The signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 signaled a point of no return. The colonies now were not trying to change the mind of the crown, they were fighting to break away from Great Brittan. They wanted to birth a new vision and a new country. If they failed the names on that document would have been tried and hung for treason. Failure was not an option. Trying to birth something new will be risky, will experience growing pains, and living as if failure is not an option.
Another birth also happen in 1776 Boar Swamp Baptist (Antioch) was born. In the midst of the Revolutionary War a risky vision to bring the gospel to the area east of Richmond was born. There have been through the years many growing pains including the burning of the building twice. The church also changed her name, but never her mission. Why? Change was necessary for the mission of church to continue. If failure is not an option, then change must be at some point.
What happened in those very early years shaped the life of our country and our church. The newly formed Boar Swamp Baptist believed in reaching unbelievers with the gospel. They took risky steps to ensure they were faithful to their mission. Two things stand out as both representative and foundational. First, a group of fourteen went into Richmond to plant a church that other unbelievers would have the opportunity to hear the life saving gospel. That church is now First Baptist Richmond. Second, they joined with other local church to form a local association for the equipping and sending of missionaries. The Dover Baptist Association is still active in supporting missionary efforts in our community and around the world.
The core identity of Antioch’s begins have been mission and ministry. Calling forth and sending out. Bringing the gospel to those who do not yet know the life-changing hope of the gospel. Let’s continue to fulfill our mission to bring Christ to the world starting in our own community. Looking back our birth, remembering our mission, we can now look at our present time to ask are we still participating in the mission with which it was birthed? How can we do that better and more effectively in the future? Is it risky to ask these questions? Yes. Will there be growing pains if change is needed? Yes. Can we live and lead into a new future with a commitment to mission? YES, if we believe failure is not an option! If we don’t believe failure is an option, then change must be.