Don't Settle for Mud Pies

In his sermon last weekend at the West Campus, Ken Lippold (Director of Equipping Ministries at FBCG) took a page from Pastor Jeff’s book by quoting C.S. Lewis:

"Our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak. We are half hearted creatures fooling around with drink ... and ambition when infinite joy is offered us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday by the sea. We are far too easily pleased." (The Weight of Glory)

How true! How often do we find ourselves focused on and settling for far less than the joy, peace, contentment, and pleasure that God wants to give us? How often do we settle for the "mud pies" that our culture tries to force-feed us – instead of refusing to accept anything less than the "holiday by the sea" that is the promise and purpose of Christ?

We want to start off the New Year with a spiritual challenge for the entire FBCG family! This weekend Jeff and I will begin a 9 week series entitled, TAKING HOLD: Knowing and following Jesus. Each week we will focus on one dimension of spiritual growth that is absolutely essential to our maturity as followers of Jesus. Each week will be accompanied by a spiritual challenge – an action, a decision, a discipline – that we believe God can and will use in your life – in our church – for his purposes.

A Daily Devotional called 10 Minutes with God will be posted on this blog each day during the series.

It occurs to me that the coming of a New Year can mean either doing the same old things and living the same old life for another year on the calendar – or – committing to doing some NEW things and living a NEW kind of life. I think if God were making the choice for us – he would most likely choose the NEW over the old – don’t you?

Make this the year of TAKING HOLD of all God wants for you! Join us this weekend as we begin 2010 at FBCG.

10 Minutes with God: Connecting Sunday to your week

We have created a devotional guide as a companion to the “Taking Hold” sermon series in order to help you build the practices of prayer and scripture study into your daily life.

For the next 8 weeks you will find a daily (Monday through Friday) devotional guide on this blog. We encourage you to establish a consistent time and place for your “10 minutes with God” – and to keep your Bible and a small notebook (journal) close at hand.

Thanks for joining us in the adventure of “10 minutes with God!”

A Christmas Tradition

Most families have a number of Christmas traditions that they look forward to repeating year after year. Maybe you light Advent candles, bake cookies together, or watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” every year. Traditions are a big part of how we celebrate the story of Christ’s birth. And the same is true for our church family!

One of our fun church family traditions is gathering to worship on Christmas Eve. This year we have four services scheduled:

3:00 p.m. West (child care)

4:00 p.m. East (child care)

5:00 p.m. West (child care)

6:00 p.m. East (no child care provided)

We will sing carols, listen to the children’s bell choir (at the 3:00, 4:00 and 5:00 pm services), read the timeless story of God entering this world as a baby, and we will worship our newborn King. But there is another unique tradition that I want you to be prepared for – and that is our special Christmas Eve offering. Every year we give a generous gift somewhere outside the walls of FBCG – and usually to a project that involves children.

This year our gift will go to Kenya Children’s Fund – an organization that provides Christian education, nutrition and health care to some of the poorest children in Africa. Among the children served are the Kuan children – 13 children from the same family who are refugees from the war in Sudan. FBCG has had a significant ministry to this family over the last few years – and we hope that by our gift this Christmas we can help make sure the children are cared for in the coming years.

Thank you for being part of the FBCG family tradition - and may the love and joy of Christ fill your home and your hearts this Christmas!

A Giving Spirit

When I checked my voice mail messages this past Monday I had a message from an FBCG member who said he had a “question about Prepare the Way.” I have to admit I wondered if the question might be critical because I know that sometimes talking about money makes people uncomfortable. When I returned the call, the man explained his question to me. “I have some money,” he said, “and I want to know if you want me to give it all now, or if you would rather I save some in case there is a building campaign next year?” I love calls like that!

He didn’t ask me to explain Prepare the Way to him. He didn’t need me to convince him why he should consider participating in our initiative to reduce our debt. He had already decided in his heart that the money in his possession did not belong to him – so he was ready to give it back to the Lord. He just needed to know when and how (I ended up telling him that giving half now and half later would be just great!)" That’s what I would call a “giving spirit.”

The Bible teaches that generosity does not begin with money; that is, our giving does not depend on how much we have. The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus watching a poor widow who gave the equivalent of a couple of pennies to God while the affluent were making a show of their large donations. Of this woman Jesus said, “…this poor widow has given more than all the rest.” What Jesus meant, of course, was that generosity is a condition and decision of the heart before it is anything else.

