In the month of March 2009 I articulated by vision for BBC in writing. Here it is:
Having been the senior pastor of Berean Baptist Church for nearly three years, I have been asked on more than one occasion about my vision for the church. It seems, most especially in Baptist churches, that many people who attend want to know what the pastor’s vision for the church is. This seems a bit dictatorial in one sense, but in another sense absolutely necessary and reasonable. While the pastor is the leader of the congregation, he is not the leader like a leader or owner of a business. Instead, a Baptist pastor operates within the guidance and parameters established by the Bible and his congregation. So while he operates within Biblical parameters and other limitations, he still is responsible for leading the congregation in accomplishing its God-ordained function on this earth. Before someone can understand or appreciate a pastor’s vision for the church, they will need to know that the pastor understands what the mission (or purpose) of the church truly is. Hopefully, this will be fully synchronized with the vision.
For two and a half years, I have been telling the church in every possible way that our mission is to “Proclaim Christ in the 21st Century”—this is essentially our abbreviated mission statement. The complete mission statement is: “Berean Baptist Church exists to: Proclaim Christ in the 21st Century in Fayetteville, on Fort Bragg, in North Carolina and around the world; to make fully-functioning followers of Jesus Christ to the Glory of God the Father.” The t-shirt version of this mission statement is “pC21.” Berean Baptist Church exists in the 21st century; it is impossible to go back in time, and God has preserved this church to impact a generation that has grown up with the Internet, IPODs, laptops, You-Tube, blackberries, and many other cultural differences from the twentieth century.
The vision of Berean Baptist Church begins with a commitment to reach the children of this generation without compromising on the faith once delivered by the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles. This means, in a world of “no absolute truths”, BBC is committed to absolute truths which must be taught, believed, and incorporated into the worldview of its members of all ages. My goal is that when people think of BBC, they think of two significant elements. First, we teach and preach the Bible, and the Bible alone, in our church. Second, my goal is that people talk about the way Christ is exalted in our church. Paul told us that God the Father is glorified when Jesus is exalted (Philippians 2:9-11). There isn’t a program, song, form of entertainment, or personal soul-winner that can take the place of the Holy Spirit’s role in drawing lost people to the Son of God. Also, the Spirit uses the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
The only Jesus that can save men from their sins is the Christ of the Bible. Therefore, every counselor, deacon, teacher, and pastor of BBC must be committed to the sole authority of the Bible and the absolute necessity to keep one’s self grounded in the Word. The vision for BBC is that our transient community of members gains a true appreciation for the depth of the Word of God and its application for their lives prior to departure to their next Army assignment. The vision of BBC is to be a teaching ministry which begins in the pulpit on Sunday morning and extends to every other man or woman who teaches the Word of God. We are using our website to extend the video and audio ministry of the Word of God to another world where people will fire up their computer as opposed to turning on a television. The global outreach of the Internet makes this a far superior venue in the twenty-first century. Through our website, we are able to disciple members deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world. The vision is to recognize that we are a church in a predominately military city with challenges unique to our members and to adjust accordingly.
In so much as BBC was started to combat the liberalism that had infiltrated the Southern Baptist Convention forty years ago, the vision of the church is to remain committed to the historic fundamentals of the faith that separated orthodox Christianity from liberalism at the turn of the twentieth century. This is the faith once delivered (Jude 3). There is still a need for churches, regardless of whether they describe themselves with that brand, that remain fundamental in doctrine, especially in the authority of the Bible and the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
The vision of BBC is to be a church that Fayetteville and Fort Bragg would immediately miss if it didn’t exist. At an evangelism conference the speaker asked, “Would anyone outside your church miss the ministry of your church if it ceased to exist?” The vision of BBC is to be a church that reaches out in numerous ways to different groups on a consistent basis in order to provide for the needs that other churches may not be able to meet. One example of this is BBC’s provision of a church a place for racially integrated families to worship - where multiple races are welcomed and accepted in Christ during all services. Another example is when BBC provides food, finances and other resources to people in need without regard to their association with the church. The community benefits from our presence and from the generosity of God’s people. A third example is how BBC provides an alternative to the city sports leagues with the “UPWARD” program. The final example would be BBC’s Christian academy which provides a quality education to hundreds of children not involved in the church. The vision is to remain a fundamental church that shows the love of Jesus to people of different cultures, past experiences, stages of their walk with Christ, and financial needs.
