The Value of a Network
By Andrew Bailey | Jun 8, 2022
In the last issue, David Johnson wrote about the power of networks in our world today. When you spend time reflecting on how much networks contribute to our communities, our culture, and even our churches, it becomes clear that it’s not a question of IF you are part of one, but rather what kind.
For me personally, as a pastor of Cross Church, I am part of many networks.
To start, our church format is in itself a network, because we are one church with multiple campuses that share general resources across various locations. These resources are then modified to fit specific communities, allowing us to accomplish a shared mission.
We are also a part of Thrive Network, which is a regional association of churches that aims to support and grow healthy leaders.
Alongside those, we participate with Church Boom, which is a national pastor coaching network that is made up of partnering churches.
My campus has also just wrapped up our five-year period of receiving church planting support from the North American Mission Board’s Send Network.
Lastly, we are part of the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network as well as the larger Southern Baptist Convention.
At times I feel overwhelmed by the number of networks available to pastors and churches today. I listed a few of the networks I work with, but there are numerous others.
So, how do you determine with whom to network?
Well, like anything else in my life, I examine it through a cost analysis that determines what value is being brought to the table. From a church perspective, what networks are helping us fulfill the Great Commission? What networks are adding value to us as churches and pastors? What networks allow us not just to receive but participate in giving back to increase the kingdom?
My church and I have found great value in being a part of the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network, and this is why.
When it comes to Southern Baptists, we have a strong doctrine that is affirmed by all participating churches. All SBC churches are united by the Baptist Faith and Message, Southern Baptists’ official statement of faith.
When I talk with other pastors in our tribe, those conversations can instantly move to methods rather than mission/theology. We operate within the same theological guardrails and define wins with the same goals.
This is also beneficial when members move away from my church. I can rest easy as I point to another SBC church for them to check out, knowing they will be exposed to proper doctrine.
The campus location where I pastor has benefited greatly from the financial structure of the SBC. We not only give, but we’ve been blessed to receive.
As a church plant and small church, it could be hard, if not impossible, to fund international missions, support other church plants, help with disaster relief and fund numerous other ministries by ourselves.
However, because of Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program, we can celebrate with our church family that we contribute to a larger network that is funding all of those needs in our world. We can proudly say we are a part of the work of IMB, Send Relief, NAMB’s Send Network, Arizona Baptist Children’s Services and more, because we have financial buy-in.
We have also been blessed to receive a special grant that contributed to the initial funding of our community garden, and we only had that opportunity because of our partnership with the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network.
The missional aspect of the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network is the greatest value I see as a pastor for our church.
Over the past few years, Cross Church has partnered with Send Network and other local churches to create a residency/leadership pipeline for developing people inside our church.
In the SBC, we have all the avenues to plug our people into missionally serving in and beyond our communities. If someone is being called overseas to the mission field, we plug them into the IMB.
If someone feels called to church planting, we partner with NAMB. If someone feels called to ministry, we direct them to our seminaries. And, if someone wants to foster and/or adopt, we reach out to ABCS.
The bottom line is that the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network allows our church to have the autonomy to meet the needs of our community while cooperating with other churches to be on mission around the world.
Andrew Bailey is pastor of Cross Church in Phoenix.
- Take note of the networks you are involved with and what value it has in fulfilling the Great Commission.
- Reach out to a facilitator with the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network to see how your church can give and receive greater value in being on mission.