I had the chance to visit with the Walnut Street congregation last week. First time. It would be good if I had the chance to go back.
Their bulletin mentioned a website with some impressive stats of over 200,000 visits through the first week of April. The site (which can be found here) seems to be a resource filled tool.
It contains “lessons” about numerous topics, with several in Spanish. Many of these topical lessons contain several lessons within themselves. In other words, they are basically a biblical series. Some of the lessons contain simple stories from the experiences of other people. The site also contains a section of digital books for those who enjoy that form of media.
Dear sister congregations who invited the world to “celebrate Easter” with you,
I want to invite you to think about a few things today:
- Did you invite the world to celebrate “Ash Wednesday” with you?
- Did you inform the world that the church celebrates the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus every first day of the week?
- Did your congregational acceptance become a stumbling block to an individual brother or sister in Christ?
To be completely honest, and as I said in an earlier post, I believe a congregation should take advantage of opportunities created by the holiday weekend, but taking advantage of something as a congregation and adopting its practices as a congregation are two different things.
Inviting the world to celebrate Easter with you did not do the world any favors. No more of a favor than recognizing a day “dedicated to a saint”, or lighting a candle to pray, or enforcing an abstinence from certain foods would have done.
Why? Because the former is no more biblical than the later (save the KJV’s erroneous translation of Acts 12:3-5).
Like you, I want God to be glorified and I want the congregation that I am a member of to grow, but I also realize that intentions and outcomes are often very different things.
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NKJV)
The above question was recently asked and answered (in connection to the preacher’s “authority”) in an issue of Gospel Minutes. I always enjoy the Q & A section of their publication.
I believe a sufficient answer was given (the basic gist of the answer was “not the preacher”), but I would like to add one more “suggestion” that was not included. A suggestion I cannot say I have ever seen/heard included when this question is being addressed (although I hope you’re familiar with it). Continue reading
Several days ago I asked if anyone here in TFR had any suggestions for a congregational questionnaire that I was putting together. Well I finished the questionnaire and decided to make it available in case you’d like to do the same (Congregational Questionnaire). Some of the wording is specific to Keltonburg so if you’d like to save time by using this layout, but you obviously need to change the congregation name, you can email me and I’ll send you an editable version of the Word document. Also, keep an eye out for typos because it can be difficult to edit your own paper. If you have tried to do that very often then you know what I’m talking about. Hope you find it useful in some way.
If you preach, no matter how small the congregation is (expect the whole two or three tally) then you know this to be true: the entire congregation rarely comes together as a whole to worship or study the word of God together. There are numerous reasons for this, but regardless of the reason the result is the same when it comes to matters of attendance. This situation can be frustrating to a preacher who seeks to preach the whole counsel of God to the whole congregation. At times, entire series that deal with a spiritual issue (perhaps for first or last time in a certain time period due to context) are missed. There is the option of recording the lesson, or even doing a personal Bible study with the individuals who missed the lessons, but even these options come short due to the fact that there is something about a congregation that considers a topic together at the same time…which, again, can be a difficult thing to accomplish.
So what can be done in such situations? I believe that I have an idea that I’m going to try, and I’m looking for some suggestions in connection to that idea. One solution, to me, is to write the same letter that every individual member of the congregation will receive, regardless of age or marital status or even attendance habit, in order to do some personal examination. The intent of the letter isn’t for it to be filled out and then turned back in, but rather for it to be read so that the individual can personally consider the question(s) in such a way that their answer cannot be ignored regardless of how they respond to it. Then after a pre-scheduled period of time, a series of lessons from the scriptures that discuss the topics that were personally considered in the letter would follow.
The reason I’m putting this idea in “post” form here in TFR is because I’m looking for ideas. It’s not that I’m failing to come up with questions, after nine years of preaching I have plenty. Like I said before, I’m just looking for ideas. My experience in the church, and in the study of God’s word, has shown me that the perspective of others matter. So with that being said, whether you serve the church as an elder, a deacon, a preacher, a Bible class teacher, a congregational “Barnabas”, a card-sender, a head-counter, or through whatever other function you can think of, what are some questions that you believe would be good for an individual to personally consider and answer in letter form when it comes to the topic of a personal spiritual examination? Any suggestions?
