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Sunday School

 Dear Church Family,

        When you hear the words “Sunday School”, what comes to mind?  I’ve received many different answers such as:  exciting, boring, crowded, the best thing going, love it, hate it, can’t wait to come back, great teaching, boring teacher, great fellowship, friendships, where I was saved, where God called me to teach.  You might even want to add to the list.
        Our church is participating in an eleven month training to help get our Sunday School where it needs to be.  Surveys have been done on churches that are growing and the results were that the Sunday School was the key to their growth.  The Sunday Schools were organized and functioning well at every turn.  The teachers were team players, willing to do what was necessary for growth.  They led by example.  The talked it up in class.  Their classes had prayer leaders, fellowship leaders, group leaders and prospects they were contacting regularly.  They had a heart to reach people.  Each class set goals and they worked hard to reach those goals.  Growing Sunday Schools start new classes, which means people are volunteering to teach or to grow with a new teacher to help get the new class started.
I recently went through the rolls and discovered that we have 177 people who attend Sunday School, however, not on every Sunday.  With a little encouragement and effort, I believe we could average more each Sunday.
        We are having High Attendance Sunday in Sunday School on September 13.  I believe we could easily have 150 in Sunday School that day.  If we all show up and bring someone with us, who knows how many we could have!  See you Sunday with a Bible in your hand a smile on your face.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 

Voting to move forward..

Dear Church Family,
        On July 12, we had our Quarterly Church Conference.  At that meeting, the church voted to move forward with plans to build the multi-purpose building.  We voted to allow Parrish Construction of Perry to be the contractor.  We voted to allow the pre-construction phase to begin.  We voted to submit the plans to the city upon Parrish Construction’s recommendation as to when.  We voted to be approved for a loan from the bank for construction and final financing minus monies we have in the bank.  Construction will not begin until next year.
I am asking everyone to be faithful to your commitments you made toward the building.  We need to give all we can over this next year so we can reduce what we have to borrow from the bank. Please pray much about all of these plans, that God would guide us every step of the way.
Also on September 20, Mark Mirza with Common Thread Ministries will be with us all day leading us in a prayer conference.  Mark led Charles Stanley’s Men’s Prayer Ministry for 4 1/2 years.  Mark your calendar, you will not want to miss this.
Our 91st Annual Homecoming is October 4.  Make plans to bring someone with you that day and let’s celebrate what God has done through the years.
Last, but not least, is our Revival meetings November 1-4.  Randy Mullinax works in the Evangelism Department of the Georgia Baptist Convention.  He is full of energy, loves the Lord, and he will keep your attention.  Pray much, make plans to invite lost people, and let’s believe in God for a harvest.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 

Faith

Dear Church Family,
        As you read this newsletter, my family and I are away on vacation to get some rest and relaxation.  Our first stop will be in Charleston where nine people were gunned down while having a Bible Study.  Our next stop will be in Oak Island where the two kids were attacked by sharks.  Swimming there should be very interesting.  Did I mention we are away for rest and relaxation?  There will be 28 of us in our house eating I can’t tell you how many pounds of food, cutting up and having the time of our lives.
I want you to know that while I am having a great time away with my family, I will miss my church family.  I love being with all of you.  You are a great group of people and I am blessed to have the privilege to serve with you.
God is doing some amazing things at Oakland.  Souls are being saved, God has sent us some key people to serve in our AWANA ministry, our Youth ministry, our choir.  We set a record in attendance at our last Men’s Meeting in May.  God has provided us with another bus.  We already have over $200,000 dollars in our building fund.  God has answered so many prayers since we started our prayer ministry.  Keep it up!
Every Sunday, people come to church expecting God to do something.  I’ve had people say, “I wonder what God is going to do today”?  That’s what faith will do...it will cause you to believe God for the next thing or something even greater.  Let’s not grow weary in well doing.  Pray for the lost by name, invite people, and be here every time the doors are open, or you might just miss what God will do!

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 

Are you committed?

