Why We Joined First Baptist Church of Bellingham
This will be a longer than normal testimonial as I first wanted to explain why each criteria I utilized in examining potential Christian churches were important prior to my. There were six requirements I was specifically looking to find in a prospective church two years ago when God led me to terminate my membership with our then current church.
I found all six essentials of membership self-evident in the First Baptist Church of Bellingham, MA. Following are the list of the six criteria, why they were important, and my evaluation of FBC Bellingham, MA.
FIRST: the minister — it was absolutely essential that the minister of any church we joined be called of God to be a minister. Mark 10:42-44 says “The Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you, but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be the servant of all.”
Therefore, it was crucial for the minister of the prospective church to recognize the ministry is not a place of being served — not of people waiting on him. nor honoring him, nor responding to him simply because he was the pastor. The church was built by God to be a place of serving people, even if that meant going out of one’s way constantly and doing whatever was or is necessary. The pastor had to be an enthusiastic servant.
This is the most important attitude for any pastor to have in the ministry. We need to serve unto the Lord because we’re going to find people who are obnoxious, unthankful, demanding, unkind and unfortunately some are quite miserable to be around. The prospective church pastor had to have the mindset, commitment and enthusiasm to serve his entire congregation as unto the Lord knowing full well that from the Lord he would receive his reward.
We spent several weeks getting to know the minister and the congregation and were delighted that Pastor Baron Rodriguez is a servant “unto the Lord.” The congregation does respect, love, serve and honor him, not because of his position or title, but because they, respect, loves, serves and honors everyone in the church. That is the kind of congregation FBC has become through his leadership.”
SECOND – The Word Of God. — We have the strong conviction that our prospective church Pastor must not only have a commitment to follow Jesus Christ, by serving his congregation, but must be committed to the Word of God as true and infallible. And these truths must form the core of his preaching, teaching, and counsel. It is our conviction that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God and anyone who doesn’t believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God has no business pastoring a church.
Pastor Baron Rodriguez believes the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God and we saw each visiting week, this Pastor boldly preaching the Word of God.
THIRD – The Basic Function of The Church — I have certain prejudices concerning the structure and functions of a church. These prejudices come from my studies of the New Testament. As I read the first three chapters of Revelation Jesus addresses the shortcomings of the seven churches of Asia. Jesus pointed out the failures of these churches, the false doctrines that had crept within, the development of a priesthood, and the establishment of a formal church organization. Jesus expressed his displeasure with all these things in His Letters to the Seven Churches. This reprimand was issued less than sixty years after the church was first founded. It sure didn’t take long for sinful man to become so corrupt and lukewarm that the Lord was ready to spew his own church out of His mouth. The churches were nauseating to Jesus.
In my studies of recorded church history for the past 2,000+ years, I do not believe the majority of churches have improved. The issues Jesus spoke about to the seven churches are still applicable to far too many churches today. So it was not prudent to look at church history to find the ideal structure and function for the “Perfect Church.” Therefore it was tantamount that our prospective church would be structured differently than most churches worldwide. But how? Well, the solution resided in the Bible.
The Bible spends quite a bit of time telling us about the early, first century church in the book of Acts. And I believe it does so for a solid reason. I wholeheartedly believe that the divine church model is found in the book of Acts. Within the New Testaments we first have the Gospel in the first four books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, followed by the history of the first church, followed by the teachings of the church, and then the future of the church and all things.
The church model that we find in the book of Acts is a church filled with the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It was a church where the Holy Spirit was the one directing its operation and ministry.
The Acts-base church must be dependent upon the Holy Spirit. In Acts 13:2-3, we find the Holy Spirit saying “Separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” In Acts 13:2-3, Paul uses such phrases as, “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us.” Acts 15:28 says “They tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.” Again, in Acts 16:7. These men were led by the Spirit, guided by the Spirit, and sought the direction of the Holy Spirit.
The functions of God’s church are clearly articulated in Acts 2:42. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers.”
As I looked for a new home church I resolved that the church must ….. and these four foundations must be instituted within the congregation and leadership.
