Welcome to this issue of Equip for Ministry. Putting together these bi-monthly issues is one of our most enjoyable challenges at Christian Education and Publications. At times we wonder, given who we are in the PCA and our particular role in the great commission, are we touching on the right areas? Are we sensitive to the readers? Are we bringing together the most helpful and practical ideas and methods that Christians and Christian leaders should be aware of? Are we writing and thinking only for ourselves, preaching to the choir, as it has been said, we regularly ask? We know that we cannot be all things to all people in every issue but with our entire publication, training, and education ministry we are committed to helping raise up a generation of adults and youth who are self-consciously intentional in understanding and applying biblical truth to the challenges of daily life.
When I was a pastor, my philosophy of ministry was to preach and teach God’s Word to His people which required as much knowledge and involvement in their lives as possible. I found it challenging and helpful to know those people. It helped me in my preparation as well as method of ministry. It is not as easy to minister to strangers. The shepherd knows his sheep. But the shepherd also knows something of the environment in which the flock lives. “Knowing the Word and knowing the world” has been my motto because I believe we are responsible to bring God’s Word to this world in a way that promotes understanding, commitment, and discipleship.
One adjustment I had to make years ago when I became the Coordinator of CE&P was that I no longer had the ongoing geographic contact with the people. I do not always know the particular circumstances as I preach and teach in various PCA churches, and do not have the encouragement of seeing immediate results. The Adversary often tries to discourage us and convince us that we are not accomplishing much. I often console myself with Paul’s words to the Corinthians, that he plants, Apollos waters, but God gives the increase.
What does this testimonial have to do with Equip for Ministry? Simply that in the past several months we have been encouraged from the responses from our readers. There is a book in the review section written by a PCA teaching elder. He sent me a copy with a letter thanking me for encouraging him (through writing articles in Equip and addressing those issues in other settings) to write the book. A missionary told me that he reads every word of the magazine and especially appreciates the book reviews. Another missionary shared that some of the topics in EfM challenged him to develop a biblically reformed approach to Christian education on the field. A ruling elder in an organizing church wanted to learn more about some of the things he was reading in EfM and traveled to Atlanta to discuss them. These are just a few examples.
Responding to questions and feedback, we have reformatted the Changeless Truths section. In Case You’re Asked… deals with doctrine without a lot of theological jargon. While we hope to encourage pastors, the immediate target audience of this feature is the adults and youth of the church. If we use technical terminology in that section, it is because we believe it is important to the topic at hand. We want to be sound, helpful, and encouraging. Christians need to know how to talk about their faith today without being intimidated and without apologizing.
We want to promote biblically reformed Christian education in all of our ministry at CE&P. I was deeply disappointment when a minister friend of mine said to me, “I am not doing Christian education in our church; I am now the minister of adult discipleship.” I had to ask him what the difference was? He should have known better. Christian education, at least from our perspective, is making disciples who think biblically. That effort requires the cooperation of the church, home, and school. In this issue we asked Robert Rogland, a teaching elder and member of our CE&P Committee who is involved in Christian day school, to write about that.
We have reviewed several books that we believe are extremely important and helpful in accomplishing our task-especially Chuck Colson’s book, John Frame’s timely and masterful book, and Nathan Lewis’ helpful, reader-friendly book. We have also included some information about a number of important events and resources that we believe you need to be aware of.
Please know that our objective is not simply to produce a magazine but rather to provide a publication that encourages you to think and live more like Jesus Christ. With that objective, we dedicate this and each issue to the glory of God.