A note from Pastor Evan, Jan 2019
My dear friends—
Happy New Year to you! As I reflect on this past year, I can’t help but think of one of some of the lyrics from “All Glory Be to Christ,” one of the new songs we have been learning:
Should nothing of our efforts stand
No legacy survive
Unless the Lord does raise the house
In vain its builders strive
You see, even though it has only been 7 months, so much has taken place in our church. Not only did you receive a new (and rather young and inexperienced) pastor, we have pruned, remodeled, relaunched several programs in preparation for what God might chose to do.
Even so, I am sobered with the awareness that our legacy, our efforts are of little importance if God does not raise the house. If he will not bring fruit to our strategy, wisdom to our plans, life to our dry bones, our striving is indeed vanity.
I am confident our great and awesome God is at work. He has already answered some big prayers, and I am astonished by the unity and gospel-wakefulness he is responsible for among you. For example, in response to your prayers, God provided us a unique opportunity to serve Bayless Elementary School, and you stepped up to meet it in a big way. Also, God provided generous partners to generate a new website, absorb our financial bookkeeping, and remodel our kid’s ministry. And, not only did our Christmas Eve service make many aware of the ongoing presence of our church; some neighbors walked through our doors for the very first time. May God receive every ounce of glory he deserves, Amen?!
But we still must confess, that we have far to go. Experience with other declining churches and even brief engagement with our community has made clear that our neighbors are not just apathetic to our church, they are skeptical that we are here for their good. This makes sense in a city that is quickly de-churching, where fewer and fewer people are identifying as “religious” at all, and where many have a fairly bad taste in their mouths for Christians, especially Baptists.
This may come as a surprise to many, and just as certainly as we haven’t intentionally contributed to their skepticism, our neighbors aren’t to blame for it. Instead, as those who have come to know his grace, we should be the most ready to confess our need for it and to extend it to others.
Our neighborhood presents no hopeless cause. Rather, it presents an opportunity for God to show off through his people. And what better way for the life-giving power of the gospel to be put on clear display than through revival that prompts us to action. In fact, if indeed God is renewing and restoring our church, as it seems he is, it is because he has good works still for us to do (Eph. 2:10) and to do HERE.
Just think, why does God have YOU at Bayless during these years? Are you satisfied merely to take in an occasional sermon or Sunday School lesson? Are you content to watch the sidelines as “professionals” take the charge? Are you hoping only to ride out your final days in routine safety? If indeed you are a Christian, the Spirit within you is hardly so lukewarm. Do you dare instead to take God at his Word and join me?
A stream without outlet becomes a stagnant pool, dangerous to the thirsty and breeding ground for parasites. How similar is a church which is not moved from knowledge to mission? A breeding ground for contentions, even dangerous to those seeking the truth.
Friends, having spent these months in DISCOVERY & ABIDING (priorities which will never cease) we now have the opportunity to move into a season of EQUIPPING & ENGAGING--equipping all at Bayless that confess Christ to be disciple-makers, and sending one another to engage our beautiful city with the gospel.
It is time for all hands on deck in prayer, in mercy, in discipleship, in hospitality, in generosity, in service, in witness. What role might God have for you to play? Are you ready to find out?!
Let living water satisfy
The thirsty without price
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
All glory be to Christ!
In Christ for God’s glory,