Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Preachable Moment

As a parent, grandparent, teacher, or church volunteer, you from time to time experience "teachable moments" with young children. These are those special, unplanned, serendipitous situations that provide an opportunity to reinforce a concept or to help a child see or experience something in a new way.

Sunday morning I experienced a "preachable moment." It wasn't one of those "Oh, there's a good sermon illustration" experiences- though you might be surprised when those can come! Instead, my preachable moment was a new experience for me, the preacher, right in the middle of the sermon!

The message came from John's account of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. I was attempting to make the point that we need to be careful about how we interpret the stories of others' lives- most of us have heard that this woman was a prostitute, but there is no such indication in the text. I cautioned that we should be careful not to jump to conclusions about another's life story- like the woman, he/she could have simply had a "hard life," not necessarily a "bad life."

I sensed immediately that something happened. And then it dawned on me- we were in a room full of people whose story had been misunderstood, or even misrepresented. Jesus' refusal to condemn the woman was not just a model for our compassionate response to others- it was an offer of grace to us!

Thanks for teaching the preacher something last week!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Project: BOOKS

I am trying to bring some degree of order to my books this week. I'm not sure why--- maybe it looked easier than cleaning my desk!

In doing so I am reminded of the cartoon on an old calendar where a little boy is sitting in the pastor's study and the minister says, "No Jimmy, books do not count as things of this world."

The task is probably taking longer than it should. It seems like many of the books have their own story to tell. I am reminded that Charlie Saylors from our church in Louisville was generous to give me a portion of his library when he retired from active ministry. I will always be grateful to Bill and Jennifer Green of Louisville for giving me a treasure in The Interpreter's Bible commentary set and to my parents for a Christmas present of The Broadman Bible Commentary, even though they had no idea what a commentary was. I find myself thinking about our seminary years as I wander through old text books. Priscilla and I both received a Master of Divinity degree but knew better than to take classes together- except for the Marriage Enrichment class that almost did us in! Lots of church history... especially baptist history.

I am trying to organize to keep the books I use most regularly closest at hand. Bibles (how have a collected a whole shelf of Bibles?), hymnals, and worship resources are within easy reach. Commentaries are just a step away. Philosophy and languages... top shelf, get the ladder!

I find myself easily distracted by files and photos stuffed between, behind, and on top of books. Some "stuff" seemed important to me at the time. Some items were important to other people for me to have at the time. Do I really need to hold onto calendars and directories from over thirty years of ministry in four different churches?

I hope to finish this project by the weekend... after all I still have taxes to do. Then, maybe, I can turn my attention to my desk...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


My benediction (the blessing/prayer at the end of worship) is a slight modification of Ephesians 3:20-21. I have used this benediction at the conclusion of Sunday morning worship for over 24 years... and yet stumbled over it Sunday morning! Thanks- church family- for taking it by heart and carrying us through!

Dr. James Speed was long-time pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Marietta and led his congregation in the following benediction:

Go forth into the world in peace,
be of good courage;
hold fast to that which is true;
render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the faint-hearted;
support the weak, help the afflicted;
honor all;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God the Father,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.


(Thanks to Faith Jansen for sharing this prayer, which was given to Taylor as he was awarded his Eagle Scout.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Towne View Then... Beth Trimble

I don’t move well. When I have to leave my home and start over somewhere new I do not see this event as an adventure, but as a leap into an abyss. I feel completely un-tethered and disoriented. I am unprepared to go to church, the grocery store, and the mall and see only a blur of strangers. When Mark, Adam, John and I moved to Georgia in 1990 it was no different.
To add insult to injury, I made a very significant error in my search for my new church home. We loved Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. I mean I loved everything about this powerful church. I began to look for a Georgia version of Crescent Hill. Mark was working every weekend at Six Flags Over GA and placed his trust in me to search for a church home. I began this task with the overwhelming feelings of being bereft of friends, home and security.
Adam shared my trepidation in the quest. He had been given a photo album by his Sunday school friends as a going away present. He took it with him every Sunday morning and walked into every strange church with it held close to his chest like a shield. He told me, “I need to hold the faces of my friends close to my heart”, it broke my heart, because I knew exactly how he felt. We seemed to find one colorful adventure after another on our search.
One Sunday after visiting Johnson’s Ferry Baptist Church I got onto I 285 in my 65 Mustang with my boys in the back and started driving. Apparently I missed my exit and made a very large circle around Atlanta. My tired and hungry boys quietly asked, “Are we ever going to get home?” at one church Adam whispered nervously, “I think that guy is going to yell at us”, that guy was the pastor and Adam was right, he did yell at us. We didn’t go back. I began to feel like Goldilocks, this one was too big, that one was too hard, nothing was the right fit.
Eventually we joined North Side Drive Baptist church. It is a wonderful church and was my replacement church. It gave me time to heal and adjust to Atlanta, but in time I began to realize that God’s plan was not for me to replace Crescent Hill, but to be open to a new home and a new place for God to have me serve and grow. In the summer of 1992 I wanted to find a Vacation Bible School close to home for Adam and John to attend. A friend, Jeff Siebert, found “Big Star Baptist”, AKA Towne View and it was quickly obvious that this was our home.
When we became members of Towne View Jim and Priscilla Conrad were not yet at Towne View. My sons grew up here and were a part of the growth of the church. John and Lindy met and married here at Towne View. Although both the church and my family have been through times of celebration and times of grief throughout the years God has been faithful. I have had the privilege of witnessing God’s faithfulness. I have had the opportunity to minister to others and I have been minister to by my church family. God has blessed me here and that blessing is available to you too.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Towne View...Now- Julie Whitfield