Dear Church Family,
        In my quiet time, the subject of commitment came up.  I thought about it for a while.  How was my commitment to pray regularly and faithfully?  How was my commitment to meeting with my Lord daily, Bible reading, study?  How was my commitment to serve others, to share my faith, the gospel, invite people to church?  How was my commitment to my wife, my family?
        Then, I thought about our church - the people - not a building.  How committed is our church?  How committed are our deacons, Sunday School teachers, children’s workers, youth workers?  How committed are our choir members, committee members?  How committed is each member to Sunday School?  How committed are people to read the newsletter or the bulletin?
God is real!  Church is no joke!  Commitment matters!  If I’m going to pastor, I need to be committed to study and prayer.  A deacon needs to be committed to serve joyfully.  Sunday School teachers should be committed to study and prayer.  Children and Youth workers should be committed to teach our children and to live that life before our kids.  Choir members should be committed to practice.  Committee members should be committed to giving their all to make sure the area they are over is functioning the best that it can with the resources it has.  Every member should support the Sunday School every Sunday, unless prohibited. If all of us would just pick our commitment level up one notch, all would benefit from it.
Let’s be real Christians, not hypocrites.  Don’t say you love the church and then not be committed to it.  Every member should make an effort to be at all worship services possible.  Every member should support the church through giving tithes and offerings.  Let’s be committed!

Serving the Savior, 
Pastor Mike
 

Building Together as One

Dear Church Family,
        Our “Building Together As One” Banquet was a great time together.  We had good food, we heard new talent as they ministered to us through song, and then I challenged us to “Bountiful Living Through Bountiful Giving”.  Many pledged that night to give toward the Building Campaign.  Others took their commitment cards home to continue praying about what they should give.  Some of you were not able to make it to the banquet and you do not have a commitment card.  You can see me and I will be glad to give you one.  The goal is everyone doing their part.  With the money we have in the bank and the commitments made, we have $314,309.00 pledged.  Some of you have been giving already, however, May 3 will be our Kick-off Sunday.  I’m asking each person to come prepared to give a special gift that Sunday to start the campaign.  God is at work and we will see this building erected.
I want to say a word about Sunday School.  I was a Minister of Education for years and I have worked with churches to have a vibrant Sunday School.  Recent statistics show that small group Bible Studies are still the tool of thriving churches.  They will only be that if they are organized, making contacts of members and prospects and being faithful to attend regularly.  Every member of the Sunday School must do their part to make it a great experience.  Would you make a commitment to do your part to encourage people to be in Sunday School each week?  Encourage your teachers who study each week to teach you by being faithful in attendance.
God is going to do a new thing here, at Oakland Baptist Church and I give Him all the praise for it all.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 

Word of God

Dear Church Family,
        In Romans 10:17 it says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”.  Now if we take that literally, then every time we hear the Word of God spoken or we read it, we should be increasing in our faith.  And if you have been doing that for years, shouldn’t you be a giant for Jesus?  I would say yes to that.  However, the problem lies with the word “hearing”.  What does “hearing” mean?  It does not mean just hearing words spoken.  It means you hear to the point of understanding.  You received the Word of God in your heart and life.
I Thessalonians 2:13 says, “For this cause, also thank we God without ceasing because, when you received the Word of God which you heard of us,  you received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
As a pastor, I rejoice when I know someone is grasping truth and that truth is setting them free from sin and they begin to live in victory in an area of their life where they once were in bondage. I also am saddened when people hear what was said from God’s Word but they reject the truth and they won’t let the truth work in their lives.  Instead, they continue to live in bondage to sin. 
Friend, are you hearing the Word of God?  Is it changing your life?  One preacher asked his congregation, “Do you have your ears on?”  When we come to church, let’s come ready to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 

Prayer

Dear Church Family,
        The Pastor’s Prayer Ministry launched with forty-plus people participating in praying every day for me and my family and all the ministries in the church as well as the lost by name.  On Tuesday nights at 6:00pm, people are gathering to pray. We pray until the Lord is through with us.  The numbers in attendance have been increasing.  As a result of the increased prayer activity, almost instantly things began to happen.  Our visitors on Sunday morning increased, people have been joining the church, the music has been glorious, I have more freedom in the pulpit, people have been sharing their faith and the Gospel more.  There is a spiritual excitement that is catching.  People are coming looking for what God might do next.  All I can say is: “Praise God! Praise God! Praise God!”  I believe all this is NOT of man, but of God.
On March 15, we will have High Attendance in Sunday School.  We could put a number on it, but I believe if we each work hard to bring one, the numbers will take care of themselves.  We will baptize three that Sunday.  If you haven’t been baptized, this would be a great time to do it.  Let us know if you would like to.
Starting now, you will begin to hear more and more about our building campaign and on April 18 we will have a Building Campaign Banquet.  It will be a time of inspiration and commitment.  Would you begin to pray about how much you can sacrificially commit to the Building Campaign.  This is a God-sized project and will take a God-sized commitment.  Folks, this building is not an option.  It is a must.  We need it desperately.  Let’s pray much, seek God, and let’s join together to see this through.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 

