“A great resource for the life of the Church. Using practical examples, Susan presents how the covenant works out in the life of individuals, families, local churches, and the community.” —Stephen Estock
The following excerpts are from pages 189, 203-204 .
The Villagers and Village Life
God’s covenant relationship with us is to be mirrored in our relationships with one another. God tells us this in His Word, and He showed us what it looks like in the person of Jesus. Show and tell is a powerful method of teaching.
We all show and tell what we believe all the time.
Sometimes we show and tell biblical truth. Sometimes we tell biblical truth and show untruth. If we think we are saying and showing nothing, that silence and passivity is its own message.
In the covenant village, there is a sense in which all of the villagers are teachers and all are students all the time.
The church’s effectiveness in discipling God’s people and in being salt and light in the culture will be in direct proportion to the quality of village life in the church. Village life is much more than fellowship dinners.
Village Life Necessitates Radical Obedience
Penny Pappas understands this. This villager began a formal teaching ministry in her village when she was only fifteen. In the tiny kitchen of a country church, cluttered with porcelain coffeepots and empty vases, she fashioned a classroom complete with bulletin boards, handwork displays, and a sandbox depiction of the tabernacle. Over the years she taught in Christian day schools, youth groups, nursery, junior and primary departments of Sunday school, and Bible conferences, Pioneer Clubs, women’s home Bible studies, and in training seminars for other teachers. Finally the time came when she was ready to retire, or so she thought. This story is best told in Penny’s own words:
“I had just turned sixty-five. Now I was old. Now it was time to sit back, warm the pews, and let the young people do the job. I would be there, however, to criticize. That was my retirement plan.
But it wasn’t God’s plan, and it wasn’t the plan of the elders and Sunday school superintendent. He approached me one Sunday. ‘Penny,’ he began, ‘we need a teacher in the senior high class. And we’ve decided that all these younger people aren’t cutting it. We need someone more mature to work with them.’
‘Sure,’ I responded scornfully, ‘someone big and old, but not me.’
Taken aback the poor man said, ‘Will you at least pray about it?’
‘No,’ I answered stubbornly, ‘I will not. Then I’ll come back and blame my decision on the Lord. I have done my time. I really want a rest.’
But that group of young people, challenging as they were, would not leave my mind. Heather, Susan, Sarah, Rob, Laurie, Drew, Tim, Matt, Luke, Brooke, Steve, Todd, Amy, Rhonda, Chris. Some had been in my class when they were juniors. I knew their potential, and God was filling my heart with love for them and a real longing to share His Word with them. He was calling me to teach them.
‘This old dog will just have to learn new tricks,’ I muttered as I contemplated the challenge of those unruly rascals who were so gifted mentally, artistically, and spiritually. I was truly no match for them, but experience told me that God had never, ever failed to equip me for a work He had called me to do.
And He did not fail me. Those youngsters still bring joy to my heart as I remember their hearty response to God’s Word, their enthusiastic participation in class service projects, their growth in grace, and the deep love we shared for one another.”
Village life thrived in that class because this villager was willing to pay the price for village life. She was willing to leave her place of comfort and to forge ahead in obedience to the King of the village.
Villagers in the covenant village must rise above a needs-based theology that intensifies individualism. Their goal and their rallying point must be the honor of the King of the village. Anything less is destructive to village life. It is also destructive to personal peace. If our comfort zones put us on the periphery of village life, they cease to be comfort zones. We will find ourselves in positions of vulnerability to own sin.
Reflection for Women’s Ministry
How are you inspired by the example of Penny Pappas?
Who are people in your church who are “paying the price” to cultivate village life?
What are they doing?
Consider encouraging village life by recognizing and thanking these people.
How is your women’s ministry discipling women to cultivate village life?