On Sunday, May 15 the First Baptist Church of Nitro celebrated its 110th anniversary. In preparing for the worship service and while participating in it, I was inspired by our predecessors who led this congregation into existence. Our founders possessed at least three qualities used by God to make the church possible: vision, sacrifice and innovation. If we are to see God moving mightily among us today, we will embody these same three attributes.
Vision. The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…”(KJV). What is your vision for the First Baptist Church of Nitro? Our founders had a vision of reaching souls for Christ, equipping Christians for service through the Word of God and prayer, and being a transforming influence in the area around them. Their vision was not inward but outward. Their focus was not on maintaining the church, but on magnifying Christ and ministering to the community and to the world. This vision was not just written on a piece of paper, but was etched in their hearts and minds and compelled them forward past obstacles and challenges. What vision do you possess for our church as we continue into the 21st century?
Sacrifice. In the past, the sacrifices of money, time, and energy at First Baptist Nitro have been great. In our day and age however, we increasingly divert more and more of our money to other purposes, our time to other pursuits, and our energy to other causes that pale in comparison to the cause of Christ. The entitlement mindset, so characteristic of our American culture, has made its way into many of our American churches. We expect God to provide us with a vibrant, healthy congregation, but have lost touch with the personal sacrifice He uses to bring it into reality. Jesus says in Luke 14:33, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (ESV). We have a heritage of great sacrifice – how much today are you willing to surrender to the work of Jesus among us?
Innovation. Our predecessors were certainly not old-fashioned in their approach to church and ministry. They were pioneers of their time, embracing new methods to share the timeless Gospel with people in need. They rowed boats across the river to meet for worship and for fellowship. They adapted to the changing society around them and gathered in a railroad chapel car.
They later changed the very name of the church as the community changed. They embraced innovation often, and God moved powerfully in their midst as they did so. Their focus was not on the past, but on the present and the future. Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “…Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (NIV). Are you willing to embrace the heritage of innovation we possess as a church? While our God never changes, He is a God who is constantly changing and transforming His people in new ways.
As we follow Jesus, change is not optional — change is inevitable. Are you ready to join God in the new, transforming work He has in mind for our present and our future?