God has called Arapahoe Road Baptist Church to help all peoples (ourselves included) take that next step in their journey with Christ. We are called to cultivate, to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) in taking those steps in helping others come to Christ, connect with His Church, and contribute to His Kingdom. This must sink deep into our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our strength to be a vibrant, flourishing organism for Christ.
God birthed Arapahoe Road Baptist Church in 1960, almost 54 years ago. For a church in Colorado, this is considered a very established church (the equivalent of the 225 year old church from which I came in Lexington, Kentucky). How wonderful that God has provided such perseverance and fortitude. God has used ARBC mightily and has fantastic things in store!
I know a number of pastors who have planted churches in the last few years. Having been a pastor of established churches my entire 22 years of ministry, I watch how they live and move and have their being with fascination. I do not do so because I wish I was in their shoes—I have no desire to be anything else but your pastor. Yet, I look at fascination at their DNA.
Here’s what I’ve gleaned:
- The whole DNA of church plants is a decided mix of discipleship and outreach. The new ones that come to Christ are invested in so they will become the leaders and contributors that the church desperately need. And they spent a great amount of time, money, and resources on bringing others to Christ, then growing them in Christ into Kingdom-minded contributors.
- Their ministry is not building-centric. As a result, church plants go to where the lost are, not simply expecting the lost to come to their building.
- Along the lines of #2, their small groups meet outside the building of the church, not always inside. Part of this has to do with many not having a permanent facilities, but, again, it’s another door for unbelievers to walk through that’s more inviting and less intimidating than coming into a big church with scads of strangers. And the plus for us is that we grow to understand the unchurched better—the ones to whom we are to ‘go, and make disciples’ of.
- They don’t do things that only Christians want to do. A lot of times in our churches, we set up things for those far from God to come to, but usually they are things that only Christians want to do. They get to know their community and then look to provide something that others can’t. We know we have the gospel, but we also need to recognize the bridges that need building to the gospel.
- As they are out and about, they invite, invite, and invite some more. They carry around the love of Christ and His church in their hearts, and often carry around cards in their pockets about the church. We have a number of cards in the office that we can make available to you—but a caring smile and word of mouth do very well indeed.
- They identify big days, sharing with those already coming that the gospel will be shared from the pulpit. While we have Big Days (musicals, harvest festivals, special speakers, summer picnics, etc.), we will start setting aside the first Sunday of each month for testimonies from our people. You need to hear the Word from your pastors, yes. That’s primary and necessary. Yet, God is working in and through our people, even in the midst of the most harrowing of circumstances. How are they navigating through it? You need to hear their stories of how Christ is moving and working in them as a source of encouragement for all of you to persevere.
Friends, this isn’t what a church plant is all about, this is what the church must be about. Be praying that God would change our hearts individually to change the culture spiritually that the Word matters, the lost matters, and growing in Jesus matters. Keep an eye out for how we shall put feet to this.