Friday, September 28, 2007

The Camel Method

I just had an excellent conversation about the Camel Method with some friends. In case you aren't familiar with it the camel method is basically the approach to evangelism and missions that uses the Koran as a bridge to draw Muslims to the gospel. It basically is an approach to using the Koran as an evangelistic tool in an attempt to make it "easier" to speak to a muslim about Jesus' holiness, power, and position.

A few thoughts...
1) It seems that this method is a subtle pursuit to avoid persecution.

2) It seems to feed ignorance and insecurity about what one knows about the religion of Islam and makes Christians think that they can't share the gospel without using the Koran. This appears to be a prideful undermining of the sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible is the revelation of how mankind might be saved into a relationship with the one, living, triune God. The method seems to undermine the authority of the Bible. This method is not the same as Paul quoting a prophet from Crete (Titus 1:12) or a Greek poet (Acts 17:28) doesn't ever appear that he is claiming that those sources have authority (the camel method seems to).

3) It is deceptive and doesn't have a lot of integrity as it is basically a bait and switch tactic. [If we establish in people's minds that the Koran is indeed authoritative how are we going to remove that from their minds? This seems to scream bait and switch.]

4) Christians need to spend more time gaining an understanding of what the Bible teaches about God and themselves. This will enable them to share the gospel and apply the true authoritative Scriptures to the individual situation.

5) You don't have to have an understanding of every religion in the world (and their writings) in order engage people with the gospel. A good solid understanding of the true God and the true state of man will enable us to share the gospel most effectively (similar to how one is trained to identify counterfiet money...they don't look at all the possible fakes...the just study the true thing intensly and analytically).

Any thoughts??

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Radiohead Critique of Christian Individualism?

This is a post that a friend of mine from Iowa posted (Pastor Wayne) on his blog. It’s pretty thought provoking…or much more simple. You be the judge;^)

I've been a fan of Radiohead since the late '90's, but I hadn't seen this video set to the Thom Yorke song, "Rabbit in Your Headlights." I'm tempted to give this video a very Christian spin, even if Yorke et al. have no desire to carry any Christian freight.

The video reminds me of the parable of the Good Samaritan in that we have a man "on the way" - a powerfully biblical metaphor in itself. This man is a babbling schizophrenic, yet he almost appears to be praying - perhaps schizophrenia reveals more about true humanity (homo laudens) than we might be led to believe. On two occasions he seems to shout out the word "Shema!" The Hebrew word for "Hear" or "Listen," as in THE Shema - "Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one!" (Dt. 6:4) In other words, through his insane babbling, he has a message of prophetic critique. (Echoes of Zarathustra, perhaps?)

But this is a beaten and pitiful man. The juxtaposed phrases "Rabbit in your headlights" and "Christian suburbanites" as he's being pummeled by traffic presents a rather forceful critique of a Christian individualism more concerned with its own self-preservation than demonstrating the self-sacrificial love for another seen in our Lord. 

I also like the redemptive moment of him shedding his old self and his victory over the powers through a renewed cruciform humanity.

Or maybe it's just about rabbits.

[HT: Wayne []]

Banner of Truth!

Right after the last session of the Weekender on Monday I drove 2.5 hours up to Carlisle, PA to visit the Banner of Truth headquarters. It was great! I was able to buy a few books at a pretty low price and was able to go out to lunch with Steve Burlew. Here are a few pics from my trip up there.

Steve, thanks for taking some time out of your day for lunch and the "6 minute" tour. May God bless your work!

Friday, September 21, 2007

This One's For You Mom!

Here's a pic of the Capitol Building about three blocks away from our place. I took it at about 9:30pm.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

9Marks/CHBC Weekender Recap

Here is a compilation of links of the posts that I did from the sessions at the Weekender.

Day 1: 9/13/07
Session I: Orientation
Day 2: 9/14/07
Session II: Elder Meeting Q & A
Session III: Church Timeline ’93 Through Present
Session IV: CHBC Children’s Ministry
Session V: Core Seminar Overview
Session VI: Personal Discipleship & Small Groups
Session VII: Internship Program & Selecting Elders Part 1
Session VII: Internship Program & Selecting Elders Part 2
Session VIII: Service Planning Lecture
Sessions IX, X, & XI: Membership Matters 1
Day 3: 9/15/07
Session XII: Membership Matters 2 Part 1 “Church History, John the Baptist to Capitol Hill Baptist
Breakout Session I: International Missions
Session XIII: Membership Matters 2 Part 2 “What is the SBC?” Breakout Session II: 9 Marks and Church Q & A
Session XIV: Membership Matters 2 Part 3 “Nuts & Bolts”
Session XV: Q & A with Deacons and Non-Staff Elders
Supper with Staff Families
Session XVI: Sermon Preparation
Day 4: 9/16/07
Session XVII: Lord’s Day!
Day 5: 9/17/07
Session XVIII: Debriefing & Comments

