Welcome to the historic First Baptist Church of Memphis, serving Memphis & the Mid-South since 1839. You will find exciting ministries, mission opportunities, and vibrant worship.

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11:00am Worship

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200 East Parkway North, Memphis, TN 38112 ⋅ Office: 901.454.1131

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A Culture of Invitation

I wrote this article while at the Festival of Homiletics in San Antonio.  San Antonio is a beautiful city that is steeped in culture, a rich Mexican American culture, that is most evident everywhere you go. Culture is who you are. It is what you value.  It is what you celebrate and how you celebrate. It is ceremony and ritual. It is food and music. It is how you deal with problems. It is how you deal with life. It is what you prioritize. It is what you do. You don’t try to do culture. It is a part of who you are. You just do it.

Now, this isn’t to say that cultures can’t be changed. My goodness, racism was a larger part of our culture at one time, and we still have miles to go. Indeed culture can be changed, and whole cultures can be nurtured within society as a whole or in part—cities, companies, families, even churches. No doubt many of you have been in companies or schools or organizations that decided to develop a culture of excellence or trust or dependability, etc. In those instances, specific policies, plans, education, and events were put into place to lift the profile of this dynamic within the institution. 

We have a culture at FBC. It’s a culture of caring and family. It’s a culture of acceptance and welcome. It’s a culture of connection with our community. It’s a culture of intentional worship and thoughtful theology. It is a culture of openness and diversity, where all voices are valued. It is a culture of courage and a willingness to do Baptist a different way. We have so much to be proud of and to celebrate.

But I believe at this time in our history we need to add another dynamic to who we are. We need to develop/nurture a culture of invitation. For a great part of our history, we didn’t have to worry about such.  We were the First Baptist Church in a major metropolitan city in the Bible Belt, in a time when church was very much the center of community life. Those days are gone.   Furthermore, our type of church has done everything it can to distance itself from Fundamentalism, and some of the abuses that form of faith has exhibited, including an over-zealous, judgmental  approach to evangelism.  

But Invitation is not that. Invitation, properly understood, is just the natural extension of hospitality. It is knowing how meaningful something has been to you and trusting that such may be the case for others too, that we are not totally weird and unique folk. It’s sharing the good news. It’s being faithful disciples. It’s about the love of this church and its mission and the reality that to accomplish our mission we will always need others to come alongside us and add their energies to ours, as we will always be losing members due to death, job transition, life transition, all sorts of reasons.  

What will such look like? Here are few ideas. A culture of invitation looks like a church program that is offering creative options in programming and missions to which you will invite someone. It looks like members who are eagerly helping to design and to staff such programs. It looks like members who are planning and hosting gatherings off site to which they are inviting prospects while also inviting staff and members so that some constructive mingling can occur. It looks like members who really have taken the time to do a prayerful accounting of their relationships and connections, considering who might actually be a prospect for FBC. It looks like members developing a consciousness that is ever on the alert for such folk in our day to day life. It may have a type of positive accountability built into it—one where we share, in a variety of forums, about our efforts/struggles to invite others, no matter how they turn out. It looks like members helping each other with ideas and support in their invitation efforts. It looks like members being present to welcome those that others have invited. It looks like the completion of our branding process, which will be a valuable tool in all such efforts. It means an “all hands on deck” approach to invitation, where we all take responsibility for the future health of this congregation we love so much.

These are a few ideas/snapshots of what it might mean for us to nurture a culture of invitation at FBC. Let me know what you think. You will be hearing more in the days ahead.

Grace, David


This article was written by Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge and originally published in the June edition of Together.

Posted by Bridget Ellis at 8:30 AM
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