Hmm - long time no blog. It's been since Thursday. I must be off my game... Or maybe I was off flying the friendly skies, meeting cool and fascinating people in Atlanta?
The answer is number two. Atlanta; Decatur; men's ministry; great church; a most excellent weekend indeed.
DATELINE: DECATUR - First Baptist Church in Decatur (that's the top right-hand side of Atlanta, around three-o'clock on the perimeter) is a cutting-edge faith community. Three years ago the church became the most prominent Southern Baptist congregation to call a women - Julie Pennington-Russell (JPR)- as their senior pastor/lead pastor. The Convention responded by booting the approximately 2,000 member church from their roles.
I remember reading about the brouhaha (The Christian Post: Baptist Megachurch Makes History Electing Woman to Pulpit). "I'd really like to meet that pastor," I thought at the time.
This past weekend I was invited to JPR's church to speak briefly at both services, teach a Sunday-School class, and lead an afternoon retreat for the emerging men's ministry.
AUTHENTICITY: If there's one word to describe both the church and its senior pastor, it's "authentic". I felt at home at First Baptist. Not because I grew up Baptist in England, but because I attend an authentic, Jesus-animated, Spirit-filled, God-blessed church at home in Brandon. The preaching at FBD - like FPCBrandon - was dynamic and the congregation bursting with life.
My host, Bob Waters (pictured at right), was a joy to be with. Bob simply bubbles with positive energy; his passion for faith and his love for the church seem to fill every pore; bottom line, Bob leaks Jesus.
It was a long afternoon. I gave two lectures, facilitated two break-out sessions, and concluded with a 30-minute message. But the men present were patient, gracious, attentive and encouraging.
ENCOURAGEMENT: One moment I just have to share today. During my conclusion I talked about the Gourmet Initiative, and my idea that the way we live out our faith can be inventive in the same way: featuring the best quality, the freshest ingredients, and a commitment to make the most - 100% - out of everything we're involved in.
I thought that my point was communicating, but I wasn't completely sure... However, I soon set aside my doubts after one man raised his hands in the air with enthusiasm and shouted out, "BROTHER, YOU'VE GOT IT GOING ON!"
Love and blessings - DEREK