Great Commission Vision

One of the encouraging benefits of our Christian faith is understanding there is a better future that awaits the saints of God. Scripture gives us glimpse of what God’s people can anticipate when Jesus returns and consummates the Kingdom he began during his earthly ministry.  In what we call the Great Commission, Jesus told his disciples to go into all nations making disciples (Matt. 28:18-20).  It is our fundamental work as a church.  In Revelation 7:9-10, John portrays a vision of worship in heaven that helps us see what our faithfulness to the Great Commission will result in.  After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  What a beautiful picture is portrayed in these verses, and what a tremendous reminder that the gospel we share is for everyone.  Our mission as an association is to partner together for the gospel to reach the northland and the nations.  Whether we reach the nations globally or locally, may the work we do and the proclamation we share bring life transformation to all to hear – to glory of God.    – Dr. Gary Mathes

Who Are You Trusting?

In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church, he stated that he had been entrusted with the gospel (1 Thess. 2:4).  That is a huge responsibility and one that we as followers of Jesus have been given as well.  As such we should embrace it boldly and humbly.  Boldly we need to live out our calling, knowing who it is who has called us, and who has also equipped us to carry it out.  Humbly in that we must always guard against trusting in our own abilities accomplish it.  We live in the tension between being gifted and equipped by God but remembering we are broken and finite.  We must learn to be faithful stewards of the skills and abilities God has entrusted us with, and be faithful planters and irrigators, but wholly trust that it is God who causes the growth.  Paul learned to serve in a way that God received the glory.  He stated, “I planted, Apollos water, but God gave the growth.” (1 Cor. 3:6).  May we embrace the same lesson and carry out our part of the mission we have been entrusted with boldly and humbly, motivated by one desire – that God would receive all the glory!

Values – Relevant Communication

This week I complete a series of articles focusing on our values.  Previously we looked at the values of Meaningful Relationships,Purposeful PartnershipsKingdom Expansion, Healthy Leadership, Congregational Support, and Faithful Stewardship The seventh value we embrace is that of Relevant Communication.  We value sharing relevant information in relevant and effective ways to help churches be informed of important issues, partnership opportunities and significant events. One of the principles and practices I have learned is that it takes multiple messages on multiple mediums to communicate effectively.  As one mentor put it, “Just about the time you are weary of saying the same thing over and over, your people are just now getting it.”  As an association we utilize our website, social media and other platforms to make churches and leaders aware of things that are relevant to ministry and foster greater cooperation among our network of congregations. Good communication is a vital part of effectively informing people and motivating them to take action.  We value and therefore strive to share with our churches and leaders information that is pertinent and useful to better serve you and help us collectively carry out our mission – to partner together for the gospel to reach the northland and the nations.  – Dr. Gary Mathes

Values – Faithful Stewardship

This week I continue a series of articles focusing on our values.  So far we looked at the value of Meaningful Relationships,Purposeful PartnershipsKingdom Expansion, Healthy Leadership, and Congregational Support.  The sixth value we embrace is that of Faithful Stewardship. For churches to do ministry well it takes a variety of resources to be successful including financial, informational, educational, leadership, organization, administrative, etc.  Therefore, we value providing and sharing resources in a trustworthy manner that help churches and leaders better accomplish their work, as well as for collaborative ministry efforts.  We value networking among churches, denominational entities and other sources to procure and link resources with opportunities.  As an association of churches, we are able to network and cooperatively share our resources in order to more effectively carry our mutual mission. Paul captured this sentiment as he thanked the church at Philippi for sharing in his ministry, and as a result he was “amply supplied” (Phil. 4:10-20).  We are grateful for the gifts our churches send to the CPBA office so that we can fulfill the mission of equipping leaders, empowering churches, engaging partnerships ministry and expanding the kingdom.  We strive to be faithful stewards and exemplify integrity and wisdom in what we receive.  Thank you for your trust and partnership! – Dr. Gary Mathes

Values – Congregational Support

This week I continue a series of articles focusing on our values.  So far we looked at the value of Meaningful Relationships, Purposeful PartnershipsKingdom Expansion, and Healthy Leadership.  The fifth value we embrace is that of Congregational Support.  We value churches working together to assist one another toward health and vibrancy.  Therefore, we believe we can strengthen and encourage struggling congregations through coaching, consultation and through revitalization and replanting efforts.  We are facing a time when most churches are challenged to keep up with the population growth happening in our nation and our cities.  Many churches are in a pattern of merely maintaining their attendance and even more are in decline. There are a variety of factors that contribute to this including mission drift, inward focus, resistance to change, cultural shifts, conflict, lack of vision, etc.  When a church struggles it is important to identify the current realities they are facing, and then begin the work of envisioning a better future and executing a well thought out biblical strategy. As an Association we stand prepared to assist our congregations with resources and revitalization processes that can help strengthen and support our churches. As we seek to successfully advance the gospel we can find encouragement that we share in this mission together and can lean on one another in the work we do for the glory of God. – Dr. Gary Mathes