I find it encouraging to visit churches, both supporting and no, and to see the great diversity in those matters of opinion in which the Bible doesn’t determine. Long gone are the days of three songs and a prayer, even though progressives still love to criticize in such terms. They need to update their tune. I suspect faithful churches have never been so monolithic in their practice of the one faith, but it makes for great finger-pointing.
• In that spirit, we enjoyed the VBS with the Lemalsamac congregation in Newbern TN last Wednesday night. I gave a quick update on the GoSpeak/Forthright work. The church made it possible for me to go back to Brazil in 1979, again in 1981, and provided funds for our move in 1984. Then after some 10 years, they began participating monthly. This small congregation, begun many years ago, is alive and well, with two parttime ministers.
• My parents rode over with us to Lemalsamac, about an hour and a half away from their house. We enjoyed that time together. Then, we enjoyed grilled burgers, hot dogs, and barbequed bologna provided by the brethren at the end of VBS.
• Thanks to you who made suggestions on the digital voice recorder. Jon’s note about use with Mac nudged me in the direction of the one he recommended. A Radio Shack employee who uses Mac and used both Olympus and Sony recorders confirmed Jon’s recommendation by saying the latter does better with a Mac. (And RS carries only the former!) But the UX200 has been replaced with the improved UX512, and was less than half the price, so that’s what I went with.
• Started reading Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln. My mom checked it out from the local library. Anybody read it? It caught my attention after our visit to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield IL. Don’t know that I’ll get it finished before we leave here Sunday, but any part of it ought to be of interest, doncha think?
The photos are from last Sunday and today. Click to see them in larger size.
Partial view of Pimentas congregation where we went Sunday, Jan. 29, where I preached and taught on “How to Be Happy.” The Maiden and The Missus are singing in the foreground.
Yours Truly speaking to the Pimentas congregation.
Y.T. preaching in the Pimentas congregation.
Some of the Christians of the Taubaté congregation that we work with on Sunday afternoons.
Smallest Congregation? It is a contest between two:
Hickory Flat: I filled in (preaching) for my FHC roommate a couple of times. There were 8-10 elderly ladies and one teenage boy on the two front pews. I led singing, preached, led prayers and the boy helped me deliver the LS. All the while there were 5-7 men at the back sitting around a 5-gallon bucket in which they spit their tobacco juice. I suppose they were sharing jokes because once in a while they would erupt in laughter. You can judge for yourself whether they were coming or going.
Webb’s Chapel: This one was just South of Realfoot Lake about 110 miles from FHC. I preached for them every other week. On a good Sunday we would have 17-18 good folks. I’ll always be grateful for the experience they provided and their long-suffering. I don’t think it exists today.
What’s the size of the smallest congregation you’ve ever been to? Tell us about that group. Were they just starting, or on the wane?
Last night we went to the Guaratingueta church, a handful of saints who meet in a home, about an hour away from SJCampos. They’re a fairly new group, but hospitable and faithful.
We’re letting our guests rest this morning. We wore them out Saturday and yesterday. Elder Mike spoke in three congregations. I translated for him in all three. They’re great sports.
I like the Bishop Street’s description of this part of their worship:
Singing: This just might take your breath away. We’re pretty enthusiastic about the privilege of worship in song. If you feel comfortable, please join right in; there are no professionals here, just everybody pouring out hearts to God together. (And don’t worry if you think your voice isn’t quite up to par. If your heart is, that’s what matters.) You might hear quite a variety of song tempos and lyrics and styles, but they all have the intent of praising Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and also of teaching and encouraging each other. This is what we read about, and are commanded to do, in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. (By the way, many people are surprised by the absence of musical instruments. That’s simply because the New Testament only speaks of singing and making melody in the heart, so that’s the pattern we try to follow.)
The whole page is nicely done.