Extraordinary Times -- Dr. Robert Richardson
From Epiphany Sunday to Ash Wednesday is described on the Christian church calendar as “Ordinary Time.” This designation contrasts the ordinary, yet meaningful events of the church, to the more significant events in the calendar year, such as Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Passover.
Currently, the calendar suggests we are in a period of “ordinary time.” However, these are not ordinary times at First Baptist.
We are in an interim between pastors. The interim leadership and preaching structure are in place. The Pastor Search Committee is underway. The congregation is responding in a very positive way to the needs and opportunities of the church.
In fact, I want to suggest that these times at our church are extraordinary times. The examples are numerous.
Our church closed out the financial year on Dec. 31 in the black. That happened because of two factors. One was the generous and sacrificial giving on the part of the membership.
The other factor was very frugal spending on the part of those who controlled the budget. Put these together and our church has realized an extraordinary achievement in spite of a bad economy.
In this same difficult economy, the church was able to give more than $107,000 to missions causes last year. That ranged from offerings around the world, such as Global Missions, to Habitat for Humanity projects in the Macon area, to a growing Crisis Closet ministry to those in need in our area. That amount is extraordinary.
Attendance at worship and Sunday School are very good. With only one exception, the Sunday School attendance on Jan. 8 was the largest recorded since last May 1.
Sunday School teachers and directors have already met to explore ways to strengthen the Sunday School ministry of the church.
Recently there was a Leadership Summit to explore, discuss and suggest ways to address various opportunities to enhance the church and its ministry. A report from the Summit will be forthcoming. The suggestions therein will be forwarded to the various committees and servant teams of the church for review and possible action.
Among the many suggestions are several that address strategic planning. Basically this means identifying needs, prioritizing those needs, and distributing funds, when available, to meet those needs. Physical facilities and missions endeavors are two areas that have already been identified for possible improvement with strategic planning.
What you are seeing in the planning and function of the church during the interim is not anything new. This church has a history of “keeping on keeping on” regardless of the circumstances that may impact the congregation. This includes being in between pastors.
And this interim will be no different.