A farewell message from Peter

Peter-Somervell-preaching

As I look back over the years that I have ministered at this church there is one dominating theme that comes to my mind: God’s faithfulness. Throughout all the difficulties and trials, triumphs and blessings, times of need and times of abundance, God has been faithful. He has been faithful to his people, faithful to His Word, and faithful to his promise to build his church and bless those who are part of it.

There has been much good that has happened. A lot of ground has been taken for the Kingdom of God. People have been equipped, souls have been saved, new ministries have developed, pastors have been trained, and more recently – a missionary has been sent. There is no room for boasting here – from me or anyone else. One plants and another waters but it is God who causes the growth (1 Cor 3:7). Not one ounce of growth, not one inch of advancement for the Kingdom of God happens unless the Lord initiates it. I’ve seen hard work done for the Kingdom with practically no results and I’ve seen hard word done with wonderful results. The difference lies not with the labourer(s) but with the Spirit of the Lord who empowers and prospers His work.

People of HBC: thank you for your support over all these years. Thank you for your faithful service week in and week out. Thank you for your love for the truth and your eagerness to have it faithfully proclaimed and taught. Thank you worship leaders, for enriching our church with Christ-exalting, soul enriching, Gospel-centered songs week in and week out. Thank you Sunday School teachers, for putting effort into your preparation each week so that our children may grasp the greatness of God, the depth of their sin and their need for a Saviour. There are many more who should be acknowledged and one day will be acknowledged by our Lord and Saviour before the eyes of all.

Elders of HBC: thank you for your faithful service. It’s been a privilege to serve alongside of you these years. Thank you for your tireless service (and the many late nights), your love and commitment to God’s church and your deep care for his people. Thank you for your patience with me and the gentle and caring way you addressed my blind spots and weaknesses (particularly my impulsiveness). Under God, you have helped me to grow. HBC Staff – Ray and Geoffrey: thank you for sacrificing personal time and energy – going beyond the call of duty time and time again, so that the people and work of HBC may prosper. Yours is a labour of love. Your servant hearts shine you through for all to see. You are both a great example to us all.

I will miss you all dear friends. Please pray for me, that I may stay faithful to the preaching of God’s Word and that I would remain humble and teachable so that God can grow me into the pastor He wants me to be. I have such a long way to go and there are many things I still need to learn. I know that the Lord will take care of you. He will supply you with the right Senior Pastor, who will continue to feed and nourish and build you, and even take you where I could not lead you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

 

Peter Somervell, Senior Pastor (2006-2014)

A word about deacons

At our upcoming members meeting in November we will be considering nominations for deacons in our church. There is often a lot of confusion about this role therefore the elders want to clarify HBC’s position on this matter.

What is a deacon?

The word “deacon” comes from the Greek word diakonos which simply means “servant”. The bible gives very clear parameters of what kind of individual is suitable for the role:

“…Deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.”1 Timothy 3:8–13 (NIV)

In short, deacons are spiritually mature Christians who have integrity, are respected by others in the congregation, and have proven themselves in some area of ministry.

That answers the “who” question – how about the “what”? What do deacons do?

What do deacons do?

Based on the pattern we see in Acts 6, deacons are servants who do whatever is necessary in the church to allow the elders to accomplish their God-given calling of shepherding and teaching.

A helpful clarification is given by Jamie Dunlop, associate pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist:

“Elders lead ministry, deacons facilitate ministry, the congregation does ministry.”

So what might be some of the duties or tasks that deacons could be responsible for? Think of some of the ministry team leader roles in our church:

  • Finance Deacon – responsible for the team counting and banking the weekly offering
  • Property Deacon – leads the team managing church property
  • Ushering Deacon – leads the ushering team that directs people to their seats
  • Hospitality Deacon – responsible for morning tea roster and catering for functions
  • Widows Deacon – leads the team caring for the practical needs of our widows
  • Communion Deacon – responsible for set-up of communion and roster
  • Benevolence Deacon – administering funds / help to the needy
  • Worship Deacon – leads the teams of musicians and singers who lead the church in corporate worship

It is the elders’ belief that we have a number of individuals (male and female) who fit the qualification of a deacon and who are doing the work of a deacon but are not recognised as deacons. They have a fair idea who those individuals are but would like you, the congregation to assist them in the selection process.

