Like any organization there are things with which you should be familiar. Hopefully this information will explain more about FBC and how it works. We believe it’s vital to discovering just how to join your life and gifts with the larger community of faith. This information certainly won’t be exhaustive. There are many things you may want to understand more fully. As we go along, we’ll provide you with some contact names and web sites that will aid you in further discovery.
We have been a body of believers since the early 1870’s! The church building has gone through several changes in location, building programs and facelifts. But this community of faith has worshiped, studied God’s Word and proclaimed the Gospel for almost a century and a half. We have had incredible leaders, both members and staff, who have poured their godly lives into this great church. Our pastoral leadership has been a consistently long-tenured position. In fact, we’ve only had three different pastors in the last 50 years. Arlington and the surrounding areas have grown up with FBC and we with them. Many of the local Baptist churches began as missions of First Baptist. As you might guess, we have a long, storied history full of the evidence of God’s hand. And, amazingly enough, we believe our best days are ahead! If you'd like to know more information about the history of FBCA, check out Higher Ground by Erma Mathis.
This Body has agreed to partnership with the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention), the BGCT (Baptist General Convention of Texas), the BWA (Baptist World Alliance), and the TBA (Tarrant Baptist Association). Through these entities, we have joined with other churches to pool support and resources for a variety of ministries, goals and missions. Our church, however, is an autonomous group. That is, we set our own policies, do our own hiring, etc. by the vote of our people. Our cooperative partnerships are completely voluntary.
Our church has adopted the Baptist Faith and Message (1963). This publication spells out many of our fundamental beliefs. We have distilled this longer document into a much shorter brochure called Core Beliefs and Values. In it you can find brief statements of our core, or guiding, beliefs. We have also added a list of core values, things that we believe keep us strong, healthy and vital.
We are the Body and Bride of Christ. Our mandate is a spiritual one. We gather together as believers who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior through His perfect life, sacrificial death, supernatural resurrection and glorified eternal presence at God’s right hand. We are led by God’s presence in the form of the Holy Spirit.
BUT, we also have an institutional structure. We are a legal corporation with a constitution and bylaws. This structure insures that we operate within legal bounds with adequate accountability and reporting. The church is required to have meetings at specific points and occasions. These meetings are announced at least two weeks ahead of time. We also have quarterly church business conferences on Sunday nights. Those dates will be advertised.
It takes a lot of money to operate the ministries of this church. We rely on the generous giving of our people as they follow God’s direction to give liberally and sacrificially. That is an expectation of all of our members. Basically, our giving is assigned, through a unified budget voted on by our people each year, to areas of operations and ministry. Included in the budget is the Cooperative Missions Giving plan. This shows how our annual church budget allocates fund to our cooperative missions. At each quarterly conference, the Chair of our Finance Committee walks us through the preceding quarter’s report.
We also have a World Missions Offering. This offering is collected separate from budget gifts in the fall and winter of the church year. This offering is designated by percentage to a variety of incredible mission activities here and abroad. Through it we support Mission Arlington and our mission endeavors and missionaries around the world.
Our church is principally lay-led; that is, our people gather in meetings to vote on the important issues of our church. Our members also appoint individuals to committees and councils that are given specific areas of responsibility and leadership. We also have Ministry teams that even non-members can be a part of. This is a non-appointed way to serve. Our church has also voted to hire, or “call,” individuals to paid areas of service and ministry. Decisions about particular issues have been assigned to these various types of leadership. We even have a simple chart that lets you see how certain decisions flow through this system of layered leadership.
Our church has called Dr. Dennis Wiles as our Senior Pastor. He is the head of the church, and authority is shared with others on the staff. We are in the process of reorganizing the staff structure, but to see a complete listing of our staff, check out our staff directory.
There are other ministry, assistant and service positions that fall among the ministry areas listed above. Click here if you'd like more information on all of our staff.
We have several partner ministries that we house and support. These include:
- The Child Development Center: This is a weekday, preschool ministry.
- The Center for Counseling and Enrichment: Our church houses a full-service counseling center with doctors and counselors trained in a variety of fields.
- Living Hope: This is a ministry designed to aid in the recovery of the sexually broken.
- Mission Arlington: A ministry of FBC built to help with physical and spiritual needs of people throughout our community.
- Restore Hope: This is a network designed to aid local churches in mission and missionary sending efforts.
- Christian Women’s Job Corp: This group takes classes of women through training and preparation to aid them in job skills and employment.
You can join FBC in several ways. You can join by Profession of Faith. That means that you can join by accepting Christ as your Savior, being baptized and asking to become a member of the church. You can join by Transfer of Letter. That means you can move your membership from another Baptist church or church of similar faith. If you’ve never been baptized (immersed as a sign of your profession of faith), then we require that you be baptized at FBC. You can join by Statement of Faith. This method allows you to join by telling us about your conversion and baptism if there is no available record of your membership in another church. Finally, some join by Watchcare. This was designed especially for college students who need a church home while away at school but don’t wish to move their membership from their home church.
Membership is important for several reasons. First, we want you to declare openly your salvation and the Lordship of Christ. We also want to be sure that everyone has the opportunity to use their gifts and abilities in full. You must be a member of the church to be on committees and councils. Finally, we want you to know the joy of doing life with this Community of Faith. Why hold back? Jump in with both feet.
First of all, we expect EVERY member to be active by living out their faith in service and ministry. All that you do to serve God is ministry. We also want EVERY member to find a place of leadership…more about that in a moment. Even before you become a member, you can serve on ministry teams (basically, focused service groups), be active in worship and Bible study, attend events and so on. There are even more opportunities for members. You can lead Bible studies, serve in worship leadership…there are literally hundreds of ways you can be involved.
Our Deacon Council is an elected body of men and women, who have evidenced godly lives and leadership. They serve as a counsel to the church and a hub of ministry. There are specific requirements for consideration that you can read on-line.
Our Committees are very important. Much of the decision making originates with our committees. They oversee areas like Finance, Facilities and Personnel. People are nominated by our Committee on Committees (Yes! We have a committee specifically designed to help us populate committees.) then elected by our church. To be considered you must be a church member, have been actively involved in the church for at least two years, be a sacrificial contributor to our church’s budget and have gone through the basiX Curriculum Part 1 and basiX Curriculum Part 2.
The first place to start is LeadershipNEXT! This is our church’s portal into lay ministry and leadership. We want you to take our Ministry Interest Survey. The questions on the survey will help you learn about places to serve at FBCA, see what interests you, and share a little bit more information about yourself. We also want you to sign up for our newsletter. Signing up will get you reminders for seminars, leadership events and training and so much more.
All of our Leadership Opportunities in ministry areas are listed under that particular Ministry Area on this website under “Leadership Opportunities”. There are some other areas of Leadership at FBCA that you can find in the ENGAGEMENT section of LeadershipNEXT on this website.
LeadershipNEXT is also our church’s way of helping everyone continue to grow in all kinds of leadership both inside and outside the church in our DEVELOPMENT section. This includes resources that help identify skills assessments, additional online sessions, affinity groups and a number of other ideas that have yet to be fashioned.