Six Thoughts on Six Living Generations

Six Thoughts on Six Living GenerationsBy Dr. Franklin R. Dumond – Director of Congregational Ministries

Six generations of people now live in the United States.  They range in age from those who are centenarians to those still in their formative years.  The labels given them and the chronology of their generations are:

GI Generation—born 1901-1926, now age 90+ years of age

Silent Generation—born 1927-1945, now 70-88 years old

Baby Boom Generation—born 1946-1964, now 51-69 years old

Generation X—born 1965-1980, now 35-50 years old

Generation Y (Millennials)—born 1981-2000, now 15—34 years old

Generation Z—born after 2001 and now in their formative years.

While lengthy descriptions abound to label and define each generation here are six observations about these six generations.  For further discussion of generational characteristics see this interesting article.

  1. Generational labels are cultural, not necessarily chronological.

    Just because an individual is of a certain age doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she holds the same worldview, preferences and habits as everyone else in that generation.  People come in all shapes and sizes.  Habits and lifestyles are learned and chosen not imposed and required.

  2. Each generation enjoys unique experiences and thus has its own language and style of communication.

    Typically those unique experiences are little known or recognized at the time and are understood by the participants in hindsight.  My great-grandmother was born in the 19th century.  Her generation experienced the innovations of electricity and DDT.  Electricity provided lights and power.  The insecticide DDT provided respite from the plague of insects so prevalent during the growing season.

  3.  Cross generational networks are important to aid mutual understanding of and appreciation for the similarities and differences between the generations.

    The most natural mechanism for cross generational networks is the family of origin since it has always been the case that one generation gives birth to, nurtures and then releases the next generation.  Cross generational networks often form in the workplace, in the neighborhood and in faith communities.

  4.  Intergenerational networks are vital to form identity, share values and develop the new alliances that characterize adulthood.

    Without peers we can never realize our own full potential for no one is an island.

  5.  Authenticity and mutual respect are essential within and across each generation.

    Enough said.

  6.  With six active generations present at the same time, each influenced by unique circumstances, life-events and preferences, niche marketing is essential.

    This principle has been expressed by a businessman who became a public relations spokesman.  He advocates that one must become all things to all people to convince a few of the truth being shared.  This businessman was originally a tent manufacturer who later became a primary spokesman for Christianity. He also reminds us that unless we speak their language they will never hear our message.  Logically he also concludes that unless someone tells them they will never know what we know.

To further explore these notions see the New Testament writings of Paul as found in “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” I Corinthians 9:22  and  “Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying?” I Corinthians 14:9 and “How can they hear unless someone tells them?” Romans 10:14

3 Reasons for Church Membership

The importance of church membershipBy Brandon Petty

This blog post originally appeared at and is reprinted with permission. It is part of a series of posts dealing with “Next Steps” in the local church and written from the perspective of a local pastor speaking to his congregation. Brandon is Founding and Lead Pastor of Generation Church and Co-Director of General Baptist National Missions.

One of the often asked questions that people have about the local church is whether or not a Christian has to attend church or better yet do they have to join a church to be a Christian. Let me answer the surface level question with a surface level answer; no. Being a part of a church or going to church does not save you. Salvation comes by grace through faith in Christ and in Christ alone. (Ephesians 2:8)

Salvation is not necessarily the result of joining a church; however joining a local church is the result of salvation. Becoming a lone ranger in your faith can be tragic. Yet, it is common in our culture for people to attempt to do life alone. In a culture that seeks for others to be transparent and authentic, most avoid any transparency in their own lives. But when we become a follower of Jesus, we become a part of something bigger than just ourselves:

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”—1 Corinthians 12:12-20

We actually become a part of a functioning body that God is using to accomplish a mission. Salvation is not exclusive, but inclusive. We were saved with a purpose, yet for a purpose. The Bible is clear that one part of the body cannot simply decide to dis-member itself. God places us in the right community, with the right people, with the right mission. It’s up to us to connect to the mission that best fits our purpose, not our preference. Personal preferences change; purpose does not.

