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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

April, 2013

~Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You…~

“I still have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear to hear them now.”

~Jesus to his disciples in John 16:12

Dear Members and Friends,

Early in my time at Bower Hill Church, Dave Green slipped me a slim little volume written by a “Northern Baptist” minister, Rev. Oliver “Buzz” Thomas. The book’s title immediately caught my attention because it was intentionally provocative. It also struck me as an awfully big name for such a small book: Ten Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can’t Because He Needs the Job). Ah, but never underestimate the power of a good title. My guess is that most of the people who buy Thomas’s book are self-conscious clergy who want to know just exactly which “trade secrets” they’re supposed to be keeping from their congregations!

The book might be relatively controversial in some corners of Christendom, but there’s nothing in it that I couldn’t say from the pulpit here at Bower Hill Church. It tackles such contemporary social issues as women in the church, homosexuals in the church, and the value of non-Christian religions. It also takes a look at some deeper theological questions, like evolution, miracles, and the afterlife. It’s a great primer for folks who mistakenly think that they can’t be Christians because they believe that the earth is older than 8,000 years.

This past March, our ladies’ Wednesday morning “Koinonia Group” discussed Ten Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You, and they invited me to take part in their dialogue. (I regret that I’m the only guy in the church who sometimes gets to participate in Koinonia. They’re a close-knit circle of women, all ages, who genuinely welcome newcomers, and who meet weekly to pray and talk about faith. They get things done, too! Remember that it was our Koinonia Group who plunged Bower Hill Church into the Haiti Water Project after reading The Hole in Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns!)

Koinonia’s discussion of Thomas’s book was lively and insightful. And out of that conversation came a personal question directed at me: “What things would YOU like to tell your congregation…if it wouldn’t get you fired?” As I thought about my list of potentially taboo topics, I realized that…there aren’t many. There are a few things that I probably ought to talk about more often than I do, essential things like, “What is prayer, and does it work?” and “What does it mean that ‘God has a plan’?” I might reflect on the question, “Why the violence of the cross?” But when it comes right down to it, the ethos here at Bower Hill encourages healthy dialogue rather than stifling it.

It is a blessing to be part of a church where people don’t feel threatened by the lively exchange of ideas, where folks feel free to explore the life of faith from a variety of angles, without prescribing all the “right” beliefs and condemning all the “wrong” ones. In a global society so deeply divided according to creed, and class, and political agenda, don’t you think that genuine, respectful dialogue would go a long way toward healing the wounds of the world? Where did so many of our politicians get their narrow doctrine that finding middle ground is for the weak? It’s not for the weak. It’s for those brave few who aren’t afraid to share this world with people unlike themselves. And so, as Bower Hill prepares for another trip to Haiti, and as we journey into this Easter Season, there is indeed something that I want to tell you: I want to say that I’m grateful for you. This world stands in need of the kind of faith that you have. (You wouldn’t fire me for saying that, would you?)

In Christ’s peace,