Please Don't Mind Our Mess....Renovations Underway!

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As some of you may have already seen, there are renovations afoot in the chapel area of the building. My hunch is that most of you won’t even notice but for some, especially those who are accustomed to meeting in the upper part of the building for either Bible studies or Sunday School, there will be some inconvenience until those renovations are complete. The renovations will include expanding the chapel’s meeting space in order to accommodate more people and to make the space more inviting and comfortable for use. In order to accomplish this, we will be moving the entrance to the chapel to just beyond the doors to the Sunday school classes, this will mean that closet space will be turned into meeting space. I imagine a number of questions might arise and I hope that I can answer them here in the frequently asked questions:

Why are you renovating the chapel?

One reason that we are renovating the chapel is to accommodate a Saturday evening service that Baptist Fellowship will be offering, hopefully, before September. This service will be designed to feel much different than our main service on Sunday morning. The atmosphere will be much more casual, coffee and snacks will be welcomed in the newly renovated space rather than prohibited. Everything will have a much more, “unplugged” feel to it. With this time-slot, we hope to be able to connect with people for whom our main service on Sunday morning is too formal or too early. The sermon will be preached from the same passage as the sermon on Sunday morning so there is no reason to attend both services. In order to expand the available space for occupancy, renovations are necessary.

Why are we starting a Saturday night service?

In my conversations with some of the people who have drifted away from attending Baptist Fellowship on Sunday morning I have found a couple of themes that can be addressed by adding a Saturday evening service in a different space. The first theme is time. For many, 9:00 AM on Sunday is simply too early, especially for younger families with young children. For some visitors, 9:00 AM feels too early as well. For even others, Sunday morning worship is prohibitive due to work schedules or other commitments. The second theme is style; renovating the chapel gives us the opportunity to design a space that will distinguish the Saturday evening service as a unique worship experience for those who simply feel more comfortable in a casual environment without disturbing the existing layout of the Sanctuary. For those who are able to attend our main worship service at 9:00 AM on Sunday, we encourage you to continue to make this the worship service you attend.

So this means we are losing closet space behind the chapel, right?

Yes. The opportunity to reach those who have drifted from our church and the opportunity to reach people who would not be likely to attend our Sunday worship service outweighs the loss of storage space in my mind. In short, reaching people is more important than storing stuff. I have been assured by those who are much more organizationally gifted than myself, that we have more than enough space to store what is important if we use our space more efficiently. We will make sure that we handle the contents of those closets responsibly.

Wait! I have important stuff in those closets! What are you going to do with it?

Rest assured, everything that is being currently used in ministry at Baptist Fellowship will be retained. We have already moved some long term items into the balcony for storage until a more suitable place can be found. Some older curriculum has been moved into my office until we can determine if it will be put to use in our church or donated to a church that will put it to use. There are some filing cabinets with church history and some youth curriculum that will need to find other homes for safe storage but we won’t be disposing of anything that is currently being used. We recognize that much of what is stored in those closets are important to the ministry of the church, including items used by the Pollyanna’s, Youth Ministry, Sunday School, Foodshare, and others. We will make sure these important ministries continue to have a place to store what they need, we are happy to make sure your materials are safely relocated. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

What about the food pantry?

The Olive Hanson food pantry will be changed to the Olive Hanson food ministry. We will still be taking monetary donations and will be distributing grocery store gift cards in lieu of un-perishable canned goods to those who request help from the ministry. There are a few reasons why this makes sense in this season of the life of our church. First, it is easier to donate to a food ministry than it is to go shopping and then drop the food off. Second, the number of volunteers needed to service the pantry has often exceeded the number of people willing to actually serve in food distribution. Third, we are able to exercise better stewardship over your donations to the ministry using this new approach. At first, we sought to relocate the food pantry but when we spoke to those who have been the most involved in the food pantry, it became apparent that this was the perfect time to transform the pantry with food into a ministry that provides gifts cards to those who genuinely need them. A special thanks to Michelle Hess for her wisdom during this process and for her work in servicing the food pantry for the last few years.

What about Cooper Fellowship Hall, when is this going to get renovated?

