Exciting times are ahead for our church! Several people commented that they appreciated the historical look at our church’s past in last Sunday’s sermon. Next year, 2015, will mark our 125th anniversary! For those who missed the sermon, the podcast can be found on the church’s website and is titled “Unique and Universal”.
Now, of course, no sermon is prepared in a vacuum. What is shared in the pulpit is influenced by discussions with church members, people in thecommunity and, most importantly, by way of prayer and Bible study. An major contributor to the May 4th sermon was a very important study that I have been part of, in which I alternate roles between being a student and teacher.
The opportunity for this study came several months back when our church was invited by the ABC Northwest to participate in a specialized training helping us pursue God’s vision for our congregation. From this understanding will come a mission statement, which will provide helpful clarity for our church’s future focus.
The training we are receiving comes from the Leadership Networks’ “Church Unique” curriculum. The basic idea behind this training is that each congregation is uniquely gifted to share the universal message of Jesus Christ: thus the title for Sunday’s sermon: “Unique and Universal”.
Once a month, Chris Cummings and I travel to the First Baptist Church of Everett, where nine other ABC Northwest pastors & leaders meet together to learn how to apply the ideas of these helpful insights to our own churches. We then turn around and come back to meet with a group here at the church where we teach the very principles we just learned.
The basic and simplified idea is to look at how God desires to utilize the uniqueness of our physical location & building, the particular make-up of our congregation, and the passions of our people to draw our community to Christ.
As simple as the ideas may seem, the process is actually a little more involved and complex. It was looking at the passions of our people that drew me to such heroic stories of our church, such as the fact that we were founded with a heart of mission to the lost; our first pastors were more like missionaries than what we might consider a ‘typical pastor’.
From this heart for mission, we found a church that was uniquely gifted with a passion and ability to reach the young. The victory story I’ve heard from our long-time members was the joy with which our educational wing was constructed to meet the real need of space for all the children we had in our church. In the sermon, I mentioned that the rumor was there were so many children in our church at that time, that Sunday School classes were literally meeting in the little changing rooms by the baptismal.
After the service, Marge Pieratt confirmed the stories. She said, as a child, she didn’t realize how small those rooms really were.
Insufficient room for all the children wanting to learn about the love of Jesus? What a great problem to have! A willingness to tear down half of the church building to accommodate the children? What a beautiful heart of service and sacrifice! How pleased God must have been!
Clearly the new construction of the educational wing indicated that our church understood our special call and our unique ability to reach Port Angeles with the universal message of God’s love. Please pray for our team as we faithfully strive to understand how we may, today, stand in such a great tradition of outreach and purpose. The team includes Wayne Roedell, Kristy Huff, Christie Smith, Chris & Stacie Cummings, Rhys Crawford, Brad Tesreau and Pastor Tim.
For those interested in learning more, you can purchase a book that is also titled “Church Unique” by Will Mancini. (If copyright allowed it, I’d just reprint Max Lucado’s forward to the book, as it is a powerful, first hand, testimony of the effectiveness of this tool for discovering our unique vision).
This article originally appeared in the May 2014 edition of the FBC newsletter. Click here to view the rest of this newsletter.