Let’s look at 3 reasons why membership is important:

1 – Your Growth as a Believer Depends on It

Nothing can grow apart from other sustaining sources. Every seed needs water, sunlight, the right soil, and nurturing. The health and growth of the plant depends on it. I teach our church all the time that the number one way to disciple in our church is to commit to giving your time, your talent, and your treasure. We use the term Owner instead of Member. When you own a vision and mission, you take responsibility to help in its accomplishment. When you’re simply a member, it’s easy to have an attitude of entitlement. There is nothing wrong with using this term; we just prefer to use Owner. When you become an owner at Generation Church, you commit to growing spiritually. The more time you spend around other believers who are on the same path to accomplishing a mission; you will grow spiritually. The early church immediately began meeting in homes, giving generously, worshipping nearly every day, and reaching the lost in their community. As a church, we offer small groups, serve teams, and outreach efforts that give people plenty of opportunities to connect to Jesus and the community. That’s the picture of the local church that God intended for us to imitate.

2 – Connect to a Mission; not a Mindset

Most people will choose a church based on a few criteria: the music, the preaching, denomination, how “deep” they are, and the comfort level. Not many people ask; what’s the mission of this church? And yet, this is one of the most important questions to ask when choosing a body to belong. That’s due to our mindset of church as a place that we attend instead of a body of believers in which we engage. We must change our mindset to engage in mission. Belonging to a body of Christ is not about what we choose to tolerate. It’s a place for us to be stretched, challenged, engaged in mission, and grow the Kingdom. We are only as “deep” as we “do”. The gospel was not preached to absorb information; it was preached to bring dead people to life!

I never have a problem with people leaving our church to find another church as long as it’s to engage in mission. But the sad reality is that people will church hop in the same way we want to try new restaurants. We want to try everything on the menu but no one wants to pick up a tray, a towel, and serve. We are not called to be consumers; we are called to be Christ-like. And Christ formed a body of believers and then served them.

3 – Joining a Local Church Reflects Christ

When the local church is living on mission, it has the greatest potential to change the world. We can make a small impact alone, but we can change an entire city together. When the body of Christ is operating together and functioning at a healthy level; it becomes the city on a hill that Jesus envisioned. Jesus died to establish the local church. It’s a body that is being used by God Himself to reflect His glory by how we reach our community. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He had compassion over the lost and hurting in His city. When we have a heart for the body of Christ and for the city in which we’ve been called to serve; we reflect the heart of Jesus.

For those who are interested in knowing more about the mission and vision of Generation Church, we have an Ownership Class every third Sunday of each month. Our next class is this Sunday November 15th. The class starts at 9:30am and your kids can enjoy our amazing kids ministry while you attend the class. You can then attend the 11:00am worship experience. For more information or to sign up, you can simply email

If Generation Church is not for you, then I strongly urge you to find a church that you can join and engage in their mission. Our church attendance has never inspired life change. But our church involvement has changed hundreds of lives. Get involved today; be a part of the body of Christ. It’s the most important decision you can make as a follower of Jesus.

Why the Relevance Versus Obedience Argument Isn’t As Relevant As We Think

Phil CookeBy Phil Cooke

This blog post originally appeared at and has been reprinted with permission. Phil Cooke is one of our keynote speakers at the Mission & Ministry Summit, July 18-20, 2016 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

I have to admit that I’m growing weary of the “Is it better to be relevant or obedient” arguments. Frankly, it’s wasting a lot of time and energy, plus, it’s causing division and isn’t helping the cause. Here’s why:

1. We’re not even using the word correctly.

By definition, “relevance” isn’t about popularity, being cool, being liked, or by extension, compromise. Relevance is about the right thing at the right time. It’s about being connected to the matter at hand. It’s about the right tool, strategy, message, or idea that fills a need. What could be more important in sharing the gospel? By misinterpreting and condemning the word “relevance” we’re closing the door on important and critical ways it could be used to reach this culture with the gospel.

2. Relevance and obedience actually work together.

Using the word correctly, if you’re obedient, then you’re relevant. In our obedience, God uses us to be the right answer at the right time. Anything else is disobedience and irrelevance.

3. The relevance versus obedience argument is a slippery slope.

It can too easily imply our superiority and godliness, and minimize other’s efforts to share the gospel. Are we forgetting that we’re all in this together? We all make mistakes, go too far, don’t go far enough, miss the mark in many ways. Can we just extend a little grace? You say you’re called to “Preach the Holy Ghost with fire.” Great. Knock yourself out. I’m all for it. Just remember that not everyone has the same calling as you – and it’s not our job to decide which is the most important.

