Just a few Sundays ago, on January 1, I shared a message in which I challenged us, starting with myself, to focus on praying for the lost and taking the opportunities the Spirit gives us to share the gospel and invite friends, family, colleagues, and even complete strangers to join us for worship. At the conclusion of that message, we had an opportunity to write down the names of people we will pray for -- for opportunities to share the gospel with them, that others might share the gospel with them if we do not get an opportunity (or if they will not listen), and praying that God would soften hearts and draw sinners to the Savior.
Your response was overwhelming (even people who could not attend texted and emailed in names) and profoundly encouraging. I promised you we would compile the names (first names only), and that we, your staff, would pray for the people you listed in one of three categories -- unlikely to trust Jesus (based on our past experience with them), unknown response to Jesus (because we don't know them well or have not had an opportunity to discuss spiritual matters before), and unspeakable (because this person is so close to us and we are so burdened over their lostness that it is very difficult for us to discuss).
Earlier this week, a list of 391 names was finalized (you may access it below). I want ask you to consider joining the staff and me as we pray for these souls in 2023. There are 338 days left in this year. If we pray over six names every day, we could pray over each name five times this year. Or, maybe the Spirit would lead you to really focus on one particular category each month. However the Lord directs you, I know God hears and works through the praying of His people, and I know He is a gracious and saving God.
I invite (and encourage!) you to join us as we pray for friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and others who desperately need to heart the gospel, be convicted of their sins, and repent and trust in Jesus. Thank you for praying!
In Christ's love,
October 4, 2022
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Greetings and blessings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! I am encouraged to be able to share with you some important information for our church family as we flip the calendar to October.
As you may know, back in July, by a unanimous vote, we adopted an updated master plan to guide our future facilities improvements. As the various committees have been praying and considering the best time and way to proceed, we have continued experiencing significant growth in our preschool.
As a result, the Long-Range Planning Committee recommended, and the church unanimously approved, the formation of a Fundraising Committee to guide our efforts in securing the support needed to update and unify our preschool and children’s spaces and make some aesthetic and acoustic improvements to the gymnasium to make it more suitable for worship.
If you have been able to join us on Sundays, you have likely noticed that people are gradually returning, and the Lord has graciously sent new people our way. If you are physically able and have not yet re-joined us for worship, I want to encourage you to come and get in on what God is doing – He is up to something! If you are unable to physically join us, I hope you are connecting through the livestream. If you need assistance with the livestream, please let Cindy in the office know; we would be delighted to help you.
Our church has been wonderfully blessed with significant gains in attendance over the past year, which has resulted in another remarkable blessing, exponential growth in our preschool. We now have an opportunity to wisely steward these blessings by pouring God’s Word into the hearts and minds of these precious children and by pursuing the completion of the first phase of the master-plan improvements.
However, I am convinced we need something more than an improved facility. We need a renewed passion for Christ. We need to hunger and thirst for righteousness. We need to treasure Jesus above all other treasures. Indeed, I’m convinced that when God graciously gives us an insatiable hunger for Jesus – when He is the One we treasure – the church’s budget and facilities will naturally follow. As Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21).
So, beginning later this month, we are going to do something a bit different. To put this as plainly as I know how, I’m going to pour my heart out for, I pray, our good and the glory of King Jesus. I’m going to urge us to be vulnerable and open before the Lord. I am praying daily, asking the Spirit to help us treasure Jesus like never before. We will have a series of sermons culminating on Sunday, November 13, with an invitation for everyone. That’s right, everyone who calls North Roanoke home will be encouraged to make a two-year faith commitment that represents what the Spirit leads you to give as an act of devotion to King Jesus.
We will not be having a typical “building campaign” or a “capital campaign.” Instead, we will examine our lives, be open to the Spirit’s leading, and make a commitment of our lives and finances to Jesus. I like to call this a “comprehensive generosity initiative.” Its focus is not primarily on a building but on our hearts and all that Jesus wants for us.
At this point, you may have some questions. I promise to answer those as we get started. We will provide you with a resource guide complete with FAQs and devotions for you/your family to read during the coming weeks. I am absolutely convinced that if we engage this season with intentionality, Jesus will do deep, profound, and wonderful things in us and through us. So, before we begin this initiative, I am writing to ask you for four things:
First, please do not surrender to skepticism. If you sense skepticism welling up within your heart, recognize Satan does not want you or our church to experience the victory that comes when we treasure Jesus together, and pray. Ask Jesus to soften your heart; ask the Spirit to make you open to God’s will.
