Our Mission and Vision
First Baptist Church Believes In Putting F.I.R.S.T. Things First
Freedom / Instruction from God / Rejoicing Together / Sharing Ourselves / Telling Others About God’s Love
“… If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36, NIV)
Freedom at its most basic level is the freedom to listen and to understand God personally. It’s a gift given only to believers. Believers (Christians) are set free from our sins. God’s Holy Spirit can and will speak to all believers. As a believer, you need no priest (or pastor) to serve as a go-between for you with God. You can go to God personally. You are free to read the Bible and let God speak to you.
Our church freely associates with other churches. Many of these are Baptists. We are members of the Laurens Baptist Association, the South Carolina Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention. We also associate with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship for the sole purpose of helping others come to know Christ. Our freedom means that while we cooperate on matters involving missionaries and in areas of education, we are not controlled by any governing board and are not bound by any convention or group stance.
Freedom also applies to the way we understand the government’s role in our lives. We believe that no government has the authority or right to issue religious edicts or command religious devotion. We believe that a “wall of separation” must be kept between the state (all civil authorities) and the church.
Instruction from God
“Study this book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it.” (Joshua 1:8, NLT)
We believe that God speaks to believers. All people, however, can and should go to God for guidance and leadership. We need his instruction in our lives to ensure that we live life to its fullest. Instruction in its most elementary form and at its most basic level is the Bible. The Bible is God’s written word. Nothing that God has said or will say since the Bible was written will ever contradict it.
Jesus of Nazareth lived in perfect harmony with God all of his life. He is God’s Living Word to us. The way Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Son of God lived then is the way we should live. He is our model, our teacher, and our Lord. His life and works are found within the Bible.
As God said to Joshua (Joshua 1:8) we need to study the Bible, learn the Bible, and obey the Bible. We believe that a life properly instructed includes (but is not limited to) these elements: personal, private study of the Bible; corporate, small-group study of the Bible; and God-honoring worship centered around Biblical preaching.
God also speaks/instructs through prayer, other Christians, and circumstances. The Bible, however, takes precedent and is absolutely reliable. Because it is so important that we listen to God, (“they are your life,” says Deuteronomy 32:47 concerning God’s words), Bible study is a major emphasis at First Baptist Church.
“I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praise. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are discouraged take heart. Come let us tell of the LORD’s greatness, let us exalt his name together.”
(Psalm 34:1-3, NLT)
Celebrative and honest worship is a cornerstone at First Baptist Church. We are committed to praising God, worshiping our great King, as often as possible. The Great Commandment, as outlined by our Lord Jesus, declares, “Love the Lord your God with all your heard and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37, NIV). We believe that this love relationship is nurtured, developed, and expressed in the context of collective worship. We believe that a Christian who isn’t worshiping with other believers is in trouble at the heart of his/her relationship with God.
The ultimate purpose of worship is to credit God with what is due Him. He is Lord over all. His love alone makes a relationship with Him possible. He is due our acclaim and honor.
As missionaries discovered centuries ago, different cultures worship God in different ways. Increasing travel and communications technology, however, have created a cultural diversity within the United States and even South Carolina. It is for this reason (because Laurens County, SC is not a monolithic area) that we offer distinctly different worship opportunities at First Baptist. Our hope is to reach out to all kinds of people, with varying needs and lead them all to worship our great and good God.
“We belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others. God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.” (Romans 12:5-6, NLT)
“All the believers were together and hand everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” (Acts 2:44-47, NIV)
God has given spiritual gifts to every believer. These abilities combined with natural talents and training enable every Christian to perform the ministries of the church. While we call our paid staff “ministers,” we believe that all believers are gifted ministers. Discovering our spiritual gift(s) invites us to share of who we are with those around us. All of these “gifts of the Spirit” are intended to build up, develop, help the community of believers.
While some gifts of the Spirit are highly visible (leadership or teaching, for example), others are not as noticeable (service, mercy, and intercession, for example). All gifts are vital, however, to the church’s fulfilling its mission. That means that all members are expected to discover, develop, and employ their gifts in the ministry of the church.
Sharing ourselves means that we contribute money to the work of the church. Recognizing that our lives, our jobs, our fortunes are all gifts from God, we give back to him at least a tenth of all that God has given us. The Bible calls this one-tenth percentage a “tithe.” Of course, 100% of our resources are God’s. We have been given oversight of it for a short while. Giving the tithe is a fundamental recognition of God’s goodness and our faith and trust in him.
“ Use your freedom to serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13, TM), Paul the Apostle said many years ago. We believe that this involves sharing our gifts, our talents, our resources, ourselves.
Telling Others About God's Love
“I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News …” (I Corinthians 9:22-23, NLT)
The single, driving mission of First Baptist Church is “to love God and to extend His love to all people.” We express our love for God through worship (Rejoicing together). We “extend His love” to others through relationships and sharing what God has done in our lives. The resurrected Jesus’ last words on the earth included these: “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV). Making disciples begins with one believer telling someone who is hurting, in need, or just a friend about the change that God has made in his life. We believe that the report of God’s love ought to spread as readily as gossip over the back fence in the neighborhood.
Telling also includes the commitment to give of our money, time, and talents to ensure that others know of God’s grace and mercy. Mission trips, mission offerings, and local projects involve us in ensuring that people all over the globe know about God’s love.
Telling others about God’s love is a commitment that we make to be involved in Christ’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).