By Pastor Brian
Fort Bend Community Church
FBCC 16th Anniversary and Building 3 Dedication
10 to 12 Noon
1. Today as we celebrate our 16th anniversary and the dedication of Building 3, we give thanks to God. Even though in the past sixteen years, there are many ups and downs, good times and difficult times, God has never stopped loving us. This is His Church. And we rejoice in His goodness. All the glory goes to God.
2. Where do we go from here? Where do we aim from here? What are our goals and purposes from here?
3. Many say that if the church is growing in conversions, growing in membership, in giving, and building bigger facility, the ministry of the church is effective. If you emphasize on quantifiable successes, FBCC has been successful. We are growing in numbers, our budget is growing, and our facility is expanding. But I wonder whether this view of success is what God wants from us. I seriously doubt that.
4. This view of success produces "spiritual consumers," who will go to a church only if and as long as the church is attractive. Therefore churches who can create powerful religious experiences and draw large numbers of people on the power of their appeal are rewarded with large, growing numbers. Most churches want to be successful like that. But is this what the Lord wants from us?
I think the Lord wants something else from us.
5. Another view of the church reacting to the success model is the "faithfulness" view. This view believes that the only true criterion for the church is faithfulness. All that matters is that a church be sound in doctrine, godly character, and faithful in preaching and in evangelism. This view is an over-simplification that has dangers as well.
The famous nineteenth-century English Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon pointed out that it takes more than faithfulness to make a healthy church. He said that churches that are faithful and deeply committed to the work of the ministry, but "nothing comes of it at all," when they teach, there is little learning; when they evangelize, there is little converting; they work so hard, but no fruit. No--something more than faithfulness is needed to assess whether we are being the church we should be.
What then does God want from us, from FBCC when He blesses us with so much?
6. Jesus said to His disciples and to all of us who follow Jesus, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit" (John 15:16 ESV).
The word, "you" is plural; the second part is a purpose clause. "I chose you and appointed you" collectively so that "you should go and bear fruit".
This is what God wants from us: bear fruit. Be fruitful.
7. Paul spoke of the pastoral nurture of congregations as a form of gardening. He told the Corinthian Christians they were "God's field" (1 Cor. 3:9). We must be faithful in our work, but we must be also be skillful so that the garden would be fruitful. This is what God wants.
So where do we go from here?
I. Bear the fruit of the Gospel
1. What we have is the Gospel of Jesus. Paul said that the "Gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believe" (Rom. 1:16). This Gospel taught in the NT has the following 3 points outline:
- The Son of God emptied Himself and became a servant. The Gospel is first incarnational and upside-down in humility.
- Jesus died on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice. The Gospel rebirths us from the side-out. The new life is not by good work but by grace through faith. Good work is not the reason for salvation but the result of salvation.
- Jesus rose from the grave as the firstfruit of a whole renewed world. The best has yet to come.
And that is what we want to see more and more at FBCC from here on out.
2. In Houston and in our Fort Bend communities, there are many who have yet to know Christ. From all the reports, we know that Houston is booming. People are moving by the scores to Houston. Houses are sold even before they are put on the market. Houston is the #1 city in the nation for college graduates to find jobs here. Yet many still are without Christ. We have a field that is ready for harvest.
Last week, we had over 300 adults in our first Mandarin Gospel camp. 100 of them were non-Christians. 100! At the end of the camp, many came to believe and are saved. The harvest is plentiful. But the laborers are few.
In the last six years, the Cantonese congregation grows an average of 10% every other year, in 2009, 2011, and 2013, every odd year. Very interestingly. Many say that there are not too many Cantonese speaking in Houston. But the fact is there are many who have yet to know Christ.
The English congregation needs to be challenged to share the Gospel more. When you live out the Gospel, there got to be fruit--bringing people to salvation to the hope and transformation of the Gospel. In the last many years, there are very few new converts in the English adult congregation, while many around us are yet to know Christ.
The children now have their own building. Since we moved in on March 24, the number of children in the children worship grows 16%. We will use the new building to bring more children to Christ.
We will remodel Building 1, this building for the youth in the summer. We want to sow more seeds to the youth also.
We are a church of mostly Chinese. But we are not a Chinese only church. Our goal is not to come here to speak Chinese, eat Chinese, and be Chinese-proud. The Gospel is universal in that it welcomes everybody, but it is also particular in its confession that Jesus is Lord, and culture and ethnicity are not.
From January to May, we have led to over 100 people to Christ. We must continue to sow more seeds. It is not for the numbers. It is not about getting bigger. It is about bearing fruit. The fruit of the Gospel of hope and transformation.
Every year we send out many to Short Term missions around the world. This summer we will send 11 teams and over 120 people out to the mission field to share the Gospel. The Germany team has just came back and reported 29 people accepted Christ through their ministry. Praise the Lord. Now we must connect the local evangelism with the short term missions. If we can go out there to lead many to Christ, let us now come home and do the same. We must connect the there with here. We would like to see all the short term mission team to do local evangelism here.
Be fruitful. Bear fruit and much more fruit.
II. Bear the fruit of discipleship
1. Paul also spoke of the fruit of godly characters in the church. This includes the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Good deeds, such as mercy to the poor, are called "fruit" as well (Rom 15:28).
2. After we bear the fruit of the Gospel, we must also lead them to bear the fruit of discipleship. Being a Christian is living a changed and transformed life of discipleship. Nothing less and nothing more.
3. We have a lot new Christians in the congregation. We plan to launch a new discipleship program in the fall to lay the foundation for sustained spiritual transformation. We cannot just stay where we are with the same value system and the same mindset. We must be transformed by renewing of our mind and be different.
Do we love God more today than they did last year (1 Cor. 8:1; Php. 1:9)?
Are we growing in faith (2 Cor. 10:15; 2 Thess. 1:3)?
Are we more faithful to God this year than last?
Are we growing in love (Eph. 4:16; 2 Thess. 1:3) and grace toward each other (2 Peter 3:18)? Are we willing to serve within and without the church more?
Are we growing in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10; 2 Peter 3:18) and our salvation (2 Peter 2:2)? Have we learned more about God, His Word and His ways? Are we more obedient to what we have learned (Jas. 1:22-23)?
Do we have an increasing desire to study and apply God's Word (2 Tim. 2:15)?
Are we praying more and building each other up through prayer (Jude 20)?
Are we growing in the power of the gospel (Col. 1:6)? Are we bringing Christ into our homes and workplaces more?
We are looking into redesigning our adult Sunday school curriculum to be more effective in teaching the Word of God. We are training up more d-group leaders to disciple our youth. We want to connect the generations to provide a sticky faith to our next generation. Sticky Faith in essence is discipleship of our next generation.
Next weekend is our big Sticky Faith weekend. We have invited two facility members from Fuller Seminary to speak to us about connecting the generations and raising a godly generation.
We want to grow new leaders for the church, leaders who are committed to the Church of Jesus Christ and are humble. Leaders who look over the whole church and leaders who connect people and generations. That is what we are committed to do.
Here is a promotion video. Please sign up to attend. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
1. God chose us and appointed us to bear fruit. In the next five years, we are going to measure ourselves by the fruit that the Holy Spirit bears through us. Let us not satisfy with what we have done in the last 16th years. We want more. More fruit. Much more fruit.
2. Bill Hybels calls it "Holy Discontent". Martin Luther King uses the phrase, "Divine Dissatisfaction."
Let us be dissatisfied until every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.
Let us be dissatisfied until the power of God is preached to every nations and to every neighbors in our community.
Let us be dissatisfied until the wall the separates people because of the color of their skins is destroyed among us. Let Christ be the common bond and center that draws us together.
Let us be dissatisfied until the have's share with those who don't have. Let the basic needs of everyone are met.
Let us be dissatisfied until our young grow up to know the Lord, until our children follow the Lord.
Let us be dissatisfied until our seniors have the Gospel preached to them and their days are filled with laughter and joy.
Let us be dissatisfied until none of us live for ourselves and for earthly gains.
Let us be dissatisfied until every new Christian is followed up and brought into maturity.
Let us be dissatisfied until every one of us understands the concept of grace and live by faith not by sight.
Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout "White Power!" - when nobody will shout "Asian proud!" - but everybody will talk about God's power.
Let us be dissatisfied until we come to the house of God to worship wholeheartedly.
Let us be dissatisfied until make disciples of all nations to be obedience to the Lord of the universe.
Are you ready?