Why This Building?

Let me tell you my vision for FBC. I want the presence of the Holy Spirit powerfully felt here. I want worship that suspends time… So that we don’t care how long we’ve been here or leave. I want God to save people daily because members are living holy lives & sharing Christ. I want to have as many in prayer meeting as we do in Sunday School. I want to baptize every Sunday. I want so many people to be a part of FBC that we have to have two worship services! THAT would be a revival!!!

Why should we build?

Because that kind of God activity would REQUIRE more space!
Oxford is not the same city as 15 years ago. People are leaving surrounding areas and coming here. Experts predict continued growth for the future. Consider just three items…
Schools!
In 1991 grades K-3 had 547 students. Four years later in 1995, K-3 had 537 students. For the school year of 1999, K-3 started with 957 students! P-A-U-S-E.
Oxford schools are busting at the seams w/ administrators scrambling to keep up. The class rooms being built at OES will be filled by the time they are completed. And my guess is that another school will be needed soon if the present trend continues!
Businesses!
Businesses, including Honda, find this area attractive. Calhoun County is a regional center for all kinds of industry. We will continue to see more and more people move into our area.
Housing!
Have you noticed how many new sub-divisions are being built? Housing is at a premium in Oxford. Have you noticed the increased traffic? There is no reversal of this trend in sight.

What does all that mean?

All those people need a place to worship, to hear about Jesus. A place to be encouraged and strengthened in the faith. They need a community where they can be used to glorify God with their talents, gifts, and abilities. There is no better place than FBC-Oxford… AMEN?!
But we don’t have room for all our own people to worship, much less provide for new growth! Did you know that the last time we worshipped together on a Sunday morning was 4 years ago?! But in three weeks we’re going to try it again…
On November 7th, we are going to have “See The Need Sunday.” There are 2 reasons for doing this: 1) Some of you don’t know who all is in the other worship service. 2) Until we all come together at one time, few of us will ever see the need to build.
Sunday School will start at 9:00 AM & Worship will be at 10:15. Mark it down now!
Change IS happening in Oxford. We have a window of opportunity to make a significant impact for the kingdom into the next millennium. The question is will we respond as God would have us to?
In staff meeting this week Mike said something insightful. He baptized a statement from James Dobson who says “You should not marry a person you think you can live with… you should only marry the person you cannot live WITHOUT!”
Mike’s point is that our growth hinges on whether or not we build. The question is not, “Can we afford to build?” The question is, “Can we afford NOT to build?!”
To be salt and light in this community, it is imperative to do whatever is necessary for growth. To make a significant impact for Jesus… “We can’t afford NOT to build!”
In John 20:21 Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And God sent Jesus to “To seek and save that which was lost.”
We have been entrusted with the same message. We must go “into the highways and byways and compel them to come in” (Lk 14:24). But in order for them to “come in,” there must be room. That means a new Sanctuary and educational space is desperately needed. All it takes is a brief walk around this campus on a normal Sunday morning to see the need.
Even with the addition of 30+ parking places, parking is STILL at a premium. The nursery is overcrowded. We can’t hold everyone in one worship service (Two weeks ago a person… a visitor mind you… left because they could not find a seat!). There isn’t enough room for the whole choir to practice at one time. We’ve had upwards of 80 youth on Sunday morning and 40 youth on Wednesday night. Many more of our Sunday School classes are past their capacity!
And this is without having an aggressive outreach program! What would we do if God DID send revival & awakening and scores of people came to know Christ?
Brothers and sisters, we can’t afford NOT to build!

Let me give you more reasons why we MUST build for God’s glory.

