Green Leaf Press Quarterly Newsletter Jan. 2007
Our last newsletter was in August, and this should be the November issue.
However, that is water under the bridge now—so we begin the new year
with January, and will continue with April, July, October, and January, etc.
The main purpose of these newsletters is to let people know about Green Leaf
Press, our thinking regarding this ministry, and how we carry out this ministry.
We do not consider it to be a fundraising letter. Having said that, we are,
of course, grateful for the contributions that are received.
What is it that we are not doing very well in Christian ministry or, perhaps, not at all? Some churches have resigned themselves to a maintenance mode and make little or no effort in attempting to reach people outside for Christ. Other churches are quite strong in the area of seeking out people who need Christ and helping them to come to faith in him. But on the whole we tend not to be so good in helping and enabling people to grow in the grace of God. The person who has believed in Jesus Christ is to become fitted for a relationship with God throughout eternity.
And we all, with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
[II Corinthians 3:18]
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; [Ephesians 4:13]
I think that one of our greatest areas of neglect is in the teaching ministry. Jesus was addressed as didaskalos (teacher) more frequently than any other title. Jesus taught his deciples for a period of approximately three years. The commissioning command in Matthew emphasizes teaching,
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. [Matthew 28:19,20]
The teaching ministry of the church has been left too much to the Sunday School. This is not in any sense to demean the Sunday School, but to recognize that there are tasks of instruction and nurture that need to be undertaken in other areas. We want to aid and abet and encourage the teaching ministry of the church. We are convinced that it is a continuing ministry—never fully completed. To help churches (and individuals) in teaching and learning, we have added the Green Leaf Scripture Memory Program. The Bible teaches that all who believe in God should memorize scripture. The memorization of key passages of scripture is the best catechism possible, and it is a great asset in Christian growth and witnessing. The program contains six sets of ten memory cards each, plus a booklet explaining the rationale for and techniques of scripture memory. The retail price is $12.00, and with our new 35% discount policy that brings the price to $7.80 plus shipping (when required).
Churches need to be maintained. That is a responsibility of the pastor, elders, and other leaders. We build on the efforts of dedicated and sacrificing Christians. We must not destroy what they have labored so hard to build up. I do not say this to defend entrenched habits or obsolete programs. But new pastors need to be aware of the false appeal to their egos–that nothing worthwhile has been done until their arrival! I remember Dr. George Bancroft, then executive of the Synod of Nebraska, saying something like this in the late 1950s: "it is amazing how many new pastors come into churches with the attitude that the people did not know how to worship God until they arrived."
Most people in most churches are reasonable people. There are a few to be found who are fanatics over minutia. There are a few who are blind—unable to see anything different from what it now is. And there are a very few who are just plain ornery. We are to deal with the difficult people the same way we deal with all people: with kindness, charity, and forbearance. There are kind and reasonable ways to tell people that they are wrong. And there are arrogant, rude, and caustic ways to tell people that they are wrong. Give reasonable attention to the difficult person—neither too much nor too little. But don’t treat them disrespectfully by ignoring them. Many passages in the Bible speak to the subject of how we should treat people. Two that have been especially helpful to me follow:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. [Colossians 3:12,13]
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, [II Timothy 2:24,25]
Most of the things that most churches are doing are good: offering regular services of worship, Sunday School, Bible study programs, caring ministries for people in special needs, fellowship/social activities for people in various age ranges. Unless one is in a totally independent church, there are the higher bodies of the church that need to be cared for. The ministries of the denomination as a whole are important and deserve our prayers and attention. My point is that those of us who are pastors should be not only proclaimers of the word, we should also be teachers of the word. And we should recognize that the teaching is a continuing responsibility. Thus, we try to challenge both pastors and lay people with good books that will both inspire them and enable them to "teach others also." For those who are interested in an insightful and encouraging prescription for the church, I would recommend The Incendiary Fellowship by Elton Trueblood. It was originally printed in 1967 and is now out of print, but used copies are available through Amazon at $5.95 and up plus shipping. Here are a few quotes from that book that I find encouraging for our ministry:
The Christian coach will be one who is more concerned, therefore, in developing others than in enhancing his own prestige....In the strengthening of the already committed, the liberated minister’s first task is that of teacher....The church will not be as strong as it ought to be until each local pastor uses his precious freedom from outside employment in order to become a scholarly participant in the intellectual struggle of our day and generation.
Finally, I have included a review of a very new book, The Blind Side, by Michael Lewis, an excellent sports writer. If you are not at all interested in football, you probably will not like this book—but if you are, you may well fall in love with it! It is a wonderful story of Michael Oher and his redemption. If you would like a copy, let us know and we will ship it to you (the usual 35% discount plus shipping). I am somewhat hesitant to put it in our catalog because of the occasional course language in the book. I would be interested in what you think.
Foster H. Shannon, President
Green Leaf Press, Inc., P.O. Box 880, Alhambra, CA 91802-0880 Phone: (626) 281-7221 FAX:323-221-4334
Board of Directors: Richard Erdman, Eric Hoey, Al Soo Hoo, Bibiana Soo Hoo, Warren Potter, Dean Rowley, Foster Shannon, Janis Shannon, Darrel Sager, John Van Genderen, Matthew Welde
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