4. We use scriptures like 1 Corinthians 1: 18-25 as permission to drive away the very people we’re trying to reach.

That scripture doesn’t give us the right to be pushy, arrogant, weird, or jerks in order to share the gospel. Our weirdness shouldn’t be a badge of honor. “Speaking the truth” doesn’t mean you have to be rude or insensitive when you do it. If the message of the gospel drives people away, so be it. If our behavior, style, or attitude drives people away, it’s wrong.

Do people compromise in sharing the gospel? Of course. Do others become “theology cops” in their efforts to bring them back in line? You bet.Maybe we should spend more time in the middle. And for what it’s worth, I’m not diminishing doctrine and theology. Let’s just use the right definitions when we teach (or rant via social media.) The stakes are too high in today’s world to waste time just getting the choir amped up.

I’m probably dreaming to think our time would better be spent sharing the gospel with a lost culture than arguing over the wrong definition of a word. Maybe we all should just repent and start over.

But wait – you’re using a fog machine at your church, and that’s not godly – so I’ll need to correct you on Facebook…

Forever Changed

By James Pratt

Jim and Kris Pratt - Forever ChangedI accepted my calling into the ministry in the summer of 1981. Since then, I have tried to share the Good News of Jesus Christ tasting death for everyone with as many people as I could. For 25 years, I have had the support of my lovely wife, Kris. God blessed us 23 years ago with a lovely daughter who is married to a minister, and they are actively involved in sharing the Good News as well.

It was with my daughter’s urging that we went on our first international mission trip to Honduras in 2007. We were forever changed. Now, after eight trips to Honduras, two trips to the Philippines, and one trip to Saipan, I have the privilege of serving as the new Mission One Coordinator.

My desire is to expand on the accomplishments of past coordinators. I want to expand the number, types, and location of teams. My desire is to equip each team with adequate pre-trip training and post-trip follow-up. I will also work with the missionaries and nationals to help them know what to expect from the teams.

It is my dream to place college interns at each of our mission locations with the hope that many of them will become career missionaries. I will also aid in recruiting people approaching retirement to serve as short-term missionaries.

I am humbled to be selected for this opportunity to take the gospel to the nations. Pray for me as I challenge others to also become forever changed.

Pete Leija Installed as Special Projects Coordinator for Honduras

Installation of Pete Leija as Special Projects CoordinatorPete Leija was installed as Special Projects Coordinator during the recent rededication of the Willingham Center at Faith Home in Honduras.

Pete serves as a deacon at the Morehouse General Baptist Church in Morehouse, Missouri.  He has made many Mission One MVP (M1) trips to Honduras and is well-regarded by the pastor’s and leaders in Honduras. Pete spent 40 years connected with the US Army dating back to the Vietnam Conflict and also serves as mayor of Morehouse, Missouri and as a general contractor.

The Special Projects Coordinator is a volunteer position responsible to coordinate capital improvement projects of Faith Home and the Honduran Churches with the Mission One Coordinator, Dr. James Pratt, and Mission One team leaders.

Pete Leija - Special Projects CoordinatorIn a very short time, Pete has already been able to complete several projects from money that had been donated by various teams over the last couple of years.

Raised in a migrant workers home in Texas, Pete’s father spoke English and Spanish but his mother spoke only Spanish.  From that background he made his way through the ranks of the Army National Guard, married, and made his way to Morehouse, Missouri. There he became connected with the local General Baptist Church and started a contracting business. He even became mayor.

Pete has a huge heart for Honduras and loves Faith Home and the ministry of our General Baptist Churches in Honduras. He will not only serve the churches in Honduras, but will host most of the Mission One teams coming to Honduras. Pete will be a great asset to our Faith Home Director, Christina Massey.

An Interview with Gary Baldus – Part 2

This is the last of a two-part post of an interview with Gary Baldus, pastor of New Walk Church in Zephyr Hills, Florida.

General Baptist Ministries asked Gary several questions about his walk with Christ, his calling to ministry and church planting, the personal and ministry connections with General Baptists, and the ongoing work of New Walk Church.

