This morning it mattered here at CPC in The Hill and for the Hill. Not that anyone was aware. But that’s okay. They didn’t need to be. But I did. Need to be aware, that is. I’m a shepherd. I am the watcher on the wall (to use Game of Thrones lingo). A watchman on the wall (to use Ezekiel lingo).
My text this morning was Ephesians 4:11-16. A full message, that was intentionally sprinkled with a call for people, especially men, to step up to be trained as teachers and some as overseers (trained at elders of the flock, which makes them shepherds). At one point I honed in on 4:14:
so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
“This is tragedy. Horrible. And, I can't tell you if that man had a faithful shepherd in his life. I can't. I hope he did. But I can't. I hope he was ready to meet his Maker. I don't know. We have too much of this going on in the Hill. This is another reason we need trained teachers in our midst, at CPC in The Hill. And, it is not as if I can protect you (or anyone) from such danger as this; protect you from this kind of evil here in the Hill. This is not the protection I can give you. I don't know if that man had a shepherd that protected him for eternal life. He needed that yesterday, late last night. This is not a judgment on that person; we don't know his eternal state. But, it's that kind of pastor, that kind of shepherd, that will protect you for eternal life. I can ensure you of one thing: we must understand, as horrible as this incident was, it isn't the real or finally tragedy. What we have here in this text would have changed the outcome, perhaps the outcome of that man's day, but surely his eternal outcome. Because sheep die without a shepherd. Equipping, really (as I showed from verse 12, perfecting the church to move toward the fulness of Christ matters. To prepare sheep for eternal life.”
Of course, most churches would claim this, and I get that. Yet, when someone tells Maxine, John, or me “CPC in The Hill is a teaching church,” what they mean is that on a Sunday morning or at Wednesday Ladies Bible Study, the Bible is taught in such a way that people get it, see it, hear it, understand it.
This morning we had a wonderful, new lady join us for morning service (a friend, brought by a regular, Amen?). I asked her after the service, “Did you feel built up in your faith this morning?” Her response is a good summary of what I think people mean when they tell us, CPC in The Hill is a teaching church.
“Yes I did,” she replied. “You explained the Bible so I saw how it fit. This doesn't always happen at church.”
I can preach at them. Sure. I can even turn up the volume. I can even give a good expository sermon (I do this for the most part when I speak elsewhere). I am far from a great preacher, for sure. But I have two goals in my style of teaching a text (call it “preaching a sermon” if you are more conformable with that):
- I truly want my flock and our visitors to be better readers of the Bible, so I teach in such a way they can see, not only what my point is, but how I got it–and I do so in such a way that they learn how to read the Bible themselves. (That’s hermeneutics, people . . . yes, a little Bible College class every Sunday morning at CPC in The Hill. I believe this is exactly the discipleship Jesus employed with His own disciples in the Gospel–He taught them to be better readers of OT Scripture).
- I want them to hear the Word in such a way that it is alive, sharp where it needs to be cutting and soothing where it needs to smooth; to hear that the text is for who they are, where they live, and how they can be as individuals more like Christ and, to remind them as a church, how they, together as church, are growth into the fulness of Christ (again, as a church).
I am not necessarily the best preacher they'll hear. I certainly hope not. And, will this (what I teach/preach) be the best they hear on a Sunday morning at CPC in The Hill? O, please not even close. And, for sure, sometimes it can be a little messy of a sermon. But they will hear the Word, see the Word from that text, and discover how it works into their lives and the life of our community.
Will they get it (grasp it, fully understand it) every Sunday. Probably not. But over time. They will. I am confident of that. I already see that happening. And, they tell me so.
So, I will receive that word with joy, a lot of humility, and gratitude: CPC in The Hill is a teaching church.
*A sermon is a message from a text a Scripture that brings to bear the intentions of God's word, from that text, upon the lives of those listening to the sermon . . . or else it's not a sermon . . . and even though my style is teaching, I most definitely bring sermons on Sunday morning . . .
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