Our church constituted on March 13, 1949 to spread the gospel to all nations as a New Testament church. First Southern Baptist Church (FSBC) in Long Beach sent 15 of their members to establish an outpost for Christ's kingdom in Bellflower. Our church aimed in the 1950's to plant a church every year. They planted 3 churches in that decade (1953, 1955, and 1957). We still have the same desire today: to be a healthy, growing, thriving church where we bear the fruit of converts, members, disciple-makers, leaders, and churches planted and revitalized. But most of us are frustrated by our lack of fruit and health. Some are doubtful this church will actually thrive again. Will evil snuff out another church's witness or will Christ's sinner-saving, curse-reversing rule come through us in Southeast LA County?
Jesus knows all about our struggle. He has personally removed churches (Revelation 2.5). Sadly, FSBC Long Beach no longer exists and sold their building to Jehovah's Witnesses (from what I heard). Jesus has also taken bruised reeds and made them strong. He's made flickering wicks burn bright again for the glory of God. He is the head of the body, the church. And he leads his church by speaking and revealing himself to our church. As we see Jesus we are changed by his Spirit (2 Cor 3.18). So, we will strive to be a church where everyone encounters Jesus. We will explain Jesus, embody Jesus in meeting one another's needs, and we will enjoy Jesus as our treasure. What should you do? Recognize Jesus as he is explained and repent from your sins constantly. Receive service from Jesus as he meets your needs through his body, our church family. And rejoice in Christ as you encounter him calling others to rejoice in Christ Jesus with you.
Encounter Jesus with us this week, gathered and scattered. Encounter him this Sunday, morning and evening.
If you encounter Jesus every week, recognizing, receiving, and rejoicing in him, you will grow in your ability to explain, embody, and enjoy Jesus in the church and in the neighborhood. We, as a church, will become healthy and thrive with gospel life. Our church will be a bright corporate witness to Jesus in Southeast LA County and beyond. And Jesus will be exalted through us in this world, in our generation. We don't want to decline and die like our mother church in Long Beach did. Satan and the darkness must not be allowed to rejoice in our ineffectiveness.
Encounter Jesus today. Encounter Jesus through sharing life with fellow church members. Encounter Jesus this Sunday.