Strengthened in the Word
The second issue of our theological resource Primer will come out on Friday 27 May. But how can Primer help your church to grow? Richard Brewster from Avenue Community Church in Leicester has been reading the first issue.
I liken Primer to one of those oxygen masks you see in airline safety demonstrations.
You know the drill – the voiceover tells you that in the event of the cabin losing pressure, oxygen masks will drop down from overhead. The voiceover then urges you: “Always place the oxygen mask over your own mouth before trying to help someone else with theirs.”
If you’re not breathing in oxygen yourself, you’re in no place to help anyone else. The two of you will simply suffocate together.
Primer is one way of getting ministry workers to breathe in the oxygen of the gospel of Jesus Christ for ourselves, so we are then able to help the people around us find life, strength and hope from that same gospel.
How can you use it?
I started reading Primer with my assistant pastor Matthew back in the autumn. We read about three articles every six weeks, and then come together to discuss what we made of them.
Reading the first issue of Primer together has encouraged and strengthened us both in our love for the word of God and our ability to help others in our church listen to it and live it out.
In what ways has Primer helped us in our ministry at Avenue?
- It asks the questions we and our church members are asking. We live among people who are either indifferent or hostile towards Christianity. The Bible just seems horribly out of step with the world around us. One response to this can be to bury our heads in the sand and hope those questions will just go away. Primer doesn’t let me do that! It confronts those questions and then it gives me more confidence in facing up to them.
- It has a wide variety of voices – ancient and modern. The blend of articles is excellent. Some engage directly with contemporary questions and objections to aspects of the gospel. Other articles allow older voices that it’s all too easy to neglect (what C.S. Lewis called “the breeze of the centuries”) to be listened to and learned from.
- It does a lot of the hard work for me. It’s difficult to overemphasise this one! Due to church and family commitments, time is always pressured. Primer pulls together a great blend of articles to get me well-informed on a particular question. It also points me to helpful books and articles I can then pursue in my own time where that is necessary.
- It looks and feels attractive. That might sound a bit shallow, but when you’ve got a lot of other books, periodicals and online articles vying for your attention, the fact that Primer looks and feels attractive in its design encouraged me to actually sit down and read it!
Local church ministry is hard work. It’s a fight to keep going and to remain faithful to Jesus in the face of suffering and sinning people (that includes us!), pastoral crises, and the challenges of genuinely loving and equipping believers to live out and share the gospel in this world. Often, the first thing to go is personal study and reflection on God’s word. It can feel self-indulgent to make time to dig deeper into Scripture when there’s so much to do, so many people to meet with, and so little time.
Primer is a huge help in addressing that neglect. It’s a great resource for strengthening and deepening our gospel convictions as we lead and serve the local church, and I’d recommend it to every gospel worker as part of their ongoing spiritual formation.
Primer issue 02 ‘How Far We Fell’ (the Doctrine of Sin) is available from May 27 for £4.99 from The Good Book Company.
Issue 01 ‘True to His Word’ (the Doctrine of Scripture) is also available.