Tim Noel, Arkansas Baptist Children & Family Ministries Director of Church Partnership and Mission Advancement
During my years serving as a senior pastor, I remember preaching a sermon titled, “The World at its Worst Needs the Church at its Best.” I admit that I was a young pastor and still fairly naive about many things. Yet, that statement rings truer today than it did back in 2013.
No matter the community in which you live, the community around you is looking to the church to see how they will respond to the ever-changing pace of life we are all collectively experiencing. Although we are being told that the community at large is distancing itself from the church, they are still looking. They still need the church to be the shining light of hope they desperately long to see. Jesus reminds us in the tremendous Sermon on the Mount, “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
This is our charge and our opportunity. Our neighbors and our communities, now more than ever, need to see this light. People are searching and grasping. People need hope. The light of the Gospel is the answer, and the local church is the vehicle which God has chosen to shine this light. For the church to step into the brokenness that overwhelms all our communities, they must be healthy and equipped. Healthy churches will undoubtedly impact a hurting community. Often, the brokenness is more than the local church has the resources to answer.
Our hope for partnering with the local church is two-fold.
First, is to come alongside the local church, equipping it with the tools to meet those needs within its community through our specialized programs serving vulnerable children and families.
Second, is to help cultivate healthy churches by helping strengthen families within the local church. Healthy churches begin with healthy pastors.
If you are a pastor, I want to take the opportunity to invite you to our Shepherds Conference on Thursday, September 28, hosted by ABCFM and our counseling division, Living Well Professional Counseling. The purpose of this conference is to encourage and equip pastors. Sponsored by our agency along with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, Ouachita Baptist University, and Williams Baptist University, our prayer is that pastors would be strengthened. Our keynote speaker is John McCallum, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Several breakout sessions will also be offered. To learn more and to register, visit www.arkansasfamilies.org/shepherds-conference