Thursday, February 25, 2010

Good Shepherd Update Thursday February 25th, 2010

Dear Good Shepherd,

I have, unfortunately, very little time to write today. It looks like we are going to go ahead and have a very minimal Shepherd's Bowl tonight. We are afraid that people might trek out in the snow only to find the church locked. So team 5 is prepping some warm food just in case.

There will be no Beginner's Bible Study however since we don't want people staying out too since its going to be like this all night apparently.

Healing Service: It was cancelled last night due to concerns about the weather, but God willing, we will hold the first healing service this coming Wednesday night at 6pm and every remaining wednesday in Lent. God has, through prayer and the laying on of hands, physically healed people a number of times at Good Shepherd. But healing takes place in many ways. Resentment, depression, anger, addiction, dependence, unforgiveness--are all ways that we sometimes react to pain in our lives. God is more powerful than them all and sometimes he overcomes these sins in our lives by first healing the pain at the heart of them through prayer. The Wednesday services at Good Shepherd will be based on an Anglican liturgy for healing found in the Kenyan prayerbook. If you are looking for physical, spiritual, or emotional healing please plan to come every Wednesday at 6pm.

Leaving Home Part 3: If you have been following the articles Anne and I have been writing about the adventures of 2009, please follow this link and read the latest installment in the Leaving Home series. Otherwise, it will be available in hard-copy form this Sunday.

Choir has been cancelled tonight due to the weather conditions. Instead choir will meet on Saturday at 11am.

Sexual Harassment/Abuse Prevention Training: If you teach Sunday School, serve in the nursery, work on staff, please come at 11am on Saturday March 6th to view training videos. These videos are required by our insurance and it's just a good idea. We'll remind you closer to the day.

Men's Bible Study and Breakfast:  There will be no Men's Bible Study in the morning--not sure what the roads will be like and there will be no way to cancel it tomorrow morning.

Women's Bible Study: will meet as usual at 10am on Saturday

Acolyte Practice: There will be acolyte practice this Sunday...I am very pleased with the reverence and care with which you serve. You've all worked very hard and I'm proud of you. After this Sunday, monthly acolyte training will continue only for the newer acolytes (I'll let you know who you are). Trained acolytes will meet once every quarter. Enjoy the free time, you've earned it.

Systematic Theology: will meet at 3:30pm as usual in the parish hall on Saturday. I'll be sending notes from last week out for those who missed last Saturday.

Here is last week's sermon: Putting Out the Fire of the Spirit

This Sunday's sermon: Friends, since we've come very close to the end of 1st Thessalonians, this Sunday we'll go back and tie up some loose threads. Before Advent I preached the sermon below on 1st Thessalonians 4:3-8. I intended to preach two sermons on that text. The first is below. I put off the second. The sermon below introduces the topic of sexuality and the context in which Paul addresses the topic in Thessalonica. Please take some time to review the sermon below so that we don't have to do too much backtracking and can proceed on the basis of what has already been taught so please listen carefully before Sunday:

Here's the text:
"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and l honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you."

Parents, please be aware that we will be speaking about sexual topics. For that reason, children's chapel will be open to kids older than eight this Sunday.

Some new things coming up at Good Shepherd in 2010:

1. Beginning in March: New Duty Roster plan: we're reorganizing the way we schedule Sunday morning duties, moving to a team system similar to the team system used for scheduling the Shepherd's bowl. Every reader, LEM, acolyte, teller, etc...will be assigned to a team. The teams will rotate by Sunday.

Right now we just about have enough volunteers in each role for 5 full teams. What that means is that no one will be scheduled to serve more than once a month. Each team will have a team captain and assistant who will be responsible for team cohesion and ensuring that team members show up or get replacements. This should help us both to keep things organized and to integrate and train new volunteers more effectively.

There will be a meeting of team captains this Sunday after Church.

2. Beginning in May: New Member classes A series of three new/interested members class will be held on three successive Saturdays in May (the 8th, 15th, and 22nd) These classes will be designed to help new members and interested guests integrate and participate at Good Shepherd. You will learn about Anglicanism in general and about Good Shepherd in particular. If you are not new but still interested, you are welcome to come as well.

