On Sunday, during the prayer time at my church (Harvest Baptist in NW Indiana), I shared a report of my participation in the SBC annual meeting and offered prayer for our cooperative missions efforts. Later, I was graciously asked by one of my church members why I talked so much about the SBC and was so loyal to a denomination. Here is my response…
I love the SBC precisely because of its “community of churches collaboration.” The word “denomination” is an unfortunate label that does not accurately describe Harvest’s relationship with the SBC. Rather, we voluntarily associate for cooperative kingdom work — work that we could not do as a single church. We choose how much and to what extent we want to
partner. The Convention holds zero authority over us and is not “top down” in its hierarchy. The SBC is extremely church-centric. We are free to affiliate outside the SBC and do. I certainly do not hold up being Southern Baptist on par with being a Christian. Still, I think churches should work together and thus we choose to do so. Who better to partner with than to be
part of a group that we share theological and missional identity in common?
My first loyalty is to Christ and then to my local church. I (we) choose to be SBC because I truly believe it is the most effective way for Harvest to partner in Great Commission work on a global scale and with those whom we have theological and gospel agreement. On a personal note, I will continue to be loyal to my SBC family because of the personal investment they have made in me through subsidizing my education, supporting me financially as a missionary, and personal mentoring by fellow pastors and leaders. Many of my closest friends are pastors of sister churches and with whom I have worked
side by side in evangelism and missions work. To cease to be SBC would be like leaving my family — and I am not alone in this sentiment.
In any case, as long as we are giving 10+% of our offerings to the Cooperative Program, I feel like it is important from time to time to report on where that money is going and what decisions are being made — I hope to have many more opportunities to hear from our missionaries. However, let me know if I am being unclear on what our SBC affiliation does and does not
mean. We are here to exalt Jesus and are only SBC to that end. If our partnership with Southern Baptists does not lead to the furtherance of our mission — to glorify God and make His Son known throughout the world to this generation — then I will make the motion myself to leave the SBC. As of now and for the foreseeable future, however, I believe that our involvement in Southern Baptist life does indeed help us to fulfill our mission.