Friday, July 31, 2009

The Leadership Structure of an Anglican Congregation

The leadership structure or “governance” of an Anglican congregation can be very confusing for those who are new to Anglicanism. Its hard to know who is in charge of what and why. If you are either a new member of Good Shepherd or considering becoming a new member, I thought it might help to explain some of the basics. This article is part of our “new member” series of articles, podcast and videos designed to ease your transition into Good Shepherd.

Definitions:
Here are three terms and definitions for three distinct leadership roles at Good Shepherd (and most Anglican congregations). You have almost certainly heard one or more of these if you have attended on a Sunday.

Rector: The word "rector" comes from the Latin word "regere" which can mean ruler or teacher. The office of “rector” is roughly equivalent to that of “Senior Pastor” in evangelical churches. In New Testament terms, the rector is the ordained “presbyter” or elder who holds chief spiritual authority in a given parish. He is the spiritual head of the congregation who is ultimately responsible for all worship, music, and staff decisions as well as everything taught, preached, and published by any minister or teacher in the congregation.

Wardens: The word warden comes from the middle-English word "wardein" which means to "guard". The wardens are the elected lay-guardians of the parish. There are two wardens at Good Shepherd and this is generally the case in most Anglican congregations. Wardens hold the highest non-ordained elected authority in the congregation. They serve for a term of 2 years. The Senior Warden is the warden who has served the longest amount of time in the capacity of warden. The Senior Warden is sometimes called “the Rector's Warden” because one of his chief duties is to advise and support the Rector. Should the rector become incapacitated, leadership in the eyes of the law would fall directly to the Senior Warden. The Junior Warden is the warden who has served the shortest amount of time in the office of warden. The Junior Warden is the warden responsible for the care and oversight of church property. He organizes and shepherds changes, repairs, maintenance, etc...to the property of the church.

Vestry: The vestry is a group of elected members of the congregation roughly equivalent to a board of non-ordained elders in an evangelical church. Vestrymembers serve for terms of 3 years. The term “vestry” refers to the room where clergy “vest” or put on their robes before the service. Centuries ago, a group of lay-leaders held parish meetings in the vestry room of their church, probably somewhere in England. Over time the name of the room became the name of the group. The name stuck and spread. The vestry is responsible for all financial decisions of the parish. All expenditures, acquisitions, property sales, etc...must be approved by a majority vote of the vestry.

The rector and wardens are members of the vestry along with anywhere from 10 to 6 regular vestrymembers. Each vestry member including the rector and wardens is permitted one vote. The rector has the right to vote but generally only exercises that right in order to break a tie.

How the structure works:
Anglican parishes in the United States are governed through a very careful system of checks and balances. These checks and balances serve to ensure that 1. the rector has the authority necessary to lead effectively as spiritual head of the congregation without becoming a tyrant and 2. the vestry can exercise fiduciary responsibility over the parish without running over the rector.

Balance is achieved by giving vestry authority over the way all money is spent while giving the rector authority over the spiritual life of the congregation including preaching, teaching, music, and all other aspects of church leadership including staff.

This does not mean that the vestry is uninterested or uninvolved in staff and spiritual decisions. It does mean that the rector has the authority to make final decisions about these matters.

In the same way, this does not mean that the rector does not pay attention to money--he is after all a member of the vestry. It does mean that the vestry, not the rector, has final say with regard to how money is spent.

Functioning properly as, by God's grace, it does at Good Shepherd, this system encourages and produces a deep bond of trust and cooperation between rector and vestry as each party finds it necessary to think through the ramifications of decisions from the others' perspective. A rector must consider the budget consequences of any mission and/or ministry plan, keeping in mind that he must craft a strategy that the vestry will be able to fund. Smart rectors will work with vestrymembers and wardens before setting goals and creating programs. The vestry on the other hand cannot simply think like a business and focus on the bottom line. Vestrymembers have to consider the consequences, both spiritual and financial, to the rector, the congregation they have been elected to serve, and the community they are called to reach when voting to fund or cut funding for any program.

When this balance is disrupted there can be big problems.

In one Episcopal Church a rector simply called up and organ company and ordered a $50,000.00 pipe organ for the parish without bothering to consult the vestry. She informed them after the fact. They were, rightly, furious and her tenure ended very soon afterward when the vestry, by majority vote, called in the bishop. In this case, rector had overstepped, by far, her authority in the church.

