Recently, several of our Missions & Mobilization Ministry leadership attended QCommons, hosted by Second Presbyterian, here in Memphis. This event was a worldwide simulcast of several well-known speakers and authors. Sixty cities in North America and throughout Europe we able to be part of a great night of theologically based challenges and spiritual development.

One guest speaker in particular stood out, as he often does, by the way he challenged us to consider the way we are leaving our lives. In a way that only Tim Keller can, he talked about our calling as Christians to not just respond to culture, but create culture.

The following are several expanded thoughts on the notes from the session.

Beyond the simple question of “WWJD”, as Christians living in a postmodern society, what exactly is it we believe God is trying to do as it relates to church in culture?

First we must comprehend the concept of culture. The word originates as an agricultural term – meaning, in part, to not leave nature what it was but to make something of it. In the specific context, turn a piece of land into a crop producing field. Later, in the 17th century, the term would begin to apply to humanity. For example, music is culture as a musician takes raw sounds and organizes notes and pitch to create music. An artist takes mediums like oil, paint and pencil for the purpose of creating on a blank canvas an image that evokes an emotion or abstract experience.

James Hunter would later say culture is the power to define reality.

So how is it, then, that a Christian would be involved in culture making? One needs to look no further than the Old Testament.

Let us be challenged to look at the lives of God-honoring culture makers like Daniel, Joseph and Esther. Daniel would have been a modern equivalent to the young CEO-type capable for creating his own upstart. Joseph, though victim of human trafficking, would go on to radically change culture as he lead, guided and directed a whole people group from his position of power. Maybe my personal favorite, Esther, did not enroll in the local seminary when she began to feel God working in her heart. Instead, she continued to live her life one day at a time and when given the opportunity, an audience with the king, she continued to give God glory by engaging society around her.

The overarching trouble with our society is not new to our place in history. Since the Fall humanity has not been able to agree on what is “the common good” apart from the revelation of God. Everything in society is being rearranged to make expression – though it’s different in every culture – the attempt to express is the same.

So the question we are left with is will we just go through the motions? Or will we respond to this broken world around us as Christians who create, therefore influencing, culture.

Where To Go From Here

Christians must get a nuanced understanding of culture.

It’s not enough to simply be angry about the way things are; become of a student of humanity. As your understanding grows so grows your capacity to create culture and ultimately change.

Understand the lens through which you see the world.

Everyone has a worldview, including Christians; work out your faith with fear and trembling – then be prepared to go in confidence with a healthy, accurate and theocentric world view.

All products must resonate and defy the culture.

It’s not enough to make a Christian-alternative. Everything you say and do while attempting to make a difference in this world should both resonate and defy.

“Resonate” to connect with humanity, “Defy” to point people to a Savior

A few of you have asked “what is the Community Dinner?” Here is a brief rundown of the vision behind the ministry:

What Is The Community Dinner?

Many members of the Bartlett community drive by our church every day. Some people readily recognize us as a church family of Christ-followers who love God and love others. But for a certain segment of population, we are just another steeple in a city overrun with churches.

The Community Dinner is an opportunity for our church family to invite and engage families and neighbors inside the shadow of our own church to make a meaningful connection. Previously known as the VIP (Very Important Prospect) Banquet, the Community Dinner is a personal approach to connecting with recent visitors and potential new members.

So whether it is a friend, neighbor or co-worker, members of Faith are being called upon to embrace the chance to ministry to the un-churched or disconnected in Bartlett.

Also, our Missions Office has sent out invitation cards to all residents within a 3 mile radius of Faith – and will also send personal invitations to any and all recent visitors.

Why The Community Dinner?

Our primary motivation for an evening like this is not to grow our church numerically or “win over” the hearts of those who could be currently unhappy at their church. Instead, this is a sincere platform for our church members to shake hands, answer questions and be smiling faces behind the name Faith Baptist.

Gone are the days of the “Field of Dreams” approach to Outreach Ministry (if you build it, they will come). The Community Dinner is a chance for our church family members to take ownership in community outreach. Rather than a church like ours creating, organizing and executing ministry – though completely capable – the vision of missions leadership at Faith is to empower Christ-followers to fulfill the Great Commission in their life.

Who Is The Community Dinner For?

