Monday, May 18, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Leading a church is challenging! The task of guiding a volunteer-intensive organization is daunting. Success almost seems to be a moving target in ministry... What is the measure? Nickles and noses? Buildings, bodies, and budgets? Should we focus on numeric growth, or depth, or the scope of our reach as a standard metric? Is it better just because it is bigger...or busier? Should or emphasis be on reaching those "outside" the church or do we concentrate on building up those already "on board"?
All of these thoughts swirled around our leadership team as we sat down to pray through how to best move forward. How do you mobilize a 170-year-old church to be on Mission? Well, there is no hard and fast formula, but here's what God impressed upon us to do.
1) First, we revisited the mission of the church! The short answer... Love God, Love People!
We studied the New Testament and determined that the church's emphasis should be upon worshiping God, making disciples, and becoming a redemptive community! The early church enjoyed worship, fellowship, prayer, and the Word as vital dynamics. Out of their relationship with God and with one another, they became a force in their world!
In fact, the New Testament has a lot more to say about the kind of community the church ought to be before the world than it has to say about its mission to the world. However, Jesus made it abundantly plain that the reason he wanted his people to develop true community was "so that the world may believe" (John 17:21).
This is his ultimate goal. There is no doubt that it is when the church most clearly lives out the gospel in the relationship of its members, it becomes the most powerful force for attracting non-members. It was so in the early church in Jerusalem.
Take, for example, the following passages in Acts:
" They all joined together constantly in prayer..." (1:14).
" ...they were all together in one place" (2:1).
" Every day they continued to meet together...They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people" (2:46, 47).
" ...they raised their voices together in prayer to God" (4:24).
"All the believers were one in heart and mind" (4:32).
" And all the believers used to meet together..." (5:12).
It is no wonder that "the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47).
2) We looked to see where life change was happening. Every year for the past several years, a limited number of people were engaged in short-term missions overseas. In particular, a medical mission team to Honduras had become a major emphasis for our missions efforts. This team came back telling stories of salvation and ministry. They were so excited, yet no one around them had context to absorb these stories, so excitement slowly waned.
3) We challenged EVERYONE in the church to get involved in local missions. We knew that the more people were engaged in serving, the more they would experience the same things our First Baptist Church Olive Branch began embracing Acts 1:8 with a 3 year ramp up! Here's what that looks liked:
HERE -2009, FBCOB will emphasis 100% local missions participation by the membership. Doctors reaching doctors, coaches reaching coaches, teachers, housewives, students all reaching their peers. We don't ignore National and International missions...but we emphasize opportunities here! Resources (people & dollars) are allocated right HERE in Olive Branch and DeSoto County.
THERE - 2010, FBCOB will emphasize 100% missions participation with 50% of our congregation serving somewhere outside our local area. Through strategic ministry partnerships with church planters in North America, we will reach out, beyond our own "Jerusalem".
EVERYWHERE - 2011, FBCOB will emphasize 100% missions participation with 25% of our congregation serving overseas! WOW, What A Goal!!! That's roughly 400 people serving internationally in 2011!