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  • Nov10Fri

    What thoughts come to your mind when you hear the words, "Church Business Meeting"?

    A personal word of encouragement from pastor Andrew Manwarren November 10, 2017
    Filed Under:
    strategic planning

    Dear Church Family,

    Lots of pastors’ (and church members!) dread member’s meetings. And who can blame them! I recently read an article titled, “Ten Really Strange Things That Happened At Church Business Meetings.” And they are strange. Some of the things included: a dead body in a dumpster, a two-hour meeting about donuts, lawnmower blades, and a vote to close the doors of a church but because of lack of interest the meeting failed – no quorum (seriously!).  And if you want even more horror stories just google the article and read the comments. Yikes!

    Reading the list impacted me in a few different ways. First, it made me laugh. Second, it also made me want to cry. How, oh, how does God put up with us? But third, it made me thankful for our member’s meetings here at FBC. Our meetings are almost always filled with joy, prayer, gentleness, and unity. This past Sunday was no exception. Our new strategic plan for 2018-20 proposes some rather significant changes such as eliminating Sunday school, changing our morning worship service time, and implementing a new church government model of elder-led, congregational rule. Wow! Talk about potential for contention, right? And yet the plan passed, and our meeting was full of joy and laughter and love and prayer. God is good!

    Allow me to take a moment and highlight two core-principles of this plan that if not understood and put into action will make this plan fall on its face.  

    1. Less is More: It seems some people are confused by this statement so let me clarify. It does not mean we think we are too busy for Jesus or are doing too much for Jesus. Nor does it mean we want to do less for Jesus. What it means is that the overcommitted church is the ineffective church. Many churches are too busy for their own good. If we try to do everything, we will accomplish nothing. If we say yes to too many things, if we try to run too many programs, even if we have good intentions, we will quickly be overwhelmed, frustrated, and tragically, dilute the impact. We are a small church. We have limited time, energy, resources and people. Reality is that we can only do a few things really well. This is not bad! It just means we have to prioritize. And what is more, by narrowing the focus, by offering less, by seeking to do only a few things really well, we are actually doing more! We are actually set up to be much more effective for Jesus than otherwise.
    2. Life on Mission: This is the essential reason, the heartbeat, behind “less is more.” We are not reducing the number of programs/ministries we offer so we can do less for Jesus. We are not doing it so we can have more free time to do what we really want to do. God forbid! Coasting is compromise! We are doing it so we can complement your life, not compete with it. We are doing it so we can empower and equip you to live on mission for God in what you are already doing. Consider the irony. Many activities in churches are started with good intentions to make a difference in the congregation and community. But what so often happens is that the members become so busy doing church things they don’t have time to connect with people in a meaningful way. Some churches offer so many different programs that families don’t have time to be families and Christians don’t have time to engage their neighbors with the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is tragic and wrong! I believe the church at its best is when it is equipping and empowering people to live out the faith in the world (Ephesians 4:11ff). If Christians are at church all the time, they can’t be in the community making disciples. Christian’s shouldn’t live out their lives within the four walls of the church. There are only so many hours in the week. So this is the point: we don’t want to compete with your busy life. We want to complement it by offering less church activities/programs and more training and equipping so you can effectively live for Jesus in what you are already doing. The great commission is not “If you build it, they will come.” The role of a believer is not to continually attend programs at a church. It is for us to go and make disciples, so we want to as a church empower and equip you to go effectively! As Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is a missionary or an imposter.” In God’s providence, He has placed believers in their professions, their neighborhoods, and in their school districts. And it is not so they could drive through those areas on the way to church five nights a week.

    I feel like a broken record because I have been saying all of this so much lately but hopefully that clarifies a few things for you. It also leads me to how we plan on doing this. Remember that our mission statement as a church body is “We exist to lead all people into a transformed relationship with Jesus Christ.” That is our driving focus and ambition as a church. But how do we do that? Here is the transformational process of FBC:

    1. Believe: Transformation begins by turning from your sin and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. It continues as you train yourself for godliness through personal Bible reading, prayer and obedience.
    2. Worship: Corporate worship fuels transformation. Through engaging worship people are thrust into an environment where a growing and intimate relationship with God is the primary concern and where they are refueled and strengthened to be effective disciples wherever they might scatter to. Church is about going out, not just gathering in. Yes, we want church to be packed on Sunday but then we want it to empty out, empowered and transformed to make Christ-like impact on the community.
    3. Grow: We believe fellowship as called for in the New Testament is more than eating food together and does not happen as we see the backs of each other’s heads in the pews. As a result, we seek to accomplish Biblical fellowship through our growth groups. The Bible teaches that transformation happens in tight-knit community as Christians gather to learn and live the Scriptures with an emphasis on application and relationships.
    4. Multiply: Multiplication is the result of transformation. We love God and want to serve others in the church and in our community with his love. We want everyone to know and be impacted by his love.  We want to love God, love people, all the time. As we lovingly serve God and others in this way, God gives the increase.

    To summarize: we expect every member of First Baptist church to make their personal relationship with a God a priority through practicing the spiritual disciplines, to commit to worship on Sunday morning where you will be strengthened in the Lord, to be actively involved in a growth group where you will be challenged to learn and live the gospel on a deeper level, and to serve God and others actively throughout the week so they can know God’s love also. This is the transformational process at FBC – personal pursuit of God, gathered worship of God, tight-knit community, and loving service of God and others.

    Lastly, I just want to encourage you whether you love the changes, hate the changes, or are somewhere in between to be humble, gentle, patient, and loving toward one another that we might “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3) so that with one heart and one mouth we may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.

    With Much Love and A Co-Laborer in God’s Field,

    Pastor Andrew Manwarren



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