As a part of our 22nd anniversary service I asked Julie Whitfield to share about her family's experience in our church as "newer" members:

Pastor Conrad asked me to stand this morning and talk a little about Towne View now. The best way I know to do that to tell you a few of the reasons why jimmy and I joined this church.

We were looking for a “together” church. I was a member at Pickett’s Mill and Jimmy was a member at Acworth First Baptist before we were married. And I think we passed by this church or we saw an advertisement for it somewhere and decided to try it out. We had been to several churches at this point and none seemed to “fit”.

One of the first things that stuck out to us about the church happened early on during one of our first visits. Lily was still an infant and it was raining. Jimmy had stopped to let us out closer to the door of the church and as I looked down to unbuckle my seat belt and glanced back up a man appeared outside the car door with a large umbrella. He was waiting to help usher Lily and I into the church. I have come to know that man as Clint Nokes but we have had several of those experiences with each of our deacons. Quietly doing a little something extra to help out. At the time I thought it was a nice gesture… I have since come to recognize this as a personality trait of Towne View. A Kindness. A genuine “welcome”ness from the members that, yes, we want you here.

Another thing Jimmy and I noticed was how every time we left church and settled back into our car to start our drive home, we would compare notes. Our thoughts on the message, what spoke to us… We continually came to the same conclusion… Pastor Jim was stalking us! He had to be! I know it seems unlikely but he was consistently preaching a message that just “happened” to be the exact message that Jimmy and I each needed to hear that very week… every week. To this day we still feel that way. How the word of God is spoken each week just for us. Spoken in a way that it applies so perfectly to our lives that we couldn’t possibly fit this well anywhere else.

But what finally sealed the deal for our little family was the children’s message. Seeing the sweet parade of faces march to the front each week, soaking up every word Mr. Mark has to say. Learning and listening to him break down Gods complex message in a simple yet beautiful way… We were so excited for Lily to finally be old enough to join. This January was her first message. She talked about it for days. We, only now of course, realize that we should be worried about what comes out of her mouth while she is up there… but that’s another story. Seeing her grab her friends hands and run to hear God’s word with such excitement. Hearing it from the members of this church. That tells me every Sunday that we are right where we are supposed to be.

Since joining 3 years ago, we have realized even more that we love about this church. We love the genuine excitement about mission work. We love the amazing family events, Easter Extravaganza, Fall Family Fun Fair. But most of all, we love the friends we have found in all of you. You are Towne View and you, my church family, are an amazing group. We count ourselves lucky to have found you and to be able to worship alongside of you.

Here is to another 22 years. Happy Anniversary!

Anniversary Message- Where Do We Go from Here?


TVBC Characteristics/Priorities

In “12 Keys to an Effective Church,” Kennon Callahan says every church should have 2/3 things that it is known for on the “community grapevine.” This reputation should represent the strengths of the congregation and be the foundation for ministries/programs. Callahan advocates that churches build on their strengths and cautions that “no church can be good at everything.”

These are the strengths I identify in our congregation. You may have a different list. Some may be more aspirational than actual. But it is important that we know who we are in order to know where we are going. The world in which we live challenges us to pack light- to pack strategically- for the journey into service.

• By building and maintaining facilities that are attractive, accessible, and available.
• By creating an atmosphere that is comfortable and inviting regardless of age, ethnicity, or socio-economic status.
• By crafting worship services that honor God and inspire attenders in active participation and blend a variety of elements and musical styles.

Connected to the Community:
• By providing quality programs geared to families with children. (i.e. Vacation Bible School, Fall Family Fun Fair, & Community Easter Eggstravaganza)
• By actively developing relationships with community partners. (i.e. Chalker Elementary School, Highland Court Senior Residences, Laurel’s Edge Senior Apartments, and Baptist Collegiate Ministries @ Kennesaw State University, starting tonight, Campus Church)
• By intentionally sharing facilities with the community. (i.e. Cobb County Board of Elections, neighborhood groups, weddings, school & scout groups, interest groups like dulcimer and crochet groups, and other not-for-profit/service agencies)

Missional Mindset:
• By encouraging lay involvement/leadership in all areas of church life.
• By challenging persons to service through personal mission action.
• By building on-going ministry partnerships through prayer, participation, promotion, and the provision of resources that enable the church to minister locally, nationally, and globally.

