Stephen Nichols, October 11, 2009
by Doneen Dourte
If a "4" in the above examples is for excellence, then Stephen Nichols, our guest speaker on Sunday, October 11, could be given a 4-bag lunch. Now if you are among those unfamiliar with this particular rating system, it's simply this: when a speaker comes to share during worship and Sunday School and people are so challenged by his presentation that they bring their own bagged lunches just so they can hear his after-luncheon lecture (and that's because they neglected to sign up for the very delicious lunch facilitated by Tom and Theresa Grosh, members of the Disciples Fellowship group and several servants from our congregation), 4-bag lunch is a mark of excellence!
Nichols delivered a challenging and biblically-based sermon from John 6 during both morning worship services, posing the question: To Whom Shall We Go? Adult and youth Sunday School classes were treated to thought-provoking nuggets from his recently-published book, Jesus: Made in America. The book (available in the church library) is not an "easy" read, but his writing style is interesting and the points he makes are significant enough to make it worth the time and energy invested.
What made Nichols' Sunday School lecture particularly appealing was his deeply thoughtful discourse combined with a truly delightful sense of humor, often at his own expense. He seems to have a true knack for understanding the currents of American society in general and American Christianity in particular that compromise the person and message of Jesus Christ. Nichols' words were at times sobering as he painted a picture of the church being influenced by culture in ways that are detrimental and debilitating. However, he was able to present the material in such an articulate and engaging manner that one was left not with a sense of hopelessness, but rather an urgency to set to work to divert the current.
Nichols' final presentation following the luncheon continued to stimulate the thought processes of those listening. The audience was a melting pot of EBIC attenders, some visitors from other congregations and students and faculty from nearby academic institutions. This lecture series was a part of the Christian Scholars Network, and the second in a series to be held at EBICC. And yes, in case you're wondering, his post-luncheon talk was an excellent combination of timely information and audience feedback-truly a 4-bag lunch!
For more information about Stephen Nichols and his book, Jesus: Made in America, visit IV Press