The Value of Remembering

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May. This important holiday is not just another “day off” but a day to remember those who have lost their lives in the military service of our country.

Remembering is a painful but necessary discipline. Remembering the historical facts should help us to remain consciously aware of the harsh realities of national and international conflict. Remembering the stories of battle may enable us to learn from both the successes and the failures of our national heritage. Remembering the fallen keeps alive the individual and corporate legacies of valor and courage that inspire and challenge us to be responsible citizens of the free world.

To fail to remember is to develop a toxic amnesia that robs succeeding generations of acquaintance with their national ancestry. To fail to remember creates a contagious apathy that leads to a neglect of both freedom and citizenship. To fail to remember may result in a false sense of protection and exemption from future warfare. A loss of memory eventually leads to a loss of national identity. Remembering is a painful but necessary discipline.

What are some things we can do to help remember and commemorate the contributions of those who lost their lives in battle?

· Read biographies of world leaders, military generals, POW’s, and holocaust survivors.
· Read historical accounts of crucial battles.
· View a documentary or movie that realistically portrays the stories of war.
· Visit historic sites such as battlefields, monuments, and military cemeteries.
· Visit with a veteran and listen firsthand to stories from the heat of battle.
· Give thanks for those who have fought for freedom and justice.
· Pray for those who are serving in the military service today.
· Pray and work for freedom, justice, and world peace.
· Practice and preserve religious liberty.
· Exercise your rights and fulfill your responsibilities as a citizen.

In The Roadmender Margaret Fairless Barber proposed that “To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward.”

Today is Memorial Day…A day to look backward with gratitude and to look forward with determination.

(Barry Howard serves as senior minister at First Baptist Church of Pensacola, Florida.)

Catching on to the Emerging Renaissance

By Barry Howard

Last week our church family was honored to host author, minister, motivational speaker, and leadership coach, Reggie McNeal.  Reggie led a Missional Renaissance workshop on Tuesday for the Pensacola Bay Baptist Association at the ROC and then joined us for our Midweek Gathering in Chipley Hall on Wednesday evening.

During our Midweek Gathering, in an interview format, I had the opportunity to engage Reggie in a conversation about his most recent book, Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church.  As much as anyone I know, Reggie is in touch with what it means to be a missional (or mission-driven) church in the 21st century. He highlights evidence of how the Spirit is orchestrating a renaissance, an energizing movement calling the people of God to get outside the walls of the church and serve others in Jesus’ name.

As Reggie articulated with wit and unmistakable clarity perspectives that I have been trying to shape into words for the past few years, I took numerous notes on Tuesday and Wednesday. As I continue to reflect and digest what I heard, I have extracted some one-liners that I want to remember, relevant and applicable observations that I will call Reggie-isms:

Ø      The church doesn’t have a mission; the mission has a church.

Ø      The Spirit is running wild in the streets again.

Ø      The fastest growing spiritual group in America is “unaffiliated.”

Ø      Anyone who wants to move into the future by going back to something in the past, I would consider suspect.

Ø      The Spirit doesn’t wait for everybody to get on board to move forward.

Ø      Only church people think a service is service.

Ø      The Spirit is running wild in the streets again and having a different conversation with many people than the conversation that pre-occupies you at church.

Ø      The church is not a what but a who.

Ø      Most of you grew up seeing the kingdom of God through church lenses.  The missional renaissance sees the church through kingdom lenses.

Ø      Redemption means that everything sin has broken, God is fixing.

Ø      Let the Spirit have the joy stick to your brain and show you God’s plan.

Ø      Learn to minister to those who aren’t church-broken.

Ø      The enemy of your soul whispers fear to you all the time and if you listen to that roar you cannot hear the Spirit speak.

Ø      Much like an airport, the church is not the destination but a connector to help people get to where they need to be.

Ø      We are not called to simply go to church.  We are called to be the church.

Reggie contends that “disinterest in institutional cultural Christianity will accelerate.” That makes the old scorecard which seemed to rank churches based on budgets, buildings, and baptisms, completely invalid. 

What should be on the new scorecard?  That may differ as each church customizes its scorecard and its ministry, giving greater attention to people development, life coaching, and a more “external” ministry agenda.  As a result, missional communities will emerge from inside and outside the institutional church, “communities that order their lives around communion, caring, and celebration.”

Some of us have some catching up to do. I’m convinced that the Spirit doesn’t want the church to be left behind.

(Barry Howard serves as senior minister at the First Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida.)