Update on Renewal Church

I want to share the latest on our church plant, Renewal Church. Over a year ago, the Lord gave the Elders a vision for church planting that is new for our church.  We believe that God is leading us to plant a new congregation in Bell County.  That will be Renewal Church.  After Renewal is launched, we will begin steps toward planting a church in what the North American Mission Board calls “Send Cities.”  That encompasses many of the major cities in the United States. When we called Matthew Levant to be our Minister for Missions, we affirmed that we were calling him to lead us in missions AND to plant a church in Bell County of which he would be the pastor.  I know that we would all agree that Matthew has done a great job in leading us, evidence the nearly twenty mission trips being taken by our people this year.

Soon Matthew will need to devote more and more attention to preparing the new plant.  So, Matt Hollingsworth is leading a search for a new Minister of Missions who will work with Matthew Levant and then replace him when Renewal Church launches Easter Sunday, 2019. This is part of the budget we adopted in March that became effective April 1.

So, it is imperative that we all pray for all that is involved in launching Renewal Church.  There is much work to be done in starting a new work.

In addition to praying, it is necessary that we raise sufficient funding for Renewal to launch well.  Many of you have given or are planning to give.  Our goal is to raise $190K for the launch and first year of the new church.  Through your generosity, to date we have received over $39K.  Now is a great time to give before we have our pledge campaign for our move to the Hilltop. For years, our church has given thousands of dollars to plant churches all over Texas through the Mary Hill Davis offering received each September.  Now we ave the opportunity to plant a church right here among our neighbors.  I hope you will respond. You may do so on The City or by writing a check with “Renewal Church” in the memo line.

In addition to praying and giving, I hope some of you are talking as a family and praying together about being  founding members of Renewal Church. Yes, it would mean leaving FB Belton but in doing so, you would be helping to fulfill the vision God has given us as a church.  If you have questions about what all of that means, Matthew would consider it  a joy to talk with you.

When Renewal begins meeting for worship, they will meet at  North Belton Middle School.   The “permanent location” is yet to be decided and will be a matter of prayer from day one for the new congregation and for us as the “mother church.”

I trust this update is helpful in your understanding of the new church plant.  There are many people who will be reached for Jesus in the years to come.  You and I have the privilege to cooperate with God in the reaching of many through Renewal Church. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Pastor Andy Davis


Hilltop Update

Here is the latest update on the move to the Hilltop.

Our architects are working on our suggested plans. They are focusing on the orientation of buildings and parking, including entrances/exits onto MLK and Loop 121. There are many factors to be taken into consideration such as views from inside looking out (the property is beautiful), sun and wind, existing vegetation, drainage, utilities, city ordinances, and more.

The firm is also focusing on access—something that is of major importance to all of us. That includes the entrances and exits, internal traffic flow—both inside and outside of buildings, parking, and expandable parking.

We are committed to a front entry point that says, “You are welcome here.” We want a modern design that fits Central Texas, that looks like a church but is not ostentatious. We need our facilities to be maintainable, fully accessible, and expandable as we anticipate growth.

Most importantly, we want a church that has a structure that glorifies God. We anticipate having something for the church family to see from the architect by sometime in September or early October. If you like what you see without too many major changes, we could have a ceremonial groundbreaking in the fall followed by actual construction in late March or early April. You will be voting on the design as well as the cost.

A formal fundraising campaign for Faithful God Faithful Future will begin in the fall. The plans are being worked as I type. Some people have already started giving. THANK YOU!!! You do not have to wait if you feel led to start giving now, but the formal pledge effort will begin after the summer months.

We are also, with the help of attorneys, in consultation with UMHB on the formal memorandum of agreement between the university and the church that will be the basis for the actual contract. That is going very smoothly, as you would expect between two institutions that love and respect each other. We anticipate closing on the property in early fall.

So, pray and pray some more. Give, if you wish to start. Anticipate something to see on paper in the fall. To God be the glory.

Pastor Andy Davis

What Are We Doing About the Texas Border Situation?

I know we are all concerned about the situation in our country and at our own Texas border. I wanted to share this message with you from Texas Baptists. Please watch the video and follow the link for tangible ways to help if you feel led:

We at Texas Baptists often get calls asking what are you doing in the Valley to help the immigration situation and what can we do. Please see the video below for a brief introduction. Texas Baptists have been working in the Valley for decades. We have addressed the problems of migrants coming across the board, especially the unaccompanied minor crisis for years. We are heavily invested in helping the “stranger.”

We know there are a lot of politics involved in all of this. Our concern is not politics, but helping people in need with the love of Christ and sharing with them the Gospel. If you feel you can, please share this video with others.

Pastor Andy

To read more CLICK HERE.

What’s Next, Church?

On May 20 the church voted overwhelmingly to move forward with the land swap between the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (www.UMHB.edu) and First Baptist Belton. Many have asked, “What is next?”

