A Word From Steve Jones
April 7th, 2020
The Lord blessed me with a mentor for many years. Dr. Roy Lawson was a friend, coach, and confidante. I learned much from him. A few of his “Lawsonisms” were as follows:
“Learn the lessons of weakness.”
“Behind every inactive member is a story to be heard and a hurt to be healed.”
“In change people feel alone even if everyone is going through it.”
Roy shared many more golden nuggets that left me often wanting explanation.
I recently rediscovered these “Turning Point Lessons” that emerged out of a strategic planning retreat of our New Life Fellowship staff team in 2010. At this point, the church was twenty-two years old. What struck me as I re-read these is how timeless and relevant they are for today. The following are my edits and summary out of that discussion:
Next week I’m going to share some “golden nuggets” from some of our veteran and retired Fellowship pastors and missionaries. We can learn so much from one another if we will listen, remain teachable, and ensure a humble posture. The Lord is not finished with any of us.
What a great promise!
Have a blessed week!
I’m excited to share with you today a marvelous story of God’s grace in our Fellowship Atlantic Region, and what He can do when we’re willing.
Open Arms Church is a church plant in Parrsboro, NS within our Fellowship Atlantic Region. It’s being planted by Faith Baptist Church (FBC) in Great Village, located and hour’s drive from Parrsboro. After praying about future ministry opportunities and sensing the Lord’s direction, in the fall of 2014, FBC began to actively pursue establishing a church plant in that town. Doug and Lillian Lake, a dynamic couple in leadership at FBC, responded to the call and moved from the Great Village area to Parrsboro.
Doug Lake grew up in Parrsboro and was excited to go there as the pastor of this new church plant. He is a gifted and passionate evangelist who put together a core planting team comprised of 10 adults from FBC who live in the Parrsboro area. Doug and his wife, Lil, bought a home in Parrsboro with a large basement which they renovated to accommodate about 60 people. In the first year, they focused on building relationships offering Bible studies in their home, and launched a ‘Love in Action’ ministry which consists of various community service activities to practically demonstrate the love of Jesus.
When they held their first Sunday service, over 30 people showed up. Currently, there are between 50 and 65 people consistently present on Sunday mornings and they have a small group discipleship involvement rate of almost 100 percent. Most of the growth has been through the winning of young families and to date they have seen 29 people come to faith in Christ. Almost all of these people are from unchurched backgrounds. This past Christmas and Easter, they rented a local hall and saw over 120 people out for each event.
There are many exciting things happening, but lack of space is becoming an issue. The local elementary school has granted permission to the church to use its facilities beginning this Fall. While this arrangement will provide the room needed to expand and grow the congregation, it is not an ideal solution. Each week chairs and equipment will need to be transported to the school and removed afterwards. Also, the facilities will not be available during the summer months. With this reality in mind, the church is moving forward in the process to purchase a piece of property on the edge of town as a future building site.
Baptist Builders Appeals
The Baptist Builders program (originally known as “Minute Man”) was established over 50 years ago to financially assist churches in the construction of their first building. Since its inception the program has assisted numerous churches who have a passion to reach their communities for Christ.
There are four different appeals each year. Baptist Builders donors and churches are committed to supporting each appeal with $30 or more. Currently we need more participants to join this very loyal group.
The Fellowship National Office is seeking to raise funds through a Baptist Buildersappeal to help purchase property for the future site of Open Arms Church. We hope to raise $20,000 to complete the purchase. Would you prayerfully consider how you can partner with this young church to assist them in purchasing this piece of property and help them minister to this community?
I’m off to the movies this week. The much awaited movie Dunkirk opens July 21 and is the action-packed retelling of the saving of close to 400,000 soldiers off the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940.
Maybe not your “cup o’ tea”?! You’re into romantic comedies. Okay.
“But if not.”
Let me tell you a story of Dunkirk that you won’t see in the movie.
When you read the phrase, “but if not”, what immediately comes to mind?
In late May of 1940, a British Naval officer called those three simple words to Head Quarters in London. He had witnessed the carnage on the beaches of Dunkirk, France. The British Expeditionary Force of 350,000 soldiers were trapped on the beaches with their backs to the sea. The German forces had the capacity to wipe out Britain’s army.
“But if not” was sent home and these words were instantly recognizable to the officers in HQ who spent the first 18 years of life in schools that hosted Bible reading in 30 minute chapel services every day. My dad (a Brit) remembers daily chapel. I imagine the naval officer who sent the quick cryptic message knew it would put a smile on Winston Churchill’s face. He knew his Bible.
British children were taught Bible stories to help mold their values and behavior. Biblical metaphors are scattered throughout English literature. Only a full understanding of the Bible and its imagery allows you to see the clues to understand some of the finest poems, prose and plays ever written in the English language. And when you are young and you have a “steel trap” for a mind, you remember the stories!
