Note: This post has been adapted from the report given at the 2019 Annual Meeting.
If you heard the most recent State of the Union address, you heard the president of the United States speak a great deal about the tremendous potential he sees for our nation at this point in history. There’s never been a time in my fourteen years of pastoral ministry here at Bethany when I’ve sensed more potential for our church than I do now heading into a new year. Perhaps you can recall a Pastor’s Report in the past in which I expressed similar sentiments. But I certainly sense it now. I believe it’s more than a mere feeling, but a reality evidenced by what God is already doing.
Knowing me, perhaps you are now expecting an accounting of grandiose plans and aggressive vision for the coming year and beyond. I have some of that in mind, but before I express some of those things, let me say first of all that there is no substitute for the day in and day out faithfulness of God’s people in the seemingly mundane activities of normal life. There is no substitute for authentic believers walking in the Spirit and exemplifying Christ in everyday struggles and successes. The greatest impact we will make individually and corporately will be through authenticity. We cannot fool the One who desires to empower us.
While we must never cease to be faithful in the seemingly little things, we can never be considered faithful if we refuse to let God stretch us beyond the status quo. I am so grateful for an increasing willingness to sacrifice for the cause of Christ and this ministry. I believe that Freedom That Lasts® has the potential to open doors of opportunity for evangelism and discipleship. It has always been my vision for evangelism and discipleship to flow out of authentic Christianity. Thus, I hope that Freedom That Lasts® becomes a tool that will open doors; and in no way a program that becomes the sum total of our evangelistic and discipleship efforts.
What a thrill it has been this past year to get our feet wet in the waters of church planting! It has been so exciting to see how God has brought Legacy Baptist Church to pass. I think I speak for many of us when I say that this opportunity has created a thirst for more. Let’s pray together for more opportunities to plants church, especially in the Des Moines metro area.
Planting churches will require leaders to shepherd those churches. For several years now, many of our men and women have benefited from Bethany’s TEAM (Theological Education And Mentoring) Work ministry. It is my desire to see this part of our ministry expand; that God would raise up men in particular, from within or from elsewhere, who have a passion for ministry and a desire to be equipped.
It is my firm conviction that if we will begin to put more resources into doing missions right here, starting in central Iowa, the end result will eventually be an influence that is much stronger than it currently is, and that reaches much farther than it currently does. We are by no means a perfect church. We have a long way to go. But I do believe that we have the truth; we have something worth sharing with others. That starts with the gospel, but continues from there with, as Jesus said, “whatsoever things I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:20) If we are, by God’s grace, doing church and family biblically, then we must seek to reproduce ourselves.
Let me leave you with a simple challenge that could have profound implications. How much time each day do you spend praying for this ministry? How much time per week? How much time per month? “Except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it.” (Ps. 127:1) I challenge you to begin praying daily for Bethany Baptist Church. That’s a call to pray for people, because that’s what the church is. Pray that God will give us all a passion that will result in a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the Great Commission.
Indeed, there is great potential before us!
I love you all!