Transformed by the Spirit (Part 3)

Our denomination, the American Baptists, have initiated a time of discovery and learning through an initiative called “Transformed by the Spirit.”  In this initiative, they are seeking to help local ABC churches understand how to most effectively minister in the new cultural reality the church finds its self in. Lakeview Baptist Church is participating in the discussion.

For more background on Transformed by the Spirit and our church’s participation in it,  check out Transformed by The Spirit (Part 1).

To learn what members at Lakeview Baptist Church named as their “Adaptive Challenges,” check out Transformed by The Spirit (Part 2).

Recently, ABC churches from all around the state of Michigan sent in their “Adaptive Challenges.”  These challenges were then organized into 8 broad issues.  Here are the 8 adaptive challenges identified (in no particular order)

1. Priorities and Competition: The Church increasingly competes against many other claims on time and energy, and no longer has a place of priority in many people’s lives.

2. Communication and Attraction: The vocabulary, methodology, theology, and institutional identity of many churches today fail to attract and communicate effectively with people born since about

3. Discipleship and Spiritual formation: Discipleship in the commitment and growth of mature and faithful followers of Jesus Christ is increasingly difficult to achieve, especially for new members and upcoming generations.

4. Church Institutional and Denominational Identity: The difficulties in having people understand and appreciate church identity in a specific church body and its connection to the American Baptist heritage, and theological and biblical beliefs.

5. Conflict within the Church: The church faces challenges of maintaining understanding and unity while facing diversity, pressures, scarcity and change.

6. Stewardship and Resources: The stress of multiple demands and limited financial resources presents a challenge for accomplishing ministry.

7. Leadership development and support: Training and equipping pastoral and lay leadership would help churches adapt to changing needs and opportunities for ministry.

8. Missional Outreach and Evangelism: Ministry in the local context must become creative, compassionate and consistent in response to the needs of the community in order to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pastors and church leaders across the state of Michigan were asked to rank those challenges according to what is most pressing in their local church context.  I’ll post the results soon.

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Food Pantry

Got the 2011 annual report for the Lakeview Food Pantry, hosted by Lakeview Baptist Church (and staffed by a total of 12 local churches, including ours)

8332 people served last year (some repeat)
2915 family units
3431 Volunteer hours given.

That’s crazy!

 

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Transformed by the Spirit (Part 2)

Our denomination, the American Baptists, have initiated a time of discovery and learning through an initiative called “Transformed by the Spirit.”  In this initiative, they are seeking to help local ABC churches understand how to most effectively minister in the new cultural reality the church finds its self in.

Never heard of Transformed by the Spirit?  Check out “Transformed by the Spirit (Part 1).”

I am interested and encouraged by this learning process that our denomination has initiated. In fact, on December 10, 2011, many of you participated in the “Transformed by the Spirit” initiative by engaging in a discussion where we named “adaptive challenges” that our church (and all churches) must address.

I wanted to share with you some “white board” notes from our gathering.

We identified some cultural shifts:

*The world is a more dangerous place to live
*Mobility – people move around more
*Both parents now work
*Economic changes
*Moral Decline
*Technology
*“Now” Culture;  Instant gratification.
*Family structure has changed. Blended Families/ Single Parents
*Multi-cultural
*Lack of commitment
*Sunday is no longer sacred (nor is Wednesday)
*Political correctness
*Pull – demand – of the secular culture is oppressive

“Adaptive Challenges” identified:

*Overcoming our “cultural Christian” baggage,  attitudes / traditions/ historic heritage, i.e., women wearing pants in church, using projection screen instead of hymnal
*Bringing new people in; the Need to “market” our church.
*Changing our methods, but keeping the message the same.
*Lack of denominational loyalty
*Utilizing effective methods of discipleship
*Leveraging technology

On a denominational level, in 2012, “Adaptive Learning Teams” will explore and learn more about the adaptive challenges that our church (and many other churches in the ABC denomination) have named.  In 2013, “Action Learning Teams” will be formed to provide helpful solutions on how churches like ours can overcome the adaptive challenges that we have named.  The “Action Learning Teams” will give their report of suggested solutions at the ABC Biennial inKansas City in 2013.

