Hello again First Baptist Church family,
As we began our sermon series near the end of August, I asked you to consider a question with me: “Now What?” I won’t bore you with the reasons why this is even a question worth asking in the life of our church, but as we began to wade into the process of thinking through our vision package together, there were two sets of three questions that help us to begin to see what God might have us to see in His answer to “Now What?” The first series of three questions is “what do we do?”, “why do we do it?”, and “how do we do it?” These are answered respectively by our Mission, our Values, and our Strategy. The next series of questions is “where are we going?”, “where do we start?”, and “how will we know we are getting there?” These questions are answered by our Vision proper, an Annual Plan, and particular goals.
Most of you may be wondering how long this sermon series will last if we intend to answer all these questions sufficiently. I assure you, it will be over before Thanksgiving Day. Because of this, we will not thoroughly answer all of these questions. Some of you are rejoicing to read this, but it’s primarily because all of these things can’t be answered from the pulpit. Much of the nuts and bolts of Strategy, and Goal setting can’t be done behind the pulpit. These things will be done in committees, by ministry leaders, and many of these things will certainly require adjustments over time. The “30,000 foot” stuff, however, is my responsibility as your pastor. I intend to begin answering the question of “how we will do what we do”, but I know it will be an incomplete answer. I also want to begin to paint a picture of “where we are going”, because has clearly shown me some things, but as you look at a painting of a mountain scape, it’s obvious that there is a limited clarity at best when it comes to mountain slopes that are miles in the distance.
Our Annual Plan for 2022-23, as I mentioned last month, will help us to think through “where do we start?” Over the next 11 months, our “one big thing” will be first impressions. The system through which we best serve our guests needs to be strengthened in a major way. This will affect several different areas of ministry across our church. Working through and shoring up this vital area will strengthen our entire church family. Thankfully, these are good problems! The fact that God continues to bless us with visitors and new faces is something worth celebrating. We just need to do whatever it takes to serve them well.
We can talk about plans and goals, strategies and systems, but the most important question for us to make sure we understand a crystal clear answer to is “what do we do?” As I shared from the various versions of the Great Commission in October, “what do we do?” must be answered with “what has God commissioned us to do?” God’s Word makes clear that we have been commissioned to bear witness and make disciples. Knowing this, there is only one question left to ask: “are we doing it?” Is our church bearing witness and making disciples? Are we doing so as well as we could, or should? Are we as individuals doing our part to bear witness and make disciples? Are we being the followers of Jesus we claim to be? If we aren’t making disciples, then we aren’t really being biblical disciples. These are questions that ought really rattle our collective “cage.” This idea should convict us, challenge us, and force us to think about how we can better obey the mission God has given us. In the days ahead, our church will go through a subtle rebrand, but in doing so, we will see our new mission statement: HELPING BROKEN PEOPLE FIND HEALING IN CHRIST! This is unique to our church; God has blessed us in unique ways, and we have a unique context in which to bear witness. There are unique challenges and opportunities within Walnut Cove, and we must be broken people, working to help other broken people. We must be broken over our own sin, walking in humility. We must be broken over lost sheep around us, burdened to help them. We must also be thankful for the Healer! I am so thankful He healed me! O, that I might help others meet the Healer too!
There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus; no, not one, no, not one;
none else could heal all our soul’s diseases; no, not one, no, not one!
Rev. Andrew J. Reynolds