Among the many things my job involves as a pastor, one of the primary goals is to help God's people grow in their faith. Growth happens in many ways, but reflecting on biblical truth is one of the ways God blesses us in the regular patterns of our lives. In years past, CRC congregations held a morning worship service where a sermon was delivered on a Bible passage that fit the needs of the day or as the pastor was led by the Holy Spirit. Evening services were more geared to doctrinal instruction. I could lament the fact that people don't come to the evening service in the same numbers that they attend morning worship. But I don't want to lay guilt trips on people. It is true that the evening worship is nowhere demanded in the Bible. But then the morning service isn't either. We are, however, encouraged not to neglect meeting together (Heb 10:25). God calls us to grow together in our individual faith. We also learn that Jesus went to the synagogue as was his weekly custom (Lk 4:16) so it's clear that even Jesus felt the importance of worship with God's people as part of the way that even He needed to grow in wisdom and favour with God and people (Lk 2:52).
My goal is for myself to keep growing in wisdom and favour with God and people. And thats my goal for all of the congregation too. So the elders have agreed that we will try to offer a morning education time for people who don't feel they can come out to the evening service. The goal of this education time will be similar to that of the traditional evening service in that I will - at least for starters - teach doctrine that will help us better understand who we are as Christians and reformed Christians in our city and world today.
I want to make this 45 minutes a time of interactive learning in an informal environment. There will be time for me to introduce the topic, time for you to ask questions and for us to discuss the Bible together and sharpen our faith. I'll use the Bible and other teaching resources, including books and videos to help us. Homework will not be assigned but you are always encouraged to dig deeper.
So I want to encourage people who are not evening service attenders to try out this Faith Formation class. It will be held from 9:00 to 9:45 on Sunday mornings, starting February 3. This trial program will be held 6 weeks in a row so it will wrap up on March 10 and then we will assess it. I want to encourage you to commit to this for 6 weeks and see how it goes for you and your family.
To make it family friendly, we'll be offering a light breakfast at the church. So, when you arrive, you grab a coffee/tea/juicebox and a muffin or whatever is there and gather with others for the class and/or get your kids settled. There will be nursery as well as fun activities for the younger children. You may also keep your infants with you in the class. I won't frown on crying babies, etc. (Wee Worship will continue to be held during the morning worship and nursery will be available then just as it is now.)
Nothing that we currently do is changing. We are simply adding this Faith Formation class before the morning service for six weeks. We are not dropping the evening services. We are not encouraging evening attenders to come to the morning F2 program now. No. Please keep coming at night. We appreciate that and want to try to honour that good custom many of you have and continue to hold dear. To keep matters simple for me, the evening service teaching will cover the same content as the F2 program in the morning so by coming at night you won't miss out on the teaching of the F2 program. Perhaps we will have to add muffins and coffee at night too.
And what subjects will be explore during those 6 weeks? Well, it was kind of firmed up in mind when Arend Stolte was at Trinity on January 6 to speak about the reformed church's history. He gave a sample of statement that were either reformed or not. Many people I spoke with afterwards admitted that they got the answers wrong. So it made me think that it would be great to do a 6 week survey of the Canons of Dort, doctrines that have sometimes been summarized by the acronym T.U.L.I.P. I enjoy teaching that material and I hope it'll be a good way for all of us to deepen our understanding of the gift of salvation we have in Christ which will, in turn, help us love Him more and do His will eagerly.
Please speak to me (Pastor Rich) if you have any questions. Thanks for prayerfully considering this invitation and for praying for the church.