This week I met with a large independent church that is seeking to affiliate with our network of more than 450 churches in Washington, Oregon and northern Idaho. This church numbers around 1,000 in the Sunday services. They are reaching young adults from Portland’s urban core. And they way that are reaching young people is counter to how many think you reach young adults these days. The sermons are long and meaty. When I attended the message was 55 minutes long. The singing was warm and engaged the congregation. There was no fancy “light show.” There was nothing really “slick” about it. Just straight-from-the-heart preaching and singing and praying. I asked a couple beside my wife and I what drew them to the church and they said it was the quality of the Bible teaching as well as the testimony of changed lives.
I tell you this partly because this church, though large and growing, has come to understand that they need the fellowship and support of a network of churches like ours. They want to start other churches, but they understand they need help doing so. They don’t have a good way to send international missionaries either. When I shared with them that this year alone we have started new churches that speak Bhutanese, Romanian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Spanish, Korean and English, they were amazed! We have at least 122 churches in our network that speak a language other than English, and they were flabbergasted by that.
This church is one of two with whom I will meet this week that is seeking to affiliate with us. When I share with them the genius of the Cooperative Program (CP) method of funding missions and evangelism they seem to understand very quickly what makes Northwest Southern Baptists different from independent churches.
A couple of months ago I included a document on this blog that I use when I meet with such churches. Below you will find an updated version of that article. Feel free to share it with anyone interested in knowing more about the unique partnership we enjoy in the NWBC. And if you are already a part of an NWBC church, please don’t take the CP for granted. Consider how you and your church can support mission by giving through the CP.
A Brief Description of the NWBC
The Northwest Baptist Convention (NWBC) is a network of over 450 churches in Oregon, Washington and Northern Idaho which voluntarily cooperate to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. We believe that working together provides increased opportunity for kingdom impact. Our churches represent dozens of languages and ethnic groups, with about 130 worshipping in a language other than English. Baptist churches are autonomous, and we have no creed, but the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 describes the beliefs of Baptists regarding the major issues of the faith. The NWBC is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, and thus we benefit from all that the 46,000 SBC churches are able to do together. The following information demonstrates some of the ways that our churches partner together.
Church planting in the Northwest. Together we facilitate over 20 new church starts every year. We do this in partnership with the North American Mission Board (NAMB). These new churches receive training, mentoring, encouragement and funding. In 2014 we started our first Bhutanese church in the Northwest. We are currently working to start our first Native American churches in Washington. In the past couple of years we have started churches that worship in African languages, Romanian, Japanese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Bhutanese, Filipino, Russian and English, among others. 76 percent of the churches started between 2004 and 2013 are still functioning and affiliated with the NWBC.
2. Pastor/leader training and encouragement. Pastor clusters, retreats, conferences, and individual consultations are some ways this is accomplished. We also have a partnership with Golden Gate Seminary to provide Contextualized Leadership Development training, which is designed for pastors and other leaders who do not have a seminary or Bible degree.
3. East Asia missions partnership. The NWBC has established a partnership with missionaries who focus on unreached people groups in East Asia. NWBC churches have the opportunity to work with overseas personnel that are placed through the International Mission Board (IMB). East Asia 1-Day trainings will be conducted at 9 locations throughout the Northwest from Oct. 9-19. These all-day events will be led by 11 East Asia IMB missionaries who are travelling from Asia specifically for the purpose of meeting with our churches. Additional information can be found on our website at www.nwbaptist.org.
4. NWBC churches partner with, and support, over 4,800 IMB missionaries. Approved members of our churches can be trained, sent, and supported as missionaries through the IMB.
5. Disaster Relief. The NWBC has over 600 trained D.R. workers who are members of our churches. They respond to disasters across the nation and around the world. The Oso mudslide, the fires near Twisp, WA, and a deadly school shooting near Portland, OR are just some of the disasters to which our teams have responded this year.
6. The NWBC provides My316 evangelism and new believer resources to all affiliated churches. These resources are printed in English and Spanish, and are currently being printed in Korean.
7. NWBC churches partner with six Southern Baptist seminaries, each of which is fully accredited, and whose total enrollment exceeds 16,000 students. Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s Pacific Northwest Campus is located in Vancouver, WA and is housed in our NWBC headquarters. Members of NWBC churches enjoy greatly reduced tuition at all six seminaries. For more information the Pacific Northwest Campus, call 360-882-2200, email email@example.com, or go to http://www.ggbts.edu/campus/pnwc/.
8. Collegiate Ministry, Youth and Children’s Ministry, and Senior Adult Ministry are each a part of the work of the NWBC. Retreats, training and conferences focus on these various age-groups.
9. The Northwest Baptist Witness is the primary communication arm of the NWBC. In 2014 it is printed quarterly and mailed to every member of an NWBC church, without charge. In 2015 it will be printed bi-monthly. It can also be accessed on the web at www.gonbw.org.
10. The Northwest Baptist Foundation (NWBF) is an affiliate of the NWBC and provides loans to our churches for construction projects. Many people have invested a portion of their estate in kingdom causes through the NWBF, benefitting mission causes in the Northwest and around the world. Currently the NWBF has about $40 million invested. Again, this demonstrates the commitment of our people to support the Great Commission work that we do together.
11. In addition to cooperating with the NWBC, many churches are involved in local Baptist associations, working together at the local level to advance the Kingdom.
NWBC churches cooperate together in some of the following ways:
The average giving from NWBC churches through the cooperative program budget of the NWBC about 7% of their budget receipts. Some give more, some give less. NWBC churches are completely autonomous and each determines what they give. The strong level of giving by our churches is evidence of their commitment to work together, believing greater kingdom impact will result.
Three major mission offerings also support the work of the NWBC, IMB and NAMB. Churches generally receive these offerings three times a year, but each church determines how they support the mission work of the NWBC and the larger SBC. For example, some receive one mission offering throughout the year and divide this between the three entities.
Attending the Annual Meeting of the NWBC during the second Tuesday-Wednesday of November. Each NWBC church is able to send messengers to the annual convention, at which we enjoy wonderful fellowship and worship, hear inspiring reports of the work that we do together, adopt our cooperative missions budget, among many other things.
Annual Church Profile. NWBC churches are encouraged to report attendance information, baptism statistics, etc. each year as a means to track our Great Commission progress.
Executive Director-Treasurer, Northwest Baptist Convention