As Muse sang not so long ago, ‘Our Time is Running Out’. 14 days and all the CTI students will be back in their native lands.

Classes continue as usual. Today we spent part of our seminar looking at the Westminster Directory for Public Worship. Rockin’.

One thing that has cropped up a few times recently, particularly in the Ministry Practicum module, is what the role of the Christian Minister actually is. It would seem that many today see the role of the minister as just preaching, with a token pastoral role just to make sure people are happy. The role of the minister is to put the food on the table – whether the people eat it or not is up to them. However we have been challenged to think of the minister as someone whose task it is to ‘present everyone mature in Christ’ (Col 1:28). He can’t just, in effect, tell people to take it or leave it – but he must ‘toil…struggling with all his energy’ (v29) to enable people to actually GET it. The job is not merely to feed the sheep, but to see them grow. The ministers’ aim should be ‘to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ’ (Eph 4:12). And we, as out of favour Arsenal goalkeepers, need to understand this too, so that we know what our role is.

As Reformed Churches which place great emphasis on preaching, it may seem dangerous to say that preaching is not enough, but Charles Bridges for one had no qualms about saying it – and his whole section on ‘The Pastoral Work’ is very helpful. A few quotes:

‘Preaching – the grand lever of the Ministry – derives much of its power from connection with the Pastoral work; and its too frequent disjunction from it is a main cause of our inefficiency.’

‘How little can a stated appearance in public answer to the lowest sense of such terms as Shepherd, Watchman, Overseer, Steward! – terms, which import not a mere general superintendence over the flock, but an acquaintance with their individual wants [needs], and a distribution suitable to the occasion’ (p.343)

‘There is a sort of mental deafness among the mass: so that, except the word is brought to them in the smallest parcels, and with the most direct application, the sound only is heard; while the meaning is never fixed upon the mind with an intelligent or permanent apprehension’ (p. 350)

Oh – and we had Thanksgiving since the last post!

And for my second and final pronunciation tip: I hate to break this to you so late in the day, but just because you pronounce it ‘Edinboro’ instead of ‘Edinberg’ doesn’t mean you’ve got it right 😛