The Word Has It
“Strengthen me according to Your word,” Psalm 119:28
MARBC State Representative
You can also download a PDF of the January 2008 Baptist Testimony (1 mb PDF; PC: Right click / MAC: Control click on the link and choose “Save As”)
January's Word: “Church”
“So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.” Acts 16:5
The Need for a Pioneering Vision and Spirit
Some three hundred and fifty years ago, a shipload of pioneers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year, they established a town. The next year, they elected a town government. During the third year, the town government revealed plans to build a road five miles west into the wilderness. Incredibly, in the fourth year, the people tried to impeach their government because they thought it to be a waste of public money to construct a road five miles westward into an unknown territory. United, they voiced the opinion, “Why go there?”
These people had once had no trouble envisioning their own travel across three-thousand miles of ocean or setting their minds on overcoming the great hardships they knew such a voyage and new life would entail. But in four short years, they could not see five miles out of town! They had lost their pioneering spirit and their vision for what might be achieved.
Several decades ago, the men and women who pioneered the movement that became known as the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches envisioned a future that involved the strategic partnership of church ministries in large cities, small towns, and rural communities through out the state. Common ground was found through Christ's gospel (Romans 1:16). A contagious spirit was cultivated through Christ's Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and its subsequent strategic application (Acts 1:8) in a variety of settings utilizing a diverse and dynamic group of people. What started with a small group of committed pioneers has been blessed by God almost seven decades later with a large army of settlers located in hundreds of locations across the State of Michigan.
Church partnership is a wonderful thing. When Christians and ministries partner together they experience more and achieve more than they ever could in isolation. Jesus shares a mandate with His church in Acts 1:8 – “you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” “Judea” for the churches in fellowship with the MARBC is the State of Michigan. We believe that it is critical for our churches to effectively reach and cultivate their “Judea.” This is accomplished in two important ways. First, the churches that are currently a part of the MARBC must be effectively strengthened and encouraged. Second, a strategic plan for church planting throughout Michigan must be designed and implemented.
Before new church plants can be widely propagated, current church plants, mission works, and established churches must be strengthened and united. This will be the focus of the MARBC fellowship over the next five years. The project title which encompasses this strategic plan is “Church Partnering Relationships” or CPR.
We are calling on this generation of church leaders and members of the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist churches to reflect the glory and grace of Jesus through practical expressions of unity, partnership, and enrichment.
Church Partnering Relationships (CPR) contain 3 basic qualities:
Caring: a proactive vision towards mutual edification
Praying: regular sharing of requests and initiatives that promote mutual prayer
Resourcing: embracing the mission of practical encouragement by outsourcing materials and personnel
I encourage you to listen to the message that I shared at the MARBC Conference this past October. The message fleshes out the rationale of “CPR” and shares several practical examples of how it can be implemented. The message can be accessed, free of charge, at our website www.marbc.net.
We lose heart any time we allow a difficult situation and challenging obstacles to rob us of our God-given vision. As a result, we fail to see the opportunities of tomorrow, to see the people who can still be reached with Christ's gospel, to achieve great ministry through a valuable partnership, and to see our Christ commanded mission accomplished. I say to you, my fellow servants, that the most ingenious and well-drafted strategy will not be accomplished unless you and I are willing to accept the challenge that corresponds to the plan. Every objective will have an obstacle; every endeavor a corresponding enemy; and every goal will have its imposing goliath.
Will we allow these challenges to intimidate us into immobility? Or, by God's grace, will we join together to accomplish the great and mighty things that He has promised will take place when we acknowledge Christ's Headship and the privilege of partnering together to accomplish His mandate? May we join together in the days ahead asking God to renew our vision and to embolden our courage for His glory!
The “Christ, the Son of the living God” said, “I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:16, 18)
You have His Word on it! (KEF)
(This is the first of three articles regarding the MARBC's new initiative called “CPR” – Church Partnering Relationships. Download the brochure detailing this ministry by clicking here [269kb PDF Download])