Jeff Shearer Questions Jay Wolf

Q.  What is newsworthy about this Sanctuary?

A.  The creation and opening of FBC's new Sanctuary is newsworthy because many downtown churches throughout America have moved away or declined to the point that the church is no longer a force for God or a benefit to the city.

In contrast, First Baptist has maintained its commitment to Montgomery 's downtown and has refused to leave. Creating new facilities indicate that FBC is not only surviving but thriving as a force for Christ and a helping agent to thousands of people.

The expansion of FBC by over 110,000 square feet of new and renovated space at a cost of over $22,000,000 is newsworthy because the construction has benefited the city's economy and contributed to the renaissance of downtown. That is a good news story.

Q.  Why build a new sanctuary? What was wrong with the old one?

A.  Nothing was wrong with the old sanctuary. It is absolutely fantastic, just too small. When a family grows from 4 members to 8, they require a larger dining room table and a bigger place to live. FBC is a family of faith with over 4000 members. We simply need more space for our current teammates plus we want to provide more room for new friends to join God's Party on Perry Street !

Q.  Why stay downtown when so many churches are re-locating?

A.  FBC has prayerfully sensed God directing us to stay downtown and not move away from our assignment. We want to stay near the need. We recently acquired the adjacent facility of another church that chose to relocate. We have transformed those facilities into our Caring Center which functions as the hands of Jesus.

Last year from the Caring Center we helped over 20,000 people with food, clothing, obtaining their GED, teaching conversational English, advancing their reading skills, and battling addictions-- along with a myriad of other practical services to hurting people. In the middle of the downtown, FBC is an oasis of God's Hope.

Our downtown location is not a liability but an asset because it makes us a ministry laboratory where people can translate their love for Christ into loving people through practical ministries. Additionally, by remaining downtown we can function as a regional church that connects a wide variety of people. Like heaven, we want to be a rainbow of friends who share the ultimate common denominator of loving and serving Christ together.

The interstate highways make FBC accessible to the whole region. First Baptist is a grace place where everyone is welcomed—young and old, all races and every type of background. We take the high brows, low brows and even the no brows! Furthermore, during the week there are over 50,000 people who come to the downtown area and it is our objective to strive to minister to this large weekday population. After all if you can come downtown for the Biscuits, you can come to FBC for God's gravy!.

Q.  Why such a fancy, expensive building? Why not build a more modest structure and share the rest of the money with the poor?

A.  The Biblical basis for constructing a beautiful house of worship is twofold. First, God instructed Solomon to build the temple in Jerusalem out of the finest materials as an offering of the people’s best. Secondly, the Bible tells us in Colossians 3:17 “ Whatever you do in word or deed, do it as unto the Lord.”

These facilities are an offering of our best to the Lord Jesus who gave His best for us. Furthermore, a strong church generates more financial resources to assist people in Montgomery and beyond. Last year, for instance, First Baptist gave some of the largest offerings in the entire Southern Baptist family of churches to feed the hungry, care for the orphans, educate students, help senior adults, share the gospel internationally, and administer assistance in the name of Jesus.

Through our Caring Center , we shared over $100,000 in direct assistance with people in our area. Our mission and ministry offerings have not decreased because of our building project, but they have substantially increased.

Q.  What is your hope for this new facility?

A.  I hope that our new facility will greatly expand our opportunities to share the transforming love and truth of Jesus Christ with many more people. I like to compare our church to a "factory for missions." Some churches are forts that protect their members from the outside influences of the world as the congregation maintains an exclusive "holy huddle" mentality.

FBC Montgomery is more like a factory that produces people who look like Jesus Christ in their character and actions. Christ-like people are givers in this world of takers. They share the Good News of Christ with their world and act like the Good Samaritan who seeks to help those in need. Our increased facilities will enlarge our capacity as a missions factory to produce people who look like Jesus and are joining the Lord to share His love, hope and help in our hurting world.

I hope our new facility will attract many spiritually hungry people to come and discover a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It will be a wonderful place to gather with loving Christian and experience spiritual recharging and recalibrating by personally connecting with Christ. Lastly, I hope our church will function as God's agent of reconciliation and revival. I sense that a significant moving of God's hand is coming soon and will travel like an electric current through Montgomery .

Our enlarged facilities will enable us to be like a large copper wire conducting the Lord's reviving power to our city. I hope and pray that our enlarged capacities for worship, evangelism, discipleship and serving will enable us to play a key role in ushering in this liberating, society-improving and heaven-expanding spiritual revival to Montgomery and beyond.

Information provided by First Baptist Church