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Pastor's Report

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Pastor's Report

Dear Flock,


Several months ago we embarked on a prayer journey together - fasting and praying that God would bless us with 40 baptisms in the year 2019.  This would be the highest number of baptisms in any given year in our church’s history.  The vision for the prayer came from my own private prayer time with the Lord.  

Since we began that prayer journey together we have celebrated that Christopher Buckla, Michael Roggenbuck, Wendy Reese, Jesse Widder, Jennifer Cummins, Amanda Kendrick and Bella Johnson have all made the decision to follow Jesus.  

I am overjoyed that these seven people have made this decision that will shape and give direction for the rest of their lives.  It is wonderful and joyous to see!

And even as we celebrate their decision for Christ I encourage you to remain in prayer with me that God would continue to use us to reach out so that others can learn about Jesus as we follow him here.  When was the last time you prayed for the ministry and people of our church?  I know I am guilty of not always praying as I should.  I can be so action driven that I can often find myself having begun a meeting or a project only to suddenly remember that I need to pause so that we can initiate the whole thing with prayer.

Thankfully we have a God who hears our prayers - even when we forget to lead off with them.  I hope that this brief letter may serve as a reminder to any within our flock that may have found the busyness of life crowding out the importance of starting and ending your day with kneeling before the Savior of our souls and listening to His direction for our lives, for our families, for our church, and for our world.

James 5 tells us that the prayers of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  Won’t you join with me as I continue to pray for the ministries of our church - that we would continue to lead more and more people to that place of decision where they give their hearts and lives to Christ.


Blessings,

Pastor Tim

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Pastor's Report

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Pastor's Report

The final sermon series before the beginning of the 2018 advent season was a study through the troubling book, 1st Peter.  I say it is a troubling book because it is largely about trouble, specifically the trouble we Christians should expect to face as we live faithful lives within a faithless world.  While our clear preference would be to live free of pain and sorrow, this isn’t the promise we are given in scripture.  Rather, Jesus clearly teaches that a life of faith is one which is willing to pick up our cross and to follow him (Luke 9:23).   After all, says Jesus, the world hates him and so too will it hate us (John 15:18-25).

The observant reader may have noticed that I state that it was 1st Peter which was the troubling book, but both the references above are from the Gospels, and not 1st Peter.  And you, oh reader, are correct.  This is because Peter remains true to the teachings of Jesus in his letter.  Within our lives difficulties will arise.  And as in our own lives individually, so too within the church.  Challenges, struggles, heartache, hardship - these ought not surprise us for we have been forewarned.  And yet, it seems, we are always surprised.

So then what’s it all for?  What’s it all about?  Isn’t the Bible supposed to be “Good News”?  Where is the “Good” within this News”?

Well, now I will quote from Peter’s letter, for he says:

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 

(NIV: 1 Peter 2:9)

My friends, we have been chosen out of this world into the promise of the world to come.  We’ve been taken from the darkness into his wonderful light; and come what may, we can continue to live within this hope and expectation.  And not only have we already been rescued from all that this world may do to us, even as some suffering may be yet to come …, we have also been raised up to a new life with a new purpose.  Not only have we been redeemed from the darkness, we have been made royal priests.  


Royal because we have been adopted into God’s family.

Priests, because we have be given a great commission.  We are to go out into all the world and proclaim the truth of Jesus and his gift of salvation.

It is because we have been faithful to our position as royal priests that we have seen a wonderful revitalization of our congregation over the past many years.  In the past 10 years we’ve had more baptisms than the previous 30 years combined!  Such outreach and success is only found when we are faithful to the call God has given to his people.  This is why we can celebrate that in 2018 we added 18 people as members of our church and nine of those were by baptism.

And yet …

While our trend has clearly been toward growth, evangelism, and new faith, 2018 was also a year of farewells.  While we added 18 people by baptism, we have released 27 people from membership.  There are a variety of reasons that people have left, including 5 of our faithful saints who have been welcomed into the arms of our Savior.  

A good number have left us because they’ve sought out employment in other communities.  The number of goodbyes grows even larger when we consider the people who have moved that, though regular attenders, never took the step of joining the church.  

2018 is the first time in 13 years that we closed out the year with fewer members than with whom we began. 

This loss is magnified by way of the unique demographics of our church, by and large we are missing two generations.  The 9:30 service is predominately comprised of people who are part of the Builder Generation.  The 11:00 is predominately comprised of people who are part of the Millennial Generation.  We are sorely lacking in people who are part of the Boomer Generation and Generation Xers.


Of course the good news in this is that a decade ago we didn’t even have the Millennials, which we now do.  And praise the Lord for that growth.

But because we have so few people in the age range of 40 to 65, we are missing much of the unique strengths that demographic would bring to our church.  Speaking in generalities, that age range tends to be the years where we have the most free time to volunteer within the church because our kids are either in high school or have left the home.  We also have the most freedom to be financially generous as we’ve established ourselves within our professions, but are not yet living on a fixed income.  And by our 40’s to 60's we will have enough years under our belt, or perhaps hanging over our belts just a bit, that we bring a bit of extra wisdom and experience to the church.

Of course, as our Builder Generation knows all too well, the whippersnappers among us are gonna blink, and suddenly their 30’s will be behind them; and they’ll be in the midst of their 40’s with their 50th birthday staring them down.  And they’ll wonder how they got there so fast.  

So long as we keep pressing forward, true to the royal call of our priesthood, this is where we will find ourselves come the annual report for 2028.  But, alas, that is still a decade away; and this is the report looking back on 2018 where our membership has declined, and families have moved away.  

