Editor’s Note: This an article from On Mission Magazine.
Five reasons why I went from isolation in a nondenominational ministry to supported and encouraged SBC pastor, planting a church with Send Network.
1. A friend’s advice
Three years into our church plant in Cincinnati, I felt rejected, isolated and afraid. I needed to change direction, but I didn’t have a clue where to begin. A friend recommended I meet with his pastor who had been on a similar journey. After listening compassionately for nearly two hours, that pastor encouraged me to consider joining the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and partnering with the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) church planting arm, Send Network. He helped empower me to think for myself and take the next step.
2. NAMB’s field staff
I sat at a restaurant with crossed arms and a skeptical mind, intently listening to the local Send City Missionary and Church Planting Catalyst talk through the process of becoming an endorsed planter with Send Network. I asked every tough question I had. Without becoming defensive, they answered my questions with patience and authenticity. With an informed understanding of what cooperation looked like, and with a new pair of mentors, I had the tools to inform my decision.
3. Strong theology
I met Jesus and was discipled in churches that began in response to theological liberalism. Those pastors exercised their autonomy and decided to bail out of the denomination. I learned that some within the SBC decided to bail water and save
a sinking ship. I learned about the Conservative Resurgence, and my ecclesiological isolation and fears were put to death the first time I read the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Finally, I could hang my hat on a statement of faith I wholeheartedly agreed with and find unity among other churches of like faith, without the demand for uniformity.
4. Racism repented
As a part of this process, I needed to lead our young, urban, multiethnic church plant to an official congregational vote to join the SBC. This was a difficult conversation, and I didn’t want to lose three years of credibility, but I also didn’t want to look for a shortcut by downplaying a past on the wrong side of slavery and racism. It wasn’t comfortable, but I watched God change the hearts of the people in the room when I read the resolution made in 1995 about the public acknowledgement and repentance of those sins. Once it came time to vote, 100% of the members decided to join the SBC.
5. Mission emphasis
Three years later, our church is more engaged in mission than ever. Last year was the largest year for our plant in giving to the Cooperative Program (CP), Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. We are so grateful to have a part in what God is doing around the world. Before we joined the SBC, I was skeptical about CP giving. Now it is our favorite check to issue! But it’s more than writing a check. It’s our desire for a sending culture, and we are excited to someday see some of our own join the ranks of NAMB and the International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries. It was God’s mission that led me to the SBC, and it’s the advancement of that mission around the world that will keep me!
Published November 5, 2020