A friend, Richard Conway, who was, until recently, a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is in the process of finding a church home. He is writing about each visit he makes to various churches. Under the premise that the church universal is, at the moment, made up of many different branches or should I say parts of Christ’s body, and just because it is interesting I will post Richard’s descriptions and experiences on my blog. I hope to do this late each Saturday night so they can be read on Sundays. I find it ridiculous that while the PC (U.S.A.) has a relationship with the more progressive churches such as the Episcopal Church they refuse to acknowledge such conservative churches as the Presbyterian Church of America, the Southern Baptist Church and the Assemblies of God. I loved that part of Richard Mouw’s sermon at the first meeting of the Fellowship of Presbyterians when he spoke about how those denominations could learn something from us and we could learn something from them.
By Richard Conway
When I made the decision to leave PCUSA, I had no plans to go to any specific church. Over the decades and being active in this community, I had met and befriended many pastors in the area. This gave me an awareness of a number of churches to visit, both in the community and outside.
But, it wasn’t going to be as simple as visiting another church. At 92 years of age, my mother isn’t driving anymore, so yours truly is in charge of getting her to and from her Sunday School and Church every Sunday, and afterwards to her regular Sunday dinner with her longtime friends, a two + decade long running engagement.
One of the churches on my list to visit is Non-Denominational, Burke Community Bible Church, my friend David Doster, Pastor. Their Sunday Service is at 10 AM, a conflict with taking Mom to her Sunday School and church service. The other is PCA, Faith Presbyterian Church on Bost Rd, Mike Thompson, Pastor. Their Sunday School and Service schedule coincided with First Pres. All it took was to get Mom to First Pres a few minutes early and I could make it to Faith Presbyterian for Sunday School and Sunday Service. Mom could then ride with one of her friends to their lunch engagement and I pick her up when she is finished. That worked
So, last Sunday was my first visit to Faith Pres. The first thing I notice, their Sunday School is in depth teaching, straight from the Bible, no curriculum, everyone uses their Bible. Held in the sanctuary, with class members scattered throughout, not the intimate setting I am accustomed to.
The service began. First thing that became apparent, there is no real music such as I had been accustomed to with Robert Smith, our music director. No organ, no choir, just a piano, one young man on guitar and a young girl singing. Solid prayers, no social activities, no greetings, no joking around, just serious church. Everyone follows in their Bible. We began with the Westminster Larger Catechism # 89 & # 90, the pastor read the question and the congregation read the response, completely. Terrific. Scripture was read, not a verse or two but entire chapters and everyone in church has their Bibles open and follows along. Several hymns were sung, the offering was taken and then the sermon. Here is a major and very positive difference. The preaching/teaching is EXPOSITORY Teaching. Outstanding! Expository (see below)
Moving through the Bible. This Sunday the sermon was 2 Thessalonians 1: 1 – 12. Preached/taught word for word, verse by verse. And everyone has their Bible open and follows along and taking notes. Very powerful.
Closing hymn and blessing. Roughly 70 minute service. A lot of younger families, very few older people (above 80). This was a breath of fresh air as the service, no jokes, no passing the peace, no time for children, no musical anthems, just pure Bible teaching, word for word and everyone has their Bible open and follows along. Very powerful.
Every component of the service is a focus on scriptural purity. I love it. But I miss the music, and that’s OK, this is really good solid church.
All the people I met were extraordinarily friendly and welcoming, and I knew more than a few of them.
2nd Sunday (today): went to my Men’s SS Bible Class at First Pres, left a few minutes early and returned to Faith Pres. The service began with the Westminster Confession of Faith. Congregational Bible reading, songs (great traditional songs) Lord’s Prayer, tithes and offerings, Sermon moving on in 2 Thessalonians 2; 1 – 16 The Great Apostasy!! (Hooray) no nonsense preaching/teaching, Expository Teaching, pure Bible, final hymn & blessing.
Real refreshing service and church with no fluff, just pure expository teaching.
As soon as someone can take Mom to church and back, I want to visit Christ Community Church, previously known as Montreat Presbyterian Church, an hour away. They left pcusa and still have their church right in the middle of Montreat, they are no longer pcusa. Good for them.
Bless you all,
Question: "What is expository preaching?" (Also by Richard Conway)
Answer: Expository preaching involves the exposition, or comprehensive explanation, of the Scripture; that is, expository preaching presents the meaning and intent of a biblical text, providing commentary and examples to make the passage clear and understandable. The word expositionis related to the word expose— the expository preacher’s goal is simply to expose the meaning of the Bible, verse by verse.
While exposition is not the only valid mode of preaching, it is the best for teaching the plain sense of the Bible. Expositors usually approach Scripture with these assumptions:
1) The Bible is God’s Word. If every word of God is pure and true (Psalm 12:6;19:9;119:140), then every word deserves to be examined and understood.
2) Men need divine wisdom in order to understand the Word (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).
3) The preacher is subject to the text, not the other way around. Scripture is the authority, and its message must be presented honestly, apart from personal bias.
4) The preacher’s job is to clarify the text and call for a corresponding response from his hearers.
[The picture at the top is a Methodist Church I attended as a young teenager. It is in old Pattonsburg, Missouri and was almost destroyed in a flood. There is now a new one in new Pattonsburg.]