By Dr. Tony L. Lynn
PLYMOUTH, MI – Jamie and I attended a local concert and loved it! It was our first, in many months.
The Michigan Philharmonic is one of our indulgences. I think we enjoy classical concerts because we played instruments in high school, Jamie the clarinet and I played the coronet. The classical rivalry was always there. The brass instruments would drown-out the woodwinds until Mr. J, the conductor, would clack his baton on his music stand while yelling at the brass sections to play in unison with the other sections of the band. We saw Mr. J’s baton splinter and break like a baseball batter breaking his bat on a swing and a hit. We pulled those stunts when we were rehearsing among ourselves, but when concert time arrived, every single person stretched himself or herself to perform the best they could on that day.
During live concerts, the mood of the band members changed. Each member of the band watched Mr. J with his hand movements, even his facial expressions to synchronize our playing with his slightest directions. All of us wanted our family and friends to hear the beautiful music: pop tunes like Elephant Walk by Henry Mancini and Yesterday by the Beatles, or to hear the symphonies, and movements written by the likes of Tchaikovsky and Beethoven.
God has been conducting a symphony this past year and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I would let you hear some of the music in God’s movement so that we could rejoice together.
Total of 17 New Churches in Less than 18 Months that is a Percussion Crescendo
Let me offer you the concert’s program so you can see the big picture. Since our last gathering as a state convention November 2020, the Lord added 4 new churches by affiliation and 13 new church plants! That is a grand total of 17 new churches that were not part of our Great Commission family 18 months ago! To me that is as if we are starting the musical piece off with the percussion section hammering out an echoing sound on those large kettle drums. Do you feel that vibration in your chest? A total of 17 new additions to our family.
4 Existing Churches and 13 New Church Plants in Different Sections of Michigan
The 4 established churches are from different locations. One is in Holland, another in South Branch, the third is in River Rouge, and the last one is in Pontiac. The 13 new church plants can be found in Adrian, Port Austin, Kentwood, Owosso, Grand Blanc, Howell, West Bloomfield, Westland, Gaylord, Southfield, Eastpointe, Flint, and Windsor.
When you are at your next concert, watch the conductor’s line of vision and you can anticipate the musical section he or she is prompting to enter the musical piece. It may be the oboe or French horn section you will hear next because their sound is a gorgeous contrast to the rest of the instruments. I believe, this past year, we have watched God cueing-up sections of the orchestra for more than two years, even longer. Some of the pastors and planters have been in conversations with us for as long as two years or more; but it was during this most challenging past year that those men decided, by following their spiritual conductor, that it was time to join the music. I am grateful for the obedience and courage those men possessed.
Grateful for Section Leaders
Did you know there are section leaders, or those who sit in what we called first-chair, who are responsible for performance of the rest of their musical section? I look at the established church pastors and new church planters as section leaders who led people who believed in their vision and their leadership enough to join with the Great Commission Baptists of Michigan. I am humbled by the fact that 17 spiritual leaders said, “Yes, to joining our family.” We can respond by including them, reaching out to them, spending time with them, supporting them, and loving them – because when we do so we imitate our Lord.
What Do I Love the Most About Orchestras?
I love musical contrast the most. My ears and my heart are the happiest at a concert when I hear juxtaposed instruments and rhythms. The staccato of woodwinds against the ambling long tones string instruments are hypnotizing. For me, when I listen and look at what God did in creating a total of 17 new congregations among our family, I see a similar mesmerizing contrast. I do not attend concerts with 60 violins, I attend concerts with more than a dozen instruments with unique sounds.
All the new churches do not look alike, and they do now sound alike. That dissimilarity is a major part of the attraction for me when it comes to our churches. God conducts each one of us stretching us to play our personal best. Imagine the sound of grace and love as the newest churches, in our family, celebrate the Lord in English, Burmese, Bengali, and Spanish.
My Thanksgiving Prayer
As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year with family and friends, would you say a prayer along with me that will sound something like this, “Lord, thank you for blessing us with 17 new congregations, who in their own unique way, under your leadership will help us reach the lost in our region. Lord, direct us to work together in harmony and in unison with your directions.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Tony L. Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.