DFB is 150
Downey First Baptist is 150 years old. Today was a celebration. Dennie led the challenge from Philippians 3 to forget what lies behind and press on to the goal to win the prize. There were many friends, former staff members and memories to share. It was fun to stop and remember the importance and the history of this local expression of the church over the years. It is important to remember and thank God for ministry there and for the opportunities and friendships that have shaped who I/we have become. We are commanded to remember so often because we are such a forgetful people.
At the same time it is also important to not stay focused on the past. Nostalgia is dangerous. When we look to the good old days we run the risk of of several things. For one thing, the good old days were not all good! Additionally, looking backward is often unfair to the church today. Such a focus can be myopic, deceptive and pessimistic.
I think it is so easy to look backward because the church has had such a rich history and the relationships are so deep. And it is hard to not compare ministry then and now, and it is inappropriate to reduce that comparison to numbers and finances. I know it is easy to look backward because we don’t know what is going on there anymore. And from our vantage point it does not look so good. The attendance is small, there are no pastors and the socioeconomics of the community have changed. There are so many things which were successful methods that would never work in today’s culture, but that does not mean that what is being done now is inferior in any way! But for me it begs the question, how many of those who made decisions to live for Jesus no longer are? How can we do better at creating disciples who run the race to the finish line? How do he keep pressing on?
The church is still alive and God is still using the church to accomplish his purposes. My prayer is that Downey First, among others, will not give up, that they will faithfully run with endurance the race set before them, as I thank God for the rich history and the people who have impacted my life for His glory! Amen.
I channeled Jim as Buford. That was an honor! Doug Roller was Ralph.