Thursday, August 18, 2011

For the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body....

That phrase comes from Ephesians 4:12 and it is God's plan for how the ministries of the local body of Christ, the church, is to go about her mission of making disciples. The context of that passage outlines how God given leadership to His church has a responsibility to equip and empower the saints of God to carry out the work of the ministry of the church as a whole so the church will be edified or built up, strengthened and grow. When the church leaders and saints all do their part, the kingdom of God is expanded and God is glorified in that. 

I thought in light of that I'd update you on some of the work of the ministry that is taking place at Calvary highlighting a few committees that have been working hard at their responsibilities. The nominating committee has presented to the church the slate of workers for the new church year that begins in September. Also, all of our Sunday School positions are filled which is no small undertaking. Every classroom is full as people gather each Sunday at 9:45 to study God's word in the Bible Study hour. Our R.E.A.C.H. Sunday School teams faithfully follow up on absentees and prospects. Our Sunday school attendance continues to average from 70 to 80% of our morning worship attendance which is incredible and I say to God be the glory! This demonstrates the importance of getting people connected to a small group from the corporate worship crowd and how well ya'll do at including people. I'm so proud of you.

Your trustees are hard at work maintaining our property. We've recently had a number of major things to deal with, our air conditioning, phone system, oversight of getting a bathroom installed in the Narthex, plumbing leaks and roof leaks that have caused some damage to the Happy Followers classroom are all major projects they've had to tackle. This is on top of the ongoing maintenance issues that need to be addressed weekly. Maintaining our property is a huge challenge and I'm thankful for these trustees.

The Personnel Committee has been hard at work as well and has processed approximately 60 resumes for our associate pastor positions. Initially we are looking to fill the position for discipleship and administration. Farther down the road, we would like to see an associate pastor of missional outreach and family ministry. This is a slow and tedious process and they are earnestly seeking God's will for the man that He has chosen for this first position of discipleship and administration. We're much closer than we were when we started and they are actively interviewing potential candidates. Please pray with us that God will make His will known to each member of the committee in the upcoming days as they seek God's man to join our team. When we have someone to present to the church for consideration, that news will be publicized as appropriate.

The ad hoc vision committee I appointed continues to pray for God's direction about our future. We're seeking the Lord's direction for the long term future ministries of Calvary and what we can do here to reach as many people with the Gospel as a neighborhood church and how we can make the greatest impact on our community for Christ. Through prayer, study and research on a number of spiritual and physical needs as our church is in the spiritual business of making disciples that takes physical logistics; we've been asking the Lord to guide us. We’re asking questions such as how we can maximize our existing space, what future space needs to we need to plan for over the next 20-30 years and what will this community look like in 20 to 30 years? How will BRAC and APG impact our church ministry? How can we plant new churches or develop other campuses to reach other areas when we max out our property here? Other immediate questions related to current space needs with a burgeoning children's and youth ministry weighs heavy upon us. One of the things the vision committee has sensed of the Lord's leading is to see what realistic options there are at developing our church property with an updated master plan. The current plan we have in place is over 30 years old so we’ve asked for the wisdom of local experts in their fields, knowledgeable with the town code and what limitations there are with current codes. Some folks from the vision committee and the trustees informally approached the appropriate town leaders with some initial ideas we had to help us with space needs. We learned that those ideas would not be well received. While that was disappointing, it was also helpful and gave us direction on how to proceed. You learn through these kinds of discussions that this process is a tedious one as we balance stewardship of resources, needs for space but also gaining the approval of our plans with the town and our neighbors. We are confident that as the Lord leads us, He will go before us to make it all work the way He wants. Pray for this team and the trustees as they pray and seek God’s face and the wisdom of others who can help us develop our master plan.

These are just a few examples of the work of the ministry by the saints of God taking place here at Calvary for the edifying of the body of Christ. Space will not permit at this point to recognize all of our ministry teams/committees who are all actively putting together their ministry action proposals for our 2012 budget process that is well under way. I know some might be discouraged we’re not currently meeting our budget need this year but we’re always careful stewards of God’s resources and the church is sound financially as God’s people are faithful with their tithes and offerings.

We've had a great time in the Word of God with my summer preaching series seeking to answer the question of “What is God like?” as we seek to know the God the Bible and not the god of our understanding. Those messages are available on our website on the media tab and it is simple to invite someone to listen to it with an email invitation feature. We just recently added a feature that allows you to download the study guides that have been given out on Sunday mornings also. I trust these have been helpful to you and I’m thankful for all these volunteer committees who do their work so I can continue to labor in the study and preach the word. I plan to conclude this series on the attributes of God on Labor Day weekend with the names of God and how they reveal His character to us. You won’t want to miss it, but if you’re traveling, catch it later on the website. I plan to preach a series this fall through the Book of Revelation to give us an overview of the book and will conclude this series by Christmas. It should be an exciting adventure.

One final thought as I’ve been discussing saints doing the work of the ministry. Last Sunday was the last Sunday Ernie & Marie Moretz would be with us. For 57 years they have been members of Calvary and they are faithful servants. They are moving to North Carolina to minister to their family. They have faithfully modeled servant-hood and the Ephesians 4:12 principle and we will miss them, but we wish them God’s blessings as they go.

What a joy to pastor a church where the saints are doing the work of the ministry and edifying the body of Christ. Updating you from my little corner of the world to yours…


Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

All it takes to grow a great church...

