In the midst of a Midwestern winter (mild, but still winter), we are altering the usual pattern for our monthly featured circuit. Instead of a circuit in one of our twelve districts, this month we are taking a trip to the warmth of the southern hemisphere to feature the work of our brothers in the Malawi Mission Field (along with some “guests” from the Zambian field). With thanks to our brothers in Malawi, and with the prayer that we can beg, borrow, and steal ideas from them, this is presented as our “featured circuit” for February 2012.
What their agenda gives a hint of, but what is really revealed by the specific attachments you will also find on this page of Grow in Grace, these brothers certainly did not leave a commitment to growth in ministry behind when they accepted a call to a world mission field.
If you take a look at the appendices that accompany their agenda, you will see that their homiletical and biblical studies are no mere token nods at spiritual and professional growth just meant to pass the time until lunch was ready. As important as agenda “downtime” and informal brotherly encouragement can both be when pastors gather, our brothers in Malawi put together some well-planned and thorough studies, one in the more “practical” area of homiletics and the other in the more “theoretical” area of exegesis. There was plenty of opportunity both for growth in faith and growth in ministry skill.
Please also note the work they put in to give some planning and direction to their future “Safari Camps.” The last document you will find is how they went about gathering input from all present as they planned strategies for spiritual and professional growth for the next two years.
Planning & Professional Development Meeting – December 2011
Sargent House, Chipata
Present: Paul Nitz (Coordinator), Mark Panning (Financial Secretary), Rob Wendland (Recording Secretary), John Holtz, Steve Lawrenz, Peter Martin, Phil Birner (guest – Zambia), Dan Sargent (guest – Zambia).
1. Devotions A. The opening devotion was conducted by Rob Wendland – Isaiah 63:16b-17, 64:1-8. With vivid language the prophet Isaiah paints our accountability before the Lord God and His amazing love for us. How sweet it is to know the Lord who “ripped the heavens open” to be our Savior and who will do so again to take us home. B. A devotion was conducted by Paul Nitz – Isaiah 40:1-11. God shows us our Shepherd King. After we have gone through a tough time because of our weakness God gives us comfort. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s one sided covenant, double for our sins has been paid. C. The closing devotion was conducted by Steve Lawrenz – Isaiah 61:1-3, 10-11. Isaiah announces the work of the Savior and the believers’ joyful response. We who were lost in sin rejoice because we are clothed in Jesus’ righteousness. This joyful message of God’s forgiveness in Christ we proclaim to the people of Malawi. 2. Reading of Minutes 3. A Homiletical Exercise – PLM (Appendix A) A. Peter Martin led the LM in study encouraging awareness of perspective in our sermon writing (i.e. are we preaching from God’s perspective to sinners, taking a perspective of one of the original hearers of the text, being spoken to together with our listeners, etc.). B. The missionaries examined some of their recent sermons to see if this perspective was clear and consistent. 4. Bible Study – MTP (Appendix B) Mark Panning presented a detailed exegetical study of Acts 13:1-12. The missionaries studied the beginning of the Apostle Paul’s ministry, the start of his first missionary journey, the confrontation with Elymas and the conversion of Sergius Paulus. Just as the word gave the early apostles God’s message and power to defeat Satan, it continues to do the same for us to this day in southeastern Africa. 5. Planning: A. Sunday School focus – The LM has been studying “Bible Storying” with the idea that it might be a method which could help the LCCA improve its Sunday School teaching. At the September meeting in Ntcheu the missionaries agreed that they would try to put the method to use and then report their results to this meeting. B. In addition to our Sunday School focus, the LM needs to revisit putting together a more comprehensive plan about our work in Malawi. C. The LM also discussed the interest of LCCA-M pastors in continuing to study practical theology. 6. Ministry Report: John Holtz (Appendix C). 7. Control of the Worker Training Schools 8. Plans for Professional Development at Safari Camps - PLM A. The LM asked Peter Martin to plan out its professional development studies during Safari Camps to which he agreed. B. To help him plan out a curriculum Peter handed out a worksheet for the missionaries to work through. Peter will synthesize the results and come up with a two year plan. (Appendix D)