What every church should commit to its community.

There are churches all over the world. In neighborhoods. In cities. In rural areas. There are churches. And we have preconceived ideas of what church is all about. Yet what should churches be responsible for? A few years ago a man talked to me about how he did not think churches should be tax exempt as they gave very little back to their communities. I was offended and shocked. Offended in that I have a higher value of what churches do. I was shocked in that this man did not have any higher view of the church himself. After a while I started thinking. I tried to identify what churches actually did that helped their communities. I want to be honest. I had a hard time making the list. One reason the list is hard is the church operates in the spiritual realm. Changed lives are our game. Community transformation in lives changed is one thing we give back. Churches also contribute people to city councils, jobs and businesses in the community. Then churches also do projects in their communities. Often for free, but how often does that happen?

The church’s job in the world is to witness (Acts 1:8) to the gospel (1 Cor 15:3-4) of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and make disciples (Matt 28:19) of those who receive Jesus as savior.

In order for this to happen, here is a list of commitments every church should make to its community. These are not commitments to the church. We have enough of them. These are commitments to unchurched people.

  1. When you come to church, and we say “come as you are,” we mean it.
  2. We acknowledge people are messy and life change takes time. 
  3. We will keep in perspective our own sins and will not be hypocrites. 
  4. We will preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to you. 
  5. We will handle you right. 
  6. We will expect you will receive Christ as savior, follow Him in baptism and then walk as a disciple of Jesus. 
  7. We will care more about your soul than we do our own traditions. 

Notice very little of this has to do with up front doctrine. Each can be traced to doctrine yet is application of doctrine. I find most churches are stuck in what they stand against. Churches expect more holiness from the lost or new believer than they do from those who are much further along.

One thing I have noticed in churches is when new believers come in the church they are expected to meet with a sanctification timeline of the existing members.

Churches need to make commitments to their communities. We have had plenty of making commitments to ourselves.

Amen?

My Resignation from First Baptist Church

My Resignation from First Baptist Church (FBC)
Ruidoso, New Mexico
January 11, 2018

Dear FBC, I have the unfortunate responsibility of informing you of my resignation from FBC Ruidoso. My last Sunday in the pulpit was to be January 21, 2018, per FBC policy for a two week notice. On January 7 after the service a few leaders thought it best for me not to return to the pulpit for the last two Sundays.

While I told them this was not a healthy way for us to depart from the church or the church from us, I also understand the request in light of the nature of the split in our church. So, I apologize for not being with you until January 21 as stated Sunday January 7. Yet for the sake of the Lord, I will move forward.

To dispel rumors I want to be clear on my resignation. Here is a summary of what was stated on January 7 in the service when I resigned.

I thank FBC for 8 wonderful years serving as pastor. This church is a wonderful church. We have had great things happen at FBC, especially in the last 3 years. It’s been the best time I have ever experienced in 25 years of ministry. We truly penetrated the darkness (John 1:5; Matt 28:19-20).

The reason for my resignation is the deacons approached me on November 12 desiring to go in another direction concerning the pastor position. These are men I love; I know they don’t hate me, but I disagree with them, concerning leadership, vision and mission for a local church. Jeana and I believe everyone should be welcome at a church and should be treated with respect.

While there is much to the story, I make clear here I have not resigned for any moral reasons. I was asked to resign over vision differences.

I could have stayed and won a vote, but then would have had to dismantle the church structure and asked some leaders to resign in a couple of areas to accomplish the mission to reach and disciple people in our community. It would have been brutal. I would not do that to the church body as there are too many people I love at FBC.

My next steps are to join the ministry at Calvary Chapel Ruidoso and serve with Pastor John Marshall in a co-pastor relationship. We are thankful for an immediate fresh start. Our commitment to missions and evangelism, proclamation and disciple making are not diminished. We expect they will flourish.

Thank you FBC family and friends for allowing my family to serve. We will always wear our experience with you proudly. We wish you only the best and are praying for your next steps.

We love everyone. We have no animosity. My family loves you FBC. Thank you. You have treated us well in our time together. If you have questions, I’ll answer them at anytime. If you trust my character (1 Tim 3:1-7) and vision for God and people (Matt 28:19-20), “it’s all good.”

The church is not always the most beautiful picture of grace, but Jesus is.

It’s all about the cross!

Alan Stoddard, DMin
vision419@gmail.com