Surrounding worship this Sunday will be special events for our Morning for Local Ministries. We’ll hear from speakers during the Sunday school hour, and will have a ministry fair in the Narthex after worship. Evening prayers will also be devoted to local ministries. The Lord has put you here to bear fruit, and expects you to bear fruit (we just preached this from Luke 13:6). Local ministries are an ideal way to hear and answer that call.
Theologically-conservative, biblically-minded churches like ours tend to draw from a variety of different evangelical tribes, the consequence being that you may find yourself in worship, or community group, or Bible study, seated next to someone with a very different background than your own. This will likely increase in the future, as we draw not only from different evangelical tribes in the U.S. but from, literally, different parts of the world. People hoping to worship with others just like themselves will be disappointed not just at CPC, but ultimately in John’s vision of eternity where “a multitude from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,” will find itself “standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9).
Paul understood both the beauty of unity and the practical challenges of disunity when he wrote “I urge you to walk… with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4.1ff). This is the real core of what forms an eternal bond among us: one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
I say all this because once in a while I get wind of some rift in the congregation. The most recent thing I’ve heard has to do with how we educate our kids. I’ll say this up front: CPC has no intention of becoming a church that subliminally enforces a particular form of education exclusively — for the simple reason that Scripture does not do so. The primary responsibility of Christian parents is to raise the next generation of the worshipers of God, and the best way — the only way — to do this is to be ourselves people who worship God with heart, soul, mind and strength (Deut. 6:4ff). The mission is not contingent on a form of education, but on the real content of the hearts and lives of parents. In the end, what matters is not a method we adopt, but who we are as people before God. Speaking for the Irwins, our kids were homeschooled, Christian-schooled, and public-schooled (we either agreed with everyone or offended everyone, at one time or another). By the grace of God (who keeps his promises in the face of our feeble efforts), all our kids know and love the Lord. Which was the best method of education for us? It depended on so many factors at different times: the character of the child, family health issues, time, money, and so on.
I urge you to keep “Christ and him crucified” at the center of our common life as the people of God. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. Once we start to say, in effect, “I follow Paul” and another “I follow Apollos” (1 Cor 1:12), we are building a church on some other gospel, some other foundation, than the cornerstone of Jesus Christ.