So, what are we to do?  The answer is, we turn to scripture, and we heed the calling of our Lord.  We continue to recognize that we are the ROYAL PRIESTHOOD.  We take upon ourselves the challenge presented to Esther by her uncle Mordichi.  Esther, faced with the challenge of standing for God’s People did not shrink away, but rose to the challenge, heeding the words of her uncle:  “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (NIV: Esther 4:14).

We too have a royal position as priests within God’s kingdom.  We know there will be challenges.  We know there will be occasions to rise up and press onward.  We know that we must never lose the urgency of reaching the lost with the hope of the Gospel; and we must be willing to surrender our desires to him, to do whatever he asks, and to give whatever he demands, that more would come to know him.

When our Children’s Ministry struggles for lack of teachers; when our volunteer positions remain vacant; when our budget struggles to meet expenses; when our pews appear more empty than full on a Sunday morning this is our opportunity to rise up to our royal position, and to remember our call to “Lead People in an Ever Changing Culture to the Hope of Jesus.” 

For to such a time as this, you have been appointed to the royal priesthood of God.  Let us go forth, and declare Jesus to a world lost in sin and darkness; and which is in desperate need of being brought into the light.


- Pastor Tim

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"He Called A Little Child To Him"

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"He Called A Little Child To Him"

Grayson Adoption-2.JPG

The big event for our family recently was the celebration that we got to adopt our 5 year old, Grayson.  It is a wonderful thing that now what Stacy and I have felt in our hearts for so long is a reality legally recognized - Grayson is our son.  Praise God for this blessing!
    For those who have followed with our family on this journey, you know that it has been lengthy.  Specifically 1,399 days.  That is how long it was from when Grayson first came to live with us until the finalization of his adoption.
    And of course, more hearts than just Stacy and mine are involved, in addition to the Grayson adoptive extended family - grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins - there are his forever siblings: Vivian, Jackson, and Ian.  
    In fact, the inspiration for this article comes directly from reflecting on the love Grayson’s big brother has for his younger sibling.  Jackson and Grayson are separated in age by just over 2 years, Jackson and Vivian will turn 8 on Jan 15 while Grayson becomes a big 6 year old on March 1st.
    And for kids so close in age - sibling rivalry is a thing.  Everything from competition for mom’s attention to a ready scape-goat to blame for mutual bad decisions are evidences of this phenomenon that we see on a daily basis.  (Or perhaps it’d be more accurate to say “hourly” or even “minute by minute” rather than “daily”.  Thank you Jesus that Stacy gets to be the one to stay at home.  Ha!)
    But in the midst of the squabbles, disagreements, and blame shifting there is also evidence of the love between the kids.  I recently posted a short video on my facebook page of all four of our kids dancing together to the happy music that played at the end of a family movie we’d watched together.  Oh, such are the moments that a parent holds onto!  
    Along with sibling squabbles, another aspect of childhood can often be finicky eating.  Jackson epitomizes this.  As Stacy and I are anticipating this year’s Thanksgiving meal, we know that in spite of a table set with turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows the plate in front of our eldest son will be bare but for a single bread roll, no butter, and a plain microwaved hotdog. Jackson has been a very picky eater ever since he first learned the word “no”.
    But one food has stood out as a favorite for this young man, one particular food has towered above all others as the most decadent of all treats - behold the wonder of Peanut Butter!  Oh you blessed source of protein for my picky-eating son. 
    And perhaps those who work in our children’s church program can now anticipate where this story may be headed.  As our church has grown, we’ve instituted a “child-check” program where parents can check in their kids and the child is given a sticker to wear that includes their name and any information the parent needs to communicate about their child to the volunteers: information such as allergies. 
    Every Sunday, when his mom checks Grayson into children’s church, and his badge is printed out, it communicates to everyone that this little boy is allergic to - peanuts.  And not just mildly allergic, but deathly so. A simple peanut could kill our boy.
    It was around age four that Jackson first learned of his kid brother’s vulnerability.  After what had to have been some deep and personal contemplation, young Jack pulled his mom and dad aside and shared with us a significant decision at which he’d arrived.  He confessed to us that “if it means we can keep Grayson I will give up peanut butter.”
    This simple statement of sacrifice has continued to bless his father’s heart ever since it was first stated - it can even get me teary-eyed if I think on it too long.  I don’t think I can overstate young Jackson’s love for this sweet and salty concoction.  
    Of course, as adults, we know that whether or not Jackson eats peanut butter doesn’t really impact our ability to adopt Grayson, and that there are ways to protect Grayson from peanut butter without needing to entirely remove it from the house.  Through the years, we’ve been able to find means of compromise where Jackson is able to enjoy his favorite food so long as he sits at a different table while eating and washes his hands immediately afterward.  (Truthfully this is not a bad practice even if there isn’t a food allergy with which to be concerned).
    But comprehension of the details wasn’t what was most important; rather, what engenders joy and pride in Jackson’s father is the love such a willingness for sacrifice displays.  It is so beautiful in fact that years after the offer his dad would remember it well enough to write a whole newsletter article about it.
    For the past several Sundays, we have been studying 1st Peter. In this book, the Apostle Peter tell us that Heavenly Father shares how He finds joy in the relationships between us, His children.  Peter writes:

"Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.”  1 Peter 3:8 (NLT)

    As we think of peanut butter, I think it is appropriate that “sandwiched” between the ideas of sympathizing with each other and being tenderhearted we are told to “love each other as brothers and sisters”.
    How often do church squabbles, church splits, or even a loss of love for the church come from attitudes which are concerned only for the preferences and tastes of those who are already part of the family.  What would have been the normal childish behavior of a four year old would have been to think along the lines of “but this was my home first, and in this home we have always loved and enjoyed peanut butter.  Let the kids who don’t like it my way find a different home”.
    But what Jackson did instead showed a willingness to give up what he loved, to give up his tastes and preferences, that he might open the door to the person who did not yet belong.  His desire was not to protect his own, but rather to grow the family; to welcome a brother.
    May we all be so childish.
    At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Blessings,

