In the opening sentence to our church constitution, it reads this: “Jesus Christ, as King, has given to His Church officers, oracles, and ordinances; and has ordained His system of doctrine, government, discipline, and worship, all of which are either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary inference may be deduced from it; and to which things He commands that nothing be added nor subtracted.”[i] What this first sentence means is that we at Tapestry Community Church seek to be as biblical as possible. That means that when the elders discuss possible new ministries for the church or when we meet with the deacons to discuss new ideas or possible new ministries, the question that is always first and foremost on our minds is—Is this biblical?
In the United States, the third Sunday of every January is known as National Sanctity of Life Sunday. It was designated as such by the late President Ronald Reagan on January 22, 1984, to remember the 1973 Supreme Court decision known as Roe v. Wade. In that decision the Court ruled that selective abortion was the right of women protected by the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution. Thus, beginning in 1984, President Reagan designated each Sunday that fell the closest to January 22 to be Sanctity of Life Sunday. However, this article is not about the evil of selective abortion, nor is it about the evidence that life begins at conception. Rather, this article is about the value churches should place on children and what that should look like within the context of the local church and within the covenant community. Since life begins at conception and since children are a blessing from the Lord, children should be welcomed into the corporate worship service at as young of an age as possible. (At Tapestry Community Church we welcome children into the corporate worship service at age four.)
Joshua Harris first became a household name within the Evangelical community when he published his first book in 1997, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, at the tender age of twenty-three. The book instantly became a #1 bestseller, launching Harris into the stratosphere of success. Three years later he published another mega bestseller, Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship. These two books started what became known as the purity movement within Evangelicalism, particularly among homeschoolers. Then, four short years later he became the lead pastor of his Maryland mega-church, Covenant Life Church, replacing the popular and charismatic C.J. Mahaney. By all accounts, Joshua Harris by the age of thirty had accomplished what most only dream about—two successful bestselling books, a successful and lucrative career, a beautiful young wife, speaking tours and speaking engagements. But how did all this happen?
A friend recently brought to my attention an article written by my former New Testament professor, Thomas Schreiner, whom I greatly respect, titled “Why I am a Cessationist.”[i] As I read the article it became clear that Schreiner wants to hold to a classic cessationist view, but recognizes that he does not have enough scriptural evidence to defend that position, so he wants to remain open to the “open but cautious” view as defined in the book, Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: Four Views—Cessationist, Open But Cautious, Third Wave, Pentecostal/Charismatic.[ii]
What is preaching? What does it mean to preach a sermon and is there a difference between preaching and teaching? We all recognize there must be some difference because when a Sunday school teacher or Bible study leader opens the Bible and delivers a message, we say that he or she “taught a Bible lesson.” When a politician delivers a message, we say he or she “gave a speech.” But when a minister stands behind the pulpit and exposits God’s Word, we understand him to be doing something different. Why is that? And what exactly is so different?