Category Archives: I’m In

“I’m In Update” by David Elks

There is no doubt that when you say I’m In!, you’re in! Two months ago I asked you to consider your commitment to the ministries of First Baptist Church and you responded with enthusiasm and commitment. We received over one hundred commitments with 95 expressing a willingness to pray more, 61 pledging to increase their service and 105 committing to giving more financially. These were encouraging numbers and it is thrilling to see you keeping your word!

This has been a busy summer at (and from) First Baptist. Our children have enjoyed four terrific “camps” at the Church. They engaged the scripture at Vacation Bible School, Lego Camp, Art Camp and Music Day Camp. They took their learning and growing on the road to PassportKids in Spartanburg, SC.

Our young adults and youth were also on the go this summer. They have been to the beach, the mountains and Charleston, SC. Our beloved Friends of Jesus have also enjoyed Vacation Bible School and a terrific time at Happiness Retreat.

I am thankful for Erin and Doug’s commitment and leadership, but there is no way these programs would happen if it were not for your prayers and you giving your time, energy and money. Thank you!

I believe there are numerous ways to measure the vitality of a church’s ministry. I don’t like to dwell on the financial, but it is important that you know what has happened over the past couple of months. In May of this year, our receipts were $47,488.62. This is an average monthly amount. In June, as we started the I’m In! emphasis, our receipts were $55,320.56. In July our receipts rose again, climbing to $75,498.92! I have not studied our giving trends in depth, but it is highly unusual to see giving increase in the summer months. As I said, when you say I’m In!, you’re in! and I am grateful for your generosity.

We’ve had a good summer, but fall is coming and with it, a new Sunday School year, Family Night activities, Community Cafés, Operation Inasmuch (September 16), and the SAFE Seminar (October 28-29). You gave a resounding response to I’m In! and I pray that you will “stay in” with your prayers, service and giving as we follow Christ together.

Peace, David


“I’m In” by Catherine Lee

When I say “I’m In!” at First Baptist Church, there are many reasons why.  First, I want to do my part in praying at least one hour a week for our church.  Prayer is important to me as a Christian because it is a way I can enjoy fellowship with God each day, knowing that He hears my prayers.  There are so many needs:  we have many friends, members and others who are sick or in nursing facilities, missionaries here in our state and around the world who depend on our prayers, a community recovering from a terrible hurricane, and dedicated ministers who need to be lifted up daily in prayer.  Prayer support is especially important as I think of the many lost souls here in Lumberton and around the world.  So, “I’m In!” for praying.

Then,  “I’m In!” by committing to give more than my tithe to support the church so that our staff can minister and do the work they are called to do and so that our congregation can move forward with the work God has called us to do.  I give so that mission work here in Lumberton and around the world will continue.  I also give because it is an act of worship to sacrificially give so that others will be blessed.

Finally, “I’m In!” because I want to serve God by serving others.  Right now I am serving my husband by staying with him each day and fulfilling our vows of “in sickness and in health.”  It is my privilege to visit others at Glen Flora and to send cards in times of bereavement, sickness and celebration.  “I’m In!” because I love to study God’s Word each day as I prepare to teach on Sunday and as I prepare mission programs for the Glen Flora Circle. I am committed to serving as God calls me and in whatever circumstances life brings.

Let’s all join together and be a part of “I’m In!”   There is still hope for God’s church because Christ died for it and we need to continually grow in loving Him and each other.


“Thank You for saying I’m In” by David Elks

Sunday was a terrific day at First Baptist. We worshiped. We learned. We had fellowship and we made commitments. “Thank you” is the only way I know to say it, but those two words do not adequately express my gratitude for you and the responses you have made to the “I’m In” emphasis. To date, we have received commitment cards from nearly one hundred individuals, and each reflects your sincere desire to give your best to the growth of our church. If you have not returned your card yet, it is not too late! Mail it or bring it with you on Sunday, or fill out our online commitment card. We want to hear from you because every prayer, act of service and financial gift is important. For those who are offering to increase your service, I want to mention a few opportunities that are coming up this summer. I am including the date of the event/project and the minister you need to contact for additional information.

  • Community Café is on the third Saturday of each month—David
  • Prepare Communion on July 2—David or Erin
  • Greeter at Music Day Camp Concert on August 4—Erin
  • Office Volunteer—David
  • Offertory Prayer and/or Scripture Reading in Worship—Erin
  • Nursery Volunteers—Erin
  • Children’s Mini-Camp Helpers (June 27-29, July 18-20)—Erin
  • Greet and host Mission Team (July 15-22)—Doug
  • Friends of Jesus—David or Doug
  • Early Childhood Ministry (readers, tutor)—David or Erin

This is not an exhaustive list of ministries you can participate in. In fact, you can probably think of several ways to be the presence of Christ to our community. Take a closer look at the people you meet and activities you participate in on a daily basis. Do you see any unmet needs? Is God prompting you to help? We are only limited by our imaginations and willingness to try. Once again, “thank you!” for all that you are doing to share the love of Jesus Christ and to grow the ministry of our church.