Pastor Tim

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” - Matthew 18:2-5 (NIV)

Jackson Vivian Grayson in Costume.JPG

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"Consider the work of God"

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"Consider the work of God"

Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26

From Rev. Timothy Hughes, Senior Pastor

In the fifth chapter of Luke, we are told about how men, faithful to their friend, cut a hole in the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching.  Their hope was that by lowering their friend through the hole Jesus might heal him.  Then, in the book of Acts, while Peter was reclining on the roof, he received his vision from Christ informing him that the hope of the Gospel is for everyone, even the Gentiles.  There is even a scandalous story regarding King David spying on the lovely Bathsheba while she bathed on her roof.  While rarely considered, roofs are important things.  Shelter, after all, is one of the basic needs for humanity.

Those in the know with our church can probably guess where this newsletter article is heading.  It is time, in fact we are a bit overdo, for fixing our roof.  And after many years of keeping the rain off our heads during worship our current shelter is starting to fail.  For this reason, the Elder Board, in cooperation with the Property & Maintenance and the Stewardship teams for the church has contracted with Diamond Roofing to repair our church.

Have you ever considered the miracle story of Jesus healing the paraplegic man from the perspective of the homeowner?  Well, perhaps now is your chance.  My hope is the homeowner was overjoyed that his residence was the location of such a wonderful act of grace.  My hope is he saw the repair work, which needed to get done, was a small price to pay; that this sick gentleman was able to be made well; and that everyone else present was able to learn more about the power of the forgiveness of God.

May we too consider the work of God within the walls of this church an investment well worth the cost of keeping our roof in good repair.  The bid for the job is right around $100,000.  This is no small fee I know.  However, the wonderful men and women who serve on our Stewardship team are already working together to develop a plan on how we can rise to the challenge.  

Of course the plan, whatever the finer points, will include a very simple concept: People who value what Jesus is doing within our church will be asked to financially support this project.

And my oh my, is there already some wonderful news to share on that front!  A wonderful couple who know of our church and value our ministry, even as they themselves do not attend here, felt led by Christ to help us on our way.  By way of their generous donation, we are already $35,000 toward paying off the repair work, which hasn’t even yet begun!  Isn’t that wonderful!

This leaves us with an anticipated expense of $65,000 to make our roof ready to house our congregation’s worship, praise, and miracles for coming generations.  You will have the opportunity to be part of this legacy of Jesus’ continued ministry in our church.  Won’t you consider giving generously?

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God Declared His Love

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God Declared His Love

Dear Flock,  

If you’ve been to a  grocery store anytime recently it is hard to miss the fact that Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching.  The color Red is everywhere.  Candy hearts too, decorate the aisle way.  And  very soon every school aged child is going to come home with a backpack full of cheap cardboard valentines with pithy little statements where cartoon characters and Super heroes will shout in bold letters phrases like the two cards below with Superman boasting, “I’m Flying High for you… Valentine” and the villain  the Joker professing that it’s “No Joke, I like you!”

I enjoy seeing kids get these little tokens of appreciation and celebrate how simply being kindly thought of by classmates can build their own sense of self-worth and importance.  And when the card comes with a little bit of dime store candy, all the better!  Am I right?

It is amazing what a statement of care, even when expressed in a silly little way, can mean to a person.  And, you know, this is a reality of human nature.  It doesn’t stop in childhood, but continues on through all of life.  We all love being loved.  We all appreciate being appreciated.  

The reason for this is simple.  We have all been created in the image of God.  God is, in his very nature, within his very being, Love itself.  The complex truth that He is Triune—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—proclaims that God is relational in a deeper and more profound way than our finite minds will ever fully comprehend.  But even as we wrestle with the intricacies of high and lofty theology, we are always able to simplify the complex with a statement so basic even a child can understand it.  The whole of our relationship to God is this: God is Love.  

And, whether we are 8 or 80, this is a truth well worth remembering.  

And God declares his great love for us in a message far greater than what any simple card could express.  Rather, God declared his love for us by sending His Son.  Jesus came for no other purpose than to declare to the world God’s great love for the world and to provide the means by which we could be restored to right relationship with God.  

No sin, no transgression, no failure will ever surpass the Love of God.  

As we near this day which celebrates love, may you remember Who it is that loves you. 

Blessings,

Pastor Tim

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  

John 3:16-17 (KJV)

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Dear Flock,

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Dear Flock,

Jesus once observed a widow placing a gift of two small coins in the offering at the temple.  Knowing the heart of the woman who gave the gift and knowing the heart with which she gave – Jesus called the attention of all around to see her, that they too may recognize her faithfulness, and learn from it.

So too have I been blessed recently to see such a gift given.  You see, there is a woman in our congregation who much like that widow is faithful in her giving.  With her permission, I am sharing her story.  This lovely lady gives what she can afford from her fixed income.  At one time this was a gift totaling $50.00 a month.  But a couple years ago, heeding the prompting of the Holy Spirit, she sought to grow her gift.  Desiring to give more over to the care of her Lord, she increased her giving by 1 cent.  It was for her both a fearful and faithful thing, to push past that $50.00 mark when finances feel so very tight.

After a full year of giving a penny beyond her tithe every month, this courageous woman of generosity grew her gift again.  This time her increase wasn’t just monthly, but it was now a weekly donation of and additional $2.00.  

And then, with the start of 2017, as she continues to find joy in trusting God with her resources, she has increased her gift once again to a full $3.00 each week.  So within this multiple year journey our sister in Christ has seen her gift grow from $50.00 each month to $62.01, and on months with five Sundays to $65.01.

