Are You In…Really?
An open letter to Silverdale Baptist Church
The tendency for pastors, after they attend a conference, is to return home and immediately attempt to transform their church to look like the church who hosted the conference. This is foolish and unrealistic because each church is unique. While principles are transferable to any ministry, other churches programs rarely look the same in other settings.
In 2009, I attended the Drive Conference held at North Point Community Church in Atlanta. I returned home with some principals to help our First Touch teams and ideas for us to start our own Married Life Live at our church. The most important take-away for me was a renewed focus and passion for the vision God had given me for Silverdale Baptist Church – “to build a vibrant church that attracts the unchurched.” Drive ’09 clarified this vision. Where we were going as a church became clearer, my focus was sharpened, and difficult decisions were made to put our church on a path that aligned with this vision.
I did not adopt the vision from North Point. It’s the same vision I’ve had for the past 26 years of ministry. All my years as a Youth Pastor, I was passionate about pouring myself into my students to teach, train, organize, and mobilize them so that they would become vibrant followers of Christ. I tried to craft a ministry where students were excited to come, learn, and grow. We made every effort to design a youth ministry in such a way that it was so inviting, so compelling, and so attractive that our students would want to invite their unsaved friends to come. God blessed and the results were youth groups that were alive, growing, and contagious. They were vibrant. They were attractive.
My ministry vision as a Senior Pastor is no different. It burns deep within me and often keeps me up at night.
Attending the Drive ’11 Conference several weeks ago came at the right time for me. I was tired. I was weary. Honestly, I was discouraged. I knew the past two years had been rough with budget cutbacks, layoffs, and other difficult decisions. But beyond the obvious grind of ministry, I couldn’t really explain why I was struggling the way I did.
Then it hit me. It was on the second day during the third general session. Within a few minutes, I began to fight back a wave of emotion and tears as Jeff Henderson said, “There is no “i” in team, but there is in vision (two, actually). Usually, the “i” in vision is reserved as the responsibility of the point leader. That’s why many organizations never reach their potential. Vision is somehow relegated to one person. This limits everything and everyone, because vision cannot be sustained through one person only. It must be embraced and carried forward by everyone on the team. Perhaps that’s why vision has not one “i”, but two – one for you and one for me.”
I learned that as a leader, I must cast a vision but cannot carry it alone. Jeff challenged every senior pastor to let their team and church help them. Looking back, I was able to cast and carry a vision pretty much on my own as a Youth Pastor. As a Senior Pastor, I cannot. I need help.
I realize that I am not alone at SBC. There are those who agree and support the vision of “building a vibrant church that attracts the unchurched.” There are those who give regularly, serve faithfully, and attend consistently. I deeply appreciate this. There are also those who are comfortable with our vision and others who enjoy certain benefits of this vision. I am thankful for this. However, I would love to have more who wholeheartedly are “all in” with where we are going as a church.
In the late 1990’s, while the Youth Pastor here at SBC, we started a fall kickoff retreat called, “Cross the Line.” (It is now called Refuel.) The title of the retreat was strategic. We had fun, messy competitions, waterfront activities, and worship, but the purpose of the retreat was to challenge all those who called our youth group their own to be “all in”. The first several years, I literally drew a line on the ground and challenged our students to “cross the line” in joining me and our youth staff in making their youth group the very best that it could be. Many students joined us as partners. Instead of being content with enjoying the benefits of our ministry, they helped us transition from a good to a great youth group. The result was an explosion of vibrancy, growth, and salvation decisions.
In many ways, our church is a good church. However, I believe God has called us to be a great church. With more people helping us carry the vision of “building a vibrant church that attracts the unchurched” we will see our church go to another level in making an impact in Kitsap County.
Here are some tangible ways for more people to be “all in” with their church at Silverdale Baptist.
- Become a raving fan of the SBC vision
- Look for ways our church can become more vibrant – then take intiative to help
- Faithfully pray for God’s blessing in our church
- Invite friends and neighbors to come with you to church
- Ask God to give you a passion for our church to reach more people with the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ
I’m “all in.” Are you? Let me encourage you to pray about this, talk about this in your small group, share the vision on Facebook and with those in your circle of influence.
Thank you for allowing me to share my heart with a church that I love. If you have any questions or would like to add your comments, you can do so below.
Serving Him – Barry Bandara
Great letter Barry. I miss being a part of the SBC family. I appreciate your leadership and your understanding that you can’t just take other people’s ideas and principles and shoehorn them into your own ministry. No matter who we are or where we attend, we as Christians need to step up and “Be” the church.
Thanks for the comment. I wish you still lived here as you always had an “All in” mentality when you were on my youth staff!
Excellent. I remember being a similar situation and wondering why the church we were at even had a Pastor. If they weren’t trusting or excited about the vision God gave Him for the church then why even have him? At this time it happened that Lance was the Pastor and I didn’t handle it well. (Hard to imagine?!) We are praying for you and the church always. It is our heart’s home. We love you lots….
Thanks Linda! Looking forward to the day that you and Lance leave the Down Under county and move back here!
Being the point man is always difficult and so I’m very thankful that your passion has been renewed by this conference! I love the idea that “vision has not one ‘i’, but two – one for you and one for me.” It really is something all of us can and should share if we call SBC our home church. I also agree that until our community of believers here at SBC takes seriously this vision of “building a vibrant church that attracts the unchurched” we won’t be effective in Kitsap County! God has gifted each of us with skills and passions to be used up and poured out! I say we get up out of our “pews” and get to work! Rah! Rah! Go Barry! Great stuff!
Thanks for your comments! Your passion for our church along with your “all in” mentality comes through loud and clear! I appreciate you so much!
There is a group of us that meets every Sunday Night @ 7pm in the Worship Center to pray. Pray! No more, no less. Bring your whole family. Will you join us as we seek God’s face and His blessing?
See you there!
Brian – hearing the intiative of this grass roots prayer movement is such a blessing and answer to my prayers! May God use this group to impact our church and Kitsap County!
After a very in depth conversation last night I realized that whether people (myself included) are “all in” or not, we are all called to serve God, not man. Not when we “feel” like it, because the Bible doesn’t say we have to “feel” like it. We are called to serve God, wherever he puts us, for however long he puts us there, and in whatever capacity we can. That being said I don’t think “more people” will make us a better church, but that if we as a family of believers spend more time serving our God by serving in our church, more people will come. They will see a church that cares and word will spread with very little effort needed. When love abides we will attract people like moth’s to the flame. People are hurting and need to be loved, if we are a family that offer’s that, then we are doing what God calls us to do and we will be blessed.