Let’s never forget:
• Who we belong to!
• What God has done for us!
• What God has for us to do!

We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1Peter 2:9 (adapted)

Anniversary Message- How Did We Get Here?

• We’re here because over 50 years ago Bob Franklin and Floyd Roebuck were classmates at Howard College (now Samford University) in Birmingham; in the 1980’s Dr. Franklin would lead Noonday Baptist Association to start a new church in the Kennesaw area and Dr. Roebuck would lead First Baptist Church of Rome to share generously of people and money to sponsor the new church
• We’re here because in their retirement Wayne Olsen came to Marietta to volunteer his time as a church start strategist; businessman Bob Eubanks shared generously of his financial resources; and Monroe Swilley served as interim pastor in those first critical months
• We’re here because folks like the Burketts and Tollisons and Laniers and Joneses left established churches to help start a new one; we’re here because friends and neighbors invited each other; we’re here because Gene Lanier drove down from Calhoun each Sunday to help care for babies in the nursery; we’re here because Joe and Elaine Stukes took the risk of bringing their three preschoolers and becoming the first black members of our congregation; we’re here because in time of controversy and discouragement there were those who held strong to the vision of Towne View Baptist Church; we’re here because in time a young congregation opened its arms to older adults; we’re here because God brought Locksana Karanja to Kennesaw from Kenya and opened doors to internationals; we’re here because God has brought people from all walks of life, indeed from all over the world, to this community, to this church. We’re here because folks looked beyond a motel conference room, looked beyond a shopping center, looked beyond a school cafeteria, looked beyond trailers to see a church!

Anniversary Message- Where Are We?

We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1Peter 2:9 (adapted)

Happy Anniversary!!

• We gather to worship in a building worth over $1 million sitting on just over six acres of land worth over $1 million- DEBT FREE!
• We finished the 2010 fiscal year with the second highest budget income in church history; and due to your generosity and God’s provision we were able to keep expenses below budget levels; exceed our goal for budget income; repay ourselves monies borrowed from designated accounts; and finish the year with a little money in the bank!
• On the down-side our attendance figures for Sunday School and worship have remained basically on a plateau for about the last ten years
• On the up-side our involvement with missions and ministry is at an all-time high: our deacons administer a benevolence ministry that touches dozens of families in the community and in our fellowship; our partnership with Baptist Collegiate Ministries facilitates 100-120 KSU and Southern Polytechnic students worshiping here each Tuesday night; our members- adults and teens- have shared their faith and their hard work from Smyrna TN to New Orleans LA to Manteno IL to Grant park in Atlanta to Honduras and locally with Storehouse Ministries and Chalker Elementary School; later in 2011 Ben Gribble will be on mission in Cambodia and our members will return to help Paul and Judy Ridgway open the Transition Center in Bulgaria; travel to Ogden UT with Builders for Christ; and return to serve with Community Servants at the Wherry Housing Cooperative in Smyrna TN and to reach seafarers by assisting Global Maritime Ministries at the Port of New Orleans.
• We are in a time of uncertainty as our Site Planning Committee helps envision future ministries, facilities, and land use and as our Personnel Committee evaluates ministry and staffing needs in light of Keith’s resignation as Minister of Music and Trey and Jen’s move to their new mission work later in May.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Remembering the Future

Anniversaries are generally exciting times of celebration. An anniversary inevitably leads one to look back to "how things started" and to look ahead to what the future might hold.

This Sunday we will celebrate the twenty-second anniversary of the first public worship service of what we know today as Towne View Baptist Church.We have folks working on meal preparations, planning music and worship, enlisting testimonies, and making preparation for baptism. It should be a wonderful day of worship and celebration, a time for looking back with gratitude and looking ahead with anticipation.

A few are still with us who were a part of the preparations for that first service. I am sure that week was filled with procurement of equipment and supplies, preparation for worship, and follow-up with invitees from surrounding neighborhoods. It had to be an exciting, frightening, faith-stretching venture!

We are the inheritors of the faith and sacrifice of those who came before us. An anniversary is a good time to remember and give thanks for those who came before us, and the God who guided them along the way.An anniversary is also a good time to think about the future and the gifts we will leave to those who come after us... and to commit ourselves and our church once again to the God who guides us along the way.

O may all who come behind us find us faithful;
May the light of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave lead the to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
O may all who come behind us find us faithful.

text by Jon Mohr