At Christmas time we think a lot about giving. We spend a great deal of time, energy and money in order to give gifts to those we love. And that is good. But I want to encourage you to expand your giving this Christmas season to include the One who loved you first! The man who called my office did so not so much because his bank account was full – but because his heart was full.

Our giving always reflects the condition of our hearts; which is another way of saying we give to that which we love – just like God.

“For God so loved the world that he gave….” – John 3:16

Celebrating the wonder of God’s love,

Pastor Brian

Prepare the Way...with Thanksgiving!

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7

With the red and green lights already sprouting up around my neighborhood, it’s easy to tell that Christmas is coming! And while I look forward with anticipation to the “most wonderful time of the year” – I also suspect that Thanksgiving is the perfect preparation for our celebration of Christ’s birth. While Christmas can at times get all tangled up with our consumer-driven culture – Thanksgiving seems to resist commercialization and remains a profoundly spiritual exercise. It is the giving of thanks that reminds us of the goodness of God and the blessings he has poured out on our lives. It is the giving of thanks that reminds us of God’s love and presence made flesh through the love and presence of family and friends. It is thanksgiving that prepares us for the celebration of Christmas!

And I believe it is the giving of thanks that will propel us as a church family to Prepare the Way for God’s future in our church! Week after week I hear stories of people and families whose lives are in the process of being transformed by the power of Christ. Week after week I see people investing their time, talent and treasure in serving the world in the name of Jesus and I am so proud – and thankful - to be part of FBCG!

As you know, Prepare the Way is an initiative to reduce or eliminate FBCG’s debt between now and the end of February, 2010. While I am absolutely convinced this is the right thing for us to do as a church family and that through our collective generosity God can do far more than we can imagine – I am equally convinced that our motive must be thanksgiving. We can give out of duty or obligation or guilt – but the greatest joy comes when we give out of love and thanksgiving!

As you consider your part in Prepare the Way I encourage you to do two things:

  • Remember that Prepare the Way is a challenge to give above and beyond your normal giving

  • Make your gift(s) to Prepare the Way an expression of your thanksgiving to God for all he has already given to you

May you enjoy the joy and peace of Christ as you gather with family and friends this Thursday, and may your hearts be prepared for the celebration of the Advent season!

Thanks for being part of the FBCG family!

Prepare the Way

Prepare the Way
We believe that FBCG is called to REACH the people and families of our local community, CONNECT them to the church and each other, and EQUIP them to SERVE the world in the name of Christ.

First Baptist Church

We also believe that God has not only blessed FBCG with facilities, staff, programs and over 1000 families that call FBCG home - but that he has given us a vision to reach, connect, equip and serve our community and our world as never before!

We also believe that if our vision to see more people and families reached, connected and equipped to serve is to become a reality - we must first Prepare the Way.

Prepare the Way is an initiative to reduce or eliminate FBCG's debt in order to pursue our vision for ministry. While the amount of debt we currently carry (see Questions) is certainly reasonable, we do believe it is wise stewardship to reduce our debt in order to Prepare the Way for both ministry and facility development.

Prepare the Way is an opportunity – between now and the end of February, 2010 for us as a church family to invest in the future of God’s vision for us as a church. We would like to invite everyone who calls FBCG home to consider giving above and beyond to share in this opportunity. We believe that God can and will use our collective generosity to Prepare the Way for greater things for FBCG!

Prepare the Way is a simple and straightforward challenge. We are going to reduce our debt, period. It’s the right thing to do and we believe this is the right time. You won’t be asked to make a pledge—but you will be invited into an exciting challenge. Every dollar given toward Prepare the Way will go to debt reduction – toward preparing the way for God’s future!

To participate in Prepare the Way, simply write “PTW” on your giving envelope or on the memo line of your check. For information about giving electronically or contributing capital assets (e.g. stocks) please visit Other Ways to Give

A time to be born and a time to die...

Having just preached a sermon series from the ancient book of Ecclesiastes, little did I know that these words would so quickly define my world. Just before 6:00 a.m. last Sunday morning my brother called me from the Intensive Care Unit of Summa Hospital in Akron to tell me my father had suffered a massive stroke and that the doctor had just informed him and my Mom that there was "zero chance of recovery." As a pastor I have had the privilege of sitting with many families faced with a similar decision - and while the "time" was unexpected - we were prepared to make the decision.
Through tears we agreed on the phone that if that was indeed true - then we would let Dad go into the heaven he longed for. I have never known anyone more ready to meet Jesus than my father. He and my Mom begin almost every day of their lives saying to each other, "Today might be the day." And they mean it.

