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July 28, 2008

The Living Church- Chapter Six

The Living Church – Chapter 6

In the next few weeks I’ll be posting on John Stott’s excellent new book: The Living Church. Stott is a writer, pastor, and teacher who is well worth reading.

This chapter deals with preaching. Preaching, says Stott, is not considered to be ‘in’ today, but he still wants to encourage it as essential to the living church. He proposes a number of characteristics of ‘authentic’ Christian preaching that complement each other and that should be held in tension.

First, authentic Christian preaching is biblical and contemporary. This is shaped by an exposition of Scripture that resonates with today’s world. We need to listen to both. Be careful here, says Stott, not to make a false polarization between being biblical and contemporary. This is one of the great liberal – evangelical divides.

Second, authentic Christian preaching is authoritative and tentative. Good hermeneutical work and a central focus on Scripture are necessary – Scripture says, not I say – while at the same time it is essential to admit and embrace that God has not revealed everything. Not all in Scripture is equally clear or made known. I would call what Stott is aiming for: confidence and humility. Good preaching should lead people into the Scripture so that they learn to read and live it for themselves.

Third, authentic Christian preaching is prophetic and pastoral. Everyone in church is to be both of these. Prophetic in giving testimony to God’s word in the midst of those who may be deaf and pastoral in helping them to hear. Being firm and gentle, says Stott, is the tension.

Fourth, authentic Christian preaching needs a preacher. Who? One who is ‘called, equipped and anointed by God.’ And these three have to be built up and nourished through study and prayer.

Fifth, authentic Christian preaching is thoughtful and passionate. Both mind and emotions are to be involved. Exposition and appeal are traits of good preaching.

Authentic Christian preaching is to be found in these five ‘unresolved paradoxes.’

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

Reflection for the Week- July 28th 2008

As the apostle Paul so eloquently puts it: I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in all speech and knowledge, just as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you - so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into fellowship with his son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  1 Corinthians 1:4-9

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

July 21, 2008

The Living Church- Chapter Five

The Living Church – Chapter 5

In the next few weeks I’ll be posting on John Stott’s excellent new book: The Living Church. Stott is a writer, pastor, and teacher who is well worth reading.

Fellowship is a term that is overused, yet misunderstood. Taking fellowship as much more than a pleasant tea-time together, a re-definition is appearing today. Stott underlines that there are biblical (people are not to be alone), historical, (small groups can have an impact), and pastoral (all Christians are to be involved in caring for others) reasons for this development.

Koinonia – fellowship is something shared in common. There are three things that are shared.

First, koinonia is not a feeling of togetherness. Stott says it is an ‘objective fact expressing what we share together.’ We have received grace from the same God, Lord, and the same Spirit. We participate in community with God and have a ‘common inheritance.’    

Second, koinonia is not only receiving, but giving. Grace is to be passed on to others.

Third, koinonia is a ‘partnership’ of giving and receiving love. Questions: Do we really love one another and does it show? Have you been loved by the church and seen the impact and expression of koinonia?

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

Reflection for the Week- July 21st 2008

As Western culture frequently banalizes or ignores God and truth; as the pressures of extreme forms of postmodernisms develop; as new expressions of pantheism and pragmatism rise and gain a foothold, we need to pray for insight and direction as to know how to navigate through the high degree of confusion to clearer thinking and living for the sake of Christ.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

July 15, 2008

The Living Church- Chapter Four

The Living Church – Chapter 4

In the next few weeks I’ll be posting on John Stott’s excellent new book: The Living Church. Stott is a writer, pastor, and teacher who is well worth reading.

Stott’s next chapter is on ministry. He looks to Luke’s narrative in Acts and highlights the Holy Spirit and the work of Satan (see Acts 5). The latter he says is out to persecute, corrupt, and distract. Stott draws our attention to Acts 6:1-7 to focus on the tactic of distraction:

1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch , a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

The point Stott wants to make here is that there are different ministries for different people in the church. No one should or can do everything, and this is crucial, because all Christians are called to a variety of ministries.

After having made this important point, Stott turns to explore the pastoral ministry. We have either elevated or regulated pastors, and both these orientations create problems. Pastors are to have oversight in teaching and participate in shared leadership. Those who pastor are to value people, deeply care for them, and show them increasing love as they are part of God’s church, not the pastor’s.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

July 14, 2008

Reflection for the Week- July 14th 2008

There are two vast expressions that seem more prevalent than ever in the culture: first, a sense of aimlessness, rampant consumerism, a lack of stable relationships and families, and sound bite superficiality. Second, the virtual spirituality interwoven with anything and everything is resulting in a dearth of true spirituality and a growing loss of contact with the real world. May God give wisdom as to how to address this spiraling impoverishment.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

July 09, 2008

Reflection for the Week- July 8th 2008

Counterfeit  forms  of  spirituality  are  often  characterized  by  a  hyper subjectivity or hyper objectivity,  which  have  little  or  nothing  to  do  with  Christian  truth  or  with  the  whole  of  life  in  God's  world.  It  is  essential  to  be  aware  of  the  proliferation  of  these  popularized  cultural  manifestations  that are anti-spirituality,  and  by  contrast,  to  speak  and  live  the  truth  in  love,  as  we  battle  against  the clutches of death.  May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery