Letter from Dr. Joseph Tkach - Aug. 2017


August 1, 2017

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August 2017  

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It’s back-to-school season for many of us again – a time of transition for young people as they begin the next step in their education. Although my children are grown now, I remember this time of year fondly: my wife Tammy and I helping our kids with their back-to-school shopping lists, making runs to the store for backpacks and school clothes, and getting ready for a new academic year. This ritual of getting ready can measure the passage of time – one minute, your children need crayons and construction paper, and the next, they need advanced calculators and college-ruled notebooks. This year, our daughter Stephanie graduated with her Master’s Degree, on her way to a career teaching English. She’s also headed back to school – but this time as a teacher instead of a pupil!

Although school days were long ago for many of us, this season of back-to-school preparation is a good reminder that none of us ever outgrow the need to learn. As Christians, we are invited to keep maturing in our faith, no matter how long we’ve been a member of God’s family. In 1 Corinthians, Paul is stern with the church at Corinth for remaining “mere infants in Christ.” He gave them “milk, not solid food” because they “were not yet ready for it” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2). God calls believers to grow and mature in their faith, to move on from being spoon-fed to getting into the meat of Scripture. In our busy lives, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we have put together a library of resources to support believers as they continue to grow and learn throughout their walk with God.

GCI’s website has a wide range of resources available to anyone, all of which are free. There are thousands of articles on a variety of theological topics. Whether you want to learn more about the Bible or a concept like discipleship, there will be material for you. Even if you’re just interested in browsing, you are bound to find something spiritually enriching. For me personally, one of the best resources on Grace Communion International’s site is the video series You’re Included (available at gci.org/yi). Each video is an open and thoughtful discussion about the day-to-day implications of our theological beliefs. They offer great educational resources for our members and our pastors, and are frequently viewed by seminary students and professors as well.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite episode, since we’ve produced over 130 and each has something different to offer. But if you’re interested in deepening your faith by watching these engaging, digestible conversations, a good place to start would be with these five:

  • First, the video called “Seeing God’s Presence in the Everyday.” It’s a conversation with the theologian Dr. Elmer Colyer about the practical theology of Thomas Torrance, helping us understanding the holistic impact of our Trinitarian theology on our lives.
  • Second, the conversation with Cathy Deddo, author and speaker from the Trinity Study Center, called “Theology in the Everyday.” It examines the way our beliefs about God impact our daily relationships.
  • Third, theologian and author Dr. Ray Anderson speaks in the episode “God and the Prodigal” about adoption into God’s family.
  • Fourth, the video “How Should We Read the Bible?” discusses common mistakes in the way people read the Bible. New Testament scholar Dr. Gordon Fee gives us some guidance.
  • Fifth, Dr. Jeremy Begbie takes us on a “Journey in Music & Theology,” discussing the long-standing relationship between the two.

These five are just a sampling to get you started. You can watch, listen, or read the transcript of any episode of You’re Included by visiting our website. They’re a great way to deepen your understanding of a topic of our faith that you want to learn more about.

If you’re itching to get back into an academic environment, in addition to developing your faith as a layperson, I’m also grateful that GCI provides our own more formal theological training through our seminary, Grace Communion Seminary. It focuses on education for church leadership and for pastors, but is open to interested laypersons as well. It has the same commitment to Trinitarian theology that characterizes our denomination overall. You can learn more about the educational opportunities of Grace Communion Seminary by visiting gcs.edu.

Whether you’re just starting out on your spiritual journey, or have been keeping the faith for many years, there’s always room to grow in knowledge and love of God. Perhaps you’d be interested in a structured but manageable reading program? We’ve put together 40 Days of Discipleship to provide an overview of biblical and theological topics that are easy to follow and is designed to help you gain a deeper, well rounded understanding of your faith. You can find it by going to: https://www.gci.org/discipleship/40

Regardless of where you are in your journey of life-long learning, you can rest assured that when you give to GCI, you are supporting a denomination committed to the discipleship of believers. We don’t want to be known for a focus on conversion and then stagnation – instead, we want to support the faithful throughout their walk with God by providing many different types of resources for spiritual and intellectual growth. Thanks to generous donors like you, we can continue to offer educational materials to all who want to grow in their walk with God.

Grateful to be a life-long learner in Christ,

Joseph Tkach
President – Grace Communion International

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