Enlarging the Tent and Strengthening the Stakes

Have you ever been told by someone, “Follow me.” It can be a bewildering experience. Although the person in front of you knows where he or she is going, to you – the follower – each turn is abrupt and unexpected.

One of our goals at Holyrood is, whenever possible, to take the surprise element out of leadership. It’s a lot easier to follow someone if you are given an itinerary for where you are going.

This in mind, my hope is, periodically, to give the church family something of a roadmap for the ministry ahead. This should remove confusion and, God willing, increase excitement. Part of the reason why I want us to look at the horizon is because I genuinely believe we are headed in an exciting direction. Last Sunday morning we thought together about the gospel imperative to “enlarge the place of your tent” and “strengthen your stakes” (Is. 54:2). This is a timely word to us. In view of the majesty and authority of Christ, we ought to be expecting the gospel to make in-roads around Montgomery St. If this is indeed the case, now is the time to be preparing ourselves so that, as new people come, we are ready – not just to welcome them – but to nurture them in the habits of the kingdom.  

So, then, what can we expect in this Autumn?

1 – A Renewed Focus on the Call to Love One Another

Home Groups will be restarting in September. The subject-matter we will study and discuss in our groups is 1 John. Why this particular letter? The reason is because 1 John more than any other book of the Bible takes the great command of Jesus to love one another (c.f. John 13:33-34) and massages this command into the bones of the church.

Now, here is a pastoral request for members of the church: come out this Sunday evening at 6pm for a special teaching session on 1 John. On Sunday night, Jon Gemmell (who teaches people how to read the Bible for a living) will be giving us an overview of 1 John and helping us think about how to read this letter and, of equal importance, how not to read this letter

One further pastoral exhortation: keep the goal of home groups in view this Autumn. The primary goal of home groups is not to increase our knowledge of the Bible, but to live out the blue print of community that is found in the Bible. We want to be doers of the word, not just hearers of the word. “Success” in a home group is taking the truth of the Bible and translating it into what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “life together”.

2 – A Recommitment to the Basics of Membership

Part of “strengthening the stakes” of our church is improving the process by which new people join Holyrood. For a while now, I have been talking about the need for us to develop a more formal “new members class”.

Now, one option would be me to create such a class and implement it without current members knowing much of what is happening. However, this would be counterproductive. In the same way that it is useful for married couples periodically to rethink the meaning of their vows, it is also helpful for church members from time to time to rethink what it means to be stakeholders in a gospel community.

This in mind, the plan for Equip in the Autumn will be for current members to take part in training sessions that will provide the framework for a future course for new members.

Regardless of how long you have been a part of HEC, don’t miss these sessions. Our unity and effectiveness as a congregation depends on us having a shared commitment to the basics of church membership.

3 – Preparing the Ground for an Intensive Week of Mission

At this point everyone should know that January 21st-28th 2024 will be a week dedicated to local mission in the Montgomery Street area. To help us man-power the week, a team of 6-10 Christians from Tulsa, Oklahoma will be traveling over and doing ministry with us.

Now, the hope is that, well before the Mission Week begins, all members of the church will (1) understand the strategy for the week and (2) have a significant role in the events that happen. For the sake of training and communication, two Equip sessions before Christmas will be dedicated to preparing the congregation for the mission week.

Lots more could be mentioned regarding outreach events, Warm Space, men’s and women’s discipleship, and youth ministry. However, the main point of all of this is that we need to be a church preparing for growth. This Autumn, we will be “enlarging our tent” and “strengthening our stakes” with the firm conviction that Easter Road is one of the “desolate cities” (c.f. Is. 54:3) that Christ desires to claim as His own.

By Joe Barnard