by Mike Hess

Myriad reminders tell us that summer is ending. We see back-to-school photos on social media and hear of children leaving for college; we note the beginning of another college football season, playoff pushes for MLB teams, and NFL fantasy drafts; we notice the gradual change of weather and the shortening of days; and we kick off of another year of church ministry. God has blessed our fellowship of churches in tremendous ways over the summer months. Reflect on the following evidences of God’s goodness.

An Encouraging and Dynamic GARBC Conference. At the end of June, our fellowship gathered for four days in Des Moines, Iowa, to Biblically unpack the subject of worship during the GARBC Conference. God blessed us with a great time of unity, along with superb expositional preaching and practical ministry modules. In addition, three churches—in Arizona, Hawaii, and Indiana—were welcomed into the fellowship. Scores of individuals have commented on what an excellent job the conference staff did in putting together such an edifying and Christ-exalting conference. I hope you’re able to join us for the 2020 GARBC Conference in Sacramento, California, June 29–July 2.

Rollout of the GARBC Retirement Plan. According to recent research, nearly one in five pastors does not save for retirement and only 38 percent of churches offer a retirement plan with their pastoral compensation packages. The GARBC has a strong desire to be a blessing to its churches and pastors by providing the GARBC 403(b) plan offered through Servant Solutions. Your church can begin participating by adopting the plan in the manner specified by your church’s constitution or bylaws and submitting an account application to Servant Solutions. The plan maximizes tax benefits by deferring taxes on contributions and offering a housing allowance designation for withdrawals by qualified participants. The plan also offers a variety of investment options to meet the needs of participants at any stage of their ministry journey. For more information, visit retirement.GARBC.org.

GARBC Christian Character Scholarship. This summer marked the launch of the GARBC Christian Character Scholarship. Our fellowship is committed to helping young people pursue Christlikeness by attending colleges of like faith that fully embrace the GARBC’s doctrinal position. Seniors in high school can submit applications with accompanying personal references that validate those students’ commitment to serving Christ in their churches and communities. Twenty-four scholarships, totaling $25,000 (four awards of $2,500 each, 10 awards of $1,000 each, and 10 awards of $500 each), will be awarded by participating schools to students who exemplify Christian character and express an ongoing desire to invest their lives in church ministry. The following colleges are participating in awarding scholarships: Appalachian Bible College, Bob Jones University, Cedarville University, Clarks Summit University, Faith Baptist Bible College, Piedmont University, and Shasta Bible College.

Regular Baptist International. An uptick in interest in the International Partnership of Fundamental Baptist Ministries took place over the summer. Our partnerships continue to grow in Latin America. In August, Chris Hindal, director of Regular Baptist International, spoke at a pastors’ conference in northern Peru and presented the IPFBM to the Association of Evangelical Baptist Churches of the Grau Region. During the Peru association’s business meeting, church members voted to apply for partnership. When accepted, this will be the second association from Peru to join the IPFBM. On another continent, the Myanmar Partnership of Biblical Baptist Churches became a new partner of the IPFBM. This association began when the School of Theology in Yangon, Myanmar, started a church planting mission. Through that mission the school’s graduates and students planted 36 churches and formed the Myanmar Partnership of Biblical Baptist Churches, the 71st partnering association in the IPFBM. Timothy Sui Lian Mang is president of the school and association.

Regular Baptist Chaplaincy. At a pre–GARBC Conference module in June, Regular Baptist Chaplaincy conducted training that targeted compassion fatigue and bereavement ministry. Pastor Andy Bittle led the module. Also this summer, churches using Regular Baptist Press’s Giddyup Junction Vacation Bible School participated in a Character Counts missions project that focused on giving to the chaplaincy ministry. So far churches have given nearly $9,000 to help chaplains serve their communities. In addition, Manning Brown, director of Regular Baptist Chaplaincy, presented the chaplaincy ministry in Winnebago, Minnesota, and Waverly, Iowa. Regular Baptist Chaplaincy continues to grow, as two chaplains were recently added to the list of endorsed chaplains—one in Civil Air Patrol and another in hospice ministry. Chaplaincy is a vital disciple-making ministry that both reaches the lost with the gospel and provides Biblical hope and encouragement to the hurting.

Regular Baptist Builders Club. Since May, Regular Baptist Builders Club has received a record number of applications for grants and loans, including three for Build Up grants, three for Lift Up grants, one for a Start Up grant, and one for a Train Up grant. In June, a pre–GARBC Conference module focused on the church-revitalization topic “Breathing New Life into Your Church.” Tom Mullins and Derrick Hicks, pastors of churches receiving the first two Lift Up grants, shared testimonies during the conference’s sessions. The two pastors conveyed the fruit the Lord has produced in their church members through the revitalization process. You can now connect with Regular Baptist Builders Club through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to find updates, photos, and challenging thoughts from Scripture.

Regular Baptist Press. For the second year in a row, the Vacation Bible School program published by Regular Baptist Press achieved record-breaking sales. In addition, growth in sales has occurred with the new Strong Curriculum. The Kids4Truth Clubs children’s Bible program has been adopted by over 120 more churches since the start of 2019. RBP recently unveiled the theme for its 2020 Vacation Bible School program: Big Fish Bay: Hooked on God’s Mercy. The program is available for preorder at 2020.rbpVBS.org. Plans are underway for a New Testament Expositional Commentary series, which will be written for Christians in the local church—whether pastor, teacher, small group leader, or individual member. Each volume will provide a readable verse-by-verse guide through each New Testament book from a conservative dispensational framework. To fund the series, $70,336 of the needed $97,000 has been raised to publish the first four volumes.

What a summer! As you can see, God has worked in great ways within the GARBC over the past few months. We give Him all the glory and continue to aggressively move forward “Making Disciples through Healthy Local Churches.” May we always be reminded of the words of Jesus, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48, NASB). Let’s steward these blessings well for God’s glory. It is a privilege and honor to serve in this association.

Mike Hess is national representative of the GARBC.