This is the first Sunday in our new building and at our new location. The Woodlawn Hills congregation met for some fifty-five years at 1742 Bandera Road. During this time the church had various men serve as elders, deacons and preachers. Members have come and gone. Clearly the old location and building served the Lord’s purpose well, for we have grown in numbers to a point where we needed more room. With the support of the membership, our elders decided it was time to build a more suitable place for our current needs.
Our new building gives us room to grow numerically and we have more classroom space. I would imagine there may be a few “bugs”, but we will work them out in time. We need to be patient as we settle in to our new place of worship.
I know we’re excited about the future and the opportunities, and we should be. We are, however, the same congregation of God’s people. While our place of gathering has changed, we have the same elders, deacons and members. The purpose for our existence has not altered, for we have the same work and mission. Zeal and enthusiasm for the Lord are qualities we should always have.
The primary focus of a local church in the assembly is edification. The Hebrew writer records that Christians must not abandon the assembly, but rather come together to exhort one another. (Heb. 10:25) The idea of exhorting is to support, encourage and build each other up in the faith. You are important to this effort and need to attend every service.
Paul affirms this same point in 1 Corinthians 14:26 when he says, “Let all things be done for edification.” The Corinthian brethren were doing things counterproductive to edification. They were arguing over which gift was more important, and people were speaking out of turn and at the same time. Their actions hindered spiritual growth rather than encourage unity and peace. Keep this point in mind as we assemble to worship God.
Elders “feed the church of God”, which is clearly a charge to edify. (Acts 20:28) Preachers teach others, who in turn can continue the cycle of edification. (2 Tim. 2:2) Elders and preachers recognize the danger of apostasy for themselves and those under their care. (Acts 20:29-30 & 2 Tim. 4:3-4) The best way to avoid falling is to grow spiritually, and that is why we assemble.
We also come together to worship and glorify God. For the most part the location is unimportant so long as we worship according to Divine direction. (John 4:24) For that reason, the acts we do in our assembly must mimic the early New Testament church.
A local church should never become so focused on numerical growth that she forgets God’s pattern for worship and evangelism. “Christianity” has become so concerned about keeping and adding members that many have devised their own ways of reaching out to people. They look to the social gospel and entertainment as ways of enticing people to their faith. Many water down God’s Word and compromise clear Bible teaching to make the message less offensive to people. In essence, people think they know better than God when they tamper with His original pattern, or when they believe the “old ways” will no longer work.
Christians have a wonderful message, one of salvation, hope and a better life. (Col. 1:3-6) Those outside of Christ have none of these. (Eph. 2:12) They don’t know or understand God’s saving gospel. Each member of the Grissom Road congregation has the privilege of taking this message to the lost. We need to look for and appreciate the opportunities to teach the gospel.
As a member of the Grissom Road congregation, you have access to the instruction and guidance needed to prepare for this work. We provide classes and teaching to get everyone ready to evangelize, but if you don’t take advantage of the training you may not be comfortable with your knowledge. If you are not comfortable with your knowledge, you may be hesitant to talk with people about salvation.
I don’t want to leave the impression that one has to have great and vast knowledge before they can teach the lost. Every Christian should have a basic understanding. Don’t be afraid to talk to people about what you know, and get help with what you don’t know. We are in the world to help save as many people as possible.
The Grissom Road congregation has a bright future if we continue to do the Lord’s work. We are at peace and united in our effort to serve God. If we do our part, God will give the increase spiritually and numerically. Remember the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.”
I want to thank everyone involved in planning and overseeing the construction of our new building. It all begins with the elders and their decision and foresight to take on this project. Special thanks goes to Gary Harmon and Russell Watson who were actively involved in every stage of the work. They took a great burden off the elders and everyone else. To all of the members, thank you for being behind this effort and for your support.