Welcome to the November/December of Equip for Ministry. As we have looked back over the year, EfM has been a vital link in our ministry at Christian Education and Publications. Our objective has been to think about you, the reader, and your local church ministry. At a recent Equip seminar in Pennsylvania someone said to me, “I really look forward to Equip for Ministry. It is a good, quick, but substantive read. I don’t have the time to read like I would like and EfM is a help.” A pastor from the west coast called to thank us for the book reviews, saying they helped him plan his reading list. We strive to provide articles dealing with issues, resources, ideas, and nuts-and-bolts tips for ministry to increase your effectiveness in service to our Lord Jesus Christ. We trust this last issue for 2002 will do the same.
We also bring other books and ideas to stimulate and challenge your thinking and spiritual growth. As we have stated before, we see dozens of books pass by our desk almost monthly. Because of limited time and space, we attempt to carefully select what we believe to be the most strategic ones at this moment in time. Occasionally, a classic reprint falls into that category or even a book that is not necessarily written from a Christian perspective. We do not choose those books lightly. Even in this issue, we had to overlook a host of good books in order to bring our short list to you. The book relating to the history of hymns, one might say, is not really a strategic book, but we believe it could play an important role in the worship and growth of God’s people.
We have frequently written about postmodernism and will continue to because it is the overarching philosophy of the world and impacts our entire lives. While we have only skimmed the surface, we will continually keep this topic before you. In this issue for example, we have reviewed an excellent book by Millard Erickson on postmodernism. God willing, we will continue to challenge you to read and think about crucial subject.
We encourage and challenge our readers to develop their Christian minds, not in order to create an intellectually elitist people, but to “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” CE&P offers a variety of ministries for your churches’ various specialized groups such as youth, children, women, officers, leaders, teachers, and men. Our resource topics deal with doctrine and theology in a life-oriented way. Themes such as stewardship, prayer, and evangelization of today’s postmoderns are constantly addressed.
Since 9-11-01, we are living in a different kind of world, one that has indeed changed forever. We would like to think the change is for the better, but that is not certain. We do know that God has called us to be salt and light, and as part of His church, to represent His truth and kingdom in all of life. We also know from Scripture, as well as from practical experience that as individuals and as churches, we can be more effective together than alone. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own ministries that we tend to forget others who are also involved.
In this issue, we feature the topic of small group ministries written by our coordinator of training, Robert Edmiston. Bob is an expert in the area of small groups. He has not only helped local churches develop small group ministries throughout the PCA, he is presently overseeing such a ministry in his home church. George Gallup Jr. states that small group ministry is one of the most effective ways for churches to minister to people. Robert Wuthnow, sociologist from Princeton, writes that 40% of American people are involved in small groups. Since groups can enhance a local church’s ministry if done well or hinder it if not done well, our seminars and resources are designed to help churches lead small groups well.
Because this is specifically a CE&P publication, the staff, regional staff, committee members, or someone who has served CE&P in some way usually writes the content. For example: in the last issue, we had a lead article by Ken Sande on abuse. He has participated in some of our conferences. Many PCA churches and agencies have used his materials on conflict management to help them deal with sticky situations. Even the advertisements are chosen not primarily for the revenues used to print the magazine, but because we believe local church leaders need to be aware of those for their ministries.
With this issue we also welcome Michelle Estile as the new managing editor replacing Amy Downing Veerman. Amy and Erik welcomed the birth of their little girl, Marguerite Lynn, as we were preparing this issue. Michelle’s husband Daniel works for MTW in the Internship department.
Our prayer is that each issue will encourage and assist you in living for and ministering on behalf of our Lord. Our entire staff is your resource for Christian education, disciple making, teacher training, and other leadership areas. We pray that God will use you in 2003 in a special way and allow us to play some small part in helping you to be more effective in your Christian life and witness.