This word came up a lot in the first sermon of 2019 at First Baptist Church Hamilton. The pastor, Dan Clemens, laid out a number of challenges for the new year. But he didn’t put a one-year limit on these challenges … he simply wants people to renew their devotion to things they should be or are already doing. A challenge is a call to take part in a contest or competition. But it is also an invitation to engage. Pastor Dan is inviting everyone to engage in:
• Group meetings. You are encouraged to get together with a community group through First Baptist Church Hamilton, or any church to which you belong, and do so as often as possible. (Can’t find one? Start one!) Weekly meetings would be ideal. Why are groups so important? It keeps us connected. It pushes us a little farther away from loneliness. It keeps us accountable. It creates lasting friendships. The benefits are limitless. (Suggestion: If your group has members who are all smart phone users, download the free “GroupMe” app to stay connected and avoid getting a ton of texts in your phone’s default messenger app.)
• Regular attendance at church. This is sort of a “duh” — and a very obvious “challenge.” But it IS a challenge … it is reverence to the Lord if you are at church in a worship service on a weekly basis. It’s required of all of us, as Christians. We owe it to God. He asks us to worship Him. We don’t owe it to the pastor or the music leaders or the children’s ministry or our friends at church. We owe it only to God. So if others aren’t noticing your presence, so what? God will notice, and that’s what matters. Frankly, if you feel like no one is noticing your presence, have you met the above challenge of finding a group and having regular gatherings? Are you purposefully speaking to others? Are you at the right church for you? Is your reason for going the right reason?
There are several more “challenges” to consider. Download the podcast by going to your favorite podcast app (We recommend Stitcher) and searching “First Baptist Church of Hamilton.” You can listen to any Sunday sermon there.