This was our last Sunday at Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church. In the midst of our many trials, our church community has been a strong anchor for us. We have learned much and have grown through our time there. We will miss them all very much.
On the left is my pastor Rev. Jeff Meyers and on my right is my other pastor Rev. Chris Smith. Rev. Mark Horne, a great friend, is the other pastor at Providence. For any students who plan on attending Covenant Seminary I highly recommend Providence as a church home. The pastoral care is unparalleled.
I went on my final Providence seminary student/interns function. We shot pistols, gigged frogs, smoked cigars and ate. The highlight was Pastor Jeff Meyer's talk, "the top 10 things I have learned as a pastor." I will miss these times.
Pope Benedict celebrated mass with an estimated 270,000 persons in rainy Warsaw today. More people gathered this morning for one Christian observance than are in most Reformed denominations. Unless you think the pope is the Antichrist, you must recognize that this celebration (John Paul II celebrated mass with over 1 million in Warsaw in 1979) shows the presence of the larger church. Food for thought as we head into the idiosyncratic GA season.
On the flight home I sat next to 22 year old Marine Corporal Sachs, an infantry fireteam leader with 3/5 "Darkhorse", "Get Some." This jarhead was returning from his third and final combat tour in Iraq. We need to remember and pray for the warriors who stand post in strange and dangerous lands. There are many Corporal Sachs coming home now and we need to be there for them.
I have been reading David Murrow's book "Why Men Hate Going to Church" and have found parts of it very enlightening. While his book lacks the detail that Podle's "The Church Impotent" contained, it fleshed out different ancillary areas. For example, Murrow describes how there is a lack of distinctly masculine leadership in the church. Though many pastors and ministers believe they are leaders, when they are asked to flesh out a specific vision for their ministry and to claim ownership of leadership gifts (leading people, administration, etc.) there ends up being less than 10% of leaders in the church. In other words, leadership in the church, in order to truly expand, needs to be visionary and not simply reactionary or oriented toward protecting what exists. Men want to follow someone who is leading them somewhere, in conquest. The Gospel itself speaks of the Kingdom of God going forth in conquest with Christ subduing the nations through his church (Romans 1:1-6). But todays American church is filled with "guardians" who are resistant to change and prize security.
Murrow writes: "You might say that today's church is full of passivity activists whose greatest energies are devoted to fighting change." This creates a situation where the church ends up attaching itself to parachurch ministries to fill the gap created by a lack of forward progress. But often, these parachurch ministries are themselves overly feminized. For example, Murrow states that, "Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) International is the world's premier parachurch Bible study program. It offers three to five times more classes for women." So the cycle of femininity in the church is perpetuated and men are driven away further even as the church attempts reach out. The solution, I believe, is to seek out and cultivate distinctly masculine leaders in the church and not to be frightened of them. They frighten the church because they are not safe and predictable...but neither was Jesus.
I made it safely to Santa Clarita, CA last night. This morning the brothers from St. Andrew's came down to help us unload our UHaul truck into storage. One more trip back to St. Louis to get the family and then its out to California to get started with the church-plant. God is sending the people and is meeting our needs beyond expectation. He is worthy, indeed!