General Baptist Ministries (GBM):  You served as Moderator/Host for the Mission & Ministry Summit in 2013. How did this experience impact you personally? How did it impact New Walk Church?

Gary Baldus (GB):
 What an unbelievable experience!  Our church loved it.  They look back on that as one of the coolest things to be involved in that we have ever done by serving all those leaders who traveled to Florida.  It was like a New Walk Event.  We just watched our church rally to the cause. We told them, “We have all these people coming down and these are the General Baptist people who helped us get started.”  They just thought it was awesome that they could serve those people who had invested in New Walk from a distance.

Pastor Gary Baldus

GBM:  As you look to the future what do you see as the greatest challenges for our General Baptist network?

GB:  It all boils down to money and men.  Many are called and few are chosen.  God sifts through people and not all guys are capable to lead church work.  I have people tell me of their call so I give them ministry assignments.  It is not unusual that six months later they are crying because ministry is so hard and they quit.

GBM:  How did your connections with General Baptists aid in the construction of New Walk’s first permanent buildings?

GB:  Our building would not have happened if not for the General Baptist Investment Fund.  This was like when the Kingdom Expansion Campaign was involved at the outset.  This is a faith based thing for us so we had to have someone who believed in us to be the right kind of lender. We are going to spend the next 2-3 years on stabilization and taking care of things to maintain a healthy operational base but if it had not been for a group of people seeing the potential in New Walk we would probably still be in the YMCA setting up and tearing down every time we had a meeting. Continue reading

An Interview with Gary Baldus – Part 1

This is a two-part post of an interview with Gary Baldus, pastor of New Walk Church in Zephyr Hills, Florida.

General Baptist Ministries asked Gary several questions about his walk with Christ, his calling to ministry and church planting, the personal and ministry connections with General Baptists, and the ongoing work of New Walk Church.

General Baptist Ministries (GBM):  How did you come to faith in Christ?  Who/what influenced your decision?

Gary Baldus and family

Pastor Gary Baldus and family

Gary Baldus (GB):  It was probably through the death of my wife’s mother. She had been inviting us to a local General Baptist Church all along in 2001 but I had grown up Christian Science.  Fortunately I didn’t pay too much attention to Sunday School at the Christian Science Church but I paid enough attention to know something about Jesus.  But they so focused on worship of one God and dismissed the Trinity so to them worshipping Jesus as God was a form of idolatry.  When I came into a General Baptist Church that centered on Jesus I was dismissive of it at first.  I remember sitting in the back of the church one day and as I reflected on the death of my mother-in-law and through the preaching of Pastor Bob Harber, I came to faith in Jesus when I was 29 years old.

The teaching of the word was where it happened to me. Then getting the revelation of the truth of the word and getting the whole truth rather than just the segments of Mary Baker Eddy Christian Science teaching, made such a difference for me.  Now, over the last few years I have been able to see several people in my family come to faith in Jesus.


GBM:  What are your earliest memories of the church?

GB:  My background was not conducive to where I am today. My faith journey has always been a sensitive issue in some family settings.  My earliest memories were my parents taking us to that Christian Science church, which was a two-minute walk we made every Sunday.

Some things I learned in that early church experience are a cross over into full-blown Christianity.  I got some foundation there but not the whole truth about who Jesus is and what Jesus does.”

Continue reading

Staying Connected, Staying Strong

Staying Connected, Staying StrongStaying Connected, Staying Strong

Those four words say a lot to me not only as Pastor, but also as Executive Director.

As a pastor, I am reminded of the parable Jesus told:  “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?” [Matthew 18:12 NKJV]

Jesus used a simple illustration to communicate a directive to every pastor-shepherd. In order to truly disciple Christians into fully devoted, mature followers of Christ, helping them stay connected to the body of Christ is essential. Jesus made it clear that shepherds keep their sheep connected to the fold. For the local church this means we are to seek for straying sheep and help them reconnect to the fold of the church.

As Pastor, I’ve always viewed this shepherding task as a very important and serious responsibility. The spiritual lives of my sheep are dependent upon their connection to the church. A shepherding pastor must also strive to help members stay in the fold of the church. If they stay connected they are better protected from tragic pitfalls and hidden obstacles that await outside the church. A church is always stronger with 100% of its sheep in the fold than it is when even a few are missing.

As Executive Director, the words, Staying Connected, Staying Strong, also have a sobering effect on me. I am reminded that as General Baptists strive to advance the Kingdom, every mission field is crucially important to us. For we “are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). We can never forget the sacrifices of missionary families who travel to different states or countries to spread the gospel. We can never forget the sacrificial giving of individuals and churches that help develop new ministries in the U.S. and around the globe.

I always feel a burden when I visit our mission fields. I want to make sure that our missionaries and national workers know that they have a larger General Baptist family in the United States who love them and want to stay connected with them. As a network of churches called General Baptist, we must stay connected to the ministries God has provided to us. 

We try to maintain this connection by having our missionaries, and now some national workers as well, travel to the United States to attend the Summit. I want this to continue each year so the ability to meet with, pray with, worship with, and laugh with their greater General Baptist family will breathe encouragement into the lives of our missionaries, national workers and the mission fields they represent.

I believe Jesus is pleased with our General Baptist family when we seek to stay connected at the local, national, and international levels.

Local pastor, I know how tough ministry life can be. One weapon in Satan’s arsenal is isolation and separation. Pastors, we don’t want you to be disconnected, struggling to do ministry alone. We have designed conferences to equip you to do the work more creatively, efficiently, and meaningfully than ever before. Our Barnabas Project attempts to make personal connection to you. We offer services to help personal networking and maintain current communications.

Local church, regardless of your size, location, or budget, we value your connection to General Baptist Ministries. In light of the troubled state of our culture and the recent ruling by our U.S. Supreme Court regarding marriage and family, the time to stand strong together upon the Word of God is now.

Missionaries and national workers, we believe in your sacrifice and mission. We are dedicated to giving you our prayers as well as our financial support.

Staying Connected, Staying Strong. May these words stir every General Baptist. No Pastor can be left behind. No mission field can be forgotten. No local church can be cast aside. No General Baptist can be overlooked. You belong to a larger body of believers committed to helping you do more together than you could ever do alone.

Clint Cook – Executive Director
General Baptist Ministries

3 Reasons Why Churches Should Incorporate

By Dr. Franklin Dumond

Churches in the United States originally mirrored the state-church structures of England. In fact, the state of Massachusetts maintained a state sponsored church until 1833. In those original structures the church was an extension of the state. This remains essentially the case in many European countries where a government operated church exists.

Part of the incentive for early pioneers to migrate to America was the incentive for religious freedom. They did not at first, however, set out to establish a free-church tradition. Instead, they simply established their preferred version of a state sponsored church.

With the Great Awakenings on the western frontiers of the United States, churches were brought into existence rapidly. There was little attention given to organizational life in those days since many of the churches were congregational in polity. Thus the group organized to meet their needs for religious affiliation. Today if investigations are done into the background or origin of many churches that carry some form of “Union” in their name, one will discover that once upon a time one church location served several different denominations. The congregation might be the same but on some Sundays they gathered as a Baptist church and on others they gathered as a Methodist or Presbyterian church depending on which pastor could travel the particular circuit on a given meeting day.

As denominations developed and as churches began to hold property, they also began to engage in collective business activity. For example, a church budget I saw from some of those early days indicated a set amount to be spent for “kindling” so the newly installed coal fired furnace could operate.

The developing business life of churches meant that in the 20th century a need existed to identify the church as a formal entity in the community. To recognize that existence and to extend preferential treatment toward its operations, churches were encouraged to incorporate under the laws in their state.

Three overarching reasons exist for churches to incorporate.

Legal Identity. Incorporation establishes legal identity. The world of banking, insurance and utility deposits requires that entities that do business must have some formal identity by which that business is done. Incorporation provides that formal, legal identity for a church. Thus when officers sign official documents such as deeds, loans, etc. they are signing as officers of the corporation not as individuals.

Limited Liability. Forming a nonprofit corporation normally protects the directors, officers, and members of the nonprofit from personal liability for the corporation’s debts and other obligations. Called limited liability, this shield ensures that anyone who obtains a judgment against the nonprofit can reach only the assets of the corporation, not the bank accounts, houses, or other property owned by the people who manage, work for, or participate in the business. Limited liability also means that business loans and mortgages are guaranteed by the corporation’s assets not those officers who co-sign.

