I strongly encourage churches to cooperate with other evangelical churches in their community and to get involved in their denomination if they belong to one. A couple weeks ago, a friend asked for more details on this subject:
“I was challenged at T4G to be more involved in SBC life and want to act on it. So I scheduled to make all my pastor luncheons for my association, go to the executive board meetings, and pray regularly. … I want to know your thoughts on how to be a helpful participant in our state and national conventions. I’m new to denominational life and don’t understand it as well as brothers like you. Please help!”
Here was my reply…
That’s great that you want to get more involved in SBC life. I believe it will give you a lot of opportunities to be an encouragement, team player, and positive influence to other pastors. I was completely new to the SBC when I became pastor of First Southern Baptist Church eight years ago. I quickly discovered that our SBC identity was important to some of the people in our church, and thus it needed to become important to me. In the process, I learned more about God’s goodness to our convention and both opportunities and threats that loom on the horizon.
What I found helpful was to learn more about the convention on my own while also taking advantage of times to meet and build relationships. Some things you may want to do…
- Books. Read a book on the history of SBC and the reasons for cooperation. For a biography of key historic leaders, check out Theologians of the Baptist Tradition. For a theological case for cooperation, read Southern Baptist Consensus & Renewal. For the story of Southern Seminary and its wider implications in the SBC, read Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
- Publications. Begin reading denominational publications. Many of our SBC entities publish newsletters, magazines, and blogs like the CSBC, IMB, NAMB, ERLC, Lifeway, and our SBC seminaries. Subscribe to the CSBC weekly e-newsletter. And subscribe to your associational newsletter if they have one.
- Meetings. Ask your local Director of Missions (DOM) if you can take him out for breakfast to thank him and get to know him. Attend Associational annual meetings and events. Go to associational breakfast fellowship (if they have them). Attend the CSBC Annual Convention (this October it’s in Clovis). Attend the SBC Annual Meeting (this year it’s in Baltimore). I’ve attended the last five consecutive years, but will not be going this summer because it is rather cost prohibitive. I still hope to go every couple years. Consider other state conferences like On Target, Small Church Workshop, etc.
- Social Media. Become Facebook friends with some of our state convention leaders and your fellow pastors. There are many Twitter feeds by people and organizations such as IMB, NAMB, Al Mohler, Ed Stetzer, Thom Rainer, Russell Moore. There are also many blogs and podcasts available by these organizations.
- New Pastor Orientation. Some states offer a New Pastor Orientation. You can call your state office to learn more. I know the CSBC used to offer this for free, and it was a great way to get acquainted with those in the convention.
Denominations are a vast and complicated world. You won’t have time to do all these things, but pick a couple off the list and you will quickly find more specific ways to get more involved.
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