So we made it to Scotland in the end! The flight got us through to Glasgow with only one item of luggage left behind in London (it caught us up the next day). BA were kind enough to let us extend our departure dates to the next return flight so were able to stay in Scotland for nearly three weeks. Ari the dog was being looked after by our friend Berti, who has a large garden for him to play in.
While we were in Glasgow we spent most of our time catching up with friends old and new. We caught up with our housegroup from St Silas as well as helping a friend build some “sound-muffling” boards for the church. We were also able to catch up friends at two growing church plants in Glasgow Re:Hope and Harvest Bible Chapel.
We travelled through to Dundee to visit my Dad and his family and surprised my Grandmother in Dundee for her 80th birthday. Visiting at my Gran’s was like being back in Kosova – full of European accents (Italian) and women trying to feed me and not taking no for an answer!
Angela and a friend spoiled each other with a spa day, before she travelled to France for six days to visit her family and do some skiing. While Ang was in France, I continued to meet with friends and pick up some supplies for our return to Kosova.
The highlight of our trip to Scotland was an excellent conference held at Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh. The main conference speaker was Mark Dever from the 9Marks network. The two day conference comprised of talks going through the “9 Marks of a Healthy Church”:
1. Expositional Preaching
2. Biblical Theology
3. Biblical Understanding of the Good News
4. Biblical Understanding of Conversion
5. Biblical Understanding of Evangelism
6. Biblical Understanding of Membership
7. Biblical Church Discipline
8. Promotion of Christian Discipleship and Growth
9. Biblical Understanding of Leadership
These marks are not exhaustively everything you’d want in a church, obviously there are other things to discuss, but they do seem to be necessary for the core of a church regardless of denomination. As they went through them, they demonstrated what a healthy, but not perfect, church would look like from a biblical perspective. They convincingly showed the scriptural need for a church which “is a people, not a place or a statistic. It’s a body, united into him who is the head. It’s a family, joined together by adoption though Christ.”
The first three are the essential ones, and the others are “just” important for a healthy church.
However, they all flow out of the first mark, expositional preaching (making the point of the verse the point of your sermon – not the other way around). You get that right, you will “naturally” have the second mark, biblical theology (Christ is the Centre of (every) Scripture), and therefore, the third mark, getting the gospel right, will come from the first two.
The convicting things for me are:
1) these are all backed up by Scripture and early church history leading up to the Reformers; not having these can only be backed up using non-scriptural arguments;
2) it is therefore not a Baptist thing or a Presbyterian thing, nor an Anglican thing, nor even a Reformed “way of doing church”, but a core scriptural understanding of what the church is, should have and be doing.
3) with that said, if we get these core things right, it still leaves us with so much creative room for doing church in terms of styles of dress, buildings, music, orders of service, meeting times, meeting places, languages, etc, that it should be truly freeing instead of feeling like “we’re closing off options”.
I highly recommend you go to the links and work your way through the 9 Marks to see how healthy your church is, and how best you can serve your fellow church members.
Job Interview –I’m heading back to the UK for a job interview in March (more details in our next newsletter);
Val and Howard – our friends from Samaritan’s Purse are in Haiti at the moment, so please continue to pray for God’s work through the aid and churches there;
St Silas – the church is seeking it’s vision for the future, please pray that they would be guided by God’s Word as they deal with the Liberal rot which has taken root within the Episcopal denomination;
Re:Hope & Harvest – pray that these churches would be continue to be guided by God’s Word and grow as they minister in Glasgow;
Kosova – continue to pray for God’s provision to the churches around Kosova.
Thank you for your prayers and your emails, it’s always great to hear from you.
Paul and Angela