My friends, having become aware of this faithful woman’s faithful giving, and being so encouraged by it, I wanted to follow Jesus’ example and lift her up as an encouragement to us all.

And, what is more, her story and example gets even better.  You see, a few months ago when the church was excited for Family Camp and we were looking ahead to our time in the cabins together, this wonderful woman didn’t feel healthy enough to attend.  But can you guess what she did? 

She mailed in her check of three dollars to the church so that she wouldn’t miss her week of offering back to God what she believes He has asked of her.

To be clear, this gracious lady does not give because she thinks the church will close down without her faithful stewardship of His resources.  She doesn’t give because she is worried that God’s mission won’t be continued forward without her offering.  Rather, Elizabeth Burritt gives because she loves her God and it is her joy to put her treasure where her heart is already.

My hope is that you are as blessed and encouraged by Elizabeth’s story as I have been.  And for those of us looking ahead to summer vacations and trips away – may her commitment of faithfulness be a challenge as well.  The example has been set.  And while the bar has just been set at $3.01.  I’m not sure I’ll ever see such a gift surpassed.

Thank you Elizabeth for the permission to share your story.

Blessings all,  Pastor Tim

“While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” ~Luke 21:1-4

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Pastor's Blog

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Pastor's Blog

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So my quarterly report will be the shortest two thousand word update you’ve ever read. 

Below is a picture taken on October 18th, 2009.   

This was our contemporary service in it’s infancy.  We met in the youth group room so the small gathering of the handful of people didn’t feel so small.  I remember at this time starting each service by standing over the drums and praying that God would bring us a drummer.  I remember standing over the guitar and praying that God would bring us a guitar player.  I remember praying over empty chairs and praying for God to bring us people who need to hear his word.

And this little service started to grow.  And in 2012 we did something courageous and forward thinking.  We made the decision to move this budding service from it’s time slot at 9:30 to 11:00.  We did this largely because we at First Baptist value families and we knew it was hard for families to arrive early.  And because we were hoping to connect with people who don’t yet know Jesus and therefore won’t yet value church, we wanted to remove unnecessary barriers.  So by an overwhelming majority vote of the church we decided to take this budding, family-centric, service and move it to the 11:00 time.


And see now this second photo, taken from my view at the baptismal at the front of the sanctuary during the second service this past Sunday (April 16, 2017.) 

At this service we had 171 people attend, between both services there were 221 people at church this day.  And 47 of those 171 people were children!  Folks, we had nearly 50 kids in church this past Sunday!  I remember the days when we celebrated there were three kids in the nursery.  Now our struggle is how do we get enough volunteers to help manage all our kids.  Isn’t being faithful to God and His vision a beautiful thing?  

If you look closely at this photo, for the first time in my 10 years as pastor, we actually had people sitting in chairs outside the sanctuary looking in from the side windows.  This service has gone from being unable to fill the youth room to over-flowing the sanctuary.  Praise God!

And the most joyful number on this day is the 12 people we baptized.  We thank God for the decisions made by:

Rebekah Luker, Jamie Miller, Ruth Ann Pingley, Aaron Tomlinson, Reed Morace, Bailey Tatiano

Lily Picinich, Jeff Picinich, Chelsey Hudson, Kenzie Spurgess, Drake Anderson, Jason Anderson

May we continue to lean into the future that God has for our church as we commit fully to His mission to share His Good News with those who do not yet know Him OR as we have worded it for our church may we continue to “Lead people in an ever changing culture to the hope of Jesus.”

Blessings all!  Pastor Tim

 

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Dear Flock,

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Dear Flock,

The people in this last quarter's small group had the opportunity to read a great little book titled "8 to 15: The World Is Smaller than You Think" by a wonderful minister named Tom Mercer.  I became friends with Tom by way of our shared connection with Dr. Charles Revis.

Charles is the Executive Minister of Mission Northwest, which is to say he's as close to a "bishop for Baptists" as we Baptists ever get.  It may simply serve better to say, Charles' is a voice worth listening to, or in this case, an author worth reading. 

In his article here, Charles not only strikes up a similar theme as what Tom presents in his book - he even references this exact book as a good resource on the subject.  That means that everyone who was part of this quarter's small groups are ahead of the game!  Way to go!  ~Pastor Tim

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The following article is taken from the Mission Northwest Blog:

RAISING THE VALUE & PRACTICE OF EVANGELISM

~ Charles Revis

After working with northwest local churches for 13 years I can confidently say that the primary reason churches stop growing is that they quit practicing evangelism. In 95% of the assessments I have conducted evangelism is at the bottom of the list when it comes to the ranking of most church's values. Church people will affirm that the lost need Jesus. They know that Jesus calls us to go and make disciples of all nations. But they struggle greatly to practice evangelism, individually or corporately.

I believe that if a church raises its "evangelistic temperature" just one or two degrees it would be amazing what God would do. I believe that it would lead to spiritual renewal for the church, and I believe it would be energizing for the overall spirit of the church. It might even result in numerical growth, although that's not why we reach out with the Good News. And this is not to mention the sense of joy and fulfillment people would feel as new believers come to Christ.

As a Region we have emphasized two excellent resources for helping churches do better with outreach. First there is OIKOS, an approach that comes from Tom Mercer at High Desert Church in Victorville, CA. Essentially OIKOS helps people focus on the 8 to 15 people in their relational network, identify those who are not yet Christ followers and start praying for them. There's a full explanation along with free resources for implementing this approach at www.8to15.com.

Second there is ORGANIC OUTREACH developed by Kevin Harney. Kevin offers churches an "operating system", not a program, for increasing the entire church's commitment to practicing evangelism. It is not rocket science, but it works. There is a ton of free resources for any church desiring to embrace the 

Organic Outreach methodology at Kevin’s website: www.organicoutreach.com. For individuals I recommend Kevin's book "Organic Outreach for Ordinary People". For pastors, staff and church boards I recommend "Organic Outreach for Churches." Kevin's messages from this year's Leadership Tune-Up are also a good way to get familiar with OO. These may be found atwww.abcnw.org on the Leadership Tune-Up page.

