This summer at Old Fort Baptist Church, just like in the summers prior, we will be focusing on one particular element of Christianity together through our summer courses. This year we will look at Gospel Community.
Nearly one decade ago, I began searching for a church community to call my family. I still remember the first time I entered Old Fort Baptist Church on a Sunday morning to experience corporate worship with what would become my Gospel community. I sat in the back, and ended up sitting with another young adult that was visiting for the first time. As uncomfortable as it is to enter a room full of hundreds of strangers, it seemed less awkward having met one person prior to the service. As the service began, I was amazed at the giftedness of the musicians and the professional quality of the talented singers that led the congregation in corporate singing. As a musician, that caught my attention,
However, it wasn't just how the songs were being presented that caught my attention. It was the intentional theological teaching through lyrics that was taking place as I was learning new songs. The teaching continued as the pastor stepped up for the message, and drilled me with one of many messages that would feel as if I was having a conversation with a person that was speaking just to me. I find it amazing to sit under teaching that has the ability to have a personal element of ministering to the individual while still ministering to hundreds of people in the same manner.
After several months of attending Old Fort Baptist Church, I was given an opportunity to serve by filling in as a guitarist for one of the Sunday morning services. Though I had been a professional musician for almost a decade at that point, I remember the nervousness and anticipation as I prepared for my first service helping to lead hundreds in corporate praise to the King. The bar was set high, and I was challenged by the talent of the other guitarists to know ever minor element of each song each week. That commitment led me to listen to the songs over and over again. For this challenge, and for the spiritual growth that took place having doctrinal teaching on repeat each week as I prepared for the next service, I am extremely grateful to my former Minister of Music, Erik Shamblin, for the chance to serve.
While driving back to work from lunch the other day, one of the songs from that season of my life came on the radio: Sweetly Broken. I was instantly taken back to a sweet time in my spiritual life when my salvation was fresh and I was a sponge taking in everything I could.
Most days I don't think much about the interesting trip I have had since becoming a Christian, despite the fact that I now work as the Discipleship Pastor at the very church that reached out to disciple me nearly a decade ago.
Maybe it is that Mary and I will officially be purchasing our first home this week that has me feeling nostalgic. Attempting to purchase our first home 7 years ago was the very experience that aided in seeing that the Lord was calling me to attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Having now returned to OFBC and charged the task of helping others, I pray having a new "home" will provide us with the chance to open our lives to others and assist them in their spiritual growth as others have done so with me.
How great and comforting it is to know that no matter how many days pass between my first as a Christian and my most recent as a Christian, one thing will never change: I have been called out of death, and have been given an undeserved life through Christ crucified because He first loved me.
Lord, I thank you so much that you beckoned me and have given me a chance to serve you with my time and share your Good News with others.
Here's a copy of the lyrics of the song Sweetly Broken, as well as a link to listen to it if you feel nostalgia for the 2000s suddenly sweep over you! :-)
"Sweetly Broken" by Jeremy Riddle Video & Lyrics: