Posts tagged ‘baptism’

September 17, 2012

10 Years

by pastortimfowler

This weekend my wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary of being pastor at our church. It is hard to believe that they have put up with us for that long, but I do a great job of keeping the wife in check. The church even went as far as to throw us a surprise party this Saturday. We were blown away.
11 years ago I would have never believed that I would be in Rock Hill SC. I had no intentions of moving and if I did, it would not have been to here. But circumstances and God had other things in mind. Thanks to a friend of a friend who had my resume, I was called by a church to do an interview for their vacant pastor’s position. I never turn down an interview and in the church world I know how to stop a church that I don’t want to go to from considering any further correspondence. In a word, change. Start off by telling them that nothing is off the table when it comes to change. Most churches don’t like that and more importantly, they don’t think that they need it. So I let them hear all about my ideas to change everything I could about the church that they loved and knew so well. Whoda thunk it? That is what they wanted to hear.
So, and remember that this is the condensed and much abbreviated version of what happened, I was hired as pastor, we moved to Rock Hill and the change started. This 50-year-old church began a transition from one that had grown inward to about 30 people to what is now a church of 180 and growing still. It was a traditional church of suits and ties and hymns and committees and now there is a rocking praise band and blue jeans and t-shirts. We have sold that old, traditional building and bought an office complex. We went from having few kids to having more kids than our church can hold in one service, so we are starting our second worship time in a few months. We went from not having any baptisms in 5 years to having 40 already this year. We went from blue haired old ladies to blue haired kids and their moms with piercings and tattoos. We went from a church that was dying to a church that is full of life.
I would like to be able to say that I am responsible for this. I do get to say that God used me in doing this, but only God can do something this awesome. So glory to God! He is the one who made this all possible. But, I want to stop and say thanks to a few others who had an amazing part in this all.
First, my wife. Without her, I would not even want to attempt what happened. She was behind me, in front of me, and beside me the whole way. She is the details to my vision and the warmth to my fire. Her love for the church and the people of the church and for those who have not yet met Jesus is incredible.
To the five people who were in the group that met with me the first time and did not run away. They had the courage to listen not only to me, but to their hearts and to God. The had the guts to bring me to the church that was digging its own grave and helped to breathe life back into it. They are still around and I hope that they are proud of what they did. I know that God is pleased.
To the two guys who have been with me 8 of the 10 years serving as associate pastors. There has never been a paycheck for either of them. They have served though, as if they were getting rich. They have supported my crazy ideas and given my a few to support in return. They have stuck it out when it looked like it was falling apart and held up my arms when I was getting weary.
To the people who have heard God’s call to become His children and then trusted us to train them up. A church is only as good as its people and that makes our church phenomenal! So many people have come to know Jesus and grown to become servants and worked to build the church. They have remembered where they came from and loved on everyone who walked through the doors. They were there to celebrate our tenth anniversary and it was awesome!
So thanks to all who had a part. In ten years the church turned around from one of traditions and rules to one of celebrations and grace. We have gone from rarely seeing a soul saved to one that rarely meets on Sunday without some getting saved. From a church that didn’t look a lot like Jesus, to one that must look a lot like Jesus to the hundreds who have come to know Him over the last ten years.
I can’t wait to see what the next ten years holds. Something tells me it will be even better than these have been and that, is a hard act to follow. My name is Tim and I am the pastor of a church called The Body, A Church for Anybody.