Just 15 minutes after I had hung up the phone - after I had called both Lorene (who was in Indiana at the time) and my oldest son Jordan -- my brother called back. This time he said another doctor, a neurosurgeon, had met with them and gave them more information about my father's condition. He had suffered a "sub-arachnoid aneurysm" - which meant the bleeding was outside his brain - not inside -- and that his condition might be reversible. He said they could drill a hole in my Dad's skull, insert a shunt, and thereby relieve the pressure on his brain. He believed that would
create a dramatic improvement in his condition -- and if it didn't we could then make the decision to let him go. We decided to pursue that option.

By the time I arrived in Ohio late Sunday afternoon, the procedure had been done and my Dad was on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma. While his blood pressure had returned to normal - he was completely unresponsive. But the medical staff was guardedly optimistic that "things were going in the right direction."

Monday was a long and amazing day. It began with us believing it was possible that we could make a decision to let Dad go to glory, and ended with him talking to us and even making a few of his trademark wise cracks! He not only regained consciousness, but he can move his arms and legs, and his personality seems intact. He has a long way to go - but it appears that his season of life will continue for at least a while.

I share this story with you for several reasons. First, to thank so many of you for your expressions of love, concern and prayer - it means more to me and my family than you will ever know! Second, to remind all of us that the words of "The Teacher" are still true - there is indeed "a time to be born and a time to die" and neither end of that equation makes any sense until informed by the love and truth of our eternal God!

Finally I want to remind all of us of the reason my Dad was ready for his time and why we were prepared for that time. In Galatians 2:20 we read:

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who
loved me and gave himself for me."

Simply put, my Dad was ready to die because he has known for a long time that his life is not his own - but belongs to Jesus. In the same way, because his life is not his own - he is also free to live whatever days he has left in complete trust in the grace and sovereignty of God. That's the truth and power of the gospel in one man's life - and it is what the Apostle Paul wants for each of us in his letter to the Galatians.

This weekend we begin a new series of messages entitled: "Gospel of the Heart Set Free: A study from Galatians" - I hope you will join us as we take a deeper look at the wonder of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Pastor Brian

wePray Weekend

Two weeks ago we celebrated a great summer of "One-Campus worship" at our annual FBCG picnic! This weekend, Labor Day weekend, marks not only a National Holiday but the beginning of our fall season of ministry together!

In the next couple of weeks we will be launching some of our "bread and butter" programs like Children's, Student's, Women's and the TEAM Men's Ministries; in addition to a couple of new initiatives - CORE Groups and Adult Learning Communities. These programs are only a portion of the ministry to which we believe God has called us to as a church family!

We recognize that while all these programs are important - we cannot accomplish anything of significance without the power and presence of our God!

I want to invite you to participate in "wePray" - by stopping by the designated "prayer rooms" at each campus this weekend and spend some time in prayer for the people and ministries of FBCG. The East Campus prayer room is on the lower level (room 203) and the West Campus room is on the first level near the coffee bar (room 103). You can simply drop by when you can and stay as long as you can - there are prayer guides in each room for your convenience.

Thanks for your partnership in prayer!

Pastor Brian


Two weeks ago we celebrated a great summer of "One-Campus worship" at our annual FBCG picnic! This weekend, Labor Day weekend, marks not only a
National Holiday but the beginning of our fall season of ministry together!

In the next couple of weeks we will be launching some of "bread and butter" programs like Children's, Student, Women's and the TEAM Men's Ministries;
in addition to a couple of new initiatives - CORE Groups and Adult Learning Communities. These programs are only a portion of the ministry to which
believe God has called us to as a church family!

We recognize that while all these programs are important - we cannot accomplish anything of significance without the power and presence of our God!

I want to invite you to participate in "wePray" - by stopping by the designated "prayer rooms" at each campus this weekend and spend some time in
prayer for the people and ministries of FBCG. The East Campus prayer room is on the lower level (room 203) and the West Campus room is on the first
level near the coffee bar (room 103). You can simply drop by when you can and stay as long as you can - there are prayer guides in each room for your

Thanks for your partnership in prayer!

