It’s Time To Raise The Bar

✳️ disclaimer: This post is primarily meant for my church members, however, it would also apply across most ministerial lines. I pray that you receive it in the spirit and the heart in which it was written.

I have not been in the ministry very long by most standards: Officially, I am in my sixth year on staff with the local church; unofficially, maybe it’s a little longer. But even in my relative short tenure, there is one thing that I know for sure: It Is Time To Raise The Bar in terms of church leadership.

With so many of our congregations dwindling down to miniscule ratios of leaders to congregants; most are inclined to be satisfied with the status quo of leadership or to just be happy that the “lights are still on”. Yet, this is exactly why many of our church families find themselves in trouble to start with.

It’s not that we have BIG issues with leadership in our church (quite the opposite, actually), but the (minor) warning signs are there. And since the responsibility starts here, with me, I consider this article a little bit of a self-assessment of sorts.

We must do a better job of developing leaders and holding them accountable.

This is so important to the future health of our church body. I ask you to consider joining me on this journey of improvement. It will not all be pleasant, but if our desire is to honor the Lord with our service, it will be worth it.

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive a reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24

From the bottom of my heart, I believe there are two areas that we should focus on:


  • Many of you, as leaders, are NOT being discipled properly. And it breaks my heart.
  • We have two built in opportunities each week for discipleship: Sunday School & Wednesday Adult Bible Study.
  • As a leader, if you are not attending either one, you need to be setting time aside to study and discuss with other christians so that your growth will not be hindered.
  • This is essential, to your growth and the growth of our church.

Personal Holiness

  • Another area of concern is personal holiness: how much of your life are you giving to God?
  • Does the Lord have 100%
  • Or is there an area of your life that you are holding back from the Lord; 99.9% is not good enough.
  • Is there anything in your life that violates the Word of the Lord?
  • Anything that is outside of the tenants of the Baptist Faith & Message?
  • Anything that does not agree with our Church Covenant?
  • Anything that has the appearance of evil?
  • Especially as leaders, we need to be examining this area of our life on a regular basis… and we need to be open to others holding us accountable.

As your pastor, I vow to be more vigilant to help in these areas. I look forward to seeing how the Lord is going to work as we focus on these 2 very important areas of our church and individual lives. In the end, I believe the Lord will honor our efforts.

I love you all – Pastor John

​”Things Slow Down In The Summer”

Wow, I have heard that phrase uttered many times in reference to ministry and church activities. All that I can say is that whoever says that has never been in ministry or church leadership because nothing could be further from the truth! The truth is, ministry is still very active, even if it just looks a little different than normal.

This fact proves true at First Bethany Baptist where we might have changed our Wednesday night schedule for the summer, but we haven’t slowed down much at all. Just look at some of the things we have done / will do in the months of June and July.

June 1st – Summer Missions. We commissioned and sent our collegiate missionary overseas to share the Gospel. He and his team are doing well and are poised to return to the United States at the end of July. Thank you everyone who generously gave to the financial need for this trip and are praying for this team everyday.

June 11-15 – Vacation Bible School. I really enjoyed this year’s theme and I thought every leader did an excellent job leading our kids this year. What an awesome week !

June 24 – Fishing Trip. The deacons took a small fishing trip and were kind enough to invite their pastor along. It was a very enjoyable day on the water.

July 5th – Family Ministry Outing. First Bethany took in an evening of Augusta Greenjackets Baseball on Wednesday, July 5th. While we were disappointed that a certain former college/NFL quarterback was no longer playing for the opponent, a great time was had by all.

July 9-14 – Churches Changing Communities (CCC). We will send 5 students and 2 adults to CCC this year. This joint mission project among the churches of the EBA is always a blessing to all. I can’t wait to hear how God moves among the participants this year. Please pray for this team

July 16th @ 5pm – Quarterly Business Meeting & Missions Meetings. Please come prepared to hear what God is doing among our church body and among the nations.

July 30th – Fifth Sunday Singing & Scholarship Emphasis. – Please join us as we worship in song and give to support our scholarship fund.

Add to this schedule the planning of our Annual Back-To-School Bash (Aug), the J.A.M. House 100-Year Celebration (Aug), the NAMB DOM Conference that pastor John will be attending (SEP), our Fall Festival (Oct.), the SCBC Annual Meeting (Nov.), our Children’s Christmas Program and the McCormick Christmas Parade (Dec), and the planning for an Associational-wide mission trip to the Boston area (Dec)……. and the calendar fills up pretty quickly.

