First Baptist is a “big tent” kind of church. If you could put us all on one pew you would have the full spectrum of theological and political diversity. But the center pole of the big tent, the thing that holds us together in spite of our differences, is our shared belief that Jesus is Lord.
It’s a confession that goes back to the first century, back to that time when Jesus was inviting ordinary people—fishermen and tax collectors—to follow him.
Notice that he didn’t ask them if they believed that he had been born of a virgin or that he would rise bodily from the dead. He simply said, “Follow me.” I think he knew that if they spent enough time with him they would figure out who he was.
We think that’s still true, and that’s what we’re trying to do at First Baptist Church: we’re trying to spend enough time with Jesus to figure out who he is and what he wants.
When those first disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray,” Jesus taught them to pray that God’s kingdom would come and God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. The kingdom was his passion. His “good news” was that it was coming (Mk. 1:15). He mentioned it 120 times in the Gospels, more than anything else, and certainly more than heaven and hell, because he wasn’t just trying to get people to heaven:
He was trying to bring heaven to earth.
As his modern-day disciples that’s what we’re trying to do: we’re trying to be an answer to the Lord’s prayer, a living, breathing embodiment of the gospel. Our mission is small enough to fit on a license plate but big enough to change the world. It’s KOH2RVA—bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia—and beyond! How do we do that? We simply look around for anything that doesn’t look like heaven, and then roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Will you join us?
The Five Essential Ministry Areas
The five essential ministry areas at First Baptist Church are built around five clear commands of Christ:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22:37) We call that the Ministry of Christian Worship.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” (Matt. 22:39) We call that the Ministry of Christian Compassion.
“Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus commands (John 13:34; 15:12). We call that the Ministry of Christian Community.
“Go therefore and make disciples of every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” Jesus said (Matt. 28:19). We call that the Ministry of Christian Invitation. We invite you into a life with Christ.
“Teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you,” Jesus said (Matt. 28:20). We call that the Ministry of Christian Formation.
All of this ties into Jesus’ command to “Love God, love others, love one another, and make disciples by baptizing and teaching.”
A Response Regarding the 2023 SBC Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention has resolidified its stance on women in the pulpit this past week by voting to finalize the expulsion of two churches with female pastors. Additionally, at the annual meeting held last week, delegates approved an amendment to their constitution that says they will only recognize churches that have “only men as any kind of pastor or elder as qualified by Scripture.”
Many in the Baptist Community were swift to respond, including our own Senior Pastor Dr. Jim Somerville. In his statement Dr. Somerville says “Can women be pastors? Yes. I’m making a list and it’s already too long to post but let me begin with the two women who are listed as “pastors” on the staff of Richmond’s First Baptist Church: Lynn Turner and Allison Collier.” He went on to challenge others by saying “Maybe you could think of other women who have been pastors to you.” In the end, he says the statement made by the Baptist Women In Ministry does a very good job summarizing the sentiments shared by the FBC spiritual leadership. In part it says “..the Southern Baptist Convention is wrong. Women are worthy of God’s calling and find freedom in Jesus Christ. Women are created in the image of the boundless and limitless God.”