by Scott Stephens
Scott Stephens is the counseling pastor at West End Baptist Church’s West End Counseling Center, a board member of Redeemer Biblical Counseling Training Institute, and a PhD student in the Biblical Counseling Program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. To find out more about our counseling center (WECC), please call the church at 864-232-7312.
I love the Christmas season. I started listening to Christmas music in October. I wish people had the joy and happiness the Christmas season brings, every day of the year.
One of my favorite Christmas movies is It’s a Wonderful Life. The story opens with scenes showing Bedford Falls, where the main character, George Bailey, lives. The first voices you hear are friends and family praying for George because of tragic circumstances in his life. The scene moves from Bedford Falls to a starry black sky depicting heaven. As the scene settles, you hear many voices praying for George. That scene of many people praying for someone who has lost all hope is one of my favorite parts of the movie!
Not long ago, I had the opportunity to experience something very close to that iconic scene. About twenty people gathered in our worship center for a prayer meeting. That night, we prayed for everyone and everything that concerned West End Baptist Church. At one point during the prayer meeting, I heard many voices calling out to God for West End Baptist Church. It sounded just like that scene in It’s a Wonderful Life, where many voices spoke to God for his mercy and blessing. It was a fantastic moment!
Dale Johnson, a Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary professor, writes in his book The Church as a Culture of Care that every church is known for its culture. Many things help to build a culture in the church. A church can be known for its preaching, music, outreach, or community involvement. Johnson adds that every visitor to our church will quickly understand what the culture of our church is.
The Bible provides us with guidance as to the church culture we are to establish. John 13:34-35 tells us “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” To be faithful to Christ, we need to be known as a congregation that profoundly loves one another. We show love to one another by having a culture of care that meets needs and provides help whenever possible.
This brings me back to our prayer meeting. Praying together, asking the Creator of the universe to heal those who are sick, provide for those who are in need, reach those who need salvation, comfort those who need comfort, relief for those who are suffering, and peace and love for those who are anxious and alone, is what we did. We showed our culture of love by doing the most important thing we could do: we asked God to work mightily in the lives of everyone at WEBC.
Every one of us has the responsibility to foster a culture of love in our church. Be aware of all the opportunities God provides for you to care for another person. You’ll be blessed like I was as I listened to the prayers being cast before God’s throne.
 Dale Johnson, The Church as a Culture of Care (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2021), 20.