Why are so many of these blog posts tagged and categorized under “Church Letters?” There are two related reasons for this. The first reason has to do with one of the general purposes for this blog, to serve as a regular medium for communicating with the people of Central Baptist Church, whom I pastor. Though (almost) everyone is welcome to visit, read, and comment, there is a connection here between an under-shepherd and the flock.
The second reason supports the first. After all, why would a pastor write letters to his church? It’s not all that common, despite the fact that most of the books in the Bible’s New Testament are exactly that. Perhaps we think that if a pastor can’t say what he needs to say in a Sunday School lesson, a Sunday morning sermon, a Sunday evening sermon, and a Wednesday evening Bible study, it’s just not worth saying. And I’ll admit, we pastors do have the privilege of an audience that grants us upwards of 2 hours of ear-time each week. So why letters?
There are many reasons, but for our church, it began in January 2010. One year earlier, I had begun teaching / preaching through Romans on Sunday mornings. There are many benefits to this approach to preaching, but I began to notice that there were some things I needed to say to the congregation that didn’t fit with any sermon series. Believing the path through Romans to be the best for the Sunday morning pulpit, I looked for another way of communicating. Of course, more people come to the Sunday morning service than to any other gathering, and even then, the entire congregation is almost never present on any given week. (In a town of shift work, that’s inevitable.) So, using the pulpit in other gatherings would be even less effective than using it on Sunday mornings, and even that one wouldn’t reach everyone. What other option was there?
I’ve continued to write (mostly) weekly letters to our church ever since then. Sometimes I’ve written about something that was tangentially related to one of the messages. Other times, it has been more like a blog post, something that was on my mind at the time. There have been times when a particular need arose and needed to be dealt with remotely before addressing it publicly. There have also been book reviews, candid observations about current events, answers to questions posed by church members, and serialized teachings on a variety of subjects. In general, these letters to the church have provided me with one more opportunity to shepherd the flock that God has entrusted to my care.
And now they’re on a blog. I’m doing this because the future of our church – like any church – will increasingly involve those who think of a mailbox as an icon on their screen rather than a black box with a red flag. There are also two other benefits. Now, those who read these letters can respond immediately, and we can talk about these ideas when we read them. Also, should others choose to read them, these letters will – Lord-willing – serve others in the Church beyond the family at Central Baptist.
So, while I continue to write the more traditional sort of blog post from time to time, any readers will be given a glimpse into the heart of a pastor for his people, and maybe – just maybe – the heart of the Lord for us all.