A Network on the Move

By Don Vickers | Jul 13, 2022

Don Vickers (left) leads a Yuma Association meeting named “Reimagine” as Jose Esparza, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Fe y Esperanza in Yuma translates.

What is your next step?

That question, in 2021, led the Yuma Southern Baptist Association to participate with Denominee Future Journey. Denominee works with state conventions and associations to help clarify purpose and strategy.

The process began by discussing YSBA’s history, focusing on what was important in past decades — working together, communicating denominational information and equipping churches to utilize Sunday School and church training resources.

The question then became what the association would be like if it were created by our churches today.

YSBA is made up of significantly diverse churches. Some speak English, others Spanish, some have services in both languages. Some are contemporary in worship, others traditional. Some utilize small groups, others have Sunday School.

Even churches with similar styles have distinctive ways they approach ministry that make each one unique.

Leaders from churches in Yuma Association work on a puzzle activity intended to demonstrate how churches can help one another in taking their Next Steps.

It was clear the association could not continue to do things as before and adequately serve the churches in it. What unites us is not culture, worship or programs, but the Great Commission.

Every church should be Gospel-centered, and as each works to fulfill the Great Commission, the association today can help each church think through what their Next Step is and identify the issues that are keeping them from moving forward.

Once the issues are identified, the church can utilize the strengths of the association and other Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network churches to help address those issues, thus accelerating forward movement.

In January, YSBA held a unique meeting dubbed Reimagine. Both pastors and church leaders were invited.

During the time together, we asked church leaders to list areas and skills in which their church and pastor excelled. This helped identify the available resources that God has brought to our region.

We also asked the churches to identify their Next Step in fulfilling the Great Commission as well as what they needed to take that Next Step.

Saul Solis, from Templo Bautista, shared their Next Step was to begin small groups in their church, but he said they needed training in how to do it.

Saul Solis (left), pastor of Iglesia Templo Bautista in Yuma, finds help to begin small groups in his church from Josue Castro, pastor of Tierra Fertil in Yuma and Hispanic ministries facilitator with the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network.

During the meeting, someone from Tierra Fertil shared they were launching small groups in their church that coming week. They also shared their pastor, Josue Castro, was gifted in finding strategies to help churches grow. By evening’s end, Castro and Solis had set a meeting to discuss how best to move Templo Bautista forward with their Next Step.

Immanuel Southern Baptist Church recently completed the ReFocus process with Keith Durham, Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network church health facilitator.

Immanuel Pastor David Lindgens shared their Next Step was to secure member commitments by clearly sharing their mission, vision, values and strategy with the congregation. He focused the first months of 2022 on engaging his members and communicating the direction in which Immanuel is moving.

The idea of having Next Step conversations with churches and helping to connect their needs with a church that may be able to help them is exciting to our churches. Whether a church is taking their Next Step or helping another church to take their Next Step, we are helping each other better fulfill the Great Commission in our region.

As YSBA continues with the Denominee Future Journey, the goal is to identify a strategy to do this work together effectively. We are looking toward a time when there are continuous conversations around helping churches answer, “What is your Next Step?”

We look forward to sharing our God-given resources and talents so each church can fulfill the Great Commission in their own unique way.

This is happening not only in Yuma. Across Arizona, associational mission strategists and Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network staff are having conversations to help churches discover and take their Next Step.

In March, all of the associational mission strategists and state staff met to talk about how we could work together to serve churches with a Next Step process. It was exciting to see everyone engaged and participating in the conversation.

We are proud to be a part of the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network that is committed to serving churches. It is great to see churches identifying their Next Step in fulfilling the Great Commission. It is exciting to see churches across Arizona willing to share their resources so that another church can more quickly take their Next Step in fulfilling the Great Commission.

What is your Next Step?

Next Steps

  • Pray through what your church needs to do better to fulfill the Great Commission.
  • Work with your associational mission strategist or a facilitator with the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network to clarify issues and discover resources to accelerate taking your Next Step.
  • Consider ways your church could help another church take its Next Step.

Don Vickers is the associational mission strategist in Yuma Southern Baptist Association.

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