FENTON, MI – It is hard for me to believe that another year has come and gone. This has been one of the greatest years of our lives as Sabrina and I have had the opportunity to get to know and fall more deeply in love with the people and places of Michigan. We have had the privilege of traveling thousands of miles, preaching in a myriad of churches and attending numerous meeting and events. As a result, we have come to realize some of the finest people on the face of this globe reside right here in the mitten and U.P. of Michigan. To say we are blessed to serve here is an understatement.
I am thrilled to tell you that we are seeing the goals that were set forth in previous months being reached and accomplished. This is happening because of the great leadership within our state and the superb staff you have called to serve along side me. I so love and thank God for these men and women.
Since “day one” we have had an unquenchable burden to impact the lostness of this state with the Gospel of Jesus. We know that this will be accomplished as we start strong and stable reproducing churches, strengthen and bring to good health our existing churches and help provide motivation and means by which these churches can send their members into a very needy state, nation and world to share that Good News.
I have been asked on several occasions why we would put such emphasis on starting and sending when so many of our existing churches need strengthening. Of course, we need to strengthen churches and as a result the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM) is putting a great deal of effort and funding into doing just that. This year we’ve had multiple trainings and encouraging events for pastors and leaders around the state. We just experienced a very successful CEC where 400 people were trained in various areas of church ministry. This year we’ve had Pastor Appreciation Meals, Prayer Boot Camp, Evangelism Training, and Galatians 6:6 Marriage Enrichment to name a few. Yet experience and statistics show that churches involved in helping plant other churches and in mobilizing for missions are discovering that these efforts in turn strengthen and provide healthy internal conditions and improved financial bottom lines.
It is my vision and desire to see every Southern Baptist Church (SBC) here in Michigan actively involved in partnering with other churches to start new works here and beyond our borders. I have a passion to see our churches so engaged in mission efforts that every member has an opportunity to say that they have impacted the life of someone else with the Gospel. Evangelism must be at the heart and center of all we do. We must have a passion for and be prepared to share the Gospel with anyone at anytime.
I have a vision that Michigan Baptists will be known throughout our Zion as the state that loves to give and does so generously. It is my belief that we are never more like Jesus than when we are giving. We must give, not just for that which benefits our family or tribe, but give to and for those from which we may never see any personal benefit.
It is my belief that all of our churches can work together to “punch holes in the darkness” of Michigan. African American churches, Anglo churches, Asian churches, Hispanic churches, Urban churches and any other Southern Baptist church can join hearts and hands to do this and more. When we look across this great nation we sense and see a great deal of unrest. The Church must rise and shine in the midst of this. The day of “us and them” is over. Cultural and ethnic differences will remain, but unity in Christ must reign! We are a very diverse state but it is my conviction that this diversity must be reflected in our churches and our mission.
Will you join with me and the rest of the BSCM staff, as we pray and work in order for this vision to come to fruition? Together we can start more, strengthen more, and send more than ever before. Together we can do more. 2016 has been a great year. 2017 will be even better!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.