10 Reflections on 10 Years

NOLA Baptist Church covenanted together with eight members on August 31, 2013. 10 years later, God has been pleased to sustain and grow our church. Below are 10 reflections on the last 10 years of ministry in New Orleans.

A humble and happy witness is effective

There are many ways to communicate the good news of the gospel to those who do not believe. A faithful witness for Christ must verbally communicate the propositional truth claims of the gospel, and that communication of the gospel is most effective when it is proclaimed with humility and joy. An effective witness shows the non-believer that Jesus is real and worthy by the happiness and humility of his people. We have Christ! The “self” has been crucified and pride has been slain. We have Christ! The greatest treasure, reward, and gain.

The corporate worship gathering is central

The Sunday morning worship gathering proves to be the most central aspect of the life of our church. People attend corporate worship more than anything else. Non-members are willing to visit the worship gathering more than other gatherings. People long for the eternal. They long to sing, they long to hear the prayers of his people, and they long to hear the Word read and preached.

God’s glory is the goal

The ultimate goal for our church is to glorify God. That is the single unifying purpose for everything that we do. The goal is not effective strategies to grow the church, relevant ministries to appease people, or to fit some religious/traditional mold. The goal is to do God’s will, his way, for his glory. When this settles in the minds and hearts of leaders and congregants, the church is set on course and set free to do good works in his name. We serve God, not man.

People are the prize

We labor in evangelism, preaching and teaching, and discipleship for the eternal good of people. A church’s ministry is a ministry of and to people. We labor so that people would see God. We labor so that people would be born again. We labor so that people would repent and believe. We labor so that people would love Jesus and one another in the faith. We labor so that people would be equipped to do the work of the ministry. A church is a people; not a place and not a set of programs.

The joys are greater than the sorrows

The sorrows of ministry can be back-breaking at times. However, the sorrows only last for the night, but joy always comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). There have been some sorrows over the last 10 years, but they pale in comparison to the joys. The joys of seeing God save and transform people, the joys of experiencing his love and faithfulness, and the joys of sweet fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. These joys are precious gifts and reminders that God is faithful and will be faithful in the future.

Embrace being a strange & supernatural people

A biblical church is a supernatural people created by God’s supernatural grace and power. Therefore, we now live for Jesus and his supernatural purposes (2 Corinthians 5:15) and by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8, Romans 15:13). To the natural man, this is strange. Be strange. Let the grace of God be evident in your life. Be other-worldly and different. No one will give glory to God for naturalistic people living naturalistic lives. But when we shine the light of supernatural grace before others and they see an other-worldly life they will give glory to our Father who is in heaven.

The Bible is sufficient

The Scriptures possess a glory that no other wisdom or philosophy or teaching possess. To lean on human wisdom, human teachings, human philosophies, or human strategies is like bringing a knife to a gunfight. To lean on the Bible is like bringing a nuclear bomb to a gunfight. As Thomas Manton said, “The Spirit of God rides most triumphantly in his own chariot.”

Prayer is powerful

Regular gathering for prayer, at the very least by the elders of the church, is essential. Prayer is not what we do before we do the work of the ministry, prayer is the work of the ministry. All that we do is for naught unless the Lord puts his hand to it and blesses it. Therefore, the chief work of our ministry is asking God to do all of the work! This requires faith that God will move mightily on our behalf and for his name’s sake.

Waiting is not waning

If we labor in faith for the supernatural fruit that only God can produce, we will also wait in faith. We will be tempted to see times of waiting as times of waning,  inactivity, fruitlessness, and waste. This is far from the truth. God is never inactive. He is never waning or wasteful. Everything he does is loaded with meaning and purpose. While we wait he is sanctifying us. While we wait he equipping us. While we wait he is teaching us. While we wait he is accomplishing many things that we cannot see. “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:25).

God supplies for what he appoints

It seems that God prefers not to stockpile resources for his people. One of my mentors says that God utilizes a “just in time inventory” approach. He gives us what we need just in time to do the works that he has appointed us to do. God has never been late in 10 years, nor has he ever failed to provide what we need. His provision has been miraculous and a demonstration of his steadfast love and promise keeping power. We can be sure, if he has called us to do something, he will give us everything we need to do it.

In all, the last 10 years have been a front row seat to the goodness and greatness of God. Lord willing, the next 10 years will be full of the same.