One of the functions of Sunday morning worship is to remind ourselves who we belong to and who we serve. We are followers of Christ and his is not always an easy road to travel. We can leave church on Sunday to be more faithful, to be more loving and then watch that resolve be challenged as we enter back into the tug of war of life. That’s why it can be so helpful to gather again on Wednesday, to once again fill up our tanks by engaging with fellow travelers in Bible study. Yes, it’s something on the church calendar, but it’s there for a purpose. Not just because that’s what Baptists do.
At Broadus, we call it Wednesday Evening Fellowship, and it has multiple components. We kick it off with dinner at 5:30 PM. For a number of years, this was a catered meal, but then a dedicated group, the “kitchen crew”, decided to take the responsibility for meal preparation on themselves. Each week through the school year, they prepare a delicious meal to nourish us and allow us to gather around tables in our worship space to enjoy a meal together. This gives us a time to catch up on the week with members of our church family, to get to know them in ways that takes more than sitting together in worship. The Kingdom Kids and middle school group also join in the meal giving everyone a chance to engage with each other, regardless of age.
Around 6:15 PM, dinner concludes and “the kitchen crew” goes into clean-up mode. The Kingdom Kids and middle-schoolers go off to their separate groups, and for the adults, there is a time of prayer and Bible study together. Prayer concerns are shared and updates are given on those for whom we have been praying. This time is followed by adult Bible study, which is not simply another sermon delivered by the pastor mid-week. It’s guided study of a particular book of the Bible or topic that makes space for questions and exchange of thoughts and dialogue. The goal is to dig deep and be able to affirm not only what we believe, but why we believe. Right now, the study is centered on the book of James.
In Acts 2 we read about the early Christ followers, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” The church grew because people observed that these Christians genuinely cared about each other and that their “religion” was more than rituals; it was a way of life. Wednesday Evening Fellowship is a mid-week opportunity to ground ourselves in our faith. It’s not a club, open to a select few or even just open to church members. All are welcome!
A version of this article from our Pastor originally appeared on November 13, 2019 in The Beacon, our weekly newsletter. If you would like to see what is going on around the church this week, you can view the latest copy of The Beacon here. Or, if you would like to receive The Beacon in your email inbox each week, you can contact the church office at email@example.com.
In the fourth chapter of Philippians, Paul tells the church in Philippi that they are to be anxious of nothing instead they are to go to God in prayer.
Growing up, this line always seemed like an unhelpful answer along the lines of 'don't worry, be happy.' Yet as I have gotten older, I have seen the wisdom in what Paul is suggesting.
The problems the Philippians faced were large. They worried about persecution from the Roman government and what it meant to live out this new faith they had received. They had a lot to be anxious about, and Paul recognized that. But Paul also recognized the importance of prayer.
Prayer involves many things including bringing our concerns before God. We pray for guidance when we don't know what to do. We pray for God to walk with us when we do take action. We pray for wisdom and God's presence when we are confused.
Paul saw that instead of sitting in an anxious place, we can give what is worrying us up to God.
Prayer does not mean things will be solved right away or become easier, but prayer is asking God to walk alongside us, which is a powerful thing.
Recently one of my friends came to Broadus for the first time. As he and his family got out of their car he looked around and said, “it’s nice here, it feels peaceful.”
And that is exactly what Bonnie Greenwood is hoping and praying for as she makes her way to the church, usually three times a week, to care for the gardens. She is quick to say that she doesn’t do it alone, a whole team of Broadus people pour their sweat and time into making the grounds a welcoming place.
Bonnie Greenwood in front of one of the Broadus gardens
Bonnie heard once that 17% of people who end up going to a church regularly do so because they like the way it looks, they find it pleasing. So, she thought she would take charge and care for those 17%.
Fifteen years ago, her faithful gardening service at the church may have begun for the sake of others, but for Bonnie it became a way that she connects with God. “I just got down on my knees when I was weeding one day and I just was sort of talking away, and I thought, you know, this is a good prayer time,” she says.
Bonnie is a self-proclaimed talker and she likes the “good-salvation-army-stand-on-the-street-corner-with-a-tambourine-move-it-along-hymns” like, When We All Get to Heaven and Standing on the Promises of God. Her father taught her hymns like these and she likes to challenge herself while she plants and weeds to see if she can sing all five verses the way they used to on long car rides across Ontario, Canada.
But when I asked Bonnie how she experiences God out in the garden, she explained, “I think it’s just in the quiet and because there’s no television in the background, there’s nothing to keep you from doing some listening…one of my big things is I don’t spend much time letting God get a word in edgewise.” She goes on to say “it’s just soothing. I enjoy weeding. I like looking and thinking ‘isn’t that neat and isn’t that clean?’ and the flowers stand out so, and I enjoy it and just find that it’s relaxing.”
In the quiet of the garden there is a lot of time to think. Strawberries come to mind for Bonnie.
When she was a child her mother had a strawberry patch. I grew strawberries once as a child, too, but Bonnie saw and understood something in the strawberry patch that I did not.
She explained to me how each strawberry plant becomes a mother as it sends out runners whose ends can be stuck into the ground. Eventually, the mother plant gets exhausted and dies, but by that point hopefully those runners have turned into new plants and in time will send out their own runners. And so, the cycle of new life, death, and new life can continue. “That’s what a Christian life ought to be. We ought to be a strawberry plant and put out a runner,” Bonnie says.
Suddenly, a strawberry plant will never again be just a strawberry plant; Bonnie has transformed it into a parable.
Jesus taught in parables, too. It was how he connected with his hearers and conveyed deep truths about life with God that are too big and mysterious for humans to grasp otherwise. All throughout the gospels he tosses out these story seeds and slowly but surely a picture grows of the Kingdom of God. His hearers become runners and eventually, they share and send out more runners to tell the good news that has taken root in their lives.
When you come up the long tree-lined driveway to Broadus Memorial Baptist Church I think you will find it peaceful. It really is beautiful thanks to the gifts of time, care, and expertise Bonnie and others devote to tending the grounds week in and week out.
As you look around and notice the fruits of these gifts, I hope you will consider the strawberry plant.
I hope you will think about the prayers that have been poured out by people on their knees pulling weeds and lugging jugs of water to quench the thirsty plants.
I hope you will stop for a moment as you get out of your car and listen for the echoes of hymns hummed and belted over the past fifteen years (all five verses of them).
I hope you will know that you are welcome in this place, that it has been prepared for you.
And finally, I hope you will take a moment to pause wherever you may find yourself today and listen; perhaps you will hear God reaching out to you in love through something small and ordinary like a strawberry plant, too.
At Broadus Memorial Baptist Church we believe we are called to love God and love our neighbors. The stories you read on this blog offer a witness to the ways we respond to God's love and seek to share that love with others.
Scripture describes the church as a body, made up of many parts. Just as your tiniest toe isn't aware of the intricate work your heart or brain do, it can sometimes happen that people in the church body only see what is happening immediately around them. Our hope is that reading these stories will help forge connection and inspire greater love and understanding for one another.
At Broadus we are a community defined by warm-hearted fellowship and thoughtful inquiry. We hope you see evidence of that in the stories we share here. We hope you know, or come to know, that you are a part of God's grand story and that you are welcome to join us, on a Sunday, a Wednesday, or any gathering in between.
The life of faith is a journey, and we are not meant to walk it alone. Our stories connect us and we are excited to share some of ours with you.
If you have a story you'd like to share or would like to connect in some other way you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (434) 977-7381.
Please visit our YouTube channel to find all of the latest videos of sermons, Bible studies, and ways to stay connected while we are not gathering in person.