Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In all things give thanks…

Sometimes it is easier than other to give thanks. This Easter Sunday will be one of those days. Many of our church members never remember a time when we did not have the Chinese Fellowship as a part of JIBC. It is as if they have always been a part of our church family. I remember when they started as three people, Yi Ling Pittman, now missionaries in Asia, two of her Chinese friends. Their group grew slowly to 6, then 10, then 15. They needed a bigger room and we gladly accommodated. Then they launched from being a small group to being a church. They rapidly grew to 50, then 70 and now are reaching 100 adults. They have their own youth worship service. Pastor Sean recently helped them start their own children’s worship in preparation for their departure. This Sunday, Easter Sunday, will be their last time with us except for special occasions. We are hoping they might come back for an annual worship service together.

They are going to gather at Citadel Square Baptist Church downtown. Currently, Citadel Square has a good bit of extra space including an extra worship center. This will put the Chinese Church in a wonderfully strategic location to reach Chinese students at C of C, Citadel, MUSC, etc. A few weeks ago we had the privilege of baptizing a wonderful Chinese couple. He is a visiting scholar at MUSC. Again, this puts them in an ideal location. Very few, if any, of the Chinese members actually live on JIBC. Most live in Mt Pleasant, West Ashley and in North Charleston. Downtown Charleston will make sense in many ways.

Now, here is a cool, only God can do this kind of thing, fact. They are going to Citadel Square Baptist…out Mother Church. James Island Baptist was started as a mission of Citadel Square. Early in JIBC history, we started Ft. Johnson Baptist Church, under the leadership of our first pastor, Rev. Glenn and Mildred Tallant. That started as a true new church start. Now, we get to do it again.

We never charged the Chinese Church to use the building, supplies, utilities, etc. They have their own keys and codes to come and go as needed. They use the kitchen every bit as much as our Kitchen Crew. I will miss the wonderful aroma of Chinese food on Sunday mornings…surely it was a pleasing sacrifice to our Lord. I will miss my dear friends and will look forward to chance encounters at the hospitals and in the community. I will look forward to the possibility of an annual gathering to see how their numbers grow.

Now, thank you JIBC. In the early days of old timey Baptist life, we had members who wanted to vote on whether or not to have a Chinese Church meet with us. That seems so foreign to us now…pardon the pun. I thank God for a church family that let go of control and sought to embrace joining God in what He was doing. It was a new way to do church together. It is a much better way. You did not go backwards then and you continue to move forward. The result is the largest Chinese Fellowship in Charleston, perhaps the most active Hispanic Church, and a Celebrate Recovery as large as the average Southern Baptist Church in South Carolina, the only Transition House for women with children and on and on we could go. To God be the glory.

See you Sunday with the traditional Easter greeting: “He is risen…He is risen indeed.”

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Applause: A Holy Week Observance

This Sunday will begin what many refer to as “Holy Week”. It begins with Palm Sunday remembering Jesus welcome into Jerusalem for the last time. He is greeted with Palm branches as the crowds applaud and shout “Hosanna”. Why the “applause”? Did they get it right or did they so misunderstand? Then we have our annual Good Friday service. This contemplative service remembers the great price paid for our salvation. The enemies of the Cross and the Gospel would look upon the death of Christ and applaud. Shouts would ring out that Jesus was dead and soon to be buried and forgotten. Not so fast. Remember the words of Joseph in Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”. It is not over until God says it is over…it is Good Friday. Then Easter morning, we celebrate at 8:30 and 11:00 the Resurrection. “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”. We will have two worship services this Easter Sunday. I look forward to them both. Listen for the applause…let your heart join in the celebration of what God is doing for us through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah.

The North American Missions - Annie Armstrong Easter Offering

This year we are blessed with the opportunity to give to help start new churches in some of the most difficult areas of North America. Inner city Baltimore is one of the “Send” cities that Southern Baptists have chosen. Our former staff member, Brent Gordon, and his family and a team from JIBC are a part of that effort. This year’s offering will be divided between the North American Mission Board and the new church plant Brent is leading. You can find out about Brent’s sponsoring church by visiting www.gallerychurchbaltimore.com. Brent will need to be raising support for the new work. This is one way we can all participate. We actually have a team of ladies going to visit Brent in June. Pray for Linda Iler, Alice Hilyer and Connie Walpole as they go to prayer walk and serve.

By the way, my thanks to Susan Warren for writing articles over the last few weeks. It is a wonderful way for her to share what she sees our Lord doing and a nice way for you to get to know her heart. Pastor Sean will be doing the same in weeks to come. It gives you a break from me and introduces you to your staff. I am grateful to serve with our team.