Second, please pray for me as I prepare and preach each week and for our entire church as we respond to what God will show us.
Third, please make consistent use of the devotion because 1) like anything else, we will get out of this initiative what we put into it, and 2) selfishly, I put my heart and soul into the devotions because I love you and long to see God work powerfully among us.
Fourth, finally, and most importantly, be expectant and be present each Sunday. Do your very best not to miss. Pray with expectancy for God to work among us, and then, be present for worship. God works in profound ways in expectant and consistently-present congregations, and I am so encouraged when you are here for the worship gathering!
Thank you for your time and attention to this letter. I cannot wait to worship with you.
In His abounding love,
In our upcoming business meeting on Sunday, Sept 4, the personnel committee will move that we seek a part-time Director of Kids Ministries and a part-time Assistant Director of Kids Ministries to coordinate the church's discipleship efforts and outreach opportunities for kids. The two position descriptions for these proposed roles are available below for your information and review.
Good evening church family,
I want to remind you that we have *many* exciting upcoming opportunities beginning this coming Wednesday evening with dinner at 5:30 and classes/programming beginning at 6:30PM for all ages.
In His abounding love,
Good afternoon, North Roanoke,
Earlier this week, we enjoyed the longest day of the year and the official start of summer. Summer is a wonderful and action-packed time of the year -- a great time to get outside, take a vacation, tackle a home project, and serve the church in various ways (camps, VBS, etc). Now, thanks to Ethan's work, summer is also a time that we can come together and hide God's Word in our hearts over the next 8 weeks. I have included a .pdf file for the 8-week Scripture memory guide. Whether you find yourself at the beach, tackling a project, or serving, I hope you will use this guide as we hide God's Word in our hearts this summer.
In Christ's abounding love,
Hello North Roanoke,
I have some important updates about this Sunday as well as some other upcoming events.
First, this Sunday at 9:15AM, the Long Range Planning committee will provide a Big Reveal of the proposed master plan from Visioneering Studios. We will have refreshments available before we begin, so come a little early and enjoy some fellowship. *Kids will not need to come to the gym during this time. Babies through 5th graders will go to their normal locations for 3D groups.*
Second, on Sunday at 5PM, we will gather in the sanctuary for a special business meeting to vote on this recommendation: “The Long Range Planning committee recommends that North Roanoke Baptist Church adopt the master plan from Visioneering Studios as the primary guidance document for future facility improvements.”
If we affirm this motion, we will be committing ourselves to pray, plan, share, make disciples, and, over time, pursue this vision together for the glory of God and the good of our church and the community we desire to reach.
I hope that people from all generations in our church will come and participate on both Sunday morning and Sunday evening. The master plan addresses not only important improvements for preschool and kids areas but many other important improvements as well. Because we want everyone to be able to participate in the meeting, we ask, if possible, that you simply bring your children with you to the meeting. If they need to have an iPad and headphones, an activity, or an old-fashion coloring book, that is perfectly acceptable. If, however, you have a young child (baby - 2 years old) and require child care for them during the meeting, please let Lynn Wampler (email@example.com; 540.314.8083) know by tomorrow (Thursday, 6/2) at 5PM.
Third, we have an opportunity to support our students who are going to student camp by purchasing tickets to their fundraiser (breakfast for dinner) on Sunday, June 12 from 6-8PM. Please see a student for a ticket. Tickets are $8. If you wish to leave a nice tip at the dinner, you may do so. Or, if you cannot attend but want to help our students get to camp, you may make a special gift and put “student camp” in the memo line of your check.
Finally, WinShape camp is just around the corner! On Sunday, June 19, the WinShape team will worship with us and then begin setting up for camp that starts first thing Monday morning. WinShape is an incredible, day-camp experience with a Scriptural theme and a clear presentation of the gospel. I would like to see as many kids (K-8th grade) from our community as possible to enjoy the fun and have an opportunity to hear the gospel. If you have a friend, colleague, relative, or neighbor with kids, you may give them the code friends22. Every kid who is registered with this code will receive *$75 off* the price of camp. To register, just go to our website under “events” and follow the links from there.
Thank you for your time and attentiveness to this update. I look forward to being with you Sunday!
In Christ’s love,
Earlier this week, I learned that the findings of an independent investigation of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee had been released. The NC Baptist convention summarized the history of the investigation in this way: “The investigation was initiated by messengers at the 2021 SBC annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn. The motion, which was nearly unanimously approved, came in response to public allegations that committee members and staff defamed sex abuse survivors, bullied advocates, and resisted reforms.”
