The Mystery of Working out Your Faith

“God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform,” so wrote English poet William Cowper in 1779. God’s Mysterious Ways is the current theme of our Sunday morning messages at Hobart Baptist Church.

One of the mysteries of our Christian lives is how God works within us. The apostle Paul expresses the mystery well when he writes, “my dear friends . . . continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12, 13).
Even though God is at work within us changing us to be more and more like Jesus, we have to work at it too.

Golden Gift
Your relationship with God is a free gift, which cannot be earned

The reality of God’s grace is wonderful. His unmerited favour is the foundation and centre of our faith. We can’t earn our relationship with God, it is a free gift which can only be received. It is not a one-off event because every day of our lives God’s ongoing mercy, compassion, love and grace is there for us.
However, there is more to the Christian life than passively receiving God’s grace.       Read More >>>

Let’s Not Lose Them

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, often called the “birthday” of the church. On Pentecost we celebrate a major turning point in the life of the early Christian church when the Holy Spirit ‘came upon them’.

Jesus' followers
“The world has never been the same since, with Jesus’ followers now numbering more than two billion and still growing”

In the weeks following Jesus’ death and resurrection, a small band of followers had huddled together hiding from the authorities that crucified Jesus. But on the day of Pentecost (Pente = 50 days after resurrection) they were transformed, and with great boldness and clarity began spreading the good news that Jesus was alive and Lord over all. (See Acts 2.) The world has never been the same since, with Jesus’ followers now numbering more than two billion and still growing.
Over the past weeks at Hobart Baptist Church we have been focusing on the Holy Spirit and how important he is to the church and our lives. Without him there wouldn’t be a church.
Read More >>>

Boom to Bust: Church Life Cycles

Back in the 1960s, our Hobart Baptist church building was full to capacity and overflowing on a weekly basis. There are a number of people still attending the church who remember it packed every Sunday with around 400 people. An all-aged Sunday School met at Elizabeth College next door because there wasn’t enough room for everyone in the church building.
A lot has happened in the past 50-60 years, both in the community and the church, and those days have long since gone. Yet, there is no reason why it can’t happen again at some time in the not too distant future.

Hobart Baptist Church
Hobart Baptist Church is one of the original ‘tabernacles’ built in Tasmania, Australia with help from Spurgeon’s grandson

Today Hobart Baptist Church is made up over 250 people. Whether people attend the 10am service, the Karen language service, the Church With No Walls ministry or our communities of faith meeting in homes, we are a sizable number. There is no doubt God is at work amongst us and there a signs of growing and healthy church. There are many reasons to be very encouraged.
As with all organisms, the church goes through times of growth . . . Read More >>>

Unity vs Diversity

Yesterday at  Hobart Baptist Church we had our monthly combined worship service. It’s called ‘combined’ because Hobart Baptist is in fact four distinct congregations with people of many different ages and racial backgrounds.

Halve Poverty_HBC_1Sept13
“Hobart Baptist is in fact four distinct congregations with people of many different ages and racial backgrounds”

After our service we continued our worship with lunch together, and if you had hung around for lunch you would have noticed that one of the striking features of this church is our diversity.
Hobart Baptist Church is a not only a multiracial church but a multicultural one as well. By multiracial I refer to a church with people from different ethnicities and languages but with a single common culture. By multicultural, on the other hand, I refer to a church not only of people from different backgrounds, cultures and languages, but they are encouraged to retain their cultural distinctives, resulting in more than one culture.
Read More >>>

Baptism: Being Immersed in Jesus

Yesterday at Hobart Baptist Church we enjoyed for the second week in a row, three special baptisms. It is was a special time of celebration when new followers of Jesus Water bubble and wavesdeclared their commitment and faith in this way.
If you were able to take a moment to look around our church you would notice we are an international church with many different backgrounds, languages, ages, cultures and experiences.  We currently have three gatherings on Sundays . . .
Read More >>>

Facing Change as a City Church

The building Hobart Baptist Church meets in is just on the fringe of CBD of Hobart. It is a stately stone building modelled on Baptist Tabernacle in Stockport, England, and is uniquely located on the main road linking Hobart and North Hobart.