In extreme cases such as this, when the rector acts in ways that significantly undermine the financial and/or spiritual health of the congregation, the vestry, by majority vote, may call in the bishop who, having been called by the vestry, has the authority to remove the rector from office or mediate the conflict.

Another example. There is a non-Anglican church in the region that has gone through about 4 different pastors in the last 6 years. Why? Well, in that particular denomination the board of Deacons and/or Elders holds authority not only over financial expenditures, but also over the spiritual and staffing decisions of the congregation. When a new pastor preaches or teaches something the board does not like or, perhaps, wants to change aspects of the congregation's common life or worship (and the church is dwindling fast and must change or it will soon die), he is told in no uncertain terms that he can do nothing at all apart from the board's approval. And the board never approves. This particular congregation has lost some excellent pastors in the last few years who simply could not stay because the board did not allow any room to actually lead.

In some congregations that follow this model, the board even seeks to control what the pastor can or cannot say from the pulpit. In an Anglican church, should the vestry seriously overstep its bounds and attempt to dictate decisions or policies in the spiritual realm, the rector too may call in the bishop who, having been called, has the authority to replace the entire vestry or mediate the conflict.

In both cases, the necessary boundaries, the checks and balances, between rector and vestry/board authority were ignored and in both cases, the congregations involved are faced with serious problems.

What does this mean for you?
I hope that this will help you understand how decisions are made in the church. I also hope it will help you understand who to approach with any questions and/or problems.

If you are needing spiritual guidance or care, have a question about theology or scripture, want to know what Good Shepherd believes about a given topic, want to talk about music selection, have an inquiry or concern about a teacher, leader or minister, wish to serve as reader, acolyte, Lay Eucharistic Minister, teacher, etc...then you would come to the rector or a minister/leader/staff person appointed by the rector to serve in that particular field.

If you have questions about the way money is spent and why, the upkeep of property, what happens to your offerings and pledges, how the budget is created, how much the church is paying staff and clergy, the total amount of your tax deductible contributions for the year, how much money has been budgeted and or collected for a given program or ministry or any question related to the financial health and life of the congregation...then you would want to ask a vestrymember or warden.


Some random but somewhat important notes:
1. Any baptized member of Good Shepherd who meets the requirements for elders in Titus 1:6-8, regularly attends Sunday services, regularly attends a bible study or class during the week or on Sunday morning, tithes or is working toward a tithe, and who is willing to sign Good Shepherd's statement of faith may run for vestry.

2. All vestry meetings are open to every member of the parish.

3. Vestry and warden elections are held every year at the Annual Meeting.

4. Committees of parishioners are sometimes appointed by the vestry to study the feasibility of certain plans or to think through the problems associated with various programs or decisions and report back to the vestry.

5. The rector presides over vestry meetings but usually does not vote.

6. In the rector's absence, the Senior Warden runs the vestry meetings.

7. Wardens must be confirmed as well as baptized.

8. Youth ministers, music directors, secretaries, assistant priests and other clergy all serve under the leadership of the rector who is responsible for all that they do and say.

9. The rector serves in obedience to a bishop who serves as the head of a number of congregations.

10. The rector, wardens and vestry of Good Shepherd are equally bound to believe, obey, proclaim, and teach the word of God as it is revealed in the inerrant scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and, by our lives and ministries, to model Christ as he is revealed therein. All believers who attend Good Shepherd have both the right and responsibility to test our words and lives against the measure of the bible and to question us when/if you believe that we may have strayed from it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday Notes

Dear Good Shepherd,

Happy Thursday. I'm working on a new article explaining the leadership structure and decision making process at Good Shepherd. It should be out tomorrow. For now, here are your Notes:

Men's Breakfast and Bible Study: Don Dean is cooking tomorrow morning. Breakfast is served and the study begins at 6:30am every Friday. All men are invited and welcome.

Some Very Good News: God's blessings continue to flow. Last week we closed a rental agreement for the school with Future Faces day school. Thanks be to God. We'll discuss the details of the agreement for the first 10 minutes of the Adult Education class this Sunday. Thank you for your prayers and support over the course of this difficult year of transition—and thanks be to God for preparing a place for us.

