I have been a follower of Guy Davies’ blog for some time. It is an excellent example of a useful contribution to Christian blogdom. So, it was a great honour to be asked by Guy to participate in a blog interview. So if you want to know what I think about a few things, go and read.
Oh, and I will forgive you if you find Guy’s blog so appealing that you don’t get round to coming back here for a while.
We arrived back from Sweden last Wednesday pretty tired after a busy couple of days. I was going to write about our visit, but Richard has captured the substance of it on his blog. I only need add my appreciation of the visit. The picture shows, from the left, David Bergmark (Pastor), Gary Johnson (MTW missionary) and David Leander (Deacon). These three men and their families were the core group of a church plant that has grown to 40 members.
There are 40-people churches that are troubling because they are that size, and there are 40-people churches that are very encouraging. The Evangelical Reformed Church in Tranas is the latter. Solid doctrinally, a strong, thinking, humble eldership and a desire, with plans, to plant new churches (note the plural) to reach more Swedes with the gospel.
A good experience and very encouraging.
The Legacy of John Calvin
David W Hall
P & R Publishing (2008), Pbk, 112 pages
An excellent little book published in the run up to the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin in July ’09.
Have you ever seen the Monty Python scene where the Jewish zealots are asking, “What have the Romans ever done for us?”? This book reminds me of it. I can imagine lots of people who might ask in the same spirit, “What has John Calvin ever done for us?” Well, David Hall lists the lasting legacy of John Calvin in Geneva for the western world, and it is pretty substantial.
Many of the things we consider as ‘givens’ of our day were not before Calvin. Geneva was the source of many great ideas we take for granted. In fact Hall states that for the 100 years or so after his death, Calvin was, by head and shoulders, the most influential man in Europe.
Add this to a brief account of his life and a string of appreciative testimonies of writers from various Christian evangelical traditions and you have an excellent little primer on Calvin which whet one’s appetite for more.
The only minor drawback is that it is written from an American perspective with lots of references to the Republic.
I am about to head off to Sweden for a couple of days to visit these guys. It is a lone presbyterian church plant which is looking for closer ties with the EPCEW. I met the pastor, David Bergmark at the ILF conference back in April this year.
Meanwhile, a few highlights from the last week or two:
- SPC is now in its fourth year. We advertised in the press, issued invitations to neighbours to come to the 3rd anniversry. To illustrate the problems of reaching people, guess how many came (except for the 7 from other churches)? One. However, the good news is she came back yesterday for the second time.
- Numbers at SPC have remained steady over the Summer, around the 20 mark. There has been a steady increase since the start of the year, for which we give thanks to God. I often say to people that planting in Solihull is like a car stuck in mud. The wheels are spinning furiously and slow progress is being made, but we wait on God’s perfect time for the moment of real traction!
- We were joined at SPC by Rosemary Grier yesterday, one of the local UCCF staff workers. It was great to have her with us for lunch. I am impressed by how much and the quality of she reads. Of course, this is reflected in her blog, which I thoroughly recommend.
- I and the family were at City last night where Richard Cunningham, director of UCCF, was speaking. His message from 1 Samuel 14 was superb. I know it was geared toward the many new students that appear at City at this time of year, but it was very helpful to me as a church planter. The sermon should be up on the website soon. It is worth listening to.
Nuff for now.
I went to preach ‘away from home’ at another church last Sunday. It is a church that is struggling to remain viable. At the first service there were six others and me. At the second there were seven … and me.
I have mixed reactions to such a situation. My emotions get involved too. My automatic reaction is, “C’mon, call it a day!”. I have never been someone who thought that supporting a cause that was going nowhere was a good thing. Read the signs and make the hard decision.
However, my heart was in a different place. I had a strange sense of excitement while travelling to the church. I was champing at the bit! I wanted to preach. When I got there, yes there were few, but the experience was good. We sang well, the people were attentive and I experienced a degree of liberty I had not felt for a while.
I don’t know what to make of an experience like that. I am happy to respond to any call to preach elsewhere as long as there is no adverse effect on Solihull Pres. I want to preach more that I currently am (at Sol Pres we only have one Sunday service). It is not for me to make the hard decisions in difficult places I have no part in. But should I not be fed up at preaching to small congregations in difficult places?
I don’t think so. Paul helps us when he says, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). When necessity is placed upon a man, he would preach to anything!
I thank God for help in a difficult time. I thank God for the fellowship with brothers and sisters pressing on. No one said this preaching business would be without trial. But the joy of preaching and hearing the gospel overshadows it.