Wednesday, March 15, 2017

20,000 EGGS DROPPED FROM A HELICOPTER?

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

Why in the world would a church invest money, time and effort in dropping 20,000 eggs from a helicopter? By the way, let’s go over the basics: the eggs are not dropped on anyone and they are plastic eggs with candy inside not hard boiled eggs. OK, now back to the “Why?”

Last year we estimate that we had over 2,000 people attend the biggest outreach event JIBC has ever hosted. Really, I am not that big a fan of some of the ways culture celebrates some of our most important events. I am, however, a fan of reaching out to the unchurched and under churched community. All the research that is available for our area indicates that parents are really interested in kids events. They are looking for top quality, low cost, family oriented events where they can help their children have an experience. Now put this picture together. We have jump castles, food trucks, and 20,000 Easter Eggs dropped out of a helicopter! You gotta be kidding me. No wonder we had almost 2,000 people. It was great.

I wonder if this could fit into what the Apostle Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23? How do you become all things to all people for the sake of the Gospel. The old evangelism/mission adage is: find out where they are itching and scratch it. In our case, families are itching to have a great experience with their children. We can do our best to make sure that happens.

Here is the kicker for me. I know there is a part of me that wants to get the community people into the church. I would be thrilled for them to come visit us on Easter and hear the life changing message of the Gospel. What excites me even more than getting the community into the church is getting the church into the community. We have found a way to make a difference in our community, to serve families, to provide healthy entertainment alternatives. These community events allow us to get the salt out of the salt shaker, to get light into a community of darkness. I agree that we are not going to have an abundance of theological support on dropping Easter Eggs, jump castles and food trucks. We do have a lot of reason for loving the community, having tons of fun and showing the love of Christ. Let’s do it. Let’s do it together. Let’s do it with joy and love.

Blessings and love,

Pastor Tom


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sometimes it takes a while...

A little over a year ago, our church family “commissioned” one of our members, Tom McConnell, to a particular work. Tom grew up in a small church filled primarily with senior adults. When he and Lisa moved to Georgetown, South Carolina, they began to visit several small churches in their area. Most of the churches they visited were attended by just a very few senior adults with almost no young adults or children except for the occasional grandchild attending with grandparents. The Lord started working on Tom McConnell’s heart about how to see God reclaim the glory for these dying churches. Tom asked me if I thought there was any place for a ministry like he was thinking about. His desire was to offer his time and love to a church, at no charge, to help them take a realistic look at their future. I knew many churches would love the price…free! I also know there is a need. I just did not know if the dying churches were willing to admit they had a need and/or would they be willing to do what is necessary to change. Our staff, elders and leaders agreed that we would commission Tom, pray for God’s blessings and offer to help however we could.

In a God inspired coincidence, almost a year later, I was nominated to serve the Charleston Baptist Association as the Church Health-Revitalization Team leader. My assignment is to put together a team to assist local churches desiring church health and growth. See where I am going with this? Can you guess who I chose as my first team member? You got it…our church member, Tom McConnell. This past Sunday was Tom McConnell’s first Sunday helping an area church. He starts by teaching a Sunday Bible Study each week as he builds relationships with this small handful of people. In April he will most likely start preaching and teaching. At least that is the plan. Remember Tom McConnell and the Riverbend Baptist Church is your prayers. How great would it be to see God reclaim the glory the resurrecting a dying church! You gotta love it when a plan comes together…even if it takes a while.

Pastor Tom




Thursday, March 2, 2017

Charleston Baptist Association (CBA)

The Executive Board of the Charleston Baptist Association met Tuesday, February 21 at Northbridge Baptist Church. I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to say it was a historic meeting for Charleston Baptist. The CBA has lost a lot of momentum and steam over the past 20 years. Everything in life was changing and the Charleston Baptist Association was getting further and further behind the plan and purposes of God. It was similar to when David fought Goliath. King Saul graciously offered for David to wear his armor. It did not fit and slowed him down. The old Charleston Baptist Association, in some ways, did not fit and it was slowing the work down. So over a year ago, a team was put together to study where we were and where we were going and how is the best way to get there. They prayed, met with pastors, leaders, the Executive Committee, studied history in an effort to seek the will of God and to join what He is doing. As the old saying goes…now, the proof is in the pudding. But I must tell you I like the way it looks and tastes so far.

