Trip Diary 6: Transformative Seminar

Dear Friends and Family,

At the end of the day, we are served afternoon tea. While sitting with one of the pastors, he leaned over to me and put his hand on his chest and said, “For me, this has been transformative!”

That is our objective and mission. We are not satisfied when we take a room full of pastors through our excellent curriculum. We will not be satisfied until the training results in a transformed pastor and church.

Our second day saw our lectures switch from “Ministry” to “Preaching.” But for me the highlight was our discussion of “Faithfulness vs Success” and “Religion and Politics.”

I began the day with the last lecture on “Ministry,” which was how to measure spiritual maturity. We use two passages, 2 Pet 1:5-8 and Gal 5:22-23.

In 2 Peter 1:5-8, Peter lists qualities we are all to be adding to our faith but what is often overlooked is his statement, “if these qualities are yours and are increasing….” The point I made was that we are to never stop growing spiritually. The process of maturing in our faith never ends this side of heaven.

Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5:22-23 but I spent most of the time talking about Paul’s statement about walking in the Spirit and what it means to “walk in the Spirit.”

After that we switched topics and started our series of lectures on preaching. Nathan talked about the purpose of preaching, which is to see believers conformed to the image of Christ, which is God’s goal for all of us. I, then, went through Colossians 1:23-29 to point out that Paul’s call as a minister of the church, was to present every person perfect (mature, complete) in Christ by proclaiming Christ through His Word. More about this later. Nathan gave the next two, the priority of biblical preaching (it is the pastor’s number one duty), and the pattern, which comes from Ezra 7:10 where Ezra set his heart to study, apply, then teach the Law to Israel. The application is easy to see. Pastors are to study the Word, apply it in their own lives, then and only then preach it to others.

FAITHFULNESS VS SUCCESS

The Colossians 1 passage is the passage the Lord used to call me into pastoral ministry. I shared that story. Then I had them turn to 1 Cor 4:1-2 that says we are to be “Faithful.” Then I shared part of my story. In 15 years as a lead pastor, I saw the attendance in my church go from 200 to about 55 and we ended up officially, legally closing the church. I told them that I had tried to be faithful in my duties during those 15 years and then I asked them, “Had I been successful.” Several shook their heads, “no.” I quickly pointed out that their response told me what their definition of success was. We went through the next three verses that explain that the only opinion that counts is God’s and that He looks at the heart not the visible results. I saw some “lights come on.”

RELIGION AND POLITICS

At the end of the day, one question was asked, “Should a pastor or bishop be involved in politics?” The discussion went on for an hour and would have kept going if we had let it.

The first comment came from one participant who read 1 Tim 1 where Paul writes about the Law. I walked them through a study of those verses to demonstrate the Law, in those verses, was the Law of Moses not the Law of Kenya or the US.

I tried to make the point that the pastor’s call, the bishop’s call is to stick to the ministry of prayer and the Word, and that he should not “send a mixed message” as to what his calling is. Where the two touch is when politics and biblical teaching come in conflict. At that point the pastor should speak up.

Nathan added that believers are to be salt and light and that we need godly men and women involved in politics. The key word there was “godly.” He brought it back to bringing believers to a place of spiritual maturity so that when those believers enter politics, they are filled with the Word and the Spirit, and are mature enough to not let the dirtiness of politics pollute their faith.

Tomorrow, Thursday, we will finish the seminar with the last five lectures. Friday, the two of us will drive back to Nairobi. Then Saturday morning we fly to Kisumu, Kenya to meet the Kenyan team.

Thank you for your prayers. Nathan and I doing OK. Nathan had to deal with a headache. I’m still trying to figure out the most comfortable sleeping position for myself but in either case, God’s grace is sufficient.

Thank you for praying for the participants. At least one feels he and his ministry has been transformed.

More tomorrow.

By His grace,
Steve

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