February 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The decision to focus our church teaching on the Fruit of the Spirit was made with another church in town (Nicosia Community Church). Though we each write our own sermons, Terry (their pastor) and I are preaching from the same texts. Throughout the week we shoot off emails to each other with insights. Towards the end of the week we attach rough drafts. By Thursday or Friday we meet up face to face to brainstorm what God is saying and how we can apply it to our lives and churches.
We pray for each other.
And then after Sunday we share how it went, how people responded, and what the fruit or fall out might be.
It’s been a great way to prepare sermons – not least of all because Terry is so much smarter than me and comes up with stuff I never would have thought of.
This week we’re up to ‘The fruit of the Spirit is … kindness.’ Together we had chosen the book of Ruth as our text. At the last minute I thought I was biting off more than I could chew and wanted to shift to an easier scripture passage. Terry emailed me with some initial thoughts and encouraged me to stay with it.
I’m glad he did.
Something he said stimulated this response:
“The story is about widows, refugees, and the poor. I have all three in my congregation. It’s also about the faithfulness and kindness of a man with some financial means. I have some of those as well. Most importantly, it’s a story about God working in, among, and through all these people for an eternal purpose that they could never imagine. Their kindness to one another is a shadow cast by the brilliance of God’s kindness to all humanity.”
I’m grateful for Terry’s heart for God’s word and God’s people. It’s been a not so random act of kindness.
June 27, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Knowledge can easily create false security when it comes to spiritual matters. Because someone understands the faith, he may assume he has the faith.
St. Anselm wrote of ‘faith seeking knowledge.’ St. Paul said, ‘Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ Knowledge is not enough and never saves, but true faith always seeks greater knowledge, and true faith is not possible without an element of knowledge. We must know what or who it is we’re believing.
J.I. Packer says that the Christian church is a fellowship of learning-teaching. Teaching is at the heart of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) as well as central to Paul’s ministry of multiplying churches (2 Timothy 2:2). Look at the centrality of sound doctrine and teaching the word in a healthy church as Paul describes it in Titus 1 and 2.
This has implications for local church leadership. While elders/pastors should not be appointed on the basis on knowledge alone, neither should elders/pastors be appointed who do not have knowledge and the skills to teach believers the basics of the Christian faith.
It also has implications for missions. How are local pastors/elders equipped with the biblical knowledge to lead and teach a church? How much biblical training is enough?
And it has implications for the teaching ministry of the local church. Does the local church have a teaching strategy (traditionally called a catechism)?
These questions have been on my mind and my prayer list for some time. In our elders’ meeting yesterday, I shared some thoughts on these things with the other men who lead our church. They enthusiastically encouraged me to explore further how we can mature in these areas.
Watch this space.