Pastor’s Ponderings February 2016

Heart Leaf Banner Widget
February already, and we have a very busy month ahead! By the time you read this, I will be attending the Nehemiah Leadership Network Annual Gathering the 1st-4th.  We will be entering into the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday the 10Th; our Annual Meeting is Sunday the 14th; and children will have their winter vacation week the 15th-19th
That’s enough activity to make our heads spin! But whenever I think of February I think of Valentine’s Day; this is the month dedicated to love, so beautifully symbolized by hearts in all sizes. So I just thought I would share what is on my heart concerning all of you and this church we call First Baptist of Ogdensburg, NY. 
In the 10 years I have served you as Pastor, I have seen many changes: our Sunday school is thriving and our attendance in worship is nearly doubled (when I first came in 2005 we counted a weekly average of 17-19; now we see about 35-40). Another change is that we have become more outwardly focused. We are more involved with outreach to our community through monthly sponsorship of the Community Free Lunch, our Blue Christmas, ongoing support to our city’s Neighborhood Center,  Rescue Squad, and Salvation Army. These changes are all very good. It shows our heart for ministry is in the right place – we want to be God’s agent for making God’s love visible. We want others to know the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We want to fulfill Christ’s great commission:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20).

At the same time, we are anxious. We are a small church that presently cannot sustain the costs of being the church as we know it without the funds drawn from our Endowment. It is estimated that we will come to the end of that funding in 6-8 years! What will be our church’s future? What is God’s answer for us and how will we know?

My heart has been heavy for the future of First Baptist Church of Ogdensburg, NY. It appears that our church is going the way many, many other old established churches in North America have gone – a memory.

Yet my heart is lifted as I hear stories of churches who have been on the brink of death have been reborn; they have been transformed into communities of faith who are interfacing with their surrounding community in significant ways. They are healthy and vibrant; they are passionately making disciples for the Kingdom of God! Can we become that kind of church? If so, how?

To answer these questions and learn what the Lord will have us do to make our way forward, the Official Board has committed to becoming a discernment leadership group. We will meet the 3

rd Tuesday of every month, first, to learn a discernment process and then to do this work of discerning. We will be using a book, Pursuing God’s Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups by Ruth Haley Barton. She says:

“Discernment, in a most general sense, is the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and the activity of God—both in the ordinary moments and in the larger decisions of our lives. . .

Corporate or leadership discernment, then, is the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and activity of God as a leadership group relative to the issues we are facing, and to make decisions in response to that Presence. Spiritual leaders are distinguished by their commitment to discern important matters together so they can affirm a shared sense of God’s desire for them and move forward on that basis.”

We want to know with confidence what God has for us in our church’s future. We want and need to know what God would have us do in response.

Please pray for your Official Board members as they embark on this journey. Pray also that God will speak to your heart, that you will discern God’s desires for you and for our church. Feel free to share with us what is on your heart.

As I anticipate this work and look forward to the mighty things God will do in our midst, my heart is full. It is full of hope for our church and love for you.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Lynn

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