July 10, 2017
Dear FBCD Family:
Greetings from Tallahassee, Florida! I bring my mother-in-law Lynnie and wife Jeanie to this lovely capital city every summer so that we can all visit relatives on Jeanie's side of the family. But rest assured, I am thinking of you!
• This week "summer" kind of goes away as we move full bore into the return of FBU. I am excited about welcoming my friend and dean Jeff Willetts to Carreker Hall for a 3-week session on "Hard Questions for God." Theology is kind of underdeveloped among Baptists, in the sense that we mainly work unsystematically from biblical texts and stories and rarely offer contexts for "thinking theologically" about either classic or contemporary issues that we face. "Pastoral theology" is a good term to use to describe what both Jeff and I think is the theology most needed in the local church. Pastoral theology aims at addressing the real and often painful theological questions that emerge in real life for real Christian people. It's not "stump the professor" or intellectual navel-gazing that matters, but instead reflecting on questions that actually arise for us, like "why does God not seem to answer my prayers?" and "why do some people find it easy to believe and others don't?"
Remember that dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. and the program at 6:30 p.m. I will host this first session and will mainly work through some questions that I think are especially important to get started with. I will also give Jeff the chance to share something of his own journey and theological training.
• I hope you have been enjoying our Genesis series. It has been a blast to write these sermons each week and to engage your many comments and questions. It is hard for me to explain how meaningful it is to preach in a church in which people seem to be listening very, very closely. Studies still show that the one thing that people looking for a church consider to be the most important is preaching. I am doing my best to offer meaty, substantive, serious but fun preaching. I hope you are finding it meets your needs.
• I wanted to explain our micro-process when it comes to filling our two suddenly open staff positions.
With the Communications Director post, the Personnel Committee had already created a Communications Study Committee that has been looking rather broadly at our communications operations in light of contemporary needs and opportunities. It is likely that the communications operations of our church will be seriously reconfigured in days to come, and this will likely involve a different look to the staffing as well. One thing you notice when you work at FBCD is how massive and diverse our communications program is, with different kinds of communications for different types of audiences within and beyond our congregation. Somehow we need to continue to meet every group's needs but perhaps find a way to streamline our operations. I am (and we all should be) deeply grateful to Lois Graham for managing this unwieldy portfolio for many years.
In terms of Fresh Start, the Personnel Committee has asked me to work with the members of the Fresh Start band to think through both what we now do and what kind of leadership is needed for the next stage of the journey. I am eager to see the attendance in that service grow dramatically. I believe that we have plenty to offer the mainly youthful audience we are trying to reach in that service, and so I would like to see us grow again to the 150-200 people we once reached at Fresh Start.
I said when I started as your Interim Pastor over nine months ago (!) that I wanted us to expect to grow again in all meaningful ways. We have done that in a host of less tangible and more tangible ways, including our Christ-centered discipleship, morale, giving, staff, unity, and attendance. As the fall approaches, I would like to see us push ahead into further growth and ever increasing excitement about our community and mission at FBCD.
Have a wonderful week in Christ, my sisters and brothers—