As it says on our website we have a new vision, a new beginning, and I am sure you want to know what that vision is. I became the Pastor here at Open Bible St. Pete back in July and God gave me a vision of what He wants His church to be.
But first let me tell you about our church, it was opened in 1952 by Rev C.H. Piper. The church has a rich history of bringing people to Christ. Every Pastor since Rev. Piper did what the Lord wanted them to do to bring the Gospel to this community. There have been thousands of souls saved at Open Bible St. Pete and we are not going to stop now!
The world has changed since Open Bible St. Pete opened it's doors in 1952, the cultural landscape has changed and the community has changed. So as a church we need to change to meet the needs of the community. That being said, God's Word NEVER changes, it is the same yesterday, today and forever more! Here at Open Bible St. Pete we will always preach the full gospel of Jesus Christ and not a watered down version of it. But to attract the community that surrounds the church we need to change the way we do church. The change I am talking about is style of worship music, preaching style, outreaches, etc... This is not the 1950's anymore, this is the 21st century and the church needs to catch up with that fact. Between 6,000 to 10,000 churches close each year in the USA, which means 100-200 churches will close this week. Most of the churches that close are the traditional churches and the large denominational churches, but evangelical and non-denominational churches are actually growing. Why are these traditional Churches failing? The answer is actually simple, they have not changed with the times or culture and they are stuck in their traditions.
At Open Bible St. Pete we are not about "religion" or traditions, we are all about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. What do I mean when I say we are not about "religion", well religion is man made and that is not what God wants in our life, what He wants is that personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, and not go through the motions of man made traditions. Another word for this is religiosity, which means people put church activity, rules, traditions, pet doctrines above the true meaning of the church body. Religiosity is characterized by a lack of grace, love, and true enjoyment of life as we are to follow Christ and not promote a religion. Jesus didn’t come to establish a religion with all its religious trappings. Instead He came to establish a personal intimate relationship with us. This is what differentiates the two. Religion is an end in itself. It makes traditions and rules equal to a personal relationship with God. But Jesus said a relationship with God boils down to two basic things, loving Him with the whole of our being, and loving our neighbors as ourselves, or the Great Commandment. Religion takes what God made simple and attainable into unattainable rules and regulations, leaving the Great Commandment in its wake. Think of it this way, would Jesus be welcome in your church today?
Often times churches get stuck in a rut, they do not want change as this is how they always done things. That type of church is doomed to fail. Times change and the Church needs to change with it, or the Church will become irrelevant, as we see today. The Church has changed in the past 2,000 years to meet the needs of the people, it had too as times change.
When you read the Bible you will see how the Pharisee's had a hard time with this new guy coming around saying He was the Son of God. The Pharisee's had religiosity, they were stuck on their traditions but never realized that they missed their Messiah. Jesus came to change the world, He came to save the world and not to condemn it. We cannot be those modern day Pharisee's, we need to accept change to attract people so they come to church. Because if we do not get them in the doors of the church, how will they learn of the saving grace of Jesus Christ? Now people can learn about Jesus as the world defines Him, but that is not the Jesus I know.
We see more and more how certain groups want to take God out of everyday life, and they made a lot of progress. Just think back when the Bible was still allowed in schools, when the foundation of the family had a father and a mother and they were grounded in the Bible. Look what happened when all that was taken away, we see more violence, more broken families, the twisting of what gender you are, and how the God ordained institution of marriage got redefined.
The founders of our great country based the Constitution on Judeo-Christian values, (this is a true statement no matter what the world may say) that is why our country has survived this long and how we have been blessed by God. Are we a perfect country, no, not even close, we have made major mistakes but we always tried to do the right thing and learned from those mistakes. God has blessed us but how much longer will He bless us if we keep turning away from Him?
The Church should be the foundation of our lives, but the Church is not a building, it is us, the body of Christ. As the body of Christ we need to be the Jesus people see. We are His ambassadors and need to reach the lost people out there! Jesus said in the Great Commission to go out and make disciples, but if we fail to get people to attend church, how can we make disciples?
Here at Open Bible St. Pete we are here to save souls, but we do not stop there! Some churches care about the numbers, not here, we care about you! Giving your life to Christ is just the beginning, Once you are born again you begin the process of sanctification. We will guide you and help you to become a disciple of Jesus, so that you can make disciples also! We are there with you and help you through the difficulties of life that we face everyday. We guide you with God's Word as He has all the answers!
Why would you choose our church over the many other churches in the area? I cannot make that choice for you, but if you are looking for a church that is not that older tradition church, or one of the several mega churches in the area, then Open Bible St. Pete is for you. Here you will not get lost in the crowd, we give you that personal touch you are looking for. We show you the love of Jesus Christ, and you become part of our family.
There is no dress code so come as you are. We want you to feel comfortable in church! We do not care were you came from or what you have done in the past, we just invite you to feel the love that God has for all of us and to share His living and active Word to all. Our service has something for all ages, young and old.
At our church we welcome everyone as we are all broken people in need of a Savior. We believe in God's radical unconditional and unwavering love for us. We know there are real people out there that need the perfect love that only God can give. And God gives that love through us!
So after all that said, here is God's vision for Open Bible St. Pete,
Bring the church to the 21st century, which includes worship music style (we have a blended style), using social media, world wide web, and using technology to bring Jesus to the whole community and to the world.
Take believers from the milk to the meat of God's Word.
Preach the whole counsel of God's Word in truth and spirit!
Meet the needs of the congregation and the community, both spiritual and physical.
Provide supernatural healings through Jesus Christ!
And most of all, love people as Jesus loves us!
So come and visit us and see what we are all about. We strive to be a body that operates in the Spirit and brings the fire of the Holy Spirit into our lives and into the lives we touch, thus glorifying God in all that we do.