In many ways, I can think of no more appropriate name for a church like ours: Heritage. We have a rich heritage of fruitful ministry in Lakeland, thanks to the faithful preaching, prayers, evangelism, and ministry of generations prior. In fact, we have the unique privilege of experiencing ministry alongside some of our church’s original founders! We are truly a blessed people in this regard.
Having such a robust history of ministry means several things. First, it means that God has used our church to touch a lot of people in this community over a long period of time! People around Lakeland know who we are, and that is a good thing insofar as we use that platform to glorify God, not merely our own ministry.
Second, it means that we have lots of different programs which are championed, led, and attended by many different age groups in our church. Over the years, we’ve been blessed to develop a robust sports ministry which touches areas of the community we otherwise couldn’t reach. We have folks ministering through “widows walk,” a ministry specifically intended to encourage fellowship and community among widows. We have hundreds of people serving in children’s and student ministries, committing their time on a regular basis to intentional discipleship among the next generation. Each week, hundreds of folks attend Community Groups which provide opportunities for the gospel to be fleshed out in small group community. What a wide area of influence God has given us!
Yet if you would talk to each of the people who lead those ministries, down the line they would tell you that they couldn’t do it without the larger support of the church body at Heritage through prayer, giving, and even through serving in other areas of need. Obviously, not everyone can be involved in every ministry, but we all need each other to make the whole thing work! Most of all, we need God to provide the growth to maturity that we are trying to accomplish in all these areas!
So you may be asking: What’s my part in all this? Some of you may be serving in several ministries and attending several small group environments. If that’s you, and especially if you have an introverted personality, you may feel a bit overwhelmed at times. Or, if you are an extrovert, you may thrive off of being around people in such environments. Breathe out. Both of those reactions are OK!
The question of central importance is this: What is the heartbeat of ministry at HBC? Or, to pose it another way: When I commit to joining this church, what essential things am I committing to be involved in? Great Question!
Let’s talk about the three things each member of Heritage essentially commits to.
- Our main worship environment. The heart of our mission statement is “to glorify God,” and there are certainly many ways to do this. Yet in the Bible, there is a distinct place and purpose for the gathering of God’s people in public worship. Ed Clowney summarizes what the Bible teaches about public worship like this:
“In corporate worship, we experience the meaning of union with Christ. We worship most fully when we together hear his words to us and encourage one another to grow in grace and in witness to the world.”
Don’t miss that! There is something unique that happens in corporate worship. We fully experience the meaning of union with Christ in a corporate setting because we taste to scope of redemption’s future fullness, wherein God’s plan to “unite all things in him” (Ephesians 1:10) will come to fruition. Worship does take place privately when we engage in private devotions, prayer, mediation on God’s Word, and more. But this cannot be an “either/or” reality. We need both private, and especially public worship in our lives to experience the fullness of God’s redemptive work among his people.
So, this one’s pretty easy. The heartbeat of ministry at HBC happens in our Sunday morning worship service, when we sit under the preaching of God’s Word and respond to his grace in singing, giving, praying, and partaking in the ordinances.
- A community environment. The Bible also teaches that we need the kind of community that is formed by the reality of the gospel in our daily lives. Community can be a buzz-word that becomes muddled and confusing because of its broad use in today’s world. However, when we speak of community at HBC, we mean life-on-life, gospel-centered, relational living. This is the kind of thing we see in Colossians 3:12-14:
“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
There are several ways to be involved in community here at HBC. A few of them are…
Sunday morning community groups
student ministry D-Groups
Sunday evening community groups
Wednesday evening community groups
Men’s & Women’s discipleship groups
…and the list goes on! The point is, we hope that each member will choose one such environment in which to be known, loved, and cared for and in which to know, love, and care for others!
- A service environment. The body metaphor (see 1 Cor. 12:12-16) is such a poignant one for our church. There are entire arms of our ministry that literally would not run if people were not exercising their gifts and talents to serve in specific areas. At HBC, most of the ministries are not—strictly speaking— “run” by the pastors because we believe it is God’s good design that everyone would have a place to serve. That doesn’t mean that everyone is gifted and called to preach and teach. Rather, it means that God has uniquely wired each of us to serve in some capacity, and that while preaching and teaching are important, they simply could not (and should not) happen apart from the larger life of the body as we minister to one another.
So, we ask you to serve not merely because we need a spot filled, but because it is God’s good design for the life of the church, and because we believe real growth happens in service to God and others.
Here are just a few of the main ways to serve at HBC…
student ministry D-groups
Youth for Christ
children’s Sunday school
events & family meals
audio visual team
community groups leader
Again, the point is that we’d hope you will plug into one of these ministries, using your gifts, talents, and time for the glory of God.
And by the way….many of these environments cross over. Perhaps your community group would like to adopt a certain area of service in the church (greeter ministry, for example). Or, perhaps you serve on the student ministry leadership team, where we hope to foster environments of community and service. We’re not asking you to do it all. We are inviting you to experience the goodness of God’s design for the body of Christ.
None of us can do everything, and thus we are blessed to have many avenues through which we can live out the “one-another” commands of Scripture. It is our hope that when you engage in our main worship environment, a community environment, and a service environment, you will see the fruits of faithful ministry among God’s people.
Questions about how to get involved? Please feel free to contact one of our pastors here.
 Edmund P. Clowney, “Corporate Worship: A Means of Grace” in Give Praise to God, ed. Philip Graham Ryken, Derek W.H. Thomas, and J. Ligon Duncan III.