But here is a warning and an encouragement from the Word of the Lord:

23 Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, 24 knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24

These dates just can’t simply be seen as marks on a calendar. We must see them for what they truly are; opportunities for those who know not the Lord to come to a saving knowledge of Him through Jesus Christ.

Would you join me in prayer over these events? That they would be much more than dates on the calendar… that they would actually come alive as we see the Holy Spirit ministering in, among, and all around us?

Thank you for praying. I love you all.

Pastor John

I Will Dance Before the Lord

1 David again assembled all the fit young men in Israel: thirty thousand. 2 He and all his troops set out to bring the ark of God from Baale-judah. The ark bears the Name, the name of the Lord of Armies who is enthroned between the cherubim. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and transported it from Abinadab’s house, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the cart 4 and brought it with the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on the hill. Ahio walked in front of the ark. 5 David and the whole house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all kinds of fir wood instruments, lyres, harps, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals….

20 When David returned home to bless his household, Saul’s daughter Michal came out to meet him. “How the king of Israel honored himself today!” she said. “He exposed himself today in the sight of the slave girls of his subjects like a vulgar person would expose himself.” 21 David replied to Michal, “It was before the Lord who chose me over your father and his whole family to appoint me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel. I will dance before the Lord, 22 and I will dishonor myself and humble myself even more…                                                                                                         –     2 Samuel 6: 1-5, 20-22a

A few days ago, I was sitting at my desk at work and had an unexpected visitor. One of the vendors that I do business with from California had stopped in for an unexpected visit. Their representative, William, and I have met before and have always enjoyed conversing about business; but this day, the conversation turned to much more important matters.

As a pastor, I often try to steer my conversations in a manner that will somehow incite spiritual thoughts and discussion; often weaving in the fact that I am not just a material planner, but also (and primarily) a Baptist pastor. When I did so with William, he had an unexpected reaction. There in the middle of our office area, in the midst of 30 or so people, William started beating his chest.

As first, I didn’t know what to think? Did I offend him? Was he shocked that I am a pastor? Was he choking on his lunch?

He almost did not let me finish speaking when he said (with the biggest smile), “I am a Christian, I am a Christian, Can I tell you my story?” So William stood in the middle of our office and proceeded to testify to the goodness of the Lord for almost 20 minutes. I was so impressed with his willingness to do so, his boldness for Jesus, and his excitement about testifying to the Lord.

I was impressed, and I was convicted. How many times to I lay down all my fears of embarrassment and rejection and simply testify boldly and publicly about the Lord? How often do I beat my chest in the public square to tell others about Jesus and His saving grace? How many times am I as excited as William was last week, or as King David was in the verses above about what God is doing in my life?

If I were to be honest, not often enough… If you were to be honest, what would you say? The next time the Lord is prompting you to raise your hands in worship or leave your pew and come to the altar… I implore you to remember King David’s example… to remember my friend William’s example.

May we boldly and unashamedly beat our chest and testify unto the Lord!

I love you all – Pastor John

From My Desk

If you have been a Southern Baptist for very long or visited one of our churches often,  you have probably picked up on the fact that we consider ourselves a missional entity: that is,  a group of redeemed people giving our best efforts to spread the redemptive message of Jesus Christ (the Gospel) to the ends of the earth.

That is who we are.  And the really great thing is; we never have to attempt this task on our own: The Holy Spirit is with us,  and we have the privilege to band together to accomplish the mission.

To that end,  over the years,  the SBC has developed 2 separate (yet equally important) missions boards to accomplish this feat.  The North American Mission Board (NAMB) that serves the U.S. and Canada;  and the International Mission Board (IMB) that serves everywhere else. Each time you give a tithe or offering in one of our church services,  you help fund these boards through what we call the Cooperative Program.

As of late,  I have been focusing much of my attention on one particular aspect of NAMB’s mission: Church Planting.

Below is an excerpt from the North American Mission Board website:

The North American Mission Board impacts North America with the gospel.
The North American Mission Board exists to work with churches, associations and state conventions in mobilizing Southern Baptists as a missional force to impact North America with the gospel of Jesus Christ through evangelism and church planting. We accomplish that through Send North America, our national strategy for mobilizing churches to plant churches and mobilizing church planters and other missionaries to assist with those efforts.

