By Mike Hess
Recently Christina and I became members of the local church we have been attending. During the membership interview process, our pastor, Mark Wood, asked an important question: “Why do you want to be a member of our church?” That got me thinking. How would the average pastor, church leader, or church member answer this question: Why should you want to be a part of the GARBC?
Over the past several years as a pastor of a GARBC church and a member of the Council of Eighteen (the association’s governing board), I’ve been frequently asked questions that center on the word why.
As churches consider their involvement in the GARBC, they may be wondering questions like these:
- Why should my church be a part of the GARBC?
- Why should we personally be involved?
- What are the benefits of belonging to the GARBC?
- Why should I make an effort and encourage my church and others to be emotionally and personally engaged in the GARBC?
Before we join anything, we count the cost. Options are considered. Pros and cons are weighed. This is true whether it is a bank, civic organization, gym, association of retired people, local church, or fellowship of churches. Whenever we join something, we should be able to clearly articulate why we have joined it and why our membership should be meaningful. Your involvement in the GARBC fellowship should be no different. It is my firm conviction that churches are not better off going it alone.
Recently I put together a seven-point presentation that answers the why of belonging to our association. I’ll be presenting it to association churches as well as prospective pastors and churches. Consider the following great reasons for being involved in our association:
- Doctrinal alignment. Doctrinal purity was the impetus for the beginning of our association. Every autonomous church in our association has congregationally chosen to embrace our Biblically faithful doctrinal statement. This is what holds us together and what we rally around. Every church, published resource, and partnering agency subscribes to the same doctrines.
- Leveraging resources. Ministry endeavors that would be difficult for a church to accomplish alone can be done when churches bond together. The potential is unlimited when churches unite for training, outreach, youth activities, disaster relief, building projects, church planting, church revitalization, and participation in our upcoming retirement plan. What most churches cannot do alone, we’re able to do when we partner together. God has blessed us with funds to provide no-interest loans, grants, residency programs, and consultation for those involved in church planting and revitalization.
- Trustworthy support. Resources that Regular Baptist Press provides—such as VBS, the Baptist Bulletin, Bible studies, theological books, and curriculum for children, students, and adults—all coincide with our doctrinal statement. The basis for RBP materials is our strong belief that Scripture is inerrant, relevant, and sufficient.
- International partnerships. Association churches have the opportunity to partner internationally with churches that share our doctrinal commitment. We provide Biblical resources to partnering associations and affiliated churches around the world. In return they enrich and challenge us with their fervor for evangelizing people, discipling believers, and establishing churches.
- Chaplaincy endorsements. Since 1967, the US government has recognized the GARBC as an endorsing agency for chaplaincy. Every chaplain endorsed by the GARBC must meet stringent qualifications, including educational credentials, doctrinal examination, and the endorsement of a doctrinally aligned church.
- Networking opportunities. The GARBC network of colleges and seminaries, camps, state and local fellowships, and regional conferences provides opportunities for pastors and church leaders to forge relationships. By connecting, pastors and leaders sharpen and encourage one another in disciple-making ministry.
- Methodological flexibility. No two churches in the GARBC are exactly alike. As Baptists, we place a high value on individual soul liberty. While our churches are all doctrinally aligned, we realize that the churches will vary in style and methods. We believe that this is a strength in our association.
If your church is a part of the GARBC, let me encourage you to be personally involved both emotionally and enthusiastically. You and your church play an important role in “Making Disciples through Healthy Local Churches.” It’s my belief that there are scores of like-minded local churches looking for a fellowship like ours. We’re working together as a network of local churches to make disciples for God’s glory. What could be more exciting than that? If you’re not a part of the GARBC, please consider us. I’d love to personally answer any questions you might have.
As our administrative team travels to minister in churches, we desire to expose God’s people to the many blessings that come from being a part of our fellowship. Our team is here to serve you.
Mike Hess is national representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.