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The Baptist Testimony
Volume 57 Number 1 January/February 2011
The Word Has It
“Strengthen me according to Your word,” Psalm 119:28
MARBC Executive Director
One of my favorite stories of history relates to the famous Duke of Wellington. Born Arthur Wellesley, Wellington was a British soldier and statesman who was nicknamed “The Iron Duke.” He became famous when, as a general, he led his troops in overcoming the armies of the French Emperor Napoleon I in Spain and Portugal. He later helped defeat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. In his final years, Wellington became a leader of the Tory Party and served as prime minister.
On one occasion General Wellington had planned an operation to take a dangerous hill occupied by the enemy. As he reviewed the details of the plan he knew that when he gave the command for his men to charge, very few would come back alive. Even his stout military heart wavered at the thought.
The time finally came to share with his regiments the details of his desperate but necessary strategy which would be implemented the next morning. After covering the weighty details of the plan he shared sincerely with his soldiers, “I will turn about, and every man that is willing at daybreak to make the charge on that hill, let him take two paces forward.”
Wellington turned his back to the soldiers and waited for the men to decide. After a few moments the anxious general turned to see which soldiers had taken the step of commitment. A look of disappointment crossed his face – not even one soldier had taken a step away from the others. Observing Wellington’s look of disappointment, one of his officers explained, “Sir, do not be disheartened. Every man has taken two paces forward!”
Imagine with me for a moment if our Great Commander, the Lord Jesus Christ, were to visibly stand in our midst during a worship service and make a similar request? How would we respond? I am sure that we would hope that our response would be, “Oh, yes, I will step two paces forward for you, Lord!”
The fact is Jesus has already called us as His soldiers to take “two paces forward” – to be a part of the Great Commission assault against the forces of darkness in liberating those who are being held captive to the bondage of sin.
As we enter a new year, will you take a moment to consider what taking “two paces forward” means for you today? What commitment is Christ calling you to make? What investments demand your serious attention? As individuals, churches, and a fellowship of churches, are we willing to take “two paces forward” for the glory of our most worthy Commander and the Captain of our Souls?
This issue of the Baptist Testimony highlights several initiatives and commitments that the MARBC is making in the coming days in order to move several “paces” forward in honoring our Lord’s Great Commission commands. I encourage you to read each report carefully and rejoice in what God is doing in our midst. Then I invite you to join me in prayer that each step will be accomplished in ways that will bring Christ glory and strengthen His Church. We seek your input, welcome your participation, and depend upon your investment.
“Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way.” (Psalm 37:4-6, 23)
You have His Word on it! (KEF)
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S 2010 ANNUAL REPORT HIGHLIGHTS
Submitted by Ken Floyd, MARBC Executive Director
Have you pondered this verse regarding the Chief Shepherd of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ? “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8) The marks of pain are critical to a life and ministry that is served in the style of Jesus. Dan Allender has perceptively observed that “the best leaders limp.” (“Leading With A Limp,” WaterBrook Press, 2006)
A Challenging Season of Ministry. We observed this principle in action as we served Christ and His Church this past year. Much time has been devoted to counseling, consulting, and encouraging discouraged ministry leaders, including several in crisis. We have sought to encourage our ministry servants to value the opportunity to “lead with a limp.” Perhaps the greatest evidence of these special needs is the fact that our mobility increased dramatically this past year. We logged just under 40,000 miles in our travels to over 72 church campuses for speaking, consultations, crisis needs, and special ministry occasions. This is by far the most miles logged in one year by the Director. Due to several urgent needs throughout the summer we did not have the opportunity to visit some of the CPR ministry sites as we typically have been able to do in the past.
While these challenging issues have taken much investment, there are also several positives to rejoice in. Pastors and churches facing the above mentioned difficulties are indeed finding God’s grace to be sufficient for their needs and are experiencing victory. We often utilize the special ministry resource funds, such as the Pastor’s Enrichment Fund, to encourage God’s special servants through books and other ministry resources.
We are daily reminded of the importance of the MARBC ministry to hundreds of churches and thousands of people who benefit regularly from its resources and partnership opportunities. We seek to effectively serve in both a Biblical and prayerful way for God’s glory.
