Speaker: Mike Hess
Session 1 Audio: Download MP3
Speaker: Mike Hess
Session 2 Audio: Download MP3
Speaker: Mike Hess
Session 3 Audio: Download MP3
Speaker: Ken Floyd
Session 4 Audio: Download MP3
“Hope in Harsh Times,” 2018 MARBC Annual Conference highlights
“What is your expectation of God? We all like things to go well. As believers we must learn that God doesn’t always give us what we want, but He always gives us what we need.” Starting with this opening comment, Mike Hess then pointed those in attendance to consider how they might respond to suffering like Jesus did. The newly elected National Representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches served as the keynote speaker of the MARBC Conference.
Hess shared three messages from 1 Peter in developing the conference theme, “Hope in Harsh Times: Finding Joy in Suffering while Serving Christ.” The messages focused upon “suffering like Jesus did,” “how to prepare yourself to suffer well,” and “truths to consider when you suffer for doing right.”
Using 1 Peter 2:18-25 as his guide, he observed that the greatest way that a Christian can respond to unjust treatment is to follow the example of Christ. “We can’t control how we are treated, but we can control how we respond.” Christians need to be like a child who learns how to write by tracing over a stencil of letters with a pencil. The Christian should trace over the model that Jesus has given through his life and ministry.
Ken Floyd, MARBC Ministry Director, closed the conference with a message focusing upon pastoral ministry from 1 Peter 5, “Shepherding with Hope in Harsh Times.” He noted that Peter had spent his entire adult life meditating upon what it means to identify with the sufferings of Christ. “Peter serves as a good model of how to suffer well while also anticipating the coming glory of Christ. Eschatology should not be avoided in the preaching and teaching of today’s pastors. Instead, it should be emphasized. The focus upon the return of Christ and ‘the unfading crown of glory’ is a great motivator for the under shepherd and the flock of God he is called to lead. The last thing that you need while living in harsh times are weak shepherds who dispense ‘popcorn’ sermons, ‘cotton candy’ theology, and ‘band aid’ methodology.”
The MARBC Conference was held at the facilities of the historic Berean Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on October 29-30, 2018. Berean has a longstanding influence in the Regular Baptist movement and was one of the first churches to align itself in the formative days of the Grand Rapids Association of Regular Baptist Churches.
Those in attendance appreciated the acoustics and aesthetics for worship in Berean’s auditorium. Worship sessions were capably led by Garth Dietlin, Berean’s worship pastor. Lead pastor Marcus Little and his staff served those in attendance with gracious hospitality. The church gymnasium served as the exhibit area for twenty-five displayers.
2019 Joint Conference announced at conference!
A unique joint conference is planned for 2019. Three Regular Baptist state associations will meet together at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Toledo, Ohio, on October 21-23, 2019. The MARBC (Michigan), OARBC (Ohio), and Crossroads Fellowship (Indiana) will join together for this special gathering. More details regarding the conference will be shared in the coming weeks.
It continues to be our great joy and privilege to serve our Lord and Savior and His Church through the ministry of the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches. Hardly a day goes by without recognizing in some practical way the importance and benefits of this ministry to the churches and servants in our network. My report shares a few of the reasons why this has been true in the past year.
Refining the Core Values of the Association.
The Council of 16 is a source of personal blessing as they seek to passionately lead with biblical conviction. They are deeply invested in the future of our association. An example of this has been their ongoing work of refining the MARBC’s Core Values. A series of “regional forums” were held in each of the seven regional associations to seek input from the association. These meetings were well attended by those serving in MARBC churches, as well as several pastors from unaffiliated churches. The discussion at each gathering was both edifying and encouraging.
A Council task force reviewed the comments received at the forums and submitted a refined set of core values for approval. The original seven statements were narrowed to four: (1) biblically and doctrinally resolute, (2) progressing in ministry mindset and method, (3) pursuing cultural and generational diversity, and, (4) engaging our neighbors.
