Finding Our Place, Claiming Our Heritage

By Mark A. Taylor

Talk to Mike Baker and you’ll discover a guy who’s serious about his work while not taking himself too seriously at all.

Mike Baker
Mike Baker

In fact, in our latest episode of Beyond the Standard, Baker used the word unfortunate to describe the “celebrity culture” in today’s church climate.

“There are a lot of great preachers and leaders in churches of 150 and 200 who in their part of the world are really doing great things for God and for his kingdom,” he said. “But they’re just not ever going to get the accolades” that often come to leaders of megachurches.

Baker knows this because he’s met many of them in his current role, serving as president of the North American Christian Convention. He spoke of a church in Rushylvania, Ohio, a place he couldn’t find by depending on his GPS alone. “They’re doing some really cool stuff—young families, dynamic preacher.” In a town of under 500, the church is averaging 250—a significant impact.

“If this is multiplied thousands of times throughout our movement, what a great thing God is still doing among us.”

Baker, pastor with Eastview Christian Church, Normal, Illinois, is high on the Christian churches and churches of Christ. And his enthusiasm is reflected in his vision for this summer’s NACC, June 23-26 in Cincinnati.

He believes the annual NACC is “the one gathering every year where Christian churches and churches of Christ gather to celebrate their heritage and what God has done” among them.

He sees many people leaving mainline churches and coming to “nondenominational churches,” many of which have roots in the Christian churches and churches of Christ. “We have some of the best leaders and preachers in the church worldwide,” he said. “I’d like more people to embrace what God has done. It’s his work. It’s not because we’ve got everything figured out and we have everything right.

“Every person has to line up somewhere in terms of their spiritual heritage,” he said. “If you don’t have a tribe to associate with, sooner or later ministry is going to be very lonely.”

He spoke often of our heritage and the value of claiming it and staying connected to it. “If Christian churches lose touch with their historic past, sooner or later, they’ll belong to nothing.”

Details about the dynamic program Baker will lead this summer are available at the NACC website or at this website. Every church leader, every active member of a Christian church or church of Christ, will find there the promise of inspiration and instruction to encourage Christian living and enable effective ministry.

But the program’s content is only a part of the reason to attend. “Come every year just to associate with people who are like-minded,” Baker told me. “There’s value in that.”

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. April 14, 2015 at 6:51 am

    “Baker used the word unfortunate to describe the ‘celebrity culture’ in today’s church climate.”

    Amen.

    An entertainer or athlete gets saved, & every church stampedes to get him into their pulpits.

    We think Christian movies & CCM are going to reach the world for Jesus . . . but Jesus said making disciples would reach the world for Jesus.

    So often these Christian celebs disappoint doctrinally & especially morally, but we never seem to learn our lesson.

    Thank you for your Facebook posts, CS!

  2. April 15, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    The affections of the president – who measured every word in that interview concerning our heritage – is hard to accept when in the same interview he admitted that his own congregation was largely unaware of the Restoration Movement until he became involved in the leadership of its national convention. In any event, false doctrine is not erased by sincerity nor by invoking the names of historical leaders (especially when those leaders would object strenuously to what this president has done). As someone pointed out to me recently, how can an invitation to a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches be taken seriously when the person extending the invitation knows you are allergic to peanuts. It would be hard not to question the motives of the one extending the invite.

    No one has anything against large churches. They should be celebrated. This is not an issue of church size. It is an issue of false doctrine – which mega churches (for some reason) seem more susceptible to capitulating to. But there are plenty of small churches with the same issues, and plenty of theologically sound mega churches. But, currently, the philosophy being promoted seems to be coming from a group that is exclusively mega church leaders. Size of church notwithstanding, there is zero reason for these leaders to festoon false doctrine at our national convention.

  3. April 21, 2015 at 6:06 am

    I’m sure that the issues don’t lie with large churches “per se” but with human nature…

    Consider the following challenges:

    In large churches, you are no longer a member of a church family but a church organization with hierarchy, a lack of trust (e.g. a need for “extensive” security around children’s church) and the impersonal feel that this must engender.

    The larger the church, the more our human egos play a part (e.g. look at the May Christian Standard and the talk of “competition” between pastors, and the desire to be on the CS list), like Babel we start to marvel at “our” creations (again in the May CS we are marveling at the wonder of the new large church facilities), Preachers start to believe that the growth of the church is because of “them” and pursue less and less “contentious” teachings in order to maintain growth and “keep the church together”. The love of power, influence, money and the latest TV/radio slot increasingly become factors.

    I could go on, but I do see many behaviors that have parallels in secular society and business. The church is one place that we should not be emulating the worst of secular society.

    Are these “necessary” outcomes of a large church? Given our sinful nature, it would be hard to say an absolute no. No doubt, you are better placed to judge than I am.

    In the final analysis, I would have much more respect for a preacher and church elders who chose, with the church, to split and plant, rather than grow to become a mega church, with all of its human trappings.

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