Over time, my emphasis gradually changed to where I was writing quite a bit about the sovereignty of God as it relates to not only salvation but also to all areas of life. I dealt quite a bit with Calvinism, Reformed Theology, The Doctrines of Grace, and the 5 solas. In part because I was raised in a Wesleyan-Arminian background, I now deeply cherish the truths of God's absolute sovereignty. These topics remain an interest for me, but they are no longer the primary focus of my blogging.
As is probably clear to all seven-or-so of you who regularly read this blog, I've changed my emphasis to a discussion of the church. While the above topics all relate in one way or another to the church, there is also much more to church life than those specific areas. In particular, I'm now frequently asking questions about why the church gathers, what we should do as we gather, what attitudes we should display when we gather, and what the purpose is of the gathering. Questions of this nature can seem annoying at times because they may cause us to squirm a bit, but in the end this is healthy.
What's the reason for the change in emphasis?
I suppose it stems from a combination of three things: A) attending a seminary where difficult questions related to the church are not generally asked or invited, B) being trained in international church planting and then living in South Asia for four months, and C) serving as pastor of a traditional SBC church for the past 2.5 years.
I enjoyed my time in seminary, but I remain a bit disappointed to this day in the assumptions the seminary makes about church life. The most cherished evangelical traditions (such as the big building, the salaried pastor, the worship service, the sermon, etc.) were almost never questioned.
After seminary, our family temporarily moved to Richmond, VA to attend missions training. We were instructed in international church planting methods. As we did this, we simply looked through the scriptures to see how churches were started and how they functioned. It was very refreshing. Tradition was discarded and scripture was allowed to speak.
This caused Alice and me to begin asking questions about why such a disconnect exists between churches here in the USA and churches being planted overseas. They almost looked like two totally different organisms.
After we returned from South Asia and survived chemotherapy, we believe God called me to serve as pastor of Chevis Oaks Baptist Church. I'm very grateful for the past 2.5 years. I have learned a great deal from my friends there, and I hope I have been a positive influence upon them. I have been a close-up witness to the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the exciting, and the hum-drum of church life. Overall, it has been a good experience.
These three factors (seminary, international missions, and traditional church life) have caused me to ask many questions and strive for biblical answers as they relate to the bride of Christ: His church.
I now desperately want to be a part of church life as is described in the bible. I'm not suggesting a return to first century culture, but I strongly believe that the scriptures have given us all we need for church life. This is what I desire to live out on a daily basis.
Alice and I are excited to be planting a church in our home within the next couple of months. We are not exactly sure what this will look like. We have had many people express interest in being a part of it. In fact, if everyone visits who says they would like to, we will immediately be at capacity (our house is average size - not big).
We desire to gather according to the biblical model: in homes, enjoying the Lord's Supper as a full meal, holding participatory meetings, with everyone of all ages being together. I want to be part of a thriving, growing, edifying church family that strives to be the church according to what the bible tells us.
What's the purpose in all this? The simple answer: God's glorification through mutual edification.