So, here is the change…simple and to the point. The Charleston Baptist Association exists to do 3 things. First, we exist to strengthen churches. A team will be put together that will be available to pray for and assist churches that want to reclaim the glory for God. For those who want to continue the vision that started the churches years ago, this team will be willing to come along side and offer help. The second charge is to strengthen pastors and church leaders. The speed of the leader is the speed of the team. Likewise, a team will be put together to assist the CBA churches in building stronger leaders. Third, but certainly not least, a team will be assigned church planting…starting new churches. This may sound very simple…it is, but I believe it is inspired simplicity. This is a focus I can get behind and support. In fact I have. I will be serving as the team leader for the strengthening churches-church revitalization team. Tom McConnell is the first member on this new team.

Our new Executive Director (formerly called the Director of Missions/DOM) is D. Craig Tuck. The Executive Director Search Team processed through 57 resumes, interviewed 8 that met all the requirements; then selected a final three for final consideration. Craig Tuck met all the requirements and competencies required. Craig has been Senior Pastor at Centerpoint Church here in Charleston and is well known to most of our pastors. I am more than pleased to welcome Craig to this mission and ministry. I look forward to the days ahead. To God be the Glory.

Pastor Tom


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Exciting Times at JIBC

Prayers for this Friday

Darryl Young and I will be leading two breakout sessions this Friday at the Anglican Men’s Retreat at Church of Our Savior on Johns Island. We are excited about the opportunity to share what God is doing at JIBC through Celebrate Recovery. It is our hope that we will be helpful to those who are attending and ultimately result in one or more Celebrate Recovery progams being started in other churches. Imagine a city where those who are looking for help could go to a strong, Christ centered Celebrate Recovery Ministry any night of the week. The 12th Step: Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs. This is a part of our mission as a church family and as members of Celebrate Recovery. Keep us in your prayers!

Welcome New Members from Class 101

Join me in welcoming the newest members of James Island Baptist. Having completed Class 101:Discovering Membership is a great start to becoming disciples who make disciples that make our community a better place to live. Welcome; Andrew Edmondson, Jonathan Green, Emma Lee Heitman, Tammy Hicks, Jada Hughes, Kevin and Penny Ransom. What a joy it is to teach Class 101 and share the DNA of who we are as a church family and what it is we are trying to accomplish. It is one of my favorite classes to teach!

The next Class 101:Discovering Membership at JIBC is scheduled for April 23, 2017, the week after Easter. The next Class 201: Discovering Maturity at JIBC is scheduled for May 21, 2017. The next baptism is planned for Easter Sunday, April 16.

This Sunday, February 26, my teaching will come from Romans 11: A Mission of Mercy With Or Without You. It always costs to do God’s will. It cost more not to. Let’s commit to joining His work to reach, redeem and restore a lost and broken world.

Pastor Tom


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Vision/Mission/Values

Those are three words that are often used in leadership conversations. They mean different things to different people. I will talk a little about what they mean to me. What I believe is that unity in a church family is built around the work of the Holy Spirit and the love of the members for one another. The problem is most churches would say they have that…the Holy Spirit and love for each other. They would say it even after they just experienced a major split. They might say it even in a church where there was little evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit or love for one another. I do think that true unity is built by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Maybe instead of “presence” we might say “president” of the Holy Spirit. Is He the resident president of your life and that of your church? Or, is he more of the resident presence…you know, like the tales of ghost in old houses?

Once a church family has the unity only the presence of the Holy Spirit and a true love for one another can create, they are ready to experience life changing unity. Now back to my three words for today: vision, mission and values. People who have the same vision move in the same direction. They might not see things exactly the same but they are looking in the same direction. What does God’s preferred future for us look like? That is a vision. I think God’s vision is that JIBC develops into a strong, healthy church that makes disciples that makes disciples that change our community in a positive way. We make a difference because He made a difference in us. I am not na├»ve enough to believe everyone has this vision. My goal is to make sure this is the vision of the leaders and trust they will help lead those they influence to have the same vision. That is a big step toward unity. The second word is mission. JIBC does not have a mission separate from the mission of God. God is in business to reach, redeem and restore a lost and broken world. We are in business to join Him. That is our mission. We do this by reaching people for the family of God; helping them mature to become more like Jesus; equipping them to serve His body, the local church; send them out into the community on mission; and to worship Him in all we do. You will never truly have unity with JIBC if that is not what you are working toward. That is the purpose of His church. The last word is values. You value what you celebrate and you celebrate what you value. In church, what do you get excited about enough to celebrate? How about your connection group? What does your group really get excited about. I hope it is things like seeing baptisms; going out into the community to serve; praying for one another; worshipping with feeling; helping someone younger become a follower. When we have similar values, there will be continued unity, love for one another, the presence and the president of the Holy Spirit.