Shepherds' Bowl: There was some confusion last week about our plans for the Shepherd's Bowl. I have added a few lines to the following descriptions in order to hopefully clarify the plans. Shepherd's Bowl is Church of the Good Shepherd's soup kitchen. Since we have been in our new building, we have been joining with Conklin Avenue Baptist to provide this service in their facility with their cooperation and assistance. In September the soup kitchen will continue at Conklin Avenue Baptist Church on Tuesdays (or a day of their choosing) and we at Church of the Good Shepherd will initiate this service at our own facility on Thursdays.

In total we need 8 teams of 4 persons from both churches (32 individuals) to provide meals in both venues. We already have approximately 16. Each team will work only once per month. Each team will only serve at one of the meals per week. No team will be asked to serve both suppers. The meal is served at 5:30PM and usually servers are free to return home by 7PM. Teams may prepare meals when they wish (earlier on the same day or earlier in the week) according to their convenience. The plan is to prepare one meal per week in our church kitchen. This meal will be served both days in both churches. If you are interested in participating in this important outreach ministry, please sign-up and indicate which day you prefer to serve.

Beginners Bible Study: When the Shepherd's Bowl starts up again in the fall, I will also restart the Thursday night bible Study. If you have never studied the bible before and have no idea how to read, understand, and apply it to your life, this is the bible study for you. It will start at 6:30pm every Thursday night right after the Shepherd's Bowl and last for about an hour.

Gift from the Anglican American Council: The AAC recently sent us three Dell desktop computers. They upgraded their office system and donated their former system to us. The computers are in very good condition and look to be only about 3 years old. We are very thankful to our good friends at the AAC. The only thing we still need is an operating system. If you have any copies of Windows XP lying around that you would like to donate, please bring it/them to church this Sunday or call me at 773-4810.

Michele and Gerald's wedding: Michele Moat, daughter of Fred Moat, will be married to Gerald Marciano on Saturday August 8th, 2009 at 1:00pm at Good Shepherd. The entire parish is invited to attend and to stay afterward downstairs in the parish hall for refreshments.


Adult Christian Education: Anglican Worship and Sacraments: We didn't quite get to a discussion of the Eucharist last Sunday because there were a lot of great questions about the Anglican Communion and questions about Anglican worship. This Sunday we'll move directly into a discussion of the Eucharist: What is it? What happens during the Eucharist? Why do we do it? Why do we celebrate it every Sunday? How does the Anglican view? All of this and more this Sunday between services starting at 9am

Systematic Theology: This Saturday at 3:30pm Systematic Theology will meet. We've basically completed our discussion of God's moral attributes. This Saturday we'll discuss the distinction between God's secret and revealed will. What does it mean to say, for example, “God wills that none should perish?” in light of the fact that many do indeed perish? Hope to see you then.

Video of the class: Last week's class was captured on video and you can watch it here.

Schedule for Systematic Theology: Systematic Theology class has had some difficulty meeting during the summer due to travel schedules and things of that sort. I am committed to this class and I believe it is one of the most important if not the most important currently on offer at Good Shepherd. So rather than hit or miss, I've worked out a schedule for the remainder of the summer for the Saturdays that we will be holding class. You can see that schedule below. For those of you in the class please remember to pick up chapter 13 (the second part of the Communicable Attributes section) on Sunday. It will be set out on the table in the parish hall along with the other readings:

Summer Systematic Theology class schedule:

Saturday August 1st

Saturday August 15th

Saturday August 29th

Men's Breakfast and Bible Study: Will meet as usual tomorrow morning (Friday) at 6:30am and we'll continue our study of 1st Samuel. I have no idea who is cooking? I don't think we've made a new schedule yet so I think we're open for volunteers.

Women's Bible Study: will meet Saturday at 10AM as usual. We will continue our study of Isaiah, an amazing book of prophecy.

Prayer Group: Remember that there is a prayer meeting every Wednesday at 6:00pm in the chapel.

New Member (and interested attender) audio and video classes will continue this week. If you missed the first one here is a link.

Podcast Sermon: Here is last Sunday's sermon on Ephesians 4: Unity in the Visible Church

Help with Groundskeeping: If you would like to help keep the grounds of Good Shepherd Anglican looking beautiful and clean, there are three tasks that need doing. 1. Weeding the front of the school and/or rectory 2. Litter patrol, especially along the Conklin sidewalk and the fence around the school. 3. Repaint the white fence that runs along the East side of the church. Thank you to whoever can help. If you are available for other tasks on the weekend or during the week, please speak with Fred Moat.


