It Takes All of Us

On August 14, 1983, I gave my life to Jesus and began my Christian walk.

Though at the time I did not know the difference between a Methodist and a Baptist, I experienced God’s love expressed through the ministry of Mountain View Southern Baptist Church in Lafayette, Colorado. That was almost 41 years ago but the lessons I learned in that small congregation have stayed with me throughout my life and ministry.

So, what did I learn in those formative years as a young Christ follower? I learned the power of what working together can accomplish for God’s Kingdom. It started with a desire to see others experience what I had experienced in God’s saving grace. I wanted others to know the forgiveness I had come to know through my new relationship with Jesus Christ. 

It was not long after I was saved that several of the young men in our church (there were six of us) had a vision for reaching our community for Christ. Yet, we did not know how to connect with people. One of these men suggested that we could borrow the revival tent which the state convention owned at the time and pitch it up on Thanksgiving Day. This way we could invite people to come for a meal, find out their current needs and begin to meet those needs. We thought this connection would give us the opportunity to share what Christ had done for us.  But saying you want to feed people on Thanksgiving Day is one thing, making it happen is quite another.

Yet, the people of this small congregation enthusiastically embraced this vision and committed to help. Of the one hundred people we averaged in worship, we had nearly eighty people participate. Some cooked and brought food to the church. Some did set up and tear down. Some sang and performed on the stage we set up inside the tent. Some helped with advertising. And others gave up part of their Thanksgiving Day just to connect with the people who attend. All in all, we fed nearly 150 people at this event which started a ministry to help people in need.  Over the next few years as we followed up, served the hurting, and sought to become the hands and feet of Jesus in our town, we saw new spiritual birth take place. But this was not the work of just six young men, it took all of us.

Over the next few years as we followed up, served the hurting, and sought to become the hands and feet of Jesus in our town, we saw new spiritual birth take place. But this was not the work of just six young men, it took all of us.

As I grew in my walk with Jesus and felt a calling into ministry, my pastor Bill Archer made it his mission to broaden my horizons related to the work of Southern Baptists. He invited me to attend associational meetings. He took me with him to state convention meetings. He promoted Annie, Lottie, and Nicy. But rather than just talking about the ladies named for these offerings, he communicated what these offerings did. And he always made sure to talk about the lives of people who were touched because tens of thousands of churches like ours gave. And this broadened my understanding that Gospel impact is not just about what one church can do, but how much more we could do together.

As I surrendered to the Lord’s call and began my preparation for vocational ministry the journey took us away from our home church. We moved to Kansas City, Missouri to begin seminary. I still remember my first chapel service. The room was full of seminary students and professors. The worship was vibrant as hundreds of voices united together to praise our Lord. I later discovered that these students were from all across the country and many of them had a story similar to mine. They moved their families to follow the Lord’s leading into ministry and they were able to attend seminary because many Southern Baptists gave to make that a reality. People from thousands of churches, people I did not know, were making an investment in me. I still remember how overwhelming that thought was. Why would people who did not know me invest in me? Because they believed in the next generation of church leaders and understood it takes all of us.

It was in seminary I was exposed to entity leaders, missionaries, military chaplains, and other Christian leaders who explained the work they were doing and how that work was made possible because Southern Baptists worked together. And it was not just about money. It was about individuals and families who responded to God’s call, coming out of churches like mine, who went overseas or across the country or across town to be a part of sharing the Gospel with others. It made me proud to be a part of such a large family willing to work together for the Gospel.

In the three churches I had the privilege of serving as senior pastor, I sought to communicate the value of working together. I was a product of this kind of cooperation. I was impacted personally by this cooperation. And I wanted to keep this vision of working together for the sake of the Gospel alive in each church I served. It was during my time as a senior pastor I got my first chance to visit the international mission field. While we had missionaries visit our churches and share what the Lord had done in their areas, going to the field was a different experience all together. I got to see firsthand how our network of churches supported people who were sharing the Gospel in exceedingly difficult settings. I witnessed the investment our churches were making in reaching lost people they would never see this side of heaven. And I got to hear to testimonies of people whose lives were impacted for Jesus because of this partnership. All these experiences became a burning conviction, not just that we should work together, but that we must work together!

People who may or not know those they are serving, invest in others for the sake of the Gospel, because they know it takes all of us to make a difference.

I believe this conviction is what the Lord birthed in me as He adjusted my call from the local church to working with multiple churches.  Through the ministries of the local association to this state convention I have seen the importance of partnership play out on an even greater scale. I have had the incredible privilege of watching pastors awaken to the needs of the international mission field by journeying with them on mission trips. I have seen struggling churches supported by their sister churches in their area and true partnerships develop. I have witnessed hopelessness about the future reversed as churches once dead have been revitalized. I have met people who have been born-again because they were reached by mission teams traveling to our state. People who may or not know those they are serving, invest in others for the sake of the Gospel, because they know it takes all of us to make a difference.

This is why I am excited to be a Southern Baptist. Not because we are a perfect people, because we certainly are not.  Not because we always agree on everything, because we certainly have not! But though the struggles and failures we have experienced as Southern Baptists over my 41 years, we have ultimately come back to this one truth, “We can reach more people for Christ by working together than we can by working alone!”

I am grateful to be Southern Baptist because we have historically understood the value of partnership. Though we have had our differences over the years we have always come back to the Gospel. Historically we have asked, “How can we reach more people with the Gospel?” And our response time and time again has been partnership. Though there are other Bible believing networks of churches, none of them have the longevity of partnership at the level of Southern Baptists. Let us not forget what is supremely important. There are other people who are just like you and I before we met Christ. They need to be reached. They need to know the Savior loves them. And to reach them it will take all of us!

Dr. Mike Proud serves as the executive director of Colorado Baptists.