Jul27WedJuly 27, 2016
Over the past year, the Elders read through a book entitled, ‘The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry On The Gospel.' The purpose of this book is to lead ministry leaders through an assessment of their congregational life (worship, meetings, leadership structure, expectations, etc.) based upon the teachings of the New Testament.
Overall, we were encouraged by the assessment. Through our various discussions, we observed that many of the traditions and practices at First Mennonite are anchored in Scriptural authority. Of course, there are ways for us to improve (and we intend to lead into those directions), but it was uplifting to observe that functionally FMC is fairly consistent with the practices of the Early Church.
By the way...thank you to all of you who have shaped the leadership and direction of FMC over the past decade!
The authors described the role of the Biblical pastor as one who is to graze, guide and guard. With this alliteration, they emphasized the need for a pastor to:
1) feed the congregational a steady diet of Biblical knowledge and gospel messages,
2) to cast vision (and live it out),
3) and to guard the congregation from unhealthy doctrines and habits.
I appreciate the insight that these authors provided with the 3 g’s.
Honestly, I greatly enjoy the first two. It is the task of ‘guarding’ that I find incredibly difficult. This requires me to keep a constant ear tuned into the messages from our secular culture, the attitudes within our church and the direction of our denomination.
For those who have been following the pulse of MC USA, you will know that our denomination is in great turmoil and steady decline even though the global Mennonite witness is flourishing in Hispanic, Africa and Asian countries and contexts. Within the role of ‘guarding,’ I am often discouraged and torn about what news to share with the leaders of FMC and what news to simply pass over. It can be very disheartening to share stories about compromised theology and congregations departing from our national denomination. However, if you wish to learn more about this, please feel free to ask me anytime. I am more than willing to share some of my ‘guarding’ burden with you.
In the same vein, I would encourage you to continue to pray for Michael Danner (a member of FMC and our Executive Conference Minister), Bethany Fosdyck (a member of FMC who is currently serving on the Missional Leadership Team) and Doug Roth (a member of FMC who is currently serving on the credentialing body within our Illinois Mennonite Conference).
In light of the responsibility to guide and guard, I’m heading out to the Anabaptist Renewal Conference in Kansas this week. I am praying to see evidence of healthy, vibrant, Biblically sound and Spirit-led Mennonite churches among the believers that gather. Lord willing, the burden to guard will be a little lighter after this conference so I can continue focusing on grazing and guiding our FMC family in ways that are Biblically sound, faithful to the gospel and testify to the goodness of Jesus Christ.