December 27, 2016
Dear FBCD Family,
The Advent season seemed especially profound this year, at least from my vantage point. There is something about being a pastor, and being responsible for leading a faith community through one of the two holiest seasons of the year, that just does something to you. I cannot personally recall a more meaningful Advent season in my adult life. And it ended so powerfully — with a very large crowd for our Christmas Eve service, and a surprisingly large and joyful gathering on Christmas morning.
There is a new spirit of unity and hope in our congregation as 2016 ends and 2017 dawns. It is my prayer that we will build on the gains we have made in the last quarter of 2016 to make 2017 a wonderful year of discipleship, community, and service at FBCD.
I will challenge myself and all of us to continually work on the "5 E's" — excellent worship (and study), energetic pastoral care, embracing Decatur, economic sustainability, and expectation of growth. The goals are clear: to worship profoundly, study the faith deeply, care for one another fully, serve Decatur comprehensively, steward our finances and buildings wisely, and expect to grow in every dimension of our life together.
The preaching program for the first half of 2017 will aim to help us in these goals. In January and February I will be speaking primarily from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount on the theme "Things Christians Do." Through Lent I will offer reflections on "five angles on the Cross." After Easter I will do a series on "The Work of the Holy Spirit." Each Sunday we will consider both Old Testament and New Testament texts.
The FBU (First Baptist University) program will be another initiative we will take to advance our 5 E goals. Beginning January 11, it is my hope that we will double our Wednesday night attendance, including with ahealthy number of visitors from beyond our congregation, as we offer classes with discipleship content, spiritual and pastoral care goals, life skills, even physical fitness. If you haven't been to church on Wednesday night in years, please give us a look in 2017 beginning on January 11.
This Sunday, New Year's Day, I will preach on one of the things that Christians do: "Starting Over." Christians start over; we repent, grow, change, learn, develop, always seeking "just a closer walk with Jesus." Our texts will be Psalm 51 and Romans 12:1-2.
See you bright and early on New Year's Day!
With Christ's love,