Five Challenges for 2015/2016

Sunday was an important day for our church. Once a year I speak to the vision of our church (both NRHBC and Cross Church). It is a day I set aside to challenge our church around five areas of future growth moving forward in the remainder of this year and much of next.

Below is a quick recap of the five challenges. I have also included video portion where I speak to our church. If you care for our church, please join me in praying and rally together toward these five challenges.

1. Increase the Number of Bible Study (SMBS) Groups. We currently offer 36 adult SMBS groups at NRHBC and 5 small groups at Cross Church. In the next four years, we want to offer 45 groups at NRHBC. Sunday Morning Bible Studies is the lifeblood of our church. This is where we care for people and it is where we study God’s Word in depth. I cannot underestimate the importance of these groups to the life of our church. They are critical and God does so much good through this one aspect of ministry. In fact, if you are not in one of these groups, you are missing out on an area of growth and relationships.

To get to our goal, we need competent godly people to step up and start new groups. It takes real work to call, teach, and care for adults. However, leading also brings a great deal of joy. Seeing others grow in Christ and “get it” spiritually is extremely powerful. Pray that God allows us to move to our desired number.

2. Send 30% of of NRHBC and Cross Church on a Mission Trip by 2018. During a short term mission trip, we mobilize Bible-believing people for a short period of time, from a matter of days to a few weeks. The impact of how God works through these important times is incalculable. When you go on a short-term trip, you grow exponentially, but you also impact the people where you are ministering. Whether you are clearing debris after a disaster or sharing Bibles in a major metropolis around the globe, short-term missions puts you in touch with career missionaries and causes your hearts to beat with the love and compassion of God Himself (Romans 10:1).

To get to our goal, we need 450 people to step up on a mission trip in the next three years. We have trips planned to Colorado Springs, Colorado, Vancouver, British Columbia, and SE Asia. More trips are planned continually and you simply need to reach out to our missions pastor for more information on how you can be involved.

3. Join together for a Week of Prayer on November 8-15 and for 24 Hours of Fasting on November 14-15. In a recent New York Times article entitled “Googling for God,” we witness some of what happens behind closed doors when Americans are alone with their computers.

“It has been a bad decade for God, at least so far. Despite the rising popularity of Pope Francis, who was elected in 2013, Google searches for churches are 15 percent lower in the first half of this decade than they were during the last half of the previous one. Searches questioning God’s existence are up. Many behaviors that he supposedly abhors have skyrocketed. Porn searches are up 83 percent. For heroin, it’s 32 percent… The top Google search including the word “God” is “God of War,” a video game, with more than 700,000 searches per year. The No. 1 search that includes “how to” and “Walmart” is “how to steal from Walmart,” beating all questions related to coupons, price-matching or applying for a job.”

Many of us feel the moral and spiritual fabric of our nation slipping away. The commitment to Christ and His church has slowly eroded. Apathy for spiritual things has moved to antagonism for people, for the Bible, and those who believe. Turning this around is beyond any one person and any one congregation. We need God to move in and change the tide. We need to recognize our inadequacy and plead with God to change our churches, our lives, and our nations. We need a spiritual awakening.

We are setting aside one week to ask God to bless our missionaries and to advance the gospel around the world, November 8-15. And we are calling for a church-wide 24 fast beginning Saturday at 7 p.m. through Sunday at 7 p.m. Your fasting should be a sacrifice on your part and it can include food, drink, social media, television, or video games. This 24 hours is set aside to plead with God to impact our church and our nation.

4. Finish Paying for the Land for the Future Home of Cross Church. Our church purchased approximately 27 acres in 2013 in order to begin Cross Church, our church’s second campus. God has blessed our work in a remarkable way over the past 18 months as our second campus has meet in a nearby school. Yet, our longterm goal is to secure the land as a future home and erect a building. We need a permanent home for many reasons but here is one of our biggest needs: a permanent home allows us to meet together anytime of the week rather than only Sunday mornings. A permanent home allows us to better serve North Fort Worth as community center hub.

To complete the purchase of the land, we have set aside Sunday, November 15 as a Big Offering Day. Our one day goal is $325,000. Join me in praying and giving sacrificially on this day.

5. Commit to Share the Gospel on Thursday, October 15. Let’s join with hundreds of churches across the United States in prayerfully committing to intentionally engage in a gospel conversation on this Thursday. Take time to share your commitment with friends and ask them to join. You may want to use gospel presentations such as 3 Circles or The Story. Begin praying right now for someone that needs to hear about God’s love through the cross of Christ. Again, I am calling on everyone of us to share our faith on this one day.

Thank you for taking time to read this and watch this video. Please consider sharing these five challenges with a friend, co-worker, or family member as a way to stir them to great faithfulness in Christ.

Related Post: For the Five Convictions that Direct our Church, go here.

For the full video of Sunday’s Vision Recast Sermon, go here.

Grateful on Monday: Reflections on Big Offering Sunday

Yesterday was amazing day. It didn’t start out that way though. Let me review the day with you…

As a part of our Better Together “One-Day” offering, I had prayerfully challenged our church to give $250,000 on Sunday, June 9. The reason for the goal is this: our church is seeking to purchase 26.7 acres of land along 287 highway north of downtown Fort Worth and west of I-35W. The purpose for purchasing this land is to eventually start a second location for North Richland Hills Baptist Church (you can read more about the entire campaign here).

