A pastor in New Hersheybar emails me. “Pastor McKeever, I read your articles. We need your help. We are a struggling community of small churches trying to get established, trying to get financial support, trying to get our ministers educated. Can you come help us or send cash?”
Well, maybe it’s never worded exactly like that, but that’s the gist.
How to know.
Is this guy for real, and is this a genuine opportunity to make a difference for the Kingdom of God? Or is this fellow preying on the (so-called) rich Americans who are burdened with lots of spare cash and zero discernment?
I tell him to contact our International Mission Board at www.imb.org. If we do not have missionaries in his country, we surely have a department with responsibility for his part of the world and someone in that office will be delighted to hear from him. Maybe someone there will know somebody who can assist him. And once in a while, we have a “representative” or “consultant” (as they are frequently called these days) living right there in his village.
Usually, that’s the last I hear from this fellow. Whether I discouraged him or exposed him is impossible to know.
I’m thankful for this denominational agency for a thousand reasons.
A pastor in Old Candybar writes to invite me to speak at their international conference to be held on the grounds of their new seminary. Having never heard of Old Candybar or the pastor or his church, I do not know whether this is legitimate or not and something I should take seriously. So, I contact our International Mission Board and someone there knows.
An uprising breaks out in Old Snickers and churches are in peril. Our Baptist Press sends someone to interview our missionary representative for that part of the world who informs us about the issues, tells how many Christians live there and how the churches are affected. At the breakfast table, we read the Baptist Press reports and are better informed and thus pray more intelligently. Later, when a state of normalcy returns, we’re able to send money to assist the Old Snickers churches in their ministries.
Our denomination makes this work.
A series of tornadoes destroys hundreds of homes and a great many churches in a hundred mile path. Those of us hundreds of miles away want to help, but we will be needing some guidance. What’s the best way to help? Who are the ones on the ground? Where should we send assistance? Answer: As a member of a denomination that covers this entire country, we have brothers and sisters there, both those who are affected and the neighbors who are ministering to them. Immediately, our North American Mission Board activates its massive army of Disaster Relief teams, scheduling them so they don’t all arrive at the same time, and overseeing the systematic and Christ-honoring work of ministering to the needy.
What I do is pray for them, send an offering, and encourage the DR people I know personally.
A young man is called into the ministry. He is eager to learn to pastor or to prepare for service on a foreign field, but has no clue where to start. Fortunately, due to the foresight of some godly brethren decades ago, our denomination has seminaries in place with highly trained professors to teach the next generation of Christian workers. A number of those professors are veteran pastors and missionaries themselves–many of them longtime friends of mine–and we have great confidence in what they do.
These days, we are hearing how young Christians hold no allegiance to denominations, how they flit from church to church, depending on who has the best programs with the most to offer. Many of the mega-churches to which they are drawn are unaligned with any denomination and thus may have little or nothing to offer the young people whom the Holy Spirit calls from their midst.
I’m all for each new generation finding fresh ways to do the work of Christ.
I just don’t want to see them throw out a system God has used effectively for so many decades without something far better to put in its place.
I’m so grateful to be a Southern Baptist.
We’re not the only denomination, and not the only–you’ll pardon the expression–faithful, effective denomination. (This would be a good place to insert a list of denominations which I’ve found to be faithful and effective. Sorry. I have little knowledge or experience with any except ours. I’m grateful for all who love the Lord Jesus and serve Him devotedly and faithfully.)
Young Christians, you love the Lord and love His church, right? (The two are synonymous the way I read the Word. But that’s another article.)
All we’re saying here is you get a lot more done for the Kingdom by working with other churches. Call it a denomination or federation or fellowship, whatever you will. We need one another.