Values – Healthy Leadership

I continue a series of articles focusing on our values.  So far we looked at the value of Meaningful Relationships,Purposeful Partnerships and Kingdom Expansion.  The fourth value we embrace is that of Healthy Leadership.  We believe healthy leaders are best able to lead healthy churches.  Therefore, we value providing and engaging in training experiences such as conferences, cohorts and coaching for information and inspiration that results in improved leadership. Leadership development is an important and necessary aspect of building and maintaining a vital ministry.  Every leader must be committed to being a learner and this is best done in the context of peer relationships.  The Bible speaks of iron sharpening iron.  We must embrace the same focus that Paul demonstrated when he encouraged Timothy, his son in the faith, to invest the things he had learned from him to reliable men who would be able to tech others also (2 Tim. 2:2). Becoming a better leader not only includes investing and increasing one’s own knowledge and skills, but also multiplying your leadership by discovering, developing and deploying other leaders.  As an association we are committed to investing in current and future leaders who willingly and skillfully love, lead, feed and protect the congregations they serve here in the northland and beyond, for the glory of God. – Dr. Gary Mathes

Values – Kingdom Expansion

This week I continue a series of articles focusing on our values.  So far we looked at the value of Meaningful Relationships and Purposeful Partnerships.  The third value we embrace is that of Kingdom Expansion.  We value being healthy churches that intentionally partner together to proclaim the gospel and strategically fulfill the Great Commission.  We believe Jesus calls us to make disciples, develop leaders, and send forth church planters and missionaries both as individual congregations and in collaboration with one another.  When associations were formed 300 years ago in America, it was primarily for the purpose of planting churches as the country moved westward.  While denominational life has expanded to a state and national level the value of church planting as an association remains a central objective.  As the population of our two counties grow, we must grow and expand the kingdom of God through greater church vitality and church planting.  As in all of nature, healthy organism grow and reproduce and this principle applies for churches as well. It has been very enjoyable to see new churches come into existence this past year and even as recent as a month ago. Jesus said he is building his church and even the gates of Hades will not stop its advancement, not even Covid-19 can prevent God’s kingdom from expanding.  Our work is not done, and I look forward to collaborating with you as we move onward proclaiming the gospel and making an eternal difference here in the northland and beyond.  – Dr. Gary Mathes

Values – Purposeful Partnerships

Last week I began a series of articles focusing on our values.  We first looked at the value of Meaningful Relationships which is the foundation of the second value – Purposeful Partnerships.  If our mission is to be a network of churches partnering for the gospel to reach the northland and the nations, then partnership is the key ingredient of accomplishing that mission.  Therefore, we value cooperative efforts among churches to accomplish common mission objectives.  We believe that by working together we can more effectively expand the kingdom of God through joint ministry and mission endeavors. Indeed, we can accomplish more together than we can alone. The blessing and benefit of an association is that it provides the natural network to foster common bonds and shared mission goals.  Out of these partnerships are forged leading to synergistic ministry activities such as joint evangelistic events, youth discipleship weekends, disaster relief efforts, leadership training, church planting and more. I am thankful for the collaborative spirit that exist in our association and look forward to seeing that grow and expand in the days ahead through purposeful partnerships. – Dr. Gary Mathes

Values – Meaningful Relationships

Over the next number of weeks, I am going to be sharing about the values that we hold to as an association.  Mission tells us what we do, values answers why and what is essential to make our mission successful.  The first value we hold as important to what we do is Meaningful Relationships.  We value relationships between churches and their leaders in order to foster a greater sense of community in the region that we live and seek to reach with the gospel.  We believe our common faith, shared doctrine, and united allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ enable us to form a mutual bond of love and honor and provide synergy in our shared mission. “There is one body, one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope at your calling – one Lord, one faith, one baptism one God and father of all who is above all and through all and in all.”(Eph 4:4-6)  As we partner together to reach the northland and the nations with the gospel, the bond that links our collective effort is relationships.  First with Christ by faith and then with one another by love.  The mission we share is too big for any one church to accomplish, but when we pray for, work with, and encourage “one another,” we build a powerful fellowship that God can do great things through. We are better together, and it best accomplished when we intentionally build Meaningful Relationships. – Dr. Gary Mathes

Association – Expanding the Kingdom

This week is the fourth of four articles on the mission we share as an association which is: to be a network of churches who partner together for the gospel to reach the northland and the nations.  We accomplish this by pursuing four objectives: Equipping Leaders, Empowering Churches, Engaging Partnerships and fourth – Expanding the Kingdom.  One of the primary purposes of the CPBA is to work with local churches and denominational partners to plant new churches in our growing community. We do so by strategizing where and how we can effectively plant churches and then supporting the plants that are launched.  As our two counties continue to grow in population it is imperative that we be intentional in our efforts to reach those God’s brings into our sphere of influence.  This past year we saw two church plants launch in the midst of a pandemic and this year we will see even more.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to partner with what God is doing in our area and the ability to do so as an association of churches.  Thank you for your prayers and support as we work side by side in advancing the gospel together in Clay and Platte counties.  – Dr. Gary Mathes