I was raised by Baptist Missionary parents serving in Brazil. I spent my first twelve years attending church and school with my Brazilian peers, and occasionally traveling with Dad to the remote parts of the state to support, celebrate, and worship with fellow Christians. It was on these trips that I first witnessed the importance of Generations to the local Church. One particular year in the late 1960’s the Baptist State Convention for the state of Rio Grande do Norte set a goal to establish thirty new churches in regions of the state where there were no Baptist churches and often no electricity, water, or sewer services. God blessed that mission and over thirty new churches were founded. These congregations were formed by the gathering of first and second generation Christian families supported by lay-ministers with a great passion for Christ. While not all of these churches thrived, many grew to become vibrant beacons in a mostly unchurched region of the state. They were built on a foundation of motivated first and second generation Christians dedicated to sharing their faith and welcoming the next generation of young Christians to continue the church’s ministry to the local community.
In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus delivers the Great Commission. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Historically, Baptists have focused on the “go” and make disciples of all the nations. However, we are called to make disciples of “all” nations, at home, and abroad. Without that generational foundation, the local churches ability to thrive and carry out it’s commission is seriously impacted.
Today, with a much more mobile society, the church is challenged to build that next generation of disciples to pick up the mantle as the season of the present generation passes. We can no longer depend on family ties to grow the next generation of the local congregation. If FBC is to be and continue to thrive as the “Church at the Heart of the City” we must welcome the next generation of believers that have set out from their home towns and home churches to find their own paths and careers in the Huntsville and Madison County community.
Personally, I met my wife LeAnne at FBC, our children grew up, accepted Christ, and were Baptized at FBC. I view the GENERATIONS Building and Renovation Campaign as more than funding and building updated facilities. It is the laying of the foundation for the next season in the ministry of FBC at the Heart of the City and from that foundation to all nations. As our children move out to hopefully join in the ministry of churches in their new communities, we have the opportunity and responsibility to welcome and become home to a new generation of believers, to be family to the next FBC generations.
LeAnne and Stuart Fowler