Well, another year has passed, and we have finished our third year as a church. We began on the third Sunday in June 2007 because of the the call of God, and have continued because of the grace of God. We continue to be grateful that the Lord has called us and entrusted us with the gospel and His people.
This has been the most eventful year so far, and, I believe, the most spiritually fruitful year. We lost a couple of families that had been with us for while. One, over the issue of male leadership (which we hold to), and the other, over a disagreement that I was never quite sure what it was. Both families left peacefully. I did not like seeing them leave, and still have a great deal of affection for them. But disagreements do come up, and sometimes they can be worked through and sometimes they can't; but to the credit of the families that left, they never tried to be disruptive or raise a stink because we disagreed. It is going through times of disagreement that confirm what you really believe by testing your commitment to what you say you believe, and that is a good thing.
As I mentioned in another post, we baptized three young ladies at the end of last summer. We will have another baptismal service later this summer or early fall. Baptisms are great events as they are testimonies of the Lord's work in the lives of people. The Lord has been working among us again over this last year and I am looking forward for all of us hearing testimony of His great grace. I enjoy preaching the gospel more now than I ever have, and continue to be more in awe and more appreciative of its power unto salvation.
At the end of April we ordained an elder and a deacon. It is gratifying to see God answer prayer and raise men up to take on the service/leadership roles in our church. Both men separately went through a 13 week orientation before the ordination. It gave us a time to get to know one another better and be prepared together for the work that each office requires. The respect I had for these men grew during our time together, and I believe the Lord has strengthened our church through this process.
We held a church wide bible study on Tuesday nights during the spring. We met at Baptist church on the north side of town, and they were gracious in turning their facility over to us to use however we needed. We worked through a study entitled Fundamentals of the Faith. It was good for us as a church to go through and do some foundational shoring on the basics of doctrine and practice. It was well attended, and we will do another foundational study this fall on salvation, what it is and what God has accomplished for us through it. It should help all of us appreciate our salvation so much more.
This spring we again went to the Shepherd's Conference. Last year we took four men, but this year we took eight men, and hope to add to that next Spring. The desire on the part of our men to grow spiritually, and make the sacrifice to go gives me great joy, and is evidence of the work the Lord is doing in them.
Our children are growing, as well. My wife Angie has done a wonderful job in implanting Biblical truth into the hearts and minds of the children, and her goal is to give them the wisdom that leads to salvation. She does have a gift in taking Biblical truth and explaining it in a way that makes it understandable and relevant to the children. One of our familes told me that their Bible discussion on Sunday evenings was usually over what was learned at the children's Sunday School.
We have continued to grow numerically, slowly and steadily. While that is a good and desired thing, the best thing is to watch the growth in the people that the Lord is causing because of the preaching of His word. Seeing prayers answered, not just mine, but the prayers of our people is a wondrous thing. And having people come each Sunday expecting to hear from the Lord, and looking forward to what they will hear from the Lord lets you know that the Lord is at work in our midst. The things that our people have shared with me about what God is doing in their life, and their appreciation and love for the expository preaching/teaching they are receiving are the Lord's ways of confirming what we are doing, and encouraging.
Again, we enter another year not knowing what will take place, where the Lord will lead us, but knowing that we have a purpose and place in His eternal plan; and enter this next year even more committed to being a gospel centered church. So we will continue this walk, this journey, mindful of all that He has done and all that He is doing, so that we will keep the faith and not grow weary in doing good.