Confessing our Faith with John P. Burgess

October 16, 2018 by Joe Small

Augustine heard the voice of a child saying, “Take and read, take and read.” He opened a Bible, began to read, and was set on the path of committed discipleship and faithful pastoral ministry as the Bishop of Hippo and a theologian for the ages. Let’s assume that pastors do not need to be encouraged to read the Bible. But what else can we read that will enhance our preaching, teaching, and pastoral care?

Suggestion for October reading:

  • John P. Burgess, Confessing Our Faith: The Book of Confessions for Church Leaders. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2018

The PC(USA) has recently added the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions, bringing the total number of creeds, confessions, and catechisms to a dozen. We still don’t know what to do with them, however. Are they a collection of what people in other times and places confessed, or are they central to what we are called to believe and do? Are they are smorgasbord from which we may choose the dishes that suit us, or are we to receive the whole witness of our tradition? Are they to be mined for a list of essential tenets, or are we called to make corporate judgments about what is fundamental and what is marginal?

Perhaps the crucial question the church faces, is are we going to pay careful attention to the confessions, or are we going to keep on ignoring them?

John Burgess has provided the church with a way to live into the confessions rather than treating them as museum pieces or theological check lists. Designed for church leaders – especially pastors and elders – Confessing Our Faith encourages exploration of what the confessions have to say about significant matters in the ongoing life of faith. Each of the twelve brief and winsome chapters opens with an imagined dialogue that poses real questions about faith and life. Then the confessions are shown to be genuine helps to the formation of Christian faith and life.

  • Why do we have confessions, and what are they?
  • Learning to listen for God’s word
  • What God is asking us to do
  • Confessing sin and renewing relationships
  • Evangelizing ourselves and others
  • The gifts of the Spirit
  • Living out the Christian life
  • The meaning of church membership
  • Preparing for Baptism and supporting the baptized
  • Celebrating the Lord’s Supper and living in community
  • Facing death
  • The church’s responsibility in society

Confessing our Faith concludes with the issue that shapes the book’s content and design: “The Church Leader as Theological and Spiritual Leader.” Sessions will be enriched by taking a half hour at each meeting to work through this excellent book. If sessions do this, the congregation will be enriched. And if congregations are enriched, the denomination will be enriched.

Turn Burdens into Blessings

Project Regeneration is a discernment process that helps your church think about your building, and the congregation’s relationship to it, in new ways. Grace Presbyterian Church came to be a thriving congregation after two churches searching to find new identities joined together. Their story is featured in this video. If you think that Project Regeneration could help your congregation, visit our website.

Giving Tuesday is November 27

Giving Tuesday is an annual, global day of giving that follows two of the biggest shopping days of the year; Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Your Presbyterian Church can create a successful campaign for Giving Tuesday, receiving gifts from members of your congregation. We have compiled resources for  you to use in making Giving Tuesday a success!