Every now and then God is particularly good. Of course he’s always good, but every now and then his goodness is lavished in our lives in such a way that we immediately sense how undeserving we really are.
That was how I felt about 17 years ago when I stumbled upon a book that revolutionized my faith, ministry, and life. The book is entitled, The Micah Mandate, by George Grant. (Get this book!) It’s a marvelous, God-honoring study of what a biblical worldview is and how it should ignite those who hold it dear. Up to that point I had read every book around on the subject of Christian worldview, but those books seemed to only focus on the abstract and philosophical. Grant’s book expanded my world and broadened my horizons. He emphasized that worldview isn’t just something for the ivory towers of academia, but for all of life. Our worldview – our treasured faith – is for every sphere of life. I haven’t been the same since.
With that book's influence moving throughout my heart and mind, I began a weekly men’s discipleship ministry about a year later. My hope was that a few men would gather together around God’s Word and be saturated and transformed by it. I prayed that men would be renewed and revived. I deeply desired that biblical, God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled disciples would be born – men who would change the world – beginning with themselves, then in and through their families, workplaces, churches, communities, the culture, and then perhaps, one day, the world. God honors such efforts. Reformation and revival happens in such ways.
My hope for the men’s ministry way back then, as it is today, was for God to penetrate the hearts, minds, and souls of our men with his Word, so thoroughly, that he would cultivate in their lives a framework (worldview) for viewing, interpreting, and applying their faith in every sphere of life. God has been pleased to work mightily in the lives of many of our men in such a way. Soli Deo Gloria.
Grace and Truth,
Our local church, Southside United Methodist Church, was born on Easter Sunday, 1950. It was on that day the men and women, boys and girls of Southside assembled together as an official congregation of the Methodist Church to lift their hearts, minds, and voices in worship to God for his grace and goodness in bringing them together. It was also an opportunity for them to commit themselves to the service of Christ and his kingdom.
The men’s ministry, interestingly, was actually born the day before.
It was on the preceding day, Holy Saturday, the men of Southside decided to meet together to get everything ready for the next day’s events. These faithful, servant-hearted brothers also thought it would be a good idea to meet a few hours early for the purpose of cooking breakfast and then enjoying it and fellowship together. Southside men have been meeting every Holy Saturday since then for our annual “Men’s Easter Breakfast.”
I share this bit of history to communicate that this wonderful tradition of Southside men represents how long Southside’s commitment to men has existed. It also shows how far back our men’s commitment to Christ and his local church, Southside UMC, actually goes.
Much of today’s literature that is devoted to men’s ministry is saturated with tales of woe regarding the absence of men in the church at large. Men, they tell us, have been alienated from feeling welcome or comfortable in church settings for a variety of reasons. Perhaps there’s truth to that in some churches.
Yet Southside has been blessed by the men (and, of course, the women) who have stepped up in many ways over the years to be used by God in the building up of his body. From administrative leadership to teaching Sunday school classes to serving the community, Southside men have a rich history of following Christ, which has left an enduring legacy to the Southside men of today.
I give thanks for those men of God who have gone before us. May the men of Southside in each and every generation faithfully pursue our United Methodist Church’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Soli Deo Gloria,
(April 14, 2010)
The practice of catechesis is vital for the health of both the church and family. Several years ago I came across the following two articles that do a great job of addressing this topic. Both deal with J.I. Packer’s recent book and his comments about the importance of catechesis, and when Packer talks, we all need to listen.
The first one is found at Christianity Today and is an excerpt from his book, Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way, which he cowrote with Gary A. Parrett. Here’s a snippet from that excerpt…
Historically, the church’s ministry of grounding new believers in the rudiments of Christianity has been known as catechesis—the growing of God’s people in the gospel and its implications for doctrine, devotion, duty, and delight. It is a ministry that has waxed and waned through the centuries. It flourished between the second and fifth centuries in the ancient church. Those who became Christians often moved into the faith from radically different worldviews. The churches rightly sought to ensure that these life-revolutions were processed carefully, prayerfully, and intentionally, with thorough understanding at each stage.
Click here to read the whole piece.
The other column is by Mark Earley at BreakPoint. Here’s an excerpt from it…
There is generally need for three distinct forms of catechetical ministry. They say it’s protocatechesis, which refers to teaching what many today would call “seekers” or what the ancients called “inquirers”; catechesis proper, which refers to the formal work of preparing children or adult converts for baptism or confirmation; and ongoing catechesis, which is the never-ending teaching and formation of believers.
Click here to read the whole column and make sure to see the links at the bottom of it.
Grace and Truth,
Below is an interview with J.I. Packer on the importance and need for catechesis.