Finally, Advent is a wonderful time of year for inviting people to attend church with you. Why not start there? It's really not that hard or terrifying.

Since I'm on the subject of evangelism, Thom Rainer posted this article today. This would be a good discussion piece for your next church board meeting.

God bless, Charles Revis

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FIVE KEYS FOR RENEWING EVANGELISTIC GROWTH

IN YOUR CHURCH

~by Thom Rainer

“What can we do to help the churches in our state become more evangelistic?”

“We need more good evangelism programs. Why aren’t you providing them?”

“Why are we reaching fewer unchurched people than we used to?”

Those three questions were asked of me in the span of a just a few days. Each of them came with hints of frustration, confusion, and anger.

It is true. Most churches reach fewer lost and unchurched people than they did in the past. It is no longer necessary to be a part of a church to be culturally accepted. That pool of immediate evangelistic opportunities has been reduced dramatically.

Is there hope? Absolutely!

I am observing carefully churches in North America that are truly making an evangelistic impact. Most of them transitioned from evangelistic apathy to growth. Though there is no formulaic approach or magic-bullet program, here are five common themes I see repeatedly:

1. A small group of church members dedicated themselves to pray for an evangelistic harvest. Evangelism is not a human-devised program. It is a Spirit-led endeavor. I am saddened when I see churches with no intentionality about praying for evangelism and the lost in the community. It is absurd to think we can separate prayer from evangelism. “And they devoted themselves to . . . prayer . . . And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42, 47).

2. Pastors make evangelism a personal priority. I have yet to find evangelistic churches where the pastors have not committed themselves personally to evangelism. It’s not easy. Pastors are pulled in a multiplicity of directions. It is easy to respond to the tyranny of the urgent. Pastors must make time to make personal evangelism a priority. Church members must give them time to do so.

3. Leaders in the church teach church members to invite people to church. Most church members do not realize what happens more than half the time when they invite an unchurched member to church. They show up at church! Such is the reason I encourage leaders to have a singular day focused on inviting people to church (We created a resource to help in that process called Invite Your One). Though a single day of inviting people is not another magic-bullet solution, it does typically create a positive ethos toward inviting people.

4. These churches love the communities in which they are located. I love the focus on the nations evident in many of our churches. I love the national church planting emphasis we see in many places. But churches that are evangelistic do not forget that the commission of Acts 1:8 begins with Jerusalem, the local community. What percent of your church’s budget goes to direct ministry and evangelism in the community?

5. These churches have consistent, usually weekly, efforts to connect with unchurched people in the community. The efforts may be as simple as Facebook ads or communications with new residents. It may be a basic email campaign to reach out to those who have visited the church. These efforts are not solutions in themselves, but they do help create an outwardly-focused ethos in your church. 

 

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Dear Flock,

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Dear Flock,

Those who follow my facebook page already got to read the following message – but as is the case when one’s heart is overflowing with good news, ya can’t help but share it at every opportunity, again and again.  So then, here again is the news my family is overjoyed to share as it was posted on my page:

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given..." Isaiah 9:6

This Christmas promise of the arrival of the Son of God has been a point of special reflection for Stacy and me this Christmas for an exciting reason.

This year, two days before Christmas, we are scheduled to appear in court where we will adopt into our family our youngest child. We are privileged that for the last year we've already gotten to know and love him as we've cared for him - always hopeful that this day might arrive.

So then, this Christmas, even as our family celebrates that by God's grace He sent into the world a child to redeem the world - we will also celebrate the special child He sent into our world. So once again I quote the prophet Isaiah, "For unto us a son is given!"

What a special Christmas this year will be.  It makes me think of the Shepherds on that first Christmas morning.  Through scripture, they too were given good news.  Only theirs came by way of an angelic proclamation rather than a lawyer’s e-mail, and theirs wasn’t just Good News for one family, but for all the world through all time:

10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ~Luke 2:10-11

Read again that passage above.  Who was it that was born on Christmas day?  For whom was this “Good News”?

Do you believe this to be true?  And I don’t mean in a shallow – “yeah, sure, I guess it’s true” sort of way, but an awestruck and weak kneed and teary eyed recognition that “Jesus has come to save us, each of us, from the hellish fruits of our own sinful and broken lives that we might have a redeemed relationship with the living God, creator of all, sustainer of the universe, lover of my soul!”

Because if you believe this to be true, if this Good News is in your heart and soul, then with whom are you sharing it?  Jesus tells us that out of the overflow of our hearts, our mouths speak.  Is this Good News overflowing your heart?  If so, please join me in shouting out that others may know – “For unto us is born this day in the city of David a Savior…”

Blessings, Pastor Tim


17 After seeing (Jesus), the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished... 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

 ~Luke 2:17-18 & 20

 

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Oh My Friends,

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Oh My Friends,

Life at First Baptist is splendid and exciting!  Our church is full of news of babies being born, new people joining the church, our small groups are thriving, people being baptized, the homeless being fed, schools being blessed, volunteers stepping forward to serve in numerous ways (our fall quarter volunteer summit is on September 20th) and we are looking ahead to the all church potluck out at Salt Creek on September 11th.

It is so much fun to be part of this church in this season of her life.  We are experiencing a rebirth of our congregation.  Praise God for this joy He is bestowing upon us.  And as I reflect on this joy, I want to also remember from whence we came.

It is, I think, fitting to ask the question: how did we get here?  How did this happen?  Certainly it wasn’t some overnight happening.  We didn’t open our doors one day and suddenly a bunch of new people walked in and said – hey, we want to make First Baptist our home church.