Pastor Brian

Town Hall Meetings

Next @ FBCG

"Town Hall" Meetings regarding facility design and development

All FBCGers are invited to participate in one of two "Town Hall" meetings:
  • July 23 (6-8 p.m. East Campus Sanctuary)

  • July 25 (6:15 p.m. West Campus following the Saturday service)

The purpose of these meetings is to both present the issues surrounding the continued development of FBCG facilities as well as to solicit input from the congregation. The meetings will be led by FBCG leadership as well as representatives from Aspen Group - the architect/design firm working with FBCG throughout this process.

No reservation is required - all those who call FBCG their church home are invited to participate!
 Pastor Brian

In Concert

The David Yeager Band
Saturday, July 18
6:15 p.m. West Campus

Those of you who have made our Saturday night service your "worship home" will recognize the name "David Yeager!" David was one of our regular worship leaders a couple of years ago - and has led FBCG in worship periodically since then. You may not know that David has formed a band with three guys who play regularly in our West Campus worship teams - and they have just released their first album!

We have the unique opportunity to host the David Yeager Band on Saturday evening, July 18 immediately following our Saturday worship service. The band will play a "Coffee-house" style acoustic set in our new connection space at the West Campus.

Take advantage of this opportunity not only to hear the David Yeager Band up close and personal - but also to share in the Saturday night worship experience as well!



Just a reminder that we begin 11 weeks of One-Campus worship this weekend (June6-7)!

Join your church family at the West Campus for one of our four weekend services!

5:00 p.m. Saturday Evening Worship
Intimate setting of blended worship
8:30 a.m. Traditional Worship
Hymns with organ and sanctuary choir
9:45 a.m. Blended Worship
Elements of both traditional and contemporary
11:00 a.m. Contemporary Worship
Worship band

It's Not About the Economy!

Two weeks ago I received a call from an FBCGer that almost shocked me. I say almost because I have been doing this long enough that nothing really shocks me anymore! But when the person on the other end of the call said, "God has blessed our family and we want to give a financial gift
to the church," I wasn't shocked, but I was definitely surprised!

When the caller mentioned the amount of the gift, I have to admit that something in me wanted to say, "Are you sure? You know this might not be a best time to be giving away that kind of money - with the economy and all! Maybe you should consider putting that money somewhere safe - like your mattress - for a couple of years until things get better!"

But, of course, I didn't say those things! Instead, I expressed my appreciation to the caller and helped facilitate the process of giving the gift. Over the next few days I kept thinking about that call - and the more I thought about it - the more I sensed God trying to tell me something.

We all know the economy is rough right now. Most of us have seen the value of our homes, our investments and our college funds (ouch!) decline dramatically in the past year or so. Some of us have lost income and even jobs.

We have seen our collective giving as a church family drop about 7% from last year. Back in November of '08, our leadership cut our operating budget
by 10% just to be wise and prudent with our resources. Since that time, due to the collective generosity of our church family, we have not had to make any further cuts.

And here's the point - here's what God started to show me after that phone call -- it's not about the economy! If it was, no one would be giving anything - or at least very little - because it makes no sense whatsoever to give money away if it's really about the economy. But if it's about
something else - say, God, and if God is bigger than the economy, then it makes perfect sense!

The people who are this church - that means you - continue to be generous not because they can afford to be - but because they
want to be! We give because God has blessed us. We give because God tells us to give. We give because we believe God is bigger than the economy!

Should we exercise wisdom and discernment when it comes to our personal finances? Absolutely! Will FBCG leadership continue to monitor our collective
financial health carefully? Yes, indeed! Will we stand ready to help those among and around us who are struggling through our Benevolent Fund and Food Pantry? Yes, we will! But do we need to fear the economy? The answer is a resounding "No" - we do not, because God is not limited by the economy in
the least. He has not lost anything in the market. His net worth has not declined by even a penny. He is still the great and good and generous God who created us, saved us, and calls us to be his church in the world!

And as long as that is true, I believe I will continue to get those almost shocking phone calls!
Pastor Brian
Listen to Next at FBCG: Our Vision for His

New Sunday Schedules!

Family Reunion

Every three years or so Lorene and I pack up our boys and drive 800 miles or so to Mandan, North Dakota for a reunion of her side of the family. This
July we will be making the trek for what will likely be the last time as her parents will be moving to Oregon to be closer to one of her brothers.
It's a long trip but we wouldn't miss it for the world because, first, it's just so much fun; and second, because it's what families do!