Just three words, but the full message was completely understood. The British officers’ serving in HQ knew the naval officer was referring to the story in the book of Daniel. The message harkened back to Daniel 3:17-18 in the King James Version:
“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O King. But if not, let it be known unto thee, O King, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
Three young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, stood before a fiery furnace and were resolved to obey God whether or not God chose to save them. They courageously chose to face the furnace rather than disobey God’s Commandments.
THREE LESSONS OF DUNKIRK
Three words — both the modest English folk in fishing ports with Sunday school lessons planted in their minds and British officers with proper English private school education alike knew the situation was dire. Their boys were suffering the chaos and carnage of the “fiery furnace” of battle on the beaches and it was desperate. The allied forces were trapped. It would take a miracle to save them. But they would not give up and give in to their enemy. Just three words communicated all of that.
Three words, three young men, and over 300,000 soldiers were saved. Three words launched Operation Dynamo. The Axis powers hesitated, and so between May 27 and June 4, 1940, British fishing boats left their ports in Southern England, evacuating 338,000 British soldiers off of the beaches of Dunkirk.
The British Expeditionary Force was saved for another day of battle.
The obvious question: if our military officers were to receive the same message TODAY — “but if not” — would they have any clue what it actually meant? Would Operation Dynamo ever have been launched? Would thousands of soldiers been rescued and brought to safety? I think not. Why?
FROM DUNKIRK TO BIBLE LITERACY
There is a Bible literacy crisis in Canada. The church is beginning to discover the full scope of the problem. In a recent survey of Christians completed by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), they discovered that evangelicals are not reading their scriptures as often as we might think.
Last year I met with all of our Fellowship Regional Directors to discuss this issue. There are many things our churches and members could do to address this problem. One way we are seeking to bring this discipleship concern into the spotlight is to launch a Bible Engagement Project, #TheGreatestBook, in your Fellowship church.
#TheGreatestBook – The Fellowship’s Bible Engagement Project
You and your church are invited to join with all other Fellowship Baptist Churches, from November 5-19, 2017, to share in a two-week study of the Bible.
The project will span over three Sundays and will include three studies and 14 daily devotions. This brief Bible engagement study, called #TheGreatestBook is our way of celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation by rediscovering the wonder of God’s Word. We’ll start our study close to the 500th anniversary (November 5) and finish strong on our Fellowship Day of Prayer (November 19).
A #TheGreatestBook toolbox is available online for all churches to download (click HERE), including sermons and small group studies along with a two-week daily devotional.
As your church participates in the series, we encourage you to connect with us through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@FellowshipNatl) using: #TheGreatestBook to share how this series has impacted you and/or your congregation.
Please put it on your church calendar now… only four months before it begins!
Have a blessed week,
Dear Prayer Partners,
Please find attached, my latest Prayer Team news for the months of July-September, 2017.
Thank you for your continued, faithful prayer and financial support.
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A Word from Steve Jones: "Regional Conference Report: How many churches are in our Fellowship movement?"
This spring, I was blessed to be able to travel the nation to attend our five Regional Conferences. I enjoy seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and hearing what God is doing among our local churches.
I’ve asked our five Regional Directors to give a brief report on the highlights of their Regional conferences. I believe you’ll be encouraged as you read on.
Approximately 300 people gathered at City Centre Baptist Church in Mississauga for the FEB Central Regional conference to be recharged to serve faithfully in their congregations and ministries. The worship and prayer times were meaningful as Max Oates from our host church led us in music, and Lindsay Taylor (Strategic Renewal Canada) led us in prayer times. Pastor Glenn Taylor and his wife Mary (Markdale Baptist Church) were this year’s recipients of the Eagle Award, celebrating a lifetime of significant ministry and achievement in our Region.
Our speaker, Scotty Smith, did an excellent job in addressing the themes of “Creation”, “The Fall, “Redemption” and “Restoration”. People responded and hearts were encouraged! Our five workshops were well received and included: How to share the Gospel with Muslims, Navigating Change and Revitalizing an Established Church, Principles Promoting a Healthy Church, Bracing for Impact: The Basics of Crisis Management, and Creative Outreach.
One of our highlights was recognizing four churches, three of which were former church plants: Lightway Baptist Church (Hamilton), Forward City Church (Chatham), Church of the City (Guelph) and Seekers Christian Fellowship (Mississauga).
We praised God and celebrated ministry advancements which included:
2. Fellowship Pacific Regional Conference – Maple Ridge, BC (April 27-28, 2017)
Regional Director David Horita reports:
Impact 2017 (Fellowship Pacific’s annual convention) took place at Maple Ridge Baptist Church. The theme of “Dispensable Leaders” with a focus on mentoring relationships was carried throughout. We were both challenged and encouraged by our guest speakers, Mike Howerton, Lead Pastor of Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, Washington who spoke on “Being the Mentor You Wish you Had” and Regi Campbell, founder of Radical Mentoring who spoke on “Building Next Generation Leaders”.
