It happened again.
It was in Starbucks. Again.
I was sitting with a couple of my fellow caffeine-addicts, while the barista loaded my coffee with four shots of espresso. (It was going to be a long Sunday, and I needed a jump-start).
The conversation predictably turned to “So, Shaun, what is your talk about today?”
This group of men is quite diverse, representing multiple faiths, and none at all. So, sometimes, it’s “What is your sermon about today?” “What are you telling them?” My favorite is, “What’s the topic of your speech.” (You can tell a lot by the questions people ask.)
So, on this particular morning, I knew that I would be preaching about our Baptist identity. So, I had to prepare what I would say to these guys, even before walking in. It is my practice to condense my sermon to a single sentence, so that the most casual observer, or even one who has no interest at all might be provoked or intrigued enough to listen.
The barista called my name. I picked up my coffee, and sat back down. Then it came.
“What are you talking about today?”
“Well,” I explained, “we are in this series about what makes us the kind of church we are. We’re talking about all the things that make us unique. And today, we’re talking about what it means to be Baptist.”
One of them asked, “Ok. So, what does it mean?”
I told them: “Freedom.”
And right there next to the canisters of half-n-half, we talked about John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, we talked about Roger Williams and how Baptists like us have historically been ardent champions of religious freedom for all people, and the separation of church and state.
One of them listened with his mouth open. He had never heard of such a heritage. He did not know that we were NOT a Southern Baptist church. He didn’t know there were some Baptist churches who valued open bibles AND open minds, and who affirm and celebrate the ordination of both men AND women into all areas of ministry in the church.
Then, as you would imagine, I looked for my opening.
One of them said, “I didn’t know all of that about y’all.”
To which I was able to say: “Yep. We’re THAT kind of church!”
(And in my mind, music swelled as I flung open the double swinging doors to an old western saloon and rode my horse off into the sunset, with the silhouette of our steeple in the distance.)
In reality, we talked some more and I invited them to come. I told them I’d reserve a pew!
It’s conversations like that one that make me so excited about our current series.
God has already begun to use this study in powerful ways I hope you will continue to actively invite others to join us. I am certain that God has placed someone in your life who needs a church like ours. Who is it? What would it take to get them to experience JCBC for themselves?
They don’t know what they don’t know.
So, let’s let them know.
Have I told you lately how much I love being your pastor?
Well, I do.
Dr. Shaun King
Johns Creek Baptist Church
JCBC Core Values
Johns Creek Baptist Church seeks to be a free and faithful voice of the Gospel, witnessing with integrity to Jesus Christ and the mission of the Church. The church believes in and dedicates itself to preserving and practicing historic Baptist principles, Freedoms, and traditions. We value excellence in worship, theological depth and diversity, authentic Christian community, deliberate church growth, congregational courage, responsible Christian stewardship, and a missional consciousness where every member is mobilized to serve.
We value Excellence in the Worship of God.
Believing God is the one and only object of true worship; and further believing that God is deserving of the very best we can offer, we value excellence in all expressions of worship. We especially value worship that is spiritually inspiring and intellectually stimulating–placing our highest value on excellence in preaching and music. (Isaiah 6; John 4; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17, 23; Ephesians 5:19-20)
We value Theological Depth and Diversity.
Believing in historic Baptist principles, freedoms, and traditions, we recognize the soul-competency of every individual and affirm the priesthood of all believers. As such, we value theological depth and diversity in all areas of our shared life, believing that spiritual and intellectual openness better enables us as a congregation to marvel at the ineffable mysteries of God. (Philippians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 1,3; Acts 10-11; 2 Corinthians 4:7-9; Hebrews 5; Psalm 133:1)
We value Authentic Christian Community
Believing we are all imperfect people with unfinished stories; and further believing that our Lord welcomed all such people with a radical hospitality, and loved all persons without limitation; we value authentic Christian community where any and all of God’s Beloved may belong. (Matthew 11:28; Acts 2:42-47, 8:26-40; Romans 12:4-5; Matthew 18:20; Galatians 3:28-29;
We value the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Growth of His Church
Believing deeply that the message of Jesus Christ is the hope of the world; and further believing that the Church Universal is the visible presence of the Risen Christ in our age, we value the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the deliberate growth of His church so that this sure and certain hope may endure from generation to generation–unto the end of the age. (Matthew 24:14, 28:16-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 2:47, 5:14, 6:7, 11:21, 16:5; Ephesians 3:20-21)
We value Congregational Courage.
Believing God is always calling the Church to new and next steps of faith; and further believing (by remembering our own history) that God’s calling always comes with some risk, we value the congregational courage required to always remain faithful to God’s call—wherever it may lead. (Joshua 1:6, 9-11; Ephesians 6:10; Psalm 56:3-4; Isaiah 41:10; Proverbs 3:5-6; Mark 5:36; Psalm 31:24)
We value Responsible Christian Stewardship
Believing God’s grace to be a generous gift of unmerited favor; and further believing that maturing in faith demands using what God has given to us, for God’s own glory, we value responsible Christian stewardship of all God’s gifts. (Psalm 24:1; James 1:17; Matthew 25:21; Proverbs 3:9; Matthew 25:29; 1 Peter 4:10; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
We value a Missional Consciousness where every Member is Mobilized to serve.
Believing every member is an integral part of the Body of Christ; and further believing every follower of Christ plays a vital role in the witness and mission of the worldwide church, we value a missional consciousness within our church, where every member is truly empowered and fully equipped to mobilize his or her faith in practical ways for the cause of Christ. Further, we boldly affirm the reality that God calls both women and men into all areas of vocational ministry—with no limitations based on age, sex, race, or station in life. (Micah 6:8; Acts 2:17; Ephesians 4; 1 Corinthians 12; 2 Corinthians 4)