I know that it has been a long time since I have sent anything out in this format. A funny thing happened starting in about November last year, life. My wife is usually quick to remind me of the need to write weekly. Hopefully it benefits you, but it also benefits me as a communicator to try to send out something weekly in a written format. As many of you know, I am quite comfortable talking. In fact, when I worked as a hospice chaplain I was visiting a gentleman who after an hour long visit informed me that I asked too many questions and talked too much. All I could do was nod in agreement.
Now, I want to be the first to state it: I do not do resolutions. I know myself too well and if I attempt to make a resolution I have already thought of thirty ways to break that resolution as soon as it comes out of my mouth. You might even say I am resolved not to make resolutions. I do desire to write more and to keep everyone up to date on the events and changes that are happening at First Baptist.
I desire to be more organized this year and to be a better communicator. Not only about the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but also about what is happening at 911 Mace Ave. We had many blessings to look at and reflect on in 2016 that hopefully these will guide and direct our 2017 goals. We also have some sad experiences to share as 2016 resulted in the passing of two long time members, Ralph Tucker and Dick Kotzum, and our former interim, Paul Benedetta. All three of these individuals had a huge impact on our church and on me personally and I will miss them greatly.
The New Year often gives us a great time of reflection and retrospection on the past year. However, I do not want us to get stuck in this phase. I celebrate daily the victories from last year, but I’m already full throttle into planning and implementing for 2017.
Every year I try to think of an overarching theme for the year. This year the idea I want at the front of your mind is “Building Your Church”. No, we are not planning any major building renovations this year, especially after the work we have done on the facilities the past two years. Of course, maybe I shouldn’t say anything… eh, what could possibly happen?
My goal and desire is for First Baptist Church to become a beaming light house to our community and our attendees to become involved in the Essex community. I want First Baptist Church to recognize the heartbeat of Essex and for spiritual renewal to start here. My goal is not to “infiltrate” the community on some great evangelistic explosion. My goal is to help the community because that is what Jesus demonstrated to us. I want our church to be known as a church that makes a difference in Essex. My desire is to have 50% of our attendees involved in volunteering in the community by December of 2017. When people talk about First Baptist, my goal has never been to be known as the biggest church in the community, the most innovative church in the community or even the best church in the community. I simply want be known as the church that has people that love the community. One way I will be encouraging this is making the book Unlikely by Kevin Palau available to anyone who is interested in reading about how to change our community. This book will be available free of charge at the church, as long as you promise to read it.
If you consider a full reading of scripture you see pathways develop. The Old Testament introduces God, the cause of sin and the need for redemption, that is to say it points to Jesus. The Gospels give us Jesus and the rest of the New Testament points to changed lives because of Jesus. So often we read the Bible and we think what must I do to be holy and righteous, but that is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches us what Jesus did because there was no possible way for us to be holy and righteous to God’s expected level. Live a holy life, be a good neighbor, love others, but not because it makes you holy and righteous. Do these things because they are what Jesus did as He demonstrated a better way to live for us.