John Donne, a minister and poet, wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” King Solomon said in Proverbs 18:1, “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire.” As pastors and local independent Baptist churches, we do not stand alone in the work of the ministry. We are a piece of the larger work, a part of the main! Our intent in being part of the Regular Baptist Fellowship is to be bound together by doctrinal purity, autonomous decision making, and encouragement to each other in our respective ministries. Many pastors and churches recognize the importance of being part of such a fellowship, but others fail to recognize its value, choosing instead to go it alone.What are the advantages of being part of an association of churches? Why is it important to work together in furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ?By being an active part of an association of churches, pastors and churches can:
* Associate together to plant churches. Select an area and work together to start a church.
* Bear one another’s burdens. When a fellow believer or church hurts, sister churches hurt with them.
* Communicate openly if differences arise. Don’t let barriers develop.
* Declare Biblical convictions together regarding issues such as pro-life and family lifestyles.
* Exchange pulpits occasionally. When you do, share ministry prayer requests with one another.
* Foster healthy relationships. Do things together to let your communities know that you get along.
* Gather together for group activities and projects. Share events such as senior citizens’ outings, singles’ get-togethers, youth activities, and mission trips.
* Heighten ministries to people who are handicapped. Coordinate outreaches to the handicapped in your communities.
* Invite sister churches to special events: concerts, evangelistic meetings, and anniversary celebrations.
* Join one another for special services: Good Friday, New Year’s Eve, Prayer Day, and hymn sings.
* Knit together speaking opportunities. Churches can share keynote speakers and their expenses.
* Lend to one another library and literature resources such as books, tapes, videos, and choir music.
* Manage membership transfers. If prospective members are from a nearby church, investigate the reasons for transfer and inform the pastor.
* Net neighborhood outreaches. Work together to organize VBS, backyard clubs, and canvassing.
* Pray during your Sunday services by name for sister churches and pastors. This promotes oneness.
* Respect differences in philosophy of ministries, methodology, and tastes in music.
* Spur singles’ ministry. Address this great need in our churches by cooperating to establish an effective outreach.
* Tap into tourneys. Come together for golf, softball, volleyball, paintball, basketball, and bowling.
* Unplug unresolved conflict. Seek the Lord’s will in resolving conflict as soon as possible.
* Volunteer to assist with work projects, especially other churches’ building needs.
* “Yoke” around with each other for a fun and profitable experience!
In her book, Jesus CEO, Laurie Beth Jones tells the story of a young man who had trained for months to run a one-hundred-meter race in the Special Olympics. When the gun sounded, the excitement of the race overcame him. His feet went in different directions and he tumbled in front of the starting block. Though the other racers were eager to compete in this great event, they stopped running and turned back to help him. The crowd watched as his competitors lifted him and walked arm-in-arm with him across the finish line. Their actions communicated, “Nobody wins until we all do!” Being part of an association of churches and encouraging each other is important! Walk arm-in-arm with your colleagues as you assist one another in ministry.
Maynard Belt, State Representative
Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches
Grand Rapids, Michigan