By Tim Lubinus
It is a little jolting when a key leader asks if the organization that I give most of my time toward developing is even relevant. I think what he had in mind, is whether a state convention or a local association, is more relevant to cooperative ministry in our context. It’s not a bad question to ask. Here’s how I’d answer it.
Iowa’s convention is an in-between size; neither small enough to provide local support like an association, nor large enough to afford several full-time directors of missions. We could do that, but it would mean defunding much of our support for international missions, North American missions, the seminaries, and church planting in Iowa. This is too high of a price to pay to fund a large staff of directors of missions. For now, we’ll join with the many other state conventions that have shifted away from fully funding these positions.
But like I said, our state is also too large to regard ourselves as one association. So what can we do to provide the local pastoral support and encouragement across the state that associations have provided in the past?
One asset that we have is a state full of great pastors. They are already skilled and on the job providing encouragement, correction, teaching and ministry structure. We need to tap this resource by providing additional support and a framework so that all of our pastors can be cared for and encouraged within a group of peers. This kind of like-minded community is a valuable environment where they can receive as well as give spiritual and emotional support. We launched this structure in May and many groups have already met. When pastors are regularly meeting, new cooperative ministries may emerge, but we don’t expect them to get tied up with creating constitutions, by-laws, and bank accounts.
In addition to providing this structure, the state convention is even more involved assisting churches in developing, placing, and supporting church planters, and pooling resources for key local ministries like the Friendship Baptist Center, Disaster Relief, and Collegiate Ministry. The BCI also enables us to more effectively partner with our national ministries the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, and our six SBC seminaries.
Yes, the state convention in Iowa is more relevant than ever. Let me know if you have comments on this at (515) 809-2819 or send an email to TLubinus@BCIowa.org.