I had several church members ask me to post the state of the church online. Here are my notes for the state of the church.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
God has been good to Memorial Baptist Church. He has given us far more than we will ever realize or dream. He has given us our church body. He has given us this beautiful building but most importantly he has given us Himself. Together as a church we must begin today realizing that we exist because God is our helper from ages past. We exist tomorrow because we find our life and our hope in what He is going to do. Ultimately we find our identity in Him alone.
Today we are coming together to look at the state of the church. We are not doing this because of problems in the church. We are not meeting together because a problem has risen in the church. We are meeting together because we believe together that God has a great plan for the future of our church and each one of us wants to be a part of it.
In our address today I want to look at three key parts of our church. 1. The spirit that exsists in our church. 2. The organization of our church. 3. The Ministries of our church.
I. The Spirit of the church
A. Where are we right now?
Whether we realize it or not every church has a spirit about it. For some their spirit is a spirit of Joy, for others it is a spirit of bitterness. I have to tell you that God has moved very recently in our church giving us a spirit of unity and of joy.
This has not always been the case. In our recent past our church we have struggled with disunity. We have had disunity on our staff and we have had disunity in our body. A friend described our past climate like the Wild West. They said that everyone was out for what they could get themselves and their own program.
I love the new spirit that has captured our church. In our halls I here people joking that “its not all about them.”
If you were to ask me what is the spirit that defines our church I would say that we are all learning to not be about ourselves but instead to be all about Jesus.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
B. Where we are headed.
It is easy to claim that we have arrived as God has begun to turn our church around. It would be easy to grow content with this new lease on life since this time we have together is so sweet.
The simple truth is we are not far from falling back into old patterns of behavior. With careless disregard we can fall back into a state of disunity and self seeking.
Will you take a moment to dream with me. Imagine a day when people will look at our church and see a body so in love with Jesus that we would be unified in one mind and in one calling. Imagine one day of a body where we are so passionate about the calling God has put on our hearts that we would not have time for gossip or complaints. Imagine a church filled with babies to seniors unified in the work of God’s great call for us.
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
C. How to get there.
The unity we desire is not a unity that is going to come by chance. It is not a unity that will happen without work. It is my dream that this church would be a place for all people from young to old, from rich to poor made of every nationality and group that lives in Pasadena. This will not happen by chance. It is my belief that we must get every group of this church to sit together and find our common ground.
I believe for us to have a unity that is defined by our calling in God it will only happen if every one of us comes together in unity putting each other first for the advancement of God’s work and His kingdom. Here is my request today… will join me in unity, gladly saying it’s not about me, it’s not about my programs, it’s not about my agenda. Will you gladly come and say it’s all about Jesus and I submit to him.
II. The Organizations of the church
The church is a body of people. The church is not a building or a an organization. It is a body. All of that said for us as a body to function and work properly we must be organized in our efforts. If every person did whatever they wanted we would have madness and would accomplish little.
A. Where we are.
In the past few years the organizational end of our church had eroded to the point where we had few working committees, little to no teams and generally no organization within our body. I am greatly appreciative for the work of Denny Autry and his help beginning the process of getting our church functional again.
If I could use any word to describe what my goal has been in the first few months organizationally it would be health. It has been my heart to get our exisiting committees and teams to a place of health.
Every week our staff meets and plans for the next steps of church. Our organizational committees are serving regularly and in healthy ways.
My philosophy in all business here at our church is that nothing happens in an underhanded way. All business is done openly and in the right way. I am committed as I serve our church to lead us in an upstanding fashion.
B. Where we are headed.
I am glad for the many people who serve week in and week out in our church. I was impressed recently at a children’s safety meeting to see 50+ volunteers. We have people serving all over in our church. We have men and women who invest in our senior ministries, have a committed team for our youth and a great number of people serving in our children’s ministries.
What we are lacking is the organization to bring all of these ministries together to serve a common end in our church. I believe our next step is to look at how we can best organize our ministries so that we might properly follow the great vision that God will give us.
In this I wonder if we have a greater purpose for every ministry or if we are running our ministries without clear direction.
Can you answer a question for me today? If I asked you how your ministry supported the purpose of the church, could you answer it?
I think it is time that we brought all our ministries under the same umbrella and sought in unity how might support God’s great purpose in our church.
C. How to get there.
How do we bring all of our ministries together? I believe there are core values that we share as a church. Core values are simply the fundamental truths that define us as a church. Examples of these values are prayer, fellowship, evangelism and missions. I believe we must take the time to discover and define what our core values as a church are.
As the pastor I cannot do this by myself. The core values of our church existed long before I got here and have held our church together throughout its history. As I have mentioned the need to get every group in this church to sit down and meet, I think it is in this multigenerational meeting that we sit and discover what the bedrocks of our church are.
Its my hope that in our coming business meeting our church will task our nominating committee to put together this group to discover what our bed rock values are.
We can’t figure out how each ministry serves the whole of the church until we figure out who the church is.
III. The Ministries of the church.
There are a few things the church does not exist to do. We do not exist to raise money for a budget. We do not exist to count numbers of members in pews. We exist to fulfill God’s great command to his church, the great commission. How do we do this? We accomplish this though our church’s ministries.
A. Where we are.
Our church has many wonderful ministries from our LLL folks to our childrens workers, from our Saturday morning prayer team to our youth team. Across our church we have many wonderful ministries serving our God.
There are a few ministries that are needed in our church. It would be beneficial that we would have an organized ministry to watch over our body. We need to have a team to dream and implement evangelism in our community. We need a team of folks who help our church engage beyond our community to partner in missions with those serving on the field.
That said, until we as a church are serving together, any new ministry would be in vain.
B. Where we are headed.
I would love when our multigenerational team comes together that they would go beyond just discovering what we share in common. I would love for them to come with a recommendation for our church on how we can best serve both now and in the future in fulfilling our mission ( the great commission).
It is my hope that we would support this group, pray for this group and that many of you would consider serving on this group.
I am a firm believer that we are lost without a road map and it is my heart that our road map would not just be one that I create, but instead one that we create together.