Session XVIII: Debriefing and Comments

[Mark and the 9Marks staff 9:00am Monday morning 9/17/07]

They passed a microphone around the room to all the attendees two times. Once for one thing they didn't like about the conference, and another for one thing they found helpful about the conference. It was humbling to see how God had used the past five days to feed these men, and it was amazing how much energy they gave us all as they were here.

You should really consider coming to this in the future. Registration always fills up quickly...but if you can get in you will be blessed. I can't necessarily speak for every conference, but there were some good give-aways at this...namely, books (The Deliberate Church, 9Marks of A Healthy Church, Polity, Mark's new book on Personal Evangelism, the booklets By Whose Authority, A Display of God's Glory, and What is a Healthy Church). Also, a 9Marks addition to cheap books on the book stall and some excellent fellowship.

Praise God for how He has used 9marks in my life and many of these pastors' lives!

Session XVII: Lord's Day!

[CHBC 9:00am Sunday morning 9/16/07]

The weekenders arrived for core seminars to begin on Sunday morning at 9:30am...but every Sunday we gather as interns with the leaders of the church to pray over the day to come. At 9:30am the leaders of the various core seminar classes made an announcement (e.g. Evangelism Class: Sovereignty and Human Responsibility, OT Overview: 2nd half of Genesis [I think], Church History: Constantine and Controversies, etc.). After this we all went to our core seminars.

Then the regular church service began at 10:30am and ended around 12:30 am. Mark preached on Luke 17 (the four points were (1) Faith & Sin verses 1-4, (2) Faith & Obedience verses 5-10, (3) Faith & Salvation verses 11-19, and (4) Faith & the Future verses 12-37). It was a good sermon.

Lindsey and I went on a bike ride in the afternoon, and then the next session began on Sunday at 5:00pm which was an elders meeting to take care of any other business that they didn't cover in the elder's meeting on Thursday. Then we went to the evening service at 6:00pm in which we prayed a lot and saw Adam Grusy preach an excellent sermon from Genesis 19.

After this we attended the member's meeting (in which Lindsey and I were voted into the membership here) that went from approximately 8:00pm to 10:00pm. It was a great meeting (resignations and members joining totalled approximately 60 people). Then we all went downstairs for service review...this is when we look over every aspect of our corporate worship throughout the day. Commenting chronologically on service leading, hymns, preaching, etc. This ended around midnight I believe.

It was a very full day, but an excellent one!

[I had a great conversation with some pastors from Quebec afterward about local church training of pastors. Sounds much more biblical than our current system of pastoral education based in seminaries. I hope to learn more about it in the future;)]

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Session XVI: Sermon Preparation

[Mark Dever 7:30pm Saturday evening 9/15/07]

Planning Sermon's/Length of Sermon:
Mark encourages expositional preaching as opposed to topical, anecdotal, stories, lectures, etc. This doesn’t mean that every sermon that the Bible is open for is expositional. This also doesn’t mean the sermon has to be verse by verse. An expositional sermon is not to be dry. It is a sermon on a portion of Scripture in which the point of the passage is the point of the sermon.

There should be a centrality of the Word in everything a church does, for instance CHBC's Wednesday night Bible study goes through books of the Bible verse by verse. CHBC's Sunday evening service has a sermon for 15 minutes on the same theological theme and anthropological theme from the opposite testament of the morning service. The sermon on Sunday morning is intended to be the main meal for the flock. This is the feeding of the Christians; however, they almost always appeal to and address the non-Christian. Mark encouraged the pastors to be non-apologetic to preach to Christians in order to help them with their lives, feeding the sheep. Mark also discussed how there is a power evangelistically in a congregation centered on the gospel.

Mark has a system of working through different literature of the Bible trying to preach through every type of genre of the Bible over the course of two year period (e.g. Gospel, Prophecy, Epistles, Poetry, Apocalyptic, etc.)

In regard to preaching overview sermons Mark talked about a "Powers of Ten" video he remembered from his youth:
“The video started focused on a hand, then the camera zoomed out and a couple was visible, upon zooming out a little more you can see the street that the couple was on, a little more you could see the entire city of Chicago, then the United States, then the World, suddenly the moon whizzes by, then the entire solar system…then it zooms back in, all the way back in to the hand.”

