I haven’t written a re-cap in the past two months. This has been a period of transition for me and the people of First Baptist Church.
Transitions are normal in the church. When I was a young pastor in the late 1980s, I used to dread change. I, naively believed, thought that the church was a close-knit, non-changeable unit. However, I have grown to realize that since the church is an organism and not an organization, change is inevitable. Pastors change, Ministers change, Staff changes, and yes, even membership changes – by death, by relocation, by “back sliding” and a plethora of other reasons.
We are in great transition right now due to the relocation of our faithful minister of music, Minister Elijah Griffin and his family. God forever bless him for his faithfulness, loyalty and humility. He not only led our music ministry but he also led our men’s ministry in excellence. He’s hard to replace but God will raise up leadership. We’ve got our men’s ministry in capable hands of Deacon John McIntosh and we’re praying for a Minister of Music (MoM).
Worship leans a lot upon the music presentation, I admit. A good MoM is an asset to the pastor and people of a local church. Right now, I’m having to perform double duty – Senior Pastor and playing organ and keyboard for our music ministry. Temporarily, I’ve suspended our music ministry to just two choirs – The Magnificent Mass Choir and the Men of Praise, until the position is filled. I am eagerly waiting to fulfill this position. Preaching twice a day and playing is a burden.
But let me tell you what the Lord did today . . .
In spite of transition . . .
In spite of the snow . . .
In spite of building under remodeling . . .
In spite of laboring over the affects of a cold . . .
The HOLY SPIRIT came in and made His presence known. Yea, He truly is the comforter!
At 8 a.m., as we watched unexpected snow fall, we had a good 11:00 a.m. service (which will be our televised service next week). Prior to the sermon, Minister Angela Washington ministered to us with “He Was There In the Midst of It All” with the assistance of a music track. She had no idea how that lined up with the morning message. The sermon today was “He’s In the Fire” which is found in Daniel 3. I’m doing a series of sermons about the efficacy of the companionship of the Lord in the various times of our lives. The sermon was from a thought within a sermon I heard from my home church’s pastor, Rev. J. Walter Hills, II, who preached and looked at Jesus being in the fire. That set off the discussion in the sermon. God was kind to the preacher and to the sermon.
At 11 a.m. we had a blessed time in worship. Minister Washington, who has a great connection in leading praise and worship, lead us in “Have Your Way Lord” and “He’s Able.” We then had our fellowship period and welcoming of our guests in worship. We had about 10 visitors in worship today (God be praised) including a couple of families, one of whom were in the area for business reasons. After prayer and during the offering, the Mass Choir sang three songs: “Jesus Will Make Everything All Right,” “If You Ever Needed the Lord” and “Order my Steps.”
I then preached and the Holy Spirit did something awesome. I’m used to (and prefer having) an organ to “help me close” the message melodically. However, today there was no such accompaniment and the Lord blessed. Sometimes I think we rely (as preachers) too much on an organ to determine what makes or breaks a sermon. If the Holy Spirit is not present, you can have the best organist in the country – you can die the death of 1,000 preachers still.
The after-glow of the sermon flowed into the Invitation and then into Communion. One of my members, Deaconess Martha McIntosh started singing “I’m So Glad I’m Here” and the song then moved throughout the congregation – with just a beat of a drum (thank you Christopher Stallings) – and the praises went up, tears were flowing, and no one even realized that there was no organ nor piano. It was “church” in the old-time way.
I welcome your comments below.