This evening, our church, First Central Baptist Church of Chicopee, MA, holds its annual meeting. I wrote the following as my ministry report for 2012.
2012 was a year of transition, both for FCBC and for me personally. God brought Carol and me from the west coast to the east coast, from WA to MA, from Sammamish to Chicopee. Our family celebrated as our youngest child graduated from college and entered adulthood. We began new family traditions as all three of our children joined us here for a white Christmas. Carol and I are grateful for how you warmly welcomed us into your hearts. Thanks for inviting us to join you in ministry.
There are many activities that are part of a pastor’s ministry—administration, boards, baptisms, budgets, classes, committees, counseling, discipleship, evangelism, fellowship, and the alphabetical list goes on to visitation, worship, and beyond. In the midst of all of these important responsibilities, a pastor must keep three priorities at the forefront—preaching & teaching, casting vision, and training and equipping.
As a pastor, I want to preach and teach the whole counsel of God. Over the course of time, I try to find a balance between Old Testament books, New Testament books, and topical series. I am committed to expository preaching—explaining what the text means and how to apply it in daily life. In the fall 2012, we looked at what God called the church to be—a community of faith (Acts 2:42-47), an equipping center (Ephesians 4:11-6), and a sending church (Acts 13-14). In October, we began a study of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, which emphasizes the supremacy of Christ. After taking a break during December to study the characters in the nativity story, we resumed our study of Colossians and will continue through May.
As a leader, a pastor needs to cast vision and point the congregation forward. To accomplish this, I spent the first two months of my tenure meeting with various boards and committees to observe and learn more about the church. I wanted to understand the current makeup and needs of the church before moving into the future.
A demographic study of our region tells us that 461,000 people live within a 10-mile radius of the church. 38% of the population, or 175,000 people, do not attend any church, cathedral, synagogue, or cult. If you add in the percentage of people who follow false religions, there are easily 250,000+ people within a short drive of our building who desperately need the gospel. We live in a unique mission field.
To reach our community, we cannot afford to be satisfied with doing business as usual. We need to commit ourselves to a renewed and refocused sense of vision. Vision helps us know what direction we are going in and how to get there. It helps us know what to say “Yes” to and what to say “No” to.
As the deacons talked about vision, direction, purpose, and goals, we agreed on a revised purpose statement—“At First Central Baptist Church, we are Building a Community to Change the World.” We also adopted a path of discipleship that we want everyone to move through—“We seek to Glorify God by Connecting people to Christ, the church, and one another; so that we can Grow in our faith, character, and skills; in order to Serve the cause of Christ with our time, talents, and treasures; and to Share the message of the gospel where we live, work, and go to school; both locally, and as far around the world as we can reach.” The graphic below provides a visual illustration of how the purpose and path work together.
Tying together where we minister, our purpose and direction, and our vision and values, the deacons adopted a series of goals for the future. It is referred as our 2020 Vision, and describes the type of church that we want to become in the coming years.
By 2020, we will . . .
- Be a church of 500-1000 people (since there is no evangelical church over 500 in the region, this will take God’s power to accomplish)
- Half of our growth will come through evangelism—new believers
- Plant 2-6 churches—locally (1-3) & internationally (1-3)
- Each ministry will be fully staffed
- The budget will be fully funded
- The church will be led, fed, guarded, and cared for by a team of elders and deacons
- Children’s & Youth ministries will be the strongest programs in the church; they will be central in attracting and reaching families in the community
- The nursery will be the jewel of our facility and children’s ministry in order to communicate to parents that we care for their children
- Strong small group ministry – 1/2 to 2/3 of all adults will be in small groups; small groups will be a key component in our strategy for discipleship
- Adopt 1-2 unreached people groups and see a church planted among these groups
- Send out at least two annual short-term ministry teams made up of adults—both domestic and international (I stressed adult trips because the youth are already doing them)
- Become a regional center for church-based theological education
- Offer an internship program to train future staff and leaders
- Train and raise up our own staff
- Be a blessing to the community by offering services such as counseling; after school programs; marriage, parenting, finance classes, etc.
- Fifty years from now, no history of the region can be written without including the ministries of FCBC
The third major responsibility of a pastor is training and equipping. During 2013, I will be leading 17 couples through a study of the book, Elders & Leaders, by Gene Getz. The study will help us make the transition from deacons to elders, from managing the church to leading the flock.
While First Central has a strong history and heritage of mission and ministry, I believe our best days are still to come. God has brought the church through a difficult transition over the past five years. He has given us a renewed sense of vision and direction for the future. My prayer is that our latter days will be much more fruitful than our former days. Let’s join together as we build a community to change the world.