This is his approach to preaching Scripture. Sometimes a view from very high up and zooming in gives great perspective and understanding to a text. He encouraged preaching on these different levels (e.g. overview of Bible, Testament, Books, Subdivisions of Books, Verses, etc.).

Mark plans for the year in four month blocks…and puts it all on a sermon card. His sermons are 11 to 12 typed pages.
First, he writes a title for a series and then individual sermon titles, then as each sermon comes up he does his exegesis of the text. He read a that Ambrose, and Augustine preferred to do sermons in a consecutive series of expositional preaching through books of the Bible, but he doesn't think that this is necessarily prescriptive to how we should preach.

Mark does outlines, the exegesis of what the text means, and a homiletical outline concerning how to get the main points of the passage(s) across. He spends 2 days immediately prior to preaching on Sundays preparing a sermon. He made it clear that if we just preach metanarrative that we need make sure that we do not lose the personal appeal to the gospel. We need to make it clear what people are to do in order to be saved. So preach the gospel in every sermon! There is a balance between biblical and systematic, and between metanarrative and personal appeal of the gospel.

Mark said he uses a manuscript because of the importance of words. Augustine was against manuscripts in the pulpit and thought the preacher ought to form the sermon as he preaches and as people respond throughout the sermon. Mark pointed out that using a manuscript for most people is not a good idea.

Sermon Structure:
Mark begins his sermons with an introduction. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said to start with engaging the hearer. Mark uses an application grid…this includes, "what’s unique in salvation history, what does the passage say to the nonChristian, to society at large, what does it say about Christ, what does this say to the Christian, this congregation, etc.). The application grid is a structured meditation on the passage. Application does use illustrations from time to time, but Mark exhorted that we have to be careful on this front because we don't want our ministry to be centered on the preacher's personality, rather on the Word of God. He then recommended that we preach as an adult to adults…treat them as if they are very intelligent. This is Mark’s response to Carl F. H. Henry’s critique of him to, "not preach to the Giraffe’s rather God’s sheep." Mark tries to keep his right hand where he is in his manuscript and underlines the first word of each sentence in red as a reference point to be able to follow his manuscript well.

Mark also discussed humor, "it is usually a way to, 'feel the wall in the dark,' for many preachers.” It is a way to immediately feel a response from the congregation listening. He admonished that this is a very dangerous practice. He said we need the approach of Richard Baxter, “I preach as a dieing man to dying men.” Humor can be used, but it should be used extremely sparingly…because it is a way that we can accidentally make deep content falsely light and fake. He said that humor in preaching is, "like giving candy to kids. The more you give it out, the more the most immature among them will want it the most."

His last bit of advice was to use commentaries only after we have engaged with the text thoroughly. He uses commentaries only after he knows what he thinks the passage has to say, otherwise his sermons will end up being formed by commentaries rather than how the Lord works in his understanding of the text.

Supper with Staff Families

CHBC pulls out all the stops for the Weekenders. Many members come and cook the meals that are provided (supper was awesome). We had a great lasagna dinner with garlic bread and salad.

When I came out for the Weekender last September Mark was giving all of the Master's Seminary (out of MacArthur's church in California) guys a hard time because they all had facial hair (but not full beards). He then said something like, "Don't worry about me giving you a hard time about your goatees because I'm a Southern Baptist!" When he said Southern Baptists he put his hands on his gut basically meaning that Southern Baptists eat well. Well, the way they feed the Weekenders I can affirm that some of that reputation is true;)

Session XV: Q & A with Deacons and Non-Staff Elders

[Papu Sandu, Jamie Dunlop, and the Halls 4:30pm Saturday late afternoon 9/15/07]

This was an opportunity for the weekenders to address questions of how the elders choose deacons and how they determine deacons for particular needs that come up. It was also an opportunity for the elders among the weekenders to ask questions about work life balance. They have deacons for sound, budget, bookstall, website, counseling women, to help folks with disabilities, etc. It is neat to talk with them and get their perspective on how the ministry works at CHBC.

Session XIV: Membership Matters 2 part 3: Nuts & Bolts

[Mike Gilbart-Smith 11:00am Saturday morning 9/15/07]

This is a class to wrap up all the membership matters classes that are required of potential members. This acquaints them with the biblical structure of this local church, orients them to the church property, moves and fills out anything that they need to know about CHBC that wasn’t covered in the other classes. This basically teaches the potential members what the staff teaches in a little more length to the weekenders over the course of their entire time here. I wasn’t in the entire talk to take notes, but this is a great model of how we should explain everything that our churches do to our members.

