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Posts Tagged ‘communications’

Anne4It was great to be back in church yesterday.

I preached the story of Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38-42 and ended up talking about “holy moments.” At the end of the sermon I asked the congregation to recognize that that very moment was a holy one—when we were all gathered together, sitting at the feet of Jesus, soaking up every word, just like Mary in the story.

But there was another holy moment that came later that afternoon.

I was in a meeting with the Associate Pastor for Communications search team, the team that is trying to find someone who can take David Powers’ place as when he retires at the end of next month. It won’t be easy. David is, in so many ways, irreplaceable. But we had a promising candidate at the table who had just asked an interesting question: “What is the mission of First Baptist Church?”

There was a brief pause, and then Anne Keo offered an answer. She started by saying that she had been at First Baptist all her life—almost literally. She was dedicated a month after she was born. She talked about her days in the youth group, when kids came to First Baptist from 36 different high schools in the area. “But since Pastor Somerville has been here,” she said, “there seems to be more of a push to be on mission where we are the rest of the week, and not only on Sunday mornings—for everyone to be a missionary.”

From the moment she said, “But since Pastor Somerville has been here,” I had been holding my breath, wondering what she would say next, but when she said that—about everyone being a missionary—I let it out in a sigh of relief.

It was a holy moment.

Because since I’ve been at First Baptist I’ve been trying to help it become a more missional church. Missional is different from “mission minded.” First Baptist has always been mission minded. We’ve been sending missionaries to other parts of the world forever, supporting them with our money and our prayers. But in the missional church everyone is a missionary, and the mission field is not only over there, but also right here where we are, where we live and work and play. This year-long, every-member mission trip called KOH2RVA is simply a way of putting that idea into action as we “labor alongside the Lord Jesus” to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia.

Looking back on yesterday’s holy moment I realize that when Anne said there has been “a push” for everyone to be a missionary since Pastor Somerville’s arrival she didn’t say it was a good thing. She might have been wishing this pushy pastor would leave things the way they were when she was in the youth group. But I could tell from what she said later in the meeting that she was learning to think of herself as a missionary, and that she saw this as different, and much more important, than simply “coming to church.”

It seems so simple: “Everyone is a missionary.” And yet to know that in your heart, to feel it in your bones, to begin to look at the world around you through “missionary eyes” can take years. I believe Anne is getting it, and who knows how the world will be different because she is?

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I hope you will take five minutes to turn up the volume on your computer, click on the image above, zoom to full screen, and sit back to watch this remarkable video about a partnership between First Baptist Church, the Children’s Museum of Richmond, and Glen Lea Elementary School.

If this were the only thing we accomplished on our year-long, every-member mission trip, it would be enough.  But this is only one of the things.  There are dozens more, hundreds more, because every member of the church has been looking for a way to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia.

David Powers and his team of volunteers in our communications ministry made it their goal to produce one KOH2RVA video each week.  That’s how they wanted to “bring it.”  David confessed to me recently that their goal was a little too ambitious.  Making a video is a lot of work.  But I hope that as you watch this one you will appreciate all that it took to record it, edit it, and present it in a way that tells the story and also gives you that good, warm feeling inside.

I’ve gotten that feeling each time I’ve watched this video–four times this morning.  Now I’m going to publish this post, make some oatmeal, sit down to breakfast, and probably, just probably,

Watch it one more time.

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KalenaYesterday was a full day for the pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church.

I left my house at 8:00 to walk the four-and-a-half blocks to “Mission Central” (that’s what Billy Burford, our administrator, calls the church campus at the corner of Monument and the Boulevard. I like it). I got there in time to meet with our worship leaders and clip on my wireless microphone before the service began at 8:30. It was Commitment Sunday, and at the end of the service people streamed forward to lay their pledge cards, tithes, and offerings on the altar. And Cari DuVal told me that yes, she thought she would like to become a full member of First Baptist.

That’s another story altogether, but a good one. Cari grew up in another denomination. She’s been one of our most committed Watchcare members for years now. The recent change in our membership policy allows her to join without being re-baptized but she told me yesterday she would like to be immersed in the swimming pool in Helena, Arkansas, where she has been participating in an annual mission trip for the last several years. The catch? I have to come do it.

I’m checking my calendar.

Between our two morning worship services Dot Smith brought me coffee and a plate full of treats to keep me going. She does it every Sunday, but yesterday it was especially appreciated. The day was just getting started.

The third-grade Sunday school class knocked on my door around 10:15. They were on a prayer walk, and wanted to pray for me. How sweet!

The 11:00 service followed the same order as the 8:30, but the two services are never the same. At the end of the second service people streamed forward again with pledge cards, tithes, and offerings, but this time Rob and Katie Courain told me they were ready to join the church.

Rob and Katie are the young couple who head up the powerful city-wide worship celebration called RVA United, and it felt like a great compliment to First Baptist that they would choose to join a church that doesn’t worship with drums and guitars (usually), but instead sings hymns out of a book (gasp!). There must be something good going on at First Baptist. Rob and Katie say it’s our mission, that they, too, are trying to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia.

After worship I went to a three-hour meeting of the Ministry Planning Team, where we worked on a mission, vision, and values statement for First Baptist Church. It’s hard work, but good work. We spent a lot of time talking about who we are, what we’re trying to do, and the challenges we face as we do it. We didn’t finish our statement, but we came a lot closer.

My next meeting was with the Communication Team, thirty minutes later. They wanted to hear my thoughts as we anticipate David Powers’ retirement in September. David has been doing this job nearly twenty years. He is the driving force behind our television broadcast, our webcast, our website, our in-house publications, and our printed pieces. It’s hard to imagine the post-Powers era, but we did. We spent a full hour talking about the ways technology is changing and how it impacts communication. Jim Norvelle told us how he tuned into our webcast from the west coast last week (at 5:30 Pacific Time), watching the service on his iPhone even before he got out of bed. What will it be like five years from now, ten, fifteen?

From there I went to the Prayers for Healing service in the chapel, and spent a little more than an hour in that candlelit room praying, singing, listening to Bev Carroll talk about the work of spiritual rehabilitation, lighting a candle for my dad, praying with those who requested it, serving communion, and offering the benediction. It was a solemn, holy experience, followed almost immediately by…

Crazy dancing in the youth suite!

I had been invited to drop by for Kalena Porter’s surprise birthday party and when I got up to the third floor I found the youth line dancing. I watched as long as I could stand it and then just jumped in, much to their delight (there is nothing quite so funny, apparently, as seeing the senior pastor dance). Just before Kalena arrived we turned out the lights and waited to yell, “Surprise!” I think Kalena was surprised. The picture above was taken seconds afterward, as she was being rolled down the pink carpet created by Chloe Buchanan (at left in the photo).

Kalena has a terminal illness. She’s not going to be in our youth group much longer. But last night the youth poured out all the love they could on her and she was able to receive it gratefully. I couldn’t have been prouder.

Yesterday was a full day for the pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church. I didn’t get home until 7:00. But this morning I find myself savoring almost every detail of a day that was filled with worship, work, and witness.

A day when heaven came to earth.

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