The purpose of this blog is for the pastor to share his thoughts and feelings about his relationship with God and how God is directing him in pastoring Standing Springs Baptist Church.
AN EYE-OPENING EXPERIENCE
In the Fall of 2016 I visited churches for the first time in nearly a decade. It wasn't that I had been out of church for that long and was just now making my way back. No, I had been on staff at a church for nearly a decade and therefore never had to visit any other churches. But in the Fall of 2016 my family moved to Wake Forest, North Carolina in order for me to finish my Masters degree at Southeastern Seminary, so naturally, we needed to find a church.
After a month of visiting around, Katelyn and I were discussing one big takeaway that we had noticed in the church search process: It is really easy to get comfortable at church and forget that every Sunday is someone's first Sunday at your church. You see, for seven years I didn't have to think about where to park or where the kids go or how to find a Sunday School class; I effortlessly did all of this, because I had become used to my church. Sadly, this is the case in many churches today.
At one church we wandered around aimlessly for five minutes (a long time) searching for the nursery, because there were no signs, and everyone we passed just kept on walking as if we were invisible. At another church, we had already decided we wouldn't be coming back before the worship service had even started. Why? Because the nursery drop-off process was chaotic and felt unsafe from the start. Teachers didn't rise from their seats to greet us, and it seemed like our children were more of a nuisance to them than a joy. At some churches, the signage is so bad and the halls so twisty and narrow that you start to worry that you accidentally walked into a corn maze and not a church. Still other churches have more entrances than church members, and you have to simply cross your fingers and hope you choose the right door, because the only sign you can find is one that says "NO TRESPASSING".
CHURCH ISN'T ABOUT YOU
Oftentimes when someone voices a concern about something in the church not jiving well with them they are scolded. They are usually scolded by someone feigning spirituality, and the scolding goes something like this: "Church isn't about you. Don't worry about stuff like that." I get it. And I agree wholeheartedly. We gather weekly as the church to make much of God, not ourselves. But a parent being scolded because they worry if their kid is safe down in the nursery can't be what God had in mind. And for someone suggesting we get better signage in the church to be scolded as "majoring on the minors" doesn't seem to line up with the heart or nature of God.
THE MOST HOSPITABLE BEING IN THE UNIVERSE
The issue here is hospitality. As Christians, we should follow the lead of our God who is the most hospitable Being in the history of the universe. After all, have you checked out the world around you lately? The mountains, the ocean, beautiful lakes, the trees currently changing colors. God is serious when it comes to hospitality. And he expects us to be as well. As a church, we are called to be hospitable to those guests that God brings our way. This means making places such as nursery, Sunday School classes, and the sanctuary easy to find. This means having on smiling faces each and every Sunday. It means having the courage to ask someone you don't recognize and who looks a little lost if they need some help. It means making our children's area safe and orderly. We don't have to be Disney World, but we do need for people to feel safe and loved here.
So this next Sunday will you commit to not just showing up, but to being a greeter no matter where you find yourself? Will you commit to look for someone you don't know and go introduce yourself to them? Will you commit to pray that God would continue to bring guests to our church?
Remember, every Sunday is someone's first Sunday.
A wise man once said that some books should be blog posts; some blog posts should be tweets, and some tweets should never be tweeted. Now, for some of you, that sentence flew right over your head, and that's okay. For others of you, you know all too well what I mean. Most blogs are pointless and if ever read out loud would sound like so many cats dying. The last thing I want to do with a blog is contributed to the cacophony of noise on the internets. So please allow me to give three reasons for starting a Pastor's Blog.
1. It is an Opportunity to Educate
I am all about getting good information into your possession. Granted, that sentence implies I have good information to impart. Hopefully, I do. But seriously, there is so much for us all to learn about God, his Son Jesus, and the gospel he brings. So why not use as many tools as we can to learn? Perhaps some days I simply share a great article I read about gospel ministry. Or perhaps an article on discipleship or growing old well or parenting or Alabama football. I'm just kidding. No one cares about parenting. A blog (done well) is an opportunity to educate.
2. It is an Opportunity to Expound
One of the most difficult parts about preaching is not having the time to say all that needs to be said about a given passage. A blog is an opportunity to expound upon a certain point or idea that arose during the sermon. Or perhaps an application point can be further unpacked on the blog. Certainly, a sermon should always be complete with an explanation, exhortation, and application, but a blog is an opportunity to go a little deeper in a specific direction.
3. It is an Opportunity to Extol
'Extol' is an old word, and I will admit that I only half knew what it meant before I googled it to make sure. But I am a good Baptist, which means that coherence is sometimes sacrificed at the altar of alliteration. To extol means to "praise enthusiastically". Of course, it does. We knew that, right? Anyways, a blog is an opportunity to praise God enthusiastically. In other words, it is another opportunity to make much of him. That is my primary hope for this blog--that God would be made much of. If it ever ceases to be that, if it ever ceases to be useful, then it will be discontinued.
I look forward to many years of fruitful blog posts. Remember that I love you all very much.
Standing Springs Baptist Church