Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches
The past five years have been marked by intense spiritual pressure and economic challenge in the state where our Lord has strategically placed us as churches.
This intense spiritual pressure has served as a stark reminder that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) The one who wrote these words couched them in the context of these statements: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil… Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-11, 13).
May we, like Paul the Apostle, recognize from whence our true opposition comes and where to put our trust.
We love the Lord! We love His Church! And we love the pastoral couples, deacon couples, and members of the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches! It is a great joy to complete our fifth year serving with you as representatives of this Biblically sound church network whose heritage is rich and whose potential for Great Commission influence is strong.
We rejoice in the way the churches of our fellowship have bonded ever more closely by partnering together in strategic ways, evidenced by the strong support for the CPR Initiative. Over three dozen “Church Partnering Relationships” have blossomed throughout the state since its inception four years ago. Those sharing in CPR ministries have realized both spiritual and practical fruitfulness through the wise stewardship of personnel, resources, and finances. These initiatives have enabled the Gospel to be propagated in many regions, including some where there has been minimal Gospel witness. Several individuals have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Much edification has taken place as ministry teams have partnered together to encourage one another spiritually. Many facilities have been maintained, improved, and enhanced as sister churches have invested their time, talents, and treasure.
However, these have also been days of great difficulty for many in our midst. The challenge and pace of the past year have kept us praying fervently and consulting the Word of God for direction as we ministered often with those in severe crisis. Phone consultations are rarely brief and the issues are fairly complex. The conclusion of these encounters has often been accompanied with tears regarding the spiritual trauma being experienced by those with whom we have met. Yet, even in these intense situations we are blessed to witness God’s abundant grace on display to bring encouragement and deliver victory in many unique ways. We express a special “Thank you” to those who share that they regularly uphold us in prayer.
Speaking ministry. God blessed our ministry this past year with a very full speaking calendar, preaching 71 times in 48 MARBC churches. God has given us the opportunity to share about the MARBC fellowship with several interested churches including the opportunity to speak 10 times in non-affiliated churches. We were able to speak at several conferences and retreats this year. We were blessed to participate in several installation services for new pastors and assisted 10 churches preparing pastoral candidates for ordination. Those preparing for ordination have benefited greatly by the Ordination Council procedures drafted on behalf of the MARBC. This document is available to download at www.marbc.net.
Consultations and Counseling. We have logged over 145 meetings, phone calls, and online consultations relating to extreme ministry needs. We served in 16 search committee orientations to assist churches in pastoral transition and consulted these groups by phone several other times. The volume of requests continues to increase, including several from churches outside of our state association. Approximately 10% of our entire church constituency is seeking a new lead pastor. We are thankful for 9 churches who have been led by the Lord to call new lead pastors this past year.
Print ministry. We prepared and edited 6 issues of the Baptist Testimony and sent out 25 email editions of the MARBC Messenger. We are encouraged that many more churches are sending in information for each issue.
Church Planting and Recruitment. We continue to research church planting opportunities. In recent months we have had several opportunities to further engage with new or refocused church ministries. One of these special ministries is the Grace Baptist Bible Hispanic Church, a church plant in Grant. This ministry, led by Pastor Pepe Morales, currently meets in the facilities of Rice Lake Baptist Church, an MARBC church. Several other MARBC churches are partnering with this church plant in ministry and facility development. Another church ministry where we have recently shared is the Litchfield Baptist Church in South Litchfield. This is a church that is being led back to its Biblical and Baptistic roots by veteran pastor Ken Pierpont, Sr. and his wife, Jane. Other non-affiliated Baptist churches have contacted me for pastoral search assistance and interest in our fellowship. We continue to dialogue with others regarding church planting opportunities in the state. We are encouraging each of our regional MARBC fellowships to start cultivating such discussion in their association meetings.
Brotherhood Mutual. We praise God for the latest Brotherhood Mutual refund to the MARBC of $50,094. Just over 100 MARBC churches partner in this program. This refund was significantly used of God to help offset a negative cash flow due to weakened church support as a result of the difficult Michigan economy. We are grateful for the efforts of Del Sanders and his group. Continue to uphold Del in prayer for his health needs and for his life adjustments. Marilyn, his wife of 52 years, went home to be with her Lord in early January.
Conferences and Seminars. As you have probably noticed, some changes were made regarding the 2011 MARBC Conference. The schedule was adjusted to an afternoon start in order to allow more time for travel to the conference on Monday. In order to control expenses, the conference brochure was redesigned to include more registration information. Materials that were normally mailed in a large and expensive packet were instead posted on the MARBC website for downloading. We sent out weekly emails reminding churches and pastors to visit the website. Another new arrangement this year involved partnering with the GARBC to utilize the online donation link on their website in order for conference registrants to pay the registration fee by credit card. We are grateful for the GARBC’s assistance in providing this economical alternative which has run very smoothly.
A dialogue continues with UP churches and other regions about future seminars as well as the possibility of a UP Bible conference in the next two years. I recently discussed the concept of a joint MARBC-OARBC conference with Dave Warren, my counterpart serving with the Ohio Association of Regular Baptist Churches (OARBC). He shared this idea with the OARBC Council of 12 and they heartily endorsed the idea. We are considering the possibility of doing this in 2013. Representatives from both state fellowships will meet early next year to further discuss this possibility.
Ministry summary. This report marks the completion of five years of ministry with the MARBC. In five years we have logged a little over 141,000 miles (29,000 in 2011) and ministered in over 250 churches. We are grateful to our churches, pastoral couples, and ministry servants for their encouragement as we share with them. We are thankful for the special partnership we share with the special servants who serve on the MARBC Council of 15. We also want to thank Pastor Kevin Pierpont for his wonderful ministry as webmaster of the MARBC website, and Mrs. Karen Avey who expertly ministers as the MARBC bookkeeper.
Our ministry continues to be focused upon the encouragement of and assistance to ministry leaders and their churches. We come by the invitation of the pastor or church and do not require a minimum honorarium. Our services are available to any ministry large or small. The ministries of the MARBC and its Executive Director are supported by the love offerings, honorariums, mileage reimbursements, and regular giving of the churches and individual supporters. We appreciate your prayerful consideration of the MARBC.
Sharon and I are blessed as a couple to have the privilege of ministering together daily and to meet so many wonderful servants of God weekly in our travels. We are additionally blessed by God to have a wonderful daughter and son-in-law, Allison and Taylor, who are caretakers of our two terrific grandchildren Connor Wesley (2 1/2 years old) and Eloise Claire (born on March 4). We remain strongly committed to the purpose of our fellowship and the propagation of the Gospel through strong, healthy churches in our state. God uses you as a conduit of great blessing to us through your prayerful support. Please join us in prayer that God will enable us to effectively engage in Great Commission ministry in the “Jerusalems, Judeas, and Samarias” of our state (Acts 1:8).
Partnering with you and praying for you,
Ken and Sharon Floyd