Involve My Church
In your church, God has assembled a body of believers with complementary talents and abilities that can be used for His kingdom.
At the North American Mission Board, our desire is to see every church on mission in the United States and Canada. In order to push back lostness in North America, we believe every church has role to play in advancing the gospel and winning souls for Christ.

Every church on mission. ..that has a nice ring to it.

But how can we best be involved?  

What is God calling us to do?

I have already mentioned one way that we are and can be more involved: giving to the Cooperative Program.  Let’s keep that up,  for sure. But I believe God is calling us to be involved in other ways as well.

You might have noticed that we are taking time in each of our worship services to pray for NAMB church planters by name.  We will continue to do this,  they need our prayers.

Beyond that, I believe there will come a time when God calls us to Go personally  to help these church planters on their mission to reach their communities. I truly believe that time will come sooner rather than later.

What will you say when God says “Go”?

Will your answer be that of Isaiah? :

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking: Who should I send?  Who will go for us?  I said : Here I am,  send me

Isaiah 6:8

What will you say?  Begin praying now,  the opportunities are there,  He will lead us to the proper one.

I love you all,

Pastor John

The Pouring Out Of What?

I had this dream last night. It was kind of strange and kind of glorious all at the same time. I usually don’t share my dreams, but here goes.

I was in a gymnasium. Not sure where, but it felt familiar. I was on the floor while various church members from First Bethany were singing softly… All spread out around the gym floor.

A couple of things were strange about this: 1) the was no stage or anything, they were just spread out all over the floor. 2) they didn’t stop signing when I started preaching… They sang softly and I preached loudly.

I knew it was a definitely a dream when it came to the end. I gave an invitation and everyone in the stands responded to the Gospel … Every single person….that never happens in church ;).

I woke up this morning with the most amazing feeling… Just “wow, I want to be part of a real move of God like that!”

I though about the early disciples and one of the days they must have said “wow”.

When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying.  They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were Jews staying in Jerusalem, devout people from every nation under heaven. When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?  How is it that each of us can hear them in our own native language?

– Acts 2:1‭-‬8 CSB

This was obviously an amazing day for the disciples. One that shaped their ministry for the rest of their lives. And one that has continued to shape ours to this day.

But let us not miss one Scripture passage just a little bit earlier in this book:

While he was with them, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise.  “Which,” he said, “you have heard me speak about;  for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time? ” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 

– Acts 1:4‭-‬7 CSB

Many times we want God to act on our timetable. Instead, He says  “wait”.

I don’t always like waiting….. Ok, I NEVER like waiting….., but the above promise is not an empty one. 

He didn’t say “wait a few days and I might do something great”. He said to “wait for the Father’s promise… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you”

What an amazing promise… If you are a child of God, a follower of Jesus, you already have this same power that the disciples received. But if you allow me to stretch the illustration just a little. I believe God might also be saying ” I am about to do something great, wait on my timing, it is perfect“.

So while I would love to go rent a local high school gym and plan a worship service hoping that I am on the right track; I would much rather wait upon the Lord and His timing… To see such an opportunity come to light… And to praise the Lord for His perfect plan.

God, don’t let me miss out on what you are doing… I am here, waiting for your signal.

Join us Sunday as we discuss more about the Holy Spirit.

Rev. John H. Alexander, Jr.   @PastorJohn96

“Where am I to go?”

It is a valid question… If we are made to be disciples who make disciples who make disciples…. In that process, if we are to Know God’s Word and Know Jesus personally… if we are to Grow in our faith to the point where we are walking closely with Jesus… Then we will be called to Go! … But Go where? That is often the hardest question to answer.


8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth – Acts 1:8

The thing that should most excite us about Acts 1:8 is that Jesus promises us power in the Holy Spirit. Because of this power, we do not have to fear; and nothing is beyond the reach and power of the Holy Spirit. So wherever He calls us, He is providing the power to go.

And then He tells us where we are to go …..”Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”.

Jerusalem – our family and our city, Judea  – our state, Samaria – our country, and the ends of the earth… problem solved.

Now that we know the answer to the question “Go where?”, we must ask ourselves how we are accomplishing this… and how might God be leading us to accomplish this in new ways.

How are we impacting our Jerusalem – our family and our city?