Breakout Session II: 9 Marks and Church/Q & A

[Matt Schmucker, & Jonathan Leeman 10:00am Saturday morning 9/15/07]

This is a session giving a detailed overview of how to view the church and what role the 9Marks ministry is trying to pursue in helping local churches. Also in this time they have a Q & A session. Once again I was in the membership matters course so I don’t have much more on this session.

[I’m just posting all of this so everyone can gain an understanding of everything that the Weekender has to offer]

Session XIII: Membership Matters 2 Part 2: What Is the SBC?

[Papu Sandu 10:00am Saturday morning 9/15/07]

This was a great class set up to orient potential members to the denominational affiliation that CHBC is a part of, namely the Southern Baptist Convention.

There was a big emphasis to express that the SBC is a “para-church” organization. The autonomy of the local church is prime in structure in regard to affiliation with many churches…the denomination is a way that different autonomous churches come together to achieve certain ends. Particularly the SBC comes together to provide seminary education and to send out missionaries. If you are interested in learning more about the SBC you can check out their website. Most of this class laid out the organizational structure of the denomination.

Breakout Session I: International Missions

[Andy Johnson 9:00am Saturday morning 9/15/07]

This is a session that 9Marks provides to discuss many things about missions (philosophy of missions, approach, etc.). I went to the membership matters course so I didn't take notes to post. From what I've learned about CHBC's approach to missions is that it is very different than most churches' approaches (very intentional and biblical).

You'll just have to come out some Weekender to sit in on the session!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Session XII: Membership Matters 2 Part 1 Church History

[Michael Lawrence 9:00am Saturday morning 9/15/07]

Michael started with 4 Reasons That Christians should study Church History.
(1) God commands it! We are supposed to remember the works of God in the history of Israel. Further, in the New Testament...we are to remember the apostle's teaching, and God’s work in our lives and the history of the church.

(2) It is instructive…there is nothing new under the sun.

(3) It should humble us. We are not the lords of our own destiny!

(4) It should encourage us. This tells us of God’s majestic pageantry and sovereignty in the past.
Their desire is to teach attendees more about Baptists, and in order to know more about Baptists we need to understand where they come from, namely English Protestantism. Further, to understand that we need to look back to the beginning of the church.

The foundation of the Christian church is described in Acts chapter 2. Many have called this class “John the Baptist to Capitol Hill Baptist.” They will cover every forty years of history about every minute to two.

The concept of a church, assembly called out, started when God called out Abraham, Moses, Ezekiel (in how God gave life to dry bones), also as we see Jesus Christ, the Word in the New Testament. God never saves people outside of the body of Christ. The church is not man’s idea.
(1) The Christian church begins in Matthew 16.
(2) The Christian church is commissioned in Matthew 28.
(3) Further, in Acts 2 the Christian church devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching.
Some movements rooted in bad theology in the history of the Church were Gnostics (comparable with Scientology), Montanists, Marcionites (similar to Theological Liberals), Arius (from which Unitarian and Jehovah’s Whitnesses find similar teaching) and Pelagians.

Many theological errors are a repackaging of old mistakes. Creeds developed as summaries of what Christians understood the Scripture to say in response to false teaching. They not only stood the test with teaching, but also with their lives. Starting with Stephen in Acts 7.

Constantine was proclaimed as emperor of Rome in 311AD. It is unclear as to whether or not he actually ever converted to Christianity. Therefore, it moved from a persecuted religion to the publicly endorsed religion. Civic hierarchy moved into the structure of the church and that was the beginning of the Roman Catholic tradition.

In 1054 AD the church in the East broke with the church in the West. They broke over authority of the pope and over the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The pope and the Roman Catholic Church held too much authority and claimed the right to have the ability to impart salvation by baptism. They also taught cooperative grace, “God helps those who help themselves (Benjamin Franklin).” This is an unbiblical doctrine!

Martin Luther discovers, by God’s grace, salvation is by faith alone through Christ alone. Christians need an alien righteousness imputed them in order to able to stand before God, this is what Luther came to believe the Bible taught. Martin Luther proposed a debate, as anyone would do in that time by nailing the 95 Theses to the church doors. This set off the Reformation. Rome condemned Luther’s teaching particularly the gospel.

At the same time as Luther Zwingli, Butzer, Calvin, Cranmer, etc. all worked for reform. A trust in Christ for salvation rather than man’s own works was the root of reform.

