Fellowship, foyers, & Bambi Lake
FENTON, MI – Family? Friendship? Community? Network? Whatever you call it does not matter, but you know it when you experience it at its best. You also know when that connection is missing from your life, and that is why the www.bscm.org/smo is more important this month than usual.
A professor in seminary emphasized how every space in a church building or a gathering place should be maximized for people. He lamented the rooms where cartons of records or papers sat, year after year, until a moldy, musty odor filled the air. The professor winced when he recalled 4 out-of-tune, dusty pianos that filled a potential Bible study classroom, stating, “They looked like corpses awaiting burial.” I challenge you to take a look at the place where you gather for church and see if it’s true.
That same professor, however, would raise his voice with excitement when he told us how those who attended worship would give a certain amount to the church. He went on to explain that those who took part in discipleship groups or Bible studies would give yet another average percentage. Basically, what he said was those who shared life more often in a church would give more because that gathering place and the people who met there meant more to them. He even mentioned fellowship halls, saying the fellowship hall is where people spend time with one another sharing life so do not be afraid to provide that space for your people.
The last congregation I served was CrossPointe Church in Monroe, Michigan. The people in that church are genuine and caring people. When you go there you make friends in the first hour. We had two morning services split by a thirty-minute transition time to accommodate the growth. People flooded out of the building and exited the parking lot while others tried to stream in for the next service. It was choreographed well by all of the volunteers and people who loved people.
There was an overwhelming challenge with the space. What we called a fellowship hall was about the size of most living rooms. We also lacked a foyer or entryway of any size. Our people, on Sundays, shared their lives visiting in the sanctuary and in the 8-foot wide hallways wrapped around the building. We made it work because we loved spending time with one another. Men, during winter, would joke that if you were not careful you would put your arm through someone else’s winter coat in the foyer of the church. Everyone kept their smiles and chuckled at the closeness of our fellowship.
All of this to say, this month we are using the State Missions Offering and Week of Prayer, September 10-17, to kick off a yearlong collection for the Bambi Lake Baptist Retreat and Conference Center in Roscommon, Michigan. That incredible facility has fallen into disrepair so our goal is $500,000 in one year! Bambi needs improvements that more people of all ages might gather to worship, learn and grow in the Lord. All of the collected funds will go directly toward renovations and improvements. The retreat and conference center is a treasured space among our churches so join me in making a difference. Let’s make Bambi better! This year our theme is be a difference maker, #MIdifferencemaker, “We believe in the power of one.” You can be that one person who makes a difference by supporting the State Missions Offering for 2017.
You can also learn more at:
“We believe in the power of one,” means one more:
Salvation at the camp is worth our investment
Contribution can make a difference for the next generation
Christian surrendering to service will change the world
Life turned obediently toward God will create a revolution
I’m hoping you will join me as we start giving to the campaign to improve Bambi Lake. This month let’s start the event off with big gifts and big dreams. Then over the course of the remaining 12 months let’s find ways to contribute each month to that special place of fellowship.
Bambi Lake is not wasted space. Back in 1958, approximately 100 people stood and prayed over the property envisioning what God would do with the woods and a 13-acre lake. I cannot estimate the number of salvations and re-dedications, in nearly 50 years, that have occurred at the retreat center but our Heavenly Father knows each one of them in full detail.
Bambi Lake is not tight space. There are 240 acres on which you can walk, visit, or meditate. There are spaces for fun, worship, and late night fires. You can camp in a tent or stay the night in one of the lodge rooms with a complete meal three times a day. The choice is yours.
Bambi Lake is important to me because it is our gigantic fellowship hall and our natural entryway with the sky for a ceiling. It is the one place on earth where our church members meet from time to time during retreats and conferences. Marriages are saved. Lives are redeemed. People surrender to Christ things that need to be released. It’s the one place in Michigan where we are not members of separate churches instead we get to feel what it’s like to be united in Christ even though we come from every corner, shoreline, and town throughout the state. For a few days during each event, we are family. We are friends. We are community. We form a network. Let’s spend September and the next 12 months proving that we believe in a bright future for God’s people throughout Michigan.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.