Faith Lessons by Ray Vander Laan: Seminar at the North Shelby Baptist Church

I’ve just gotten back from a seminar taught by Ray Vander Laan in south Birmingham, Alabama, at the North Shelby Baptist Church. The seminar began at 6:00 on Friday night and ended about 5:00 today — and it was fabulous! RVL is a remarkably gifted teacher. I have 7,000 words worth of notes, and will shortly post some of the material from the seminar.

The North Shelby Baptist Church offered excellent hospitality and a great facility.

Let’s see …

I live about an hour west of the church where RVL spoke and the Friday night drive took 2 1/2 hours. Part of the 3-lane interstate had been narrowed to 2 lanes for some reason, people had to gawk, folks were leaving town for a long Thanksgiving break, and I59/20 turned into a parking lot.

Anyway, the driving and seminar kept me away from the blog for longer than in a very long time. I have a LOT of comments to read. Maybe I’ll get caught up tomorrow.

The seminar was extraordinary. There were people there from as far away as Tennessee. If you ever get the chance to see RVL livemake the time. He’s truly a great teacher. (Not a preacher. Not a professor. A teacher in the New Testament sense of the word.)

His video series has 7 volumes available. My church is about to finish the complete set in all the adult classes — and they’ve been excellent lessons and very popular (I had an older woman — much taller and bigger than me — threaten me with physical harm if we didn’t teach them all. I said, “Yes, ma’am.”). I’m delighted to know that RVL has just finished filming a couple more that will soon be available. We’ll certainly cover them in class whenever they come out.

Now, RVL teaches Bible, not denominational theology. He stays close to the text and provides rich and unexpected insights into the word of God — over and over. Do your congregations a favor and cover this material.

Sadly, I was speaking to a member of another Church of Christ in town, recommending this material. He asked whether RVL is a member of the Church (he said it with a capital “C”). I said no. He said there’s no way his elders would let that material be covered. It’s sad.

Meanwhile, earlier today a woman sought me out at the seminar, said she’s learned about the seminar from this blog, and wanted to encourage me to keep on blogging. She is anxious to see the Churches shed their legalism. Amen.

The seminar was held in a Baptist Church, sponsored by a Methodist Church (which had the seminar held at the Baptist Church because it has a bigger sanctuary), and about 20% of the audience was from the Churches of Christ — either my congregation or people invited by members of my congregation. RVL is part of the Reformed Church.

Welcome to the post-denominational world. It’s a good place to be. In fact, it’s what the Restoration Movement has been striving for since its beginning. Alexander Campbell would have been delighted by the seminar — both the content and the people there. It’s a shame so many of his spiritual heirs have so missed the point.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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11 Responses to Faith Lessons by Ray Vander Laan: Seminar at the North Shelby Baptist Church

  1. "He asked whether RVL is a member of the Church…"

    Reading that, I slump and sigh. As if attending a Church of Christ makes someone okay or right. I understand the comfort that comes when a speaker is "one of us" and has a background similar to mine. Familiarity brings comfort in many ways.

    Do I agree with how he is handling the Bible? Is he showing me something from the Bible that people I have known for years have never shown me? Does he make sense? Is what he says consistent?

    Those questions are more difficult to answer and take more effort to answer than "is he a member of the Church?"

    And please note that all my questions contain the word "he" as if it is impossible for a woman to study the Bible and have anything of substance to say or write.

  2. Tim Archer says:

    I'm not jealous of the drive, but I would have LOVED to have been at the seminar.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  3. Vicki says:

    I'm delighted to hear that you and your church are being blessed by Baptist and Methodist traditions. (I'm not disheartened at the stiff neck attitudes around you – I expect no less!).
    I'd love to get the CoC congregations in Scotland working outside their own denomination, but alas, I'll keep praying and pointing them to your website :o)
    Thanks for oneinjesus, Jay.

  4. Alan Smith says:

    I didn't realize RVL was doing live seminars. I'm working my way through our sixth RVL video series here at church (covered the first of the Dust of the Rabbi series last night and folks raved about what they learned). I'm anxious to hear from you what he covers in the live seminars and find out what his schedule around the country is. Thanks for sharing this material.

  5. kent says:

    I have shown the RVL material in both churches I have preached in and both have generated the most positive feedback of anything I have done. The church I preached at in Louisville, KY was a pretty conservative church and they loved it. In fact, our most conservative member consistently came up to me to comment about how RVL brought out points that he had never thought of. It's really great material. I hope he comes down to the DFW Metroplex some time because I would love to see him. I wonder what it costs to have him in for a weekend?

  6. Harold Reeves says:

    When I use your link I get a virus warning. Will you give us a web site to purchase video-dvd? IN HIM

  7. Jay Guin says:


    Great to hear from you. I have more readers in the UK than any country other than the US, and I always figure the big red dot on the ClustrMap (lower left corner of the home page) over Scotland is thanks to you.

  8. Jay Guin says:

    Alan S,

    There's a link in the main post to his seminar schedule. The seminar I attended covered some material from his not-yet-published video series as well as some material from the CD set posted at /2008/10/05/ray-vander-laan… and some things in the video series and, I'm sure, some stuff not otherwise available. Great stuff — especially in person.

  9. Jay Guin says:


    I'm wondering the same thing and trying to find out.

  10. Jay Guin says:

    Harold Reeves,

    There's no virus. But the link is to Maybe that'll get past your antivirus software.

  11. nick gill says:

    It looks like several of the Faith Lessons DVDs are also available via Netflix — which means that they MIGHT be available instantly if your BluRay or DVR is connected to the internet. Either way, they're available within a day or two by mail! very cool — i'm going to order a couple right now.

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