The Family of God Away from Home

February 1, 2011

After living in dozens of different addresses (literally), who would have thought coming to Houston 3 years ago would be one of three times of life-changing personal growth. Leading up to my coming to Houston I, to my shame, had been resisting God in a specific area of interpersonal relationships. Enter Dolores Rader. Without knowing anything that was going on in my life she broke down all of the barriers that I had constructed and forced me to deal with this issue in my life through her persistent, gentle persuasion. Result –freedom from the prison of my disobedience; from the anger that churned within my soul that boiled over into hurtful sarcasm that tainted relationships. My wife continues to express surprise at the change she sees.

During the 8 months that these events occurred I spent my time here in Houston mostly alone while going to different churches on the Sunday’s I was in town. But not getting involved beyond attending Sunday morning service. Enter Steve Rader. In the caring way that he interacts with people so effortlessly, Steve invited me to spend time with the Rader family. What a wonderful gift that has turned loneliness into fulfilling relationship that comes from becoming an extension of a loving family. I continue to rely on Steve’s guidance in my interaction with the family so that I don’t overstep my welcome.

Then God called Dolores to become the Children’s Minister at SMBC. I wanted to show my appreciation to Dolores for what she had done for me by going to see her be introduced to the church. Not knowing exactly how long it would take to drive to the church I gave myself plenty of time to find the church and arrived at the end of the first service in time to hear some of Dolores’ testimony. Enter Perryman and Miriam Collins. Their genuine welcome and interest in me was a pleasant surprise. Even more pleasing was their continuing interest each week that made me feel more welcome. A bonus has been the opportunity to get to know my cousins Nancy and Dave McNeil. Nancy and I grew up in different parts of the country and only saw each other 3 or 4 times before now. What a special couple I’ve grown to love.

While attending Bible school I studied for a career in Christian Education with special interest in children’s ministry or camp ministry. Although I didn’t follow this career the Lord has used children’s ministry to bring me back into His service when I wander away that I have historically done with depressing regularity. So it seemed natural that I would work with Dolores in the children’s ministry. Problem – I need to be a member. Say what? OK, but I don’t want to leave my home church in Omaha since I’m still active there when I’m home and expect to be in Houston for only a time before returning home. Solution – become a Watch Care member. Enter the Family of God at SMBC. What an amazing feeling to stand at the front of the church and hear you commit to be the family of God to me in this place. I’ve never experience such an overwhelming feeling of support. But even more, you have kept your commitment and shown that it’s more than words that are recited. To anyone feeling like you need a place to belong and be loved; I recommend you commit yourself to this SMBC family. You’ll not regret your decision.

I don’t know how long I’ll be here. But when it’s time for me to go I’ll leave a truly enriched man; so grateful to Dolores and Steve for your love, for your input in me as a person, for inviting me into your life and family. I’ve seen you at work, in your home, at church, in fun times, in struggles. You’re real. Simply saying thank you seems inadequate. So I’ll continue “doing” to try to express my appreciation.

Blessings on each of you, my family away from home.


Sharing our Stories… Michelle and Kirby Butler

April 26, 2010

By Michelle Butler, South Main Member

Michelle Butler is a member in the Fellowship of Young Families with her husband, Kirby.  They have also participated in Financial Peace University.  Michelle also volunteers with our children for KidQuest and other programs.

Shortly after graduating from college and getting married, Kirby and I moved to Houston. We were on an exciting, new adventure together; yet still found ourselves missing our family and church. We started visiting various churches in the area and wanted one that emphasized similar Baptist traditions we were raised on while providing a prefect place for our marriage to grow and flourish.

During our first visit to South Main, we were welcomed with open arms. We both really enjoyed the awe inspiring setting South Main offered and the way the church service’s message was applicable to our everyday lives. We were particularly excited to see the emphasis South Main had on family.

A few weeks later, we were invited to attend a Sunday school class. It was nice meeting other newly married couples and young professionals that we could relate to. From the start we had a group of people befriending us with invitations to lunch or encouraging us to get involved with various events such as FPU or KidQuest.

From time to time we would get caught up in our busy schedules, but there was always someone at South Main calling to offer us support and reengaging us to continue to grow as Christians. They remind us that we are an important part of their lives, too. They genuinely challenge us to not settle for what is easy because God has so much more in store for us.

This week, the Share Campaign is emphasizing encouraging members of South Main to re-engage members of our church family that have gotten busy or might not remember how important they are to the church family. From our own experience, I can tell you that a call or an email reminding folks about church events or just checking to make sure they are doing OK are very important. We all make a pledge to be the family of God for each other in this place and following through on that pledge is a great way to Share.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010

How wide is the tent?

October 5, 2009
By Steve Wells, Pastor

By Steve Wells, Pastor

We are studying Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia (Galatians) on Wednesday evenings, and I invite you to come join us in the Fellowship Hall at South Main on Wednesday nights at 6:15 p.m.

I think Galatians is the earliest of Paul’s letters in the New Testament. As he puts quill to parchment, he has hardly said who is writing before he writes, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord King Jesus.” That may be the first time those words were ever written together. Say them out loud. Let them wash through you. Do you hear it? Paul is choosing words that have defined our faith; that have formed the way we understand God, Jesus, ourselves, the world; that have shaped the entire history of the planet.

This is the vocabulary of the church being formed. No one spoke or wrote this way before Paul. And I find it amazing that, in a letter designed to lead the church to see itself as one family, Paul draws his greeting from both of the worlds present in his audience into one new understanding of God’s work. He is playing on the standard greetings of the age. In the Greek world, the word for “greetings” is Xairein; in Texas we would translate that, “howdy.” Paul chooses to say it in a fresh way by using the word Xaris or “grace” instead; like someone might say, “how do” – it is a little different, but we know where he is coming from. Then he adds Eirene, “peace.” The word is Greek, but the sentiment is unmistakably Jewish; it draws from the Hebrew greeting, “shalom,”the unmerited, immeasurable, unlimited, self-giving mercy of God. Paul is praying God’s blessing and peace on all of his readers.

He goes on to write of God as “our father.” His language is all “us,” not we versus they. He allows none of this Jew versus Gentile nonsense – he will go on to write (3:28) that “in Christ there is no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in King Jesus.”

Which meant then, and means now, there is a place in the family of God for you. The doors of the church are open wide to you. The pews have a place for you. We have been made one family through the self-giving love of the Lord King Jesus.

In an age that seems to think what divides us is more than what unites us, Galatians is a power reminder of the truth of our oneness; to the strength of our togetherness; to our need to remember and claim our identity as one family in Christ. So hear it again, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord King Jesus.”