A Church Where Everyone Gets to Play

I’m presently teaching a course for Rockbridge Seminary entitled, “The Missional Leader.” One of the required textbooks is The Permanent Revolution by Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim (2012). As I prepared to teach the course, something in a chapter subtitle recalled for me a conversation with my wife twenty-five years ago. The subtitle had but seven words, “A Church Where Everyone Gets to Play” (p. 73). Those words are essential to the health and growth of missional churches and movements. So, for two cents, let me share my wife’s contribution to my understanding of the church as a missional movement.

On January 11th, 1998, I was to preach as a pastoral candidate at a small church located in the southern Berkshires of Massachusetts. For reasons I didn’t wholly understand, I was impressed to preach on Revelation chapter one, verses 5b and 6.

“To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father— to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5b – 6 NASB 1995).

The exegesis of this text was straight forward enough. But for the life of me, I couldn’t find a way to express how it was that we who were redeemed from our sins by the blood of Christ, should be so favored of God that He would elevate our station before Him as citizens of His kingdom and most significantly as priests! Yes, I could identify the things believer priests would be expected to do, but how could I communicate why that should be such a huge privilege in terms that would connect with skeptical saints?

I shared my frustration with Lynn, who would soon be my wife, a woman who had no formal theological training, just an infectious passion to serve God. “Oh, read me that text” she said. A smile broke out on her face.  She clapped her hands like cheerleader and said, “That’s easy! Everybody is on God’s team. Everyone is on the first string. Everybody plays and nobody sits on the bench!”

Preaching in January of 1998 with Super Bowl dreams on everyone’s mind, I stole Lynn’s words, the message resonated, and a week later I received a call to that church where Lynn and I served for 16 years. But it is precisely those seven words, which we must embrace today and every day, if we are to fulfill the Great Commission Mandate our Lord entrusted to us.

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18 – 20 NASB 1995).

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Ed has had over 30 years of ministry experience, sixteen of them at Greenwoods Community Church in the southern Berkshires of Massachusetts. More recently he has fulfilled an extended transitional interim assignment for the Alliance Southeast of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Leesburg, Florida. In addition, Ed has had nearly 13 years of experience in the field of geriatric healthcare. Ed’s is happily married to Lynn, having recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Lynn is a true partner in ministry, having served Greenwoods Community Church as its Children's Ministry Coordinator for over ten years. She is a decorator, colorist, instructor in furniture painting, and an artist in her own right. For over 20 years she had her own business, Whimsical Brushes, teaching and traveling throughout the Northeast. Lynn is also active as a women’s outreach speaker for Stonecroft Ministries in Florida. God has given Ed a burden to be a mentor pastor, developing leaders for the church in the 21st Century. One way in which he is fulfilling that calling is through Rockbridge Seminary, where he serves as an adjunct professor of Spiritual Formation. Ed has earned degrees from Cairn University (B.S. 1971), Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M. 1979), and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min. 2007). He has published several articles on the Spiritual Heritage of Litchfield County, Connecticut, and led several tours of sites associated with the Village Revivals that spawned the Second Great Awakening in New England. In his spare time, you are likely to find Ed at the piano or pecking out a blog on his blog page https://hiddenarrows.blog

One thought on “A Church Where Everyone Gets to Play”

  1. Hi Ed,
    Had the Holy Spirit not spoken such a wonderful insight into Lynn’s listening ears, I may never have met you. Tell her Lynn thanks for her effectual fervent prayer.

    Words from my favorite hymn “Be Thou My Vision”:

    Thou my best thought, by day or by night
    Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light
    Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word
    I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord


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