Adapting Ministry to the Community

By Wayne Stapleton
VP of Cross-Cultural Engagement & Emerging Leader Engagement

Change in the church can be challenging and is often resisted. But change we must if we are to be faithful to the Great Commission over time. Change for the sake of change alone is not the goal, but ministry must be applicable to the community in which it exists to represent Christ in a meaningful way to the neighborhood. One way or another, change has been a kind of theme at LifeWay Community Church in Lansing, Michigan, for over one hundred years.

The church now known as LifeWay Community was founded from two home Bible studies of German-speaking people. Calling themselves the Baptist German American Mission, they came together during the first World War to be a cultural refuge, as it was difficult to be German in America during this time. Pastors were sent from the Detroit area to lead worship a couple times per month, and as a show of support from an NAB sister church, about twenty-five people relocated there from Bethel Baptist Church in St. Clair Shores, about one-hundred miles away, to help grow the church. In 1922, the church legally incorporated with sixty-three members and was renamed The First German American Baptist Church.

During this time, the services had both English and German elements. Since the church had been a refuge for German Americans, changes to reach new people were occasionally hard to agree upon. But the German language in church services was fading away in NAB churches. The decision to drop German from the services was met with a lot of passion, and some attenders left the church as a result. [. . .] With the housing crisis and recession of 2008, younger families moved out and retiring Baby Boomers moved in, leading church leadership to change church programming and ministry focus. They also felt the need to change their name. . . .

Calling All Triennial Delegates!

Each Triennial, every church and association-approved church plant are eligible to send delegates to attend and vote during the Triennial Business Meeting. Every NAB pastor is automatically a delegate, but churches are also allowed to send additional delegates – 1 person for every 50 members (or fraction thereof).

Every NAB church has already been sent a letter by the moderator of the NAB Governing Board, Dana Goodnough, with instructions for registering delegates. (You can read the letter here.)

If you have already been in communication with your church about serving as a delegate, please register at the link below if you have not already. (You will also need to register for Triennial as well.) If you are interested in serving as a delegate, contact your pastor to see if you can fill that need.

The deadline to register as a Triennial Delegate is June 1.

Even if you aren’t planning to be a delegate, we still want you at Triennial 2024, July 11–14, 2024. There are only 7 weeks until we all gather together in St. Paul, Minnesota, for fellowship, worship, instruction, and connection. Don’t delay; register today!

In early May, the southernmost state of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul, received four months’ worth of rain in just four days, causing the worst flood in the state’s history – killing over 100 people and displacing over 230,000. Entire cities and neighborhoods have been submerged under several feet of water.

In response to this catastrophe, the NAB has set up a special relief fund to help those who have been displaced by these floodwaters. All funds given will be funneled by NAB missionaries Lyndell Campbell-Réquia and Brandon & Marci Jones toward the churches and other organizations who are caring for those in need. Since the first call for funds went out on May 6, more than $38,000 has been donated to these efforts.

Even as other organizations begin to step in the gap to support the ongoing needs of those who have been displaced, these funds will prove to be crucial in helping many get back on their feet in the weeks and months to come as clean-up efforts start overtaking the immediate needs of food and shelter.

Thank you for giving. Please continue to keep the nation of Brazil and its people in your prayers.

You can click on the links below to give. You can also click on the image above to find the most recent updates from Lyndell, including photos.

We are planning a cohort uniquely designed to reach emerging leaders, those twenty- and thirty-something women and men who are active leaders of our churches and who will continue to serve NAB churches for the decades to come.

This cohort will entail three, three-month modules, each reflecting the three modules in Blue Ocean. The goal of this experience is to develop and enrich the relationships of our emerging leaders, to provide instruction and conversation about the movement of God in the world and how we participate, and to deepen the preparation of our emerging leaders for the future of the NAB.

If you are interested in this new cohort, or know of someone who would be a great candidate, we are currently accepting applications through May 31, 2024.