The ministry of First Baptist Church has finished its 178th year. A ministry that began in 1837 with a few dedicated Christ-followers continues to rally people together for unified worship, proclaiming the Word, and making disciples. This past year we centered our focus on reaching up to God in worship, reaching out with the gospel to those near and far, and reaching in to care for and grow those in our church family. It is a blessing to see God stretching us and growing us in each of these areas and I trust this article will help you see God working in hearts and lives.
Extend Our Reach
In 2015 while our desire was to extend our reach. Our source of strength was found in Christ, His Spirit within us, and His Word being proclaimed, studied, and passed on. As a church we took on the challenge of reading the New Testament through for the year. Our 5×5 reading plan for the year walked people through 1 chapter a day, each of the 5 days of the week. Along with the reading we had Bible studies and Sunday morning preaching series that paralleled the reading. Many people enjoyed this and spoke of how they were growing through the year. It was exciting to also see organic groups pop up who were studying on their own and meeting together to share what God was teaching them. While individual growth is something each believer must take responsibility for, we really dis see God use the unified reading benefit and provide catalysts for people to grow together too. Praise the Lord, we have no other option in faithfulness than to make the Word central in all we do.
While you may read about some of the things we did this year in other reports I wanted to just highlight several of them. First, our outreach events are really highlight us as a family of believers, partnering together to get out into our Jerusalem and share Jesus’ love and gospel. Vacation Bible School was one of the best team efforts I have seen in years. The turnout was the best we have had, the teamwork and energy was high, our own teens served as invaluable resources of help and energy as we saw 6 professions of faith that week. Other outreach events like Love your Community week and Open House weekend during our towns Festival of Forks celebration served as great ways to share Christ and invite people to our church. There are two families that are now an active part of our church from these weekends, one of them coming because they were offered a bottle of water with our church name on it and told about the love of Jesus. Secondly, other events served to strengthen our walk with the Lord and each other. Special events like the college aged Cross Conference Simulcast, Secret Church teaching session, Ambassador Sunday celebration with the Milionis and Markley’s, baptism services and our Night of Praise November Lord’s Supper: all were settings that brought a sense of unity and growth. I look forward to these types of gatherings in the future.
This past year was also one of completing projects and fulfilling plans on moving ahead. With the help of David Mize final touches were made to roll out a new look for our church. A fresh new logo was developed to help provide our church with a noticeable identity in print. The new design is now everywhere you see our name: church sign, bulletin, new website, and other printed material. Along with that work is ongoing on increasing our online identity by creating and making advancements on our website. There were also some major advancements in our building area. We were able to complete a brand new renovation of our nursery, bringing it up to the 21st century and providing a bright and warm place for babies. The sanctuary roof was replaced with a lifetime black steel roofing that looks sharp and professional. Then finally, the sound system was replaced, complete with new monitors, amplifiers, mics, and sound board. All of these projects were answers to prayer and at least in part due to the hard work of faithful people using their talent, time, and energy to help us accomplish ministry that is done with a spirit of excellence. This echoes something I have said since coming to FBC in 2007, “Excellence glorifies God and inspires people.” Let’s continue to have a spirit of excellence in all we do at FBC.
Footprints moving forward
With that in mind, I want to encourage you to look make advances in the year to come. Our church has much to be thankful for. We have been blessed by God in some awesome ways. We have seen God grow people, save people, and redirect people’s lives. We also know there are areas in which we can do better. We have taken on the challenge of asking ourselves this question, “What is my gospel footprint?” May we move forward in this year not to make much of our church, but to make much of the gospel and Jesus Christ. Let us each consider we can make in our local area by serving and reaching out. Let us consider how we can increase our global footprint through prayer, going, giving, knowing, and serving. Let us each make gospel footprints in relational ways by building relationships with those who do not yet know Jesus as their Lord and Savior – Let’s lead them to Jesus. May each person in our church be busy leveraging everything God has blessed them with for God’s glory by making gospel footprints everywhere they go.