I love seeing the ways that families from our church come together on Sundays, Wednesdays, and special/difficult occasions. I believe, in this, we are accomplishing part of this mandate. We also have great opportunities to really love on our community as well:

  • The 2nd Sunday of every month – 4pm – we visit Forest View Assisted Living … pleased join us.
  • March 19-22nd, joint Spring Revival with Buffalo (host church) and Plum Branch Baptist churches
    • Please begin to pray NOW, and invite your friends to be a part of this revival.
  • April 16th – Easter Sunday – Sonrise Service at the M.A.C.K. (with Plum Branch Baptist) at 7am followed by Baptism Service at 11am at the church.
    • Easter is a great time to invite others to church!

How are we impacting our Judea  – our state?

There are needs here, are we are preparing to go meet them ….

  • March 18th – we have a 15-person team going for SC Disaster Relief Training in Florence –
    • we want to be ready when called upon.
  • July 9th – 14th – we will join with the other EBA churches for Churches Changing Communities (CCC).
    • Please prayerfully consider signing up for one (or all five) day(s). ***

How are we impacting our Samaria – our country?

Our country desperately needs Jesus, how are we acting in the interest of our great nation ….

  • On April 3rd-5th, I will be traveling to Boston, Mass. to meet with church planners and explore the possibilities of taking a mission trip to Boston in the future. Is God calling us to Boston?
    • Join me in prayer as we seek His will.

How are we impacting our “ends of the earth”?

One of our college students is spending the summer in North Africa. How can we assist him?

  • Pray
  • Consider purchasing a Missions T-shirt (see Angela Quarles) – all proceeds go to summer missions.
  • By some BBQ! – we will be selling BBQ the day before Easter to support summer missions as well.

God has blessed us with many (as you can see above) opportunities to serve Him, in our local context, and around the world! How are you preparing to Join Him in what He is doing in this world?

I love you all – please see me if you have any questions or if God is speaking to you to Go,

Pastor John

Life Is Like A Game Of Football

If you have ever been in one of my youth groups, you are cringing right now as you read that title …. Lol

Life really is like a game of football.

If, like me, you live in the southern part of the United States, a big part of your life has just ended. The final whistle has blown. The Super Bowl, our last vestige of this great American sport for many months is over.

I enjoy college football much more than professional football; can’t tell you why necessarily, just do. But I did watch intently last night as the Patriots came back to defeat the Falcons in OT. Much of the time, I was trying to follow along with the game on social media as well as watch it on the TV.

Anyone who does this has probably also noticed the following trend: when the game was going well for one of the teams, fans bombarded Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others up with numerous posts of support. It was hard to shuffle through all the posts to make sense of them.

Yet, when the game was not going so well for their favorite team…. crickets!

I think it is kind of funny how that works. And, well I might be guilty of that a time or two myself. But I must digress.

My point is this, we often treat our spiritual life just like the rest of our lives. It has become just one “part” of our lives. A part that we talk up when things are going well… And we are mostly silent when we think things are not progressing as we would have planned it.

As I have been studying for my sermon this week, the Lord has emphasized this passage to me:

I see those words, and they challenge me.

You see, as a pastor who tries to prepare to face opposition by studying it; there is one thing that I have noticed about many false belief systems:

The adherents of these false religions have trained themselves to make religion, not part of their lives… yet, make it the whole of WHO they are!

They are totally committed… Totally sold out… Every aspect of their lives is intertwined with their concept of a god they serve. There is no “lull” when things go badly, there is only total commitment.

I often wonder why I do not see more Christians with this kind of commitment. And it breaks my heart to know that many of us who call ourselves followers of Christ, live out that belief as an important PART of our life.

I am here to tell you, following Jesus Christ can not be just an important part of your life. He is LIFE! He is our EVERYTHING.

4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it. – John 1:4-5

Following Him must be WHO we are… Not something we do.

The sooner we discipline ourselves to live like that, the sooner we will see God so great things in us, through us, around us, and even in spite of us. To Him be the glory…..

I pray that we can stop treating our spiritual lives like we treat our football teams. May we so live that we strive every day to become more and more like Him.

What a challenge!

What a mighty Savior!


Being a bivocational pastor is simultaneously the greatest and hardest thing that I have ever been a part of.

On my desk at work (my full-time job at a local factory), there is a montage of Pop Funko vinyl bobbleheads. Yes, I know … that sounds kind of silly, but my display is pretty epic (or so I think). I started with bobbleheads from Star Wars episode VII last year, and have added several figures from the recent Rogue One movie.