Much of the discussion surrounding the decision to renovate the chapel area centered on the equally important need to renovate Cooper Fellowship Hall. I completely agree that Cooper Hall needs renovation. In my mind, we must look at the renovations to the chapel and Cooper Hall as a “both/and” situation rather than an “either/or” situation. That said, any renovations regarding Cooper Fellowship Hall will be more extensive and disruptive to the everyday flow of the church as Cooper Fellowship Hall is a very busy space. It is also a much larger scale renovation that will include renovating bathrooms, renovating the kitchen area and new flooring. Cooper Fellowship Hall is extensively used by various church ministries throughout the week, consequently, a renovation of that space will require a much more coordinated effort than the renovations to the chapel. The Deacons have already begun to look at the priorities needed to start those renovations. We felt that starting with the chapel area would be much less disruptive and would allow us to move forward with a new service in a timely manner.

But my group meets in that room, now what?

During the renovation of the chapel area, we will try to make sure that your group or class can still meet in the chapel if you still desire to meet in that space, though it will definitely look “in process” for a short time. If your group would be more comfortable meeting in another location, such as the meeting room adjacent to the nursery area, or in the conference room adjacent to my office, you are welcome to do so. Finding alternative arrangements won’t pose a problem for most groups with the Sunday School class being a noted exception. Once the renovation is complete, you are welcome to resume meeting in the newly renovated space that will feel much more inviting and comfortable.

Will this affect the number of Sunday School rooms?

No. The only space being transformed into ministry space will be existing closet space.

Will my group be able to use this the room once it is renovated?

Absolutely! We are excited about the increased space and functionality of the room. Once the renovations are complete, we hope that this will be a busy location in the church where small to medium sized groups can meet for study, fellowship and prayer. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and make yourself at home.

The Phantom Mailer Strikes Again

About once every three months I get a call from a member of our community who has received anonymous correspondence from someone who has torn out pages from a tract that we don’t use or a resource that we don’t recommend and has then told that person to come to our church. I’ve come to affectionately refer to that person as Baptist Fellowship’s “Phantom Mailer.”

Here is my plea to the Phantom Mailer.”

Please Stop!

You aren’t helping!

This time the” Phantom Mailer” tore a page from a “bible in one year” reading plan and sent it anonymously to a woman in Hebron. Her comments to me was that it was “creepy” to receive that correspondence with no personal name, no contact information, no return address but with our Church’s name and incorrect service times listed.

 I agree, “creepy” indeed.

My hunch is that the “Phantom Mailer” doesn’t even attend  our church. How could they? They never have the service times correct.  But if that person ever happens to stumble across this blog then, please, hear this pastor’s plea, for the sake of the gospel, stop it.

You are driving people away from our church.

 Do you realize that not a single person has ever come to Baptist Fellowship because of your anonymous correspondence? On the other hand, the calls from the community that I have received have come from frustrated and angry people who will likely never come to Baptist Fellowship or any other bible believing church precisely because of your anonymous contact with them.

More importantly, you are driving people away from the gospel.

No one has ever thanked me for those anonymous letters you send, no one.

Everyone I have heard from is now suspicious of the message of the gospel because of the suspicious method that you are using, every single one.

Phantom Mailer, please learn what 1 Peter 3:15 means. Sharing Christ must be done respectfully, gently and most importantly, personally.

Jesus personally called the disciples to follow Him, He didn’t send an anonymous letter.

Peter personally preached the gospel in Acts chapter 2, he didn’t send an anonymous letter.

Paul personally wrote to the churches and his proteges.

This is because none of them were ashamed of the gospel they were sharing. 

As a pastor, I don’t read anonymous mail.

 I don’t read it because anyone who isn’t willing to put their name on what they send either doesn’t have the courage to say it with their name attached or they are too ashamed of what they said, or the way they said it, to be held accountable for their own words. 

So, please, Phantom Mailer, don’t discredit the scriptures or the gospel by sending invitations to our church like it is anonymous mail that I wouldn’t read.

If you, Phantom Mailer, would like to learn how to share the good news of Christ then here is how I would recommend you do so.  Incidentally, this is how we have taught people to share the gospel for years at Baptist Fellowship.

1.      Introduce yourself to the person with whom you wish to share the gospel.

2.      Get to know them, show genuine concern and caring for who they are as a person.  Be a good listener.

3.      Pray diligently for them.

4.      Buy them a cup of coffee and share your faith in a gentle and respectful manner.

5.      Invite them to come to the same church you attend.  Be a good example.

 Finally, a word of encouragement to the many people in our congregation who faithfully and personally share their faith regularly in such a fashion.

I am grateful for you. I am proud to serve as your pastor.

If you happen to know our “Phantom Mailer” would you please direct them to this blog?  I am sincerely hoping and praying that 2019 marks the year I stop having to do damage control from the “Phantom Mailer.”