There is always a sense of excitement when we see evidence of God at work in our lives and in our church. We are now a month into the New Year and our summer school holidays have finished with most schools starting back today.
Our Sunday morning children’s programs begin next week and Double Edge (youth group) starts on Friday, along with ‘Meet n Make’ and Boy’s Brigade starting soon. But even as we begin these programs, Fairground Café, an initiative focused on Elizabeth College, the Yr 11/12 College next door, is already up and running. It was, for many of us, a very moving moment when around 40 people gathered to pray for the Café and declare it open last Monday.
Despite the doom and gloom some in our community have towards the Church, the truth is Jesus is still building his church and he won’t be thwarted. I am confident that as we move into 2013 we can expect Jesus to continue his work amongst us and through us. In fact we have every reason to be confident and hopeful. It is Jesus who is “the cornerstone that holds all the parts together” (Eph. 2:21) so we can expect it will prevail.
Yet, that doesn’t mean we can sit back and just let things happen, God calls us to be partners in the work of the gospel.
Over the past month or so as I’ve prayed and reflected on our church and God’s plans for us, a question formed in my mind as to what sort of church will the City of Hobart need in, say, five or six years; and what would it take for us to be one of those churches.
Over the past 100 years or so, Hobart Baptist has been, to varying degrees at different times, a bright beacon of the gospel in the city of Hobart. There was a time when the pastor of Hobart Baptist Church wrote the editorial for The Mercury, (F. W. Boreham) and on Sunday evenings not only was our building in Elizabeth Street full, but immediately afterwards a second service was held in a packed City Hall. There was a time when the all aged Sunday school was so large, with over 400 attending, that it used rooms in Elizabeth College next door.
What would it mean for Hobart Baptist church to experience similar things again? Obviously times have changed, and so there would be profound differences, but the gospel has not changed. How do we faithfully present this gospel, in all its richness, to the particular culture that is the City of Hobart today? What would it mean to tweak our church life – our worship services, our programs, our outreaches, toward them? What would it mean for us to focus not on what we would like our church to be, but what our city needs our church to be?
This is the task before us. Fairground Café is exciting initiative but it is just one thing among many that we can and will be called to do.
As we move into 2013 it would be good for everyone to ponder these questions – whether part of HBC or not – what would it take for you to be the church in your city/town/region that God wants you to be? Yes! God is at work. I look forward to hearing what God reveals to you as you explore these questions.