By Dr. Franklin Dumond
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. Hundreds of General Baptist leaders gathered in Collinsville, Illinois for Powerful Worship, Practical Training and Personal Missionary Connections.
Powerful Worship was made possible by a Collective Worship Team of musicians and vocalists from several churches. The main sessions were completed by powerful preaching from both General Baptist and guest preachers who obviously had a message to share. Each preacher (Mark Powell, Darren Patrick, Alex Himaya, and Clint Cook) shared passionately and effectively. (Note: DVD copies of the main sessions are available for purchase from Congregational Ministries.)
Practical Training came from workshop sessions offered throughout the week. Workshop tracks allowed participants options to build a series of connected workshops or to enjoy highlights from several workshop tracks. Along with missionary connections, special training came from our own Church Planting Team and guests assisted with rural church, discipleship, personal enrichment, church systems and other topics. To conserve the learning, audio recordings were made of most workshops and access to those downloadable recordings is available through a drop card system that may be purchased from Congregational Ministries.
Missionary Connections were not only available in the workshops but were also part of the main stage event, a featured element of the exhibit hall, and an important part of two very powerful group prayers. On Tuesday evening Executive Director Clint Cook presided over a very moving commissioning service as the assembled leaders laid hands on newly appointed International Missions Director Mark Powell and newly appointed church planter Steve Gill to commission them to their new tasks. On Wednesday evening all the current missionaries, church planters and ethnic ministries were grouped together for a special joint prayer of blessing on their lives and service.
Looking back over the week I was reminded of three very important reasons for being part of a denominational network.
First, we do together what we cannot do alone. No one church can accomplish individually what we accomplish collectively. What one church can supervise the gathering of 42 churches in India? What one church can undertake the management of an orphanage in Honduras? What one church can plant a series of fast-growing, high-impact churches to reach thousands with the gospel? What one church can set the stage for revitalization of hundreds of existing churches? While no one church can undertake these ministries, when we work together they are rather easily accomplished!
Second, as part of a network of churches we are exposed to the help and encouragement needed to be more effective in our local ministries. One of the amazing things about The Summit is that since the meetings were re-engineered in 2007 a broader connection among and between General Baptists from different parts of the nation and different parts of the world have developed. With these new connections there is a synergy of effort as well as a keen reassurance that we are not alone in the struggle.
Third, as part of a denominational connection I can take advantage of services and programs that are offered to assist and expand my own ministry. Conferences and events offered by the denomination are provided at very modest costs and in convenient locations. If I accessed similar services as a private payee I would spend hundreds of dollars more for the same or similar conferences and events. Consultation services, missionary presence and church planter connections are all designed to assist and expand each local ministry to more effectively reach the world.
Executive Director Clint Cook puts it like this, “General Baptist Ministries exists to maximize Kingdom impact by starting, equipping and inspiring local churches to accomplish the Great Commission.”
Brand name loyalty is not what it once was. Markets for automobiles and dishwashing detergent can no longer depend on a buying public that is motivated by brand name loyalty. Church connections, too, are often driven by factors other than brand name loyalty. For me, however, there are compelling reasons for connecting to those old denominational structures, so I want to do my part to establish and improve my connections.
To purchase recordings of the workshops or General Sessions, contact Congregational Ministries at cmofc@generalbaptist or by calling 573-785-7746.