by Nathan Stanford
"Heard fantastic expositional sermon from 21-yr-old TMC grad Chris Barnard. Clear. Prophetic. Evangelistic. Revivalistic." When the president of your alma mater publicly tweets about your sermon to almost 3,000 of his Twitter followers, that's saying something.
"I am humbled at the fact that he took the time to comment on a sermon of mine," said Barnard, who graduated from Truett-McConnell College in 2011.
TMC alumnus Chris Barnard (right) graduated in 2011 with a degree in Christian Studies. He married the former Courtney Hart, who plans to graduate from TMC in May 2012 with a degree in Education. Chris plans to enter Southwestern Seminary in the fall of 2012. He currently works at Unicoi State Park, overseeing event planning. Photo / Scott & Carrie Ann Sienkiewicz
Barnard preached the sermon Feb. 12 at Helen First Baptist Church, where he serves as pastoral intern. Pastor of the church, Jim Holmes, had just concluded a sermon series -- "Every Member a Minister" -- and told Barnard the timing for the sermon was right.
In his sermon titled "Keeping the main thing, the main thing: a persistent message of a true believer," Barnard preached from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, emphasizing that Christians must never attempt to modify the content and the power of the Gospel message, and must always strive to share it.
"Paul makes it very clear that the cross of Christ is not just a part of the Gospel, it's not just a part of Christianity, but it is the very center of the Gospel itself," Barnard said, citing the exemplary apostle as one who kept "the main thing, the main thing."
The inspiration for this sermon, Barnard said, came from his concern that the Church at-large in recent years has been trying to make the message of the Cross more culturally appealing.
"In an attempt to appease those who hate the message we preach, the church has removed the offense of the Cross," Barnard said. "But the sad reality is that, we are not making the message of the Cross more appealing; but rather, we are destroying the Gospel altogether."
Barnard attributes this trend to Christians who have not decided confidently on the content of the Gospel message.
"Paul didn't wait until he got to Corinth before he determined his message," Barnard said. The same message that he brought to the Corinthian church was the same message wherever he went.
Directly addressing his remarks toward Truett-McConnell students attending the church, Barnard said, "Before you ever get to the mission field or step foot into the ministry, you must willfully decide the content of your message."
Barnard gestured toward his Bible and added, "Either you're going to stick with this book and preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified, or you will be tossed to and fro by every trend that comes around and you will be characterized by the norms of our society."
The content of the Gospel message must and always will be Jesus Christ crucified, he said. "That is what we are called as a church, as an individual [to do]: to go into the streets of Helen, to go into the city, to go into the surrounding community, the state of Georgia, and in this nation to proclaim."
"Despite what the world may say, there are still people out there looking for and listening to the message of the cross," Barnard said.
Citing FBC's theme for the year -- "Every Member a Minister" -- Barnard asked members to be a group of believers who put to action their faith: "It is time that, we as individuals who make up this church body take up the responsibility which God has given us and gifted us to do, and we go out and do it."
Barnard warned the congregation that, if they didn't reach out to the city of Helen, God would send someone else to do what he has called them to do.
"Church," he said, "an unshared Gospel is of no more value than a false gospel. You cannot be a minister without the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified being the focal point of your message."
Noting his own shortcomings, Barnard confessed, "Church I have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work to do. I'll be honest with you; when the invitation is given, I'm going to be the first one on these steps because I want revival to begin with me, and I want revival to begin with Helen so that the city of Helen and the surrounding communities will see us, will see God working in and through us, and they will be able to say that it's the work of God and not of man."
by Chris Barnard
Some of my greatest memories at TMC are:
- meeting Courtney, my wife;
- studying with Courtney in Merritt Lobby;
- playing flag football with the Raging Aardvarks and the faculty/staff teams;
- going to Waffle House in Cornelia at 2 a.m. with friends and discussing what God was doing in our lives and what we felt called to do;
- playing indoor volleyball in the Garrison lobby;
- snowboarding down the hill;
- sitting in the classroom; and,
- having lunch with professors.
Specifically, Dr. Pelletier and Dr. Harwood have influenced me the most. Both of them spent countless hours outside of the classroom, pouring into my life both spiritually and academically. I see how intelligent they are and the passion they have for both their students and for what they do in the classroom, and I desire to emulate that in my studies and in my ministry.