Peace, David


“About our I’m In emphasis this Sunday” by David Elks

The church growth gurus out there would likely tell me that the first Sunday after school lets out is not the time to kick off a stewardship emphasis. They are likely correct. Summer is upon us, and many of you are headed to the beach or family vacations. I wish you safe travels throughout the summer. I also know that summer is an incredibly active season in the life of the church. Next week we will have Vacation Bible School, and in the weeks to come our youth will go to Charleston for Mfuge and our children to Spartanburg for Passport Kids. We will also have children’s mini-camps in July and Music Day Camp in August. There is no slow season in the life of the church, so I am asking you to join us this Sunday and say I’m In! at First Baptist.

I wrote you last week and asked that you not only say I’m In!, but that you increase your giving, prayers and service. Many of you have already returned the commitment card that was included in the letter, and I am thankful for your commitment and enthusiasm. This Sunday, we will dedicate a few minutes of both worship services for you to return your commitment card. We will do this at the close of the services. You can respond during the closing chorus/hymn or, if you would prefer, remain in place and Doug or Erin will come back and receive your card. Next week, those of you who have turned in your cards will receive follow up information as to how you can live your I’m In through giving, service and prayer.  Also, please be sure to pick up an I’m In Prayer Guide.  The guide includes a calendar of summer activities and a prayer model.

I was recently asked “when I say I’m In at First Baptist, what am I saying I’m in to?”  This is an excellent question. My first answer is that saying I’m In is a commitment to Jesus Christ.  It is putting our most valued resources (time, ability and money) into God’s hands in the faith that God will use them to deepen our church’s life in Christ and empower us to impact our community with God’s love.  When you say I’m In with your prayers, service, and finances, you are saying that you believe in a God who is working through churches like ours to make the world a better place.  There’s more to my answer to this question, and I look forward to sharing it with you on Sunday.

Peace, David


I’m In by Erin Collier

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of sitting on a friend’s ordination council. As she shared her story and her background with the council, particularly her fondness for the church that raised her, she made the statement that “at church I was nurtured and loved; therefore, I knew I was nurtured and loved by God.” The care, affirmation, and love that she received as a child in church had profoundly shaped her and empowered her and is now shaping her ministry as she seeks to help others know of God’s love for them.

In reflecting on that part of her story, I was struck by how simple and yet profound that statement was. That concept is the core of how I try to relate to our littlest ones at FBC in order to help them feel safe and loved at church and to associate those feelings with God.

The interesting thing is that nurture and care don’t require flashy programming or dramatic displays. Rather, they look like a million little moments. My friend knew that she was loved because people in that congregation were committed to be present and to help her learn and grow. Commitment from her church family…that was what gave her the opportunity to learn about and accept God’s love for her.

I believe that First Baptist Church is also a place of deep love and has the potential to have the same profound effect on both those within our walls and those in the community. Already, I see the fruit of that love and commitment in a million little moments that happen every day. I see it in the toddler in the nursery who is already caring for her peers and making sure each one is included. I see it in the preschooler who now confidently walks into his Sunday School class, a scenario that used to spark tears. I see it in the elementary schooler whose face lights up when she talks about the joy she feels when she gets to lead in worship. I see it in the middle schoolers who sing like angels in their choir. I see the fruit of that commitment in the teenager who chooses to take time out of her busy week to serve her community on Wednesday nights. I see it in the college student who still calls First Baptist Church of Lumberton his home church with a sense of pride in his voice. I see it in the young mom who steps in to help make sure all the children are fed on Wednesday night when a fellow mom is running late. I see it in the recent retiree who says “yes” to a new way to serve in the church. I see it in the nursing home resident who knits hats and scarves for others.

It’s because of all these things and more that I’m in. I believe that First Baptist Church is a place that nurtures and loves and empowers people of all ages to follow Christ in big and small ways, and I don’t think our work is done. There are many more people to love and to serve and so many possibilities about ways we can minister to and with them, if we are willing to commit to being a part of the next chapter of ministry through First Baptist. The church needs us, God needs us, and our community needs us!

Saying “I’m in” is also a personal statement that acknowledges that my commitment matters. So, I’m committing to give more, to serve more, and to pray more because I believe in this church and I believe in the God that has called us together. Your commitment matters, too. Please prayerfully consider how God may be calling you to say, “I’m in!”