See you Sunday, good Lord willing,

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Guest Post from Susan Warren
Connection Ministry Leader at JIBC

On any Sunday as you enter the church building, I hope you are greeted with a smile and friendly voice. I am a people watcher. I love to see how people interact with each other in certain settings. In this particular setting, meaning our church, I love to see how people “connect” with each other. For instance, families with children connect with each other because their children are attending the same Sunday morning class together or because they are attending Awana together. On any Sunday morning, you can see those who are members of the same Connection Group “connecting” with each other and checking up on each other with “how is life treating you?” One of my favorite times to observe is when a visitor is greeted by a church member or a member of our Greeting team. Some of the most nervous faces of visitors have melted away into a sweet smile when you greet them, welcoming them to our church. Through these observances I see Christ working in and through people’s lives. I challenge you to look, to observe any Sunday, with an expectant heart to see Christ working in and though the very beings of our church.

Why do you think there are such a “connection” among Christ’s people? In my thinking about this I have come to understand that we all have a sense and need to belong to someone or something. In the past year our people have come together with others to “connect,” to live and do life with each other. You can see this lived out through our Sunday morning and weekday connection groups. In our Connection Groups, we come to together to study God’s Word, have fellowship with each other, seek encouragement and prayer from each other, and to join together in reaching beyond our walls to minister to others who need to know Christ’s love, healing and forgiveness. I have observed in the past year that being in a Connection Group is what has brought us closer to Christ and closer to each other. Some of you I have observed cannot help but share the joy of Christ and be an encouragement to others because of what you have been blessed with by being in a Connection Group. The joy of Christ, the encouragement you are to others, the smiles that radiate from your faces ministers to those who visit with us for the first time, ministers to those who feel lost and lonely, and ministers to those who are hurting and feel there is no way God could love them. Someone else’s joy in Christ can be very contagious!

Would you like more information on how to join or start a Connection Group? Contact me at susan@jamesislandbaptist.com or 843-762-0244. It is a pleasure to serve you!

Blessings, Susan

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Connecting to JIBC!

Guest Post from Susan Warren, Connections Ministry Leader at JIBC

Occasionally, people ask me, “What do you do in life?” Yes, I do understand they want to know more my work, but that usually is the question that gets me to talking about all of my children, my mom, and the rest of my family. I will finally relieve their tension and say, “I am the Connections Leader at James Island Baptist Church.” “But, what do you do?” Good Question! I can connect you with God, people, ministries inside and outside the walls of our church, Connection (small) groups, and all the training and encouragement that goes with connecting you to God and each other.

In the year, plus some, I have been at JIBC, I am so amazed at the many opportunities there are for us to join with God on His mission of reconciling all people to His Son, Jesus and to “connect” with each other and others who so need the good news, the Gospel! Many of the opportunities are in the form of becoming a part of a Connection Group – living life with each other, going to and interacting with the young women at the Florence Crittenton Home, volunteering for and supporting A Taste Of James Island Churches which will benefit James Island Outreach food bank, becoming a reading buddy and mentor to a child at Murray-Lasaine Elementary School, Lowcountry Orphan Relief and Lowcountry Pregnancy Center. And this is just the “tip of the iceberg” of the opportunities we have to join God on His mission. In the many opportunities we have to “connect,” we cannot forget what our purpose is. Pastor Tom so clearly and regularly reminds us and challenges us of our purpose in Christ: to connect with each other through worship, fellowship, membership, discipleship and spiritual growth, praying for and encouraging each other, and ministering to the lost.

You and I are called to be God’s messengers of his Good News. It only takes one person to respond to His calling, however, it is so much more enjoyable to live life with others and work together for the cause of the Gospel. You need a place to serve! God wants you to serve Him! Contact me for some ideas that are already in the works. I will get you “CONNECTED!”

On one last note, there will be an Aging in Place Seminar, Saturday, March 29, 2014. Coffee, juice and pastries will be served. I am so excited for our church to be co-hosting with McAlister-Smith on this event. Here is the opportunity to begin planning for yourself or a loved one with resource materials and information provided by the members of the South Carolina Aging in Place Coalition. Make your plans to attend. RSVP to me by March 24 at susan@jamesislandbaptist.com or by calling the church Office, 843-762-0244.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bible Study @JIBC

Think about the amazing opportunities we have for Bible Study at JIBC. On Sunday mornings, you have your pick of a dozen adult Bible Study teachers: all shapes, sizes, flavors…so to speak. Really, you have a wide variety of choices. BIG REMINDER: we study the Bible. It easy to get confused because we give you a small devotional book, sometimes referred to as a “quarterly”. You are not studying the quarterly. That just helps you study the Bible. It helps give you questions, a little background and direction. We study the Bible. I used to hear people say “I don’t like the material we use in Bible study”. Really? You don’t like the Bible? Again, if your class is studying the “literature” or the “quarterly”, I suggest you let me know and I will help you change classes. You have a wonderful opportunity each week to study the Word of God with other believers in a setting that fits almost everyone. What’s not to love?

