Thursday, July 07, 2016

Where We Grow

Over the last few weeks in “From Fr. Tom", I’ve been talking about how, at Good Shepherd, knowing the Word of God is more than merely learning facts and figures about the Bible, but it is responding to God’s Holy Word with our whole lives: our minds, our actions, our hearts.  We learn from the Scriptures how to be equipped to walk with Christ, and this involves learning to adopt biblical attitudes (heart), biblical practices (actions), and biblical teachings (intellect).  At Good Shepherd, these foundational attitudes, practices, and teachings are passed down in three places:


  • Eucharistic Worship (the public sphere):  As we gather each and every Sunday morning, we are participating in the most formative action of the Christian life.  Through the worship on the Lord’s Day (what Sunday is called in the New Testament), we are reminded (in ways beyond mere mental remembrance) of who God is, what He has done, and who we are as a result.  Eucharistic worship tells us who we are, and even makes us what we are.  Through the Word read, prayed, sung, preached, and made visible in the Sacrament, our whole being is shaped: our minds are sharpened, our hearts are drawn upward, and (ideally) the rest of our week is changed by this good beginning. 
  • Life Groups (the private sphere): Life groups are where we “do life together” at Good Shepherd during the week.   This is a different type of meeting than we have on Sundays.  With our Life Groups we live out the identity that we experience on Sunday in the world, and we do this together. In our Life Groups and other small groups, we go deeper into study; we learn hands-on practices of prayer that can’t be taught on Sundays.  We are known by others and know others and therefore we can address more personal concerns about how to learn to follow Christ.
  • Discipling (the personal sphere):  It is only with a very small group of friends (perhaps 2 or 3) where the most personal and deepest steps of faith can take place.  In groups of 2 or 3 we are challenged personally, we can be our most vulnerable, and we can learn more intentionally.


God could equip us and ready us for life in his Kingdom in millions different ways, but he has chosen to do this through his Scriptures (remember 2 Timothy 3:16-17?).  From the Bible we learn not just information, but how to live and even what to love.  And at our church, we learn these things from the Bible in public worship, in Life Groups, and in more personal intentional friendships.  Indeed, as we’ll see in the “From Fr. Tom” section in the coming weeks, it is through public worship, small groups, and one-on-one discipling that we live out the whole mission of the Church.

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