-Erin


I’m In by Doug Reedy

I’m in.  That is a simple statement to make but please allow me to unpack what that means.  This is my church family.

Acknowledging reality is important.  This is a church family that is currently facing some financial difficulties.  Some of our older family members have gone on to be with the Lord over the past few years.  Lumberton hasn’t thrived economically of late.  Not everyone here interprets all scriptural passages the same way as everyone else and we are all at individual places on our spiritual journeys.  And of course, we were hit with a 100 year flood.

Yet there are other realities we may need to remind ourselves of at this time:

We are a church family that provides a church home, love, fellowship, and a Christian education to 80 or so the most pure and loving human beings around: our Friends of Jesus class.  We provide them not only with a Sunday School class, but parties and events that give them something to look forward to.

We are a church family that rallied together after Hurricane Matthew.  Our members populated shelters with volunteers, helped with rescues, and did a million things throughout our community.  We made calls and pleaded with churches and organizations outside our community and they responded.  Here at FBC, we came together and fought back the tide of despair by unloading, organizing, and getting those supplies in the hands of folks who needed them (DSS recipients, people at the shelters, other organizations, people right off the street, and more).  We learned what to do on the fly.  We disagreed on methods at times but we all rolled up our sleeves and worked together because we were motived to do what Christ would do…to alleviate suffering.  We hosted Christian Aid Ministries and many other Christian groups who have come to help.  We gave away well over $100,000 of specially donated funds by way of $2,000 grants to get people back on their feet.  We aren’t done yet.  We are still hosting relief teams and will be joining with other area churches to co-host a youth mission trip to our area to continue.

We are a church family that gathers with other churches to worship God.  We are a church that gathers with other churches for Operation Inasmuch and to take our turn each month serving the hungry of our town with Community Café.  We are a church family that provides 50 or so children from our community each year with a Christmas experience that they would never have without us.

We are a church family that appreciates the wisdom of our elders and the prayers of those who can no longer physically attend.  We thrive on the spirit and knowledge of our retired senior adults who give so much of themselves.  We provide trips and activities of a wide variety because we love our seniors.

We are a church family that welcomes families.  We are a church family that attracts a diverse group of youth who either have no church home, aren’t welcome in theirs, come from churches with no youth program, or enjoy being a part of multiple youth groups.  They join with the youth we have that were brought up as children here, loved from the beginning, and led by theologically trained and developmentally educated ministers, forming a family within our extended church family.  We are a church that partners with our young adults so that they know they are still loved and cared for as they leave for college, leave for the military, or stay right here to begin their adult lives.  From cradle to grave, we offer something for everyone to be a part of.

We are a church family that enjoys our traditions and tries new things.  We provide a variety of worship styles.  We are so far from perfect but our doors are open and we welcome all.

If this church and these things matter to you, I hope you are “in” as well.  If we are all serving and loving God, through this church, with all we have, the future is bright in so many ways.  Please take the time to fill out an I’m in! card to pledge your support for FBC’s role in God’s kingdom.

We serve a God who can move mountains.  Giving more prayer, offerings, and time will always be rewarded at least spiritually, but most likely in other ways as well.  We can do this!  I’m in!

Peace, Doug

 


Introducing…I’m In! by David Elks

Once I have preached a sermon, I usually start thinking about the next one fairly soon. This week has been a little different, however. I have been thinking about this past Sunday’s sermon over the week and imagining what a “spiritual house of living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) looks like in the world today. Peter’s metaphor of the church conjures an image of individuals who give themselves to being built into a people who are doing the work of God in the world. For this to happen, Peter says we must come to him and let God use us for God’s purposes. So, each of us has a decision to make. Will we give ourselves to God? Will we let God use us? Will we allow ourselves to be mortared to one another in Christian love to build a spiritual house?

You must decide for yourself, but I’m In! I’m in to letting God use me to make First Baptist Church a spiritual house that is proclaiming the might acts of him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). I’m in, and I am making a commitment to increasing my prayers, financial giving, and service, and over the next few weeks, I will be inviting you to commit to join me. You will receive a letter and an I’m In! card this week week asking you to commit to increasing your prayers for, financial gifts to, and service at First Baptist. Your I’m In! card is an important opportunity to make a statement to God, yourself, and your family of faith that you believe in what God is doing in the life of our church.

I believe in our church with all of my heart. We have been through a few challenges over the past few months, but our love for God and one another is strong, and we are committed to being a church in which every living soul can know and share the love of Jesus. I believe in who we are, and I believe in who we can be. We can have a great future. We can do great work for the kingdom. We can witness mighty acts of God, and we will as we give more of our time, talents, and money. Please take time to pray over the next few days and weeks and listen for how God wants to use what he has given you to grow the ministry of the church.

Peace, David