My fellow pastors and I spent some time the other day telling stories. About favorite people and memorable moments in our experience at First Baptist, Alexandria. We have been here for various amounts of time, but all of us have fairly long tenure by now (for a church staff, anyway). We sometimes laughed out loud at the tales being told, but certainly smiled every time the names of former members were called and their faces were recalled.

  • Dorothy Allport walking with her rifle over her shoulder on Washington Street. Headed for "target practice" in the old church's basement. It was WWII.
  • Don and Dottie Lytal joining Deacons and Deaconesses into one group. Ahead of their time.
  • Bill Payne motivating us and pushing us more in international missions.
  • Prayer meetings with hundreds gathered for people we loved in serious trouble.
  • Valentine's Banquet skits, receptions and "roasts"....

Many great people have gone on to Heaven by now, while others, also dearly loved, have moved away but still consider themselves to be a part of us. We need to make sure that they do—by passing on these stories to newer members who never had the privilege.

You probably do this sometimes in your Bible Fellowship classes and other small group gatherings. I'd like for us all to do it more often. Around tables (when we can) with a diverse mixture of people and years spent here-- telling stories, and listening to each other.

Experiences recounted with a glint, or even a tear, in the eye--unexpectedly reveal something we should all pay more attention to, about who we are and where we need to be heading.

Tod Bolsinger of Fuller Seminary says that these "family stories" contain what he calls "data, with a soul.” If we listen, we will hear common themes emerging that reveal the core values of our church. We can brainstorm and churn out the values that we might wish to be true of our church-but stories like these show us what our values really are. They reveal the DNA of FBCA.

The challenge we will be facing in the post-pandemic days ahead is to keep those core values in place, while adapting them to the new world in which we will find ourselves.  This has always been true, of course--but the pace is now going to be more rapid than ever before.

No, the Gospel does not change.
Who we are as a church will remain—but how we live these values out will take on new         expressions.

We must and we will adapt so that we can, as Charles Wesley wrote in his hymn "Serve this present age, our calling to fulfill.” And that calling is to take Jesus and the good news of the gospel out to where people are in 2021.

And that reminds me of a story or two or three—Luke 15:1-31.




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