If there is a week of the year that I am especially nostalgic, it is this week when we celebrate our anniversary at Lancaster Baptisint Church.

There is just so much that the Lord has done for us over these past thirty-one years. And over these next few days, we will celebrate His goodness.

But, while we rejoice in God’s blessings, we can’t presume they will continue in the future.

There is a tendency in all of us to assume that because God has blessed in the past—personally or in ministry—that He will in the future.

But that’s not how it works. When it comes to the work of God, we can’t live in the past tense and expect to see future victories.When it comes to the work of God, we can’t live in the past and expect to see future victories. Click To Tweet

As we rejoice in what God has done, we should remember how He has done it and continue to follow in the ways He has blessed.

What dictates the future of a local church?

The power of the gospel—It’s not buildings, programs, or methods that change lives. It is the power of God through the gospel.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.—Romans 1:16

Spirit-filled members—When you read through the book of Acts, you know that without the Holy Spirit, there is no power in the local church. This is why for thirty-one years, we have done our best to emphasize the importance of the Spirit-filled life. It’s not men or methods God uses so much as it is Christians wholly surrendered to Him.

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;—Ephesians 5:18

Obedience to the Great Commission—I remember how when Terrie and I came to Lancaster thirty-one years ago, we had a burning desire to reach our community for Christ. Over the years, there have been 1,001 ways we could get distracted from this calling. But unless we as a church keep the Great Commission as our center focus and mission, we will not fulfill the command Christ gave to the local church.

What that means in practical terms is that every aspect of our church calendar, every ministry, every activity must be connected to the fourfold mandate of the Great Commission: go, win, baptize, teach.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.—Matthew 28:19–20

Biblical preaching—The longer I serve as a pastor, the more I understand why the apostles put a personal priority on prayer and the study of God’s Word. And why Paul gave Timothy the direct command, “Preach the Word.”

It is the Word of God that changes lives. Thus, preaching in a New Testament Baptist church should be based on and saturated in the Word of God.

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.—2 Timothy 4:2

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.—Hebrews 4:12

I often tell our church family that I believe the best days of Lancaster Baptist Church are still ahead. And I truly do.

But I don’t believe that because of the past. I believe that because the gospel is powerful, because the Holy Spirit is active, because our community still needs the gospel, and because the Word of God changes lives.

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