Monday, August 1, 2016

Baptisms, Guns, And Miller Beer

Disclaimer: I'm chasing bunny trails with this post, but they are all connected, if only in my own mind.

It was wonderful to baptize two girls yesterday. Both had heard the Gospel in church and through their families, had believed, and stood with us and with Christ in the public proclamation of their faith through baptism. My thoughts . . . baptisms are always good.

Those baptisms, the first in our newly remodeled worship center, made me think about many more baptisms. The last two years have been pretty sparse, and the vast majority of those we have baptized in the last several years have been our own. In other words, they were people who were already part of the social network of our church - family, kids, etc.  So, why am I pointing this out?  I had a friend who used to say, "We need to quit fishing in the livewell." What he meant was, we mostly share the Gospel with our own and we mostly try to grow by getting members from other churches to come to our church. My thoughts . . . I do my very best not to seek the members of other churches, and I have no respect for pastors or parishioners in any church who do that. If we are not systematically preaching the Gospel to the lost out in the world our church will die if we don't.

A priest in Normandy, France, had his throat cut by a terrorist last week. Last year a person filled with evil entered a prayer meeting in Charleston and murdered the Senior Pastor and eight others. Several years ago we were working with a couple who had a bad marriage. The husband went to his car to get a gun to come back in for his wife. I stood in the doorway stopping him, not because I was brave, but just because. He backed down, the police had already been called, and all went down with no one getting hurt. Violent crimes at church are increasing, and usually it's the pastor who gets shot. (No jokes, please.) I can honestly say I'm not really worried about getting killed in church. I can't think of a much better place to die, but I do think about my parishioners - especially the children and senior citizens. So, we are developing a security plan for our church that may (I repeat, "may") include armed internal security. Should we have armed security at church? The elders, deacons, and our church will receive wisdom from God and decide what to do about our safety.

This morning when I drove by the church on the way to a prayer breakfast for pastors, the beer truck was out front getting ready to unload something in a business across the street. Does a beer truck in front of the church fire you up? I'm sure some would love it if we served free beer. Others think it's disrespectful that the delivery man would think it fine to park his truck there. The street isn't ours, by the way. It belongs to the city. We resurface it, stripe it, and I get frustrated that delivery trucks keep tearing it up, but what's a preacher to do?

My thoughts . . .

I wish all the trucks would stop tearing up our front parking, but that's just small stuff. We're working on a security plan. That's not small stuff, but it's still not the most important stuff. If we're failing to preach the Gospel to the lost in our world . . . that is the big stuff. If we are failing to do so (we being you and me individually) then we are failing as followers of Christ. 

So, for the next several weeks, I'm going to focus on the most important things.

     First, I'm meeting with the elders and deacons to discuss all of this, including the development of a security plan for our church.
     Second, I will be leading us to utilize a ministry call It is a tool we will use to help us pray for our 100 closest neighbors - that's our mission field. We're to be a house of prayer for all nations.
     Third, I will provide equipping opportunities for every person in our church to learn how to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We're to make disciples of all nations by preaching the Gospel.
     Fourth, we will work together to develop plans to share the Gospel with our mission field - our neighborhoods and our parish.

Look, Hell is horrible, Heaven is glorious, and Jesus is the only way. Hearing the Gospel is the only way to believe in Jesus. So, let's get it done till Jesus comes.