Rather, this rebirth came because God had a vision for our church and He shared that vision with the people who already called this church home.

Of course, it is always possible for a people to say, “no thank-you” to God’s vision.  There are many, many churches whose doors are shut and windows are shuttered because they exercised the option to say, ‘no’ to God’s vision.  There was always a real possibility that our church could have refused God’s direction.  In fact, that possibility remains even still.  Our following of God’s way is always an invitation for us to join Him in what He is doing.  He never forces His way upon us.
So it is with a happy heart we celebrate that the good people of our congregation accepted, and continue to accept, God’s invitation to join him in the pursuit of His vision for us.  Specifically that we would reach the younger people of Port Angeles with the hope of the Gospel of Christ.  Ultimately we found a mission statement that reflected this vision, that we are “leading people in an ever changing culture to the hope of Jesus”.  But while the exact verbiage was a long time in coming, the idea was always clear.

It was back in November of 2006 when the church evaluated whether or not I was the pastor God desired to place behind the pulpit at this church.  On a Sunday evening there was an opportunity for everyone to hear me preach and a time for questions with the potential pastor over a thanksgiving style meal.  The pressing question was – can we draw in younger people?  (I am convinced that part of the reason the church voted to roll the dice with trusting the pastorate of the church to a 30 year old was the hope that a whippersnapper might draw in other whippersnappers).

 

The reason this is important is it shows that the vision for this church to reach the young families of our community originated long before your current pastor was brought on board.  In fact. it was that this God given vision was already established which gave the church the courage to take a risk on someone new and inexperienced. 

Of course, following God’s vision is rarely a straight and easy road.  It involves purposeful listening and prayer, it involves clear discussion, and it involves sacrificial living where we see the God’s mission as more important than our interests.  It is holy and sacred and supernatural.  And, of course, the very idea behind something being “super” natural is it is not merely natural.  What comes naturally is pursuit of our own self-interest.  What comes naturally is a desire to keep things the same.  What come naturally is a desire for others to conform to us.

The super-natural way of God however drove this church in new and sometimes uncomfortable directions.  More than just bringing on board that whippersnapper of a pastor.  To list just a few of the changes our church has brought about we have:

1. Established a 9am contemporary worship service.  It was held in the youth room because there were so few people attending holding it in a smaller venue than the sanctuary seemed wise.

2. Hired a new staff member we couldn’t afford to minister to the youth of Port Angeles.  Following God’s vision means taking risk.

3. We brought in experts from the region office to help give an assessment of our church and by way of a deep study of our church they provided several prescriptions.

A. Change our church governance model from a diaconate board of 15 members to an elder board of 5 members.

B. Set up a mentoring relationship between the whippersnapper pastor and a more seasoned minister.  The mentor we found was Rev. Paul Burnham, one of the men who helped with the assessment.  A fun aspect of this is it meant that our church now had a young pastor named Timothy being mentored by a more experience minister named Paul.  One can’t get more biblical than that, eh?
C. Get rolling on small groups!  The small group model we are following, “Activate”, is the one recommended to us by the mentor we chose.

D. Establish a clear mission statement and vision for the church.

E. End both the contemporary service at 9:00 and the blended service at 11:00am.  Instead start a truly traditional service at 9:30am and a contemporary service at 11:00am.

The church voted on these 5 recommendations and by an overwhelming majority, they were accepted.  And believe it or not – this all happened in 2011 – five years ago.  It is amazing how quickly time passes by.  Of course, not all of the changes have come swiftly or easily.  Indeed, we are still learning to incorporate and live with some of the changes – such as lowering the number of all church business meetings from quarterly to annually, unless otherwise needed.

Nor are we done moving in new directions as we continue to follow our God given mission to “Lead People In An Ever-Changing Culture To The Hope of Jesus”.  But the joy and encouragement as we move forward is that by God’s grace, what we are doing is working.

When we brought in the “assessment team” one thing they had us do was a self-study.  One of the interesting questions we answered was to look at when our current membership of the church had joined.  This is the chart we filled out:


If we were to fill out that form today, the number of people who have joined the church since we accepted the recommendations from the assessment team has more than doubled.  There are now over 70 people who have started to call our church home since 2007.  *A major thank-you to Church Family and the Historical Committee for keeping such great records of these things!

Of course church health isn’t just about numerical growth, but if we are effectively sharing the Gospel message then numerical growth is a necessary byproduct of our faithful proclamation of Jesus’ love.  We may not (yet) be experiencing the explosive growth of the early church, but so long as we continue to follow the vision with which God has blessed our congregation we will continue to see new people “added to our number”.

And to this goal, there will be a special “Pie with the Pastor” luncheon following the 2nd service on September 18th for any of our new comers who would like to learn more about what it means to become a member of the church.  Please pass word to those new folks you see attending our services.

Blessings,  Pastor Tim

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name ofJesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” 41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

Acts 2:38-41 ~

 

                 

 

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Dear Flock,

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Dear Flock,

Let’s all of us say it together – “Hallelujah!”  And again – “Hallelujah!”

What a wonderful joyous service we had for our “Celebrate Life Sunday”.  It was great to combine the worship time, and the pulled sandwiches were delicious, and the bounce house was just a ton of fun.  And oh, did you take us up on the opportunity to invite friends and neighbors?  It may as well have been an Easter Sunday for all the new faces I saw.  (And several of those visitors have already come again in the following weeks).

We also had a successful drive supporting My Choices.  A total of 991 diapers were given (I’m tempted to go grab nine from the nursery just to bring it up to an even 1,000.  ) and 4,442 baby wipes were donated as well.  As of the writing of this letter I’m not sure how much money was collected in the baby bottles, but I enjoyed seeing those turned in as well.