One of the highlights of Impact 2017 was the honouring of long time pastors and servants, Randy and Sandra Evans and Dan and Judy Chapman. We also celebrated the ministry of Doug Fordham as he goes into semi-retirement following 22 years of serving our churches in the area of stewardship. Another highlight was the Friday morning communion service featuring a dramatic/musical presentation of the Dispensable Work of Christ (Philippians 2:5-11). Impact 2017 came to close following the celebration banquet where Pastor Ben Hall (Shuswap Community Church) gave a passionate message entitled, “A New Kind of Charismatic” from Romans 1:16.
3. Fellowship Prairies Regional Conference – Edmonton, AB (May 4-5, 2017) Regional Director, Mark Breitkreuz shares the following:
We had an amazing year to highlight at our Equip Conference, where we spent some time going through Regional business. God has been good to us as we reflected and celebrated the past year. We also had some time of training, with a focus on stewardship within our congregations as well as a session on “inclusion” in the local church; looking at how to minister to those with various challenges within our churches and communities.
A time of sharing stories about God at work within our churches over the past year was also tremendously encouraging. It’s always a boost to see what God is up to and see His greatness as we share throughout the Region.
We concluded our time with communion and went away “full”.
We are looking forward to what the Lord will do between now and our time together next year!
4. Fellowship Atlantic Regional Conference – Charlottetown, PEI (May 12-13, 2017) Interim Regional Director, Frank Kohler reports:
We have 20 churches and of those, three are church plants – PaxNorth for ten years and two others in the last 20 months. All are doing well I believe.
Our conference was held in Charlottetown, PEI, this year and 11 of our churches were represented – a problem I hope to address before next year’s convention. In fairness, this low attendance ratio was due to allowable/valid excuses for at least four of our churches.
The event was very successful for all who attended. The Regional and National presentations were excellent. The “guest speakers” were challenging and informative; dove-tailing well on the subject of local church leadership.
The venue of PEI was excellent, the host church provided well for our needs and it was overall a very beneficial experience together.
5. AÉBÉQ (Quebec) Regional Conference (June 8-9, 2017) Regional Director Louis Bourque reports the following:
The harvest will come! A dandelion needs several months to come to maturity, while between 20 and 50 years are required for an oak to reach maturity. Similarly, a vision that seeks to reach out to our 82 churches needs time, teaching and communication. Three years ago, we started a new vision and this year, at our Regional conference, we had the opportunity to harvest some fruit. From the beginning of this annual event, we knew that something was happening. For the first time, our conference was held in a hotel and as we gathered, more young people attended than in previous years. We had the opportunity to hear about the progress in our four major areas: revitalizing, equipping, planting and developing. On Thursday night, which was the high point of the event, I, as Regional director, presented six common values we must adopt if we want to function as a movement of churches and survive in the upcoming decades. Everyone returned home encouraged even if there are plenty of challenges before us, in order to reach our “belle province”.
HOW MANY LOCAL CHURCHES IN OUR FELLOWSHIP?
Each year, after our Regional Conferences, we check in to discover how many churches make up our Fellowship. This year’s numbers are as follows:
Have a blessed week,
When I was pastoring I would share a story or parable to help remind our church family of our mission and vision as a church. People would need to be regularly reminded because vision leaks. Here is one of my vision vignettes… use it if you wish. I hope it’s helpful:
Imagine our church was like going to the airport:
When you go to an airport terminal, what expectations do you have?
The church and an airport terminal share a lot of the same expectations.
We easily recognize that the airport terminal is just a stepping-off point to reach the real destination. It’s only a means to an end. It’s the place we get resourced and prepared to go on a trip.
Too often believers very subtly treat going to “church” as the “end” rather than the “means to the end”.
We come to church to be fed and encouraged or challenged or loved and receive whatever we need to continue in our faith. We don’t often think of coming to church as purely a place to be resourced and prepared to go out on mission. Coming to church on Sunday mornings is not the END but a means to an END. We haven’t just completed our religious duty on Sunday morning and that’s it for the week. NO, we’ve just been resourced, challenged, prepared and hopefully inspired to take off the runway into a week of spiritual adventure and mission.
We would never visit an airport terminal each Sunday just to hang out, check out the washroom and enjoy the padded seats.
We go to the airport to prepare to go on a trip. Let’s treat our church in the same way. We gather together to get prepared to go on mission.
The Church is like visiting an airport terminal. There is purpose — an objective — when we connect with either.
Keep being a visionary believer and leader. We desperately need you.
Have a blessed week,