Saturday, March 28, 2015

Process stories: behind the scenes of a new preaching series

A week on Sunday we start a new preaching series for the summer term, unpacking the message of 1 Peter. We're calling this 'EVERYDAY CHURCH' which is the title of Steve Timmis and Tim Chester's book on 1 Peter. For us discipleship has 'UP' to God, 'IN' to church, and 'OUT' to our city aspects. After series in Galatians on God's welcome, on the Incarnation and Genesis on living in this world, this is going to be more of an 'IN' series. A look inside how Christian faith, layed out to the mix gathering of newer and more established believers and many friends who are journeying regularly with us. 

As Jesus has welcomed us we seek to offer his welcome.

In looking at 1 Peter, we're asking what's special about church, why bother with church community, and how does that work in today's society?

This series will begin in the school and University holidays so we'll be podcasting and seeking to communicate clearly so people catch the start - though we know many members and friends may be with us irregularly so the sermons will need to both be a coherent series and stand alone messages - each seeking to meet people where they are and issuing a call to faith in Christ.

Friday afternoon for me then was about finalising the visual identity for this and printing the resource booklet covers. Next week I will complete the content and get that printed too. Our printer is a monster and will be working very hard!

Producing our series literature isn't where this begins. Our senior leadership team met in January and decided what we'd be preaching and focussing on. In February Stu and I prayefully hit the books, he has a mid-term study week. I've been particularly helped by Angus Macleay's book 'Teaching 1 Peter' from the Proclamation Trust, along with Edmund Clowney's gospel-centred classic in the BST series, whilst also drawing on hours in the text itself and the work of excellent evangelical scholarship.

From there we shape the series outline. What's the message of this book? How can we communicate that clearly and effectively? We're leaning heavily on Macleay's approach with a 13 week series. He suggest a options for 3,5,8 and 16 week series. We're very slightly condensing his long series approach.

I produce a notebook for our preaching team - Stu, Joe and myself, and three guest speaker who will join us this term - with key questions to bear in mind both drawing out the meaning of the text and communicating it's message to human beings at our Sunday gatherings.

Meanwhile Stu has met with a professor at the University who is a world expert on 1 Peter - a little providential opportunity which we're thankful for. We're a young team and anyone we can learn from is worth listening to.

Before we even get started on this my eye is on our next series which will take us from late-July through to the end of August. Traditionally this is a time to train up younger preachers. With that in mind I'm pushing forward on a few fronts. We're going to work with a book I've taught before in another context. I've begun to issue invitations to preach, juggling availability on dates. I've invited the curate of a local Anglican church to come and do some training with us on how to handle a Bible passage. He's an old friend from my time with UCCF and I'm delighted that he plans to join us for all four preparation evenings - two on handling the Bible, two on crafting a sermon. We have much to learn together.

Meanwhile this Sunday we conclude our present preaching series, a term in Genesis 1-4 which has for me been a fascinating vision of the God who made this good world to flourish under the hands of his image bearers, moving as GK Beale says towards a global Eden, a glorious city, and yet terribly marred by our deep relational betrayal. Only through the wounded Christ can things be restored, and as human beings turn to find life in him they join him in the renewal of all things. We're supplementing the lessons we've learned from one of The Gospel Coalition's Top 10 resources of last year - 'For the life of the world' a video discussion series based on Dutch Reformed worldview theology from Abraham Kuyper.

People are taking next steps, responding to what Jesus says in his word about his gospel, and it's great to see changed lives.

Our Senior Leadership team will meet later in April to set our direction for the autumn and it'll be time again to gather resources to do our best to serve our city with the good news of Jesus.

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