Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Hank's For the Future Included Me

January 1967. I was a 16 year old junior at Versailles High School in Missouri. The first Super Bowl was being played between the Green Bay Packers and my (then) favorite team, the Kansas City Chiefs. I had just started dating a girl who would become my first love. Farming was in my blood and my view did not extend beyond Morgan County, Missouri.

Meanwhile in Lubbock, Texas, Hank Scott was working to start a new church. I’d never heard of Lubbock or Hank Scott.

April 1967.  Now I was in love with my first crush and wondering how I could afford to get married right out of high school. On my radar was attending a trade school to learn electronics while farming with my father. My view did not extend much beyond Morgan County.

Meanwhile in Lubbock, Texas, Bacon Heights Baptist Church was newly organized. Hank taught that the church didn’t exist to serve the members; the members existed to serve the church. He taught the church to look to the future. He challenged the members to double-tithe so they could build for the future. I’d still never heard of Lubbock, Hank Scott, or Bacon Heights Baptist Church.

January 1968. The “love of my life” didn’t want a future that included me. Our breakup was painful—for me. She immediately began dating one of my close friends. My future still included farming and possibly trade school. I’d still not heard of Lubbock and Hank Scott and….

January 28, 1968. A team of students from Southwest Baptist College held a weekend youth led revival in my home church. My world was rocked as God called me into full-time vocational ministry. Suddenly my vision was lifted beyond Morgan County and farming.

Meanwhile in Lubbock, Hank was busy growing a church and advancing the Kingdom of God. I’d still not heard of….

February 2017. The 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl has been observed and Bacon Heights is also approaching a 50th anniversary. Just as Hank was working on a building program in 1967 so are we again considering construction. By now I’ve been in Lubbock 23 years, a member of BHBC for 12 and a staff member for 11. Thank God Hank Scott had a vision 50 years ago and built for the future.

As I’ve been reflecting on our church and its history, I’ve been wondering what teenager somewhere in the United States, who lacks knowledge of Lubbock and Bacon Heights, will be impacted by our church? Little did I realize 50 years ago how much this church would mean to my family and this “re-formed farmer.”  You see, when Judy and I joined as members in January 2005, I was suffering from PMSD (post ministry stress disorder). I’d been beat up and was burned out.  I’d been out of ministry for a year and had no plans to return. But Bacon Heights loved me back into ministry.  In 1967 Hank Scott had never heard of Jim Gerlt, but he built for the future and that included me.

None can foresee all the people who will be impacted by what we do today; only God. (As the old adage goes, “any fool can count the seeds in an apple but only God can count the apples in a seed.”) Judy and I are “all in” for the construction project because we’ve reaped the benefits of forward thinking people who built then for now. Please prayerfully consider how you will partner with us to build For the Future.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts

‘Twas the Monday after Thanksgiving, and all through the town, people were feeling the effects of too much:
            Football (as if it’s possible to watch too much football)
            Left-over turkey
            Left-over turkey2
            Pumpkin pie
            Christmas decorating
            Left-over turkey3

The reality of the Christmas season is upon us as we look ahead to a month of parties, shopping, and spending. Each year it seems as if the Christmas list gets longer and the time to shop gets shorter.

On this Cyber Monday let’s  refocus. In 1 Corinthians 14:12, God’s Word translation, we read, “In the same way, since you’re eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in them so that you help the church grow.” Paul was writing to an infant church that was struggling to find a proper balance in many areas, but who had passion. I love the passion of a new believer in Christ.

This morning as I read this passage I was challenged to look again at my spiritual gifts and see how I’m using them. Believe it or not, even in church work it’s easy to lose a sense of passion while living life.

Today I encourage you to engage your spiritual gifts and invest them in helping the church grow. It will ease the pain of too much turkey, football, left-over…you get the idea. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Bacon Heights Baptist Church is well known for our ministry efforts. We adopted 414 Compassion as a mission strategy and have been diligently working to make inroads into the 414 community. These are our neighbors, the people who live within the shadow of our church.  The last thing we want to do is create a barrier for any of our neighbors to become part of our church. Unfortunately, and unintentionally, we’ve done just that with our Sunday morning parking.

We are creating a hazardous situation with our on-street parking. We’re parking next to our entrances and exits which make it very difficult to see oncoming traffic when exiting the parking lot.  Parking on both sides of the street (and my reference is mostly to 54th Street, which is a feeder street) narrows the driving lanes, practically reducing traffic to one-way at a time.

We have ample parking in our lots AND we have access to the Double Nickel parking lot. Yes, it does take a few extra steps to park in our lots compared to parking on the street, but we run our golf carts to shuttle you to the front door. Yes, it is legal to park on the streets, but just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s wise—or neighborly. We really don’t want the people who are not in church on Sunday mornings but who we want to join us getting upset with us because we’re blocking their street.

If you physically cannot walk very far, please park close. If you’re like me and need exercise, please park at the extreme corners of our lots and get in a little cardio before church. If parking on the street is merely a matter of convenience, please consider how it will be for someone if they get hit by an approaching car they were unable to see.  

This is such a small matter but it can communicate we care about being good neighbors.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Post Debate Hope

 Had a thought this morning (imagine that) as I was contemplating the debate last night among our choices for President. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:2-3 these words, "To God's church that was made holy by Christ Jesus and called to be God's holy people in the city of Corinth and to people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. GOOD WILL AND PEACE FROM GOD OUR FATHER AND THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ARE YOURS!"

God had not given up on the wicked city of Corinth and used the Apostle Paul to establish a church there to make a difference. Those believers were placed in an extremely hostile environment. There had to be times when they felt overwhelming discouragement (beginning to see the connection I'm trying to make?) as they served their community. And in the midst of their struggles Paul told them they already had God's good will and peace.

I've yet to meet someone who is excited about our choices for President. Most people would like to have a "do over" on the primaries. We cannot go back, we can only go forward. Therefore, the people of God must step up and serve as the salt and light we've been called to be. This Presidential election may very well be God's wake up call to His church. The reality is we've not reached our potential in flavoring and lighting our culture. THIS IS NOT A TIME FOR DISCOURAGEMENT! IT IS  TIME TO CLAIM GOD'S GOOD WILL AND PEACE AND BECOME THE INFLUENCE WE WERE MADE TO BE! May God's good will and peace be evident in our thoughts, actions and speech today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Building Infrastructure

During my time on the Lubbock City Council we continually talked about infrastructure. Infrastructure consists of streets, sewer and water lines, just to name a few items. Anytime we considered City growth through annexation we had to plan for the infrastructure that could support the growth.

Fast forward to Sunday night, September 11, 2016. Bacon Heights added considerable spiritual infrastructure by ordaining 19 new deacons. The front of our worship center was packed with the men and their families along with those praying over them.

These new deacons have completed a 6 month process of determining God's will. These all sense God's call upon their lives to serve Him in the role of deacon. This means God is preparing our church for significant ministry.

Henry Blackaby used to teach that if you want to know what God is getting ready to do in your church, look at who He's sending to join you. I believe a case can be made to see who God is calling out as leaders. Everything I see tells me God is preparing us for our greatest days which are yet to come. Consequently, we must prepare FOR THE FUTURE.

More to come....

Friday, August 26, 2016

Update on BHBC finances

Some have asked why we don’t report our income and financial position in the e-newsletter.
Truthfully, I’m not sure why the financial report stopped showing up. Somehow, when we switched to the digital version it didn’t make the transition.

One of our challenges is how do we accurately report our financial standing at any given moment? For example, do we base our reports upon our projected budget or on actual receipts and expenses? If we use the projected budget and compare that with our actual income, we don’t look so good at the moment. Our year-to-date projected budget calls for us (through July) to have received $651,758.88 but we’ve actually received $555,495.86. Those numbers show us behind our budget by $96,263.02 and we appear to be headed for trouble. But real numbers show a different story. We’ve held our spending down and through July have spent $567,357.84, which is a deficit of $11,936.79 of real dollars. That’s not bad for the middle of summer when we’ve had some of our large expenses hit and attendance lower because of summer travel.

Let’s compare where we are today with a year ago, again using July numbers and real dollars, not proposed budget numbers. One year ago we had received $542,256.57 compared to this July’s total receipts of $555,495.86. So we’re actually $13,239.29 AHEAD of last year.  Our spending last year was at $572,720.83 compared to $567,357.84 this year, which is $5,362.99 less than a year ago. We continually look for ways to save money without cutting ministry and our staff is doing a good job of this.

The number I continually monitor is our bank balance ABOVE our reserves. As of August 23, our reconciled bank balance above reserves is $194,518.49. On July 31 it was $168,113.40.  

What I’m struggling with is what to report to the church. Do we only show actual income and expenses or budgeted income compared with actual income, or both?  Bottom line is we are still strong financially and have solid financial practices in place. The truth is also we could be doing better.  What we have to learn to do is translate our offerings into Kingdom work and realize the more we give the more we can accomplish for God’s glory.  Just something to consider.