A major emphasis of our ministry this year involved the further development of a practical plan for the revitalization of struggling churches in the association. This revitalization will be implemented on a regional basis. Churches within a region are being asked to help assist a struggling sister church that agrees to submit to a partnership.
An example of this is happening at Montrose Baptist Church, who is receiving significant assistance from South Baptist Church in Flint along with input from the MARBC office. Pastoral and financial resources are being provided to help the Montrose ministry revitalize. Other MARBC churches in the region plan to offer their assistance. At least two other revitalization projects are currently being developed for implementation in 2018 in other parts of the state.
Pastoral Search Assistance.
A prominent part of the Ministry Director’s personal ministry involves assisting churches and pastors in times of transition. This important process is both time and labor intensive. The spiritual fruit realized as a result of this investment makes it worthwhile.
A recent development has enhanced the association’s effectiveness in ministering to churches facing such a need. Shortly after the conclusion of the 2016 MARBC Conference, the leadership of Interpas Ministries approached me with the proposal that their ministry come under the direction of the MARBC Ministry Director. They reasoned that much of the recruiting and facilitating of churches in need of pastors was already being done through the MARBC office.
Interpas was founded by Dr. Wilbert Welch 30 years ago and has served dozens of local churches, many of them in association with the MARBC. The ministry provides interim pastors for churches willing to follow its policies. Men who serve with Interpas are screened and interviewed by an Interpas review committee. The Council of 16 approved bringing Interpas Ministries “under the umbrella” of the MARBC in its June meeting.
Our office is now receiving calls and inquiries from churches in Michigan, as well as a few other states. Since we anticipate the retirement a large number of “Boomer” pastors there will be a great need for new pastors in the next decade and a strong demand for interim pastors. We will be recruiting retiring pastors to join Interpas to help meet the demands of these churches.
Statistics from the 2016-17 ministry year…
• Travel: Over 26,600 miles on behalf of the MARBC this past year.
• Vehicle: God blessed the association this past summer with the opportunity to purchase a vehicle for use by the ministry director. Our thanks to the churches and individuals who gave to this project. A special thanks to the Grand Rapids Women’s Missionary Union for raising nearly $9,000. This enabled us to purchase a 2015 Ford Fusion in late June.
• Church assistance: Speaking 90 times in 54 churches; 150+ meetings in-person and online for counseling and consulting; promoting CPR ministry opportunities
• Pastoral assistance: Assisted 14 churches in the call of a new pastor; conducted 18 pastoral search orientations; shared at 8 pastor installation services and 8 ordination councils
• Strategic planning: led 4 churches through strategic planning seminar weekends and follow up coaching
• Office: continued to implement cost saving methods; prepared two-dozen MARBC Messenger communications.
• Eleven years! We celebrate God’s blessings as we complete our eleventh year serving the association.
To God be the glory!
God recently added another precious grandchild to our family. We give thanks to God for our dear daughter Allison, her husband Taylor, and our five grandchildren – Connor (8), Eloise (6), Malachi (3), Emmaline (16 months), and Camille (born October 11)!
It has been our blessing during these 11 years of service to partner with two special individuals who volunteer their time to assist the MARBC in important support roles. Karen Avey continues to effectively serve as the MARBC bookkeeper, as well as giving Sharon some practical assistance from time to time with office matters. Kevin Pierpont not only continues his service as the MARBC’s web master, but also oversees the Interpas Ministries website. Both are a great blessing to us and are to be commended for their conscientious, quality ministries.
One of the greatest blessings of serving the Lord through the MARBC ministry is the opportunity to serve side by side with my wonderful wife, Sharon. She is such a personal joy and I know that she is an encouragement to each of you who have the opportunity to interact with her. Yes, it is true that we really do like working and serving together in the office and on the road.
We praise God for His compassion and sustaining grace as we have dealt with serious health needs with Ken’s parents in Ohio and extended elderly family members in Florida. Your prayer support and encouragement as we have dealt with these needs has been greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your continuing prayer and financial support. Do not hesitate to contact us to seek our assistance, share a prayer request, or celebrate a blessing in your life or ministry. We thank our God upon every remembrance of you.
Partnering with you and praying for you,
Ken and Sharon Floyd
Four MARBC pastors each chose a Biblical text that illustrates the application of one of the four core values.
In Search of Soul Satisfaction, John 4
Jeff Burr, host pastor serving at Forest Hills Baptist Church and current Vice Chairman of the MARBC Council of 16, shared in the first general session. He opened his message by sharing a brief overview of the decline of Kodak as its industry’s gold standard. The business thoroughly dominated its technological field but lost sight of it’s corporate vision. Burr then traced how Jesus overcame various barriers in sharing the gospel with those he encountered using the narrative of John 4.
Shepherding All the Sheep,” 1 Peter 5
Mark Cizauskas, lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Rochester and current Treasurer of the MARBC Council of 16, focused upon Peter’s admonition to pastors from 1 Peter 5:1-4. Keying on the core value, pursuing cultural and generational diversity, Mark emphasized the critical role pastors play in modeling gospel ministry. It must be a ministry that does not play favorites but reaches out to all demographics in the local body and in the community. “Peter challenges the pastor to ‘shepherd the flock which is among you.'” The pastor is called to shepherd the redeemed and they in turn will impact the community.”
Staying on the Line, Mark 7
Preaching on the morning of October 31, Ross Shannon, lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Lapeer, acknowledged his excitement in sharing a message on the importance of Sola Scriptura on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Ross examined the interaction of Jesus with the Pharisees as they reacted to what they considered as the disciples’ unorthodox dining habits. He stated that while association churches and pastors should seek to uphold the core value of remaining “Biblically and doctrinally resolute,” care must be taken to “stay on the line, not above it by adding to the truth; or below it, subtracting from it.” Reflecting upon Jesus’ response to the Pharisees, Shannon stated that “Jesus is against those who go above the line. When we go a above the line, the line isn’t protected or obscured, but is erased.”
Walking the Ministry Tightrope, Acts 6
Utilizing an opening illustration about a tightrope walker crossing over Niagara Falls, Bob McNeil discussed the ministry tightrope that the Jerusalem church had to walk as they dealt with the pressing spiritual needs within its body. The church leaders needed to properly address the demands of two extremely different groups who were now a part of the church: formerly Orthodox Jews and Greek converts. “They sought to keep a biblically healthy balance: they were tied to the text [of scripture] but were also open to change … Healthy churches are always addressing the need to change.” Biblically engaging the culture demands a church that is willing to make changes in its approach to that culture. McNeil then noted the key to the Jerusalem church’s ability to navigate change in a God glorifying manner – they were committed to prayer. “The power of God is accessed through prayer. They didn’t pray and then say, ‘we’re going to do what we’ve always done.'” Peter had to learn this the hard way … It took three visions from God before he would change and reach out to the Gentiles. Likewise, Paul had to learn through out his missionary journeys that he had to change the approach of his message, depending upon his audience.
Two practical church ministry breakout sessions were featured at the 2017 MARBC Conference. Titled “Stories from the Front” both sessions featured testimonies from church leaders who have served in integral ways in the rescue of struggling churches.
The Northland/Blythefield Partnership
This report focuses upon how a merger of two MARBC church ministries seeks to impact a community on the north end of Grand Rapids. Pastors Ben Phebus (Northland Baptist Church, Grand Rapids) and Tim Hoyt (Blythefield Hills Baptist Church, Rockford) share the back-story of this strategic relationship.
The Montrose Project
What options are available for a church that is in significant decline? This back-story shares how a healthy sister church offers significant support to a struggling church in a neighboring community, with assistance from the MARBC. Pastors Scott Snyder (South Baptist Church, Flint) and Shane Miller (Montrose Baptist Church, Montrose), along with Montrose deacon Bob Mosser, share about this exciting partnering approach.
Ken Floyd announced at the conclusion of the session that there are additional prospective church reboot partnerships under consideration. Churches and pastors are encouraged to contact the MARBC office to learn how they can be involved in this important ministry endeavor.