|Me and Dr. Mark Dever|
While in Washington DC for training, I visited Capitol Hill Baptist Church, pastored by Dr. Mark Dever. I have been following Dr. Dever via podcast for several years, and I enjoy his books. In fact, I once wrote him a letter expressing my appreciation for a series he spoke and the church made available where he preached an overview sermon on each book of the bible over the course of a year (begins with "Promises Made"). In return, Dr. Dever mailed me a huge box containing several books, along with a letter of thanks. For an avid reader, this was a great treasure trove!
So, naturally, I wanted to visit CHBC...not only in hopes of meeting him, but also to see how his congregation operates. When I arrived, I found a seat and began removing my bible from my bag and situating my belongings. I saw Dr. Dever in the rear of the Hall talking with someone, but we did not make eye contact. A few minutes later, he approached where I was getting situated and introduced himself. When I explained why I was there, he said, "Scoot over and tell me your story." I did; we talked -- uninterrupted, I might add -- for 5-10 minutes. It was one highlight of my visit.
The next highlight was the glorious worship during the main service. It's a 2-hour time of praise, confession, prayer, worship, prayer, teaching, reflection, sermon, prayer, and reflection. There is no good way to describe it other than to say I believe it was a foretaste of what worship and praise awaits God's saints in heaven.
The final highlight came from the speaker, Pastor Brad Wheeler. I was initially disappointed Dr. Dever wasn't speaking, but I understand Dr. Dever speaks only half of the time at CHBC. When Pastor Wheeler began speaking, I was quickly beyond my disappointment. His message ("Humble Beginnings") was the opening message for a new series ("Longing for a Leader") that started that week. The passage exegeted was 1 Sam 1:1-2:11. I've included the link here for your benefit and pleasure.
In the end, it was truly a long day, but I'm glad I attended. I'll definitely return before leaving DC!
Finally, I'd like to offer some constructive questions for application.
1) How do you treat visitors? I'm not asking how your CHURCH treats visitors; I'm asking how YOU treat visitors. Do you seek them out? Do you make them feel welcome and comfortable? Do you help them find what they need?
2) How do you worship? Do you worship God as intently as you pump your fists for your favorite sports team? I'm not asking about your CHURCH chooses to worship; that's debatable. I'm asking about YOUR worship. If the music at your church is less that engaging, can you still worship with all your heart and mind?
3) How do you respond to the spoken message? Are you simply thankful it's over so you can go about the rest of your day? Or do you reflect on it with repentance, seeking God's mercy and glory? Does the message cross your mind throughout the week? Or have you already forgotten its application?
4) How do you offer your gifts to God? We all have gifts; how do you use yours? I'm not asking how your CHURCH allows you to use them; I'm asking how YOU use them. Is Sunday the only time, and church the only place you offer your gifts to the Body of Christ for edification? How can you serve throughout the week?