Again, the day didn’t go as I had planned. To appreciate my quiet despair, you must know about the work that had been going on for several months in preparation for yesterday. People had prayed in groups as families and friends. Many of us had prayer-walked the land over Memorial Day weekend. Before the beginning of 2013, God had been working through the leadership of our church as well as various leadership groups (finance, personnel, long-range planning committees and others) to see that we purchase this parcel of land. In addition, I had prayed privately for months, journaled my prayers and thoughts, and wrote many people within our church to specifically pray for this one day.

All of this work went into yesterday. But then the frustrations began to mount. First, it rained before the 8 a.m. service and it rained throughout most of the first service. Now, we are usually thankful for all the rain the Lord gives in Texas but rain makes Baptists stay home from church. 🙂 Our attendance felt lower than I had seen for any Sunday during my first year as pastor.

Second, what I thought was allergies on Saturday turned into a cold on Sunday. I felt lousy and I preached accordingly!

Third, the first service seemed like it had little life to it. As experienced pastors can tell you, sometimes it just happens this way through no fault of anyone in particular.

All of these things had my mind thinking, “This is not going to be a good start for this three year campaign.” I was quietly disappointed as I reflected on the rain, my cold, and the attendance.

Yet, the results of what God did were far different.

By the end of our third service, we announced our total offering had exceeded $487,000 (some monies have still yet to be counted as I write). This means that on the first day of the financial part of the Better Together campaign, we have purchased approximately 3.5 acres of the land for the second site and have raised more than $97,000 for other mission causes. More than this were the stories behind the gifts. I heard a child bringing his piggybank with coins for the one-day offering. A elderly gentlemen brought an envelope between services to one of our members saying, “I cannot stay for worship. My nose is bleeding and my wife isn’t feeling well.”

As I reflect on yesterday and the grace of God that led to this incredible offering, I am reminded of Paul’s word to the believers in Corinth:

“…What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 ESV)

Yesterday was good because of God and not because of us. I thank God for our church family’s generosity yesterday. I look forward to many days to come as it will be exciting to see the lives changed at the second location because of the gospel of God’s grace for years to come.

Thank you church family. Now let’s pray God moves in the hearts of children this week for Backyard Kid’s Club.

Five Ways to Pray Big for Sunday

Sunday, June 9 is a big Sunday for our church. This is the first of three big offering days especially set aside to raise funds for the purchase of land to establish a second site for our church, North Richland Hills Baptist Church. As this day quickly approaches, our one day goal is $250,000. Every family member from our church is being asked to give something on this day.

Because of the special important of this day and because Sunday officially begins our financial efforts for this entire project, I want to suggest five ways our church family can pray together. Please pray through the following five avenues of prayer with other believers and family members this week. Pray through it repeatedly in the days to come. Read through this list slowly and add your own words and Scripture verses. Pray in your Sunday Morning Bible Study Groups and pray over meals.

I thank you in advance for praying for this Sunday.

1. Pray that we treasure Christ above everything. Ask the Lord that our church would place Him above anything else in our lives (Matthew 13:44). Pray we treasure Christ above all of our wealth and resources. Pray we are motivated to give sacrificially because of our love for Jesus Christ. Pray specifically that even the smallest taste of idolatry would be disgust us.

2. Pray that our church family is obedient to God’s voice (1 Samuel 15:22-23). God greatly delights in our obedience to Him. When we obey God it shows everyone that He is reliable. Pray that our church family will understand that everything God has commanded for us is for our good (1 John 5:3). Pray that we will follow the Spirit’s leading as Jesus consistently did in His ministry (Luke 4:1).

3. Pray that we will be one in Christ (John 17:20-21). I am most concerned for us in taking this bold step forward, we will suffer a concentrated attack from Satan. Satan loves to discourage Christians by breaking down the unity between believers. Pray that we are loving toward one another. Pray that our church family is sensitive to the needs of one another. Pray that we serve one another. Pray also for humility for your pastor and church staff in the coming days.

4. Pray that we are one in purpose (Matthew 28:18-20). Pray that every believer who makes North Richland Baptist Church their church home will be determined to make disciples of all nations (2 Timothy 2:2). Pray that our church will be determined to see God’s glory spread among the nations and throughout the DFW area (Colossians 4:1-4). Pray that every generation in our church is single-minded to disciple the next generation.

5. Pray for resolve (2 Thessalonians 1:11). Pray that God would make us steadfast through the entire process of Better Together. Pray we would not lose heart after starting the second site on April 20, 2014. Pray for the 150 or more people who set up and tear down all the necessary pieces in the rented facility. Pray that God would bring encouragement to our hearts. Pray that we would not become wearily in well-doing.

 

For more information on the second site and the entire Better Together spiritual growth campaign, visit nrhbc.org/together. There you will find answers to many frequently asked questions as well as the video from Sunday, May 5 where I preached on the why this second site would be valuable for our church’s future.