We will be celebrating a "family reunion" of sorts as a church this summer! For 11 weeks, beginning on June 6-7, we will move all of our worship
services to the West Campus in an expression of our unity and fellowship as ONE church
family. While we
are doing everything we can to make the 11 weeks as enjoyable as possible for our whole church family - including -
  • Renting an electronic organ for the traditional service

  • Re-shaping the West Campus "connection space" to encourage more conversation and fellowship

- we do understand that changing the worship location and times for 11 weeks does create a certain amount of inconvenience and adjustment. But we
also believe that the sense of unity and fellowship that will result will be well worth the effort! We appreciate so much the understanding and
flexibility of so many who are willing to participate in our great FBCG "family reunion" this summer - because it's just what families do!

Pastor Brian

June 6/7 to August 15/16

5:00 p.m. Saturday Evening Worship
Intimate setting of blended worship
8:30 a.m. Traditional Worship
Hymns with organ and sanctuary choir

9:45 a.m. Blended Worship

Elements of both traditional and contemporary

11:00 a.m. Contemporary Worship

Worship band

Look here for more
information and Sunday Class schedules

It's Not About the Coffee!

Coffee Many of us enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning. Maybe you like your coffee straight black (like my Dad); maybe you like it with a little cream and sugar; or maybe you prefer a "tall decaf mocha" (like me); or perhaps even a "venti half-caf latte with skim extra hot and no foam." Or maybe you just like tea!

Whatever your beverage-of-choice, the truth is that quite often that cup is the conduit through which relationships are built or maintained. Maybe it's a few minutes at the breakfast table with spouse before heading off to work; maybe it's a mid-morning staff or business meeting; maybe you wind down after a long day with a cup of decaf on the couch; or maybe it is connecting with old and new friends at church!

The Bible teaches us that the church is built on relationships; first and foremost a relationship with Christ; and then relationships with each other. While FBCG has always valued this sense of "fellowship," we believe that the time has come for a renewed focus on the relational life of our church family.

In the survey we conducted last fall, our congregation rated FBCG as being well below average in comparison with other churches when it came to issues like "social connections" and "caring relationships." FBCG scored in the 27th and 26th percentile respectively in these categories - meaning that ¾ of all churches surveyed were rated higher than FBCG in these areas! These results, along with focus group comments like, "In a church this size, it's hard to get to know people," and, "I leave every week as a very lonely person," have led our leadership to take a hard look at the "connectivity" of our church.

While this is a complicated issue which requires attention on many levels, the first thing we noticed was that neither of our facilities (East or West Campus) is very "fellowship friendly." We have adequate worship space; we have educational space; but our "connection space" is largely undeveloped. There is very little space on either campus that says, "We want you to stay for a while; we want you to spend some time visiting with each other here before you head to the parking lot!" We believe that if we want to be a fellowshipping church, a church built on relationships - we must start with our facilities!

West Campus Connection Space

By the time we come together as a congregation for our summer of one campus worship (June 6-7) you will begin to see some of the changes planned for the West Campus lobby. Among these changes will be a kind of "coffee bar" area and a number of "seating pods" where people can gather before, during and after services. While this will be just the first step in strengthening and deepening our fellowship - we believe it is an extremely important step - and we want you to remember that it's NOT just about the coffee - it's about the church Jesus imagined!
Pastor Brian

Summer One Campus

Summer "One Campus" Worship

Beginning June 6-7 FBCG will celebrate worship together at the West Campus in the following schedule:

8:30 a.m. Traditional Worship
Hymns and sanctuary choir

9:45 a.m. Blended Worship
Elements of both traditional and contemporary

11:00 a.m. Contemporary Worship
Worship band

By now you know that our leadership is focused on CONNECTING and EQUIPPING at FBCG! "Connecting" refers to the sense of feeling connected to others in fellowship and to the mission of the church in general. "Equipping" refers to an intentional process of spiritual growth that leads to maturity and service. Our congregation identified these two areas as needing attention through the survey conducted last fall. After several months of study we are ready to take the first steps forward!

Our focus this summer is CONNECTING! Not only will we share the same campus for worship (through August 16) but we will be making
some improvements at the West Campus that we believe will create an environment more conducive to fellowship.

West Campus Connection Space

While the "move west" does require our East Campus worshipers to be flexible - and does require a change in service times - we believe it is well
worth the effort to be TOGETHER for 11 weeks this summer!

Thanks for being part of this church family and for your support as we seek to become the church our Lord has called us to become!