The motion required the SBC president to form a nine-member task force to hire a third-party to conduct the investigation and release a report of their findings and any attending recommendations. The task force selected Guidepost Solutions. Their full report is available here.
To understand this report, it is helpful to understand the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is governed by Trustees approved by messengers to the SBC. The EC acts on behalf of the messengers to the Convention between convention meetings — receiving agency reports, identifying convention host cities, managing logistics for the convention meeting, and distributing funds received from the churches to the seminaries and mission agencies. When you look up the SBC online, the posted contact information leads you to people employed by the Executive Committee. One of the problems identified in this report is that some long-term EC staff kept their Trustees in the dark on some key issues.
The report confirms a pattern, on the part of key Executive Committee staff, of putting liability and public-relations concerns ahead of the well-being of survivors of sexual abuse. I am appalled and angered to learn that sex abuse survivors were ignored, dismissed, and, at times, even belittled by Executive Committee leaders. As a long-time Southern Baptist, this report has been difficult to process. For a season of my life, I worked closely with one pastor named in this report. Reading those details and realizing now what I did not know then has been absolutely gut-wrenching. It is a vivid and painful reminder to me of how vital it is to remain above reproach.
While there is much in this report that is deeply disturbing, I do find some reasons for hope. The Executive Committee has been called out by the nearly 15,000 messengers who voted to investigate it. I expect some of Guidestone’s recommendations for reform will be adopted as early as the upcoming meeting of the SBC in June. I also anticipate that longer-term structural and policy adjustments to ensure the Executive Committee does not act contrary to the expressed will of the Convention will be forthcoming.
I do not believe it is time to abandon the SBC, but we must take abuse seriously. At North Roanoke, we will continue requiring background checks for all volunteers who work with children, and we will continue requiring at least two adults in rooms with children and/or teens. Last year, we were able to install cameras in our high-traffic areas. In the future, we will add cameras to individual rooms — especially those rooms where we have children and students. As a staff, we will also continue to fulfill our moral and legal responsibility to report to the appropriate authorities any abuse that we observe, suspect, or which is shared with us. Finally, and most importantly, we will continue to guard our hearts and our actions for the good of all the people we are blessed to serve and for the sake of the gospel.
For as long as I have been a member of a local church, I have been a part of a church that voluntarily cooperates with other churches through the SBC to train pastors, teachers, counselors, and missionaries and to get the gospel of Jesus Christ to people with little to no access to it. The value of the training I received at a discounted rate at an SBC seminary is something I could never repay. The opportunity to be on the front lines of advancing the gospel all over the world through the missionaries we send out through the International Mission Board is not a privilege we should casually discard. I am hopeful that the messengers of the SBC will chart a path of hope and healing for abuse survivors and that we will maintain our commitment to be a convention of Christ-exalting churches standing on the truths of God’s Word as expressed in our statement of faith. The next convention meeting is in Anaheim, CA on June 13 –15. Please join me in praying that God would bring healing to those who have been hurt and that He would lead the messengers to the convention to honor and glorify Him in their actions.
In Christ’s abounding love,
In just 40 short days from now, we will gather to celebrate our Risen King. I want to encourage you to be thinking about who you will invite, and I want to encourage us to pray. Ethan has graciously prepared a 40-day prayer guide beginning today, March 9. Each day has a verse or a few verses along with some prayer prompts. We can do nothing of eternal value apart from God. We desperately need Him. Our Valley desperately needs Him. Let's come together in prayer over these next 40 days, trusting God to work mightily in us and through us now and in the days to come.
Praying with you,
P.S. The prayer guide is available by downloading the .pdf file below.
Hello North Roanoke,
I want to remind you that we will pray for the unborn tomorrow approximately 15 minutes after the conclusion of the worship service. This will allow time for parents to retrieve their children as we put up the chairs. As we pray, we will stand together and intercede on behalf of the unborn and those who are in positions of authority and service who God can use to make a difference. We will pray together using the prayer guide that I have included below. I look forward to gathering with you soon!
In Christ's love,
Hello North Roanoke,
I spent some time today reflecting on this past year that the Lord has given to us. The letter is available by clicking on the link to the .pdf file below. I hope you find it informative, encouraging, and perhaps a bit challenging too. I love you all. Happy New Year!
In Christ's love,
P.S. You may read the letter by clicking here.