Anyone in our community who wants to know more about Faith Baptist Church: our theological beliefs, our biblical convictions and our ministerial vision. Also, anyone who wants to meet our staff and their families.

 

So why not be a part of a sincere movement of the body of Christ to connect with and minister to the community? There is no other event quite like this during the year where members and visitors can come together in such a relational way.

Our next Community Dinner is Tuesday night September 30th – 6:30p in the gym.

Childcare provided for children Birth – 5yo

To RSVP, please email Rachel at rachelw@myfaithbaptist.org or call the Missions Office 531-6808

Just a little food for thought (pun intended) before Stephen’s upcoming sermon on Fruit:

John MacArthur “True believers obey the Lord’s commands, submitting to His Word. Because of their commitment to God’s Word, they are devoted to His will thus their prayers are fruitful – which puts God’s glory on display as He answers.”

Warren Wiersbe “The word ‘results’ is often heard in conversations among Christians, but this is actually not a biblical concept. A machine can produce results and so can a robot, but it takes a living organism to produce fruit. It takes time and cultivation to produce fruit; a good crop doesn’t come overnight.”

I love my church. More specifically, I love the people who make up the Faith Baptist family. Over almost a decade of ministry it has been an incredibly blessing to love, laugh, cry, serve and live together. It is this kind of relationship that can present a “catch-22”: because I love the friends at my church, I want people who don’t have loving, authentic, Christ-like friends to be a part of this church – but the people who need loving, authentic, Christ-like friendships don’t seek out churches.

This produces the need for a ministry practice we often call Outreach. Whether it is across the street or in another zip code, one on one or in a small group – we make commitments to reach out to those who are not part of our church family. One of my biggest fears, based on observation, of the modern church is that we tend to allow this commitment to Outreach ministry to become a separate part of our lives…almost like an “add on” or a category – a flip that is switched to declare we are making a conscious effort to reach out at this time.

I’ve often heard it said that there is more comradery and personal connection at the local bar than at the local church. It’s almost impossible to objectively measure such a claim. But it is possible to make an objective observation about our attempts to create and foster connection with people who are not part of our church family. Here are a few simple ideas:

BE AUTHENTIC

  • Our society has an incredible ability to immediately “sniff out” insincerity. We are constantly being bombarded by people and groups with alternate motives. Christians can often be the same and need to make authenticity the core of who we are

BE PERSONAL

  • Many times, a Christian’s passion for reaching out reach can actually supersede the person being reached. The goal of any connection with someone is just that simple: making a connection. We have to free ourselves of fixation on the result, while sacrificing the personal connection in the meantime.

BE PATIENT

  • If someone is distant from a loving relationship with Jesus, odds are that distance wasn’t created over night. Usually it will take time for a person to fully surrender their heart to a relationship. Sure, there is such a thing as love at first sight; but surrendering heart and life to something someone can’t physically touch or see, is a big commitment. Be prepared to make a personal connection with someone on multiple occasions before they are ready to surrender their life to Jesus or join a church family.

Finally, don’t be afraid to live life outside of the church. Many modern churches have incredible facilities and resources, but may those always serve as options for opportunity and not be seen as the only means. If a person or a family is not connected to a local church family, look for a way to be that local church family in their context. It’s not always easy and it can often be uncomfortable, but we see over and over again in Jesus’s earthly ministry that He constantly meets people where they are – not just spiritually but physically as well. Where can you go this week to be “the church” in someone’s life?

Worth It?

purpose [pur-puh s] noun - an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal

cause [kawz] noun – a person or thing that acts, happens or exists in such a way that some specific thing happens as a result; the producer of an effect

Many, many times I hear Christians say “I don’t share my faith like I know I should” or “I know I need to be better about sharing my faith.” Although, it is true, there are Christians who are just the opposite. Some Christ followers have an almost supernatural boldness and fear no confrontation or personal opinion. Recently, I have become certain that clergy and/or unspoken cultural pressure has convinced us there is a right way and a wrong way to share our faith – to evangelize.

It should be a deep concern if we embrace this division, whereas this reality creates a man-made emphasis on proper style or technique. As Christ followers we must be passionate about only one thing: to live a life that brings Him glory by practicing spiritual disciplines as an outward expression of an inward love.