Chris Vail: Groundskeeper and part time sexton: As many of you know, Chris Vail has volunteered his time for many years at Good Shepherd. He is a tireless worker and has devoted hours of physical labor to Christ through the church. This Wednesday the vestry voted to allocate funds to hire Chris as a part time groundskeeper and sexton. Chris does not replace our current cleaning teams, but his efforts will help cut down on the amount of work that needs to be done.

Church Directories are available in the Parish Hall. Help yourself! Let Carmen know if you find errors or if you if you are not included.

Unpacking: We are presently moving a lot of things from storage back to the rectory and the new church. As we go through the process of moving things from storage, please keep an eye out for items that you know belong to the old church. In the rush to leave, things may have been inadvertently taken that no longer, according to the court decision, belong to us. We want to make sure to give those things we identify to the Diocese of Central New York. If you see anything please let me know (773-4810) or you can also contact John Chaney. God has provided for us so abundantly and has more than made up for all that we have lost. Let's bear witness to Christ by our willingness to generously and with love let go of the past and trust him for our future.

Online v. Print: some people have asked how internet/email announcements are distributed to members who do not have internet coverage. Good question. The Weekly Update is printed every week in the Sunday bulletin so those without internet coverage can be informed about what is happening in a given week. We mail sermons and bulletins to our homebound parishioners. Of course, those who are not homebound who choose not come to church on Sunday do tend to be less informed than those who come regularly...but there is a remedy for that : - )


Youth Group

Youth Group is on a regular schedule for this coming Sunday: Sr. High, 6-8; Junior High, 1-3. Since two weeks from now is my LAST SUNDAY(!) I wanted to go out to eat with the middle school kids and go bowling with the high school kids. So that means Aug 16! Mark your calendars to remember! Remember that after I'm gone Ife will be taking over the youth group. He's been coming during the summer to youth group so you guys can get to know him. Parents, if you have not spent some time talking with Ife, take a few minutes. Get to know him.

Micah's Wedding
If you have not confirmed your attendance with Micah, please do so ASAP. There is still room and we would love to have as many people from Good Shepherd who are able. The ceremony and reception are August 22 at Red Barn in Deposit, NY. More details are on our wedding website: www.JillandMicah.com. Call Micah if you have any questions: 607-621-2876.


Well, that's all for now. Have a great Thursday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Anne and the Kids are Back

Dear Good Shepherd,

Anne and the kids arrived safely last night/this morning in Rochester at 12:30am. I picked them up and we drove back to Binghamton and got in at around 3:30am. It's great to have them home. Office hours will be a little late since I slept in this morning. Sorry.

Matt

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Systematic Theology: Review and lesson on Moral Attributes and Will

I have no idea why there is a photo of a forest here, but if you push play below, you will get the video of tonight's class. Sorry about the video quality...just learning how to do this stuff...but the sound should work well enough.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Notes


Dear Good Shepherd,

It's great to be back home. I missed you all especially on the two Sundays I was away. As some of you know I used some of my vacation time to report on the General Convention of the Episcopal Church for Stand Firm (which is an online Anglican magazine). Unfortunately, the Episcopal Church continues to walk away from the truth and lead people struggling with sexual sin further away from the healing and transforming love of Christ. At this last convention the Episcopal Church officially opened the way for those who are living in non-celibate homosexual relationships to be both ordained and “married” in the church. Rather than lovingly calling those caught up in spiritually and physically deadly sin to repent and turn to Jesus Christ, the Episcopal Church continues to affirm and “bless” behavior that the New Testament says characterizes those who will not enter the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9). Please pray for God's protection of those faithful Christians who remain in the Episcopal Church, pray for all those who are caught up in the sin of homosexual behavior—and all sexual sin, and pray that the Episcopal Church as a whole repent of her false teaching through which many souls and bodies are being led to destruction.

We, however, ought at the same time to rejoice and be full of thanksgiving and praise that God has delivered us out of these things and into a new home with a better, firmer foundation. This did not happen to us because of our ingenuity or purity or strategy or wisdom. It happened because our God is a gracious God. He pours out his love and mercy and blessings on his people, on his church, not because of our goodness but because of his—because he loves us. Our response to God's loving gracious gifts to us should then be an outpouring of worship and praise and thanksgiving and obedience and an eagerness to show love, patience, kindness, gentleness, humility, forgiveness to one another.

