It’s 28 AD, and welcome to the First Nazarene Church of Christ, the welcoming church in downtown Nazareth, located at 2046 Hatzionut Road. The Pastor is J.C. Christ. Three services on Sunday and bible study on Wednesday. Sounds kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it? But this could describe a majority of churches today. While we’ve built great edifices they are not always to the glory of Christ.
The first example of the Christian church was set by Jesus Christ. There were no sanctuaries or Family Life Centers. No building funds or projects centered around a facility. The church was community, and Jesus went into the communities — and abhorred that merchants and money changers had invaded the temple in Jerusalem.
When Jesus feed thousands with just two fish and five loaves of bread, it wasn’t in a synagogue, but by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana, was also not in a sanctuary. Jesus even healed a Cana official’s son, though the son was several miles away in Capernaum. No lavish displays of ceremony, just straight-ahead service by the Son of Man to the people of God.
Jesus didn’t need four walls to have church. It’s estimated that Jesus and his disciples walked more than 20,000 miles during his ministry, traveling to Palestine, Lebanon, and Israel. They were not always welcome. Jesus told his disciples in Matt. 10:14, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”
What does Jesus’ ministry teach us about the role of “The Church”? As Pastor Tolan Morgan has emphasized, Fellowship Bible Baptist Church is part of the community, and our actions speak loudly in the Warner Robins and surrounding areas. We are not a church that sits back in our comfortable chairs and watch the ills of the world pass unnoticed. FBBC has always been a giving church, but during the COVID pandemic, we stepped it up several notches and have not relented.
We’ve provided food for healthcare workers. They didn’t have to come to us, we went to them. We provided much needed food to the entire community during several food giveaways and the food was given to whoever drove up regardless of membership at FBBC. We continue food giveaways each Monday. Our annual “Victory Sunday” celebration is open to the entire community. And it’s all free. We have provided much needed supplies to schools, elbow grease to retrofit homeless shelters, and provided our Christ-like example for the world to see.
The pandemic was hard on churches, many have shuttered, and others are barely limping along. While our sanctuary was closed for a year, FBBC survived because of its committed congregation, and our community outreach never wavered. Pastor Morgan said that how churches responded to the unprecedented challenges of COVID would decide which churches lived and which ones died. Which churches cared about the community and which ones didn’t.
Using technology, already in place, FBBC services went on, just not in-person worship. Ministries still operated remotely, and the people of Fellowship had their needs, both physical and mentally met. We used part of the pandemic time to refresh our sanctuary and upgrade our technology to better serve remote worship. Our ministry is truly worldwide with several E-Crew members from all over the country. While many churches saw a drop in giving during the pandemic, FBBC saw an increase, attributed to our efforts to give of our time and talent to those who needed it most, member or not.
With technology, FBBC can do as Apostle Paul did as he seeded churches all around the Mediterranean, but unlike Paul, who had to substitute his presence with letters that became to bulk of the New Testament, FBBC members communicate with the church from anywhere on the globe. Even with technology, FBBC members have gone knocking on doors, as Jesus and the apostles did, telling people about the good news of Christ, our savior. FBBC is truly a church without walls that reaches out to serve its community.
Written by: Charles Richardson