At West Henrietta Baptist Church our focus is not on religion, but on a relationship with Jesus Christ and a quest for numerical and spiritual growth. We all desire to see our Church grow. Interestingly, there seems to be no discernible “formula” for why one church in this context grows while another does not. Two churches can do the same things and one will “fail” and remain small while the other grows. And if you ask the one that grows why it was able to do so, they will likely give a “religious” answer, “God blessed us,” “God is moving among us,” and “God is doing amazing things.” No doubt, but what does that say about what God is not doing in other churches?
No doubt God is moving among us and God is doing amazing things in our church, but we have much ways to go. We are working to become the people and church we believe Jesus wants us to be, and I am excited to be on the frontline of what God is doing in our midst. I firmly believe that God is calling us “at this time” to attract new visitors, and attract and retain new members. In short, we are being called to reach new people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s see how we shall approach this assignment.
According to Paul, we are a part of the body of Christ and we are being challenged to function as:
1. The hands to do Christ’s work
2. The feet to run Christ’s errands
3. A mouth to speak for Christ
4. An instrument of reconciliation to bring Christ to the world
Preparation for becoming the hands, feet, and mouth for Christ requires that we become students of God’s Word. Presently, we are studying the Epistle to the Ephesians on Thursdays beginning at 7:15 pm, and you are invited. St. Paul admonishes the Church with these words: “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). In laypersons’ language, a Christian's desire for the Truth, the Word of God, must be avid. As believers, we must give the highest priority in our life to learning Bible truths and principles.
Secondly, we are going to dedicate some time to prayer and the study of spiritual gifts. On Saturday, Oct. 15, we had our first retreat reflecting on spiritual gifts, and we look forward to similar workshops in the near future. In Romans 12: 6-8; 1 Corinthians 12: 8-18; 28-30; Ephesians 4:11, we find a list of spiritual gifts we will be studying, listed as follows: Administration, apostleship, discernment, evangelism, exhortation, faith, giving, healing, interpretation of tongues, knowledge, leadership, mercy, miracles, pastor/shepherd, prophecy, serving, ministering, teaching, tongues, and wisdom. Spiritual gifts are given by God to fulfill His purpose in our lives and on the earth. If we do not accept and obediently use our gifts, which are expressions of “the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10), we neglect God’s work of grace in our lives. God forbid that we would make that choice.
Finally, I am working to equip and entrust to the Board of Christian Education with tasks of playing an intricate and active role in the religious life of the Church, including: Christian education training and leadership; revitalizing Sunday school; attracting and securing Sunday school teachers; planning a Christian Education Week; planning and executing Vacation Bible School, Youth Fellowship, Church nursery and mentoring programs; developing and disseminating a Church brochure; and using exhibits and posters to interpret and dramatize the importance of Christian education.
As your pastor, I pledge to give my best to the preaching ministry, stand with you and beside you in the ministries of the Church. I charge you in the name of Jesus to “sink your roots deeply in our Church, and bloom in ministries where you are planted.” Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship (Romans 12:1).
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion