I grew up in a church that did not believe in denominations. We were our own independent church separate from any other group. Though I appreciate the great spiritual training I got in that church, I regret the fact that we did not fellowship with a network of other churches in our area. I believe my spiritual growth was stunted because we were all alone as a church.
In college I met a professor who was the bi-vocational pastor of a small Southern Baptist Church in the next town. He talked about how his small church connected with other small churches in the Strawberry Baptist Association in Virginia. He often talked about how they were better together, accomplishing more together than each of those churches could do alone.
I was moved by his stories of how those churches worked together. I was determined when I graduated from seminary that I would find and join a network of churches that worked together to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord eventually led me to become part of the Southern Baptist Convention. Now, almost 30 years later, I find myself the leader of Southern Baptists in New England. This is a position I never could have dreamed of when I was in college – but it makes perfect sense to me now because I truly believe that we are better together. When churches work in cooperation, we can accomplish more than when each church works on its own. Whether you want to call it a network, a denomination, a convention or whatever other title you might want to use, the reality is that churches are just better when they work together.
If your church is already part of the Baptist Convention of New England, I urge you to not merely be a part on paper, but be a part in reality. Come to the meetings. Host meetings in your church. Give generously to the cooperative mission program. Sponsor a new church. Sponsor a campus ministry. Send your young people to YEC, CrossWalk and Quest. Let’s really be together.
If you’re in a church that’s not connected to our network, I would urge you to consider all the various things the Baptist Convention does. I believe your church will be stronger by being part of our network. I believe our network will be stronger having your church. Truly we are better together.
Dr. Terry Dorsett is the executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England.