Tax-Exempt Status. Many nonprofit groups seek nonprofit corporate status to gain exemptions from federal and state income taxes. The most common federal tax exemption for nonprofits comes from Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which is why nonprofits are sometimes called “501(c)(3)s.” This status is granted to General Baptist churches under a blanket ruling by the IRS. A letter of recognition is issued to any General Baptist church that meets the criteria. For more information contact General Baptist Ministries.

When a church obtains tax-exempt status, not only is it free from paying taxes on all income from activities related to its nonprofit purpose but people and organizations that donate to the nonprofit can take a tax deduction for their contributions.

Incorporating a church as a nonprofit corporation usually involves these steps:

  • Choose a business name that is legally available in your state.
  • Prepare articles of incorporation that define your purpose and meet the legal requirements of the state. Sample copies are generally available from the Secretary of State’s office. While it is not necessary to use an attorney, it may be helpful to have an attorney review or even prepare the articles of incorporation.
  • Create bylaws that will guide the corporation’s operation.
  • Select an initial board of directors and officers for the corporation.
  • File your “articles of incorporation” with your state’s corporate filing office, and pay a filing fee.

Your state’s corporate filing division is usually part of the secretary of state’s office. You can request a packet of nonprofit materials from that office which will include sample articles of incorporation, the state’s laws on nonprofit corporations, and instructions on how to find an available business name.

Life in Those Old Denominations: 5 Ways to Participate

Having just completed our annual Mission & Ministry Summit I have been reminded not only of the history of our own denomination but also the value of belonging and participating in a denominational network. Nevertheless, while hundreds of General Baptist leaders gathered in Collinsville, Illinois for Powerful Worship, Practical Training and Personal Missionary Connections, (you can read about the event here) hundreds of others chose not to participate. As I reflected on participation in denominational enterprises it struck me that there are at least five ways I can participate.

  1. Participating through shared theology. The heart of our General Baptist movement, network, denomination is a commitment to our core theology of a General Atonement. This seems old-hat to those of us who have always held such a simple belief. As stated in the Scripture, Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man so that whosoever will may be saved. It seems strange to think that this concept was considered heresy in most Baptist circles in the 1820’s when our movement was born. It also seems strange to think that many evangelicals today avoid that simple truth without realizing that they then portray a view of God as capricious, arbitrary and unreasoning.

When I served as pastor, I regularly met new people in our community who came from a church background that was non-General Baptist. They were delighted to learn that we believed as they did that God offers equal opportunity to all who would by faith accept Jesus as a personal savior.

Whenever I espouse belief in a General Atonement rather than a Limited Atonement, then I am participating in our General Baptist denomination by sharing a mutual theology.

  1. Participating through shared mission. The natural outgrowth of belief in a General Atonement is taking the Great Commission seriously. Thus when I pray for, support or participate in the denominational mission, then I am participating in the General Baptist cause. Shared mission involves missionary activity throughout the world, church planting within the United States, and various initiatives to teach and train as we make disciples in obedience to the Great Commission.
  2. Participating by personal networking. Shared theology and shared mission puts me in connection with others and while I cannot be connected personally with every adherent of the General Baptist cause, I can and do make connections with some others. Many times these connections are framed within my local church or regional association. On other occasions they cross regional boundaries as I find personal connection with like-missioned people across the nation or around the world.
  3. Participating by officially belonging. While shared theology, mission and network are excellent starting points, officially belonging is an important and meaningful way to participate in the life of our denomination. This official connection generally occurs through participation in a regional association that in turn is connected to the General Association of General Baptists. Churches that are not part of a denomination may become direct affiliates of the General Association to establish an official connection. Help is always available from denominational officers and denominational offices to assist any church who shares our core theology, mission and network to make official connections.
  4. Participating by showing up. Attending the first time is always a bit awkward whether it is a pastor’s conference, The Summit, or a Council of Associations meeting. Repeated attendance, however, means that soon we learn the expectations and nature of the gatherings. Repeated attendance also means that soon we learn not only how to navigate the denominational circuit but also that we anticipate seeing, greeting and catching up with folks who have become partners in the gospel. After 40 years of attending the General Association and after directly working with The Summit for 10 seasons now, I still look forward to showing up and checking up on folks I may only see once in a while.