by Dr. Tony L. Lynn
PLYMOUTH, MI – COVID tried to crush everything, but I am here to remind us that Christ is still King!
I am thankful for the spiritual grit I saw during 2020. Grit is having the courage, resilience and dedication to pursue a quest while overcoming obstacles. A 1969 Hollywood film with John Wayne, entitled “True Grit,” displayed some not so spiritual examples of grit; however, during 2020 I have seen some sterling examples. We may look cleaner and more sophisticated in our uploaded images compared to Darby, Wayne and Campbell’s theater poster but our fight to rescue the millions of unsaved Michiganders is an urgent fight we can only win with an unbreakable alliance.
Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) rightly directs our eyes to the correct battlefront and our enemies when it says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world.”
Here are some shining illustrations of what COVID could not stop.
Single men and young couples still pursue their personal pathway in starting new congregations. Nathan and Alison Sharpe of Adrian attended a thorough virtual assessment retreat for two days followed by an endorsement from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM). The Sharpe family will replant a formerly non-Great Commission Baptist church into a Great Commission Baptist church in Adrian, MI. The pastor and church sending the Sharpe family out as missionaries is Josh Tovey and Redemption Church of Grandville. Nathan and Josh’s friendship goes back a decade and displays how God orchestrates his plans throughout our entire lives to increase his glory throughout our lives. My friend Josh Tovey says, “God has you where he has you to advance the Gospel through you.”
Some established pastors are assisting new pastors and planters during the most difficult times. New planters lost meeting places, such as school buildings, due to COVID restrictions. Could you imagine how discouraging it would be that no one would be willing to share what they have with you, including space?
That is why the partnership of Ed Emmerling, the lead pastor at Westside Church, Flushing and church planter Jason Loewen of Union Church, Flint and the founding pastor Shea Prisk of Grumlaw Church, Grand Blanc rises to the top as one of my 2020 celebrations. Emmerling offered space to Jason with details of unselfishness that will bring tears to your eyes. While Prisk continues to develop Loewen as the newest church planter in the Greater Flint area, Emmerling will share space with Loewen and the Union Church launch team. Emmerling said, “By sharing our space with Union Church we will share in the ministry to a part of Flint that has been ignored for too long.”
Established Churches Joining Us
Suburban churches as well as urban churches, decades old throughout Michigan, are joining the convention family. What attracts a church to move from decades of independence to cooperation within the BSCM family?
I believe there are two important factors. First, pastors are creating authentic, caring friendships where they share their hearts and dreams about impacting communities. Second, those same men conclude that they can achieve more by working together than alone.
A large church, with years of impact in the western region, recently joined our BSCM family, not because of what they could receive from us, but rather for what they could give to pastors, churches and communities throughout the state’s robust network. Lead Pastor Joel Wayne and Associate Pastor Luke Bilberry of Chapel Pointe Church, Hudsonville have a passion for leadership development, revitalizing established congregations and church planting.
After months of conversation, built upon prior friendships with pastors already participating in the state’s network, Joel who has the heart of a lion for the Lord and Luke who knows how to construct processes and systems to bring glory to God, asked their congregation to join the BSCM family in order to do more for God’s kingdom. That mood of collaboration and unselfish sharing is on the rise.
We do not know what the winter months will bring concerning COVID, but I am certain of this, Christ is still King and COVID cannot crush what the Lord will continue to do! I am thankful for the spiritual grit I saw during 2020. Just remember, grit is having the courage, resilience and dedication to pursue a quest while overcoming obstacles. Can I ask if you have that same sort of grit for the Lord, for your family, for your church, and most of all for the lost around you?
It's been my experience after decades of observation, that when we as a spiritual community are laser focused on salvations, baptisms, discipleship and missions we are at our best.
At the national convention in 2012, the Southern Baptist Convention created a second name which displays our aspirations. That is why in this article I sometimes referred to “Great Commission Baptists”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony 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.