“Who here has had any formal teaching in the doctrine of the Trinity?...I’m sorry you had to pay a thousand dollars for this class. Your pastors should have loved you enough to teach you this already.” These word are the words of one of my professors at Dallas Seminary. Many have heard me recount this story and many know that this was a deciding moment in my life. I turned my head towards my computer and in that quiet moment I prayed, accepting the challenge that Dr. Bingham offered that day and that the Holy Spirit was using to guide my life. My life would be dedicated to the local church. Three years later I was leaving Dallas on my way to Central, Louisiana, my home town, to plant Central Bible Church.
Motivated by an intense desire to bring verse-by-verse expository preaching, and personal discipleship to people who were much like me, saved but untaught. It was my heart’s desire to bring a “seminary education” to everyone who trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Seminary wasn’t top-shelf knowledge, it was attainable and furthermore, I found through my own experience that understanding Church History, Systematic Theology, Biblical Languages, and Bible Exposition, caused believers to grown in their faith, grow in love with Christ, and become more equipped to minister the gospel in this hurting world.
In June of 2008 I began meeting with anyone who was willing to come lend an ear. I wanted to share my passion and ask those who came if they would pray about being a part of what I believed God was doing. I told them candidly. “I think God is wanting us to plant a new kind of church for this area. I can’t be sure, but if we decide to do it, we’ll know if it is God’s will by whether we still exist in a few years.”
It’s been five years since those original informational meetings. To say our God has been gracious seems an understatement. We’ve come far, but have many many areas where we can improve. We’ve seen people come to Christ, but we live in a community filled with those without a hope. We’ve discipled believers, but each of us have so much more we need to know about the Lord.
I’m so incredibly grateful for all that God has done in my life and for this church. I’m thankful for the men, women, and children God has placed in this family. I am grateful for the facilities He has given to us to use to further the cause of Christ. I’m grateful for the commitment to the Lord I see in our people. I’m proud of what we have done so far, but to reflect the lyrics of a song I once heard...we are nowhere where we need to be, but we are headed that way.
It has been five years since we planted Central Bible Church and though some commitments have never changed, there has been some developments throughout these years that have focused my desire and vision for this church. It is because of this that I feel now, on our five year anniversary, I would like to re-communicate what I believe the Lord wants for this church in the years to come. Some of the following statement will be broad, some specific. Some will never change, others will bend as we follow the Lord’s leading. It is healthy for us to set out a path to follow, but we will also be sensitive to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit as we seek to be a tool in the hand of the Lord to build up Christ’s Church as long as He tarries.
Our commitment to the preaching of Scripture verse-by-verse, is second to none save the Lord Jesus Christ alone. In fact it is our commitment to Christ which drives our commitment to the Word. We dream of a church that is known for its commitment to the Word of God. We dream of a church where people are changed, challenged and transformed into the image of Christ because of in-depth teaching of God’s Word. We dream of a church who’s congregants, because of the impact of the Word of God in their lives are equipped to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ in their context.
We dream of a church that is a training facility. A church that exists to equip the body of Christ, whether a member of CBC or not, to rightly handle the Word of Truth. A Church that helps provide a knowledge of Church History and Systematic Theology, so that Christians can spot challenges to the Christian faith, and stand firm on what is True, both in their own lives and in defending the faith in the face of error in the community.
We dream of one day expanding the education ministry of the church to not only equip the church members, but also to be a place that raises up the next generation of servant-leaders in a Bible College or Seminary.
From a living room, to a half-day rental space, to having our own place in a strip mall, God has been gracious to us. Our needs have always been met, and the Lord has given us more than enough space to minister in the way He has called us, but one day, we dream of owning our own space with adequate room for corporate worship, children’s ministry, youth ministry as well as classroom space. A building with a library, and a place for small groups to gather and share a time of fellowship. A building which reflects the goodness and holiness of God. A building that communicates the timelessness and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We dream of an increasingly growing children’s ministry which continues in their commitment to seeing the next generation know the Lord, God’s Word, and the doctrines of our faith. A ministry filled with volunteers who love and care for the children of Central Bible Church as if they were their own. A ministry which continues to see the youngest of our church come to know Christ and disciples them to be life-long followers of Jesus.
We dream of a youth ministry which prepares its youth for the struggles of the world. A youth ministry which equips the youth of Central to stand on the truth of Scripture when they head out for college or the workforce. A youth ministry which challenges our communities youth to think deeply about the things of God and to never settle for apathy or being stagnant in their faith. A youth ministry which inspires our youth to be the next generation of leaders. A youth ministry which facilitates community and unity in the faith. A youth ministry which spurs the youth to live lives of holiness and to lead their piers in their schools to a deep knowledge of the Lord.
We dream of a church where community, fellowship, and unity happens naturally as people of all ages and races unite over a shared love of Jesus Christ, and a shared desire to know Him more. A church where love permeates every relationship, and each individual is willing to sacrifice for the well being of others.
We dream of a church where small groups meet on a regular basis to encourage each other in the faith, and where missions projects are organized and carried out as small missionary teams.
We dream of a church that grows as a sending church. As a natural result of the teaching ministry, and as believers come to know and understand Christianity more and more, it is only natural for them to then go out as both local and foreign missionaries.
We dream of a church which challenges its members to serve abroad as well as here at home so as to experience the providence of God in their lives through evangelism and sacrifice.
We dream of a church that increasingly becomes involved in every aspect of the community of Central, thus representing Christ throughout the city.
We dream of a church where lives are transformed, where hearts are healed, where boredom becomes passion, where brokenness is restored, where the Word of God is taught, and where Jesus Christ is lifted up as the name above all names, to the glory of God the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit.