Yesterday we celebrated our 7th Anniversary as Laurel Baptist Church. It’s always a special time to stop and reflect on what God has done in building His church. Yesterday’s services were no different. As we reflect on seven years and begin year eight, I want to share with you a few “anniversary thoughts.”
We are still passionate about this being God’s House. This is not our house, but God’s house. It is His work. A work in which He said He would build and not even hell could stop it. What happens at LBC is not the ingenuity of man, but rather the blessings of God’s Spirit. It’s not about achieving a ministry status or a church record. It’s about honoring this place as God’s house. “Lord, this is YOUR house!”
We are still an imperfect church. If you’re waiting for us to reach perfection, you’ll be waiting until Jesus comes. Laurel is not a perfect church (and never will be), but we are Christ’s church. As Christ’s church, we are accepted just as we are and are humbled by His grace. We’re not trying to be like anyone, but Jesus Christ. He is the standard by which are church is measured, not man nor organizations.
I’m thankful for those who took a chance on me. When I came home to Charlotte in 2008, we set out to relaunch a struggling work with just 36 people. We pulled out of a denomination, realigned our distinctives, and started fresh with a new focus. Our church has grown to an average attendance of 350 on Sundays, but I will forever be grateful for those original “launchers” (some 15 now who remain with us) that took a chance on a 26 year old pastor. They have been patient with my personal growth, graceful with my mistakes, and enduring through my weaknesses. My heart is so grateful for their love, support, and longevity with me. Many others quit and walked away, but 15 founding members have stayed right with us on the journey. I can never adequately express my gratefulness to you enough. Thank you!
If anyone has experienced growth these last seven years, it has been me. Just let me simply say, I’m not the same man that I was seven years ago. I’ve changed. Some would see that has a negative, but for me it is God’s work in my own heart and life. God has helped me to understand the true purpose for the church and my role as a pastor. He has helped me move past issues of insignificance and pointless measurements of how “church success” is viewed. He has removed off of me the burden of feeling responsible to “build the work of God” and placed in my heart this overwhelming passion to simply be led by His Spirit. In the beginning I longed for the church as an entity to grow, but now I long for the church as a people to grow. Some call it a realignment of priority, others call it a loss of ministry fervor; however, I call it spiritual growth. For I know what God has done in me. My soul has been “nourished up in the words of faith and doctrine.” (1 Timothy 4:6) And in the midst of all the growth we have seen, I’m thankful God is still growing me.
We will stay focused on what we know we are supposed to do and let God continue to do the building. What are we supposed to do? Teach truth. Pray together. Reach others. That’s it! Verse by verse preach the Word of God. Passionately, together, seek the face of God. Fervently do all we can to reach all we can. As a homiletics professor in college often said to me more times than I can remember, “Keep on keeping on!” That’s what we’re going to do – keep on teaching truth, praying together, reaching others, and watch God build His church.
I’m excited about today and I’m excited about tomorrow! Thank you for letting me be your pastor. Thank you for loving on my family yesterday. I love you! Happy Anniversary, Laurel Baptist Church!
View pictures from yesterday’s Anniversary Sunday by clicking here.