by Jerome Taylor
BURTON, MI – Years ago, I was enthralled by episodes of Star Trek :: The Next Generation™. Viewing the sci-fi phenomenon, I was captivated by Capt. Jean-Luc Picard’s command to engage, and the blazing special effects of “warp speed.” At this point the Starship Enterprise was fully engaged in reaching the desired destination.
Now, looking back on my life actively engaged in the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) cooperative labors… this sci-fi moment seems relatable. Not because it has been other worldly, but because once introduced & initiated, the days moving forward have flown by.
More than a decade ago, I attended the SBC Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona as a messenger from my local church. I was able to see first hand why active cooperation matters, but this wasn’t my first encounter with cooperative work. I am a product of the laborers that partnered to pour into the lives of many.
Here are some of the examples.
Growing up in the southern U.S. in the 80s-90s, the potential for connecting with churches that were Southern Baptist in their affiliation would have been likely. But the churches that connected with my family were highly engaged in teaching the Bible to multiple generations. I am a product of their partnership.
Going to the community college, the local Baptist Student Union, ministered to my life and became a place where I recognized the Lord’s calling to be a minister to the lives of others. It is here that leadership took time to come alongside a lanky nerd, and encourage me to be a learning disciple. I am a product of the partnership that supported this work on my local campus.
Continuing theological undergraduate work, the opportunity was provided to attend William Carey College. Due to the partnership the university had with the Mississippi Baptist Convention, the education I received was not as costly and as burdening as it could have been. I am a product of the partnership that provided a way for ministers to be trained.
Serving as a youth pastor, an invitation was extended to serve on the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, Student Evangelism Team. This moment welcomed a young and relatively inexperienced young man to the table and opened my eyes to see the value of collaborative labors to reach the multitudes.
It would be easy to brag on the Lord for His gracious work and how a relatively odd duck like myself can be involved. All of this both encourages and invigorates my soul in such a way, that I am resolved to remain actively engaged in cooperation.
And here are the reasons that such a decision to be cooperatively engaged remains an imperative.
1 :: We see that important decisions are made by those who show up.
Being involved helps the voice of the local church be heard in our local, state, and national mission strategies.
2 :: We can be reminded of what we have received.
It is easy for missional amnesia to creep in and forget what has been accomplished, but being involved produces gratitude.
3 :: We are able to share in mutual fruit.
We are brought to work together in a way that produces greater fruit than could be accomplished alone.
4 :: We are accountable for our partnerships.
As local churches we are called to be good stewards over that which has been entrusted to us. Being good stewards requires accountable evaluation.
5 :: We are reminded of how to pray.
When we are involved, we can actively see how our prayers matter, how prayer works, and how to pray even further for the collaborative labors ahead.
6 :: We are moved toward greater generosity.
When local churches and leaders get involved, we see God using our time, talent, and treasure for greater effectiveness. This encourages cheerful giving and service.
7 :: We are able to celebrate how the Lord Jesus does immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.
Let us be renewed in our faith and worship as we see the greatness of God working as only He can.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerome Taylor is the Pastor of Eastgate Baptist Church in Burton Michigan. He loves his family, wife Melinda and 4 children.