Pastor’s Column

AUGUST 26, 2018

Two weeks ago we learned that church revitalization (which is really revitalization of the human members)  begins in two phases, according to Romans 12:1-2.

First, we have to offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices. That needs to be a daily exercise we carry out just like physical exercise that we may do daily. And second, we need to transform our lives by the renewal of our minds by spending time with God in His word and in conversation with Him (prayer).

What we need to keep in mind is that Paul instructs us in this way in view of the mercies of God (12:1). So we need to go back and look at the mercies of God in the first 11 chapters of Romans—for instance, God’s love, His grace, His righteousness, and the gift of faith. How about victory over sin and death plus salvation apart from the Law? The Gospel!

God has done wonderful things for you. Are you giving Him your body and mind for revitalization?

AUGUST 19, 2018

This week I continued to ponder the headline from last week’s quote in this column: FaithSoaring Churches Connect with People Rather Than Attract People.”

We often share the responses of people that we have tried to invite to church. We often say that the people   we ‘know’ are already church people. So as I pondered this connection piece I couldn’t help but think that we need to move ourselves outside our ‘boxes’ into regions where we meet new people.

Remember the parable of the great banquet in Luke 14. This guy decided to put on a great banquet, but all his invited guests gave excuses for not coming (and these were people he knew). So he sends his servants out with instructions: Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.

Point? No matter who we are, it may be time to consider the anyones we encounter and connect with them.

AUGUST 12, 2018

A friend and colleague I follow (also the author of Captured by Vision) posted the following on one of his Facebook pages:

Congregations seeking to transform connect with people in the community context because their concern is engaging people in a Christ-centered, faith-based journey. Congregations seeking to grow their attendance to make the church successful keep trying to attract people to attend the church.

Connecting is primarily concerned about people. Attracting is primarily concerned about the congregation.

Connecting with people is the much-preferred method of transformation, yet it is a difficult pathway…Attracting seems easier than it really is.

We’ve had similar conversation in different settings over the years. So consider this, in the most recent attractional events we’ve done how many new people have returned for worship, etc.?

Let’s go out and connect with people!

AUGUST 5, 2018

What energizes your pastor? Increased attendance in Sunday worship? Slightly. On target offerings that match the weekly need? Again, slightly.

What really energizes your pastor is when people sign up to go through Experiencing God! Really! I get totally energized when another group goes through Experiencing God because it means another group of believers are getting ready to move from being merely religious people to being disciples with a vibrant, real, and growing relationship with God. That is what it’s all about in disciple making. So I’m energized about this new group that is starting TODAY!

Do you know what would increase my level of being energized? If  some of you who have been through it awhile back would take it again as a refresher  AND if some you who started but didn’t finish it would retake it again as well.

Let’s do this and see where God leads! Join the group! Talk to me!

JULY 29, 2018

Last week was our Vision Potluck. I was able to share some main points from the book Captured by Vision and lay out a possible course for our future.

I also emphasized Experiencing God. The result of that is the start of another group on August 5 at 4:00 PM. In addition to those who are going through it for the first time, I want to encourage those who may have started it once and didn’t finish to join us  And those who want to refresh their understanding of EG are encouraged to join us.

Do I think Experiencing God  is the magic bullet that will bring revitalization to our church? Possibly! I believe the teaching in EG can move a person from being merely religious to having a vibrant, real, and growing relationship with God. And that will help our church.

I’d like to see what God would do in us and through us if most of us have gone through EG and then go through Your Church Experiencing God Together. Are you curious enough? Our future’s in the balance.

JULY 22, 2018

Today is our Vision Potluck immediately following worship. I hope you can stay for food, fellowship, and information sharing.

One of our current concerns is how we begin being revitalized as a church. Last week you read that I will take as many groups, large or small, at a time and day that works for them in order to lead more of us through Experiencing God. If you started EG once but didn’t finish, I encourage you to join a group again. Then I want to take all the EG alums through Your Church Experiencing God Together!

To make good on that statement, I have enclosed an insert today for you to let me know if you want to go through Experiencing God, what days are best for you, and what times are best for you.

These are serious times for our church. We all need to be on the same page. Fill out a card, fold it, and place it in an offering plate. I want to help you in your walk with God! Let’s do this!

JULY 15, 2018

The last few weeks I have been sharing about the Enduring Visionary Leadership Community (EVLC). Next Sunday is our Vision Potluck in which I will try and unpack a lot more about the EVLC and the process we are attempting in order to find God’s empowering vision for First Baptist.