3. Preaching through Colossians in the Fall: I wrote this last week but I wanted to include it again and expand on it. As you may have noticed, the preaching at Good Shepherd has changed in the last year. We have purposefully gone to a different format, preaching through entire books (we will continue to use the lectionary and preach from it on big feast days and in between books), and we have begun to dig much deeper than usual. The benefits of preaching expositorily (ie...preaching designed to help a congregation see the meaning of a text and its application) and through entire books of the bible at a time are numerous, but let me name just a few:

a. The whole counsel of God: Lectionaries are generally centered around one or two primary themes like "resurrection" or "grace" and tend to cut out passages that do not fit with that theme. So when a church exclusively preaches from the lectionary, the congregation never hears huge, important, swaths of God's word and is much much poorer for it.

b. God sets the agenda: Sometimes congregations and preachers hyperfocus on themselves to the extent that they only want to hear about topics and themes that interest them. But preaching straight through a book requires preachers and the congregation to address whatever issues or topics are addressed in the book. This is a very good even when...especially is not entertaining. If it is true that every passage, every word in scripture is inspired by God and is useful for your personal growth and for building up the body (2 Tim 3:15-16)--and it is, then that means that when scripture addresses topics we find uninteresting or, shall we say, boring...the problem lies not with the bible but with us. That anything is addressed in scripture means that God, the maker of heaven and earth, thought it important to inspire and include in his book...which means that if our hearts and minds were in sink with his will, what is important to him would be interesting to us. When it is not, we pray that God will give us an open heart and mind so that we do not despise his word.

c. Going Deep: When you preach through the lectionary, you are generally given large swaths of scripture that you basically have just one sermon to work through before moving on to the next thing. That often means a shallow treatment of important principles. But when you preach through a book, you can go at a pace that may be defined by the topic being addressed.

d. A Full Theological Thought: Shallow ten minute sermonetts produce shallow Christianettes. We don't play that game at Good Shepherd. Sermon time is training time. Ife, Anne, and I are tasked with understanding and helping you to understand what God is saying in a particular passage of the bible. When the bible is rightly preached, God's word is truly heard. Your task is to actively listen which means following the preacher in the text, taking notes, participating in the study, listening for God's word to you, listening for God's word to the congregation.

e. Small Groups: This change should also make it easier to move to small groups in the Fall--see below

4. Small Groups: In the Fall, we're planning to launch a number of weekly small bible study groups that will meet in peoples' homes. Presently all biblical instruction and application takes place at Good Shepherd from the pulpit or in one of the five Bible Studies. I've noticed that as we've grown the percentage of people participating in the bible studies has decreased.

This is not good. The life, growth and maturity of Good Shepherd and your personal maturity as well, rests on our willingness to know and follow the word of God. It is, for that reason, our goal to have every member of Good Shepherd actively participating in some kind of group fellowship and bible study during the week.

This raises a number of questions: Who will lead these groups? What will happen to the bible studies? What will these groups do? Does everyone have to belong to a group? Let me try to answer each of these in turn:

a. Who will lead these groups?: The plan, as it currently stands, is to tack a big city map to the wall and start identifying the locations of every member member of the parish. This will give us an idea of who lives near who. Small groups work best when they are made up of no more than 5 to 10 people who meet in homes nearby. Once we identify who lives near who we'll be able to see how many groups we can have and who, based on location, should be in which group. Finally, we'll appoint a leader for each group and invite everybody who lives in a given area to join in and meet with the group once a week. If you are interested in hosting one of these groups, please let us know (the leader and the host are usually two different people)

b. What will happen to the bible studies?: Nothing. They will continue to meet. If you attend a Bible Study you'll be invited to attend attend a small group during the week as well. If you feel you do not have time for both, the choice between the two will be yours. Other churches moving to this plan have found that many enjoyed attending both since the purpose of each and structure of each is a bit different. We hope the same proves true here.

3. What will these groups do? This is another benefit of preaching expositorily through a text of scripture. The small group studies will focus on the same text used in the sermon. This will make it easier on everyone since the sermon will do the heavy lifting of interpretation and exegesis and the small groups will focus primarily on digging deeper and applying the text personally. Small groups meet, discuss and apply the biblical passage for the week, pray and then go home. It is a way for you to stay connected during the week and for the whole church to inwardly digest what God has said through his word on Sunday.

c. Does everyone have to belong to a group? We invite and encourage everyone to join the small group meeting in their area but, of course, it is not a requirement. We believe that Jesus sanctifies, encourages, builds up, convicts and trains us through his word and the more you open yourself to hearing his voice, the more like him you will become.

You'll be hearing more about these throughout the winter, spring and summer. The target date is mid-September

Christian Education: Spiritual Disciplines: This Sunday we'll continue discussing the discipline of Study, focusing specifically on methods of study and ways of studying scripture.

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