This is when we get into bigger changes coming this fall at Lamar. We’ve been praying and strategizing perhaps most fervently for our three language groups that meet on campus for worship each week. I’ve been meeting with Pastor Luis and Pastor Mung, regularly, to determine how best to move forward with what we’re calling “LBC3: One Church, Three Languages.” I’ve also been seeking input from our staff, a few deacons, and two churches who have multiple language groups as part of their church.
I’m going to start with the one big change that will feel like it’s a move away from being one church. Then I’ll jump into the many ways that we’re integrating even more starting in September. So, first, the big change:
Starting in September, No More Monthly Combined Worship Services
I realize this may be a disappointment to many. It’s such a neat thing to have all of us together in one room, worshipping God together. However, after talking with Pastor Luis and Pastor Mung, I’ve been able to at least try and put myself in the shoes of someone who doesn’t speak English. While it may be neat thing to all be in one room together, I’m sure it is quite the distraction to have a completely different worship setting once per month, and to have to put on headphones to hear the sermon translated.
As far as really seeing our Spanish and Zo groups see meaningful spiritual growth, as well as the potential for numerical growth, consistency is KEY! So we’re going to have each language group worshipping in their own heart-language, every week from now and on (starting in September). In a sense (if you think about it), we’re unifying even more with this move. Why? Because every person who gathers with Lamar on Sundays is able to worship Jesus as effectively as possible.
Starting in September, Several Ways We’re Integrating More
Even with that big change, Pastor Luis, Pastor Mung, and myself believe that we’re actually going to be integrating even more come September. Some of these are things that are already happening, but some are new!
- Children and Students: they are already fully integrated. This is part of the beauty of having Bible Study at the same time, and worship at the same time!
- Monthly Fellowships: We are aiming to have monthly church-wide fellowships for all. This will look like Park Days, Church Dinners (sometimes, specifically, with the Zo, Spanish, or English groups hosting), etc. This will provide opportunities for meaningful interaction, and learning about each other’s cultures!
- Parallel Sermon Series: Starting September 22nd, the Preaching Team (Luis, Mung, and myself) will be preaching the same sermon series’ (plural) for the foreseeable future. The sermons, obviously, will be different. But we are already meeting regularly to work together on what texts or topics to preach on in the future! And here’s a sneak peek within the sneak peak: This Fall- 12 weeks in the book of DANIEL! Next Spring- Jonah, “Why Church?” series, 1 Timothy, and a 3-week “Gospel-Centered Family” series. All of this is tentative, but we’re excited to be planning far ahead together!
- Preaching Team Occasional Rotation: So that we, as a church, get to hear from each Teaching Pastor, we’re hoping (at least occasionally) to rotate whose preaching with each language group for a few Sundays each year.
- Sermons Recorded & Posted Online: This is a smaller change, but we plan to start recording the sermons in each group to post online, so that all of our church can catch up on weeks they miss.
- Combined Pray & Go Sunday Nights: All 3 Teaching Pastors will be part of Pray & Go on Sunday nights, and hopefully encouraging anyone in our three language groups to participate!
- 2 Yearly Combined Worship Celebrations: Each December, we’ll combine for our Christmas Musical on Sunday morning (this year on December 15th). Then also, each June, we’ll come together to celebrate how God has moved in LBC3. We’ll celebrate salvations, baptisms, new members, and more.
With these changes, we want to encourage the church as a whole to consider occasionally attending a worship service in a language other than their own. We may even try and have written translations available of the songs in each group, as well as of the sermons. Particularly for families with children, this is a great way for kids (and adults) to learn about cultures other than our own, and to see how, in Jesus, we are all part of God’s family!
A Mentality Adjustment
With these changes, we’re hoping that there will be an adjustment in the way we think about LBC3. More and more, we want to think of Lamar NOT as an English-speaking congregation that hosts 2 other language groups. Instead, we are all one church, Lamar Baptist Church, from multiple backgrounds, ethnicities, and countries. While each of us, as Teaching Pastors, may primarily be shepherding our own language-groups, we also are working together to see God glorified and the Gospel spread in north Arlington, DFW and beyond!
Pray for us. If you’re a member of Lamar, come Sunday night to the Called Church Conference at 6:00pm to hear more and ask questions. We look forward to seeing what God will do in us and through us in the coming months and years!