First there is The Primacy of Worship (Ps 22:3).
There is nothing like God’s people assembling together in one place to worship & glorify His name. Worship gives energy & passion to all other Christian endeavors such as ministry and evangelism.
Second, The Primacy of Preaching (1 Cor 1:21; 2 Tim 4:1-2).
God has determined that salvation comes by hearing. Paul said it was through the “foolishness of preaching” that people get saved. A larger building provides more room for more people to hear the Gospel.
Third, The Primacy of Prayer (Is 56:7; Mt 21:13).
God has said that His house is to be a house of prayer. Again, I pray and look forward to the day when we have as many… if not more… in prayer on Wednesday night as we do in worship on Sunday morning.
Fourth, The Great Commission (Mt 28:19-20).
The command is to make disciples for Jesus. For this to be carried out effectively, more room is needed for the people God will send our way.
Fifth, Because God has purposed To Save Sinners (Lk 19:10; Jn 3:16-17).
When it comes to church, How big is too big? How many is too many? I say if we put a number cap on either of those questions… we are short sighted and misunderstand the Great Commission. God wants us to reach as many as He calls to salvation! To do that we MUST build!
Sixth, To Provide For Future Generations (Ps 78:5-7).
Aren’t you thankful that our forefathers had the foresight to build this building? To provide space for people to hear about Jesus? To train your children in the faith? For you to get married in? For your children to be baptized? P-A-U-S-E…
I wonder… what will the next generation say about us? Will they be thankful for our vision and sacrifice? Or will they be disappointed by our lack of faith? PAUSE!!
Seventh, People are Important To God.
So they MUST be important to US! And therefore, we must be willing to do whatever it takes to reach them for His glory! You know what, I want us to grow so much that we have to return to two services because of the number of people we are reaching for God!
Some may ask, “But can’t we do all that with what we have now?”
Yes… BUT WHAT IS OUR CALL? What are we to tell people who desire to come to hear Jesus when we run out of space?…
“Sorry, we don’t have room for you and your children. But I’m sure the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses have some extra space!”
If we don’t provide for people, they will either go somewhere else, or NOWHERE else! Jesus’ ministry was all about people. And if we are to reach the lost for Christ, we must “Do whatever it take to reach them for the Lord.”
There are missionaries who literally risk their life, to preach Christ to the lost. They are willing to give EVERYTHING they have for the Gospel to be spread. People give up their reputation, their jobs, their families, and sometimes their lives for people to be saved!
And yet some hesitate to give money for a building? Shouldn’t we sacrifice all for the one who died for us? Isn’t it worth giving of ourselves to build in order to lay up treasures in heaven?
Have you ever heard of a Bonsai Tree?   These are trees from Japan that have been forced to stay small. They are miniature trees, only a few inches in height, but they look normal.
The Bosai tree stays small because of how it is treated. The person who cultivates Bonsai trees knows there are certain things he must do, or else the tree will grow to normal size. But he wants to prevent that, so there are four things he does.
First, He keeps the pot small. Pot size determines how big a Bonsai tree grows.
Second, He prunes the roots. Once or twice a year, the Bonsai tree has to be taken out of the pot… the dirt removed from the roots… and then the roots trimmed back. If this is not done, the tree becomes root bound and it will not be able to take in nutrients from the soil and it will die.
Third, He pinches off new growth.   New growth is obvious for the Bonsai tree. It is tender, soft, and green. No tool is needed, your hands will do. As soon as new growth appears, the caretaker must pinch it off so that the tree will stay small.
Fourth, He has the right soil. All Bonsai trees require a special soil. It is a mixture of sand, rock, and dirt. Different Bonsai trees require different kinds of soil. Some need more time to soak up nutrients. Some need the moisture to drain quickly. Thus, without the right soil, the tree will die.
Ken Hemphill says many churches have a Bonsai tree approach to church growth. Without realizing it, they are prohibiting growth. Let’s not be a Bonsai Church…
First, Let’s get a bigger pot. Our physical plant is preventing us from growing. We need to provide room so that we can fill it up with conversions and kingdom growth.
Next, Let’s let the roots grow. We don’t need to cut back on those things that encourage growth… we need to expand them. Whether this has to do with Deacons, classes, ministries, or staff. To grow we need to let that which encourages growth to flourish.
Then Let’s encourage growth instead of pinching it off. Be inclusionary… more vision oriented… look for innovative ways of reaching people. Let’s become people who want change, desire change, and are excited about change… because that will mean reaching people for God!
Then Let’s provide the right soil. In other words, make sure that when God sends someone our way we don’t repulse. Let’s be a place where people are accepted. Where they are encouraged. Where they are held accountable for living a godly life. Good soil produces healthy growth.
Those who want to reach people for the kingdom of God and His glory will show it with their actions. They will want a bigger pot… they will provide a good environment… they will be an encourager… and they will be positive and support the building program of this congregation.
FBC has had this vision for literally decades! And I’m willing to go this far… If a person is not in favor of reaching people for Jesus and doing whatever it takes to obtain that goal, then they are outside the revealed will of God for this congregation!

FBC is at a crossroads.

I believe the overwhelming majority WANT to grow. WANT to reach people for Jesus. And WANT God to use us for His glory. And to be honest with you, it is incomprehensible to me why ANYONE would NOT want to grow and reach people for Jesus!
If you want revival & awakening… if you want people saved for Jesus… families strengthened in the faith… young people called to the ministry… and God glorified… then I call you to support this building with all your prayers and financial resources. Eph 3:20-21…
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ron Ethridge

Graduated from Samford University with a B.S. in Accounting, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity, and Beeson Divinity School with a Doctor of Ministry degree. He has served churches as pastor since 1989 in Mississippi and Alabama.
Ron Ethridge

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