My name is Lesa Gardner. I have the privilege of being the Director of Body Life at First Baptist. What a joy it is to devote a lot of my energies to something that has been very meaningful to me personally! (I should say that it has been meaningful to my husband, Jim, and me.)
I would like to provide a little personal history with which some of you may be able to identify: when I was growing up, my family was not involved in church. I started going to a neighborhood church when I was about seven. At that time, “church” involved a service of hymns and preaching on Sunday morning, a Sunday School class, sometimes another service on Sunday evening, and sometimes a revival. Church did not happen at my house, it was going to a place, learning and singing.
I wasn’t very aware that, in the first century, the church was about a believing people who did their lives together, often meeting in their homes and having meals together.
Then, some years after we came to First Baptist as a couple with young children, another couple here invited us to meet with them and some other people in their home. They were leaders in the church, and excellent teachers of the Bible. But the purpose of the new group was not so much to teach us the Bible, but for all of us to minister to each other by sharing our joys, our concerns, our griefs, and dreams.
In all things we were seeking to relate God’s Word to life and encourage each other in being faithful to Christ, whatever happened. And, a lot happened. It was amazing how many very challenging life circumstances we had the opportunity to grapple with and pray about together. People who were not in the group may have looked at any one of us and imagined that we didn’t have many difficulties in our lives, that we somehow had it “all together.” In fact, there were great personal dramas playing out in our lives that we shared together. We grew and were strengthened in the sharing.
That was life-transforming for Jim and me and gave both of us a strong conviction that we never wanted to be without that kind of intimate fellowship with other Christians. It is certainly a healthy taste of what first century Christians experienced.
I know that there are many ways to connect with the Body of Christ, His church, but to my mind one of the best is in a LifeGroup. My desire is for everyone here to have this gift of community. If you are hungry for some of that, please call me at the church office or send me an email.