Nearly two decades ago Col Marshall, one of the good Aussies at Matthias Media, gave us an article entitled The Ministry of the Pew.  The truth of the article and its application to life in the local church has not diminished one iota in the intervening years.  Ultimately, the kind of service Marshall describes in this article is that which all Christians, as members of local churches, are called to.  Have you embraced your call to the Ministry of the Pew?  The article below is not short but the reading is well worth the time it takes to absorb it and chew on what it says.

Factotum #1: The Ministry of the Pew

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The ‘Pew Prayer’

Some years ago a pastor, Ray Ewers, instructed me in the finer art of how to walk into church. To most people, this might appear to be a rather basic accomplishment requiring little or no tutelage. Perhaps a family with five toddlers would appreciate some advice, but most of us would never give it a thought. Ray’s instruction was very brief: “Pray about where you sit”.

Praying seemed like a great way to walk into church, better than grumbling about the full car park or feeling annoyed that the first hymn, ‘Tell Out My Soul’, was sung to Tidings and not Woodlands. But of all the things to pray about, why should I be concerned with seating position? After all, I sit in my pew every week.

Ray’s advice was based on a particular view of church. He saw church as a place where Christians go to work. Church is a gathering of God’s people to hear his word and respond in faith and obedience. In this gathering, we are in fellowship with each other, through the blood of Jesus, and, because of our fellowship, we seek to serve each other. We use our gifts and abilities to strengthen one another and build Christ’s Church—‘edification’ is the word often used to describe what goes on in church. All believers are involved in building the church, not just clergy or preachers. The New Testament consistently teaches that in the growth of the body of Christ each part must do its work (see Eph 4; 1 Cor 12-14). Because of this, we aren’t to see ourselves merely as part of an organization called ‘St Hubert’s Church’, but as servants of God’s people, eager to meet the needs of others even if it means sacrificing our own.

Ray’s view of church was spot on. With this perspective, his advice to pray about my choice of pew makes perfect sense. If at church we are working to strengthen our fellow believers, where we sit becomes important since part of our work will be talking to our neighbour in the pew, welcoming people, helping each other understand God’s word and praying with each other.

The ‘Pew Prayer’ was a significant turning point in my understanding of what church is all about. It changed my reasons for going to church. The shift was made from being the ‘helpee’ to the helper, the served to the servant. Church is where we seek spiritual food and encouragement in order to become more godly; but church is also where we go in order to feed other people and encourage them. In God’s mercy, we become more Christ-like in the process, as like him we deny ourselves for the sake of others. But our purpose in gathering with God’s people is to strengthen them and build the body of Christ. We look for opportunities to assist the growth of the church in practical ways, which is what Factotum is all about. There are numerous ways in which we can carry out the ministry of the pew. In this issue of Factotum, we’ll look at some of them.

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During evangelism training brother Jeff mentioned some resources that will help us be faithful in the call to evangelize.  Here is where you can find them.

You can download a PDF of Bro. Jeff’s notes from the lecture here: A Theology of Evangelism

Here are three titles which will help you think through the Gospel correctly and share it faithfully:
What Is The Gospel? by Greg Gilbert
The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever
Tell the Truth by Will Metzger

Finally, here is a link to the two sites reference in Bro. Jeff’s talk:

On answer questions about the faith – The White Horse Inn: Questions of Faith Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

On models of how to talk about the gospel to adults and children – MidwayLife.com: Salvation.

Showing care to those who are suffering the loss of a loved one is a requirement for those who call upon Christ as Lord and Savior.  However, the raw emotion present in such circumstances can make knowing how to care difficult to discern.  The Gospel Coalition has posted a helpful article on how to show appropriate concern for those in mourning.  Considering how often suffering of this kind enters our lives and the lives of those we care about it is well worth the time spent to read.  You can find it here:

A Time to Speak

The services for Dr. Huddleston, Bill and Charlene’s son, are as follows:

Funeral services for long-time Cookeville Optometrist Dr. Mike Huddleston, 61, will be held Thursday May 23 at 4 p.m. at Cookeville First Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Dr. Charles McCaskey and Dr. Perryn Rice will officiate. Interment will be in Shipley Cemetery.

Dr. Huddleston died Monday May 20, 2013 at 5:46 a.m. at his home.

His family will receive friends Wednesday from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Cookeville Chapel of Hooper-Huddleston & Horner Funeral Home and Thursday from 3 p.m. until service time at the church.

Memorial contributions may be made to Cookeville First Cumberland Presbyterian Church 565 E. 10th St., Cookeville Noonday Lions Club c/o Garrett Shepard 45 N. Dixie Ave, or Heart of the Cumberland PO Box 2474 all in Cookeville, TN 38501.

If you are interested in providing food for the family you can let the church office know.

Don’t forget: in order to provide an opportunity for extra time with families and loved ones there will be no Sunday evening service at Midway on May 12th.  Sundeay evening services will resume on May 17th with the start of our small group classes.