This week’s message is from Romans 10: A Mission of Mercy that Involves Action.

Love you in Christ,

Pastor Tom




Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A MISSION OF MERCY

For the next three weeks, I will be teaching from the Book of Romans. We have gone through a chapter by chapter…not quite verse by verse…study of Romans on Sunday mornings. Now we will go look at three of the most difficult chapters in Paul’s writings, Romans 9, 10 and 11. I am calling these next three sermons “A Mission of Mercy”.

In Romans 9: A Mission of Mercy to Those You Deeply Love. The Apostle Paul is struggling with the idea of God’s salvation for the Jewish people who seem to reject Jesus. Paul himself is Jewish and his entire life was spent in Judaism. Now that he is a follower of Jesus what does that mean to his family, friends and the Jewish nation? He has a longing, a very deep longing to see the nation of Israel come to faith in Jesus Christ. Who do we long to see come to know Him? Who do you pray for with deep longing, that they would come to know Jesus as Messiah?

In Romans 10: A Mission of Mercy Involves Action. Paul reminds the church of God’s plan to love the whole world. The Good News of what God did through His Son, Jesus, is for the whole world. It is a call to do more than just believe in Jesus and to believe in world missions. It is our call to join God in what He is doing to reach the world. How does JIBC, your connection group, join in what God is doing across the street, across the river and across the ocean?

Then in Romans 11: A Mission of Mercy With or Without You. Paul takes a tough line addressing the spiritual issue of pride and spiritual blindness. It is a harsh reminder that God’s mission rolls on even if God’s people will not. In experiencing God we learned that you cannot stay where you are and go with God. It will always cost to do God’s will. It will cost more not to.

See you this Sunday as we begin a three week journey through Romans 9, 10 and 11.

Pastor Tom



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Strengthening Families

Two weeks ago I shared a recommended reading list from a CSU professor, Peter Beck. Those books have arrived and are in the church library. Feel free to check them out…pun intended. This week I want to make a few book recommendations about relationships. You may have read some or all of these. Keep in mind they make great gifts for your grown kids, your grandchildren or friends getting married.

#1 His Needs/Her Needs: Building an Affair Proof Marriage by Willard Harley
How can couples experience a lifetime of passion and fulfillment in marriage? By identifying each other’s most important emotional needs and developing habits to meet them. One of my favorite books.

#2 Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
“My conclusion after many years of marriage counseling is that there are five emotional love languages — five ways that people speak and understand emotional love.” Chapman says that learning each other's love language can help couples express their emotions in a way that’s “deeply meaningful” to one another. We have taught this many times at JIBC.

#3 Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
The book in three sentences: “Wives are made to love, want to love, and expect love. Husbands are made to be respected, want respect, and expect respect”. “When a husband feels disrespected, it is especially hard to love his wife. When a wife feels unloved, it is especially hard to respect her husband”. “Often, we focus on our own needs and simply overlook the needs of the other person”. Buy it!

#4 Wild at Heart by John Eldridge
In his book Wild at Heart author John Eldredge thrusts a generation of men, young and old, toward a journey to recover true masculinity—the soul of a man as God designed him. If you’ve already begun the journey, you know how thrilling—and hard—it can be. For too long the call of Christianity to men has evoked no higher goal, ultimately, than becoming a “nice guy.” No wonder many men are bored to tears with church. The hero instinct has been trained out of them. But Eldredge invites men to come alive again, to find their great battle, adventure, and beauty. If you dare...keep reading. Your life will never be the same. * I recommend this book for men and women.

Here is my offer. If you buy the books and don’t like them, I will buy them back from you and put them in the church library. You are going to like them.

See you Sunday as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together.

Pastor Tom