John Carter – January 1, 2017 – Rollingview Baptist Church
An Overview of the Direction of Rollingview: 2017
In light of a theology of an all supreme and sovereign God it might seem a waste to plan and dream. We might think this because if all of our step are directed by God then it doesn’t matter what we do (Proverbs 16:9). Right? However, this fails to recognize the reality that God has given us the ability to dream, the gifts to create, and the responsibility to work (Genesis 1:28; Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 96:1). It is somewhere here, between this reality that God directs all of our steps and gives us opportunity to create, that we cautiously and humbly look to the future and ask God, “how can we, as individuals come together as one body to bring greater glory to God (1 Corinthians 4:19; James 4:15)?”
So I am presenting six (6) ways that I see the Rollingview church family focusing our attention and efforts for the sake of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:23) during this next year.
Christ Centered-God Glorifying Corporate Worship
When we gather together on Sunday mornings our priority is to make much of Christ. He must increase and I must decrease (John 3:30). Not that we ignore God the rest of the week, but we make a special effort to gather on Sunday mornings to direct our intentions, our minds, our affections, our families, and anything else under our control towards the living God, who is worthy of all worship and praise. We do this through the reading and teaching of the Bible (the word of God), prayer, singing, giving, confession, testimony, and through the two Church ordinances of communion (the Lord’s Supper) and baptism. As we learn in Hebrew 12:28, there is acceptable and unacceptable worship. Therefore, we will be careful to worship God in an acceptable fashion according to his standards and not our own.
A Passion for Knowing the Bible
In the book of Acts, the church of Brea was filled with “Jews (who) more noble than” others because “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures (Old Testament) daily to see if” the message of Jesus was true. This year I challenge each of us to read the Bible with fervency and sobriety. Instead of 15 more minutes on the phone, spend 15 more minutes reading the word of God. There is a bible reading plan (by theBibleProject.com) in the information area in the entry way that gives you a plan to read the entire Bible in one (1) year. These plans also include links to short videos for each book of the Bible to help you understand what is going on in that book. I encourage and warn you, do not fall into the sin of allowing others to be the only ones who study the bible for you.
The Command Jesus gave all believers leaves us no room to get around our responsibility to preach the gospel and instruct others in the teaching of Christ. It is easy to expect pastors to do the work of the ministry, but this is not what God has in mind. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is the responsibility of the pastors to equip the Church to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-3). The Sunday School and HEAR EAT ASK we are each provided to become better equipped to make disciples.
Sunday School will be a time where we are each equipped with the fundamentals of the Christian Faith. The Adults will focus on the topics that seem to be most pressing to our body and church life. The children will be instructed in the basic and advanced doctrines of our faith. During the year we will all be going over the New City Catechism. You can find more info at NewCityCatechism.com.
HEAR EAT ASK will provide each of us an opportunity to bring our unbelieving friends to hear what the Christian faith are as we study through the Bible. After each study there will be a meal with an open forum question and answer time. This will allow anyone to ask difficult questions about the Bible and the Christian faith.
When we stand before Christ he will not ask if, “we went to discipleship training?” But he will ask, if “we made disciples?” This year we will not only challenge ourselves to make disciples but to also make new disciples. This means finding people to preach the gospel to and then investing into their lives to show them the truth of the gospel. To help create opportunities for this, every monthly planning meeting will end in going out and presenting the gospel to various people in the local community and Durham. These are opportunities to do with other believers what might be terrifying to do alone.
Do Well with What We Have
It is tempting to make everything urgent. But this is not realistic or even helpful. At some point we need to assess what good things we need to do while making the difficult decision to set aside other good things. For example, we can’t provide a meaningful VBS outreach to our community if we are unable to meet the current needs of the children. If we are unable to provide consistently for the care and teaching of 3-5 little people, then how will we be able to do the same for 2 dozen little ones?
It is also tempting to calendar everything that “the church should be doing.” For Rollingview the calendar is and will remain very simple because we need to avoid the trap that we are doing ministry (making disciples, evangelizing, fellowshipping) simply because a calendar says we are. Although this might be a departure from what some of us are used to, we should avoid saying, “the church needs to (fill the blank)”, and replace it with, “I am going to (fill in the blank)”. This means that if the only time you worship, study, sing, gather together, evangelize, serve, pray, or do any other Christ-like activity, when it is on the church calendar, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. What we do as a body should be in addition to, a reinforcement of, and further training for what we each do in private.
With all the many good things that we do as a body, we will be careful to focus on the areas that we have been given talents and resources for.
Without God we can do nothing. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us. That is why we should desire to be people constantly entrenched in prayer. In our private lives and in our corporate lives. Although we drench our time of corporate worship in prayer it is necessary that, as a body, we carve out other times for extended times of prayer. With First Friday we will have an opportunity to come together and have a time of intimate prayer. These nights of prayer will be like worship services driven by prayer. It is desirable that these nights are only a taste of our private prayer lives.
If we have the privilege of a building for gathering, then we need to make careful and purposeful efforts to not only care for but make improvements upon it. Each generation that has used this building has had different needs and has resulted in different improvements. We are no different. So this year we are not only going to do what is necessary to care for the physical building and property, but we are also going to take steps to make improvements that will better meet the needs of this generation. Some of these things have already been taking place and others are still yet to come. It is my hope that when we come here we not only find it useful for our needs but that it is also a place of glory and beauty (Exodus 28:2). To do all of these things will require sacrificial giving on all our parts. Not just of our financial resources but of every other resource at our disposal (time, energy, spiritual gifts). Now at this time I could make compulsory remarks on what is required of each of us to give in order to meet some arbitrary standard, but this will not result in God glorifying sacrifice. This year we have the opportunity to polish and shine this gift from generations past.
A Hopeful Future
We have now entered year 3 of a church replant. Two years ago the church that was remaining was dead. But now, now we can see small glimmers of hope. Little signs of life in this church that show (if the Lord will) that we might become a healthy and vibrant church. The question for all of us to ask is, “Am I willing to follow God wherever he might lead us?”
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