Thursday, March 4, 2010

Where Great Things Are Happening...

I’m a product in many ways of Dr. Bill Sutton, my pastor at First Baptist Church in McAllen Texas because it was under his ministry I heard God’s call upon my life to the Gospel Ministry as a pastor. I learned so much from Brother Bill as we call him and he is a tremendous leader I love dearly. One of the things Brother Bill would say on Sunday mornings as he welcomed people to FBC McAllen was “Welcome to First Baptist Church where great things are happening.” It was true. God was moving and working and great things were happening. In my Quiet Time, I’ve been reading through the Book of Acts and you’d have to be nearly in a coma to not see the great things happening in the early church because God’s Holy Spirit was at work in and through the people. The Jerusalem Church was exploding with growth as they went from about 120 people to 3000 by Acts 2:41 and the Bible says that “the Lord added daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). By the time Acts 4 begins, the Bible makes a point to tell us there were about 5000 men who were part of the church (4:4) and some commentators estimate the real attendance to be close to 25,000 people when women and children are factored into the mix! Honestly, that makes my chest hurt just thinking about the stress of a church that size. But because it was the Lord’s doing, His grace was sufficient for the humans involved and it’s His Church to grow as He sees fit.

l say all this to highlight for us that wherever the Lord is working “great things are happening.” It is evident to your leadership team here at Calvary that the Lord is working and great things are indeed happening. We continue to see guests and visitors checking us out nearly every week. Many are new visitors and many are coming back for a second look. Our Deacon Chairman brother Ernie Owens pointed out to the deacon body in our last meeting we need to be thinking and praying about the growth the church is experiencing and the logistics of space as we have more people come. In another meeting with the Church Council Brother Ernie said our motto needs to be “Semper Gumby” – which he translated as “Always Flexible”.  I love that!  I’ve said for many years in the places I’ve ministered we have 3 rules, be flexible, be flexible and in case we forget the first two, the third is “be flexible.” Just to give you an example, Our worship attendance average on Sunday for January was 317 and in February was 349. What’s amazing is this includes the Sunday we had to cancel  February 7th for the blizzard. Last week in Bible Study, we had 285 people and our worship attendance was 375! Many people define success simply by the numbers of people in attendance and if the church is meeting the budget. That’s not how I see success in the Book of Acts as I’ve highlighted above, the Lord adding to the church daily those who were being saved is part of the success, but as the rest of the book demonstrates, the success is in the disciples that were being made and how they carried the gospel around the known world. When disciples are being made, the Lord is working to transform lives.

I need your help as we grow larger in a couple of areas which will help us as the Lord adds to His Church. Remember to always be flexible. Each “number” represents a person that Christ died for and wants to make a disciple. This means we need to be willing to include new people we don’t know. I was so proud this past Sunday as I saw several of our members speaking to guests at length after church. We need to be sensitive to this especially as the weather improves and Easter is just around the corner.  I know it is not comfortable to be the one to initiate the greeting but let me encourage you to reach out quickly to guests you don’t know to welcome them. I also need you to be flexible if your class needs to be rearranged to add more chairs. An 8 foot table may be nice to hold your Bible and coffee but it takes up a huge amount of space and keeps guests from getting plugged in to Bible Study because there aren’t enough seats. Those tables may have to go to help us make disciples by freeing up space. I also need you to fill out our screening paperwork to protect our kids and volunteer to work in our children’s ministry. Last Sunday for extended session, we had nearly 30 preschoolers! I know you may have raised your kids, but that’s precisely why we need your wisdom and help to minister down there during worship.  Our Preschool Director Mandi Yocum has a goal to have enough volunteers so you would only need to work 1 time every 8 weeks. Many hands make light work. From my little corner of the world to yours where great things are happening, “Semper Gumby”!

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

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