Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Formation, and Evangelism Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
You can follow Chip on twitter (@chiphardwick) or find him on Facebook (Chip Hardwick).
Last Sunday I was grateful for the chance to preach at the Presbyterian Church of Wyoming, OH, where my friend and accountability partner Ed Goode is pastor. He was kind enough to invite me to kick off stewardship season, and it was great to be there for the church’s three services. (He also took the photo below of the church just before sunrise the morning I preached.)
After the 8:00 service, a retiree named Roberta came up to me. She welcomed me to the church, and then she said, “Don’t worry; I’ll be back at the other two services, too.” I wondered if maybe she was ushering or had some other official role.
“No,” she said. “I always go to all three worship services. At the first service, I listen to the sermon very closely. At the second service, I take notes on the sermon. Then in the time between the second and the third services, I make a list of questions that I have. Then I listen for the answers to the questions at the third service.”
Wow! As a preacher it raises the stakes tremendously to know that a listener is taking the sermons we preach this seriously. It is an incredible reminder that the task of preaching is one of our foremost opportunities to shape congregational life, and, of course, individuals’ lives.
More importantly, though, Roberta’s commitment reminded me of the work that the Presbyterian Mission Agency (where I serve) is doing to develop compassionate, prophetic disciples. This loaded phrase means Christians who faithfully witness in both word and deed, but it also means faithful Christians who are following Jesus Christ more and more closely and who are growing as disciples.
If we are to grow as disciples (and to be prepared to witness faithfully in both word and deed), we need to dig into the scriptures every more consistently. Roberta’s attention to the sermons is one way to do this, but so are small groups, Bible studies, daily devotions, the daily prayer app, and Sunday School. When we focus on the Word, we are learning the story of our faith more completely, but even more importantly, we are getting to know the One who wrote (and writes) the story more passionately.
I’m grateful to Roberta for a great example of how this is true.