Pastor’s Column

From August 20, 2017

Hello! Denise and I are back from our vacation to Seattle. We had a great trip, a great time with our kids, and got a chance to get refreshed and recharged—which is something all of us need to do on at least an annual basis! And it’s already time to think about Fall and the new school year and upcoming events.

You probably noticed that I already have two message series planned starting next Sunday. We will examine Habakkuk for 3 Sundays. And then we are going to take a very thorough look at the book of James. In fact, that series will take us all the way into December! Additionally, be looking out for discipleship opportunities that are going to be offered this fall.

I am excited about the new season that is coming. I hope that you will make yourself available for the discipleship and ministry opportunities we will be offering.

Let’s continue seeking God’s will to work with Him to reach others.

From July 30, 2017

This past Wednesday was our Quarterly Business Meeting. I was impressed by some of our reports. For instance, Sherry Jewell reported that the Women’s Ministry had done a SKS exercise to evaluate what WM needed to Stop, Keep, and Start in terms of ministries. They have some new ideas of ministry they’ll be trying this year! Pam reported that the Stewardship Team would be developing a budget around ministry priorities. Exciting stuff!

So here’s one more exciting piece of information: our last quarter (April-May-June) our giving exceeded our Adjusted Monthly Need all three months. In fact, our monthly average was $8,041.91. PTL! God has been good (as always). And you all have been faithful givers!

So let God be praised! And let us continue seeking His will and looking to work with Him to reach others. Amen? So be it!

From July 23, 2017

Last DD&P we discussed an article entitled “Serving a God Who Is Not in a Rush.” The author pointed out several examples in the Bible where God took His time—the time between Adam and Abraham, the years before Jesus came, just to name a couple of examples. The author’s point was how God’s lack of rush conflicts with so many Christians desire to build churches, grow churches.

So here’s something interesting from church history. It seems the early church blossomed numerically because of one particular virtue—patience! Pagans of the 1st -3rd centuries were moved to salvation because of the non-anxious lifestyle of Christians; even Christian businessmen of the time! Today, there’s a lot of impatience. And even Christians exhibit a lot of impatience.

But imagine the changes that could occur if we pursued this virtue more than any other in order to attract others to our Savior.

From July 16, 2017

We are living in a post-Christian culture in America. In a Christian culture, the majority of people have been shaped by Christianity, and it shows in how they live their lives. But post-Christianity is a culture that was once shaped by the Christian faith and worldview, but has since moved away from the primacy of such a worldview.

Recently the top 100 post-Christian cities in the US were listed. Of the top 10 cities, eight are located in New England and the Northeast—regions considered the foundation and home-base of religion in America (shock!). Three different metropolitan communities in Michigan were in the top 100. Detroit (24), Flint-Saginaw-Bay City (29), and Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek (60).

The fact that our area isn’t listed doesn’t mean we’re not in a post-Christian culture. We’re in it. And we have a lot to do to make the teachings of our Lord attractive to the lost.

From July 09, 2017

At last week’s DD&P, a comment was made that the articles we’re reading and discussing regarding small churches has been uplifting. I too have been encouraged by the articles and our discussions.

Last week’s article sounded very similar to statements made by Henry and Richard Blackaby. The author said our church is big enough to minister the healing grace of Jesus to its members. And [we] have enough members to take that grace to [our] community in an overflow of joy and hope.

That means, we don’t have to or shouldn’t beat ourselves up for being small at the moment. But we cannot nor should not forget that Jesus calls every church—leader and member—for a purpose. And he equips us with everything we need to accomplish that purpose.

So our next step is to stop worrying about what we can’t do because we’re small, and start asking what Jesus can do with us because we are small. Pray on!

From July 02, 2017

I recently wrote that becoming a great church involved doing the basics whole-heartedly and consistently for a long time. And that statement fits right along with our congregation’s membership expectations.

Next Sunday, July 9th, I will be hosting another firstconnect discovery class. This is our pre-membership class. It’s called a discovery class because participants discover the history of our church, the mission of our church, the expectations we have for our church members. We also talk about our local, state, and national affiliations. And we talk about our missions involvement and our different ministry opportunities at First Baptist. We offer the class to allow people to learn about us upfront before they decide whether or not to join FBC. There is no pressure after the class; it’s a personal decision.

So July 9th, we’ll meet at 4:30. The class runs about 60-90 minutes depending on questions and answers after the presentation.

From June 18, 2017

At last week’s DD&P we discussed four steps to becoming a great church—of any size! The four steps were based on the statement Do the basics whole-heartedly and consistently for a long time.” That statement fits along with our congregation’s membership expectations.

The basics are prayer, worship, discipleship, bible teaching, evangelism, ministry, and fellowship. But we need a little tweaking. We expect members to be in worship regularly. We expect everyone to be in a Sunday School class or small Bible study group. We expect everyone to attend a discipleship class twice a year. And we expect every member in a ministry—inside or outside of the church. So we need to tweak a whole-hearted, consistent planning and implementing discipleship process for the long haul. The crucial question is, will all of us commit to such expectations?

I believe doing the basics whole-heartedly and consistently for a long time will in fact build disciples. And if we build disciples, God will grow the church according to His will. Are you ready?

From June 11, 2017

Over half of my life has now been spent in pastoral ministry. One thing we were told as seminarians was never stop learning. I made that a life goal and 30 years later I find myself learning something I wish I had been told years ago.

What is the new thing I’ve learned this year? That being a small church isn’t a problem that needs to be solved. Many young pastors starting out were led to believe that God wanted all churches to grow in size. Growth in numbers was a sign of success. But I have come to realize that it isn’t about size. It is about discovering the ministry God wants our church to join Him in.

So currently our DD&P’s are examining this whole concept of being a small church but being strong, healthy, innovative, and even daring in ministry. Pick up a copy of each week’s article on Sunday or read it online. Then join us on Wednesdays at 6 PM for good food and discussion!

From June 4, 2017

We are beginning a new series today entitled, TEN Words to Live By. Our culture—our world—has become information saturated because of the internet. We want information that will help us get by, get through, get around different situations we find in life.

Our series is going to give us some very important principles that we as followers of Christ Jesus need to incorporate and live out in our lives. We are troubled by what we see going on in our world. These principles—which are age-old principles—can make a difference today, first in our lives, then in our homes, and even in our communities.

Speaking of communities, has God given you any indication as to how we can bless the communities we live in? Remember, that is a prayer request I want us to continue to bring before the Lord. Let’s want to be used by Him to reach others where we live.

From May 21, 2017

So we have been talking, discussing, writing, even praying about how God wants us to bless our communities. In addition, at DD & P we have been reminded by the Blackaby’s about noticing who God is adding to our congregation.

This past Wednesday the comment was made that we seem to be seeing senior adults coming to First Baptist recently. Is that a sign? It could very well be a sign. So we need to make it a point to ask God what He may have in store for us since we are seeing this particular age group showing up. Does it mean we stop work with other age groups? Not at all! We need to be a multi-generational congregation. So we need to continue to ask God to show us more precisely where He is leading us in this journey.

Keep praying. And remember—God can do anything in our church!

From May 14, 2017

How is your prayer assignment going? Remember I suggested we all pray daily, “Father, how can we bless our communities?” I hope as you continue praying that, that if God brings you an answer you will share it with me and the church ASAP!

At last Wednesday’s DD & P, we heard about the power of Christ in his church. In their book, Henry relates that he came to a time once when he asked, “Is the reason small churches experience so little of God’s power because God does not work powerfully through small churches? Or is it because small churches assume God won’t work powerfully through them?” It can be easy to fall into the trap that God can’t do anything through a small church because they are small. Let not go there because we know anything is possible with God! Anything!

Keep praying! Keep watching! Keep an eye on what God is doing in your life, church, and community!

From May 7, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, Henry Blackaby mentioned in a video that churches need to ask the question: “Father, how can we bless our community?” That statement stuck with me. I believe that is a crucial question we need to ask regularly—daily, in fact!

So here’s what I would like us to do. Currently, FBC-DeWitt represents several communities in the tri-county area. Really, we do! Along with DeWitt we represent Lansing, East Lansing, Bath, Grand Ledge, Delta Township, and St. Johns (if I missed anyone, forgive me and send me a gentle reminder). It is possible that God has a plan for FBC to bless those communities through our people who live there, because anything is possible with God! Anything!

So join me in praying for your community. Let’s ask the Father this question for the rest of the year ( “Father, how can we bless our communities?”) and see where He takes us. Pray on, church!

From 30, 2017

I’m really enjoying our DD&P’s on Wednesdays. We come at 6 for Dinner, some Discussion, and Prayer. There are no reservations required; just come to eat and fellowship and pray. Currently we are watching videos from a new Blackaby Ministries resource called “Flickering Lamps.” They are approximately 20 minutes long. We watch them during dinner. Then, we talk about what we heard. We’re having some great discussions.

In the book by the same title, the Blackaby’s offer these words to us: Don’t obsess over the small size of your congregation… Never forget: regardless of how small or weak your church may be, in the hands of Almighty God, anything is possible! Anything.” Those are words we need to take to heart. I will be sharing more highlights from the book in the weeks ahead. I hope you’ll join us for DD&P on Wednesdays to hear and see more as well!

Glorify Christ out there!

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