Michigan ministry servants recently gathered in a unique conference setting to focus upon their spiritual opportunities as investors and stockholders in Christ’s Great Commission.
“invested” was both the theme and focus of the MARBC Annual Conference held on Monday and Tuesday, October 17-18. The conference featured a new format for 2016. Live streaming technology was utilized in order to two hold the conference in two locations simultaneously. This allowed access to the conference within a reasonable driving distance for churches located in the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan.
The Tenth Annual MARBC Day of Prayer was held just prior to the conference on Sunday, October 16. It is held so that churches can give thanks to God for their pastors during Pastor Appreciation Month and so there can be a special prayer focus on behalf of the conference.
Northeastern Baptist Church in Kalamazoo served as the host church in the Lower Peninsula. Host pastor and long-time MARBC Council member, Dr. George Coon, retires at the end of November. The conference was held there in honor of Pastor Coon’s impact and ministry in the MARBC.
Upper Peninsula churches gathered at the Northland Camp & Conference Center, located just across border in Dunbar, Wisconsin. The Northland campus has for many years been a popular conference and seminar site for Upper Peninsula churches. Each site had a session of worship that was followed by live streaming of the preaching sessions. The conference schedule was formatted to accommodate sites located in both the Eastern and Central time zones.
Our thanks to Pastor Ben Marx, Bible Baptist Church in Ishpeming, for his efforts to co-ordinate the Upper Peninsula venue and format.
Worship sessions were led and coordinated by Nathan Pierpont, worship pastor at Northeastern Baptist Church. Other worship leaders included Dave Sill (Shelby Road Baptist Church, Shelby), Steven Lounsbrough (Evangel Baptist Church, Taylor),and Steve Nichols (Berean Baptist Church, Portage). Worship was coordinated at the Northland-UP site by Pastor Ben Marx (Bible Baptist Church, Ishpeming).
The Monday afternoon business session was designed to include messengers in both locations, with materials and ballots provided for ministry decisions. Reports included an encouraging update from Council of 16 treasurer Ron Wigand regarding the MARBC’s financial situation. Giving to the general fund income by churches increased 63% during the past year. Many one-time gifts have also been received from churches and individuals to assist the MARBC.
The MARBC Council of 16 honored Ministry Director Ken Floyd and his wife Sharon for their ten years representing the association. The Floyds received a special love gift in recognition of their investment with the association.
Council of 16 elections were also held during the business session. New members selected were: Jeff Burr (Forest Hills Baptist Church, Grand Rapids), Mark Cizauskas (First Baptist Church, Rochester), Dave Sill (Shelby Road Baptist Church, Shelby), and Tom Townsend (Calvary Baptist Church, Battle Creek).
Main session speakers were pastors serving in MARBC churches in both Michigan peninsulas. You are able to access both the audio and video content of each message is posted on this website.
The speakers focused upon various aspects of the conference theme, “invested,” and the updated set of core values that the MARBC Council of 16 recently drafted. Ken Floyd reflected upon these core values in the opening message of the conference, “Investing in Michigan:”
“This past year of ministry with the MARBC has been one of great faith and special blessing. The association has been refocused and strengthened in many ways. Not the least of these is the refocusing our vision upon what connects us together as a network of local churches and Christ’s servants: the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and the way in which it is integrated into the investment strategies of our spiritual portfolios. What is it that will allow the MARBC to remain a valid partnership investment for those currently in the network and for those who might consider becoming shareholders? The result of these biblically focused, prayerful discussions was the restating of the specific core values that define the MARBC’s investment portfolio.”
MARBC Core Values:
• Biblically grounded and doctrinally conservative.
• Methodology that is progressive: understanding the culture in order to be relevant and effective.
• Innovative: trying new ideas in order to apply biblical truths and values.
• Non-hostile environments: recognizing that truth based love and unity are essential ingredients of church life.
• Connecting with the community: creating connective points with the unsaved.
• Accepting of differences: not every person/church must look the exactly the same.
• Multigenerational: all ages worshipping together.
The remaining conference messages expanded upon these core values, utilizing pastors from MARBC churches of varied sizes and locations.
“Investing through the Gospel,” Andrew Manwarren, Newberry Baptist Church, Newberry, MI. Pastor Andrew shared a strong Biblical challenge from the Northland conference venue. He reminded those in attendance that God is sovereign and does not need anyone to assist Him with His plan. However, God graciously gives His servants the opportunity to engage in the joy of bringing Him glory.
“Investing in Multiple Generations,” George Coon, Northeastern Baptist Church, Kalamazoo, MI. Focusing upon the unique relationship between Elijah and Elisha as shared in 2 Kings 2, Pastor George reflected upon the necessity of balance in ministry as well compassion for those with whom we serve. The effective church strives for relevancy for all ages and generations. The relationship of the two prophets is also a reminder that you cannot serve God effectively in isolation. Every ministry servant needs four types of people in their sphere of influence: a shepherd, an accountability partner, a buffer, and a friend.
“Investing Creatively with Unbelievers,” Nate Parsekian, Shelby Road Baptist Church, Shelby, MI. Examining the practical ministry of the Apostle Paul from Acts 17, Pastor Nate noted that Paul was engaged with the community in a variety of ways. He reminded those gathered that Paul was always noticed where ever he went. The worst thing is when a church goes unnoticed by their community. Nate then shared several practical ways in which he leads the church as an outreach pastor in the Shelby community.
“Investing in My Local Community,” Jason LaFlamme, Munising Baptist Church, Munising, MI. A lifetime “UP-er” and pastor in his hometown, Pastor Jason cite several Biblical examples of how every church and believer needs to be personally involved and invested in the people and needs of their community. Using the children’s game “Red Rover” as an illustration, he reminded that the circles of churches should be easily entered by others rather than hard to break through.
“Investing through Church Planting,” Clare Jewell, “Genesis” Church Planting Coordinator, Regular Baptist Ministries. Clare gave a presentation regarding church planting assistance opportunities in a Tuesday luncheon sponsored by the Regular Baptist Church Planting ministry. He recommended websites such as www.thearda.com and www.peoplegroups.info to learn about the unique gospel opportunities in their communities through the study of neighborhood demographics.
“Investing through Biblically Relevant Methodology,” Doug Crawford, West Cannon Baptist Church, Belmont, MI. Surveying the ministry of Peter, Pastor Doug noted that Peter was constantly challenged by Christ and other church leaders to keep maturing and progressing in regards to biblical change. Several crisis points in Peter’s ministry caused him to struggle with the need to abandon comfort and tradition in order to effectively serve Christ and lead the church forward. Crawford reminded the messengers that regardless of a servant’s age and experience, there needs to be an openness and submission to God’s redemptive process.
An interactive afternoon session featured testimonies pertaining to creative outreach strategies used by MARBC churches. Several MARBC pastors shared ways in which they are leading their local churches to engage with their communities. Three pastors related how work as local police and hospital chaplains has opened doors in which to share the gospel. Others shared about outreach endeavors based upon the uniqueness of their community.
Ken Floyd closed the conference by suggesting that the MARBC’s partnership in Christ’s command be dubbed “The Great Co-Michigan.” Messengers left the conference sensing a greater commitment as fellow investors and stockholders in the Great Co-Michigan strategy.
Resources and message audios from the conference are now available on the website.