JFFRI need your help. As 2016 gets under way, our GARBC Resource Center will send a packet of material to churches in the fellowship. The packet contains promotional pieces related to the upcoming GARBC Conference in June and important documents that gather essential data. Those documents include a church directory update form and a nomination form for candidates to serve on the Council of Eighteen.

I ask that you pay special attention to the packet and that if you are a pastor, you alert your secretary to its arrival. With the busyness of ministry, you might be inclined to open the packet and set aside the documents. You may say, “Nothing has changed at my church, so there is no need to update the directory information.” Perhaps that is the case, but often people in the index, e-mail addresses, websites, or phone numbers change, so the information in the directory is no longer current. Or you may think, “I may not attend the conference this year, so it is not necessary to submit nominees for the Council election.” But be assured that every nomination matters.

The Directory

When our office does not hear from churches, it becomes necessary to track down directory information, adding to the workload of our limited staff. You could be of great assistance to us by taking a few moments to review the directory inventory and make corrections. (Thanks to those of you who faithfully submit updates!)

Did you know that our church directory is much more than a helpful compilation of contact information of churches and pastors? Actually the directory is the official list that we submit to the IRS annually to maintain our umbrella 501(c)3 tax exemption status. That tax exemption not only aids our Regular Baptist ministries, but allows your church to qualify as a tax-exempt organization, providing valuable benefits to you and your people.

Our church directory plays another vital role. It substantiates for the government the continuing viability of our association, allowing us to serve as an endorsing body for chaplains entering military, community, institutional, and corporate ministries. Organizations utilizing chaplains set strict requirements for chaplains to ensure that adequate safeguards of assessment and accountability are in place. Endorsing is considered a necessary part of that protective process.

Council of Eighteen Nominations

The second document that might easily be tossed is the nominee form for Council of Eighteen members. You may conclude that since you might not participate in the final vote at our annual conference, why nominate anyone? I urge you to make the nominating process a priority. By nominating potential Council members, you ensure there is a wide range of individuals to consider in the final election. You raise the possibility that the region in which you minister will be represented in the process. You increase the possibility of new men being included on the Council, which means fresh approaches and insights. The GARBC is a grassroots fellowship. As a previous national representative said of the association, “There are no big men, only a big God.” Every person in our fellowship is important, as well as every nomination. Active participation in the selection process helps to maintain the integrity of the system.

Committee Reports

The men serving on the Council play a key role in forwarding the association. During the November meeting, Dave Burman Jr. presented a church-planting proposal that was the compilation of a year of aggressive interaction by a design team. The proposal focuses on a way to come alongside churches, state and regional fellowships, and agencies to create connections to accomplish the shared objective of multiplying Regular Baptist churches. The input received from the Council will enable the design team to make tweaks in the coming months to clarify and enhance the final structure. The desired goal is to trust God and work together to see 100 Regular Baptist churches planted by Regular Baptist churches by 2025.

The Conference Committee presented the plans for a conference overhaul that will involve a shift in the schedule for the Council meeting, beginning on Monday at noon, making it easier for observers to be involved. Talents For Christ competition will be moved to Tuesday, with a Wednesday night concert. The conference general sessions will begin with the Tuesday evening service and conclude at noon on Friday. The great time of preaching, worship, and fellowship of the 2016 Conference will take place at the beautiful facility of Harvest New Beginnings, Oswego, Illinois, where Scott Poling is pastor.

The Personnel Committee presented an administrative staff realignment to wisely adapt to the changing ministry opportunities of the future. A succession plan was outlined to ensure that the association leadership remains ready for the road ahead.

The Policy Committee tackled the creative work of devising a strategy to better connect with the various regions of the fellowship in order to ensure there is a forum for grassroots input and involvement from all parts of the fellowship. In addition, a review of policies and past decisions was conducted to reconnect with old friends and build future alliances.

Discussion during the Council sessions was lively and positive. There was both serious conversation and good-natured banter. The members, energized and positive about the future, left for their respective ministries with full to-do lists.

When the packet with the two documents arrives in your church office, please take a few moments to provide the requested information and return it. We make the nomination process convenient by allowing you to enter your Council nominees online, by fax, or by e-mail. Select a list of men you think embrace the values of our fellowship and are committed to making a positive contribution to the future of our fellowship.

Whoever thought filling out documents could make such a big difference!

John Greening is national representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.