I’m still smiling as I think about Sunday’s Annual Meeting. From Lucy Plovnick’s superb leadership (as always), to Didier Ahimera’s God story, to the fun door prizes and the sight of a bunch of Baptists dancing (as well as some dignified swaying) in Fellowship Hall—this year’s laughter-filled Annual Meeting was full of gratitude for our present and anticipation for our future, under God.
During the gathering I made a proposal for the coming year which the congregation affirmed with a supportive “Amen”. Here is the crux of my message:
I propose that in the year ahead we view hospitality to newcomers as a chief priority, especially people for whom God and faith and church are a bit of a stretch. And since, for us, the most energetic, participatory moment of our week is Sunday morning, I recommend that we marshal more of our energies and people power and resources toward “lifting” the entire Sunday morning experience at FBC from beginning to end—and that our focus, as we do, be people on the margins of faith.
What will that mean for us?
- Making an intentional effort to chip away at whatever barriers (programmatic, aesthetic, liturgical, logistical, etc.) may be hindering newcomers from connecting with God and Christian community here.
- Evaluating everything we do, especially Sunday mornings, through the eyes of a 21st century spiritual seeker.
- Asking every committee, team or group—including our deacons, Church Council and staff—to ask, every time we meet: “How are we doing at making our particular piece of FBC’s mission more accessible to newcomers and people on the margins of faith?”
- Rather than another program, hospitality will serve as a lens through which we see ourselves; a lens through which we evaluate our programs, ministries, worship, mission and vision.
On Sunday I pointed to John 12:20ff., which tells about a pivotal day when some “outsiders” showed up, asking if they could see Jesus. It was precisely when a door opened to engage those outside the circle that Jesus said the hour had come for the Son of God to be seen in the world for who he is. I’m excited as I think of our opening more and more doors together at First Baptist, and becoming a spiritual home for many more who are seeking God.
Peace and grace,