DNA is a term that in recent years has moved from the lab or biology classroom to the marketplace as scores of people long to know the secrets locked in their genetic makeup that cause them to act as they do. If you want to know why certain situations set you off or why you gravitate toward particular stimuli, what the experts tell us is that it’s all because of our biological hard-wiring. That’s not to say that we can’t change course and rise above our innate urges from time to time; it’s only to say that we have these “default settings” that we do well to acknowledge, even leveraging them to our advantage when possible.
These settings apply not only to individuals; they also apply to organizations, like churches. For example, congregations have “personalities” just as do people. If you want to know why churches behave as they do, you have only to look at their congregational heritage.
This Sunday we will pause to take a look at a slice of our own congregation’s heritage. Bryant Strain, former Associate Pastor at MBBC and the first pastor of our first “daughter church,” Brookwood Baptist, will be with us as a part of our first Heritage Sunday in this 75th Anniversary year. Bryant will recount some of the prayerful thought that years ago went into our church’s decision to launch a new church start, which has become one of the fine congregations in the Birmingham area, Brookwood Baptist Church. At the same time, Bryant’s wife, Ruth Colley Strain, is the daughter of MBBC’s first pastor, J.O. Colley. So, the Strains together represent two different types of beginnings for our church.
As with everything else our church does in this Anniversary year, my hope is that our looking back will help us identify congregational strengths that might propel us into a more impactful future for the cause of Christ. In this case, Bryant’s moving from MBBC to Brookwood represents how missional initiatives are at the core of our congregational DNA. While many churches today are striving to become less “attractional” (“Here we are. Come and find us.”), MBBC has from our early years been “missional” (“There they are. Let’s go and tell them.”). As I like to say, our church was missional before that became the thing to be.
So, if you ever have wondered why we have so many ministries that extend from our “Jerusalem” to the “ends of the earth,” it’s simply how we’re wired, or to be more theologically correct, it’s how God has formed us. When we invest our time, talents, and resources in life-changing ministry initiatives, we’re just being true to our calling and the Holy Spirit’s continual direction.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday at our combined service at 10:30 a.m. I can’t think of a better reason for our church to come together in worship than in celebrating such a central part of our church’s heritage. Coming together in worship will surely inspire us to do even more toward coming together in mission, and to consider ways by which we might give of ourselves even more genuinely and more faithfully in helping others to find their fulfillment in following Jesus.