On a local level, the “Transformed by the Spirit” initiative (and discussion that took place on December 10) is just one of many conversations that will happen at Lakeview Baptist church in the months and years to come as we seek to understand the culture that we live in and seek to minister effectively in it.

 

What would you add?  What “adaptive challenges” is our local church  (or the church at large) facing?

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Hymn: Power of the Cross

Came across this hymn recently.  It’s a new one written by  Keith and Kristyn Getty.  Wow.  I have a feeling we’ll be adding this to our repertoire soon.

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

CHORUS:
This, the pow’r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev’ry bitter thought,
Ev’ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
“Finished!” the vict’ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

FINAL CHORUS:
This, the pow’r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

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Treating Guests Well

As a church, we need to be excited about guests and highly intentional about the way we treat those who visit our church for the first time.  Think about it:  God has entrusted their care to us.  We need to to take hospitality seriously.   That’s why we staff alot of greeters, both at the front door and the sanctuary doors.  It’s why I’ve instructed our greeters to escort guests to the children’s area, sanctuary, and point out things like where the bathrooms and coat racks are.  We give gifts to guests as way of saying “thanks for coming.”  We offer snacks and coffee after the service so they feel comfortable sticking around chatting if they want to.

I’ve been a guest at many churches and it’s typically a terrifying experience.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. I think each church member can help ease the “uncomfortableness” of our guests by doing these 5 things:

*Say “hello.”  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visted churches and all the people you walk past look away from you or down in front of them.  They don’t mean to be rude or uninviting, but their body language speaks volumes: “I don’t care that you’re here.”  Also, say hello to their kids.   Don’t be creepy about it, just be friendly.

*Smile.  Act like you enjoy attending this place.  I’ve been around my fair share of church people whose facial expressions make me think the IRS has just audited them or that they just went through a colonoscopy.  A simple smile, reflecting the hope you have within you, would work wonders in welcoming guests.

*Be friendly.  Everyone hates going to the BMV (or whatever they call they place where you renew your license).  The reason? Everyone is mean.   I do have to give the Battle Creek BMV props, however.  BC has one of the friendliest BMV’s I’ve ever been to… and when I left it last time, I was actually happier than when I came in (except for the fact that they took alot of my money).  The reason?  They were actually friendly.   I couldn’t believe it!  I won’t mind going back their next time.  If you’re friendly to guests, perhaps they may even look forward to coming to our church next time.  But they’ll stay away if you’re mean.

*Sit next to them during the service.  You know the feeling: You’re surrounded by people and yet you feel all alone.   I hate that feeling. Guess what?  Guests feel the same way.  I remember being in a PACKED church that sat about 200 and had about 20 rows in it.  I was the only one sitting in my row.  That was weird.  And uncomfortable. I must have been foaming at the mouth or something.   I’m not saying that you should sit on top of guests, but sit nearby and interact with them when appropriate.  Avoiding people like the plague is  off-putting…and it’s bad hospitality.

*Introduce yourself and your family.  Tell them your name.  Ask for theirs.  And remember their name next time they visit.  You might be their only point of connection.

There are a bunch of other things you can do to help welcome guests, but practicing these is a good start.

At LBC, we always want to get better at hospitality.  In fact, we send each person an email after the service thanking them for attending, offering to pray for them AND asking them to fill out a brief survey on their experience so that we might learn from them.  On their second visit, we send them another email with a link to another survey.  In this way, they can point out things they they see and experience that those of us who have been around for a while might not be aware of.  The surveys aren’t rocket science… they just ask for some simple impressions…

Survey 1

Survey 2

What do you do to help make guests feel welcome?

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Financial Peace University

Class starts on Jan 25 @ 6:30pm @ LBC.  Free preview Jan 11 @ 6:30pm.  All church office to register!!!  269-963-4979.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/34626230[/vimeo]

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30 Days to Live

 

What if you learned you had just 30 days to live?  How would you live your life different?  Is it possible to make the most of every day, right now?  Join Lakeview Baptist Church for “30 days to live” as we meet several brave people facing life-threatening illnesses. Once you hear their stories and experience God’s truth, you’ll never look at life the same.  Series begins Sunday, January 8, 2012.

