By Bobby Thomas, President/CEO, Arkansas Baptist Foundation What have we learned?
That is the first question that comes to mind as I think about this unique time we are experiencing together. I am sure we have all discovered things that we did not need as much as we originally thought. Likewise, I am sure we miss or yearn for things that we took for granted before. Personally, I yearn to gather in person with fellow believers as we serve the almighty God and I am rejoicing that we have an opportunity to host the Arkansas Baptist Foundation’s Board this week.At the Foundation, we are also reflecting on what we have learned, especially as it relates to churches in the areas of governance and giving. We have seen that needs in these two areas are not limited by whether a church is large or small, old or new. Likewise, we have been reminded that the Foundation and other entities are functionally and financially dependent on churches.In the area of governance, we have seen common themes as churches deal with the challenging times. Specifically, the issues of incorporation, tax-exempt, and state certification have come to light as troublesome or unaddressed. We have been blessed to see continued voluntary cooperation with one another while the autonomy of the local church has been ever present. Be encouraged that our churches want to get it right even when that seems impossible.In the area of giving, our worldview has shown to matter as much as ever. Our dependence on God as the ultimate provider has been tested and shown true in unique ways that I never expected. We have been reminded repeatedly that we serve a God of abundance not scarcity. Arkansas Baptists have been remarkably faithful and flexible in how we give.This has been an intense stretch of ministry requiring both time and energy but also a very emotional and trying period. In my previous career, I learned that people generally deal better with a known negative than an unknown. We have certainly had plenty of unknowns. As we move forward and our churches begin to welcome folks back to campus for gatherings, I am sure more unknowns await. However, I know God is there as the ultimate known to lead us forward.