It was a great privilege to welcome 11 people into membership on Sunday morning (19th February). As is customary with many Baptist Churches we extend this welcome during a Communion Service, immediately prior to sharing bread and wine. It was a real “family” occasion - we were together as a whole church, the children and young people remaining with us to share in the occasion and receive a blessing at communion.
In explaining what we were doing, I asked the congregation to respond to three questions - What is “church”? What does it mean to believe in Jesus? How can I be part of it?
There were some really great responses which (I hope) helped everyone to grasp what we were doing – and why we were doing it.
The first question, regarding the nature of the church, remains a continuing challenge for me. I know there are as many expressions of church as there are congregations (and probably more than that) but it is the essential DNA of being and doing church which seems to be at the forefront of my mind, as GHBC seeks to continue its witness in this local community. It’s probably the last of the “Railway” churches.
How would you describe “church?” Well, here are a few possibilities for you to consider:
- Church is more than a building it’s about people
- Church is not a fortress it’s open to all
- Church is not exclusive it’s relevant to all
- Church is not just for Sunday it’s 24/7
Does God want GHBC –and your fellowship - to be (and to look and work) like this? If He does, then the personal challenge we have to work through is where we fit in with His plans and intentions, and how we deliver them in practice. This is, in effect, a call for us to put our trust in God and to put that relationship with him at the top of our priorities. It’s also a process of listening, praying and understanding as we consider how our faith can be worked out through practical expressions of Christian witness and service.
Part of the everyday detail is expressed in Philippians 2 where, in verses 12 to 18, we find 4 personal and vital responses to Christ’s work:
- to work out our salvation (v. 12)
- to shine out in our witness (v. 15)
- to hold out life to others (v. 16)
- to pour out our lives in sacrifice (v. 17)
Each of these has implications. The first (“work out”), reflects our relationship with God: how do we follow through the process of daily Christian living in a secular world?
The remaining three affect our relationship with others and the level and extent of our desire to make Jesus known to them. The most authentic witness of all is, as ever, that of a fruitful, transformed life.
We know that God is faithful in His promises. Now, as we look to the future let's put all our trust, all our dependence, all our strength towards serving others and walking with Him.