by Michael Battenfield, President – BMA of Arkansas
What is a “Healthy Church?” A first step to understanding the idea might be to consider the question “What is a healthy Christian?” After all, if we gauge the New Testament and its various letters and, more often not condemnation, we would think a church being healthy is a pipe dream. But we see at least one example of a church worthy of commendation without condemnation in Revelation 3, with Christ’s letter to the church in Philadelphia. This church is described as “not denying My name” and having “kept the word of my perseverance.” No text is given to their circumstances, other than those who would press them (the synagogue of Satan) would be forced to bow before their feet. This tells us that they endured faithfully, worked faithfully and, most importantly, stood boldly on the truth of God’s Word in spite of the culture.
This year’s theme, “Healthy Churches, Healthy Association, for the Glory of God,” is intended to cause us to think (or rethink) what it means for the local church to be “healthy.” That health isn’t measured by programs, popularity or even numbers (and other devices of pragmatism), but by faithfulness and sincere work for the Lord. We also see commendations for churches helping churches — whether it be offerings to help other churches, missionaries sent to strengthen both existing churches and to plant new works or simply the ongoing material and spiritual support of workers.
What this world, our nation and this state need are churches that are built up of strong, maturing believers and associations like the BMA of Arkansas, working together to be a very real light, beginning in our own neighborhoods.
As an association of churches, we not only have the privilege, but the responsibility to look out for one another, and to ultimately seek the glory of Christ our King! No conference, meeting or academic setting can solve all the problems and needs of the churches of the BMA of Arkansas. However, we have an opportunity on Thursday, Nov. 3 to be ministered to in a way that may very well help us to begin working toward greater cooperation, more effective ministry in our local contexts and to see how the Lord might empower the churches of the BMA of Arkansas to boldly and more powerfully proclaim Jesus and His Word to the world around us, in the setting of local churches. Come support your association, encourage one another and, just maybe, find a piece to the puzzle your church has been missing!
The following breakout sessions will be available on Thursday, Nov. 3 at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.:
• Fundamental Ideas for Healthy Student/Youth Ministry by Dan Carson — Dan Carson currently serves as: pastor of Family Ministries at Calvary Baptist Church in Fayetteville; the director of the BMA of Arkansas youth department, Student Ministry Matters; coach and promoter of student ministry workers; and also hosts the weekly Student Ministry Matters Podcast. He is a graduate of CBC and BMA Theological Seminary and is completing work on the Doctor of Ministry at Midwestern Theological Seminary in Kansas City.
• The Urgency of Prayer — The Boiler Room of the Church by Larry Barker — BMA of America Vice President Church Strategy and Training Larry Barker has been in full-time ministry for more than four decades. He has served as a pastor and church planter in both America and Romania and recently led a church in East Texas through a replant. Larry is passionate about church health and the crucial role prayer has in the life and ministry of the local church.
• How Churches Can Help Churches and an Association by Harold Smith — Harold Smith led Lee Creek Baptist Church in Van Buren for over a decade before answering the call to a unique mission to churches without a pastor and pastors without a church. He hosts an annual preachers conference and is an active speaker, evangelist and pastor to pastors. Bro. Smith’s current ministry is deeply rooted in his passion for the local church — discipleship and seeing churches grow toward Spirit-led healthy ministry for the glory of Christ. He recently served as the interim pastor of West Park Baptist Church in Ozark and helped the church to organize and find its pastor.
• Building Neutral Communities — Why Churches Should be Invested by Clinton Morris — Clinton Morris currently serves as a BMA of Arkansas church planter in NW Arkansas (Springdale/Fayetteville) with a unique ministry of engaging the culture where they are through relationship building and genuine love for his neighbors. Clinton’s model of ministry is “outside-the-box,” yet finds its relevance, not in pragmatism and affinity-based models, but in simple, personal connections and genuine interest.
I hope you will make plans to take advantage of these very practical breakout sessions so we can work together, with God’s help, to build “Healthy Churches and a Healthy Association for the Glory of God!”