The vision for BBC is to create a city within the city—a covenant community of believers whose scattered presence throughout the city (and Fort Bragg) would positively reflect the testimony of Christ and promote His church. The vision is to promote Biblical separation and holiness (without legalistic, self-righteousness which is often perceived as hypocritical) because of a loving, personal relationship with Christ the Sovereign King of the Universe. The vision is to have church members whose first priority of outreach and evangelism is to the people that they work with and live with everyday. Berean’s extensive membership class is setting the conditions for a church that is united in their faith and likeminded in their understanding of the gospel, essential doctrines, and acceptable methods of accomplishing the mission. People who become members of the church understand the covenant and our doctrine and are excited about being in a church where Christ is proclaimed and where the Word of God is the sole authority. A congregation like this will impact its city for the glory of God.
The vision of BBC is to glorify God through excellence in everything that the church does. This begins with the campus of the church, but isn’t limited to the campus. The buildings and grounds of the church must silently communicate that these people are serious about their God. The appearance must give evidence that the church realizes the year is 2009. There must be evidence of technology that is used to enhance the worship and teaching ministry of the church. The decorum cannot say “we are stuck” in a particular period of time. The facilities must be remarkably clean. The bookstore and café must have a similar appearance to Starbucks with a Godly alternative environment. The activities, Biblical studies, and services that the church executes cannot be sub-standard in a community where soldiers learn to do things right.
The entire staff must be committed to doing something right or not doing it at all. Systematically, every room and building needs to be continually inspected for its appearance. Presently, the youth building is the building that needs the most attention. The ceiling, walls, and floor must be redone, and the present media package needs to be removed and a more robust package must be installed to communicate the church’s commitment to the next generation. Additional recreation equipment needs to be purchased including a video gaming center. The oldest generation must communicate its commitment to the youngest generation in a very tangible way. If the nicest place on campus is a parlor room, the young people visually see that this church isn’t about young people.
The vision is to have more adult worshippers than adult members present on Sundays. This mark on the wall will be a high point in achieving a core group of members who are truly committed to Christ. Our members will be ministers to the many attenders who may not even be saved, but these same attenders will need close friends who will be Jesus to them. These members will be ready to accept the significant responsibility of congregation polity (church government) and will understand the need for spiritual oversight in the life of the church. They will unite around their common bond as Christians and Baptists while allowing pastors to be pastors. Their growing relationship with Christ will give them a passion to reach the lost.
Finally, both regional and global short-term mission trips will enhance their appreciation for their salvation, their church, and their appetite for missions. They will be repulsed at any apathy in their own lives and seek to know God with a depth that comes only from true conversion. This apathy will not be an option in their lives since they will recognize that God the Father is not glorified through Christ Jesus in anything spiritually lukewarm.
The vision of Berean Baptist Church is to glorify God through the proclamation of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. This proclamation can occur in so many different ways, as previously highlighted, that a vision paper which describes how this will be done could go on and on. As Fort Bragg continues to grow in population over the next several years, the potential for growth in achieving this vision through the execution of the “pC21” mission in Fayetteville is tremendous. In spite of the fact that this Bible belt city has hundreds of churches, there is still a clear need for a Christ-exalting, Bible-believing church that is committed to impacting people with the Gospel. The reality is that the majority of churches in Fayetteville do not have a clear mission statement with a vision toward executing the mission. Therefore, a church with a Gospel-centered vision will be remarkably different in so many ways that it will attract fully-devoted followers of Christ and be about the business of making disciples. We know that the Father is most glorified when men, women, boys, and girls fully acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives. We, therefore, recognize that this vision for Berean is most glorifying to God the Father. So then we can earnestly pray that God would give us His blessing and grace so that the vision can become a reality, as it is clearly His will to make Jesus known in Fayetteville, in the beginning of a new century.