In the stress and strain of the last year, I think sometimes these things have been lacking in me personally and sometimes us corporately as a church. Of course, the following does not include every single person at Good Shepherd, but, disputes over small things like space, music, money, change, lack of change, service, who is serving and who is not serving—all of these have arisen in the last few months. It is a natural thing in the let down after a period of intense anxiety and significant loss for irritations, old resentments and grudges, and divisions of many kinds to crop up.

At the same time, we are not “natural” people. Our old natures are being destroyed—we are new creations in Christ Jesus, with changed hearts and minds, indwelt by the Holy Spirit who resides in each believer individually and the congregation as a whole. God dwells among us and in us. That means that each of us has access to God's eternal, unlimited, unstoppable power to help us deal with our “natural” inclinations and to give us the grace to love one another as he loves us.

In the sermon series on marriage we said that believers can forgive our spouses and deal with anger, frustration, disappointment, and resentment, by offering it all to God in prayer, letting him inside our hearts and minds, giving him all that we think and feel, and asking him to transform us, to remake us in his image. This does not preclude a couple's open and frank discussion of differences and the real need to speak face to face about problems. But it does shape and “tenderize” those discussions so that both husband and wife are eager to make peace, eager to see their own faults and misunderstandings and to put the needs of the other person ahead of their own.

The same is true for your relationships in the church with your brothers and sisters. If you're carrying around a burden of resentment, a grudge, or an unforgiving heart; if you have a problem with a brother or sister that you've discussed, perhaps, with everybody but that person; if you've sinned against someone in the church but have been, up to this point, too stubborn or proud to admit it to yourself and that person and ask forgiveness--now is the time to make peace. I personally, have been so preoccupied with and stressed out about matters relating to this new place—the place God has given us, that I have been short tempered with my wife and kids and not as attentive to the pastoral needs of people here at Good Shepherd. That is one of the ways I have sinned in the last few months (there are more) and I ask your forgiveness for that. I have not been trusting God and my lack of trust led to worry and my worry led to increased preoccupation and, well, more worry and less leadership.

What about you? Is there someone you need to forgive or whose forgiveness you need to seek? Is there a discussion you need to have with someone? Maybe there is a stubborn grudge or resentment that you need to offer to God or a growing irritation or a root of bitterness that you need to expose to the light of God's Holy Spirit and seek healing and peace? Maybe you are just fed up with just about everyone? Go to Jesus Christ in prayer, release your burdens to him and he will lift them. Ask for the strength and grace to make peace.

God is greater than our hearts. He is transforming them. He is Lord over this body, the church, and he is, daily, renewing and strengthening her. We are his people, called by his name. He loves us and has called us to be his own. Let's commit then, as a church and each of us personally, to live in keeping with the high calling to which and in the great Name in which we have been called.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)

Thursday Notes:

Shepherds' Bowl: Shepherd's Bowl is Church of the Good Shepherd's soup kitchen. Since we have been in our new building, we have been joining with Conklin Avenue Baptist to provide this service in their facility with their cooperation and assistance. In September the soup kitchen will continue at Conklin Avenue Baptist Church on Tuesdays and we at Church of the Good Shepherd will initiate this service at our own facility on Thursdays.

In total we need 8 teams of 4 persons from both churches (32 individuals) to provide meals in both venues. Each team will work once per month. The meal is served at 5:30PM and usually servers are free to return home by 7PM. Teams may prepare meals when they wish (earlier on the same day or earlier in the week) according to their convenience. The plan is to prepare one meal per week in our church kitchen. This meal will be served both days in both churches. If you are interested in participating in this important outreach ministry, please sign-up and indicate which day you prefer to serve.

Beginners Bible Study: When the Shepherd's Bowl starts up again in the fall, I will also restart the Thursday night bible Study. If you have never studied the bible before and have no idea how to read, understand, and apply it to your life, this is the bible study for you. It will start at 6:30pm every Thursday night right after the Shepherd's Bowl and last for about an hour.

Adult Christian Education: Anglican Worship and Sacraments: This Sunday, we'll reopen a discussion of Communion. What is it? What does it mean? Who can participate? Why do Anglicans celebrate it every Sunday? Why do you do all those strange things at the altar? What's up with that pancho thing you wear? We'll begin to address all of these questions and discuss a lot more this Sunday. The first ten-fifteen minutes of class will be an open question and answer session. I'll be happy to talk about anything that is on your mind, so please be there early.

