When I recently dropped a missionary and his family off at the airport our World Outreach Celebration, he said something to me that simply reiterated something he had already said to us all as a church family: “Don’t take for granted what God has given you guys at Brackenhurst Baptist!”
None of us would want to take for granted the blessed sense of momentum we felt during the recent conference. We all pray that God would indeed do amazing things amongst us, and translate our collective sense of anticipation into something wonderful for His glory. Having given us so much by way of ministry talent, capacity and facilities, would to God that He would allow us to experience a real and sustained growth spurt, both numerically and spiritually.
If you find yourself wondering what God might be up to in our midst, and are wondering what you can do to play your part—if you are prayerfully strategising for growth—here are ten brief things to consider.
First, on Sunday mornings and evenings, consider parking over at our new property. There is plenty of parking there, accessible both from the church parking lot or from Chrissie Street. The fact is that a clogged church parking lot, which causes visitors to hunt for a parking spot, is a sure way of making them think twice before coming in. Inconvenience yourself in order to leave room for visitors to park more conveniently.
Second, don’t just always sit where you have always sat. Fill up seating and rows in less accessible parts of the auditorium, so that seating is available where one would expect visitors to look for a seat: near the back, and near the doors. Clearly we will need to utilise the balcony to its maximum as seating comes under increased pressure. But choose to fill up rows closer to the front, or near the wall, or under the balcony. Visitors ought not to have to hunt for a seat! Let’s make it easy for them when they venture into our auditorium.
Third, when we speak about limited seating, some people begin to wonder whether their attendance is all that important. It is vital! While there may be something negative (off-putting to visitors) about a full building, there is something very positive about it. A crowd draws a crowd. Attending both services on the Lord’s Day, from a strategic perspective, is huge. Your presence and welcoming smile are more valuable than you know!
Fourth, once the visitor has found a parking spot for their vehicle and for their body, and they have taken note that something of value is being supported and anticipated by the crowd assembled here, their next impression is gained when they hear hearty singing. God is pleased with this! We have done so well on this front in the past, and especially of late. But let’s not slack off. Our kids are watching and others are encouraged when we sing as if we mean it. What a joy to raise our voices in worship of the triune God of heaven! No one should hold back when it comes to adding their voice in song. God has blessed us with loads of musical talent to help us sing heartily and joyfully.
Fifth, you know for yourself that, when the people around you are engaged and listening and eager to benefit, you’re inspired to do likewise. Let me therefore encourage you, as an act of worship before God, to make it your aim to amen the prayers and the preaching. The one leading in prayer and the one preaching, and indeed all who hear the grunts of agreement (which is what an amen is in reality), are encouraged and spurred on by your vocal engagement of what you are hearing. Let’s be a little less reserved, but always orderly, as we ensure the feedback from pew to pulpit. The preacher and the prayer benefit, as do other listeners.
Sixth, take note of what is happening around you. Once the service is over, or perhaps even during the offering or some other suitable moment, greet visitors close to you. Show a mature and measured willingness to enter into relationship with your fellow worshippers, some of whom may be needy, lonely, insecure unbelievers just longing to be noticed! Take note of names, and make it your aim to greet people by name next time around. It always makes such a positive impression when people remember our name.
Seventh, in your own preparation for the Lord’s Day, and in the context of belonging to the family of faith here at BBC, bathe the ministry here in private and corporate prayer. Join us for the prayer meetings, where you can add to what you have already petitioned God for privately. Plead with Him to prosper our efforts as a church to make a difference in His kingdom! Ask Him to entrust more and more people to our care and encouragement. Show just how keen you are for God’s blessing by being willing to come and make your requests in the hearing of others.
Eighth, contribute eats when requested. This is such an anonymous but practical and much-appreciated contribution to the evangelistic motivation. Good food—and an abundance of it—adds so much when the BBC family gets together. It really is an integral part of serving one another and regarding others more highly than ourselves. Generosity in this area really costs so little. Stay for finger lunches when they are offered. Once again, your presence and participation speaks so loudly to those taking note.
Ninth, always make it your aim to speaking positively about the ministry at BBC. That’s not to ignore or deny our faults and shortcomings as a congregation. But if we all made it our business to speak to the elders, or to others who are responsible for what we see, then issues can be addressed and remedied productively. Protect your family from some of the warts that you are in the process of addressing. Our children get confused when they hear us speaking negatively about other believers or church leaders. Speak and think about the things that are excellent and praiseworthy regarding what God is doing amongst us. Tell others, and invite them to come and graze where you are finding the pastures sweet and nourishing.
Tenth, if you actively desire God to receive glory, and all that He deserves from His creatures, then get into the habit of thinking about growth, and dreaming of what could be achieved if God were to pour out His blessing upon us more abundantly. Let’s thank God for what we have at BBC, never taking it for granted. But let’s also express something of a sanctified discontentment: We want God to give us more! Let’s expect great things and attempt great things for God’s greater glory!