I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed since you all took a chance on me, a part-time Baptist youth pastor from Pennsylvania. When I see the passion, creativity, and energy with which so many of you serve the Lord it regularly humbles me to be on staff and considered a leader among you.
Five years ago I was hired at ACC and thrown right into the mix, helping Jen Knowles execute Trunk-or-Treat/Harvest Party within my first week in town. I fondly remember driving back and forth 45 minutes from Girard, PA to Andover every day to setup my office, try to get to know the students in Andover, and praying for God to give me grace in a new church, school system, and state. If you’ll pardon the nostalgia, I’d like to share a few things that I have learned since I joined you five years ago.
1. Conventional wisdom doesn’t always work. The number of youth pastors who served before me could easily have been a “red flag” to my coming here. But I can honestly say that I love our church, have felt accepted since day one, and honestly look forward to coming to the office every single day.
2. God leads His church through its leaders. Youth pastors as a group tend to have an “Us vs. Them” mentality and can see other church leaders as opposing their work. Since I have been here, however, it has been enriching getting to serve with Bob and a team of elders that empowers the decisions I make and help me feel supported and helped, even when I (frankly) don’t know what to do.
3. The church is the people (d’uh). When I was interviewing here, I heard legends of people handing the youth pastor cash for events and asking to sponsor kids for camp and trips. Part of me thought, “Yeah…right.” But the generosity of adults of all ages and willingness to pitch in and help (read: Awana, VBS, etc.) has left me encouraged and proud not only of our kids, but our leaders and sponsors, too.
4. It is easier to serve where your family feels loved and supported. I don’t share this often, but I came from a pretty dysfunctional leadership system from my previous church. It left Melissa and I feeling skeptical of being leaders and wondered if we would always feel so lonely and isolated at the “top” of a church. Through meals delivered, texts sent, and hugs given, many of you have shown your support and allowing us to be a non-perfect family has enhanced our trust in the church and community.
Finally, I just want to say thank you to making these last five years a safe landing spot for us and enabled us to live out God’s precious calling on our lives. We love you.
I believe the way a person receives Christ is by believing in His saving work, repenting from sin, and being baptized. I grew up being taught only saying a prayer as being necessary for salvation. As I examined the Scriptures, however, I couldn't help but notice there are no sinners prayers in the New Testament and that universally baptism is an event that either accompanies salvation or occurs as close to faith as possible. To me the clearest indication that this is for us is Acts 2, where the listeners of Peter's first sermon gain some kind of faith, as they are effected by His message. When they ask him what should they do, he answers, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38-39). It seems to me that Peter had the perfect opportunity to say something like, "You already believe so you are saved!" or "Believe in the Lord Jesus, period."
That being said, I do not believe that water baptism is magic. One can be baptized without faith and repentance and in that case, a person is not saved--they "just get wet." Being baptized, in my way, of receiving and participating in Christ's saving work--it is not a work that earns salvation, it is an act of admitting one's helplessness and consciously transferring faith from self to Christ as Savior.
Also, I don't believe that ONLY baptized people are Christians or the only saved people. I realize that God is infinitely gracious and many people only hear of faith being necessary for salvation and there is a "wideness in God's mercy" to accept and receive Him as they know best how to do. While I believe it to be the biblical command and model through Acts, in no way do I exclude other Christian positions on the issue. God is the judge, we aren't. I just try to live and serve as closely as possible to the Bible's way of doing things, which seems to me to be confession of Christ and believer's immersing baptism.
by Josh Peyton
John 10:27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
What does it mean to follow Jesus? This has been a point of contention within Christ's church for centuries. This matter
may divide the church
body more than any other topic. To some degree, this is a personal question. What following Jesus means for you may be very different than what it mean for me. God has different expectations for all of us and this is typically commensurate with the gift, talents, and abilities he has bestowed upon each individual. Therefore, it is not a simple thing to define; I will leave that up to Pastor Bob and Pastor Josh. Rather, I just simply want to leave you with The Question. I believe that when we stop asking ourselves questions like these; we stop growing spiritually. It is part of the refining process as God performs His transforming work in you. Therefore, today, ask yourself that question; "What does it mean to follow Jesus?" and as you pray and read His Word, I know God will begin to light the path for you.