Where we are in New England, there are so many churches that have abandoned the Gospel and faithfulness to the Scripture. Many of these churches have become nothing more than buildings that are a tribute to a past that was once so influenced by the Truth. Like King Josiah, can we see godly pastors lead them back to faithfulness?
A friend called today. The first words out of her mouth described the death by overdose of her close friend’s 23 year old son - a bright and capable college senior.
Our conversation was interrupted by another call. It my friend’s own daughter, actively choosing rebellion against God and experiencing a great deal of stress because of it. She wanted counsel, but not godly counsel.
Last Saturday more than 300 people made their way to Legacy Church at First Baptist Church Sutton (MA) and warmed up with a drink at the hot chocolate bar or enjoyed complimentary sandwiches and baked goods during the Sutton Chain of Lights.
Legacy Church at FBC Sutton is the fourth oldest Baptist church in Massachusetts and has roots dating back to 1735. But in recent years the congregation has dwindled to only twelve members.
Jesus prays for us. He prays for the believers and churches in New England.
One of his prayers is recorded in John 17:20-22: “I pray…for those who believe in me through their [the disciples’] word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you…so that they may be one as we are one.”
Does your youth group have traditions? Maybe a Yankee swap, live nativity or Operation Christmas Child packing party? Community is key in our current culture, and creating an atmosphere of traditions can enhance your group. But beyond creating community though tradition, you are ensuring your group knows the story of Christ’s birth.
Many of our churches in New England understand that engagement in making disciples at home and abroad is essential for the health of the church. They express it through serving in and reaching their local communities for Christ, as well as connecting and partnering with other churches or plants throughout New England, the nation and the world.
For 10 years I served as the pastor of a church in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. It was an historic church, located in an affluent neighborhood where military families and federal employees lived. And it was almost completely Caucasian. The neighborhood, however, gradually changed. Different ethnic groups moved in and church attendance began to decline.
Several years ago, I attended a training workshop in which noted author Alan Hirsch said the following, “Your system is perfectly designed for the results that you are getting.” This statement has challenged me in the years since, for a variety of reasons. It has caused me to spend more time evaluating my programs and processes to see if they are functioning effectively. It has forced me to think about the results I hope to see happen. And perhaps, most importantly, it has provoked me to ask why we do what we do, the purpose and reason behind our efforts.
Stepping out of the Johnson and Wales’ vans, our students arrived excited for Fusion. They anticipated an enjoyable weekend at the Cape with peers, forging new friendships across New England and being freshly encouraged that they are not alone in their faith. They entered the hotel and conference center with high expectations for Word-saturated teaching and fun times. Amid games in the lobby, mealtimes and World Series watching, students had their fill of living out relationships and learning how to invest in them.
Safety and security continues to be a very important trend in children’s ministry today. This is true for both small and large churches. Keeping our kids safe and secure needs to be a priority in every church. Safety and security is important to parents and it certainly needs to be important to us! As our churches think about the implications of safety and security in their ministry, use the following assessment questions to begin the conversation with your church leaders:
Last Sunday my wife and I were out for an afternoon drive. We were enjoying the fall foliage when we happened upon a lovely scene near a campground. At the entrance to the campground there was a river that emptied into a pond, a lovely covered bridge, and several historical items on display. But what caught our eye the most was the lovely mannequin of an old man fishing. It was meticulously set up beside the covered bridge and looked like it had been there many years. We pulled into the small parking lot and took in the whole scene. It was amazing.
Revitalization. Seems there is always a new buzz word that’s coming down the pike, but this one is long overdue. Revival is a word that may be worn out by time and history, so revitalization is taking its place.
Maybe it’s for good reason. With so much mission drift, churches today know that it’s going to take more than a week of meetings to fix the systemic problems that plague us. Some estimate 1000 days and major course adjustments are required to truly turn a church around.
Not long ago my wife and I took our grandchildren to an amusement park in New Hampshire. We had a great time. Without question, our granddaughter’s favorite ride was the log ride. She had this love/hate feeling going on about the steep drop into the water where she got all wet. She said “I loved it, expect the part I didn’t like very much.” Whether you are 4 or 40, such rides can be a lot of fun. Perhaps they are so much fun because they scare us, even though deep inside we know we are safe. It is almost like seeing just how far we can go into danger, without actually getting hurt.
More than three dozen people responded to an invitation to follow Christ at a Sportsmen’s Banquet and Wild Game Dinner hosted by New City Church in Bath, Maine, on Oct. 1.
“Hunting is huge here, and the great thing about it is that … a lot of the folks who would find themselves out in the woods or spending time with a community of hunters would probably not be the ones who would be taking their families to church or coming to spiritual things,” said pastor Joel Littlefield.
New England is a mission field, and it’s important that we not forget it. We rank at the top or national surveys for the least churched and most biblically illiterate region in the nation. I tell people often that we must think like missionaries because the prevalent culture around us is post-Christian. That’s why one of our primary objectives is to reintroduce this culture to the Gospel. As with any mission work with an unreached people group, you need missionaries (either homegrown or transplanted) to go and share Christ in faithfully. Praying, sending and funding missionaries is an ancient practice of the church and is vital to any mission endeavor. Why give to New England Missions Emphasis? Because missions is God’s means of making Christ known to this generation.
I have long been passionate about our region of the country. From my first missions experience here forty years ago while a college student from the South to my current position of service in church planting, those who are a part of our family of churches in this region have always recognized the difference New England represents. It is a place of spiritual heritage in our land. It is a place of cultural influence across the nation. And it is a place of significant impact upon every life touched by our economy and our education.
I did not grow up Southern Baptist. I can hear the gasps in the Deep South ringing in my ears as I make my confession, but it’s the truth. I had great Christian parents who raised me in a Baptist church, but it was a church that was anti-denominational. Not only were we not Southern Baptists, but we thought Southern Baptists were the enemy!
When I stepped off the plane, the wave of heat hit me! Wow, it is hot in Dallas. But the breeze of the Spirit was blowing across the city as over 9,000 Baptists from around the nation gathered for worship, preaching, reports of God’s work and decision-making for America’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. That included at least 31 people from New England who traveled to Dallas to represent our churches and voice the New England perspective.