I have been reflecting a bit on this lately for a few reasons.
Firstly, seeing the transition of our own Baptist Union here in WA over the past few years.
Secondly, having recently becoming friends with John Finkelde and seeing what the C3 network does for its pastors.
Thirdly, no names no pack drill, seeing some of the issues other denominations have had, various ones…not one specifically.
1. A denomination should see its Pastors as the primary point of call in churches. They are the ones giving their full time life to the work of the church.
The denomination should exist to champion them, resource them, support them….and discipline them if need be. The relationship between the pastor and the denomination should be constant. The pastor should feel the denominational body is supporting them, and helping them. They should not feel it is some distant body, just after their money or attendance at some boring meeting.
Since Steve Smith worked hard at transitioning our own WA Baptist Union, it has become this for us. Mark Wilson has come in from Whitfords Church and championed and resourced the BU WA….it is a body that pastors in our state can be proud of.
I wonder about other pastors who I hear of around the traps, who see their denominational body as distant or cold. Recently I met with my pastoral peer group, and the differences in attitude towards the various denominational bodies was astounding, and saddening.
2. A denominational body should be a vocal public voice for the community, to know clearly what the denomination stands for. Frankly, this is a hard task for us Baptists because we are so diverse! Our Baptist Church is soooo different to others around us, and thats cool, we all are on the same team! But it makes a denominational voice difficult.
3. A denominational body should provide legal and ethical frameworks in which churches should operate. I suggest our Baptist denomination does an exceptional job of this. The ‘working with children’ stuff is essential for contemporary church life. Many other churches have let the kingdom down badly in this area, so all of us must be dilligent.
I struggle with churches who do not find themselves as part of a wider body, it may lead to immature or plain foolish decisions, which can hurt the name of Christ. While all for autonomy of the local church, and the local church being responsible for its own propery and finances, there must be a final point of responsibility to someone. Sadly, some of our own Baptist Churches fail to engage with our union. I think this is foolish. Our Union at the moment is trying very hard to support and work with the churches, for kingdom aims. I encourage all WA Baptist Pastors and Churches to get on board!