At this point, if you are thinking that I am a geek…. well, you might have an argument there. But it is all in fun… and one of the best parts about these inexpensive bobblehead characters is that they have started more conversations at work than I can count. Conversations that ultimately, and purposefully, have led to deeper discussions about “good Vs evil”, “light Vs dark”, and even the importance of following Jesus.

Yes, you heard correctly. Vinyl bobblehead Star Wars figures have led to conversations about Jesus. Many of these conversations with people that I would not otherwise be engaged with in that kind of deep, meaningful discussion. How is this possible?

Well, certainly the overarching theme of the Star Wars movie franchise lends itself to a discussion about the fallacies of the “dark side” and the merits of the “rebellion”. But that alone has no power to engage and even transform people’s hearts. So if it is not true movie “genius”, what could it be?

Being bi-vocational simply lends itself to increase opportunities for me to share the hope that is found in Jesus Christ. And I would not have it any other way ….

I firmly believe that God has called us to be exactly where we are…. today …right now. And somewhere around us, there is a heart that is searching, desperately, for the “meaning of life”; someone who has a hole that they cannot fill – no matter how hard they try. It sounds cliche, but that doesn’t make it any less true; God will use you right where you are to reach people for His glory.

34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

When I read the words of Jesus in John 13, I am both humbled and challenged all the same time. His answer comes just after He has demonstrated His love by washing the disciple’s feet. This dirty, menial, unflattering, and unenjoyable job was completed by our Messiah, our Lord and Savior, the creator of the universe! 

This act perfectly demonstrates verse 34, we must “love one another”, right where we are. God has placed us here, let’s not waste it!

But it is verse 35 that challenges me more than anything else. Jesus says (and I am paraphrasing) that we are to love so extravagantly and so deeply, that those around us would have no recourse except to readily acknowledge us as followers (or disciples) of Jesus! What an amazing challenge!

I think about this verse a lot, because, as you may imagine, there are days when I don’t feel like loving extravagantly. I might be at work and be stressed out with deadlines that are looming and projects that are unfinished. I might have kept to myself all morning and really have not engaged with anyone that day. I might be so involved in my “vocation” that I miss my calling (to make Christ known).

God’s Word reminds me that it is by my “extravagant” love, not my super cool bobblehead figures, that others will know that I am a follower. Would you pray for me that I might do a better job tomorrow in loving extravagantly than I have today? I will pray for you that God’s Word will challenge you to do the same.

I love you all,

Pastor John


“We are made to be disciples who make disciples”. 

I have heard this phrase mentioned numerous times in church circles for as long as I remember. But what does it mean… truly, what does it mean to be a disciple who makes disciples?

To answer that question, we have to first define what we mean by the word “disciple”. The most common definition of the word (according to the Oxford dictionary) is a personal follower of Jesus. So, in order to be a disciple we have to follow Jesus. In order to follow Jesus, we have to KNOW Him. To know Jesus is to have a personal relationship with Him; repenting of our sins and asking for His forgiveness, filling our lives with a great love for Him and for God’s Word.

Every follower or believer of Jesus has a story to tell; we call this a testimony. It is often this testimony that God will use to call someone else to Himself. If we want to be effective witnesses for our heavenly Father, we must desire to GROW in our faith and in our walk with Jesus everyday. It is not that a new believer who is just getting their feet under them can not do this… it is just that we all will be more effective as witnesses when we desire to be better at following Jesus tomorrow than we were today… and we repeat this process, day after day. This will result in growth, in more ways than one.

At some point in our walk with Jesus, He will call us to GO. Where? When? For How Long? … I do not know the answer to these questions, I just at some point as you Grow, you will learn to trust, supremely. It is in this mindset of faith that we realize the answer to these questions matter not, and only our obedience to His command makes any difference in our lives. It might be across the world or across the street, we must be ready to go and do His will… as commanded in the book of Matthew:

18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:18-20

If we follow this logic, we see that in order to be a “disciple who makes disciples”, we must Know – Grow – and Go as the Holy Spirit leads us. As we start this month (February) we will begin a study in the book of Romans. Among other things, Romans will show us the depths that we must strive to reach if we truly want to make an impact in this world by making disciples. The early Roman “church” was a million miles wide and mere inches deep … many people, but lacking depth. May we strive to be the church that throws that example to the side and becomes who she is supposed to be …. The committed, dedicated, passionate bride of Christ; who changes the world by reaching one lost soul at a time, celebrating as death crosses over to life, as Christ is magnified by disciples who truly desire to follow Jesus and see others do the same.

I love you all,

Pastor John