Valuable are the tools and techniques through which we exercise the sharing of our faith. It is paramount that we have the discipline as Christ followers to study our culture and humanity for the express purpose of knowing the most effective means to evangelize. However, when we look at the two definitions at the top of this post – if we read them with the understanding of the Great Commission call on our lives – may we continue to grow more committed and more passionate not about being a type of person or achieving a specific goal. Instead may we live lives as a cause for Christ that will help create heart change and enable souls to be saved; one person at a time – a truly worthy cause.

It was a beautiful weekend for SpringFest last Saturday. Families and members of Faith Baptist joined efforts with area partner churches – Hope Fellowship and Mercy Hill – to show and share the love of Jesus by way of block part ministry here in Memphis.

Hope Fellowship has been a long-running partner in ministry with Faith Baptist for over twelve years now. Pastor James and Sister Williams are more than co-laborers, they are dear friends. It is this friendship that made Saturday especially sweet as we served shoulder to shoulder with members from Hope. There have been several exciting new improvements to the Bent Tree Apartments under the management of Global Missions Fellowship. The “newness” is prime opportunity for Hope to make a difference in the lives of incoming tenants and those who have lived there a long time. In ever capacity possible, Hope members and Faith members served together sno cones, popcorn and painted faces – all for the purpose of exposing residents to Hope Fellowship, Pastor James and its lovely members. One sister, in particular, from Hope was a very bold witness as she shared the love of Jesus through the story of the Gospel with every little boy and girl that came through her line to have their face painted.

Ministry alongside Mercy Hill was a great new effort this year. God sovereignly appointed the date of April 26th between the two churches, knowing that on that particular Saturday the Vollintine Evergreen community would host its annual Artwalk – therefore allowing a really great open door opportunity for Mercy Hill to make an impact. The partnership was effective as Faith was able to come alongside Mercy Hill and provide many of the material supplies needed to the set the stage for personal connection. The volunteer base was approx. 70/30% as Faith played the role of ministry support. Rare is the church that is doing such a great job connecting and loving on people in a very person way like the members of Mercy Hill. The pastoral and elder leadership leads by example taking the time to shake hands and hug every person that came through the Kids Area of the Artwalk.

Members of all three churches can celebrate as two major missiologies (missiology = theory of or type of missions) were achieved:

  1. Healthy Partnerships – while each church, Hope Fellowship and Mercy Hill, are a part of the Faith On Mission Offering they are more than a financial commitment. This weekend was our chance come alongside these incredible expressions of the local body and engage ministry in their local context. This was not “The Faith Baptist Show” where we blow in, blow up and blow out. This was a beautiful picture of local ministry done together.
  2. Cultural Missionaries – particularly with the VECA Artwalk as our platform, serving together with Mercy Hill allowed us to be missionaries in a community event. Often, it is tempting to “create ministry” when ministry already exists all around us. As volunteers at the Artwalk, this allow Mercy Hill and Faith members to engage in the weeks leading up the event, during the event and the weeks after as positive Christian influences in the community.

God is continuing to allow Faith Baptist to be a part of several incredible ministries and churches in the 901 as we passionately fulfill The Great Commission.

Newsletter From Costa Rica

Posting a link to the November/December Newsletter from our missionary friends in Jaco, Costa Rica.

A team from Faith went last August and will go again late summer 2014 to serve alongside David & Eva Daniel and family – including Pastor Daniel & Sarah Barrett at Horizon Church.

Encourage you to subscribe to their newsletter to learn about all the great things God is doing in the coming year through the addiction recover ministry at Horizon Church.

Click Link Below:

Daniel Family Newsletter – Jaco, Costa Rica

Giving Joy For Christmas

There are two realities of Christmas that never fail. The first, almost every department store continues to put out decorations ridiculously early each year. The second, almost every heart in our church family will be stirred to “do something” this year.

Clearly there is little to nothing we can do about the first reality. Yet, as a collection of Christ followers connected to and serving among ministries all across this great city, maybe there is something we can do about the second.

 However, there is a temptation that is alive and well during the holiday season. Though the temptation comes in many forms and fashions, its root is still the same: the temptation to give anything other than joy for Christmas.

When I was a little boy, I was never shy about letting my emotions show. I still remember being out in public with my mom and seeing someone with a physical need or social disability – my face would furrow and my frown would give way to tears. I just didn’t understand why it had to be that way. “If only I could give them something to make them happy.” “If only I could do something to change their circumstance.”

It wasn’t until spiritual maturity began to set in that I realized my tears were misguided. You see, Jesus’ teachings like Matthew 6:25 Therefore I tell you do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? are not just for us to embrace. Teachings like these serve as lenses through which we are to see the world, see humanity. So no matter how “down and out” and unfortunate the condition of a person may be, what matters most is the presence or absence of joy…and all the other fruits of the Spirit; ultimately, the presence of Jesus in their life.

Each November, our Missions Office starts receiving phone calls, emails and even personal visits from passionate church members who have a stirring in their hearts to do something – to make a difference at Christmas. The creative results of each stirring can be anything from wanting to give away clothes to providing turkey dinners. The longer I serve at Faith, the more encouraged I become by the abundance of compassion among our family.

Yet, this Christmas you are invited to join other families at Faith to engage in intentional and relational Christmas ministry. Though the temptation is great to only meet the physical need and to meet as many physical needs as we can, true life change comes through a spiritual investment. Too often busy weeks and full schedules force us into a giving-centric Christmas. This year may we be found, like Christ, using the acts of giving and meeting felt needs as a platform for personal connection.

Let’s be Christ followers who celebrate His birth by sharing His Spirit.

An Event With Purpose

On Sunday October 20th, the Faith On Mission Team asked our church family to DVR their favorite football team and cut short their Sunday nap to bring their family to our 2013 Faith Missions Fair. The fair was hosted on our campus and was a church wide event.

The truth is there is nothing innovative about hosting a Missions Fair or Missions Conference. Churches all over our great city and throughout the country host such events quite often. These missions events come in all shapes and sizes with varying elements, themes and decorations. Pastors, missionaries and the foremost Christians personalities often come from all over the world to fill shoes as the keynote speaker.

So when our Faith On Mission Team set out to cast vision for the 2013 Missions Fair, we wanted to do so with great intentionality. In fact, it led us to the following vision statement for the event:

…to raise education and awareness through participation…

On an almost weekly basis church members will ask me “How can I get involved?” There is no doubt God is alive and well in our church family and because of that fact, many feel the draw of the Spirit to become more engaged to fulfill The Great Commission with their everyday lives. The Fair existed as a way to do just that.

 Our hallways were full of intentionally invited ministries that could provide our church family with the chance for immediate involvement. Through Orphan Care ministry, Church Planting and local ministry opportunities through Engage Memphis, participants could meet ministry leaders and take home a bag full of information on ways to become more involved. It was really exciting to spend time with new ministry friends and long-running ministry partners.

Perhaps the most exciting form of participation was our Skype Stations. Each room equipped with a television, laptop and live host to lead a conversation between missionary and church member. Countries participating in the Stations included Costa Rica, Kosovo, Brazil and Guatemala.

So no matter what event or emphasis we host at Faith through our Missions Ministry, my commitment is to lead us through a process of intentional action. That nothing we do is for our glory or to pat ourselves on the back; instead each gathering here, is to make us better equipped and more prepared to go there – wherever God may lead us!

 

For pictures from this year fair, visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/faithbaptistmissions

 

If you weren’t able to attend the Fair or would like follow up information, here is a list of the ministries that participated – click the name to be directed to the ministry’s website:

 

Orphan Care

Bethany Christian Services

Life Choices

OneLess Ministries

The Pearl House

Be Free Revolution

1 < Orphan

Compassion International

 

Church Planting

Mercy Hill

Fayette Baptist

The Church at Cooper Young

First International Baptist

Pursuit Church Memphis

Resonate Church

 

Engage Memphis

Engage Memphis Ministries

The Warrior Center

Hope Fellowship

Faith Baptist Prison Ministry

K.A.R.E. Ministry

The Morning Center

FSM Street Teams

 

International Ministry Connection

Costa Rica – Daniel & Sarah Barrett

Kosovo – Simon & Christa Hoopes

Guatemala – Mark & Gina Schmidt

Brazil – Waldir & Mary Louise DeSouza

Women’s Missionary Union

 

Guest Speaker: George Siler, Director of International World Changers Network – IMB

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