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June 1, 2011

It’s Not a Program

by pastortimfowler

For the last 5 years I have purposefully removed myself from participating in any of the mainstream denominations because of the politics and what I consider to be a lack of genuine care for the churches that are not big money givers. I have given myself time to focus on our church and ensuring that biblical values are taught and that people understand that Christianity is more than coming to church and participating in a program.
The other day I got a call from the state office of a well know denomination asking me to take part in a forum that would discuss evangelism and because our church has averaged over 50 baptisms a year for the last 3 years, I was one of 25 pastors selected to participate. I was honored to be asked and even though it was a particular denomination, I thought that maybe they were changing and I am for giving anyone who promotes evangelism a chance.
In this denomination, there are churches that belong to local and state group within the national group. Usually those who participate in the policy of the denomination are those who pastor the big churches and therefore give the big money. Rarely do the smaller churches get much of an input that actually gets given much consideration and that frustrates me. Just because a church is not large and rich does not mean it is not doing God’s work.
So this forum on evangelism began by hearing a fellow speak from his heart about what evangelism is. Evangelism is nothing more than sharing the gospel. Telling someone Jesus died for their sin, rose from the grave, will forgive if they ask, and is coming again. How this is done is often the center of my headache. But this guy laid it out very passionately and very plainly. He said that in order to effectively share Jesus, you must have a relationship with Jesus and have a burning desire to see people who don’t know Jesus get to know Jesus. All of which I agree.
Then the fun started. We were told to break off into groups and discuss what we could do to overcome the downfall in baptisms of this particular denominations. You see, the total number of people within this denomination who were baptized last year had dropped 23% and this has been the trend for the last 5 years. In the small groups I was hoping to hear that maybe it was time to examine real change instead of superficial change. I was disappointed.
Here is a fact that I left out of how churches in this denomination were grouped. Most are part of the county group within the state and then all are part of the state and national group. But in the state of SC there are perhaps 40 or 50 churches who are part of the state and national but not the county group. The reason is the denomination has excellent doctrine but horrible politics and leadership. So these 40 or 50 churches are still counted but in a separate group. So let me share these statistics.
There are almost 1900 churches in this denomination in the state of South Carolina. The 40 or 50 churches that are separated like I was saying are usually churches who teach the doctrine but have forsaken the traditions and the politics and even the title of this denomination within their own name. Well those churches did twice as many baptisms as the other nearly 1900 churches combined. And guess who was not represented at this meeting (other than myself)?
In fact not only were there not anyone else from these churches at this meeting but those who were there began to talk about what was wrong with these 40 or 50 churches. You know, the ones that doubled their baptisms with over 1800 fewer churches. And now I remember why our church became unaffiliated years ago.
You see the programs that organized religion does were one time great ideas that were effective tools to reach people who need Jesus. But somewhere, some one forgot that the world continued to chance and that everything else changed the way they reached people; business, schools, government, but not churches. They got stuck in the rut of traditionalism and politics and forgot that evangelism is the act of sharing Jesus, not a program.
My son attends a church that has radically evangelized the state of South Carolina and is now reaching the world for Jesus. It is also one of those churches that are part of the larger group, but, have distanced themselves from the denomination. This church alone baptized almost as many people as those other 1900 churches in this denomination. And sadly, this pastor was mentioned by name, at my table, as what was wrong with where the denomination was heading, instead of looking in the mirror and telling themselves that evangelism is about reaching people with the Gospel, it is not a program.
I pray that one day they will get it. But until then, I expect that the churches who have decided that evangelism is more important than politics will continue to baptize more people and those who play politics and religion will continue to wonder why their numbers are declining. It’s not a program!

March 28, 2011

Its a Miracle!

by pastortimfowler

I have been a pastor for close to 20 years now. For the last 10 years I have tried to keep up with many statistics such as average attendance, baptisms and people who are saved. Someone once told me that church was not about numbers, but I strongly disagree.
Some numbers are so important that God keeps up with them. He knows every soul that is His. He knows every act that you do in His name. He keeps score.
This past Sunday we were fortunate enough to see people be born again. This is a true miracle. In a day where churches are full of people looking for healing and financial blessings, (both are good), there is something that still thrills me about seeing a person realize that without Jesus Christ and His forgiveness, they are hopeless. In a world where at our fingertips we can learn anything we want, there is still that sense of desire to know God. People are still searching for hope and for meaning. That hope and meaning are only found in knowing God. And on Sunday mornings, I get to stand before people and tell them that God is real, His love is overwhelming, and help is a prayer away.
Consider the fact that I was never the “churchy” type and that at one time denied that there was a God, it’s a miracle that I get this privilege. But I guess God figures, who better to hear it from than someone who has overcome so much. My story is not so different from so many others. God having mercy, convicting the heart of its need of forgiveness and them allowing it all to be forgiven by the act of Jesus dying on a cross. Many have had this experience and God uses every one of them to share this miracle.
I remember the day that I first told someone about Jesus. They laughed because they remembered who I was. But God used that day to prepare me to tell another. Eventually I told someone who was needing to hear that God would and did forgive people who had messed up as bad as me. Then the miracle happened again, and another poor soul was birthed into the love of God.
I can look back through the years now and see that many others I have shared my story with are now doing the same. God’s love is not just adding to the miracles, but is now multiplying the miracles. It is like a pyramid scheme gone wild, in a good way. Please don’t take this as bragging, nothing would have happened had it not been that God had mercy on me and forgave me. It just blows me away that He loves me that much and I want to share it whenever I can.
God is holy; perfect and sinless. Mankind is not. Purity and impurity can not mix. So to be with God, something has to happen. God must take all impurity from us and protect us from it or we will never be able to be with Him. He does that by forgiving our sin and making us one with Him In Christ. Holy White Out, sort of. The blood of Christ from the cross covers up our sins and God sees purity. It’s a miracle!