Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Structure That Is Built to Last

In our most recent Quarterly Celebration, the members of Southside Baptist Church voted unanimously to adopt a new set of Bylaws. While this decision may not seem very exciting to some, it marks the single greatest shift in church governance in Southside’s 75-year history. The new Bylaws uphold and strengthen the core beliefs and values of our great church. I would encourage every member of SSBC to read the summary description of the new governance structure. I also invite you to join me in thanking the members of the Governance Task Force (GTF), who have invested more than two years in crafting and developing Southside’s new Constitution and Bylaws. The members of the GTF are Linda Anderson, Charles Baggs, Barbara Carroll, Carl Holden, Jim Price, Pam Rush, and Mark Trednick. If you see these folks in the hall, let them know how much you appreciate their work.

The GTF has had four overarching goals:

1. To involve more people in the ministry of the church
2. To align Southside’s structure and systems with the mission of the church
3. To simplify the governance of the church
4. To clarify the beliefs of the church

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Orange County, California, writes, “While the kind of structure a church has does not cause growth, it does control the rate and the size of growth. And every church must eventually decide whether it is going to be structured for control or structured for growth. This is one of the most crucial decisions your church will ever face.” I believe Southside has faced this decision and has opted for growth over control.

Southside believes that Jesus Christ is the head of His body, the Church. We also believe that every believer is called to minister and has equal access to the Spirit. For this reason, our Bylaws uphold the biblical model of congregational governance. This means that under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the members of Southside have ultimate and final say in all matters related to the church governance. We also recognize, however, that it is not realistic for 700-plus people to make every decision necessary for the church to function in a healthy and effective way. That is why the new governance model calls for the creation of the Council of Trustees. These nine members are to be nominated and elected by the congregation for the purpose of guiding and overseeing the mission and operations of the church.

Let me summarize in bullet form:

· Under the Lordship of Jesus Christ,
· the leadership of the Holy Spirit,
· and the authority of the Bible,
· Southside Baptist Church is congregationally governed,
· guided by the Council of Trustees
· and administered by the Staff
· to mobilize every member in ministry
· to the glory of God.

In the upcoming days and weeks, the members of SSBC will be asked to prayerfully nominate Trustees to serve on the Council. This will be a significant decision that has the potential to shape our church for years to come. I hope every member will read the scriptures and pray, asking the Spirit to guide us in the selecting these leaders.

I am thankful to be a part of this exciting season in the life of our church. I fully believe Southside’s best days lie ahead. With a faith that is built on the unshakable foundation of Jesus Christ, the blueprint of God’s Word, and solid building materials represented by godly leaders, I am confident that Southside is BUILT TO LAST.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Built to Last: A Church That Prevails and a Faith That Endures

October 18 – November 22, 2015
Southside Baptist Church

In his best selling book, Built to Last, Jim Collins describes some common characteristics of our world’s most enduring companies. The characteristics Collins identifies in companies such as Ford, Boeing, 3M, and Johnson & Johnson, include setting “big hairy audacious goals,” stimulating progress while preserving the core, and developing homegrown talent.

Long before Collins attempted to identify the qualities of an enduring business, the apostle Paul described the essentials of an enduring faith and a prevailing church. Writing to Christians in the city of Corinth, Paul said, “I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:10-11).

What does it take to have a faith that can withstand the storms of life? How do we build a church that endures shifting culture, politics and an apparent erosion of biblical values? Paul’s answer is first to make sure to build on the right foundation. Jesus said that “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24). A faith built on any foundation other than the Word of God is doomed, regardless of the quality of the building.

Paul also indicated, however, that the quality of the materials used to build on that foundation matters: “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work” (1 Cor. 3:12-13). Simply stated, Paul is warning us to choose our building materials carefully.

As finish the 40 Days of Awakening, it is vital that we obey Jesus’ command to “keep watch and pray.” We must commit ourselves to build only on the foundation of God’s Word. We should select and use the best building materials, knowing that the storms are coming, but our foundation is secure. We must follow the “master builders” who have preceded us, continuing to build a Church that provides a shelter for generations to come.

Join me beginning this Sunday for a new sermon series entitled, “Built to Last.” We will look to the Bible for ways to build a Church that prevails and a faith that endures. I will be sharing some exciting plans for the future of Southside as we seek to build a ministry that inspires and equips people to have a faith that is Built to Last.