First Impression

Dear Church Family,
        During greeting time in our services, it is a joy to watch how you love on one another.  I think that is wonderful.  However, recently I have noticed guests standing in their places and only one or two people coming to shake their hands.  Then when I look for them the next week, they are nowhere to be found and I have wondered if it was because they didn’t feel welcome.  I want to exhort you to be alert, look around, and when you spot a guest, be ready to make your way to them to let them know how glad we are that they are worshiping with us.  First impressions can make the difference whether they return or not.
Wow!   Forty-four people signed up for the Pastor’s Prayer Partner Ministry.  I can’t wait to see what God is going to do as a result of all of you praying daily for your Pastor and my family, our staff, church ministries, the lost, and many other things God will call on us to pray about.  We will launch this ministry February 1.  There will be a meeting that afternoon at 5:00pm in the Sanctuary for those who have signed up.
The church has voted to move forward with a building campaign to raise the funds to build our multi-purpose building.  This campaign will last three years.  We will be asking each person and/or family to participate in this endeavor.  We will need all hands on deck, as they say.  Let’s be praying much about our commitments.  This is not a man-sized thing, it is a God-sized thing.  It will take faith, commitment that stays the course, and much prayer.  Remember, faith as a (grain of pepper) or mustard seed can move a mountain.  Faith without doubting will get the job done.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 

"State of the Church"

Dear Church Family,
        I hope each and everyone of you had a very merry Christmas.  Thank you for all the cards and gifts.  You are such a blessing to me.  I’m so thankful the Lord has given me the privilege to be your Pastor.
        God sure was good to us in 2014.  On January 10, in the morning service, I will give my annual “State of the Church” message.  I will tell of our accomplishments for 2014, and lay out our plans for 2015.  Please make plans to be at church that Sunday.  This may be the most important message I’ve preached to date.
One thing I always do at the end of a year is to reflect on my spiritual journey for that year.  It usually starts with a conversation with God.  I want to know if I did everything He asked me to do.  I reflect on my spiritual growth, what I read, what I studied, how I shared my faith, my attitude, my willingness to give to help others, just to name a few.  Why do I do that?  I want my life to count.  I want to obey God.  I want to be faithful to Him. Life is too short just to go through it never evaluating how it’s going. 
Then I ask God to show me what He wants for me in the next year.  All of this takes time, but it is worth it.  It gives life purpose and fulfillment.
I want to encourage you to do it.  Take some time to reflect and plan.  I’m convinced your life will be rewarded if you do.  May God accomplish all He wants to in your live and in mine in 2015.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 

Christmas

Dear Church Family,
       As long as we keep Christ central in our celebration of Christmas, is there anything wrong with celebrating Christmas using the traditions of our culture? 
       In his book, “the Five Love Languages,” Gary Chapman describes ways people communicate their love toward one another.  “Words of affirmations, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch” are the five love languages.
These are also the elements of our Christmas traditions. We speak words of affirmation and share love with one another.  We spend quality time together.  We give and receive gifts.  Many are  chosen after great labor and thought have gone into them.  We do acts of service, such as putting toys together or preparing the perfect meal.  In doing these things, we express our love to one another.  We hold children, hug one another and even say, “I love you”.
I will join the critics of Christmas and say it is possible to over-shop and over-spend, but I must look at the intent and realize that its is impossible to over-love. 
Some will miss the mark and spend all their time and energy following traditions and miss the wonder of Christmas.  That’s a tragedy when Christ is left out of Christmas. Others, on the other hand, will remember the mystery of God becoming man and ponder the love of God who gave the best gift of all, salvation through Jesus Christ.
Enjoy your family, enjoy your traditions, and enjoy the wonder that God became man to save us from our sins. 
“Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:11 
Merry Christmas!

Serving the Savior, 
Pastor Mike
 
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