“Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” 1 Corinthians 12:14
Sadly, I am now in my final year of the EMW Theological Training Course. The good news is, you only have to tolerate one more of these updates!
I have returned from a week that was not only spiritually filling, my belt buckle has had to widen a notch as well. The food was the best I have known during the course. Gwydion, Catrin and their team took great care over us all at Bryn-y-groes, with a love only known to Christians, fulfilling their calling.
Despite being half a stone heavier and now a “senior” in the group (of 19 men), the week is no less humbling. I have been blessed with another time of most Godly company.
The theme of the week was a more practical one. This has helped me greatly now as “Pastor” of Noddfa.
This was the session I had been waiting for!
The 18th century Revival in Wales! We heard the stories of great men that the Lord used during this time such as Griffith Jones, Daniel Rowland, Howell Harris, William Williams Pantycelen and Thomas Charles. I was enthralled to hear about their work in Wales and how the Lord blessed them during this period. I felt urged to applaud our lecturer of Church History (Adrian Brake) after each session to the Praise of God as he brought it all to life for us. It was interesting to hear how these men (that the Lord raised up) were used, not only to preach the Gospel, but to build infrastructure that would best serve the church and edify the recent converts. It was clear that such decisions allowed the heat of the Revival to burn for longer.
Systematic Theology followed nicely with the Doctrine of the Church where we were taught the different types of Church Government and scriptural support for each. Within the Doctrine we also covered Church offices, leadership, discipline, membership, discipleship and the sacraments. Mark Thomas led this module; his notes alone were worth the course fee, let alone his care to answer a flood of questions!
Chris Bennett took us through ‘Romans’ in Biblical Studies and rose up more questions than answers. This was of course his intention and why I love his lectures. Chris does not impose his thoughts of interpretation on us but encourages us to exegete what the Word of God says for ourselves.
Phil Swann continued last terms Pastoralia theme of Mental illness. Dealing with depression and suicide and then moved us on to Evangelism, clearly showing what the Bible teaches about how we are to seek the lost. As ever the sessions were excellent, interactive and rooted in the love.
By reviewing Church History, in the light of Scripture and applying this pastorally to today’s context, the weeks study allowed us to question, how should the church function in our generation?
To hear of how the church worked during the 18th century revival, to not only teach an illiterate generation to read, but to spiritually care for them. Converts were catechised, taught the Scriptures, and were provided with regular meetings to share blessings and confess sins. It all made me realise how much more I need to do for those I have been called to serve. Something to pray about!
The other practical implication was of church organisation. Before I continue, I am not against independency in anyway. However there is something to be said about greater church cooperation. We have already seen (to some extent) the blessings between Emmanuel and Noddfa, the TTC in itself is an inter-church activity and of course we all come together for the Aberystwyth conference. History and Scripture clearly tell us that when churches work together and share resources for the growth and gain of God’s Kingdom, then the Lord blesses in abundance.
This screams out to me the necessity of such groups as the Evangelical Movement of Wales and the Association of Evangelical Churches in Wales as they provide or are a means of shared resourcing. The question is, do we to support the work of such bodies or utilise them enough? Do we attend their conferences and prayer meetings as much as we should? I think not!
As ever the week was intense and the study not simply academic, we are seeking heart knowledge as well as head. Each lecture is an emotional roller-coaster. As my head knowledge grows so does the realisation of my own failures, in my walk with God and as an under-shepherd for the flock at Noddfa.
Please pray for all the men on the course. Pray that the Lord will bless their time of study and the families/churches that support them.