So, the beautiful Bride has come and been wedded to her Groom, Jesus Christ. Except for our modern world that controls and procrastinates just about everything, what is one of the first things a bride 2,000 years ago would have wanted to do? Make babies! There was a lot of status and pride in reproducing, as well as the necessity of carrying on the family name and even having the family business maintained. Life for most was not some peachy-keen, floating out in the ocean drinking a pina-colada in an eco-friendly pineapple shaped cup and paper straw. Men died young, women often died in labor (and definitely got worn out from multiple labors/births), and anyone getting into the 40’s or 50’s was old. But, having kids was one of the fruits of your marriage and perpetuated the family name and obeyed God’s command to be fruitful and multiply.
Reproduction for the church is no different. There are churches all across the U.S. where the majority of the congregants have been AARP members for years and haven’t seen a new face in just about as many! In fact, I had a church reach out to me some years ago about pastoring, and the gentleman I was speaking to said he was the youngest guy in the church, and he was in his 60’s!
But, from Mike Regele to Thom Rainer, many have written books on their efforts to assist plateauing or declining churches, and have met with strong resistance. Churches all over the country want to grow, but don’t want to compromise their preferences (music styles, interior decorations, pews, programs, and so forth). They want the magic silver bullet that will just bring in masses of young people without doing the actual work of sacrifice and compromise (of preferences), personal evangelism, and investing (i.e. discipleship) that would bring younger people into a church. In fact, the now 90-year old Ralph Neighbor, Jr. was a forward thinking pastor and trainer in Texas back in the 60’s, but was also influential in getting pastors fired because he taught pastors to start small groups in their churches, and the members of these churches didn’t want to change—they just wanted Sunday School and Sunday services—so they fired their pastors for even suggesting this radical idea! (note, Neighbor wrote a book in 1973 to discuss this called, The Seven Last Words of the Church: Or We Never Tried it that Way Before—published by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptists).
Where am I going with this?
Simple, Jesus said He would build His church. But, He delegates certain tasks for us. That means we spread the Gospel. That means we disciple. That means we study the Word diligently ourselves. That means we avoid even the “minor” sins such as gossip, backbiting, arrogance, and jealousy. We actively greet visitors on a Sunday and show them the love of Christ. Maybe we even give up our seats for visitors, or the elderly, disabled, etc. Through and through we let the Holy Spirit pour out of us while pointing our lives and actions to Jesus.
As for other aspects of our church we need to, much as the men of Issachar did for Israel, read the times, the culture, and respond accordingly.
- I. Chronicles 12:32 Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command.
I think our church does pretty good in this. One great example is back in the 90’s, Waikoloa Baptist’s Pastor Brooks changed up the church’s music to contemporary from traditional. Music styles change continually, even within Christianity, but many churches are still stuck in the 1800’s. So, kudos to Pastor Brooks!
Furthermore, we have chairs instead of pews, people who feel comfortable enough to attend in shorts, shoeless, and without the artificial constraints of suits and ties that still plague many churches. We have a very nice, informative website and truthfully (I’m not just biased here), the coolest looking, cheery and inviting bulletin I’ve ever seen. We have people from old to young, we have an exciting kids’ program and VBS, we have blended cultures and blended economic demographics.
Are there areas that can be improved? Every person and organization can always improve; it’s whether one wants to or not that influences the future. Do we sit still, get stagnant and die? Or do we multiply, develop, and grow?
- The saying goes: Methods are many, Principles are few. Methods may change, Principles never do.
- The Principles are such things as the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, solid doctrine about salvation and God, and holy/righteous living. The Bible is our sole rule of truth and practice and will ultimately inform even our Methods.
- The Methods are those practices that we do to obey the Principles. What Methods can you think of that may need changing at WBC? (with the idea of being responsive to the times that we’re in) ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What Methods can you think of that can/should stay the same? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What new Methods could be introduced that may further our mission? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Do you know the history of Waikoloa Baptist, why and when it was started, and the various trials and victories it saw over the years? ________________________________________________________
- We must live in the present with a view to the future. Someday you and I will be gone (i.e. we will die).
- What spiritual legacy are you leaving for the future WBC generations? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What are you doing to bring in the future members of WBC? (i.e. those younger than you) ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Do you pray for Keikiland and the Teens, for Melissa (and her team) and Trent & Rebecca? (remember, Preschoolers and Teens arethe future) _________________________________
- What can you do to support them beyond prayer? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What if we were to create a “365 days of Waikoloa Baptist” Calendar that had daily reminders to pray for each of our ministries and for our community? Would that be a benefit to you? ___________________________________________________
- If so, who all would like to maybe join a creative team who would contribute to its design and production? (e-mail me, please). BTW- I just thought of this now as I was typing, so this is on the whim.