Thursday, August 25, 2011

Some Priorities (in retrospect), part 2

A few days ago, I shared that one of the priorities that I had in coming to Ogletown was to lay a gospel foundation for future ministry. But, there have been other priorities as well.

#2 – Preaching the Word and Sturdy Theology
Because of so many good influences on my life, I had many opportunities to speak and preach even before I became pastor of Ogletown. And yet, the preaching here has been different.
  • First, I feel much more of a weight of responsibility for giving God’s flock at Ogletown a steady diet. I realize that as a teaching pastor here, it is my privilege and charge to lead God’s people to green pastures and still waters. Those pastures and waters are found in God’s Word, not my own personal experiences. I have tried to make sure that the teaching ministry of Ogletown provides a balanced diet. Mostly I have taken chunks of Scripture (i.e. in 2011 we have been in Ruth, Proverbs, Mark, and Revelation) from both the Old Testament and New Testament, and worked through them in the Sunday morning teaching time. However, a balanced diet also means preaching to the head, the heart, and the hands. So, there are times God wants us to think differently, and times God wants us to value/desire/feel differently, but there are times God wants us to act differently. Scripture points us to all three.

  • Preaching at Ogletown has also been a unique experience in that on any given Sunday morning there are likely to be godly, retired pastors in our congregation, sitting near or next to agnostics, skeptics, and even atheists (and everything in between). There are many who would classify themselves as religious, but there are many who would not. The same message from God’s Word is heard by all. That has been challenging, but it has also been very rewarding. It pushes me to make sure I am respecting another’s opinion and even understanding it accurately, while maintaining core biblical convictions. Ogletown does not have the option of just preaching to the “already-convinced,” and I am grateful for that.
In essence, my goal in both preaching and teaching has been that this ministry be built upon something sturdy (much like Josh Harris speaks about in Dug Down Deep). Life is too hard and complex for simplistic answers or Christian clich├ęs. God’s Word gives us more than shallow thoughts. There are deep life-sustaining truths, and honest stories. The characters in the Bible, and the propositions of Scripture reveal to us a God who does not shy away from hard questions, apparent inconsistencies, and a painful world (e.g. Job, Psalms, and Lamentations). The message of the gospel itself is not simplistic, but profound, and it does Christians a disservice when we don’t push ourselves toward sturdy truth.