Over all it was a wonderful day where we were able to celebrate the lives of babies born in our community.  We were also able to celebrate the life we have together as a church family, and – most importantly - we celebrated the new life we all have in Christ.  

This is the new life Jesus spoke of when He spoke with Nicodemus in the third chapter of the Gospel of John.  Verses 1 through 8 read:

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?”5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”     

Perhaps you know someone you didn’t have the opportunity to invite, or although the gathering sounded fun, a friend was unable to come.  Please know we don’t need a special event for you to extend an invitation, but if such an event is helpful then keep in mind that on September 11th we will host our annual church potluck at Salt Creek, starting at 3pm.  It is always a wonderful time of fellowship.  (Also, I have it on good authority that the bigger the crowd at our potluck, the better the odds of the Seahawks winning their game that day.  So make plans on coming out!)

    

Blessings, 

Pastor Tim

 

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Dear Flock,

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Dear Flock,

Did you know that May was “Teacher Appreciation Month”?  Well it is, and boy, we have some fantastic teachers to give major ‘high-fives of thanks’!  The great news is that if somehow the month of May passed you by without getting that moment to tell our teachers, thanks… well I’m sure they’d still like to hear it in June, (…. and July… and August, and…)

To help make the point of how much we have to say thank-you for, let’s just talk numbers.  If I were to ask you to guess how many different kids have participated in our Children’s Church program this year… what would be your guess?  Go ahead and pick a number of how many little ones, from the cradle to 5th grade you think have attended church with us at least 1 Sunday this calendar year.  If your guessed 30 – well then I’d suspect that you have just read our quarterly business report and saw that our AVERAGE attendance has been 28 and added a couple numbers.

No my friend, the total number of kids with whom we’ve shared the love of Jesus is much higher than 30.  Go ahead, guess again.  

Perhaps you think it is 50 kids.  What a wonderful, joyful number that would be.  What if we could boast that there are 50 kids in Port Angeles who know more about the love of God because of our faithful Children’s Church teachers?  Wouldn’t that be something to celebrate!

Indeed it would.  And we can celebrate that AT LEAST 50 kids have learned about this Good News because, in fact the number is even higher still.  Go ahead, guess again.

Perhaps you think our volunteer teachers have impacted the hearts and lives of 60 little ones this year.  Well you’d be right, expect the total number is higher still.  And if you guessed 70 kids, well then you missed the mark by 1.  So far, in 2016 – we have had 71 different children come to our church to learn about Jesus.

Let’s just stop here and take a breath, and mediate on that for a moment. God has seen fit to entrust us this year with the growth and development of 71 children!  This, my friends, is what it looks like when the Holy Spirit is on the move!  

If you need to give a shout of praise while you are reading this go ahead.  When those around you look at you strangely just share this letter with them and invite them to join you at church on Sunday.

And do you know how we are able to have this impact on these little ones?  It is only because we have a dedicated group of people who have given selflessly of themselves to “train up these little ones in the way they should go,” (Proverbs 22:6).  So sometime soon, find an opportunity to find one of our amazing volunteer teachers and tell them how you appreciate them.  And help them remember the importance of what it is they do.

I mean that sincerely… do, help them remember the importance of what they do.  It is so easy when surrounded by enthusiastic six year olds, to forget the eternal significance of helping little hearts open themselves to the love of Jesus.  The very mission of our church to ‘lead people in an ever changing culture to the hope of Jesus’ is what is being fulfilled every week in those classes down the hall.  These teachers don’t do it for a paycheck, they don’t do it for accolades or praise.  They do it because they love Jesus and they want to help kids love Jesus too. 

So find time this week to tell one of our fantastic teachers – “thank-you”.

And, in reading this letter you find stirring within your own heart the desire to help teach our little ones about Jesus, then reach out to me, or Chris Cummings, or Deziree Greenstreet.  Simply let one of us know that you are willing to learn what it takes to be one of the few and proud and we’ll happily help sign you up for the teaching corps!

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Getting Christmas "Right"

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Getting Christmas "Right"

I recently listened to a sermon where the pastor was encouraging his flock to ‘get Christmas right’.  What an interesting idea concept, ‘to get Christmas, right’.  What could such a phrase mean; getting Christmas right?  Can we get it wrong?  Does ‘getting it right’ involve buying your kids that gift that makes them squeal when they unwrap the package?  Does it mean being sure to get a memento photo with a jolly and bearded man in a red suit?  Is it remembering to put the marshmallows on the candied yams?  Or is it squeezing in as much family time as possible?

According to this pastor, the first step to getting it right involved remembering the true meaning of the season – that:

2 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.  ~ Luke 2:1-7

But this pastor was correct in pointing out that there is a second part to ‘getting Christmas right’.  As important as remembering the historical truth that God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son is sharing this message with others.  While Christmas is a wonderful time to focus on family, and it is important to do so – it is also serves as the best time to remind ourselves that the Christmas message was intended to be made accessible to all the world.  

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.10 And the angel said unto them, 

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

~ Luke 2:8-11

Accessibility means being open with sharing the hope and truth of the season with ‘all the people’.  So as you approach this holiest of days when God put on flesh, be purposeful to seek out those the Lord has put in your path to share the ‘Good News which is for those people’.

Blessings and Merry Christmas!
-Pastor Tim

 

 

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Dear Flock,

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Dear Flock,

As many of you know, my father-in-law, Mark Schilperoort, was granted victory over his 4 ½  year battle with A.L.S. when he went home to be with the Lord.  A.L.S. is most commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named for the famous baseball player whose struggle with the condition first brought it to notoriety.  

