Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sheep Health Classes aka The Reformed Pastor

There's been considerable interest in the Anglican church I serve (Christ Church NYC) among students in colleges and seminaries, and in the past week the Rector and I have been interviewed by a few such eager folks. They are interested in an Anglican church in Manhattan, as well as our work among Wall Street folks, and so forth. It may have something to do with the fact we are a fairly young church but one that doesn't use postmodern lingo. While we are an intentionally missional Anglican expression of being church, we pretty much avoid that kind of language.

I found one interview encouraging, with a delightful woman from Westminster Seminary yesterday asking me about the discipleship challenges presented by the context of Manhattan. I was saying how our structures have a long way to go, but in fact I hope we never offer tons and tons of programs on weekday evenings, believing that this inevitably just draws people into a Christian ghetto and makes family life harder. I also shared that I meet up with men and also go around to visit families one evening a week.

This aspect of "pastoral visiting" was impressed on me through personal experience, and also through an Anglican bishop, Wallace Benn, who encouraged ministers to "visit their parish" along the lines of the puritan Richard Baxter, who wrote The Reformed Pastor.

Baxter wrote this on visiting families:

"Go occasionally among them, when they are likely to be most at leisure, and ask the master of the family whether he prays with them, and reads the Scripture, or what he doth? Labor to convince such as neglect this, of their sin; and if you have opportunity, pray with them before you go, and give them an example of what you would have them do."

A good friend of mine has struggled with the issue of family worship. Struggled both in the sense of doing it, but also as to whether Baxter was right to call the neglect of it sinful. Do you have any experience of this? My own is that praying and reading the Bible with my wife and children is pretty much a layup in terms of getting value for time spent. But I do find it hard to do myself, with the giant television given to us there in the room to take my attention! When the Authoress takes the initiative, I feel acutely that I should have done so but am thankful she has, or humbled if Number One Son crawls into my lap as he did last night clutching a Bible story.

Even so, I am not sure I am convinced that the Bible commands family worship, even if it assumes it takes place given the role of the father in Judaism. Regardless, whenever we have this pattern in our home, it is like oil running down Aaron's beard.

For the younger end of the age range, the Jesus Storybook Bible has been a great recent find with our kids.


Justin said...

My deepest and humblest apologies for blessing you with that large television.

What a legacy?

Why the sudden interest, by the way?

Justin said...

Up early, Clifford?

Clifford Swartz said...

I'm not sure why there is interest in Christ Church -- it happens that a research paper was assigned to King's undergrads at the same time as this ongoing work by a grad student friend of Lynda's came our way.

Hope all is well at the Harbor Bridge! Or is it the Harbour Bridge?

The telly is a wonderful blessing that, met with my sin, is a mixed one!