Few would deny we are living in a period of global uncertainty. A growing restlessness shows itself in the financial markets, on the political stage, and in the ideological arena. Like shifting tectonic plates, the strata of populace society are rumbling with pent-up pressure. Counterforces of oppression and resistance are building toward a revolution—not only in countries such as Syria, Sudan, and Greece, but also in the U.S. with the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements.
With tensions mounting, the church of Jesus Christ must raise its voice and declare the only message that can address the epicenter source of society’s problems—the gospel. We must not fall prey to false reassurances of complacency as in the time of Noah. Instead we must courageously follow the example of the apostle Paul, who boldly declared in a threatening environment, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation.”
At the center of God’s plan are His local churches—vast grassroots networks of transformational influence. In the countryside, villages, towns, and cities, we are called to make Christ known through our words and actions. As a fellowship of gospel-grounded, Bible-based, and like-minded churches, we must accept the challenge! We must individually fulfill our gospel assignment and collaboratively execute the work of the Great Commission. We must invest with abandonment every asset God has granted to our churches in proclaiming Christ.
This year the Lord has enabled us to advance the GARBC for the cause of Christ. Take joy in the following positive developments:
Church recruitment—An upturn is taking place in churches seeking information on fellowshipping with the GARBC. Our association’s characteristics of consistent doctrine, balanced approaches, and respect for varying methods in doing ministry are appealing assets. Pastors desire fellowship with ministry peers and the network and services that our association provides.
Church planting—A renewed interest in church planting is gaining momentum. More pastors, churches, and state fellowships are considering church planting. We must fulfill our obligation to pursue this Biblical mandate. Our association must provide support for this initiative without violating the nature of our uncentralized fellowship.
Master planning—I have led a team of seven pastors in monthly online meetings to lay out a strategic vision and action plan for the GARBC through 2020. Stay tuned for eventful days ahead!
Online learning—Participation in online cohorts continues to grow. I hosted a series of eight-week pastoral cohorts. A new monthly church planters’ cohort is thriving. I plan to continue to expand online interactions among pastors.
State representatives connecting—I began an online forum to bring state/regional representatives together for mutual encouragement, problem solving, and professional development. We are planning to meet regularly.
Baptist Bulletin—The magazine is drawing increased interest by advertisers. The articles are focused and thought-provoking. The Bulletin’s features on church planting tell the story of real ministry in the trenches. The online Baptist Bulletin continues to attract interest. Every church would benefit by subscribing to the Baptist Bulletin for its members.
Pastoral referral—A new online system at www.garbc.org facilitates pastoral candidates submitting their résumés online and churches posting their ministry openings. We can efficiently and comprehensively provide pastoral referral assistance through this venue.
Consultation—Our GARBC administrative team assisted churches in developing personalized strategies for revitalization, growth, financial stability, disciple-making, and conflict resolution. Online and on-site GARBC consultation services guided churches through a process of self-discovery, asset assessment, community awareness, creative consideration, and operational alignment.
Policy—After thoughtful review, the Council of Eighteen is recommending two additional statements to the GARBC Articles of Faith. The statements address a Biblical position on marriage and male-only pastors. (Read “Messengers Pass Two Resolutions.”)
Annual conference—God gave us an exceptional week of fellowship, instruction, and worship in Denver, Colo., in 2011. The Rocky Mountain regional committee, led by Dan Williams, did a great job hosting last year’s conference. We are enjoying this year’s conference thanks to Baptist Bible College’s warm welcome and Craig Golden’s leadership of the regional committee.
Finances—Praise the Lord, our overall finances will end in the black as a result of prudent cost containment. It is essential for long-term viability that we plan for the addition of donor churches/individuals, efficient business planning, and product sales. Each of these three components contributes to a financially sound organization. (Read “Healthy Financial Report for a Challenging Year.”)
Looking forward, we will collaboratively pursue important initiatives. Church planting is vital to carrying out the Great Commission. We will implement church-planting strategies such as developing online resources, mentoring, accountability, and funding assistance. In pursuing global evangelism, we will build upon our network with doctrinally sound international fellowships for greater effectiveness. In the education realm, we will develop an online and on-site learning lab network for the enhancement of ministry skills for pastors and church workers. Equipping individuals for ministry can also be promoted by forming a coalition of Baptist higher learning comprised of doctrinally aligned schools. We must work on strengthening communication channels by connecting pastors and churches for fellowship and compassionate assistance and by restructuring the association for regional representation and participation. We can leverage collective wisdom by linking state/regional representatives together for local church assistance, pastoral referral, and creative planning. To build for the future, we must articulate our association’s positions and values through writing and publishing resources for local church and academic learners. We must be forward in our thinking while maintaining our theological roots. We must build our ministries with mutual respect and an appreciation for one another across ages, preferences, and worship styles.
Our time is now. We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted by passivity, pettiness, or misplaced priorities. It is time for action. I count it a great blessing of the Lord to regard the GARBC as my family and my circle of ministry colleagues. Together we can accomplish more!
John Greening is national representative for the GARBC.