Pastor Brian

National Day of Prayer

National Day of Prayer

Today, May 7, has been designated the National Day of Prayer. While we all pray in different ways and for different purposes - this is an opportunity to join our hearts and minds with brothers and sisters in
Christ all over our nation. Just as the recent outbreak of the H1N1 influenza reminded us of the importance of working together as communities, so
also this day designated for prayer reminds us of both our privilege and responsibility as believers to pray!

I simply want to encourage you to take time today to pray.

  • You can join folks from many local churches at the Tri-City National Day of Prayer observance at 12 noon at the Old Court house on 3rd Street in

  • You can pray for our nation and our cities as you travel to or from work.

  • You can take a walk around your neighborhood and pray for the family that lives in each home as you pass by.

  • You can extend your family meal-time or bed-time prayers to include our nation, our community, our church and our leaders.

  • You can pray silently for the world as you watch the news tonight on T.V.

May this message serve as a reminder and an encouragement to participate in the great mystery, power and gift of prayer!

Pastor Brian

What in the World is the Church

Current Sermon Series

What in the World is the Church?

At first it seems like a dumb question! A no-brainer! The church is a place with a steeple on top where you go to worship, pray, and listen to a
(hopefully interesting) sermon. And, of course, this definition is both true and very incomplete!

First of all, a church is not a building at all, but a community of people bound together by love for Christ and love for each other. So in this
sense, no one goes to church - rather we are the church!

Second, the church is far more than an hour of worship and preaching once a week. While the worship of God and the preaching of his word are of
absolute importance - and never to be neglected - of equal importance are things like service, fellowship, evangelism, missions, and spiritual

Our leadership at FBCG is doing a lot of thinking about what it means to be the church these days. We want to be a community of faith devoted to
worship and preaching - but also to

REACHING - the people and families of our local community

CONNECTING - them to Christ, to FBCG and to each other

EQUIPPING - believers for spiritual maturity and ministry

SERVING - others in the name of Christ

This weekend Pastor Jeff and I will begin a 6-week series of messages entitled, What in the World is the Church: Understanding and becoming
the Body of Christ
. We will be looking into God's Word (Acts 2 and Ephesians 4) to learn what the Lord expects of us as his people - and
looking forward to where he is leading FBCG as a church family.

I hope you will join us for the journey!
Pastor Brian


Remember and Celebrate

Remember is what we do as a church family at our Maundy Thursday communion services. We remember the last supper Jesus shared with
his disciples when he transformed the Passover meal into a symbolic representation of his broken body and shed blood.

We will remember Jesus through bread and cup in a very special way Thursday night in two services at the West Campus. You will be led on a unique
journey of remembrance and worship culminating in a very personal experience of the Lord's Table. I hope you will make this event part of your family
Easter tradition this year.
7:00 p.m. West Campus Child care provided

8:30 p.m. West Campus No child care

Celebrate is our response to the three words that not only changed history, but the eternal destiny of all who believe - "He
is risen!"
We will celebrate our risen Lord in seven weekend services beginning on Saturday evening at 5:00 p.m. at the West campus. We will
then be adding 8:00 a.m. services to our normal Sunday schedule at BOTH campuses. I encourage you to join us, if possible, on Saturday evening or for
the early service on Sunday in order to reduce the crowding at later services. Here is the worship schedule:

5:00 p.m. Saturday West Campus Contemporary worship
Pastor Brian Coffey preaching
Sunday BOTH campuses
8:00 a.m.
9:15 a.m.
10:45 a.m.

Pastor Jeff Frazier preaching at East Campus
Pastor Brian Coffey preaching at West Campus

Most importantly I hope and pray that you will be filled with gratitude, joy and wonder as you remember and celebrate what God has done for you!
Pastor Brian

Connecting and Equipping

My wife Lorene (director of Women's Ministries at FBCG) recently received a beautiful email from a woman who is in the process of
connecting to FBCG as a new church home. She describes first visiting our Moms Together ministry and then taking the step of visiting FBCG for worship. She describes "the difference I feel when I walk into your church - the joy in the building, the people that are truly welcoming and happy to be there and accepting people from all walks of life and the simplicity of the worship service..." She goes on to describe how she and her daughters "already don't want to miss a Sunday and this is what I've always wanted - to be truly committed and to be strong enough in my faith that it is natural to sing His songs, talk about Him, pray and love Him with all of our hearts." In short, she describes her desire not just to connect to a church family, but also a longing to be equipped in her faith.

