Attempting Great Things for God; Expecting Great Things from God: An Update
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
– 1 Corinthians 3:5–9 –
Paul said that as he sowed the seed, and Apollos watered the field, God gave the growth. In the same way, we labor in faith that the gospel seeds we sow will bear fruit as God designs and in God’s time. Such a promise gives us great rest in the heart. But it also puts fire in the bones. Because, if God has promised to grow his word (Isaiah 55:8–9) and secure our laborers (1 Corinthians 15:58), then we should plan for ways to join Christ in the work of the gospel.
Indeed, the last two sermons have explored how 1 Corinthians 16 urges us to plan, give, go, host, help, encourage, greet, gather, refresh, and pray for one another. By watching Paul’s own model of ministry, we can see many of things we are to do too. And thus it is with excitement that I share a couple ways Occoquan Bible Church is taking steps towards active ministry among women and men.
First, there are some important changes and upcoming events to know about in the Women’s Ministry. Beginning on June 1, Dana Crow took up the reins of leading the women’s ministry council. Together with the other women on the council, they will carry out the objectives of council—namely, connecting women, growing them in God’s Word, and equipping them to serve the body of Christ at OBC for the glory of God. (You can read more about the women’s council here).
Her appointment gives a much needed rest to Diana Rosner, who has led the women’s council with energy and wisdom for many years. Diana will continue to teach in Sunday School and be active around OBC, but she will be stepping back from the women’s ministry council. If you see Diana, please thank her for all her years of service and devotion. She has provided valuable wisdom, experience, and direction for the women of OBC. Her impact on other women has enabled others to step and lead in many of the upcoming ministries.
Some of these ministries include a monthly book club—the next meeting will be on Thursday, July 6. Likewise, the next women’s fellowship will take place on Thursday, July 13. Then, in September we will have another Breakfast and Bible Study for women. We will pick up the next section of The Drama of Scripture and see how the Old Testament begins to unfold God’s plan of salvation.
Again, please pray for the women in our church and the vital role this ministry can play in their lives. As Dana takes the lead of this ministry council, pray for her. She has mentioned how much she looks forward to serving the women in our church to the glory of God. She is now joined by Lori Austin, Lori Bridges, Beth Comoglio, Ricki Purves, and Anna Thornton. Together they will be working with our women’s Bible studies and others to help encourage and build up the women at OBC.
I can’t wait to see what God does in their labors. Already there are neat things happening. So, dear sisters, mark your calendars and look for the next opportunity to join the women of our church. You will not regret it!
At the same time, there are some neat things happening for men in our church. For instance, the men just wrapped up a great year of Saturday Breakfasts.
During the year, the men went learned how to better study the Bible. While this subject (i.e., hermeneutics) often focuses on HOW to interpret the Scriptures, our goal was to see WHO is speaking to us in the Bible. Because we believe the Bible is the inerrant and authoritative word given to us by God, we believe it is ultimately the self-disclosure of our personal, triune God. In other words, we approach the Bible as more than a fact book filled with truth and theology. It is a Spirit-inspired canon of history, law, wisdom, promise and fulfillment that leads us to know God in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Recognizing the unique nature of the Bible, we took our time to consider how every passage is to be read in its textual, historical, and canonical contexts. These studies were well-attended. And the food was always plenteous!
In the fall we will pick up with more studies on Biblical Theology and personal spiritual disciplines. We may even use some of the same materials the women have gone through—namely, The Drama of Scripture.
Before then, though, we are unrolling three times for men to get together and encourage one another. To fit the various schedules of men at OBC, these “Discipleship Groups” will meet at 6am, noon, and 4:30pm. We are currently talking to individuals interested in these gatherings, and we want you to know about it as well.
If it would help you decide on whether you will join us, consider these five commitments to these Discipleship Groups.
- Discipleship – We have defined discipleship as helping someone else walk with Jesus with the Word of God. That’s what these groups will aim to do. They are not based on a course, a Bible study, or a program. They are simply times of encouragement where men committed to Christ can come and encourage one another with the Word and prayer.
- Scriptural APPLICATION – There is a place for rigorous study of God’s Word, but these groups are not that. In fact, to avoid the need to read one more thing, these groups will focus on applying the Bible to various circumstances in life. They may begin with a reading from Scripture or a short devotional (5 minutes), but the aim is to answer questions and address problems that come up from the Bible. Each group will have brothers well-grounded in the Word to give direction.
- Open-ended – This group will not meet every week, to avoid the burden of another every week event. This also leaves space for other evangelistic opportunities and time for personal counsel. Moreover, if your schedule does not allow you to meet every week, this open schedule will work when you are able to attend.
- Multi-generational – These groups are not based on affinity, but on the need for brothers in Christ to urge others on in the Lord. This helps build natural discipleship relationships and helps unify the whole church body.
- Prayerful – While each group will look different, they should be a place where men can share their burdens and find prayer and wise council. These groups may also foster other opportunities for service, encouragement, or counsel.
If this kind of study interests you, let Steve Crow or myself know. (If you are a woman and interested in something like this, please let Dana Crow know). You can also email the church for more information: email@example.com.
At present, Rod Fillinger will give organization to the 6 AM meeting, which will meet near I-95. David Schrock and Steve Crow will give organization to the noon meeting, which will meet in Lake Ridge at Sal Cordova’s house. And Jeff Dionise will give organization to the late afternoon group which will also meet in this area. All together, we are hoping to start these groups during the last week of June and continue them on the second and fourth week of the month. (This will keep free the first week for the women’s book study and the third week for elder meetings).
Finally, if this all sounds good, except for the time or location, let us know. The genesis of these groups has been an accumulation of conversations over the last 9 months. We expect these groups will serve many men in our church, but not all.
If you are interested, let us know how and where you might be able to start something like this, and we will keep the ball rolling. In time, it would be outstanding, if we could have more gatherings throughout Woodbridge, Northern Virginia, or D.C. Some men already work near one another, and something like this might only take a couple emails and lunch conversations to set up.
Let Us Expect Great Things from God As We Attempt Great Things for God
When I look at what God is doing with our men’s and women’s ministries, I am so encouraged. If you haven’t noticed, God is bringing many men and women to our church hungry for the word. This includes seasoned mothers and fathers seeking to disciple their children and brand-new believers who are just learning how to follow Christ. It is an exciting time at OBC, and I pray the fruit borne from these discipleship efforts will far exceed our thoughts or expectations.
The father of modern missions, William Carey, once said, “We should expect great things from God, and attempt great things for God.” We realize that all we have planned is more than we can accomplish. We need one another and we need the Lord. But confident that God will honor his word and build his church, we step out in faith to offer ways for men and women to grow in Christ. How much fruit he gives, is up to him. But our responsibility to is to spur one another on toward those good works. Will you join us?
If what you find here fits your situation in life, come join us. Even more, if your situation in life prevents you from gathering with God’s people and growing in the Lord, consider how your Lord would have you seek a path to spend more time with him. Amazingly, God often gives grace only through Christian friendship and intentional steps of discipleship. May we endeavor to seek such discipleship and watch as God grants the growth.
For Your Glory and his joy,