safe!).

Meeting, greeting, smiling (with your eyes), singing, listening, praying, laughing, receiving, giving, sharing, serving, loving: this what happens when we’re together on a Sunday.

We’ve been able, by the grace of God, to remain united as a Church at a difficult time when we couldn’t meet together. Now we can meet again, and by the grace of God those gatherings will more than make up for what we missed!

You may have a good reason for not having returned to church in person, or it may be the inertia of a long period of being disconnected from Church. Perhaps it’s time to #RediscoverChurch. This Sunday will be a good one to try! 

Richard

On the last Wednesday of every month we have our day of prayer and fasting, culminating in the combined online prayer meeting at 7:00pm on Zoom.

In this short video Pastor Richard explains what fasting is and how and why it is important for us to pray and fast.

See you on Zoom from 7-8pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81474261790
Meeting ID: 814 7426 1790

Pray for SA

It’s safe to say we’re all concerned. A resurgent pandemic, escalated grieving, and now civil unrest. I’m sure we’re all feeling tired, disappointed & anxious. What do we do with this?

Our family just got back from some holiday time (and refuge from the cold) at the coast. We had a great time of rest after a pretty busy year so far! Speaking of which, we have a few weeks left in our series through 1 Timothy…

It was a joy to celebrate Easter together! We had a full weekend of celebrations, including a sunrise service! If you missed the Good Friday or Easter Sunday services you can catch up here.

This weekend we dive right into our second major teaching series for the year: God’s Household, where we will be journeying through the book of 1 Timothy.

It may not seem like it at first, but the book is a fantastic follow-on to Easter:

“I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth”

1 Timothy 3:14-15

As with all our major teaching series, we will have additional resources to complement your journey through the book. Each week we will release daily devotions that will follow the passage preached on the weekend. You can find them here.

Some of our community groups will be following the series in their mid-week groups. If you would like to join a group contact Pastor Zwai.


The Scratchpad Podcast.

We are also excited to announce a new podcast that will launch with this series, called ‘The Scratchpad’. This will be a talk-show type of discussion on the Sunday message, which will include additional material and insights on the passage. It will also include an opportunity for you to ask questions related to the Sunday message! Each week you can submit your questions here.

There will also be additional teaching platforms in the series, particularly when we get to the tricky bits. These long-format discussions will also include opportunity for questions.


Sunday Services

As is now customary, we have both in-person and online worship services. We are very grateful for the increased capacity (250 people) at religious services at this time, which means more opportunity for you to reconnect with the ‘church of the living God’! If you haven’t yet come back to Church, now would be a great time!

Our services will remain at: 8:00am | 10:15am | 5:00pmPlease remember to book!


The emphasis of this book is on godly living in the social microcosms of our lives, fuelled by life in the Church, which is the ‘the household of God’.

We hope you will come to deeply know

“… he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen”

(1 Timothy 6:15-16)

With you in God’s Household,

Richard

Title: One year on..

Dear Rosebank Union Church,

This weekend we mark the one-year anniversary of the Covid-19 disruption on our Church. It was on 15 March 2020 that we had our last full, unrestricted gathering on a Sunday! In the providence of God we were allowed a significant moment to meet, ‘Lift the Sail’, and head into the uncharted waters of a pandemic.

It is therefore somewhat serendipitous that we celebrate the one-year anniversary of closing church by re-opening it!

In case you haven’t heard: we’re opening our doors for a full, gathered worship experience again!

Due to the current limit of 100 people on religious gatherings we will be opening three services, to try and cater for as many RUC worshippers as possible. The services need to be slightly shorter to allow time for making the facility safe, meaning our service times in this season will be:

  • 8:00
  • 10:15
  • 17:00

Due to limited space, booking each week is essential. You can do that here (link)


Online Services

For our congregation joining us online: please note that we will be live-streaming the first two morning services, so choose one of the two times (8:00 or 10:15), gather, and join us for our brand new online Church experience (there will no longer be a livestream at 9:30).

We have done some upgrades to our online capabilities and are looking forward to bringing you the latest version of ChurchAtHome (which is now 5.0, if you’re keeping track!)

You will find the services on our usual platforms:

If you’re choosing to worship at home, in the spirit of our ‘Hospitality’ Rule of Life, (link to sermon on hospitality) consider being intentional about inviting others to join you. ChurchAtHome provides a remarkable opportunity not only for fellowship, but strategic hospitality.


Easter Services

The relaxing of restrictions for Churches also means that we get to plan for a memorable Easter!

We have a few weeks to go, so save these dates:

  • Thursday 1 April: Setting the Scene: immersive worship experience through the Easter Thursday narrative
  • Friday 2 April: Good Friday services
  • Saturday 3 April: Holy Saturday retreat (*new*)
  • Sunday 4 April: Sunrise service (*new*) & Easter Sunday services

AGM This Week!

Lastly, the reopening of Church also means that our AGM next week will be both online, and in-person. If you’re attending in-person be sure to book (link), as dinner will be catered.

At this AGM the emphasis will be on celebrating what God did at RUC in 2020, and looking forward to 2021 by presenting our Mission & Purpose for the year(s) ahead.

Hoping to see you soon,

Richard.