We find ourselves using these words - CONNECTING and EQUIPPING a great deal these days in FBCG
leadership circles - not just because they emerged from the church-wide survey we conducted back in the fall - but because we believe they lie at the very heart of what it means to be the Church of Jesus Christ. As we seek to strengthen FBCG we looked into God's word for guidance:


"They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship..." (Acts 2:42-47)

By connecting we mean intentionally welcoming people into the mission and fellowship of FBCG.


"...and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be
built up." (Ephesians 4:11-13)

By equipping we mean preparing believers for maturity/service through an intentional process of spiritual growth.

While are excited at what we are learning together as leaders of FBCG - we recognize that we have much yet to learn about becoming a connecting and equipping church. Again, we thank you for your participation in the survey and ask for your continued prayers as we continue to seek God's will for FBCG!

Pastor Brian

Next @ FBCG

So What's Happening with the Survey?

Why did we do the survey?

After being on two campuses for four years, and recently revisiting the Phase 2 project for the West Campus, it became evident we needed to make sure
we understand the needs and hearts of our congregation before moving forward with a building project of significant magnitude. Our congregation now
totals over 3,500 - with weekend worship attendance of 1,600-1,800.

What did the surveys say?

The feedback from the Transforming Church Index survey was extremely encouraging - with our congregation identifying many
strengths within FBCG! The
survey results are helping us understand both who we are as a church family, and where we must focus our attention as we look toward the future.
with the many strengths identified, our congregation also identified areas of our church life needing to be strengthened including feeling
to FBCG and others, and intentional spiritual growth.

In response, our leadership believes God is calling FBCG to be a church that:

  • Reaches people and families in our local community

  • Connects people and families to FBCG and to each other

  • Equips people and families for service, both locally and globally, through a process of intentional spiritual growth

  • Glorifies Christ

What are we going to do next?

As we move forward, we want to retain the unique characteristics that God used to build this church family. We will continue to value multiple worship styles, multiple generations, ministry to all ages, and serving the world. We will focus new attention and energy to find and implement ways to deepen the connectivity of our church family and equip our congregation to reach and serve our church, our community and the world!

A few small steps:

Since receiving the survey results, the Executive Council and staff leadership have met to understand the results and discuss the implications for
FBCG. We have already launched several ministry initiatives designed to address issues we identified through the survey:
  1. Seven couple's small groups involving 42 couples were formed following the Couple's Event in late February.

  2. "Built to Last," a new class designed to help young married couples strengthen their marriages and build connections with each other, was
    launched in February at the West Campus.

  3. Our recent sermon series, "Everything You Need: The Pathway of Spiritual Growth," was accompanied by a "Spiritual Growth Tool" on our
    website. The tool was designed to help people take intentional steps toward spiritual growth.

What can we expect?

We are planning several more events over the next couple of months, which will expand on the number of people involved in this process and
will allow us to begin developing specific action steps and ministry initiatives to help us move in the above outlined directions. We expect to define specific areas of work to preserve our strengths as well as address these new opportunities. We know representatives across the church will need to be dynamically involved in these efforts to move FBCG to the next step God intends us to take. We encourage you to continue praying for this process and to begin prayerfully considering your participation as we move forward.

Pastor Brian

Puppy Training - from Jeff Frazier

Puppy Training
by Jeff Frazier

This past December we welcomed a new member into our family, her name is Ivy, and she is a black goldendoodle puppy. Having a puppy changes things a little; actually it changes things a lot! We are devoting a disconcerting amount of time, energy and money on the health and development of our new pet. We have taken her to the vet three times, read numerous books on puppy training, and purchased a wide array of toys and other puppy paraphernalia. We do all of this because we want her to grow into a healthy and happy family pet. We have a vision, if you will, of the kind of dog she could become, and we are going to help her get there. God has a vision too; He has a vision for each one of us. God has a vision of the kind of man or woman He wants you to become and He wants to help you get there.

One of the things that I am learning about training a puppy is that puppies need constant praise and encouragement. The conventional wisdom from the puppy experts seems to be that positive reinforcement is far more effective than negative. My wife is constantly reminding me about the "tone" I use with Ivy, and I must confess that she (Ivy, not my wife) seems a little scared of me. I think that people are much the same as puppies in this respect. We all need a little encouragement now and then. When it comes to the area of spiritual disciplines, most people automatically feel bad or guilty. We feel as if we aren't doing all that we should or could. We may even feel like God must be displeased with us since we aren't very spiritually disciplined. The truth is that spiritual disciplines are meant to help us grow in our love for God and in our understanding of His love for us. In short, to help us grow into the kind of people that God has envisioned.

