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.
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.”