Among the key areas I plan to focus upon now that I have begun to serve Kentucky Baptists in my new role are embracing the Great Commission Task Force report, strengthening the relationship between the Kentucky Baptist Convention and local churches and their pastors, and starting new churches. While many other important roles for the KBC will always exist, these are “opportunity areas” that can help us ensure you of the value of your Cooperative Program investment and, God willing, grow that investment.
I believe a fourth opportunity area to be that of networking and forming new partnerships. If state conventions will remain relevant in the future, we must place an even greater emphasis on networking pastors and churches. Getting our pastors connected to one another is the most effective way to introduce them to new ideas and enable the natural process of leaders strengthening leaders to unfold, even “as iron sharpens iron.”
Connecting ministers is also very effective at bridging the relational gaps that weaken us. Whether it is the “generation gap,” the divide between pastors who espouse a Reformed theology and those who do not, or the animosity between small churches and large churches or rural churches and urban churches, these and other lines of separation we tend to draw between ourselves and others diminish our ability to work together to advance the Kingdom. My experience has been that when I get to know leaders different from me and begin to understand churches different from the ones I have led, I usually find things to appreciate and even lessons to take home. I have also found some valuable relationships.
As I think back on ways our state convention helped me as a pastor, two stand out above the rest. One is the educational opportunity afforded to me through institutions funded by the Cooperative Program and the other is the networking that was facilitated by various KBC ministries. The latter has convinced me of the need to increase our emphasis on networking.
Another aspect of networking involves enlarging our network by forming new partnerships. To be specific, I hope to appeal to churches in Kentucky that are “baptistic” in doctrine and practice, inviting them to partner with the KBC. I am firmly convinced that the structure, institutions, and agencies of the KBC provide the greatest opportunity to facilitate Great Commission work. I especially believe that many existing ethnic and African-American churches, if shown the value of our partnership, would soon be ready to join our convention. To that end, if you know of any church that fits the description of being “baptistic” in doctrine and practice that would make a good partner in our work, contact me by email at [email protected] or by phone at 866-489-3369.
What do you think about the role of state conventions in facilitating networks? Have you ever participated in any of the networking opportunities provided by the KBC? Were they helpful? What other areas of emphasis so you think state conventions will have to embrace in order to remain relevant? Post your comments.