Then there are the Connection Groups that meet during the week. They also study a wide variety of topics. Several of them have chosen to study different books of the Bible. They systematically go through the Bible verse by verse. I love it. Way to go, Connection Groups. Others prefer topics that deal with things like marriage, prayer, family life, etc. Even there, they will study Bible based, solid doctrine, materials that are designed to help you grow.

Then we have the Wednesday night study of the Book of Romans. A chapter by chapter walk through the inspired work by the Apostle Paul. This study does have requirements. First time visitors are welcomed and allowed to walk in without preparation. JIBC members must have read and studied the chapter before showing up. My goal would be to have a Bible Study that will make you spiritually stronger, not just “hearing the word only”. So, I provide a weekly handout for you to complete and bring with you. We are also looking for an “outreach” project that we can do one Wednesday evening. We have other forums for Bible Study like First Place, etc. All of them designed to help you grow to be more like Jesus.

Bible Study is more about transformation than information. The good news is the information provides inspiration that can lead to transformation. I pray all of our groups will result in making us more like Jesus, changing us into Kingdom minded servants.

I am so happy to serve as your Pastor. I love what I do, where I do it and who I do it with. I am blessed and highly favored.

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Good Things Coming!

Aging in Place Conference

JIBC is scheduled to host an “Aging in Place Conference” on Saturday, March 29. Who could benefit from such a seminar? Let’s say you are a senior adult and want to plan the best you can to take care of your assets and live independently as long as you can…this is for you. Let’s say you have aging parents and are currently taking care of them or one day may need to provide care for them…this is for you. Unfortunately, we have living and growing older issues that come our way. I like to think that is better than the short term alternative….long term that will be glory. Short term, we need to be as prepared as we can be. We hosted a similar conference before and found it helpful. We are taking the parts that most people enjoyed and benefited from and expanding them. A little more time on each topic, as it were. This is a much needed seminar. If it meets a need in your family, I hope you will be blessed.

On Site Counselor

We are currently working with a sister church in North Charleston, Riverbluff Baptist, to have an on-site counselor here at JIBC. Riverbluff Church has a fully staffed counseling center and is meeting a significant need for solid biblical counseling. As they continue to serve people from James Island, the idea came about to place an office here at JIBC. Here is the good news and the better news. The good news is that we will have an on-site counselor as a part of our family and community ministry. The better news is that Riverbluff will be handling the insurance, the scheduling, etc. We will only handle providing the place for the counselor to hold the meetings. We are planning to have a Ministry Team Leader/Quarterly Ministry Conference meeting on Wednesday, April 2 at 6:30. We are planning to introduce the counselor to our leadership team and have a question and answer time. That is what I would call good news and better news! Thank you Jesus and thank you to our friends at Riverbluff!

Remember to spring forward this Saturday evening. See you Sunday, good Lord willing.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

So, What's Next?

So what’s next? It is always the question on my heart and mind. What is our Father doing and how may we join Him? You may or may not know that God has allowed us to join Him in a significant ministry of recovery. Sunday evening Celebrate Recovery is growing to record levels. We are now offering ministry on ‘Sunday nights to preschoolers, children and youth. Children will be involved in Celebration Station and Youth will be following Life Hurts/God Heals. Both are designed to help strengthen families. Right now, we offer the only Transition House that I know of in Charleston. The need is great. We could fill another house if we had one. The only other Transition House closed down while they regroup and retool their ministry.

We currently have two new residents at the Transition House. They will have four children between them. We might just leave the number at two for the time being. Our Recovery Team offers their services and ministries to other churches and organizations, seeking to go where our Father is working.

What is He doing in your Connection Group? I love knowing that our groups are outward focused, seeking to take the Light of Christ to areas of darkness in our communities. If your Connection Group needs help finding a ministry or knowing where to get started, please know we stand ready to help. Our prayers and commitment are yours for the asking. We might currently be planning some mission work that would interest you and your group. Perhaps the Florence Crittenton Home, literacy mentors at Murray-Lasaine Elementary School, volunteering at James Island Outreach, the Transition House families, Lowcountry Pregnancy Center, etc. We will be glad to help you discover where you can plug in. Ask your Connection Group leaders how you can help.

You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine that the world may see your good works and give glory to our Father in heaven.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday Night

This Wednesday night, I will begin a study on the book of Romans. This will be a trial study. If the attendance warrants, we will continue. If not, we will go back to a video driven Bible Study that does not require an additional 8 hours of preparation. If you are interested in this study of Romans, join us in the Library/Conference room on Wednesday evenings, 6:30-7:30.