Nomination forms are available in the church foyer, and can be handed in to the church office or to one of our elders.

 


You can review previous sermons on this topic below:

Further reading:

 

 

 

Sermon Introductions

Attention all Preaching Workshop attendees: this is for you.

I always knew sermon introductions were important – that’s why I spend a significant amount of time and effort each week working on them.  I’m not perfect at it, by a long shot.  And this article reveals some holes in my own intros, like using two illustrations and starting with a text different than the one I am preaching on.

For those of you working on your mini-sermon, this is worth your read (number 2 is especially important).

Top 10 Sermon Introduction Mistakes

Pastoralized – Eric McKiddie – 24 Sep 2014

sermon-introduction-mistakes

How you get your sermon started matters. While there is lots of room for error in the body of your sermon, there is little room for error in your introduction. It can be the difference between someone being on the edge of their seat or slumped in their seat, between using their phone’s Bible app or fantasy football app.

If you hook them with your introduction, you will have their attention for the entire sermon. If you lose them early on, it can be hard to get them back. Here are ten ways you make it easier on your church to check out.

1. Not having an introduction. Everything in life has an introduction. Buildings have lobbies and homes have foyers. Movies have initial scenes that acquaint us with the characters and plot. Books have forwards, prefaces, and an introductory chapter. Songs have four or eight measures of music before the lyrics kick in. When you propose to your girlfriend, you get down on your knee. Sermons are no different. Have an introduction of some sort.

2. Not hinting at how the sermon is going to impact their lives. I’ve heard many sermon introductions in which the point of the text was made crystal clear, but the pastor never acknowledged the people he was speaking to. (I may have preached a couple sermons like that myself.) If our introductions don’t clearly show our people how the Bible is going to help them love God, follow Jesus, and be led by the Spirit, we haven’t given them a reason to listen to us. Let’s not introduce our sermons as if God’s word is only profitable for teaching. Let’s give our people a preview of how it rebukes, corrects, and trains in righteous, too, right from the start.

3. Using two illustrations. Doubling up your illustrations is confusing. Either you will illustrate two different points, which makes your audience wonder which one is the main one; or you will illustrate the same point two different ways, which will make them wonder how they are supposed to think and feel about the topic your passage addresses. Pick the best one, and file the other one away for another sermon.

4. Setting up the passage you are going to preach on with another passage or verse. Like using two illustrations, this confuses people. Which passage is he preaching on? If you have a juicy cross-reference, save it for the body of your sermon.

5. Dumping in too much context. I’ve seen this mistake made most often when a team of preachers are sharing the load for a sermon series, but lead/senior pastors are culprits, too. The preacher rightly feels the burden of setting up the context of the book, author, and recipients, but dumps in everything he read in his commentaries into the intro of his sermon. Too much bogs down the flow of your sermon. Provide the context necessary to simply introduce your passage, and then save the rest for when it is relevant to a point you are making in the body of your sermon.

6. Going too long. The net effect of numbers 3-5 is that you end up with an introduction that is 20% of your sermon. When the intro goes too long, people check out or get antsy for you to move on. Also, you may be already forcing yourself to shorten your last point, which may result in an anti-climactic finish. Better to err on the shorter side for your intro.

7. Using a happily-ever-after illustration. One of your main goals in your introduction is make your congregation aware of a spiritual problem. Since happily-ever-after illustrations convey the idea that everything is okay, they don’t work very well for raising needs. Instead, opt for an illustration that is rich in conflict, and then demonstrate how that conflict is analogous to something they experience, whether they realize it or not. Happily-ever-after illustrations are, however, great for conclusions.

8. Neglecting to warm up your church. I was actually against this for a long time, until I read Preaching by Calvin Miller. Just like a spoonful of small talk helps the small group discussion go down, so also a brief word, pastor to congregation, prepares your church relationally to hear what God has given you to say. It’s especially true for millennials, but basically true for all people, that when they see the real you first, you gain credibility and they open themselves up to listen.