During these summer months, final details will be worked out between the church and the university. Our architects are working on drawings to help us imagine the possibilities of how we may want to design the new site.

Plans are being made for a Faithful God Faithful Future pledge campaign. We will ask the church family to make a monetary commitment payable over five years. Some have asked if they can begin to give now. The answer is yes. In fact, through last Sunday several people have already given over $26,000. You can give on The City (fbcbelton.onthecity.org) or you can write a check with Faithful God Faithful Future (FGFF) in the memo line.

Is that all? NO! Vacation Bible School begins Monday. Our first international mission trip (of twelve during the summer) departed for Moldova this morning. We are moving forward in our church plant, Renewal Church in receiving money for the start-up and praying about who will go with Matthew to begin the work.

There will be camps for youth and children this summer. The 47th Annual God and Country Concert will take place on Sunday, July 1. Meanwhile, we continue to gather for worship and Bible study each Sunday. That’s where I hope to see you this Lord’s Day.

Please continue to pray! Remember: We cannot do all of this, but God can!

Pastor Andy

Tithing and Giving as Christians

Tithing and Giving as Christians

Republished from August 167, 2017

Bad reasons to give:

  • Duty – Bible says to do it, so we have to do it
  • Status – to win favor with others
  • Guilt – because we have it and others don’t

Why are we to give?

  • For the glory of God
  • Love for neighbors – for the blessing of our city
  • Missions – purpose of making disciples of all nations
  • Worship – because we can’t help it. It’s an overflow of a grace-filled life.

Where are the Biblical examples of tithing?

1. Tithing in the Old Testament
The word “tithe” is derived from the “tenth,” and Israel’s forefathers had long practiced a tradition of giving ten percent (Gen. 14:20, 28:22) before it was instituted at Sinai (Lev.27:30-32; Num. 18:21-28; Deut. 12:5-19, 14:22-29, 26:1-19).

Old Testament giving was diverse. Israel was to give sacrifices, freewill offerings, redeem their firstborn people and animals and pay various taxes, among other things. The ten percent tithe harvest and flock offering were simply one aspect of the diverse gifts required under the Mosaic Covenant, and some estimate that as much as twenty-five percent of income was required when considering various festivals and offerings presented.

A popular passage most church members remember is Malachi 3:8-10. Often we hear it as a failure to tithe ten percent of your income was equivalent to thievery. But is this the case? Is ten percent still required and expected? Or has the revelation of the gospel clarified how we are to think about giving?

2. Tithing in the New Testament
Beyond a mention of tithing in a parable (Luke 18:12) and a description of Abraham’s gift to Melchizedek (Heb. 7:3-10), tithing is only mentioned in two parallel passages of the Gospels (Matt.23:23; Luke 11:42). The New Testament never commands the tithe, but the parallel gospel accounts assume it.

What are we to make of this virtual silence in the New Testament?

As with each and every element of the Old Testament, we must read through gospel-informed lenses as gospel-centered people. We don’t live in ancient Israel and thus must not holistically apply the prescriptions of the Old Covenant as if we are not living in the New. The life, death, and resurrection of Christ have fundamentally transformed how believers are to relate to the Mosaic Law.

Jesus changes and completes everything by exposing motivation and intent. All throughout the Gospels we see Jesus dealing more with the condition of the heart and motive than we do with stringent specifics. We can almost imagine Jesus whispering, “You have heard it said, ‘give your tithe of ten percent,’ but I say to you…”

So, how then shall we give?

How are we to give?
The short answer is that we are to give like God gives. It is apparent all through Scripture that God is a giving God. If we were honest we would admit it is because God gives (and how He does it) that causes us to fall deeply in love with Him. He LOVES to give. He delights in it.

As those being conformed to the image of Christ, we should equally delight in giving. And it isn’t just giving in general that is expected; rather it is selfless, sacrificial, and spontaneous as an overflow from a heart responding to the generosity of the gospel.

Here are a few principles to consider:

1. Give generously
To grasp the heart and nature of the right kind of giver read and re-read 2 Corinthians 8-9. Not just the “God loves the cheerful giver” section, but the whole thing. The Macedonians gave generously, “beyond their means,” and begged earnestly for “the favor” of doing so. This is radical giving, not just throwing some pocket change in the plate as it passes by.

2. Cheerfully
Believe this – there is a reward for giving. Yes, there is a reward for giving but it is dependent upon a heart free from lust for the temporal rewards of this earth (Matt. 6:1-4). Gospel giving is cheerful and voluntary because it trusts that every deposit into the kingdom will earn eternal interest. We do believe that if you can’t give cheerfully, that you should give anyway because your internal sin should not lead you to external sin. As you give, confess your struggle with joy and seek clarity on the disconnect between your heart and the gospel.

