What Churches Can Learn From Jane Austen

CassandraAusten-JaneAusten(c.1810)_hiresDon’t worry – it’s not soteriology or anything. There is no evidence that Jane Austen possessed saving faith, so taking theological tips from her doesn’t make sense.

But as a brilliant novelist, she understood people. Society might be different now than it was two hundred years ago: human nature is the same. And it’s Austen’s keen insight into people’s thought and behavior patterns that leave lessons for pastors, congregations, and individual members in our churches today. Here is one lesson from each of her three best-loved novels. Continue reading

A Good Elder

The Ordination of Elders in a Scottish Kirk, 1891 “At the meetings of Session, his genial temper, his strong good sense, his business habits, and his familiarity with the law and practice of the church made him a model clerk.

But, it was in his relations to the congregation generally, and to the members residing in his own district in particular, that his value as an elder most strikingly appeared. He was always ready with a warm welcome to every new member, and had a kind word even for the stranger who might turn aside to worship in the New North for a single day. His presence at both services on Sabbath could be confidently reckoned on; and those who attended the prayer meeting will not soon forget the simplicity, the directness, and the fervor of his prayers. Continue reading

Benefits of Biblical Christianity (II)

balance weigh scaleThe first benefit of biblical Christianity is that the Christian is a person no longer a rebel and enemy, chasing futility and facing judgement. The Christian is reconciled to God in Christ, and brought to glorify and enjoy Him. God in his grace lavishes the Christian with this and innumerable other blessings. The benefits of a biblical Christianity also extend beyond the individual–to the church,  family, and beyond.

The Church

Broken, distorted relationships in families and society are a painful, and to some degree, standard reality in our world. What difference does it make to be a Christian? While retaining natural family ties, the Christian receives the benefit of adoption into God’s family. He/she becomes a child of God, entering a new relationship with Christians around the globe, as well as those already in heavenly glory. Continue reading

Loving the Church

“Give yourself to the Church. You that are members of the Church have not found it perfect and I hope that you feel almost glad that you have not. If I had never joined a Church till I had found one that was perfect, I would never have joined one at all! And the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect Church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us… All who have first given themselves to the Lord, should, as speedily as possible, also give themselves to the Lord’s people. How else is there to be a Church on the earth? If it is right for anyone to refrain from membership in the Church, it is right for everyone, and then the testimony for God would be lost to the world! Continue reading

A Parenting Priority

princeton 001“Parents’ first responsibility is to inculcate in their children a sense of absolute duty (not to say love) to Christ and His Church. However much children are sent to Church, and however much pleasure and help they get out of it, the whole may be lost if, on reaching teenage years, they are allowed to put lesser duties, even pleasures, before Christ and the Church.

What recreations and amusements children are permitted to enjoy is a very difficult matter for parents to decide, and needs guidance from God. It is a matter, not only of where we allow children to go, but when. The real test of whether our pleasures are right or wrong is when they happen to clash with Church. What then do we do? I have little fear for any, young or old, whatever pleasures they allow themselves, who, when a clash occurs, put Christ and His church first. But it is a deeper question than pleasure. It is not merely Christ versus enjoyment, but Christ versus self. When we have some special call upon our time which concerns our personal advantage, what is it that suffers? Is it our work, or our leisure evenings, or our attendance at God’s house?… Continue reading

The PK Parishioner (4)

church doorsAlthough there can be hard things about being an adult pastor’s kid in a church not pastored by your father, being a pk in different congregation can also be a blessing. Here are some of the perks I’ve discovered.

First, you know what the ministry is like. You understand what life is like for your pastor’s family like few other people can and so you can pray for them accordingly. You might not even talk to them much, but you pick up on vibes, clues, or just common pk knowledge, and pray in a more informed way than you would be able to if you had not grow up in a pastor’s home. It will be a blessing to their ministry even if they are unaware of it.

And hard as it can be to have to earn the trust of a congregation, it’s good for you. When you are the new member and nobody knows your dad, you can’t rest on your pk laurels. Continue reading

The PK Parishioner (3)

firstpresI never thought too much about it at the time, but growing up, I sort of assumed that once I moved out of the house, I would effectively stop being a PK: someone else would be my pastor, I would not play board games in the basement while Dad counseled an engaged couple upstairs, and I would not hear the phone ring in the middle of the night. Wrong.

It’s true, my dad is no longer my pastor, I don’t play board games much, and though I’m married to a pastor, he’s serving as a professor and students don’t tend to call at 2 A.M. But being a pastor’s kid never stops. Continue reading

Minding Our Own Reproductive Business

9 monthsA couple weeks ago I talked with some young mothers about inappropriate questions that they have had to answer. I’ve had the same questions, and though answering them has not caused me any grief, they easily could have. Questions like, “Are you pregnant?” “Do you guys have a hard time getting pregnant?” “How many kids do you want?” “Is this one a surprise?” “Why don’t you guys have (more) kids?” These questions are different than learning how to think through an issue like family planning by asking someone for their thoughts. Genuine learning questions are in a separate category.

But inquiring into very personal matters out of curiosity, a desire to know, an inability to make conversation on other topics, or as a misapplied expression of care, is a bad idea. Such questions, and any like them, are ones that only very close family and friends should ask, and even then with caution, forethought, and not in the church foyer. If you are not a very close family member or friend, it’s a good idea to stay away from this topic. Why? Because: Continue reading