“All it takes to grow a great church is everybody doing what they can do.” That’s something my long time Pastor Dr. Bill Sutton would say quite regularly from the pulpit at First Baptist Church in McAllen Texas. Hearing that simple statement regularly from Brother Bill had a profound impact on me personally and on our church culture there at First Baptist and under his leadership and in the power of the Holy Spirit, became a great church. All Bill did was summarize the realities of the Christian life and the process of making disciples. A huge part of being a maturing disciple of Jesus Christ is to learn how to be a servant. Jesus Himself taught His disciples to be servants and commanded them to “wash one another’s feet” after Jesus took a basin of water and washed their feet. We don’t understand what that means in our modern culture but in the 1st century, the famous Roman roads were dusty and since the primary mode of transportation was walking.  Since Nike hadn’t produced a tennis shoe, sandals were the foot wear of the day. As people walked, their feet would get filthy with caked on dust and dirt. To make matters worse, they didn’t typically sit upright at table to eat; the custom was to lounge on your side by a low table and obviously your feet would be close to your neighbor’s space – those dirty, nasty feet. It was the custom to provide a basin of water for your guests to wash their feet or better yet, have a servant come and wash and dry the feet of your guests. Except Jesus was the host of the dinner and He strapped a towel around His waist and took a basin to wash His disciples’ feet. That exercise of washing the feet of your guests was so refreshing to them and so kind. It’s about like being on a long airplane ride and the stewardess brings you a hot moist towel to refresh yourself before landing. There were some important lessons learned that night those disciples never forgot; and Jesus made an amazing statement in that context of having washed the disciples’ feet in John 13:17 “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

Jesus was clearly saying that blessings flow to those who are willing to serve others. Is the work glamorous? No! Is it always fun? No! is it necessary? Absolutely! I share this because this past Sunday night in at our church in conference, we formally appointed over 270 volunteer workers who’ve said they will serve this next church year in some capacity here at Calvary! These folks have said yes to servant-hood, they’ve said they will wash the feet of others and have volunteered to carry out a variety of assignments that range from changing diapers in preschool to keeping records for Sunday School. No job is more important than another – in God’s view, the diaper changer is just as important as the most eloquent Sunday School teacher. I can tell you the child of God who is not involved in some kind of servant ministry is not growing closer to Christ and they certainly are not experiencing the blessings that flow from the throne of God into their lives. There is in many cases a lack of joy, peace and contentment in folks who refuse to serve.  One of the things that makes church life here at Calvary so wonderful is the presence of the Savior shining through the many volunteers who faithfully serve Jesus doing all the things needed for the church to minister effectively. Menial tasks that need to happen that may be nasty to perform, but so beneficial to the church body and the lost world looking on around us. Men laboring in a bathroom on a Sunday morning to mop up a water leak from a bathroom toilet that flooded the bathroom and destroyed the ceiling tiles in the classroom below. A dear woman on her knees pulling weeds out of a flower bed and planting new flowers to beautify the grounds. A mom and her kids cleaning up and organizing a storage closet. A woman preparing supplies for an upcoming promotion we’ll hold in August. A man with weed killer spraying weeds in flower beds, another man cleaning a bathroom with no real supplies between services because it needed attention. A group of adults leading a group of children to a homeless shelter with gifts – teaching them mission work…all these things are just some of what I’ve witnessed around here just recently. Every time I see volunteers working for the King of Kings around here, I can hear the echo of brother Bill in my head from years gone by “All it takes to grow a great church is everybody doing what they can do.”

There’s always more that needs to be done though and some ministries haven’t even been undertaken yet because people haven’t stepped forward and said they will take that on. Sadly, we live in a consumer culture where many people are content to sit on the sidelines and be served. Some may think since they came to church on Sunday and found a spot in a seat that God has gotten the warm fuzzie’s about their presence; yet they wonder why there is a painful void and the nagging feeling that something’s missing. The “missing something” is not serving. Here at Calvary, we’ve identified 4 critical ingredients we all need to be adding to Calvary for our church to be all God intends it to be: Connect, Grow, Serve, Renew. I won’t take time to explain them in detail but we want simply to connect with God and each other in genuine relationships. In those connections with God and each other, we’ll grow in our spiritual walk as we’re intentional about studying God’s word together and caring for one another. As we grow, a natural result of that is serving the Lord. As the disciples hung out with Jesus daily, they learned how to serve others and minister because Jesus mentored them in how to do that. The renew part comes through corporate worship as God’s people gather, our spirit’s are revived and renewed because of the focus on Christ. The process of discipleship is found in those simple ingredients but I’m highlighting serving here today. Let me thank all of you who’ve agreed to serve the Lord here at Calvary this year. Do it heartily as unto the Lord and know that the Lord loves a cheerful giver. If you serve bountifully, you’ll reap bountifully. Maybe you’ve been burdened for a ministry and God is calling you to serve. Step out on faith and watch God do amazing things through your service. Maybe you’d like to be involved but never have before in a particular ministry – ask someone in that ministry if they’ll teach you. I’m sure you’ll find them receptive to that request. Those of you who serve, seek out someone you can teach how to do what you do. I proudly echo my beloved pastor Bill Sutton: “All it takes to grow a great church is everybody doing what they can do.” Praying you’ll find the rich blessings of serving our Lord Jesus, from my little corner of the world to yours….

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

Subscribe to Pastor Ralph's Blog:  

Follow Me on Twitter:  

Posted via email from Pastor Ralph