1. be led by Holy Spirit which is directing its daily operations and ministry.
2. The Congregation was steadfastly in the Word of God, teaching the Apostles; doctrines.
3. The fellowship of the believers in the body of Christ;
4. The congregation observing and participating in the breaking of the bread.
5. The pastor and congregation must be a people of prayer.
When I visited First Baptist Church of Bellingham I saw a church totally committed and immersed in the study of God’s Word. I was constantly amazed by the depth of understanding each member had of the Scripture. They knew God’s Word and they put it in action. They weren’t just hearers of the word, but also doers. They challenged us by their lifestyles to become a better Christian. You see they were models of what they had learned from God’s Word.
So many members approached us with fellowship and the church is always holding functions to provide a warm, loving, and hospitable environment several times weekly for both members and visitors.
This is a church that practices communion Sunday and the ordinance of Baptism. They are seasoned prayer warriors with scarred knees from praying for each other, the governments, the full body of Christ and the unsaved throughout the world.
FOURTH — The Great Commission
The Word of God was the top priority in the ministry of the early church along with prayer. The first century Christians gave themselves to the teaching of God’s Word, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47). When the church is what God intends it to be, when the church is doing what God wants it to do, then the Lord will do what He wants to do for the church. And that includes in Him adding daily to the church those that should be saved.
Acts 4:2 defines how a church is to be led by the Holy Spirit and the congregation’s four primary functions, and Acts 1:8 defines the prime directive (Great Commission) of the church. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
God’s intent for His church was for His believers sharing with the unsaved what God had done for them, what the Gospel message was and how to come to Jesus and receive salvation, and to answer the many, many questions bound to arise in caring out the Great Commission. This commitment level was high in church of Acts. Evangelistic preaching, preparing saints to witness, to start churches, sending missionaries throughout the known world, and the personal willingness of each member to share God’s impact on their lives to whomever God led to them. The members emulated their apostle leadership and the Lord added daily to their numbers. And the first Christian Church were known by their love.
At First Baptist Church I have witnessed members and the pastor constantly sharing their faith as the Holy Spirit provides opportunity. Their commitment to personal evangelism, of being a strong, strong witness to the community, and assisting in the spread of the Gospel throughout the world is second to none. Any church member will work with anyone to motivate them, to share how to witness and how to live as Christ so lived. I have seen the membership do this sacrificially and lovingly over and over. They will tutor new Christians to help them to understand God’s Word though the early days. While this church is not perfect, they are a model church of Acts.
FIFTH – Their Love John 13:34-35 says “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, as I have loved you , that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Not only does Jesus command that Christians love one another, but he makes it the requirement in someone’s adherence to God’s word. A disciple is a follower or a learner. It refers to someone who takes up the ways of someone else. Applied to Jesus, a disciple is someone who learns from Him to live just like Him.
From the first day we visited, this congregation and pastor showered us with Godly love. We were invited to everything. They understood how difficult and time consuming it is for someone to visit and evaluate the church to make sure this is a Godly membership in which to worship and commune. They worked with us and shared everything they knew so we could make an informed decision with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We were more than pleased when God called us as members. And their love has continued unabated over the past two years. We have loved and shared and rejoiced with everyone through the many joyful events and tragedies that life has bestowed upon each of us. I have never seen a more caring or loving church. They have walked with us compassionately through the worst of times like our son’s death and the best of times like our 50th wedding anniversary. We walk with them to bring our love, our compassion, and our caring hearts to those members and friends that need us so. Such a praying and active church.
SIXTH – All Glory To God
The glory of the First Baptist Church of Bellingham, MA is God Almighty, Creator of all things. This church glorifies God constantly by revealing the character and the presence of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ is seen and reflected in this membership.
I feel privileged to be a member of this arm of the Church of Acts. This is the right kind of church and is making a difference in its community, as well as its membership. I encourage anyone looking for a home church that honors and worships Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to spend some visits here. Get to know us. I would love to know you.
Darrell & Adriana Crow
Members since 2018