At First Baptist Church, we believe that God has purposely planted us in downtown Boise. While there is a temptation to flee to the suburbs or to move our church to a more affluent area of the Treasure Valley, we believe there is a unique mission field downtown—a mission field to which God has called us. Part of the unique opportunity of being downtown is that we are positioned to minister to many who are struggling in life. By struggling, we mean homelessness, poverty, oppression or, perhaps, just being overlooked by the very systems in place to help people. For us, this is a great privilege by the way. Jesus said that we should minister to ‘the least of these,’ and who is better positioned to do this than US? Indeed, we feel called to do what we can to “proclaim good news to the poor. ...to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…” (Luke 4:18)
If you have joined yourself to the mission of First Baptist Church, you recognize this reality every Sunday morning. But, this mission field also means that sometimes people will walk into our services who smell strongly of alcohol. A few weeks ago, while Pastor Matt was praying, a gentleman who had been drinking heavily was snoring so loudly that I (Bruce) reached over and woke him up and gave him a big smile that said, ‘We’re glad you’re here, but none of us can hear ourselves think.’ He looked at me as if to say, “Thanks. I get it. I’ll give it my best shot.”
This mission field also means that we must strive to offer safety to everyone who attends. Therefore, we have put in place, every Sunday, people who watch over the building, the parking lot, the kids’ activities, and the worship services.
I love what our website says: “If you’ve been looking for a haven for the holy, this isn’t the place. When you get here, look around and you’ll see people just like you, working through the hurts, hang-ups, and habits we all face. What this is, is a place where people who’ve experienced the touch of the Great Physician come together to celebrate His healing grace.”
Jesus says in Matthew 9:12-13, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners (NLT)
We strive to maintain a culture that is accepting and loving and which offers God’s mercy to all who come in. We also prepare as a church to be ready for any disruption or circumstance that may come our way (we have trained team members to be watching and ready to step in when needed). So, yes, come and feel safe as you worship. But also come knowing that we are a church that desires all to come, find a place to belong, and experience the healing touch of the Great Physician!
What can you do? Use good common sense as you would in any public space, and if you see something that makes you uncomfortable, please let an FBC staff member or a volunteer wearing an FBC lanyard, or the information booth know.
Let’s celebrate together how God has, and can, heal us all! Share below how the Great Physician has touched you.