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Financial Peace University

I’m a Dave Ramsey Evangelist.  I don’t get paid for that gig– but I am one because I’ve seen the impact he’s made on people’s lives as he teaches through Godly financial principles.  You’re never to young (or old) to learn how to best manage the money God has entrusted you with.  In fact, the younger you are, the more you’ll benefit from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace.  This is stuff all College-age people need to hear before you really have a chance to screw up your financial future. You’ll be encouraged to stay out of debt (and be given great reasons to do so), start saving, and when you retire, you’ll be a multi-millionaire.

Being financially wealthy certainly isn’t everything, but it sure beats the other option, especially when it can be achieved by simple choices made early in life.  Check out the free preview on Jan 11 @ 6:30pm and then make a decision if you want to participate.  For LBC members, the first 15 slots get a $50 scholarship, making the class $49.  Additional scholarships available for LBC members  who need it.

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Transformed by the Spirit (Part 1)

“Transformed by the Spirit”is a new initiative from the office of the General Secretary of The American Baptist Churches USA to name “Adaptive Challenges” that face all churches in the ABC (and beyond) that minister in the 21st century.  An adaptive challenge is “a ministry challenge that we are currently facing that we do not presently have an answer for, but must be addressed if we are to live into the future God has for us?”

Some background on this initiative–from Rev Roy Medley, General Secretary, and Rev. Dr. Dwight Stinnett, (Taken from ABC-USA Website):

American Baptist churches are in the midst of significant change. Evidences of this are everywhere. Dramatic demographic shifts are impacting almost all of our congregations. Our current membership is aging while growing and diverse populations in the communities we seek to serve are getting younger. Declining revenues continue to impact our ability to sustain programs or maintain staff in many levels and settings while, paradoxically, we are surrounded by resources and massive transfers of wealth. Newly arriving immigrant communities are enriching our neighborhoods and congregations, presenting great opportunities, and challenging our ability to reach out across cultural and ethnic divides. Recent controversies have worked to divide us from one another. Mistrust and criticism that have surfaced in many parts of our culture make it more difficult for us to work together. Yet avenues for communication are proliferating, people are seeking community and are eager to participate in endeavors that make a difference.

In the midst of these realities, we believe that . . .
The living Spirit of Christ is at work among us in the midst of these changes. God has not abandoned us. The Spirit, we believe, is actually using many of these disruptions to invite us to recover our heritage as Baptists. This includes reclaiming our posture of living as a people of faith who are on a journey of seeking to participate in God’s mission in the world, wherever that mission takes us. Our Baptist story informs us about how to serve in the midst of brokenness in the world, how to respond to those on the margins of society, and how to bear faithful witness to our risen Lord in the midst of confusion or despair.

In order to reclaim this heritage, we understand that . . .
Together we need to address these challenges. Business as usual is no longer possible if we are to live into the future that God has for us. Just trying harder to make existing programs work is not a sufficient solution. As important as structural changes are, they will not provide us with the lift we need. There are deeper challenges that need to be addressed which will take us into the very habits, values, and practices that shape us as Baptists. Engaging these is what we understand to be adaptive work—meaning that we are in need of re-learning what it means to be a people of faith being led by the Spirit of Christ in this new context in which we find ourselves today. The definition of an adaptive challenge is as follows: What ministry challenges are we currently facing, for which we do not presently have an answer, but which must be addressed if we are to live into the future God has for us? 

Lakeview Baptist Church is going to participate in this initiative. There will be a gathering held at Lakeview Baptist Church on Saturday, December 10 from 9-11am to participate in naming adaptive challenges that we face.  This will be an important conversation to have on a local level as we discern the challenges that we face as we minister to the Battle Creek Community.  The point of this gathering is not to discover solutions, but only to name the challenges at hand.  In the months ahead, we will work towards discovering solutions towards the challenges that we name at this meeting.

This is an open invitation to all members and regular attenders of Lakeview Baptist Church.  Please attend, if you are able.

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The Purpose of Christmas- A Time for Miracles

 Message Audio link -> The Purpose of Christmas-A Time for Miracles. 12.4.2011

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