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.
I’m excited about what God’s doing in and through our church. Anticipation and expectation describe my feelings about what He will do. 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. This is doable!