Tuesday, February 17, 2009

'I Climb the Rainbow Through the Rain'. George Matheson -XXI

Every church is different, and a wise minister takes time to understand the church before changing anything. As should be expected with a large 19th century city Church, St. Bernard's had a multitude of organisations associated with it. A single week looked like this:
Sunday: Morning and afternoon services, Children's Church, Sunday Schools, Young Men's Fellowship, and Bible classes.
Monday: Evening Work party, Boys' craft class, Girls' club, and Literary Society.
Tuesday: Mothers' Meeting and sewing class.
Wednesday: Boys' Brigade, morning work party, and Bible class.

Thursday: Choir practice.

Saturday: Savings Bank, Boys' Brigade reading club.

The sort of minister who would really have been best suited, humanly speaking, to St. Bernard's, would have been a business manager - but thankfully the church did not look for a minister, but for a pastor, a man who cared for souls, not just for agencies. Yet Matheson did not leave the various agencies to the elders and deacons. He taught a Bible class and gave addresses to the various agencies, preparing carefully for each engagement. The Bible class was one of the agencies with which Matheson was most concerned. He taught two classes, one of young women and one of young men. Bible classes allow for a more in-depth discussion of theology and the Bible than is possible from the pulpit, and the Scottish tradition of Bible classes is perhaps one that modern Evangelical Churches can and ought to learn from. Here things such as apologetics can be discussed, and books of the Bible treated in a depth that would be inappropriate from the pulpit. In his time at St. Bernard's Matheson worked through the books of Genesis and Acts in the classes. He combined criticism and exposition, giving sidelights from secular history and archaeology where appropriate. The passage was applied and opened. Surely some sort of Bible class would be a helpful agency in our Churches today.
God willing, next time we shall continue with Matheson's time at St. Bernard's.



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