Throughout this series we have been providing weekly resources and spiritual challenges on our church website to help you grow. These challenges are not meant to make you feel guilty or bad, they are not meant to be a burden, a duty, or an obligation. They are simply tools to help you along the pathway toward the life God has for you. So let me offer you a little encouragement and positive reinforcement. God is not waiting for you to get yourself together or clean up your act before He will work with you. He is already at work in why not join Him?

Pastor Jeff

Personal Spiritual Growth Tool

Left-handed Lay-ups

Left-handed Lay-ups

Two nights ago I sat at a high school basketball game and watched as a player (who happened to be my son) caught the ball, knifed between a pair of
defenders, and deftly flipped the ball off the backboard and into the basket - with his left hand. While in one sense it was just one of
several dozen
baskets scored in the contest, in another sense, it was remarkable because I happened to know that player is right handed!

How does a ball player acquire the ability to use his weaker and less coordinated hand in that way? The answer, of course, is "by practice." The only
way to develop that skill is by practicing hundreds and hundreds of left-handed lay-ups - that is, by investing time and effort in an intentional
process of growth!

In his book, The Divine Conspiracy, author Dallas Willard writes, "The place where you most need to be
conformed to the image of Christ is the place where you are least like him." That's the purpose of our current sermon series, Everything You Need: The pathway of spiritual growth! When Peter tells us,

"For this very reason make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge
self control; and to self control, perseverance; and to perseverance godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love."

I believe he is telling us that God wants us to learn to shoot left-handed lay-ups, spiritually speaking. He wants us to grow in specific ways and he
wants us to know that growth requires intentional effort on our part. In order to help you in this process we have created a "tool" on our church
website. Just click here - Personal Spiritual
Growth Tool
- to begin your own process of intentional spiritual growth in 2009!

We are also in this same process of learning to shoot left-handed lay-ups as a church family! As you know, we conducted a major survey of our
congregation back in August and September and our leadership has been working with Kevin Ford (author of The
Transforming Church
) and his organization to understand what the survey tells us about our strengths and weaknesses as a church. We have a
two-day leadership retreat coming up on January 23-24 when we will be wrestling with these issues again. We
simply want to ask you to keep us in your prayers as we continue to seek God's wisdom and direction for FBCG!

Thanks in advance for your prayers and support!

 Pastor Brian

What better time?

What Better Time?

Lose weight.

Get out of debt.

Spend more time with family.

Stop smoking.

Go to church.

Those were a few of the top New Year's resolutions reported in a recent survey of more than 300,000 Americans. Maybe you've thought about a few of
the items on that list, maybe not, but almost all of us long to be something more and better than we are right now - it's just how we are made as human beings.

The beginning of a new year is a natural time to think about change and growth. The old year with its pains, frustrations and mistakes, is gone. And a new year - with 365 blank pages in the calendar - lies ahead. What will we do with this gift? What shall we become? Who shall we become?

This past weekend Jeff and I began a new series of messages at FBCG entitled, Everything You Need: The pathway of spiritual growth.For nine weeks we are going to work our way through an astonishingly simple yet profound passage of scripture found in 2 Peter 1:1-8. We believe that in these eight verses God has laid out a pathway of spiritual growth that he invites each one of us to walk - in our own way.

Our hope is that through this series you will be able to build your own personal growth plan for the New Year. In fact, we have created a "personal growth tool" to help you in this process. Here's how it works:

  • Get your Bible and a journal

  • Go to

  • Click on the icon for Personal Spiritual Growth Tool

  • In Step 1 you will find a personal spiritual challenge that comes right out of the sermon from that week (if you miss a sermon
    or would like to listen again you can do so by downloading a message from the website)

  • In Step 2 you will be introduced to ministry programs at FBCG - or other resources - that are designed to help you grow in
    that particular area of spiritual life

  • In Step 3 you will be encouraged to do some further study in God's Word to deepen your personal relationship with God

Spiritual growth is God's desire for each one of us. It all begins with Christ's call on our lives and in our hearts. But, like any commitment to
personal change - it doesn't happen without intentional effort! I hope you will take this opportunity to jump into the spiritual growth challenge with both feet! What better time?

Pastor Brian

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