25 February 2009


After school, Red, Mary and the children hurried home to finish homework in time to leave for “Family Night” at Graying Pres.

Family Night was one of pastor Rex’s gifts to Graying Pres. At the church in Missouri where he had served as Associate Pastor, a concerted effort was made to have as many functions on Wednesday night as possible. To encourage attendance, a basic catered dinner was served for a nominal donation. Choir practice, children’s choir, youth group meetings, and a men’s and a women’s Bible study followed dinner. Some committees also met.

Pastor Rex had introduced the idea at Graying Pres, and after a period of adjustment to mitigate the effects of Rule 1 (“We’ve never done that before”), it became a popular evening for the congregation.

The menu for the night was lasagna with Italian bread and salad. After the usual discussion with Thomas regarding the potential that they were being poisoned by “the green stuff,” the Painters settled in at a table with the Matthews family and Paul and Paula Peters.

Paul was eager to talk about the missionaries who would be coming to Graying in two weeks. Home on furlough from their mission in Madrid, Spain, they would be giving a mission minute during worship.

“Red,” Paul said, “I need you to talk to Ellen Klass. I asked her to cancel all the Sunday School classes and assemble them in the Great Hall that Sunday so that the Maneros can give a talk about their work. She said that would be fine, but she wanted them to teach us about some of the techniques they use in mission. That’s just plain silly. The Maneros have been here before and they have a great slide presentation about Spain that really wows the kids--especially the bull fight pictures. Why would we want to miss that and have to sit through another boring class?”

“Well, ya know, Paul, I think Ellen has something there. The Book of Order says that we, as elders, are to initiate the ministry of evangelism as the first business of the Church, and to seek to lead persons to an acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Our mission field is right here in East Overshoe, but we really don’t know how to be missionaries. Why not ask the experts to help us?”

Paul rolled his eyes. “Oh for Pete’s sake. What are you doing reading the Book of Order? A bunch of people sitting in some office trying to tell us how to run our church? We can muddle through just fine. And evangelism is your problem, not mine. Everyone knows that mission and evangelism are two entirely separate things. You’ve got some strange ideas, boy. Now, will you talk to Ellen or not?”

You could have cut the silence with a knife.

“Paul, one of my instructors at the Infantry Officer’s Course taught us that ‘Doctrine is written by the survivors.’ He meant that people in a tough tactical situation who tried solutions that worked eventually got to ‘sit in some office’ and write it down. Those who tried to muddle through like as not died in the attempt and weren’t around to write doctrine. Let’s give the authors of the Book of Order a chance, eh?”

“Red has a point,” Paula said. “Why not hear him out, Paul. Heaven knows that you are not always right. Remember that trip we took to Baltimore when we were dating? We drove in circles for hours, but Daniel Boone, here, wouldn't stop to ask for directions.” The three wives collapsed into laughter, as they headed off for Bible study.

Well! Will Paul be willing to try a new way of leading? Will the Session agree to a training program? Will Thomas survive eating “the green stuff?” And why do wives always stick up for one another? Tune in next time when these and other burning questions will be answered—-except for the inscrutable wife stuff--in the further Adventures of Graying Pres.


Quotidian Grace said...

Red should check the boy's napkin for contraband "green stuff". That's where my girls used to hide it.

It's hard to fight the "let the pros do it" attitude when it comes to evangelism.

Reformed Catholic said...

... in my case, its let the amateur do it. Still, I'm the only one who's trying at Stodgy Pres.

Althea N. Agape said...

Gotta love that separating mission and evangelism stuff. Doesn't that make it "social service"? Of course, that's a real issue with the gag order for groups getting in on faith-based services money. "Sir, Why do you help us?" "I'm sorry, son, I'm not allowed to tell you."