Spiritual Growth Together
There is nothing quite like getting away with a group of friends to rest, renew, and dream. This past week, I’ve had the privilege of spending a few days with deacons and staff in separate retreats. Our themes were the same. We heard reports from our strategic planning process, discussed some of the more challenging issues our church faces, prayed together about the next 3-5 years as a church, and dreamed together about God’s plan for our church. Our deacons retreated to the campus of FAMU. In what was a first for First Baptist, and for FAMU, we had two days of discernment. We were the first outside group to use FAMU’s new grandballroom, and this was the first time First Baptist has held an official event on FAMU’s campus. It certainly will not be our last.
Our staff traveled 45 minutes to St. Teresa. We spent a good amount of time eating. John Rice put out the spread for sure. We also spent time getting to know each other as colleagues and friends.
Spiritual growth doesn’t always happen alone. For me, it often happens with trustworthy groups of people from church. We share a common bond and passion about our calling. Even though not every office and servant group can get together in this way, I learned a few things about our leaders that I want to pass along to you.
- We have great leadership focused on Jesus Christ.
Deacons and staff at First Baptist love our church and want the absolute best so that we can honor Jesus Christ. Every person participated eagerly as we talked through the vision over the next few years.
- We are concerned about our community.
Because we love Tallahassee so much, we have a deep sense of compassion and commitment to see God’s light shine here. We want to partner with other churches to accomplish God’s will. We want to work together with other believers to share the love of Christ. We recognize that no one church can solve the problems of the world. When the church works as one under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, He can use us to carry out his purpose.
- We don’t always need to vote to know that we’re accomplishing something.
We did not vote on anything at either of these retreats, but we arrived at several decisions. We realized that we’re living in special times right now, and we know that we’re going to need each other to accomplish God’s work here. We learned about creative ministries and ideas that could be a part of the future. More than anything we know that reaching consensus immediately is not always the best way to accomplish something. Efficiency in church life is not always effectiveness.
- We want the Bible to inform our decisions.
We have many things we can do as a church, but we want a biblical foundation for every one of our ministries. There is so much good going on in our church and community. The most important things are those that lead us into a deeper engagement with scripture. We want to learn together more about biblical leadership in the early church and today’s church. We want to engage scripture and become better informed about our decisions from a biblical perspective.
- We love and practice our diversity.
First Baptist has people from 24 countries, multiple generations, a variety of political views, and many arenas of life. We like that about our church. In fact, we’ve found that by living into these differences, and treating these distinctions as gifts, we’re actually a healthier body. It takes a lot of work, discipline, listening, and compromise. Because we believe in Jesus as Lord and follow his word, we know that we can use these gifts to build the body of Christ.
- We appreciate the prayer.
I could tell from both groups that we have been prayed for. From both retreats, the spirit was good; and the outcomes were wonderful. I could sense that many in our church have been lifting us up in prayer—as we have for you. Please continue to do so.
- We desire to see our church grow in the right ways.
We want to grow fruitfully in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and faithfully in our walk with Christ. We want to invite more people to be a part of the ministry of First Baptist by sharing a message of grace, hope, truth, and love in Jesus. We believe that we have a compelling witness to share, and together we want to do our part faithfully as a church to allow the Holy Spirit to move.
At our April 29 business meeting, I’ll share even more about these fantastic days.