Baptists…out of the Reformation came various strands of Protestants: Lutheranism, Anabaptists, Reformed Churches (Presbyterians, Congregational, and Anglican churches)…and out of this came the Baptists. By 1608 a rejection of infant baptism was taking place in England by Baptists. An understanding of religious liberty mainly came from the Baptists, particularly in 1639 a charter for Rhode Island included the Baptist distinctive of religious tolerance.

Later on in the 1800’s an academic movement of German higher criticism denied the ability to believe in things miraculous (therefore they were against what the Bible teaches to be true). By 1930 almost every protestant denomination in America was taken over by this kind of thinking. This resulted in splintering of denominations.

After WWII Neo-evangelicalism was a uniting around fundamentals in response to theological liberalism.

In the 1860’s CHBC started as a bible study to reach many kids in the area. In 1878 they organized to start Metropolitan Baptist Church. Then Michael taught through the history of this local church.

Going To Bed...

[Noah Braymen signing off at 1:15am Friday evening 9/14/07/Saturday morning 9/15/07]

Weekenders are gruelling! It was an awesome way. The wireless internet was down at the church building today so I couldn't post this stuff as the conference was going. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to get some stuff posted online over lunch to slow the onslaught of material.

There are lectures going on constantly...and there is rarely a spare minute. I hope to post some pictures in the near future as well. This makes the Desiring God National Conference look like a cake walk in terms of how busy the attendees are:^) And it goes for 5 days...not 3!

But now, it's late and I'm tired...until tomorrow, if the Lord should give us another day!

In Christ

Sessions IX, X, and XI: Membership Matters 1 Part 1

[Mark Dever 7:00pm Friday evening 9/14/07]
The first installment of this was walking through the CHBC Statement of Faith (Articles I through XVIII). They have systematized these in such a way that they can clearly articulate how CHBC is similar or different in comparison with almost every kind of church that is out there. They have four consecutive categories of doctrine that they walk through: (1) Historically Christian, (2) Evangelical/Protestant, (3) Congregational, and (4) Baptist. This was really helpful in clarifying an understanding of exactly how CHBC compares doctrinally with almost all other traditions of churches.

[Matt Schmucker 8:00pm Friday evening 9/14/07]
Matt did an excellent job walking the class attenders through the CHBC covenant. He gave fluid real life examples of many of the things in the covenant.

[Mark Dever 9:00pm Friday evening 9/14/07]
This was the last session for the day. Mark walked the attendees through his "five reasons" of why to join a church:

(1) Join a church for non-Christians (for the sake of non-Christians).
(2) Join a church for weaker Christians.
(3) Join a church for the sake of stronger Christians.
(4) Join a church for the sake of church leaders.
(5) Join a church for the sake of God.

These summaries are pretty poor. As I have said a lot in other posts. You really need to sign up to come out and experience this some time. If you want to debate any of these points you could bring them up face to face;^)

Session VIII: Service Planning Lecture

[Mark Dever 5:00pm Friday evening 9/14/07]

All of us gathered together over another great meal provided by the humble service of members of CHBC and the generosity of 9Marks ministries. We had ribs, pulled pork with great home-made potato salad, green been casserole etc. It was great...and the fellowship was great as well!

I had to go upstairs to set-up the hospitality center for the rest of the evening so I wasn't present for the entire discussion of service planning. I wanted to put a post out for this though because it is a great talk...discussing planning sermons months in advance, including a theological and anthropological theme, planning a corresponding sermon from the opposite testament of the morning service, a discussion of the sermon planning grid etc. It is an excellent model of how to preach the entire counsel of God through deliberate planning and how to determine what texts to preach on, how to pick hymns, etc.

Session VII: Internship Program & Selecting Elders Part 2

[Michael Lawrence 3:45pm Friday late afternoon 9/14/07]

Part II: How We Go About Choosing Elders

1 Timothy 3:1:
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.”

How they determine elders of CHBC: Wisdom and prudence is what they must follow in this process. This is their process to bring people into this position. There needs to be an internal sense of calling. They have to have the desire to be there. They serve there because they must, because they sense they have to do it. A sense is not necessarily correct though...that’s where the biblical qualifications come into play...also the local church’s external call.

An elder is a man who is living out the Christian life in a way that is exemplary and who is also able to teach others how to live that way. They look for these qualities in men who are not waiting around to be recognized. These men are already busy eldering the congregation. They are not waiting for the title of elder in order to do the work. They recognize that this is the best way forward because this is something that the church has to recognize. If a congregation can’t see a man’s giftedness in this way he probably isn’t an elder because the congregation has to be able to recognize him.

This is the process…namely, to look for men who are already eldering. The elders raise the potential elders’ names in elder meetings when guests are no longer around (the guests are usually potential pastors, visiting pastors, and non-elder staff members). This process can go on for a long time. The name of a potential elder may appear in an elder discussion and then be voted into the office of elder anywhere from 6 months to years later.

They look for complete unanimity on this point. Elders can disagree on points, but not on whether or not someone is eligible to be an elder. In order to maintain mutual respect on the elder board each person needs to be able to affirm their meeting the qualifications of an elder. Some elders test the candidates on doctrinal points, others on matters of the family. Then they come together to see if they agree on giftedness. They will then deliberate and determine whether or not to meet with the candidate again, or they will move forward with him to sit in on a meeting…given a voice, but no vote. This helps the elders see if the candidate can put his shoulder to the wheel with them, yet submit to other brothers around the table. Does the brother handle disagreement, or rebuke with defensiveness? This might show immaturity and that he may not be equipped to be an elder yet. They will then stop and work with him on that particular fruit of the Spirit (patience, slow to anger). There are many steps and at every step CHBC elders require unanimity.

When the elders are unanimous they put the candidate before the congregation for 2 months prior to a congregational vote. This gives the congregation the opportunity to think about the candidate and bring up concerns so that they can deal with the reasons why people would vote no against them prior to the congregational vote. Also, the congregation might know something the elders don’t know.

The term of elders at CHBC is for 3 yrs, then if they are voted again to a second consecutive term they can serve another 3 years. After that time they are then forced onto at least a 1 year sabbatical. Then they may start the process all over again.

There are a few grounds that they make sure a candidate is clear on.
(1) The authority and sufficiency of Scripture. They don’t just want their elders to be an inerrantist, but also that they believe the Bible is sufficient to order the life of the church from polity to relationships.

(2) God’s sovereignty, exclusivity of Christ, and penal substitutionary atonement.

(3) An agreement on baptism, congregationalism, and polity.

(4) They also look to see that the candidate displays certain cultural distinctives (this may be different in different churches); however, CHBC is in middle of liberal larger culture (of Washington DC). They look for men who are very clear on complimentarianism in home and church, and know how to think talk and minister to people struggling with homosexuality. Capitol Hill is home to the largest community of middle to upper class homosexual couples in the United States. There can be a few things in the wider culture in which a church exists that could require a church to look at different ways a potential elder thinks about a bunch of issues.

Mainly they are looking for men who love this congregation. Men who are here more than they have to be. Serving in obvious and not so obvious ways.

Session VII: Internship Program & Selecting Elders Part 1

[Michael Lawrence 3:45pm Friday late afternoon 9/14/07]

Part I: Training Younger pastors
2 Timothy 2:2:
“What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Seminaries don’t train pastors. Churches train pastors.

The church shouldn’t be about feeding ourselves and taking care of ourselves. We’re about raising pastors up and sending them out.

The intern program is a major way that CHBC does this. Essentially they want to train younger pastors by starting a conversation about the church, about what the Bible says about the church, about what the Bible says a pastor is. Their goal in the internship is to expose interns to what it’s like to be a pastor.

How do they do that? The intern program is divided into two halves conceptually.

(1) Bring them in and do a lot of reading and writing and talk to the interns about what they’re reading and writing. The conversation is grounded in where most of American churches find their roots in the Protestant English speaking Reformation. Interns write 5, 6, or 7 papers a week…Mark Dever reads them all, and then they talk about it for three hours every Thursday (Lord willing of course).

There is formal instruction every week on Sunday evenings as they all (pastoral staff, staff, and interns) sit down and talk about everything we did in the Sunday morning service.

This models giving and receiving both encouragement and godly criticism. Many churches have a good dose of ungodly criticism and a false encouragement. They seek to develop a culture and environment of godly criticism for the benefit of both the individual and the church. Also, they seek to model receiving the encouragement and criticism in a godly way.

(2) Exposure…you disciple people how to be pastors, not teach. Interns live on the block with the pastors of the church. Often the interns are in the pastors’ studies and in their homes. They encourage them to just walk in and hang out, observe, go on walks, ask questions, etc.. They try to model how to live out the calling of a pastor day in and day out throughout life. If Mark and Michael are there the interns are there (weddings, hospitals visits, etc.). They expose interns to as much as possible as long as possible in the short 5 months that they have them.

They also encourage them to stay after the internship by taking a job on the Hill and take classes through the SBTS extension campus few years. “Consider the learning experience by being members of the church for a little longer,” they said. This is not only useful for this church, but a way that this church can be blessing to other churches in the world and generations. They devote $75,000 a year plus the loss of income of housing to do the internship and pastoral assistant program.

