The teaching at St James in the City will stretch you intellectually and challenge you into action practically.
We believe that God has called us to love Him equally with mind and heart, therefore we believe it is important for the teaching and preaching to be both academically rigorous and emotionally moving.
Actually, we believe that loving God with all of our minds means engaging with Scripture on a Sunday with the same effort, thought and level of depth that we apply to our daily work on a Monday to Friday. Why would we require our growing number of undergrads, postgrads and post-docs to switch off their minds when they walk into church?
St James said that "the one who looks intently into the perfect law... will be blessed." (Jm. 1:25). We want to look intently into the Scripture. Did you know that the word St James uses here for "look intently" is the Greek word "parakypto". It means an intensely penetrating and absorbing stare. And the only other place "parakypto" is used in the New Testament is in John 20:5 when John and Peter arrive at the tomb of Jesus. Just imagine John and Peter stooping down on that Easter morning… and peering into the dark open tomb looking intently and deeply and desperately for any signs of Jesus... searching for signs of the risen Christ. That's how we want to look into the Scriptures when we Preach at St James' -
we want to "parakypto" - intensely and deeply look into our Bibles until we encounter the Risen Christ.
That being said, sermons are always seasoned with plenty of good humour.
We also believe that although reason and intellect are important, they are ultimately subjective and so must always be brought in line with the objectively absolute authority of Scripture. So often people can place themselves 10 foot above Scripture, look down on it and flick through the pages saying "I like that bit... but i don't like that bit... and I believe that bit... but I don't believe that bit." We believe that things should be the other way round.
We should place ourselves under the authority of Scripture and allow God's word to flick through the pages of our lives saying: "I like that bit... I don't like that bit... etc." You get picture!
At StJ's we don't follow the lectionary set readings, but base our sermons on relevant subjects and topics in 4-5 week blocks. These are often based on our 5 values: Love, Live, Grow, Serve, Build.
We draw a sharp distinction between "teaching" and "preaching". Teaching in the church is the impartation of knowledge drawn from scripture which is used to increase our understanding about God, the world and ourselves. This gift is useful and very important in the church. Preaching, however, goes beyond merely imparting knowledge. It is the proclamation of the death and resurrection of Jesus and the abundant and joyful life that He brings to us. Preaching is revelatory (i.e. God reveals the mystery of Himself to us), and emotive (God opens up our heart to be healed and renewed). At St James' we agree with St Paul in 1 Cor. 9:16 "Woe to me if i do not preach the gospel." In the Ancient Middle East, a herald on horse back with a message from the King would ride to the city gates at break-neck speed and shout "Euangellion - Good News! The King has a message for you!" That kind of Good News isn't "did you know - there are 3 different words in the Greek New Testament for love!" (interesting but hardly life changing.) And its not "guess what - if you try really hard to be really good, than God will save you!" (the message the gospel is so often corrupted into).
The kind of Good News we're talking about here is: "Guess what! Jesus has died for you!! In your place!!! So that you can truly live!!!! Your life will never be the same again."
We hope that as you come to St James' and sit under this kind of teaching and preaching, that you will grow in your love and knowledge of God.