At last week’s DD&P, one member said they have been awakened a few times sensing God is saying, “It’s time we stopped talking about revitalization and start getting revitalized personally!” I believe that’s right. We all know talk is cheap. So, what needs to happen next is we need to be revitalized by way of discipleship. The Blackaby’s say God is more concerned about what we are becoming in Christ than in what we are doing or tying to do for Him.

That is why you hear me say I will take as many groups, large or small, at a time  and day that works for them in order to lead more of us through Experiencing God. And then I’d like to take all the EG alums through Your Church Experiencing God Together!

Are you willing to give God 13 weeks to be moved from merely being religious to having a vibrant, real, and growing relationship with Him? Let me know! I am praying for you!

JULY 8, 2018

You have seen the term Enduring Visionary Leadership Community (EVLC) mentioned over the last couple of weeks in this column. So let’s talk a little about their purpose within a congregation.

One of the things learned in Captured by Vision is that a pastor is not the source of congregational vision. Remember God is the sole source of congregational vision. The pastor is one key, in fact the first key, of the visionary leadership in a congregation. A second key is a set of visionary lay leaders within a congregation. They may even be visionary lay members. The main thing is Jesus’ lordship in their life and headship in their church. They need to have a passion to seek God vision.

So here is what George Bullard says in another publication: “If the the EVLC becomes organized around God’s emerging future for your congregation, your congregation will likely travel effectively in that direction. It does not take a majority of your active congregation. It only requires the right 21. ..the emphasis should be on the positive side of inviting the right people to be captivated by an exhilarating journey…that is headed in the right direction of the full Kingdom potential of your congregation.”

Are you feeling captivated by the idea of an exhilarating journey toward our church’s full Kingdom potential. Let me know! I’m praying for you!

JULY 1, 2018

Last week the Experiencing God group read this quote by Henry Blackaby: “Every member of the church must submit to Christ’s lordship over their life and to Christ’s headship over the church.” That goes right along with who we need in the Enduring Visionary Leadership Community.

We are praying for people whose lives are submitted to the lordship of Christ and  to Christ’s headship over our church. We are praying for people who are already praying passionately to know God’s purpose for their lives as well as God’s purpose for our church!

If the idea of being a part of the EVLC sounds intriquing and/or exciting but you’re just not sure, begin to pray using these statements from Experiencing GodAsk God whether anything in your life is causing you to lose your first love for Him? Do you love anything more than Him? If He reveals anything, confess it, and return to your first love.

  • Ask God whether you are absolutely surrendered to Christ’s lordship in your life.
  • Ask Him if you are allowing Jesus to function as the Head of our church.
  • Pray for your spouse, your family, and our church that God will be allowed to rule in every heart.

Keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking (Matt. 7:7)! He’ll answer!

JUNE 24, 2018

Last Wednesday we finished our discussion of Captured by Vision. But we haven’t finished the conversation in the least! Those who went through the book and our discussions believe we need to take the next step in the discovery of God’s empowering vision for First Baptist. So let me lay out what that entails.

We need to set up an Enduring Visionary Leadership Community (EVLC). For our church that means we need at least 10-11 people to join the 10-11 who have already read the book. The entire EVLC will need to be familiar with the book and begin a process for to experience God’s vision for our congregation. This means we’ll need one day of orientation for the EVLC.

According to the George Bullard , this is a one year experience—three seasons of 120 days each. The first season will be a spiritual season. The primary activity will be 100 Days of Discernment. And we’ll get started in September.

Here’s my request—ask the Lord whether He wants you in the Enduring Visionary Leadership Community. DD&P attendees are praying also and may come and ask you to pray about serving. We are asking God for people who are passionate about seeking God’s empowering vision that will care us into the future. At our Vision Potluck next month, I will explain this further. I will also be sharing more information about this in this column. Pray!

JUNE 17, 2018

“Perhaps one of the greatest challenges for Christianity in our day is for churches to walk with God so closely that the world comes to know Him through their witness.” That is one of the most challenging statements I find in Henry Blackaby’s  Experiencing God workbook. But it goes right along with what I have been writing recently in this column.

When an entire congregation is in-sync with God in their walk, what God is able to accomplish through them is what draws people to Him and ultimately into that congregation. Notice he doesn’t say it’s our witnessing that draws them. It is what they witness God doing through that church. Dr. Blackaby goes on to say, “When a church allows God’s presence and activity to be expressed, a watching world will be drawn to Him.”

Are we—together—allowing the presence and activity of God to be expressed in us and through us? Once again, some responsibility falls on us! How closely are we walking with God…together?

%d bloggers like this: