With a new year upon us, this is an opportune time for First Baptist to reflect on the past year. The most common method of examination for churches is to count “nickels and noses”. How many nickels were collected and how many noses appeared this week? While we thank God for every “nickel and nose”, a better method of examination is to reflect on how intentional and effective First Baptist has been in connecting people to the transformative power of Jesus Christ. For example: Who has become a follower of Jesus Christ through First Baptist? Who has been comforted by His grace through First Baptist? Who is being loved by Christ through First Baptist? (etc.) As we reflect on these, let us consider how we can be a more intentional and effective instrument in the Redeemer’s hands.
- First, we must surrender our life. We cannot be an instrument in the Redeemer’s hands until we are in His hands. The local church is comprised of people who have submitted themselves to Jesus and call Him Lord. We belong to Jesus; therefore, the Church belongs to Jesus. Jesus, Himself, made this clear in Matthew 16:18 when He said: “I will build My church.” If First Baptist wishes to be an intentional and effective Great Commission Church, we must surrender our will, wishes, and wants to Christ.
- Second, we must embrace our mission. We cannot be an effective instrument in the Redeemer’s hands until we know our reason for existing. The Church has been given its mission by the Lord Jesus when He told His disciples that they must “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20) The Great Commission is not negotiable. If First Baptist wishes to be an intentional and effective Great Commission Church, we must commit ourselves fully to God’s mission rather than ours or any others.
- Third, we must identify our identity. It is essential that each church prayerfully discern its core values. Core values serve as the guiding principles that dictate behavior and action. Core Values bring clarity to what a local church believes is important and helps form a process for carrying out the mission given by Christ. A core value is a non-negotiable principle we cannot abandon and stay true to our mission.
- Fourth, we must establish our goals. An effective church is prayerfully setting Christ-honoring goals that align with its mission and identity. Christ-honoring goals must be Christ’s vision for our local church as we carry out the mission in our community and the world. The goal is the end and we must prioritize our methods in order to meet those goals. This means that our activities and ministries are actions carried out for the purpose of achieving our mission and vision.
- Finally, we must surrender our life. (That is not a typo!) Let us end where we began because we cannot accomplish anything apart from God. Every step requires us to be “a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1) who loves Christ and submits to Him as He uses us for His glory and the good of others.