Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Resourcing

The Bible never envisions disciples who don’t make disciples. It never pictures or presents a situation where one two, three, or even a percentage of the church are the ones doing most of the work of the kingdom, and everyone else stands back, and watches. It shows elders leading and teaching, and equipping all the saints for mission. We are told that God gave different leaders with different gifts “to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up”. The more we know God’s word, the more we sense this.

This summer, I started getting requests, please give us resources for evangelism, and in light of that, we crafted the fall Bible studies around this need. In addition to the Bible studies, I want to tell you about two other outreach training resources that I would like to invite you to be part of.

The First is a Missional Church Learning Experience (MCLE) that the Boston Southwest association will be hosting. What is an MCLE? Basically, it’s a group of churches gathering together to form a learning community to ask what God is saying to the Church today, and how can we best serve God on mission in this rapidly changing culture in a group context. The Boston Southwest Association is bringing in Glynis Lavar (the ABC’s lone missional thinker of note- as best I can tell) for three training sessions to help us think through how we can begin to impact our community as a church that is living on mission for God. We have been asked by the Association to put together a team of people who are interested in exploring the future of Christian faith in America, who will take what they have learned, and begin to help the church implement the things they are learning. The commitment that is required is that you be willing to set aside the 16th of November, the 8th of March, and 28th of June 2014, the dates Glynis Lavar is coming to lead the workshops. If you are interested in learning more about the MCLE, email me, or check out the ABC's MCLE page.  

 

The other thing that I would like to mention is coming up quickly. On the 27th of October, Roger Haber, one of the pastors in the area, will be coming to put on a workshop for the Billy Graham My Hope training at 6:30 at the parsonage. What is My Hope? It’s a national outreach program being run by the Billy Graham association, and we are participating. What we are looking for is people who are willing to do what Matthew did. He invited some people over to meet Jesus. The idea is that you invite people over, have a great meal with them, show a video presentation by Billy Graham, share how you came to Christ, answer questions and have a conversation about the gospel, and invite your friends to know Christ. The Billy Graham Association is launching the outreach in November. For more information, check out the video, email me, or check out Billy Graham's My Hope Page
 

 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The building

When it comes to the building, this has been a busy summer around First Baptist Church, I don't know if you've noticed, but we have had a lot of work done this summer. We put a new roof on the sanctuary and several parts of the building, and MCC sprang for Astroturf on the playground. The roof project became essential when Veronique came home after worship practice and saying, "it's leaking in the sanctuary". That moved us from saying, "We need to get a roof inspection", in some general sort of way, to "we need to get a roof inspection… yesterday".

 Now that the roof is done, we need to begin to deal with the domino effects that come from a leaking roof and of putting off repairs till a later date. As you know, there is some work to do (to say the least).

Here are the things that need to get done sooner rather than later.
  • We need to repair the water damage and paint the sanctuary (Holes in the tin ceiling and peeling lead paint make this the highest priority). 
  • We need to deal with the floor in the sanctuary. The floor is an odd combination of old carpet and linoleum that is being held together with metal strips that run every which way. It’s getting to be unsafe. Veronique sits at the sound table and she has told me several times “this person almost tripped, that person almost tripped”. 
  • We need to deal with the Narthex (the entryway). When you walk in, your eyes are drawn to peeling wallpaper, peeling paint, and water damage and cracks on the ceiling. It needs to be repaired and repainted. It’s our point of entry into the building. It is our first impression to newcomers. 
  • We need to repaint the front of the building, and the other parts of the building that don’t have the siding on them. The sooner the better. The sooner this happens, the less board rot we have to deal with. 
  • Finally, we need to deal with wiring. We have old, knob and tube wiring with the cloth covering in the attic that goes back decades and decades. This is a must fix (so that we don’t have it short out and burn the place down- it’s that kind of old).

There are three reasons I think we need to deal with this stuff sooner rather than later.
  • First, on a basic level, this is a stewardship issue. The longer we put some of this off, the worse the deterioration will be, and more expensive it will be to fix. We’ve found that time and again, when we put off work, what we end up with is a bigger overall bill (Exhibit A of this is the men’s bathroom- last fall’s never ending project that resulted from us procrastinating on replacing a toilet for years and years). That is a poor use of the funds of the church, and its poor stewardship of the building that God has called us to care for (remember, in the end, the building is not ours, it is God’s. We are stewards of it, and we need to be the best stewards we can be). 
  • Second, we live in Medfield Massachusetts, and part of being a church that loves and serves our community well, part of being a missional church, must include not having a space that is not off-putting. The way I see it is this; it can either be an old rundown building, or an old well maintained building. Medfield is full of historic buildings that the community loves; we want to be one of them. So we must think which do we think is more in keeping with Medfield sensibilities? Which do you think is more likely to be visited? Which do you think you will feel more comfortable inviting a friend to? 
  • Third, it’s just being good neighbors. Medfield is going through revitalization. Starbucks is coming, Roche Brothers is coming, and Friendly’s has been converted to a Dunkin Donuts and as good neighbors and members of our community who want to love and serve Medfield, we should want to take part in the revitalization by making our church look as good as possible.

So what’s the next step? I’ve just laid out the need, and the reasons that I think we should do some of these projects it. The next step is for the leadership to sort out the bids, and hire the appropriate contractors for the sanctuary. Fortunately Doug Masters of Masters Touch is helping us sort through all the bids, and making recommendations for us. He has generously offered to advise us through this project, and help us in finding resources that we could never get to on our own. Once we make a decision, we will work on getting the other things done as soon as possible.

So why start with the sanctuary? Two reasons:
  • The first is practical. We need to arrest the decay on the tin ceiling, which is just about irreplaceable. There are holes and rust spots on it, and they will continue to grow. But even more importantly, lead paint chips in the sanctuary are a problem. Our kids are in there. 
  • The second reason is much less practical. I think we would all feel encouraged by seeing that project done after talking about it for so long.
Obviously we don’t have the kind of money that is needed to do all of the stuff I’ve talked about, the sanctuary ceiling and walls, and the floor, and the narthex, and the outside, and the wiring… it’s a big, expensive list. We can pull some out of savings, but not too much, because it is our emergency money. God forbid we needed to replace the heating system suddenly in the middle of the winter and couldn’t because we spent down everything (and keep in mind that the heating system is not young- it’s not out of the realm of possibilities).

That is where you come in. In the next month to month and a half, you will be seeing a capital campaign letter that Al and Tina Blood are putting together, outlining the projects, and the costs. My request to you is, be thinking about the project and how God is calling you to be a part of this overhaul, financially, and through the giving of your time and talents. As you do, consider the example of the Macedonians. Paul says that they gave with rich generosity, and that “they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will (2 Corinthians 8:3-5). Like us, they were not wealthy, and yet they gave for the furthering of the gospel. Consider their example, and please be prayerfully considering what you can give, and how much you can give. It is our responsibility as people who want to see lives changed through the gospel here at First Baptist, it is our responsibility as stewards of the building.