At times I can become very discouraged regarding the church. I study the Book of Acts in my quiet time and than I look at the church in America and around the world and I do not see the church living up to it's potential. Some days I want to throw in the towel from church work, move to the beach, buy a small house on the ocean, away from everyone and blog for a living. My wife laughs at my foolish fantasy.
Before the start of this summer I was feeling discouraged regarding the church I serve in. I had become aware of a lot of disunity, animosity, and anger which was in the church and it had me discouraged and ready to throw in the towel (just being honest) but, than summer came and I have seen the church I am a part of come together and serve our community in a thousand little and significant ways.
I was cleaning up after Vacation Bible School and I was overcome with love for First Baptist Stanleyville. I was overcome with love for the incredible ways the church had been the church during VBS. I began thinking about Vacation Bible School but than I also began to think about the other ways FBCS has been serving in our community and serving church members this summer. Are we perfect? NO! Let me burst your bubble for a minute; there is no such thing as a perfect church. We have our problems and struggles; however, we are family and we serve, love and fight like family. Below are five reasons why I love my church; First Baptist Church of Stanleyville.
5) We are a church filled with members who have a servant's heart: This past week I saw Stanleyville rise to the occasion and serve our community and families through VBS. I saw church members give up a Saturday, busily getting ready for a week of VBS... and they didn't slow down much after that. They gave a week of their time to share the love of Jesus with many kids. Church members helped with registration, T-Shirts or helped with security. Some helped with crafts and they still have glue, paint, marker or some other special solution still on them. Other taught classes and can still hear the ringing of 20+ kid's voices in their ears. Recreation, snacks and hospitality people are worn out and music folks are probably still sore. Those who were group leaders logged countless number of steps as they weaved their way through crowds to get kids from place to place. We had a crew of people who helped with media, drama and others who helped build the set! I know our preschool workers are exhausted after helping with our eternally energetic little ones. Whatever the way church members served I was impressed and blown away by everyone's servant heart and my love for FBCS has grown.
4) We are a church who takes care of the sick, widowed, shut-ins and those in the nursing homes: One of my many responsibilities as Associate Pastor is to visit those in the church who are shut ins or in nursing homes. This summer more than in the past I have been to visit someone and they will tell me that just the other day another church member had been to visit them or another church member came by with food or sent them a card. I even learned that the WMU (which is a group of older ladies who meet once a month) will be going to visit a local nursing home to share the love of Christ. I talked with one lady who FBCS served while she was sick and church members made her 28 meals during the time she was recovering. I have sat with families while their loved ones have been in surgery and watched as church member after church member took time out of their day to visit with the family and pray with them. This summer I have been impressed and blown away by everyone's love for the sick, widowed, shut-ins and those in the nursing home who are church members and my love for FBCS has grown.
3) We are a church which has a heart for families: Our Vacation Bible School had an average attendance of 145 individuals per night and every night I would hear church members disappointed that more children were not there. Their disappointed shows a heart and a compassion for families and the lost. Those who were disappointed understood that numbers equal children and children equal families who need to hear the Gospel. Church members understood that families need to be encouraged and have the church come alongside to equip and assist them in raising their families. We were not made to our way through life as an isolated individual, instead, we are made to take advantage of the guidance, community, and accountability offered by our brothers and sisters in the family of God. When CREW (Youth Ministry at FBCS) was going to camp church members stepped up and paid camp fees to ensure that students would be able to attend for a fraction of the cost or would be able to go for free. This summer I have been impressed and blown away by FBCS and their heart for families and my love for FBCS has grown.
2) We are a church which unifies around a common mission: FBCS has two services, a contemporary service at 8:30 am & traditional service at 11:00 am. I have seen both services come together this summer in countless ways. I have seen the services come together to serve during basketball camp, vacation bible school, CARE ministry, Wednesday nights, Fourth of July cook-out, etc. There are some in the church who seek to spread disunity but the vast majority of church members want and do come together to serve and be unified around a common mission; going outside the camp and serving our community. This summer I have been impressed and blown away by FBCS and their unity around a common mission and my love for FBCS has grown.
1) We are a church which loves the Lord and has a passion to spread His glory among all peoples: It has well been said that freed people free people. FBCS has lived out this phrase this summer (freed people, free people). Church members which have been set free from sin and bondage have rolled up their sleeves and invested in people's lives to share the Gospel and be used by the Holy Spirit to lead individuals to Christ. I have talked with church members who were afraid to share their faith but swallowed their fears & shared and because of their obedience the Holy Spirit used their words to draw a child or an adult to saving faith in Jesus Christ. I have had a revolving door of church members coming into my office with ideas and plans on how to better reach our community with the Gospel. I am working closely with a church member to plan a North American mission trip next summer for families in one of the poorest counties in America. This summer I have been impressed and blown away by FBCS and their love for the Lord and passion to spread His glory among all peoples and my love for FBCS has grown.
In conclusion, I love my church. Are we perfect? NO. Far from it. If FBCS was perfect it stopped being perfect the moment I came on as Associate Pastor/Minister of Students. However; even though we make mistakes and even though I can become discouraged it does not mean it's time to throw in the towel and give up on the church. I am no longer discouraged because when I look around for the good in FBCS I find it and I find a church which loves the Lord, loves it's city and wants to spread the glory of God among all peoples. First Baptist Church of Stanleyville is a church which exists to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples and that is why I love my church.