Your church is mightily blessed. Â Surely you know this. Â I have the privilege of experiencing this more than most members, since my involvement is broader by virtue being pastor. Â If I were forced to prioritize our blessings, which is not really possible, I think it is how the Lord glorifies Himself by continually adding Â to our faith family. Â This month marks my seventh year at Pittsburgh Baptist Church. Â From that first Sunday, December 16, 2007, until now, Christâ€™s favor has been with us. Â The clearest evidence is not our attendance. Â Itâ€™s the spirit of cooperation, unity and genuine love we have with each other. Â This is what He keeps adding to us; the spirit of cooperation, unity and love. Â A church without these, regardless of size, financial strength or ministry options lacks the heart of a New Testament church. Â Your church has heart.
With blessings comes responsibility. Â We are poised, better than most, to impact our community and beyond. Â Itâ€™s something we can and should get better at doing. Â The Christmas season is an appropriate time to contemplate ways our church can gift the communities surrounding us.
I propose following the holidays a Community Missional Leadership Team convene to explore ways we can engage our neighbors for the purpose of building relationships in order to share Christ. Â If you have a heart for missions and want to serve on this team, please contact me over the next few weeks. Â We have attempted some community-focused ministries in the past, but except for food bank volunteers, Pittsburgh Baptist has no intentional reach to Dormont, Brookline, Beechview or Mt. Lebanon beyond our radio ministry. Â Community-centered ministry is sort of like voting. Â We have no right to complain about the direction our city takes if we make no contributions to improve it.
A church our size will be most effective by developing partnerships with existing entities. Â Connecting with schools, city/borough councils, Â and parks are good starting points. Â Iâ€™m certain many more options are available, too. Â What is important is discovering ways to share from the abundance we have received from the Lord and be obedient to His command to love your neighbor as yourself. Â (Matt.22:38)
Another critical piece is strengthening our finances. Â Now that our debt is well on the way to being satisfied (Praise the Lord!), we need to recommit to faithfully investing in our ministries. Â Although church attendance is up in 2014 over 2013, giving has dropped by $14,000. Â Yes, you read correctly, support from January through October 2014 shrank by $1,400 per monthly average over the previous year. Â We simply cannot make progress impacting Â our community if this trend continues. Â The encouraging news Â is if we work together, this deficit is easily eliminated. Â If 60 members give $5.00 extra each week, over 52 weeks the church would receive an additional $15,600. Â Of course, the math only works if regular offerings continue at the current rate.
Iâ€™m excited about what Godâ€™s doing in and through our church. Â Anticipation and expectation describe my feelings about what He will do. Â I invite you to prayerfully consider how the Lord wants you to be part of His plans for reaching the lost, lonely and least among us in 2015. Â This is doable!