Systematic Theology: This Saturday at 3:30pm Systematic Theology will meet. Bring your questions because we'll be having a discussion of what we have learned so far as well as moving into a discussion of God's secret and revealed will. What does it mean to say, for example, “God wills that none should perish?” in light of the fact that many do indeed perish? Hope to see you then.

Schedule for Systematic Theology: Systematic Theology class has had some difficulty meeting during the summer due to travel schedules and things of that sort. I am committed to this class and I believe it is one of the most important if not the most important currently on offer at Good Shepherd. So rather than hit or miss, I've worked out a schedule for the remainder of the summer for the Saturdays that we will be holding class. You can see that schedule below. For those of you in the class please remember to pick up chapter 13 (the second part of the Communicable Attributes section) on Sunday. It will be set out on the table in the parish hall along with the other readings:

Summer Systematic Theology class schedule:

Saturday July 25th

Saturday August 1st

Saturday August 15th

Saturday August 29th

Acolyte Practice: There will be an acolyte practice this Sunday after the 10:30pm service. It is very important that everyone who is interested in being an acolyte or who is an acolyte be there. The practice will last less than one hour.

Men's Breakfast and Bible Study: Will meet as usual tomorrow morning (Friday) at 6:30am and we'll continue our study of 1st Samuel. I have no idea who is cooking? I don't think we've made a new schedule yet so I think we're open for volunteers.

Thank you to Micah and Ife for preaching and teaching and holding down the fort in my absence. Thank you also to Kay and Kellie and Chris who took care of our animals and looked after the house. I am so very grateful for your help.

Women's Bible Study: will meet Saturday at 10AM as usual. We will continue our study of Isaiah, an amazing book of prophecy.

Prayer Group: Remember that there is a prayer meeting every Wednesday at 6:00pm in the chapel. There will not be a meeting this coming Wednesday (July 29th) because of Vestry.

Vestry Meeting: 6:00pm Wednesday July 29th. Please make every effort to be there and to be there on time.

New Member (and interested attender) audio and video classes will continue this week. If you missed the first one here is a link.

Podcast Sermons: I don't have any podcast recordings of Micah or Ife's sermons but when I do I'll link them for you.

Help with Groundskeeping: If you would like to help keep the grounds of Good Shepherd Anglican looking beautiful and clean, there are three tasks that need doing. 1. Weeding the front of the school and/or rectory 2. Litter patrol, especially along the Conklin sidewalk and the fence around the school. 3. Repaint the white fence that runs along the East side of the church. Thank you to whoever can help. If you are available for other tasks on the weekend or during the week, please speak with Fred Moat.

Online v. Print: some people have asked how internet/email announcements are distributed to members who do not have internet coverage. Good question. The Weekly Update is printed every week in the Sunday bulletin so those without internet coverage can be informed about what is happening in a given week. We mail sermons and bulletins to our homebound parishioners. Of course, those who are not homebound who choose not come to church on Sunday do tend to be less informed than those who come regularly...but there is a remedy for that : - )

Well, that's all for now. Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mark Driscoll: What is the Church?

This is a great lecture/sermon by Mark Driscoll on the Church and what it means to be a congregation within the Church. I do not agree with all that Driscoll says but I think it is worth listening too and thinking about. I encourage you to listen to the whole thing.

I have only one correction: Mark Driscoll seems to be referring to the extreme catholic wing of Anglicanism. Reformed Anglicans (Good Shepherd included)do not think, nor to the Articles of Religion teach, that the Church resides wherever there are bishops. Rather the visible Church is present where the pure Word of God is preached, the Sacraments given according to Christ's institution and godly discipline is exercised.

Reformed Anglicans hold the apostolic succession of apostolic teaching to be primary--over and above the succession of bishops.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thursday Notes

Dear Good Shepherd,

Good morning and happy Thursday. There will be a second new members podcast coming out sometime today or tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Summer: There are basic commitments to Christian living that all believers share regardless of the season...among them are Sunday worship, bible study, Christian education, prayer, service and fellowship. These things are not duties so much as they are life-lines. You stop doing them, you cut yourself off from the common means by which God gives grace. You basically stop growing, lose your peace, and run the risk of becoming what we have called in the past, a "big fat baby Christian" who feeds off of the community without giving anything back. I've been very pleased that Sunday attendance has increased over the summer--this is really great. And I have also noticed that people are showing up to serve at the various events that go on at Good Shepherd. All of this is very good and definitely shows that Good Shepherd is alive and that many are devoting themselves to the ministry of the gospel. I don't think we have too many big fat baby Christians at Good Shepherd.

