Discovery Church Welcomed Into the Great Plains Association of North American Baptist Churches
Last Friday I had the pleasure of travelling to the annual meeting of the Great Plains Association of NAB churches. The goal was to introduce Discovery Church to the GPA and answer any questions about our desire to enter partnership with them. The following day they voted unanimously to welcome Discovery Church into the association. It was a joy to see the churches and pastors gathered, reporting on the work of God in our region. I was struck at one point during the meeting by the fact that one pastor who was reporting on God's work in Iowa was a graduate of the TPA! Other times I was blessed to look around the room and see Pastors Andy Wright and Ryan Franchuk and just rejoice that pastors like them are replicating themselves and growing the Lord's kingdom in their corner of the world. Then, of course, I met pastors who are seeing growth in small places like Wessington Springs and Emery and Avon. Of course there are challenges everywhere but that's reality under the sun - we wage war against the spiritual forces of darkness and are taking the gospel to dark places.
Do you still have questions about partnering with the GPA? You should let us know if those questions cause you concern. We don't mind hearing them and doing all we can to sharpen our ministry together.
One question that came across my path after the vote passed was about our "non-denominational" status. Does this partnership mean that we are no longer "non-denominational?" For some, our non-denominational status is a real plus - one of the main reasons some have chosen our church. Here was my basic answer:
In a sense, yes, we are still non-denominational because the NAB does not consider itself a denomination. Denomination tends to imply that there is a level of control over the local church that exists outside the local church. But Baptists, by definition, believe in the autonomy and authority of the local church. However, at the same time, our partnership or association with Baptist churches makes it clear where we stand theologically on the gospel and on the Lord's commands regarding baptism. So, in short, in this partnership we retain our autonomy and authority as a local church, but we've added two things: (1) a greater degree of honesty and publicity about our theological convictions and (2) an association/partnership with other churches that provides us access to multiple opportunities for ministry partnership and significant pastoral support.
We look forward to bringing Discovery's strong theological and ministry convictions into the GPA and to finding opportunities to grow the Lord's kingdom in partnership with other gospel-centered churches in the region. Let's pray for the Lord to keep our eyes open for the work He wants us doing together!