Pastoral Placement. Working in the search process with churches and prospects is a regular part of our ministry. I am glad to report that eleven MARBC churches called new pastors in the past year. Of the almost 200 churches in the MARBC, twelve churches on average were in pastoral transition during the past year. I was involved in 26 consultations with pastoral search committees and conducted several interviews with prospective pastors.
Speaking Ministry. Another reason for the greatly increased mileage was due to a very full year of speaking. We enjoyed sharing in many MARBC churches (48 churches in all), including the opportunity to return to some churches where we had spoken a few years prior. I guess this qualifies us as veterans in this position! I also spoke in 3 conferences, a leadership retreat, and 2 ministry banquets. We developed and led two MARBC Regional Seminars that focused on servant leadership principles for pastors and deacons. This year we are developing regional seminars designed to help encourage ministry couples as they deal with the pressures of ministry.
Church Partnerships. The third year of the “CPR Initiative” (Church Partnering Relationships) involved approximately twenty churches in strategic partnerships. This year’s CPR projects provided critical help to church ministries that have struggled due to financial decline as a result of the Michigan recession. We thank everyone who partnered with the MARBC in the CPR Initiative. It would be our privilege to share with your church the importance of the MARBC partnership and participation in CPR. Materials explaining this ministry are available from the MARBC office or at www.marbc.net.
Strategic Initiatives. We presented at last year’s MARBC Conference a prospectus which I had earlier submitted to the Council of 15. This prospectus gives direction towards the development of a strategic plan for the MARBC ministry.
We are pleased to report that one important element of the strategic plan has been realized. In the spring of 2010, the Council of 15 approved the allocation of over $35,000 in MARBC invested funds towards a seminary scholarship for MARBC students. These funds were combined with a love gift of approximately $15,000 given two years ago by a family associated with the MARBC for a pastoral scholarship with Baptist Bible Seminary. This action enabled an endowment of $50,000 to be established and therefore activate the special scholarship in conjunction with Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, PA.
Officially titled the “BBS Michigan Pastoral Studies Endowment,” this scholarship is being labeled by the Council of 15 as “The MARBC Future Pastors Legacy Scholarship.” Since this scholarship is now fully endowed, the MARBC can start awarding scholarships to qualifying seminary students at Baptist Bible Seminary beginning the next school year.
Be sure to read the article related to this exciting opportunity which is included in this issue of the Baptist Testimony.
Proactive for the Future. We continue to develop other aspects of the strategic plan, including providing practical help for current pastors seeking online continuing education. We are seeking funding from churches and burdened individuals to help fund this program. We have started receiving donations of computer equipment, technology, and tech support to help train God’s servants to utilize this technology. We ask the MARBC constituency to join with 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).
Ministry Availability and Needs. We are available for speaking ministry, consultations, seminars, and strategic planning. We come by the invitation of the pastor and church. Our services are available to any ministry large or small. Because of this policy, the ministry of the Executive Director and the MARBC fellowship is supported by the love offerings, honorariums, mileage reimbursements, and regular giving of the churches and individual supporters. We sincerely appreciate your prayerful consideration of our personal ministry needs and that of the MARBC. We are grateful for the resource funds made possible by our churches’ relationship with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance that helps undergird our ministry and special endeavors. It is the desire of the MARBC leadership that these Brotherhood gifts could be used primarily for special ministry projects like those outlined in the Ministry Prospectus. A letter regarding the special MARBC-Brotherhood Mutual partnership is available upon request from our office.
Thank You! I want to express my deep appreciation for my wonderful wife, Sharon. She is such a joy to work with and is a wonderful encourager not only to me but also those whom we serve. We enjoy the opportunity to work side by side in this ministry and count it a blessing from God. We thank you for your ongoing ministry partnership and prayerful support as we complete our fourth year of MARBC ministry. Your prayerful support is very meaningful to us as we travel often and seek godly wisdom and we counsel and minister in unique and sometimes challenging situations.
Please remember that the MARBC is probably the only ministry that you support whose sole focus is to impact the State of Michigan with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is something worth embracing!
Partnering with you and praying for you,
Ken and Sharon Floyd