I was just thinking — our BMA of Arkansas is 70 years old. Many who cast the vision, blazed the trail and set the examples for us have already received their heavenly promotions. In each instance, someone came behind them, took up the mantles of leadership, dedication, and fervor. Why? Because they caught the vision!
The Bible informs us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” (Prov. 29:18). The phrase “no vision” in the Hebrew means, “no redeeming revelation.” I believe our trailblazing predecessors had a redeeming vision from the Holy Spirit that a united effort by churches coming together to carry out the Great Commission was a good thing.
The term “perish” in Hebrew has several synonyms. It can mean to loosen. It referred to a woman’s headband being loosened by the wind, resulting in her hair being blown one way and then another. It also meant that something was “set at nought.” In other words, it was useless.
Because our trailblazing leaders did, indeed, have a vision, we today need to keep it going. What has been set in order to enable the funding of the ministry of missions, Christian education, youth ministry, and newsworthy information needs to continue.
Paul expressed this: “But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly manner” (I Cor. 14:40.) There is a reason why the BMA of Arkansas convenes each November — it is to ensure that the united effort of the association is done in a fitting and orderly way.
No matter the size of the congregations represented at each meeting, every church has the privilege of sending three messengers to cast votes as representatives of their local church. This presents a fair and equitable means for each church to have a voice in the ministries of the association.
However, in recent years the annual sessions of the BMA of Arkansas revealed a steady decline in attendance and representation of the churches by messengers. Additionally, the number of churches reporting by letter only has declined.
How does that affect the association? It means that the major decisions for the present and the future are being determined by a minority instead of the majority of the churches. This can result in some being critical of the decisions being made, missions being started, the college being funded and the circulation of the paper being diminished.
The lack of common vision causes the association to be loosened and, if we are not careful, the ministries may be blown here and there. There is also the possibility that if we lose our vision, the association may be rendered useless. I pray that never occurs!
Now, I don’t believe this is the intent of our churches when they don’t send messengers, but the possibility of such happening is very real.
Pastors and churches, we have a work to do! I realize that some churches have grown and have their own missions, evangelistic ministries, and other outreach ministries. To a degree, it is understandable that they don’t need the association. Possibly that is true. But the association certainly needs them — now as never before!
What I have mentioned to this point has to do with physical participation Still, there is another tremendous reason for the BMA of Arkansas: financial participation.
We have four entities that are owned and financed by the association of churches: Central Baptist College (Christian education), BMA of Arkansas Missions (church planting), State Youth Department (discipleship) and the Baptist Trumpet (publications). Each is different in scope, but each is important in ministry.
Some churches designate a percentage of their General Fund offerings to support some or all these ministries. Other churches designate a fixed amount each month. And sadly, some churches do not support these ministries at all.
There are approximately 300 churches comprising the association. If every church (no matter its size) gave $25 per month to each of the four ministries, it would total $7,500 per month or $90,000 per year for each entity. Combined support for the four entities would be $30,000 per month or $360,000 per year. Now, that is just at $25 per month! Imagine how much more we could do as an association if some churches gave more according to their ability!
Some may say, “That’s a lot of money.” Yes, it is. But years ago, some churches gathered and cast a vision. That was to see churches planted across the state, young men and women receiving a quality education in a Christian environment, the youth of our churches getting Biblical instruction and Christian fellowship, and a weekly paper that would keep the news of the ministries before the people comprising those churches and the BMA or Arkansas
I want to be an encourager, not a naysayer. I want to see a vibrant association of churches, not one loosened and blown in different directions. That, my friends, would render our ministries useless.
Pastors and churches, please pray for the work of the BMA of Arkansas! Please pray for our leaders of the ministries our association supports. And please, pray that the church to which you belong would be faithful in physical and financial participation. The BMA of Arkansas needs you!