The following is an excerpt from Chapter One, “Theological Perspectives on Suffering,” from an unpublished doctoral dissertation entitled Using a Study on Suffering to Develop Spiritual Growth, by Peter Fitch. It was prepared in partial fulfillment of the D.Min. degree for the School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, in 1998. The study on suffering mentioned in the title is a devotional workbook called “Learning to Suffer Well” which blends Evangelical and Charismatic approaches to problems related to suffering, and which integrates significant classical quotations from fathers and mothers of church history in an attempt to familiarize modern Christians with some of the depth of their heritage. It was also prepared by Peter Fitch in partial fulfillment of this program.
The Practical Problem
Up to this point…read more: Principles Related to a Strategy for Ministry (Peter Fitch)
The rain may never fall till after sundown,
by eight the morning fog must disappear;
in short, there’s simply not a more congenial spot for happ’ly ever-aftering than here in Camelot . . . .
(Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe from the 1960 Broadway Musical)
For the past twenty years I’ve been living in an intentional but loosely-formed Christian community that has grown-up in and around a Christian university in a small town in southern New Brunswick. I am grateful for the privilege of Christian fellowship, and yet I’ve experienced some of the pain of it as well. As I look back over my experience I see a mixture of rich moments and broken dreams. I’ve decided, therefore, to emphasize in this article the dangers of…read more: Reflections on Christian Community (Peter Fitch, written about 1999)
I once spent a weekend as a participant at a meeting for twenty or thirty pastors from mainline churches, most of whom held a theologically Liberal perspective. One of the great complaints that came from these good men and women was their sense that they were overworked and underpaid. They had endured long years of preparation in university and graduate school, and now they found themselves at the beck and call of everyone in their congregations. They felt harried, and frustrated that they weren’t spending enough time with their families, and to make it worse they were paid less than any other professional group they could think of. Gradually a consensus began to emerge. Most of them felt that 50 hours of work per…read more: Spiritual Replenishment (Peter Fitch)
When we started our church outside of St. Stephen, New Brunswick in 1992 we didn’t think that we would ever want to have a building of our own. But we did hope that we’d be able to find a good place to rent somewhere in the town itself. We fasted and prayed about it, and four short (it seemed anything but short!) years later a new principal allowed us to use the elementary school gym. It was perfect except for the acoustics, and the fact that we could only have it once a week. Later, in response to a worship leader’s dream, we took a risk on an older building that was being modernized downtown, and we were able to set-up offices and a…read more: The Gift of a Building (Peter Fitch, written in 2000)
Last fall I had an opportunity to spend some time at the Cambridge Vineyard’s new home, a Slovakian Jesuit monastery that lies hidden behind a park in the heart of the city. The grounds are beautiful and when I was there the buildings were in the process of being hastened back to life by an army of volunteers. I spent a quiet hour or two on the property one day and found myself reflecting about the irony of a new-styled church in an older-styled home. It fit so well with the cry for an “ancient-future” church that Robert Webber, Thomas Oden, and others have been raising in their books and articles.
It also fit with something very dear to my own heart. Over the past…read more: Toward a New Monasticism (Peter Fitch)