The internship means sacrifice of the staff’s time in order to invest in these men knowing that they will never minister here…only to leave and then minister to others. They exhorted us to invest the time so that we may do the same for others.

They handle pastoral matters in front of the interns, and the interns have an understanding that we cannot talk about it outside of the meeting. (As an intern I can’t explain how much this program has meant to me just one month in!)

Session VI: Personal Discipleship & Small Groups

[Andy Johnson 3:10pm Friday late afternoon 9/14/07]

6 Things about Discipling and Small Groups:
(1) What do we mean by discipling? Everything we do as the church is discipling. Relationships, and regular preaching of the Word is what CHBC means by discipling. Everything is aimed toward making disciples. It is a normative biblical concept for encouraging others to grow in Christ, namely this takes place in the local church.

(2) A culture of discipleship is encouraged in the entire congregation as opposed to a discipleship program. Members aren’t signing up for a program; therefore, this is not optional. According to Scripture like John 15 we must set out to intentionally help others to grow spiritually.

(3) How do we encourage one on one discipleship? Leaders are picked according to how their lives are characterized. The purpose of meeting up is to encourage spiritually.

(4) Roles of small groups overlap with one-on-one discipling. Don’t expect that the staff of the church is a matchmaker. Small group leaders aren’t necessarily discipling everyone in the small group, but they are networking relationships and giving feedback about the relationships to the elders and church members. They help connect discipling relationships for spiritual encouragement.

(5) Role of staff in discipling. Discipling everyone is not the job of the staff…but the staff particularly works with the more difficult cases of discipling (not always though). The congregation fosters the environment of discipleship and the staff is certainly part of that. But the sole responsibility does not lie on the shoulders of the staff. Rather, the responsibility relies on the entire congregation.

(6) What’s the role of CHBC members in small group discipling? When signing the covenant of the church you take the responsibility to look out for the spiritual welfare of others within the church. Through this they have permission to disciple each other. They are credentialed, they don’t need a certificate, or to pass a program…this is the work of everyone who is a Christian as a part of a congregation. CHBC is constantly teaching initiative, you need to take initiative toward others. You don’t even need to be more spiritually mature than others (however we should strive to grow in grace). So read through a book with someone that is more spiritually mature than you.

Model, encourage, and empower membership to disciple…this is not a program.

What it looks like….get together weekly to talk through the sermon, outline books of Bible together, talk about struggles in light of Scripture systematically, read a book from the church library. There is no required text. It’s very flexible. 50% of members in church are in small groups. There are a few different kinds types of small groups at CHBC: (1) Community groups based on residence in a community once a week or every other week...everything is approved by elders, but not prescribed, (2) Men’s groups mostly single men topics fluid but approved by the elders…just encouraging small groups to gather, (3) Women’s groups mostly composed single women…they don’t put people in these that are not members of the local church (4) there are no non-members so they do not put non-members in community and small groups.

Official CHBC small groups and materials are approved by the elders.

Session V: Core Seminar Overview

[Mike Gilbart-Smith 2:35pm Friday afternoon 9/14/07]

1 Corinthians 9:24:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”

The normal model for a Sunday school curriculum is an age-graded system. This is how CHBC was set up when Mark Dever arrived. The advantage to this system was that the age group had the opportunity to know each other and relate because they were similar to each other. However, the disadvantage was that it divided the congregation. This age-graded system put the teaching ministry in the hands of people that the church didn’t necessarily know, which the church was responsible for in regard to teaching (Hebrews 13:17).

This ministry has changed a few times and has definitely evolved over the last ten years. Currently, they have the Sunday school classes set up in what are called core seminar tracks. It takes one year to complete each track.

(1) The membership matters track. This is the track that people should attend before they’re a member in order to become a member of CHBC.

(2) The basics track is geared philosophically to folks who are one of several categories: (a) pre-Christian (fosters a familiarity to and with the gospel), (b) new Christian (this is a model and explanation of Christian discipleship), (c) how we work out God’s will for our life (how to understand God’s guidance), and (d) how to share the gospel (this is a course on evangelism with a modified presentation of 2-ways to live material and Mattias media’s "Christianity Explained").

(3) The overview of the Bible track. This class is broken into two 26 week segments on that covers every book of the Old Testament and New Testament. This track provides a basic overview of every book in the Bible. Generally they spend a week on each book of the Bible focusing on main themes and then applying them to our personal lives.

(4) The Church History and Systematic Theology track consists of two 13 week divisions.

(5) Then there is the Christian life track going into more detail on how we live our lives in pursuit of Jesus for 12 months. This track consists of Living as a Church (based on Donald Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines in the Church), Personal Spiritual disciplines), a Marriage and Courtship course, and how to be Godly parents. The goal of the Christian growth track is to teach how we are to encourage others. How to engage in evangelism, apologetics and worldviews, and missions [I'm not sure that I categorized these correctly].

When people have gone through every possible course the Mike said that the church encourages folks to, “do the whole lot again.” This is a tool for discipling and the members of the church are encouraged strongly to use it. Not everyone is and elder, but all Christians disciple others. This is a basic part of the Christian life. Mike said that there are approximately 150 to 200 members currently attending core seminars.

He said that they exhort members to find someone else, bring them along to the different tracks, and talk about the class with them. This is how we are to disciple people as a church. Teaching is also a good training ground for current elders’ gifts and future elders. Current elders, potential elders, and staff teach the classes. To get curriculum…go to the CHBC website, we equip, then adults, then core seminars, scroll to bottom of page there’s a link that says view and download core seminar material.

Anything taught in the church must have a strategy for use. Don’t just do what has traditionally been done. There isn’t a specific track for college students either. They encourage college students to love people that aren’t college students, so they get them into the regular core seminar classes as well.

Session IV: CHBC Children’s Ministry

[Joylane Bartron 2:00pm Friday afternoon 9/14/07]

Joylane spoke about the who, what, and how of children’s ministry at CHBC.

Who: The Parents of the congregation. The children’s ministry exists to support and encourage parents who have the biblical responsibility to disciple their children. Ephesians 5 discusses that parents, especially fathers, are to bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This kind of responsibility also resides on the shoulders of the congregation and it is also in CHBC's church covenant to come together as a body to, "help bring children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." The preaching ministry is the foundation of the curriculum for the children’s ministry of the church. They have two deacons and a curriculum team of three women.

What: 2 sections.
(1) Childcare ministry. This is a ministry to parents to provide Christ centered care to children from birth to two years old.

(2) Children’s classes are for ages 2yrs – 18yrs . Praise Factory Junior is aimed at teaching the basic concepts of the curriculum (pre-school aged children). Praise Factory is for kindergarten through 4th grade. This curriculum consists of 100 concepts of theology to be taught in a 5 year span of time. This is not a program! If the support for it from the congregation and the parents would disappear the children’s ministry, as it exists, would disappear. They do it to encourage parents with the volunteer and joyful serving of the congregation, but also because the congregation loves their children and they want to see the kids come to faith in Jesus Christ.

How: This is the philosophy of the ministry. The 9 Marks of a healthy church also apply to the children’s ministry. This is a topical curriculum of systematic theology for Children! Expositional teaching (preaching), theology is for Praise Factory and Praise Factory Jr. on Sunday mornings. Sunday evenings are more of an application of the concepts from the morning lesson. Biblical theology is more than reciting verses with children. It is giving biblical literacy and helping children learn how it fits into the history of redemption (the good news of the gospel). This is how they teach the concept...that it is God who changes hearts. This helps the children to avoid a misunderstanding of what the gospel is. Further, a biblical understanding of conversion helps children know that conversion is when a heart is changed by God in an understanding of the gospel through faith and repentance, not by human intuition . We shouldn’t look at how we can get them to pray a prayer; rather, we should engage them in the long teaching of helping them see what sin is in their life, and how God has changed those who believe. At 9:00am the children’s ministry staff come together for prayer every Sunday morning. The main goal of the Children’s ministry is to aid parents in raising little ones up to be worshipers of God. Also, to seek and pursue their hearts through prayer, understanding them, and communicating in ways they can understand. We must cultivate satisfaction in the Lord alone. We must model worship and ask the children to join us in worship of God so they may worship God long after we are gone. CHBC’s hope in children ministry is that the kids might be faithful stewards of the gospel after we are gone.

Session III: Church Timeline ’93 Through Present

[Matt Schmucker and Mark Dever 10:00am Friday morning 9/14/07]

This was a great time to hear about many aspects of CHBC. It helped the weekenders understand how CHBC grew into the biblical description of how a healthy church functions. CHBC is by no means perfect, but it is is biblically healthy in many ways. I’m sorry I can’t share a lot more, but if you want to know more register for a future Weekender. There was a lot of confidential information that I can’t share…so get here sometime…if you don’t you’re missing out! :^)

After this 9Marks treated us all to a great lunch of subs sandwiches. During this lunch we went around the entire room and every weekender was able to share their name, where they are from, and a little bit about their ministry background. It was great!