By Mike Hess
This past June, with unanimous approval, the Council of Eighteen voted to move forward with a new purpose statement for the GARBC.
Per our constitutional procedures, this was presented at the business meeting of the 2019 GARBC Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. As it is with any organization, it’s important to periodically reexamine how we articulate our purpose for existence. I want to take this opportunity to explain the motives and thinking behind this change.
I’m incredibly grateful for the godly men who helped articulate our past and current purpose statements. Frequently when I speak, someone will come up to me and share that a Regular Baptist leader of the past was instrumental in that person’s conversion and growth in grace. Every GARBC purpose statement in the past was written by men who sincerely loved the Lord, His Word, and the church. They had a relentless passion for making disciples for God’s glory.
Older Purpose Statements
The changing of our purpose statement as an association is far from a new concept. We have updated our purpose statement twice, most recently in 1972. For the purpose of historical context and reference, here are the previous two purpose statements along with the current one.
“To spread the Gospel, advance Missionary enterprises, do Evangelistic work, provide fellowship for Baptist Churches.”
“To spread the Gospel, advance Baptist missionary enterprises, promote evangelism and provide Fellowship for Baptist Churches. (This statement governs the policy of the Association only, and in no wise makes mandatory any like policy in any fellowshipping church).”
“To maintain an association of sovereign Bible-believing, Christ-honoring Baptist churches; to promote the spirit of evangelism; to spread the gospel; to advance Regular Baptist educational and missionary enterprises at home and abroad; to raise and maintain a testimony to the truth of the gospel and to the purity of the Church; to raise a standard of Biblical separation from worldliness, modernism and apostasy; to emphasize the Biblical teaching that a breakdown of divinely established lines between Bible believers and apostates is unscriptural and to be a voice repudiating cooperation with movements which attempt to unite true Bible believers and apostates in evangelistic and other cooperative spiritual efforts.”
Proposed New Statement
“The GARBC exists to glorify God by assisting churches in Biblical and dynamic disciple-making as an association of autonomous, Bible-centered, Christ-exalting, gospel-proclaiming Baptist churches. Based on our commitment to doctrinal purity, we collaborate with likeminded ministries that share our beliefs and our passion for making disciples of Jesus Christ.”
The Council of Eighteen had several goals in articulating this new statement:
- First, we are in no way bending or compromising our stand on personal or ecclesiastical separation from those who embrace or preach false doctrine. Our doctrinal position is clear and well-established.
- We believe this new statement provides better clarity on what the purpose of the church is, along with how churches can work together with other doctrinally aligned churches.
- Our doctrinal statement articulates what we believe the Bible teaches, and the purpose statement explains how that is fleshed out as an association—hence the focus on disciple-making, local church ministry, and collaborating with other doctrinally aligned ministries.
We’re grateful for the overwhelmingly positive reception this proposed statement has received. We live in a culture that celebrates a clear articulation of mission and purpose. I am convinced that as I present our fellowship to prospective churches, the proposed statement provides clarity while maintaining our doctrinal distinctiveness.
While language and forms of communication change, our doctrinal position and heritage do not. I’m grateful to be serving a fellowship of churches that for nearly 90 years has maintained its doctrinal integrity while staying focused on Christ’s mandate for His church: making disciples for His glory.
Mike Hess serves as national representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.