3. Give sacrificially
Giving sacrificially inconveniences us, and the flesh is quick to offer excuses and justification, but the gospel calls us to deep and radical sacrifice. In 1 John 3:16-17, the apostle exhorts the Church to care for brothers in need as an overflow and implication of gospel love, the type of love that lays down one’s life for another. Do we actually give to the point that we feel it and the feeling stings? Does the call to take up our cross in Matt. 16:24-26 not also carry the charge to lay down our checkbooks?

4. Give spontaneously
A heart freed by the gospel does not wait for opportunities to give but intentionally seeks them out. Gospel giving looks for chances to bless others and listens to the needs of those near and far. Gospel generosity gives to those who beg (Matt.5:42) risking the gift might not be used properly (which is not to say it is not righteous and wise to occasionally withhold support for some greater purpose). Those walking in the light of the gospel engage in good deeds and meet pressing needs anytime and anywhere they arise.

5. Give regularly
Though we should give as need arises, we should also be consistent and disciplined in giving. Giving is linked with prayer and fasting (Matt6:1-18), and both should contain some element of discipline and regularity. In 1 Corinthians 16:2, the apostle Paul explicitly commends a disciplined and orderly form of giving in addition to whatever spontaneous offerings and gifts we might be compelled to give.

6. Give secretly and honestly
There is a general theme of secret giving for the sake of eternal reward. The flesh craves the praise of man, and thus we need to beware the hypocrisy and tendency to give in an effort to purchase the acclaim, attention, and affection of others (Matt.6:2-4). We also see the importance of giving with a pure and honest heart (Acts 5). If we do say we are going to give a certain amount, then we need to give it fully and not just for a show.

7. Give thankfully
Grace is the basis for giving thankfully. A person who understands that much grace has been applied for his life will be a generous and grateful giver.

To whom do believers give?
We see throughout Scripture that we are called to give to:
1. our local church family
2. our spiritual family
3. our biological family
4. our neighbors and community
5. our enemies

Though the law of the tithe as understood in its Old Testament context is no longer mandatory for believers, we argue strongly that giving a regular, set amount to your local church is a healthy and helpful principle. God commands the church members to support those who explicitly labor for the sake of the kingdom (1 Tim. 5:17-18; 1 Cor. 9:3-12), and the church leaders often have a greater picture of the church’s and the community’s needs.

Within the New Testament, we see the early Church selling their possessions and laying the proceeds at the feet of the apostles (Acts 4:32-37), trusting them to discern how to best steward the gifts. In the same way, you should entrust a major portion of your giving to your local church.

In addition to giving to a local church, there are many missionaries and ministries in need of funding, as well as countless family, friends, neighbors, enemies, widows, orphans, and the impoverished and oppressed. Such need requires attentive hearts. It is hard to be generous and compassionate without being observant and aware of the needs around us.

We desire for our people to be informed by gospel lenses. We desire that we would think of giving as a joyful opportunity instead of responsibility. In view of this reality, ten percent should not be the goal. We should continue to think through how we can afford to give more and more for the glory of God. The gospel compels us to give, confronting our fleshly tendencies toward greed, control, comfort, and convenience.

We desire our people to be so inspired by love and fueled by grace so that they ask questions like:
● What if a raise or bonus provided an opportunity to further advance the gospel rather than pay for an addition to our house?
● What if where we ate and traveled and what we wore and drove were all filtered through a kingdom-first mindset?
● What if we anticipated opportunities to give when we went out instead of reacting negatively when approached on the corner?
● What if we sought to give not ten percent but twenty-five or fifty percent or more?
● In what ways is God calling me to be more generous and helpful?
● What ways am I being more selfish and private instead of supportive, trusting, and kind?

It’s not about the tithe. It’s about giving generously, cheerfully, sacrificially, spontaneously, regularly, secretly, honestly, and thankfully.

Financial stewardship for the glory of God.

Pray for Revival in America

This past Sunday morning, in light of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, I made a statement strongly condemning racism in all its forms. I called on the church to speak up, not to be silent, and to use our influence in our community to decry violence and racism, and neo-Nazism in all its forms. It is true that America has been racked by loud voices and violence in many of our big cities since the day after the Presidential election and it needs to end.

I believe that the church must speak loudly and single out racism whenever it raises its head in our country. What happened in Virginia was disgusting and the loss of life was sickening. The faces we saw on our television screens were angry faces representing hearts filled with hatred. The reason the faces are angry and the hearts are hateful is that the hearts are empty spiritually. They do not know Jesus. Some carried crosses trying to give the impression that they are Christ followers. Nothing could be farther from the truth. No one who is truly a Christian and has the love of Jesus in his heart can possibly be racist. It is not possible. The love of Christ drives out hatred.

Jesus told us clearly to love one another. Paul told us to be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another even as Christ has forgiven us. Ephesians 4:32. Revelation tells us in Chapter 7 verse 9: “ After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” There is simply no compatibility between racism and the Scripture.

So, church, please pray. Please use your influence. Never be silent in the face of the blatant sin of racism. Tell people about Jesus. Pray for revival in America. May it begin here if that would please God.

Pastor Andy