Christ on Every Page
“Every page points to Christ” said one of the participants in a recent Bible study, “why aren’t more people coming here to listen to this? Why are we the only people in Ponce who are learning all of this!?”
This month I want to focus on one of the central activities that we do in the Ponce Church Plant, our weekly intensive Bible Study. We are on a three-year track to study the entire Bible based on an hour and a half course every week. In August we studied the book of Leviticus and showed how each element of Israel’s worship points to the Savior and is reflected in our own worship today. We even built a scale model of the tabernacle! These Bible studies have been consistently attended by a small number of our core congregation members, and they are an important part of our overall mission strategy.
As a church planter, it might seem like doing intensive studies with those who are already a part of the church wouldn’t be central to our efforts to reach out to the community. Wouldn’t our time be better spent by doing evangelistic events with new people? Nothing could be farther from the truth! Certainly, we are engaged in evangelistic events as part of church planting but strengthening the Biblical core of our congregation is a crucial part of that effort!
I enjoy camping (although Christel doesn’t), so I like to think of church planting like building a fire. You don’t start out with big logs, but with a spark and a few very small shavings of wood or leaves, what we call “tinder”. Nurturing that tinder into a tiny fire, you start to add “kindling” to the center, not too much but just enough to let the center of the fire really start to get hot. At this stage it is all about balance, if you overload the little fire you smother it, but if you don’t provide enough fuel it burns itself out. Gradually you add more and more kindling to the center until you move up to big sticks and branches. When the fire really gets crackling, you can toss in a log that will burn for hours, and which brings a fire that can consume even a wet branch!
The weekly Bible study is the kindling of our church plant, substantial study of the Bible that demonstrates that Lutheran theology is Biblical theology, and that our every activity and teaching is grounded in that Biblical truth. As those core members of the church come to know the riches and the depth of the scriptures, and that as one of them so beautifully put it, “every page points to Christ,” the whole congregation is ignited to spread and to be sustained. His question also shows the natural fruit of studying God’s word, and the very engine that drives evangelism forward, a desire for others to experience the riches of Christ in the Word of God! A congregation that is dedicated to a close study of the Word is a congregation that grows, and this is precisely the habit we hope to instill in Fuente de Vida Lutheran Church! There are many activities we do which are “tinder”, some which are “sparks” and eventually we hope to be able to throw some branches and even logs into the center, but all of it contributes to a roaring fire that spreads on its own! Praise God that the Word does the work!