But there is one troubling trend. I remember when we were in the midst of our troubles last year with litigation etc...we called a series of prayer meetings and a good number of people showed up to pray and carried their commitment throughout. Now, however, that God has miraculously brought us to this amazing new place, now that we are greater in number than before, and now that the troubles seem to be lessening, there also seems to be a sense that prayer is no longer necessary--a sort of "foxhole" mentality--an urgency to pray when we are in trouble and to walk away from prayer when God delivers. I hope that this is not true, that perhaps I am misreading things...maybe we are all just very busy with important things but honestly I can think of few things that are more important.

There were a total of two people (including me) at the meeting to set up a permanent prayer group last night--a meeting that has been on the calendar for a long time, that was announced at both services and for which a number of emails were sent. Such a lack of interest in prayer is very worrying in a church our size with the kind of mission and ministry focus that we have. God ordains both the means and the ends to accomplish his purposes in this world. And one of the chief means by which he accomplishes the growth of his Church (in depth and numbers), heals diseases, reconciles broken relationships, protects, provides and blesses his people is prayer. I think we neglect it at our peril.

Systematic Theology: I will have last week's Systematic Theology class up on podcast this evening. We will not meet this Saturday since it is the 4th of July. Enjoy the Holiday. Our meetings have been very spotty lately due to the summer and various vacations and events. Hopefully podcasts and the reading material have sufficed for some continuity. Things will, I believe, settle out more consistently in the fall.

Podcasts: Here is last Sunday's sermon: Marriage part 3: Making Marriage Work and here is the Christian Education discussion on Baptism.

Thursday Night Beginners Bible Study on hold for the Summer: There will be no Beginners bible study for the duration of the summer. The spottiness of my schedule for the next two months along with the spottiness of the last few weeks has persuaded me that rather than continue to meet ad-hoc, the bible study should be put on hold for the summer and restart next year.

Internet Access at the Church: For some reason the new computer at the church is no longer able to connect to the internet. It is not a router problem because I can connect easily enough with my laptop, so something on the computer seems to be malfunctioning all of a sudden (it worked fine until yesterday). We really need access to the web to accomplish a number of important church tasks. If you know anything about computers...windows Vista especially, please come help us out.

Women's Bible Study: There will be no Women's Bible Study this week due to the Fourth of July. Enjoy the day!

Men's Bible Study: There will be Men's Breakfast and Bible Study tomorrow. Lee is cooking.

Lee and Jane Get Married: Long time parishioner Lee Bronson is getting married this Sunday. The wedding will be part of the regular Sunday Morning Worship. There will be a short reception afterward. Everyone is welcome and we hope you will come and encourage the couple in their new life together. It is unusual to be married on a Sunday, but this is a beautiful way for the couple to begin their life in the context of the church, to have the entire church around them to pray and bless them, and to witness to their greatest priority and love, Christ. Please feel free to bring friends.

Adult Christian Ed: We'll resume our discussion of Baptism this Sunday and move on to Communion. For those who need reminders, the class this summer is on the Sacraments. If you don't know what a Sacrament is, please come and find out!

Summer Sunday School: (from Anne) There will be Sunday School for Jr. High and for elementary through the summer. I (Anne) need help and need some fill in teachers. If you are interested in assisting for the summer, please call or email (773-4810 or revakennedy@hotmail.com). This summer we're learning who all the people are in the Genealogy of Jesus. If you'd like to memorize the song and be ready for Sunday, check out this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY8iu5ylOHk. The children will both be making books and a time line. Please let me know if you can help, even for just one Sunday. Or you can watch it here:

John Piper on Other Religions

So since Jesus has said that he is the Way and the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father but through him...since he has said that those who do not know the Son do not know the Father, how do believers respond when our non-Christian friends and neighbors ask us incredulously--"Are you saying that unless I follow Jesus Christ I am going to Hell?" John Piper answers: