BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Often churches or congregations, or movements are characterized by what they’re against. We wanted to talk about what a church is FOR. Pastor Brian Pipping with BayLife church joins us. Tell us, why is it that churches so often get hung up by what they are against?
Guest: It’s great to be with you again Chad and thanks for asking a great question. I grew up as a pastor’s son and so I’ve been around churches all of my life. Most churches are filled with people who have great
hearts and good intentions. In fact, I think it’s that very thing that gets us into trouble. Our hearts struggle to hold two disparate realities at the same time: 1) we serve a holy God, and 2) we live in a culture that seems to have lost its moral compass.
In our attempt to serve God, it seems that our only option is to rage against the immorality that we see in culture. The problem with that is that culture is filled with people, not just problems. These people sense that we are not just standing against the moral erosion in culture but we are against them.
Anchor: In light of that, what does it mean to be FOR our communities?
Guest: It really is about differentiating between the moral issues of culture and the people in our communities. As Jesus followers, we seek to emulate His life and teaching. When Jesus first arrived on the planet, it was the Apostle. John first described Him as “being full of grace and truth.” He didn’t
soften his view of the sinful culture around Him. But with every person, he met his approach was
full of “grace and truth.”
At BayLife, We make it our mission to do the same. We are to balance grace and truth. That is what makes it possible to be FOR the people in our community. Jesus gave us a critically important challenge in this regard, “…we are to love one another the same way that He loved us.” That means we have to love one another in the same way, for the same reason, and to the same scale with which He loved us. His love was lifelong and sacrificial!
Anchor: How does being FOR the community translate to action?
Guest: That is the challenge isn’t it. You see, as a pastor, I know personally how easy it is to stand behind a pulpit inside our church surrounded by Jesus’ followers and talk about loving the people in our communities. It is quite another thing to actually go into our communities and love people as they are, where they are.
At BayLife, when we say that we are FOR our community it means that we are willing to actually love and serve those around us. We begin with those family and friends that we already know and then we push beyond that inner circle to help those in our community who have any needs. Those needs could be spiritual, emotional, relational, or financial. To be FOR them doesn’t mean that we are here to be a fix for a perceived problem but we come alongside them to be a friend.
Anchor: Can you give some specific examples of what it looks like to be FOR our communities?
Guest: Being FOR our community looks different based upon the individual circumstances. It could be as simple as a conversation with someone who needs a friend or throwing a neighborhood block party to build relationships with people in the community, it might be partnering with another non-profit in our community who is already doing great things and meeting people’s needs, or providing lunch for a group of medical professionals who were on the front lines during the Covid crisis. At BayLife we do all of that. Our mission is to make a huge difference outside the walls of our church rather than simply finding new ways to serve ourselves inside those walls.
We are often asked why we do what we do. The purpose of all of this is so that we might create some curiosity and invite them into a conversation of eternal significance about what it means to be a Jesus follower and be part of a faith community.