Our unanimous vote Sunday night to expand our ministry partners to include three new partners, and especially the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV), is a significant and substantial decision. Others may interpret our action in any number of ways. What I want to do for you is to be clear about why we did this, and what we expect from this.
Our unanimous vote Sunday night to expand our ministry partners to include three new partners, and especially the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV), is a significant and substantial decision. Others may interpret our action in any number of ways. What I want to do for you is to be clear about why we did this, and what we expect from this.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
We did this to enhance our ability to fulfill our mission and vision as a church. The BGAV provides some important help and tools for ministry that we believe are essential to being the church God intends us to be. In the areas of mission trips, partnerships, leadership training, disaster relief, and innovative thinking, the BGAV and the Virginia Baptist Mission Board offer superior services and support.
We did this to be better connected to churches and leaders who appreciate and affirm the way we do church. In the current Baptist climate, some Baptist groups impose litmus tests and creedal prerequisites before full participation is allowed. Not so with the BGAV. Every conversation with this organization has been filled with their appreciation for our church and excitement for the way we do ministry.
We did this because the nature of how churches relate to each other and to denominational groups has dramatically changed in recent years. In the not-too-distant past, a local church simply gave money to the local, state and national Baptist denomination, and then relied on those Baptist agencies to tell them how to do nearly everything. No more is that the case. Multiple alignments are commonplace, many new affinity groups that cross denomination lines have emerged, the Baptist connectional system is fraying, and churches are taking responsibility for researching which methods and partnerships add value to their local congregation. That process has led local churches to reclaim their place as “Baptist headquarters” in the Baptist landscape.
I believe this partnership will mean many positive things for us. Our effectiveness as a church will be enhanced, our circle of friends will be expanded, our denominational horizons will be broadened, and our sense of mission will be sharpened.
These are good days to be part of a dynamic church like ours. Thank you for your willingness to think creatively about our future.
Bill Wilson is pastor of First Baptist Church in Dalton, Ga.
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