FrontRowEditor’s note: This issue’s “Front Row” is taken from the GARBC’s Annual Report for 2015. Read the entire report on pages 70–78 of Bb Plus.

After 40 years of calling Schaumburg, Illinois, home to the GARBC Resource Center, Regular Baptist Ministries officially started doing business in its new home in Arlington Heights, Illinois, on May 4. The transition was the culmination of extensive assessment and redesign of the Regular Baptist Ministries business model. Michael Nolan, CFO and treasurer, gave exceptional leadership to the Resource Center team in the relocation effort. The prudent planning and supervision enabled the project to come in on budget. The move to a new facility positions our association ministries for many years of effective and efficient service.

During the last year, the Council of Eighteen engaged in several aggressive initiatives to activate the 20/20 Master Plan, which was developed over the previous three years. Their priority focus is to develop a coordinated church-planting strategy. A robust plan is taking shape that will tap the association churches, networking missions, and Regular Baptist Ministries in a collaborative approach to respond to the urgent need for new churches.

An unusually large number of fellowshipping churches have closed or merged in recent years. That trend points to the need for the association to strengthen work in three important areas:

  • Consulting in revitalization efforts to help declining churches learn new approaches;
  • Lending assistance to church closures to facilitate an orderly and wise dissolution process, leaving a financial legacy to help other churches; and
  • Supporting church plants, facilitating new life out of the ashes of a church closure. Help is available through the association to churches experiencing the cycles of life and death.

John Murdoch concludes a distinguished tenure of service this year as director of the Regular Baptist Chaplaincy Ministries. John and his wife, Hope, have provided compassionate care to our active and retired chaplains and raised the awareness of this vital ministry in our constituency. The council’s chaplaincy and personnel committees have worked to identify the next director to assume this position.

State and regional fellowships and networking ministries are facing increased financial pressure, prompting them to reexamine the structural alignment of their independent entities. Because of their common convictions and causes, they have an opportunity to achieve a higher level of organizational efficiency and sustainability. It is essential that Regular Baptist fellowships work together to find realistic solutions. As the association provides a nonintrusive nexus of like-minded participants, the potential for forming collaborative working relationships is great. Together we can all accomplish more!

The current seam in our association’s history created by facilities and administrative and technological transitions provides an ideal opportunity to adjust priorities, positions, and procedures. The council, administrative team, and invested partners are giving attention to questions of organizational structure, rebranding, conference schedule and focus, roles and responsibilities, election policies, delivery systems, and networking relationships. Our beliefs remain constant, but our operational procedures are open for change. The urgent demands of each individual’s domain must not keep us all from collaborating for the greater good of the whole. Our convictions deserve a greater voice in the arena of theological debate and ministry practice.

On a personal note, Daria and I have maintained an active year. We traveled extensively, completed another writing project (Strong Church), and welcomed our fifth grandchild into the family. We are grateful for the measure of health and strength God has given to us, for the privilege to labor with an exceptional team of colleagues, and for a family who loves and serves the Lord. Thank you for the privilege to represent the Regular Baptist churches.

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