5 great things about America
I've been in the US for the past two weeks travelling round on a world domination tour trying to raise funds for a new building project. I don't understand much of what has been said to me and I know that in the places I've spoken there have been warm smiles of appreciation and cluelessness at my accent. Everywhere I've been there has been some surprise that I do actually exist and galling adulation of Trueman.
So here goes 5 great things about America (5 not so great to come)
1. Get Organised - American churches are so well organised, of course that is a great generalisation and I'm sure at times can be a fault but the ministers and elders very often from what I've seen have been clear on what needs to be done and how to do it. There is a shambolic chaos about reformed churches in the UK (again a huge generalisation) which although on the one hand is endearing hampers our work as churches.
2. Adult Sunday School is magnificent - people come earlier to church and so attend Sunday School and then morning worship. I've been hugely impressed by how vigorous the teaching is in Adult Sunday school, it establishes people and so there is a solidity in these churches with Christians understanding what their church is and what it stands for. Adult Sunday School of course isn't the only way to do it but I return thinking that it's probably the easiest way to give our people doctrine. We need to make adult Sunday school a greater priority in the life of the church.
3. Catechising works- One Church I was at had a girl come to the front to receive a bible for memorising the whole of the shorter catechism which is impressive in itself but the minister informed the congregation that this girl was the fifth generation of her family to do so. At this point I wanted to burst into applause but it wasn't that kind of church.
4. Smile more - Ministers out here smile more in the pulpit, it's possible they don't but I've just noticed it on this trip. There's a warmth and friendliness that we need to cultivate from the front. I should also say that even the exiled Brits even smile a bit more than they used to.
5. PJ McClung is a giant - PJ Mcclung is the minister of an ARP church in rural Alabama - Pressly Memorial in Loango. He is bi vocational and is probably one of the funniest men I've ever met. I said to him 'how on earth do you find time to pastor a church and be in a full time job aswell?' He jokingly replied saying 'he was so busy he didn't have time to sin.' The guy has been bi vocational for 20 years and it's probably where a lot of churches are heading in the UK. Of course PJ will probably never be asked to speak at one of the mega conferences but he should be. I loved the bones of the man, when he prayed I felt I was in the presence of a man who knew God well. We need to look and be willing to adopt different ways of staffing the church.
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Protestant Liberalism in Modern American History