In Mark’s case the condition progressed steadily over the past several years.  At one point, back in March of 2014, Mark’s condition led to him getting a respiratory illness which, at the time, we thought may be the time of his passing.  The family gathered around and each one of us took a moment to pay respects to this great man who, along with his wife, raised three amazing daughters, and had become grandfather to 8 terrific kids.  

And then he rallied and recovered. 

However, on September 24th of this year, with very little warning, Mark passed away.  

This morning I was reflecting on what a blessing it was that we had an opportunity to share what we believed would be our last words.  This was a special blessing because of how we were not afforded the opportunity to do so when his time truly came.

Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can’t quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you!
— Colossians 1:3 The Message

Then, as I am prone to do, my thoughts wandered.  I started imagining what I may say when the day comes that I am where Mark was – saying those final farewells to my children.  In my mind’s eye I was trying to imagine them as adults (I’m obviously planning on living a few more years).

I quickly realized I didn’t want to dwell on such thoughts for too long and sort of chided myself for being silly at thinking such thoughts and wondered at the sudden appearance of all this “dust” that was causing my eyes to start to water so much.

And yet, through the day, I’ve found myself returning to such thoughts and I’ve been thankful many times for that opportunity to say goodbye to Mark back in March, even though it turned out that our goodbye wouldn’t actually take place for more than a year later.

As we move forward toward our national celebration of Thanksgiving, give thought to what you would say to those for whom you most care.  And give thought to what you might regret not having the opportunity to say.  And then don’t wait for death bed moments, but pick up the phone, or drop by forvisit, or invite them out to coffee – and tell your loved ones why it is that you are so thankful for them.

Blessings all, Pastor Tim

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Dear Flock...(re)NEW(ed)

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Dear Flock...(re)NEW(ed)

Dear Flock,

It is with great enthusiasm that I present to you our “Vision Frame” for the church (see below.)  This is the product of many months of work with an excellent team of people.  The team was established with the intention of pulling in people who could represent the wide spectrum of our church.

Long established members: Kristy Huff & Chris Cummings

Mid-term members: Stacie Cummings, Rhys Crawford, Tim Hughes

New members: Brad Tesreau

Key contributors: Wayne Roedell and Christie Smith

Throughout the process our elder board was kept apprised and, in fact, initiated the whole process by sending Chris Cummings and myself to receive training on how to complete this work.

We should also make note of the generous contribution of the American Baptist Church of the Northwest who greatly subsidized the cost of the training.  The typical rate to participate in the co-lab for Church Unique Training is $2,500.  Because of the Region’s support the cost to the church reduced to just $500.  This represents and 80% savings!  It’s good to be a Baptist, and particularly an American Baptist within the Northwest region.

As you look over the document I encourage you to take the time to look up the passages that are referenced and to take to heart the thrust of the document.  What we hope you find is this:

1. That the mission of the church is in keeping with the Great Commission given to all churches through all time.  Furthermore, that the mission statement is memorable.  Truly, I hope that if, six months from now, someone were to ask you, “What is the mission of First Baptist Church?” you could reply it is “leading people in an ever changing culture to the hope of Jesus”.

2. The values are those elements within the church that we will not violate to achieve our mission.  We certainly have more values than the seven listed, but we believe these are a core seven that represent well what we hold to be essential to the fulfillment of our mission.  In short, we can’t achieve our mission if we violate our values.

3. The strategy is the way we believe or church will achieve her mission.  By enacting these five key components of worship, connect, serve, invite, and grow we will lead people in an ever changing culture to the hope of Jesus.

4. The measures are how we, individually are doing in the support of our church mission.  An illustration given in the book is of a paint manufacturing company.  The company first has a strategy for making the paint, with the hope being that it would have a certain color, and texture, etc.  But after the strategy is followed there is also a quality control where the paint itself is evaluated.  And that, effectively, is what our measures are intended to be, a sort of ‘self-evaluation’ asking helpful questions.  Our church is striving to make disciples as we are ‘leading people in an ever changing culture to the hope of Jesus’.  And the measures are what discipleship looks like within the context of the First Baptist Church.

Finally, all of these components – the mission, values, strategy, and measures come together as the four parts of a picture frame, and what they frame is our vision.  A vision that we believe was bestowed upon our church when He planted us here some 125 years ago, a vision which has not changed.  We believe that like the church of old, which once had so many children filling its hallways and classrooms that we needed to demolish half of our facility so that we could build up the education wing, God desires to fill this church with children once again.  Indeed – He has already begun.

Peace & Blessings,  Pastor Tim        


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Dear Flock,

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Dear Flock,

For the 3rd year in a row we are hosting the “International Justice Mission” (IJM) bicycle riders.  They will be here on the 27th of this month.  Please keep a close watch as more details regarding the specific time of their presentation will be publicized. The IJM cyclists are riding to raise awareness of the ways that the world’s most vulnerable are harmed and WHAT WE CAN DO to make a difference.  Each year the presentation includes awesome victory stories of how people were rescued from slavery and oppression while perpetrators of evil have been brought to justice. It is so encouraging to hear how people, in the name of Christ, are making such a positive difference in the lives of those so often considered, the “least of these”. Our dinner will really serve dual purposes.  The first is our own edification and enlightenment.  We get to learn more about those who are suffering and how we can help.  This in itself is reason enough to plan on attending.

But, at the same time, we also get to encourage the cyclists as they travel on a city to city tour (Seattle to Portland) to help shine light into darkness.  The majority of the cyclists are young adults just now learning how to speak publicly and advocate for change.  For our part, simply being present as they share, is an encouragement to them on their journey.  

I hope you are able to plan on joining us for dinner, at the church, on the 27th.  As soon as we settle on the exact time, we will publicize that as well. 
Blessings, Pastor Tim

11 So encourage each other and build each other up,
 just as you are already doing. 
-1 Thessalonians 5:11

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