I want to say something about what we want Redeemer Baptist Church of Panama to be. We want to be a church that connects with the community. We don’t want to be merely a meeting place for people who drive in from outside of Panama. We want to reach people in the community we are located in. We also don’t want to be viewed as building a personal kingdom–that is, we are not merely trying to get people in the doors so we can finance what we want to do and boast about our numbers. Instead, we want to help make the community noticeably better because we are there.
So how can we do this? Some of it we are already beginning.
- We have invited an already existing addiction recovery group to come form a new group in our building. This is purely a service to the community. We would love it if some of the people who get help decide to come to worship with us, but it’s OK if they don’t. We just want to give to the community with no strings attached.
- We volunteered to help with the community Easter Egg hunt sponsored by the VFW. Lot’s of churches will hold their own egg hunt, but we don’t have the resources, and even if we did, we wouldn’t want to compete with what is already good in the community. So, we approached the local VFW and just asked how we could help. I, Jerad, stuffed eggs and hid them. This may not seem like much, but it is just a small step toward building trust and being seen as a church that wants to be a blessing to the community.
- We have invited a team from the Illinois Baptist State Association to come help us on a major project this June. We want to do something that will address a real need in the community, so we have invited people from the community to sign up for us to come power wash their houses. Again, this doesn’t sound all that “spiritual,” but our aim is that we want to show that we love the community because we love Jesus. Matthew 5:16 says, “. . . let your light so shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” We want people to “see our good works,” and we want this to cause them to bring glory to God. Will everyone who we wash a house for come to our church? Of course not. We would love it if some do, but that isn’t our aim. We want to do good works that bring glory to God.