The Witness – May 3-9, 2015

Progress on a New Beginning

Well, we have been in our new facility for a month. I must say that the Wednesday before we moved I had my personal doubts whether the facility would be complete enough for occupancy. Fortunately, I had faith enough to believe it would, and it was!

No doubt, the move has taken a little adjusting to on our part. For example, I no longer have stairs to run up and down. Neither am I concerned about the water in the kitchen after a rain. The restrooms have hot water! I could go on.

Of course, that is not say that there aren’t still some challenges before us. Classrooms are still being completed. There is much progress on them every week and in a few short weeks most of that work should be completed.

Another challenge before us is the parking area. While the rains have not affected anything on the inside they have really slowed down progress on completing the parking lot. Unfortunately with the rain there are mud holes. The plans are for a larger area to be cleared and rocked as soon as the weather cooperates. Please be careful and follow the directions of the parking lot greeters and take advantage of the cart to get back and forth from your car.

Also, if you would like to be picked up by the bus at our previous location call the church office for arrangements.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Seven Reasons Some Church Members Don’t Want Their Churches to Grow

By grace we are ready for Kingdom growth but this article from Thom Rainer speaks volumes!   – Wes

It is highly unusual to hear church members say that they don’t desire their churches to be obedient to the Great Commission. Indeed, it is common for the members of a pastor search committee to tell a prospective pastor that they are looking for a leader who will guide the church toward growth.

And most church members do desire to see their churches grow . . . until the growth affects them. It is at that point they can become disillusioned and critical.

So what is it about growth that impacts some members negatively? Let me suggest seven reasons.

  1. Loss of familiarity. When a church is growing, it becomes a different church over time. The difference is not necessarily good or bad, but it’s not the same as it was in earlier years. Some church members grieve when they see their churches change. They miss “the good old days.”
  2. Loss of memories. I recently heard a poignant story from a lady whose church was demolishing the old worship center to build a new one to accommodate growth. She and her husband were married in the old worship center. She understandably grieved at the loss of that physical reminder of their wedding.
  3. Loss of comfort. Growth can mean that the closest parking spots are no longer available. Growth can mean that the traffic flow in the parking lot is more difficult. Church members can feel that their creature comforts are compromised by growth.
  4. Loss of power. New people in a church can mean that power bases are diluted. The growth can result in new influencers in the church. Some of the longer-tenured influencers may not like that.
  5. Loss of perceived intimacy. It’s a common response: “I used to know everyone in this church. I just don’t feel as close to members as I once did.” Indeed, growth can mean that all the members may not know each other as they did when the church was smaller.
  6. Loss of worship style. New members and attendees might have different worship style preferences. They often influence church leaders to make changes. Existing members may resent these changes. They might also start worship wars.
  7. Loss of worship time. Growth in the church may necessitate adding worship services or changing times of worship services. Some members may be frustrated that they have lost “their” worship time.

Obedience to the Great Commission often results in growth in the church. But growth in the church is not always received well by some members. Some of these members have an attitude that the church is there to serve them and to cater to their needs. Healthy church members understand they are to be giving and sacrificial members of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12). They will rejoice when more members join the fellowship, and when more people become believers in Christ.

The Witness – April 26 – May 2, 2015

Sitting on a Wobbly Perch

‘A bird sitting in a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because its trust is not on the branch but on its own wings.’

I think this simple one-sentence quote provides a great analogy about life in general. Many of us are sometimes sitting on one of life’s many shaky branches — health issues, work-related problems, difficult relationships and the list goes on and on.

It’s at these times that we have to trust God to be our wings to lift us up from that branch we find ourselves sitting on. That’s not always easy, and in fact sometimes it’s very difficult because many times it seems the branch is ready to break.

I recently read a short verse that stated: ‘Nowhere, not one single place in the Bible does it say, ‘go figure it out on your own, but over and over again it says, ‘Trust in God.’

Don’t try to fix it yourself, don’t try to figure it out … trust God.

Blessings to you on this day and my prayer is that regardless what wobbly perch we’re on today, tomorrow or in the future we’ll learn to put our trust in God, period.  –Jim Muir

Jim Muir writes a weekly column for The Southern Illinoisan. You can alsou find him on Facebook.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

The Witness – April 19-25, 2015

Forgiveness and Redemption

Ephesians 1:7 (NIV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

Ephesians 1:7 (NLT) He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

Verse 7 contains two theologically rich words: forgiveness and redemption.

  • Redemption implies that someone is a slave or captive and needs to be ransomed.
  • Forgiveness implies that someone has acted improperly toward another and in so doing has incurred guilt that needs to be covered over or taken away.
  • Both require the payment of a heavy price. The sinner has offended God himself; the price is—or at least should be—the sinner’s life. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). But “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us,” he did the unthinkable: God himself paid the price. He sent his Son to be our substitute, to suffer and die in our place. Through his blood we have been rescued from the captivity of sin and freed from its guilt. WOO HOO!!!!

In a million years we would not have devised such a plan. Rather, God devised it “in accordance with the riches of [his] grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” – Armin J. Panning,

We Labor Together With God, Wes

The Witness – April 12-18, 2015

First Time Guest – How Does It Feel?

I had a smile on my face as everyone walked into our new multi –purpose building. Some were looking for breakfast, others for their small group, and everyone was looking for a place to sit during worship.

I am sure it was a little uncomfortable for us all. Fortunately we had several folks available to not only show you the way but to actually take you to your destination.

We looked everything over. Mostly shaking our head in the affirmative, but I’m sure there were some that were shaking their head the other way. Everything was new.

We all were a little tentative as to where to park and what to do. We looked around for a smiling face to help ease the awkwardness. No doubt we were excited, but just the same we didn’t want to make any mistakes. After all it was our first time in the building for worship. We were all first time guests!

In just a few weeks everything will become routine and we will know exactly where everything is, and forget about what things look like. That is to be expected.

However, let me ask that you NOT forget the feelings you had as a first time guest. You see, what will become routine and intuitive to you will be a brand new experience for our guests. Let’s assist them as you were assisted. Let’s greet them with the same smile you were greeted with when you first arrived.

What a marvelous time to be a part of the plan and purpose of God for Walnut Street Baptist Church

We Labor Together With God, Wes