Yes, you read correctly. I just used the “d” word: doctrine. We’re often reluctant to talk about doctrine (or theology) because of the many conflicts that have occurred over doctrinal differences. I can understand that sort of reluctance. I mean, isn’t the Christian faith all about a relationship with God? Yes. Christianity is about relationship. And I think our current emphasis on developing a relationship with God is very important. But how can we build our relationship with God if we don’t know him? This is where doctrine comes in. At the church I serve we recently talked about the importance of reading Scripture. The Bible is God’s authoritative word. So I encourage you to “stick with the Scriptures”! But as we read Scripture, we learn about God, the gospel, and how we are to live in relationship with God and others. As we read these stories and hear these teachings, some key doctrines emerge: Covenant, the Trinity, providence, atonement and divine sovereignty—big words that may or may not mean a lot to you, but they are important doctrines that emerge as we read Scripture. Inversely, these doctrines provide what one pastor in our tribe calls “theological keys” which “open up the treasures of the Bible.” They emerge as we read Scripture, and we can use them to understand Scripture better. This is why doctrine matters. Yes, Christianity is about having a relationship with God, but this relationship grows and is enriched as we learn basic doctrine. May the Lord continue to give you a deep hunger for his Word and a growing knowledge of his great love for you.
I’m a grateful pastor. First of all, I’m thankful that I’ve been a pastor of the same church for almost five years. This December we will celebrate our fifth anniversary in our current church. It’s been proven that, generally speaking, longer pastoral stays lead to healthier churches, so I’m thankful that we’re moving into the next stage of our pastor-church relationship. I’m also thankful that we’re currently focusing on Neighbourhood Life. Fewer people are coming to us to hear the gospel, so we need to go to them and meet them where they’re at. So, I think this is a step in the right direction. I’m also thankful for the many mentors that help me grow spiritually, including my spiritual director, my spiritual companion (a fellow pastor), my small group (my local ministerial association), and the various authors I read. All of these mentors help me grow spiritually and make me a better pastor. So as you can see, this pastor feels very blessed. How about you? What are you thankful for?