Monday, August 3, 2009


I shared this post with my church family in our weekly newsletter. While the information here may be directed to our particular church, I think there may be others who can glean some truth, and maybe even some wisdom, from this journey we are on. I welcome any comments you would like to make about this or any subsequent posts concerning God's vision for our churches.

I want all of you to know how much I appreciate your kind comments about this column that appears each week in the Herald. I have also heard from many who do not receive the Herald, who read the column on and on my blog. I know there are many who look forward each week to reading the words contained in this short forum.

However, this week will mark a departure from my usual writing. I feel the leading of the Holy Spirit, to call church members and friends of our church to prayer. I have been burdened for some time about the course and vision of our church. I’m truly not sure that any of us have a clear vision form God about where He wants our church to be in the immediate and long-term future.

I hear a lot of ideas put forth about new things we need to do, and new ministries we should be involved in. I am alerted to ways in which current programs could be better. I get the feeling that there is a movement of the Holy Spirit in our midst, but due to fears of being labeled a “troublemaker” or a “rebel” many of us squelch those feelings and thus do nothing.

We have many opportunities in our church. We are right in the middle of town, we have some of the most influential men and women in Edgefield County as members and friends of our church, and we have some of the best ministry programs available in our area. However, if we lack a clear vision for where God is leading us, then we are simply “rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic”, as I like to say. Are we so busy doing ministry that we forget to ask God what He wants from us?

At some point, we at Edgefield First Baptist, must ask ourselves the very difficult question, “Why do we exist?”, and seek God for the answer. However, it does not end there. When we prayerfully seek God and His vision for our church, we must not then be afraid to move ahead on the path He has laid out for us.

The problem is that we must first take a hard look at ourselves. What do we do well? Where do we fail? There may be some ministries of our church that we are continuing simply because it has always existed in our generation, not because it is ordained by God or is even effective. There may be other ministries that need to begin, but are held back because resources are being funneled into non-effective areas of our church life.

The prophet Zechariah had a vision of a man with a measuring line in his hand, who was going to measure Jerusalem. When Zechariah asked about this, God told another angel to give him the message, “Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,' declares the LORD, 'and I will be its glory within.” (Zechariah 2:4-5)

If we truly wish to be a church that honors God in all we do, then we must take measure of ourselves. We must discard the notion that we are limited by our past or our present condition. Robert Kennedy once said, “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

Only when God’s people truly begin to hear His voice, and heed His words will he extend His blessings upon us. Without His guidance in all we do, then we are reduced to nothing more than a charity organization that provides a little entertainment on Sunday mornings. Is that what we want for our church? I think not.

I love this church. I love the people in this church. However, I love God more and I hope you do also. If we truly want Edgefield First Baptist to be all that God wants it to be, then it is time to stop playing church and going through the motions, and fix our eyes, ears, hearts and minds on Him and Him alone. Then, and only then, will we be a church “without walls” with God as our center and protector as Zechariah describes.

In the weeks leading up to our revival, which begins on September 27, I will devote this column to analyzing the Vision Statement and six “Key Characteristics” that this church adopted in 2003. We need to hold up the “measuring line” to see if we truly embody, not only that vision and characteristics, but also the call that God is extending to us to be His church, for His glory. I know this may be a painful, yet necessary, journey to undertake, but my prayer is that we will begin to see how we measure up to God’s standards, and develop a true sense of where God is leading us as a family of believers.

Saddle up your horses. We’ve got a trail to blaze.
Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace.
Let’s follow our leader, through the glorious unknown.
This is a life like no other! This is the great adventure!
(Steven Curtis Chapman)

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

(1 Corinthians 12:27NKJV)

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