It’s an exciting time at Hillside Baptist Church right now. This year (2018) we’ve been introducing and planting seeds and cultivating three areas of our culture in which we believe God wants us to focus and grow.
Firstly, we’re working toward deepening and fostering a culture of prayer. We want to be a church that is known around town as a praying church. When someone asks us to pray for them “this week” we want to stop right then, put our hand on their shoulder and pray…right then. We don’t want to be a body that simply writes “prayers” as a comment on someone’s Facebook post and leaves it at that.
The second area that we’re looking deeper at is stewardship. We want to become a church that understands that our stewardship goes beyond our budget and the building we gather in for worship every week. Stewardship begins with the knowledge and belief that God is creator and owner of all things. He is God. Everything about us is from him. So, our church’s money, building, people, individual and collective gifts, the homes of our people, the time of our people, the activities and/or ministries that we facilitate…all of these are owned by God, given by God, and are to be managed or stewarded to the glory of his name.
The third and perhaps the most illusive and foreign thing that we felt God calling us to do is develop a missional culture. For as long as I’ve been here (around 6 years) we’ve always been a body that loves to support missions. We support a lot of missionaries and give regularly to projects that support the spreading of the gospel throughout the world. We also regularly send teams of people overseas to do mission work. Any day now we’ll have a team get back from Hungary where they have been helping prepare a physical place for the Roma people to meet for worship. However, global missions is only a portion of the heart behind the commissioning of the disciples of Jesus.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU DO?
As people who live in America, we’re constantly bombarded with commercials and songs and movies and advertising that tells us if we want people to view us a certain way we need to buy this or do that. There’s this underlying sermon that gets preached over and over and over everyday that tells us that we are because we do. We find our identity in our careers or family name or role as a parent and a million other fruitless things. We suffer, very much, from a lack of true identity. People around us everyday and some those in our midst are asking, “Who am I?” They search for purpose. You see seemingly unending amounts of identity confusion and people searching for meaning and purpose every time you watch the news or read headlines. Not only with the crisis in gender identity but with the many causes for protest. At the very foundation of these issues is a longing for identity and purpose built within all of us.
We, who believe and follow after Jesus know, however, that our identity and our purpose is not defined by the things we wear or what we do or the square footage or decor in our home. No. Our identity has been declared. We are AND SO we do. It’s not the other way around. The trouble is that like all humans we sometimes forget who we are. We tend to turn from what we know to be true and before we know it we’re looking elsewhere for satisfaction, meaning, purpose, and Identity.
Beginning on September 23rd, we (HBC) will be walking through a three week sermon series as a family to supplement what we are already learning during the Sunday School hour. Before we will ever be good at Praying, Stewarding, and being on Mission with God, we have to know and believe who we are; who this gospel has made us.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says that we are a new creation. That the person/s we used to be is gone. That person died with Christ and has been forever changed. We are transformed.
During what us churchy people call the great commission in Matthew 28 Jesus tells his disciples to go and make new disciples. He then tells them to baptize these new disciples in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptism is to be a picture of this old self dying and being buried with Jesus and the newly created and transformed self rising along with Christ. And when Jesus says that they are to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit he’s describing this new identity; this identity that we all share.
In the name of the Father:
We are children of God and so we love one another like family.
In the name of the Son:
We are servants of King Jesus (the ultimate servant) and we serve him by serving others.
In the name of the Spirit:
We are sent ones empowered by the Spirit to show and share Jesus in the everyday things we do.
Only by knowing, understanding, and believing this identity will we be able to become a family that prays together and for those in our path. What we believe about who the gospel has made us is the lens through which we will understand stewardship. And it is only when we understand the extravagance of our place as children of God, servants of Jesus, and Missionaries of the Spirit that we will long to join God in his mission, here in Dickinson, North Dakota.