Last year at this time, we as a fellowship made a bold stance as to the defining of who we are as a church. It wasn’t a change or a reinvention, but rather a clarifying and a verbalizing of our special mission in the kingdom of God. This was necessitated by the fact that some churches have bragged that they “don’t do too much during the week” because their people are “busy.” This obvious surrender to the world is the compelling motivation behind the taking upon ourselves the mantle of “Intentional Christian Community.” Because if you are too busy during the week to find time for Christ…real time, not theory, then you have “other god’s before Him.” That’s so very obvious, but it’s amazing how much of the greater church is willing to let it slide! We must never allow that kind of thinking to be what defines us at JFB. This is not to say that we do not hold the issues of work and family as important! Scripture teaches that both are essential, but always secondary to Christ, kingdom, and service to God, …work and family are to receive the ‘overflow’ of the blessings we come to know in being “attached to the vine.’ ‘Family’ is not ‘first’ at JFB. Jesus is. The honest truth is that work and family are not the issues that keep us from fellowship and service; it is laziness and worldliness. Therefor we as a community sought to clarify where we stood on this matter as well as our priorities and mission. Our ministerial focus is first, leading the lost to salvation. However it does not stop there! We hold an extremely high mandate to disciple the believer to be all that he or she can be in the spirit realm…to ‘grow up’…mature…to encourage and provide for each of us our place in the body of Christ as taught in 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, etc. We clearly understand the cost of making such an issue a priority! For many according to scripture will come to Christ for salvation, but when it comes time to grow up and ‘put away childish things’ they flinch and walk away, either to the world or to another church that will not challenge them on such matters. Jesus certainly found this out in John 6…early in His ministry on earth. After calling out those who believed themselves to be followers…disciples even, unto a spiritual adulthood, verse 66 says that “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” That verse has been fulfilled tens of thousands of times since that day by those who are “fond of Jesus” (John 21:15) but they do not love Him enough to “feed His sheep.” One of the greatest attributes of adulthood…spiritual or chronological, is the realization and the living in the light of the fact that it’s not about you. That has always been and no doubt always will be a ‘hard sell.’ There are certainly ‘easier roads’ we could travel as a church…one that would make us bigger and richer. But that is not who we are. We have always been those swimming with the sharks…while swimming upstream against the current! There are plenty of places to go for those who do not want the ‘front lines’ of ministry. But ‘for me and my house, we shall follow the Lord!’
This ‘community heart’ though, must never stop at the door of the church. We, by design and mandate, must remain and continue to grow missionally. So after a year establishing who we are, it’s time to ‘find our feet’ and ‘take it to the streets.’ So 2012 will mean more time ‘out there’ and less time ‘in here.’ Already we have begun to reach out with the likes of the “One Life” concerts. We will continue to invest in Street Level, jail ministry, radio, TV, etc to missionally minister to our ‘back yard’ and we will continue to hold world missions in the priority it has always held in this church. We have a team leaving in a couple of weeks to India, and we have the largest group ever going to the Philippines in the spring…with 3 back to back teams! And we are inching closer to placing staff ‘full time’ in the field of missions that we oversee. So let us prayerfully “suit-up” for what’s ahead. While God has blessed us in every way and filled our pews, we have not ‘arrived.’ No…we have just begun….