Hobart Baptist Church
Hobart Baptist Church is one of the original ‘tabernacles’ built in Tasmania with help from Spurgeon’s grandson

As a city church the congregation is drawn from across Hobart and across many nationalities. It is the oldest remaining Baptist church in Hobart with links back to the first Baptist church established in 1835.
At various times through its history the congregation has struggled to fit into the building, and at other times it has felt quite empty. Today, the church is made up of three congregations numbering nearly 250 people.
As a church we are on a journey . . .
Read More >>>

Many Cultures – One Church

Childhood Girls
We are a church with many nationalities represented

As Hobart becomes more and more multicultural city we shouldn’t be surprised to see significant changes in many churches as they too become multicultural. It’s been our experience here at Hobart Baptist Church; we also are on a journey becoming more and more a multicultural church.
So what does it mean to be a multicultural church?  Obviously, it means we are a church with many nationalities represented. Our church is made up of people from quite a number of European nations, and . . .
Read More >>>

Christianity in Australia

Despite what you read in the newspaper, Christianity is far from dead in Australia.
The last census figures released last year showed that the numbers calling themselves Christian have grown from 12.8 million in 2001 to 13.1 million in 2011. While the percentage of Christians declined from 66% to 61% it is significant overall numbers increased. Being a Christian may no longer have the social status it once had, however, these figures show us it is far from abnormal.
Read More >>>MP900384850[1]

Developing an Aussie Gospel

Australia
Making the gospel relevant to our unique Aussie culture

At the recent engageHOBART conference, Jenny and I led a workshop on Developing an Aussie Gospel. In our workshop we explored what we might be able to do to make the gospel message more meaningful in our Australian culture.
This is no easy task. Our community has changed so much over the past 50 years, and recently we have witnessed a growing criticism of the church that is increasingly hostile. Although we are called by Jesus to be messengers of the “good news” of the Kingdom there are many who in no way believe our message is “good” news at all.
In addition to exploring new ways of doing ‘church’ and revisiting some of our many treasured forms, we also need to learn how best to communicate the gospel to Australians.
Read More >>>

The People – The Church

We use the word “church” in so many different ways that sometimes it becomes quite confusing.  When we say we are “going to church” we could mean we are meeting with others to worship God, or that we are just going to the building. Sometimes we use the word church to mean a denomination, and other times we use it to mean the wider body of Christ of which all believers are part. 
Sadly, none of these ways of using the word are from the Bible. In the New Testament the word we translate “church” is ekklesia, which means a public gathering, assembly or meeting. Never throughout the New Testament does ekklesia refer to a building; it only always refers to people.

Chinese House Church
A chinese house church meets

Nevertheless buildings are important. While many churches exist without a building, they can serve a useful function. For Hobart Baptist our buildings help us go about the ministry God has called us to. What is more, did you know that our buildings are used seven days a week? Many other groups find our buildings helpful too.
From time to time, for many reasons, churches need to develop their buildings. These may include the buildings being too big or too small, they could be falling down or crumbling, or often they are wrongly designed for today’s church or community needs.
Hobart Baptist Church
Hobart Baptist Church is one of the original ‘tabernacles’ built in Tasmania with help from Spurgeon’s grandson

Hobart Baptist Church is in the middle of a process of dreaming about how we might develop and use our buildings to help us in our ministry both now and in the future. When we began the journey nearly two years ago we were just looking at upgrading the kitchen and having meeting rooms with appropriate technology, but since then the vision has grown and we are now in serious discussions with the owners of neighbouring properties about how we might do something quite large together.
The church has appointed a taskforce to work with the interested parties to work out what is possible. We are aware that any development needs to reflect and to speak of what the church stands for, what it wants to promote and how it can best be used in response to contemporary and future needs. So all our dreaming and discussion has taken place within the context of the mission of the church and our place in neighbourhood in mind.
Everyone the taskforce talks to is very excited with our vision and are keen to see the vision realised. However, the Taskforce is very mindful that despite this truly amazing opportunity, “the church” is not a building, no matter how beautiful, spacious or practical it might be. The building only exists to serve God’s people who are the church, and it is important for us to constantly remember this.

“The building only exists to serve God’s people who are the church, and it is important for us to constantly remember this.”

That, however, doesn’t take away the reality that the Taskforce is at a very important stage in our discussions and we as a congregation are praying earnestly. A full update will be given at our church meeting in April, but in the meantime we will be praying that God will oversee the process and that a shared understanding on how to proceed will be approved by all the respective parties.
We are looking forward to all that happens as Hobart Baptist Church charts its course into the future, with our great God at the helm.
Stephen L Baxter