2020 Vision – Part 3
In my previous posts, I discussed the biblical basis for our vision process. In Acts 18, God connected evangelists, apostles, and teachers together to change the city of Corinth. The reason God’s spirit moved so effectively in Corinth is because there were tremendous needs that only God could meet. If it was going to be a movement of the Spirit, there had to be areas that people were ready and dependent upon the Lord to do. We’ve identified five areas that we’d like to address in the next five years.
Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” People are born; disciples are made. It just doesn’t come naturally. Our congregation has shared with us a desire to know, grow, and live more faithfully as believers. We have strong convictions, but we want to understand the doctrine and behavior needed to grow as a Christian. As a pastor, more people express to me that they would love to share their faith and talk with nonbelievers, but they just don’t know how to express their views in a gentle, articulate way. Our struggle is that only 35% of our adults are actively involved in a Sunday morning small group. Many of us attend other groups and Bible studies, but we need multiple options for groups to help us in our faith and commitments.
Our households want to integrate the worship, Bible study, and prayer they do at church into their daily lives. They want to be on mission together and “turn the hearts of fathers to their children.” That’s a struggle because many families in Tallahassee are in crisis or emerging from one. Families are struggling to care for aging parents and young adults simultaneously. Forty percent of households are parented primarily by a single parent; over 14,000 children are in foster care. Even though the divorce rates are declining in our society, the challenge to strengthen marriages has never been greater.
Over 80,000 college students come through our community every year, but only 25% claim Jesus as Lord. Tallahassee is the most economically segregated city in America; and according to Robert Putnam, nationally the poor are dropping out of church faster than any other group in the country. At Sabal Palm elementary, we’ve found that all of these children are on free or reduced lunch in the school year and lack the resources to have healthy meals in the summer. Our church wants to share faith with nonbelievers, but we also recognize that we need to make friends before we can share faith. We work, play, and study in fertile mission fields on university and school campuses. We have seen some initial success and struggles in our Life Group and Sabal Palm ministries that have helped us prepare for this moment, but there’s much more to do. Some of the opportunity is right in our midst. Thirty percent of our Weekday families and thirty percent of our families in Upward basketball indicate that they do not have a church home. In other cases, we’ll need to step outside of our normal routines. We’ll need to share meals with people who live in another part of town or come from a different ethnic background.
Now more than ever we have access to more information and data than ever before. The challenges to connect with each other have never been greater. We lead busy lives, attend large departments, worship in two services, and serve and work in the community. Moms rearing children at home become isolated quickly with no adult conversation. Senior adults trying to remain at home live by themselves but miss regular contact with friends. We want to know more about what’s going on in each other’s lives, the ministries of our church, and to hear about people in crisis. Our challenge is that 65% of us are not actively involved in a Sunday morning small group to hear the information that is needed to build community. In our internationals ministry, people come from over 24 different countries. Thankfully, the Spirit has blessed us with spiritual gifts that can be learned, deployed, and shared to build up the body. We can access these gifts, share them with others, and create the connections needed so that every person can find a place to fit if they desire.
Our church has been blessed by a generation of tremendous leadership over the last 30 years. We recognize with our aging population, we need to train, equip, and deploy another generation of men and women. With the rise of single parents, we need leaders who can help mentor and disciple these parents. Our church has sent missionaries and ministers across the globe over the years. We want to send out those that God is calling to the work of ministry, even if they’re not staying in Tallahassee. We recognize that most people do not know what spiritual gifts are and certainly need to learn how to use spiritual gifts. We want to train current and future leaders based on Jesus’s model of servant leadership. Husbands and wives can show that sacrificial love to one another in their homes. With the good work that’s already happened in Boston and Haiti, these kinds of missions partnerships can be great training bases for leadership at First Baptist.
Certainly these are not all the needs we’ve discovered. These are the ones, however, we think we can address now. With God’s help, we will make a tremendous impact in these areas. How will you help us address these needs?