It was your typical Tuesday except for the atypical text message from a church acquaintance—the husband of a woman I deeply admire:
“You will like this morning’s Spurgeon excerpt. Many references to gardening are in there. Blessings upon you and David this day.”
Wow. So cool. I immediately felt considered, remembered, and spurred toward the Lord.
Unfortunately, this type of interaction is not too typical in our PCA circles, is it? We aren’t sure how to do exactly what my acquaintance-friend did: communicate care, thoughtfulness, and honor in a respectful and appropriate way across gender or even generation. But he did it—he did exactly that. And my heart was moved toward the Lord because of the small but thoughtful act of my brother.
How did he/we get to this place? To a place of safety in authentically extending the hand of friendship across genders in an appropriate, God-honoring way, encouraging the edification of all involved? Especially in this current socio-political climate of each gender elbowing the other out of the way to assert their self-importance? In our case, I’m chalking it up to church wide devotional.
A couple years back, our church body began this practice, and it’s become a significant thread in the life of our congregation—so much so, in fact, that we now refer to it as a means of grace. The brain trust of one of our associate pastors, Greg Poole, church wide devotional was born out of pastoral realization that significant numbers of Oak Mountain PCA’s flock were not spending daily time with the Lord on a consistent basis. (And sssssh, come closer: some of those numbers even represented church staff.)
We needed a plan, and we needed one fast. A devotional was selected, full participation was encouraged, and before long the numbers told the story—the members of our congregation reporting time spent in daily devotion to God increased so significantly that Greg and staff were already on the hunt for which devotional to use the following year.
My story of the text message isn’t unique to just me, and I’m so glad it’s not. This means of grace has given our congregation a common experience in regular communion with the Lord, and a platform to further connect to one another in community.
So two years ago when Greg Poole stopped me outside a Sunday school room to ask if I’d be interested in bringing the creation of our yearly devotional in house, I couldn’t get the “yes” out fast enough. Now, here we are in the summer of 2019, about to introduce A Good Confession: Daily Reflections on the Westminster Shorter Catechism into the world.
I’m a group project kinda gal. Two of my three previous books have been collaborative, but so far, only with women. But guess what—the experience of that text message was only a microcosm of what working shoulder to shoulder alongside pastors and contributors has proven in macrocosm. Honoring the Lord in collaboration is simply the loveliest part of working together, as a group, each suggesting and contributing and refining until the end product is so much greater than the sum of its parts—so much richer because of the breadth of voices and ages and skin tones and life experiences represented. The final product is deep (like we wanted), but it’s also wide.
A Good Confession uses the Shorter Catechism as the backbone inviting participants to worship God with both their head and heart, uniting them in a whole-person approach to devotional life. The God-stories from the contributors reflect the fullness of God’s plan and story playing out all around—in our church and in yours, echoing the redemptive thread of the One Story throughout history, and urging us to take courage, and stay the course. But it’s not just the voices and stories of Oak Mountain members that enliven the pages. We’ve included quotes from pastors, thinkers, philosophers, and artists—ancient and contemporary—so that we might hear from saints through the ages.
Would you consider joining us in 2020 as an individual, small group, or church body? Oak Mountain and CDM want to invite all churches, inside the PCA and beyond, to consider whether church wide devotional could have similar impact on your personal or congregation-wide devotional life.
A Good Confession will be available for preview and/or purchase online and in the PCA bookstore beginning this month during General Assembly. If you would like a digital copy to preview as you or your favorite pastor or ministry leader consider what it might like for your congregation to join with us in 2020, click here for free preview content.
About the Author:
Holly Mackle is the curator of the mom humor collaboration Same Here, Sisterfriend, Mostly True Tales of Misadventures in Motherhood, author of the family Advent devotional Little Hearts, Prepare Him Room, and editor at engagingmotherhood.com. She is the wife of a handsome, mama of two flower-sneaking bitties, and a fairly decent gardener and hopefully better humorist for joegardener.com. She spends most of her free time explaining to her two young girls why their hair will not do exactly what Queen Elsa’s does.