By Mike Hess

Editor’s note: This issue’s “Open Mike” is taken from the GARBC’s annual report for 2019. Read the entire report in Bb Plus.

It was a year ago that the messengers at the national conference entrusted me with the stewardship of leading the GARBC. Christina and I consider it a blessing and privilege to serve our fellowship in this capacity. Traveling to churches, conferences, colleges/seminaries, and camps, as well as other ministry opportunities, has given me even more reason to be fired up about the future of the GARBC.

Many of you have asked how this transition has gone. Thank you for your prayers and faithful encouragement! By God’s grace, we have absolutely loved serving in this role. The Resource Center staff is a highly competent and enjoyable group to serve with. In this report you will be brought up to speed on several other areas of encouragement, where God is blessing the GARBC and RBP.

I’m blessed to serve with a great team of ministry leaders.

Under David Gunn’s capable leadership, RBP continues to expand and grow in sales. It’s a joy to work closely with him. He is one of the most theologically articulate voices in our circles.

You’ll notice our international partnerships continue to grow. Much of this is due to Chris and Deb Hindal’s indefatigable schedule as they travel around the world visiting current and potential partners.

Mark Johnson has done a splendid job preparing the retirement program. The finances of RBM are served well with Mark’s financial integrity and expertise.

Manning Brown’s report reflects growth in the chaplaincy ministry. Much of this is due to his burden and passion for this ministry. I’m excited about his goals for the upcoming year.

Clare Jewell is capably serving one of the most crucial components of GARBC ministries—church planting and revitalization. Many of you have commented to me how his ministry has helped your church see the need for revitalization. He has worked tirelessly to help churches with this endeavor.

This past year has been one of major transitions for Christina and me—Iowa to Illinois, pastoral ministry to national representative of the GARBC, weekly preaching ministry in the same local church to itinerant ministry, having children at home to becoming empty nesters. But through it all God’s gracious and faithful character remains our anchor. We rejoice that His grace has proven sufficient in this transition.

This map illustrates the many places we’ve been blessed to serve in over the past 12 months. We are truly humbled and grateful for each of these opportunities. I have observed that momentum and enthusiasm for the GARBC is building. A special thank you to those who have given me the opportunity to preach the Word at your church or ministry. We give God all the glory!

Looking ahead, God has placed on my heart several initiatives to keep in front of you:

Retirement. The GARBC retirement program for pastors is now open for enrollment!

Pastoral Soul-Care. This ministry provides pastors and wives a Biblical, compassionate, and hopeful venue to get help with ministry struggles they may be facing.

Church Revitalization. After traveling tens of thousands of miles and visiting dozens of churches, I’m convinced that local churches’ greatest need is revitalization. This is crucial to the future of our fellowship.

Church Recruitment. We plan on utilizing every resource at our disposal to get the word out to churches who doctrinally align with us. It would be great to see the GARBC continue to expand into fast-growing states, urban and inner-city settings, and other unchurched areas in need of the gospel. Churches are not better off going it alone. An interdependent fellowship such as ours can play a significant role in helping other churches make disciples for God’s glory. I need your help with this. Let’s get the word out about this great fellowship of ours.

Pastoral Referrals. I recently wrote about this growing concern. Please pray with me that God would raise up qualified men with a desire to serve in pastoral ministry.

I’m very encouraged by what the Lord has done in the past year. More importantly, I’m eager to see what He will do as we press forward to “Make Disciples through Healthy Local Churches.”

Mike Hess serves as national representative of the Regular Baptist Churches.