9. Failing to address the spiritual issue at hand in the passage. It is very easy to raise an emotional or pragmatic need in your introduction. It is more difficult – and less common – for a preacher to drill deeper into the sinful and idolatrous responses to the emotional and pragmatic problem we face in life. It’s the difference between inspirational speaking and biblical preaching.

10. Waiting until the body to point your people to the text. I’m a stickler on getting to your passage in the intro, and not waiting until the body of the sermon. The reason for this is that I don’t want to accidentally communicate that our agenda drives how we go to the Bible. Instead, I want to convey that the Bible raises the issues, and we are simply following where it leads. Going to the passage earlier helps get that across.

Notice that I didn’t say being uninteresting. It’s too much pressure to be interesting. I’ve heard plenty of less-than-spectacular introductions that got the job done and made me want to listen. It’s much better to have an average introduction than a bad one. And when we try too hard, we usually end up with a bad one.

Those are my top ten sermon introduction mistakes. What are yours? Share them with us in the comments!

 

Feeling disconnected?

Are you an attendee at HBC and feel a little disconnected? You’re probably not alone. This is a common problem in many local churches – particularly larger churches.  The answer however is surprisingly simple: it starts with you. YOU have to connect!  Have a read of this post by Erik Raymond.  I think he hits the nail on the head.

 

Help for those who feel “Disconnected” at Church

It is a common phrase spoken by Christians and wrestled with by pastors, “I don’t feel connected at church.” The pastoral burden is for all Christians to be thriving in and through the ministry. When we hear something like this we immediately go into “fix-it” mode. Often times we even attempt to construct some structure around the person to help them feel connected.

But what if this didn’t help anyone? What if the problem wasn’t the ministry but the individual? What if the disconnection we feel is actually the consequence of selfishness?*

Catering to selfishness will never cure selfishness, it only fortifies it.

I find it fascinating that the church, on every level, as she applies the gospel, is self-denying. In fact, the lion’s share of the NT imperatives (commands) are calling us away from serving ourselves by serving others (i.e. Eph. 4-6).

What follows is a list, some help for those who are aiming to feel connected at church.**

  1. Pray to be impressed with God’s design in the church.
  2. Go to church on Sundays.
  3. Talk to 3 people that you do not know at church.
  4. Open up your home to have someone over (hospitality).
  5. Find opportunities to serve in ministry.
  6. Pray for your pastors, deacons and fellow church family.
  7. Talk to people about Jesus and invite them to church.
  8. Be content with the ordinary means of grace.
  9. Restart process.

As you read this list you no doubt noticed that in each case the problem is countered by self-denying service. Instead of catering to ourselves (consumeranity) believers are called to serve others (Christianity). While this may not be comfortable it is certainly biblical, and therefore, sanctifying.

Can I confess something to you? Sometimes don’t feel very connected at church. And I’m the pastor! But, guess what I do? I get to work on myself because nine times out of ten, the problem is with me. I need to get to work with the simple, ordinary means of grace. This always gets my focus off of myself and on to Christ. It helps me to remember that while the church is full of sinners, I myself am also a sinner.

The way ahead is always service through humility. God knows what he is doing with and through the church. We need to trust him, and, most often, get to work. If you are feeling disconnected or counseling those who are feeling this way, I challenge you to take an honest crack at this list. I think it will do the trick.

Terry’s Going Home Service

Early Saturday morning our dear brother and friend went home to be with Jesus.  He has left his earthly tent and has been forever freed from suffering, death and decay.  His faith has become sight.  He now awaits the redemption of his body and the uniting of all God’s people in the New Heavens and the New Earth (Rev. 21).  It’s not goodbye for friends in Jesus, but simply a “see you soon.”

Terry’s Going Home Service will be on Friday August 1st at 11:00am here at HBC.  Joe Fleener will be leading the service and Barry Thomas will be giving the eulogy.  Refreshments will be provided following the service.

Please be praying for this significant event, that it would honour the Lord Jesus, encourage God’s people and draw others to the Lord.

Terry - home with Jesus