Why? That is always a good question. Wise people are careful to consider the objective.
In 1883, the Baptist Missionary and Educational Society of Indian Territory formed. The messengers declared a threefold purpose:
1. Aid feeble churches
2. Give the Gospel to destitute places
3. Train God-called ministers of the Gospel
Our state convention has worked through several mission statements over the years, but I am not sure we did not get it right the first time. I want to address each of these three objectives over the next few weeks.
Our founders declared their intent to work together “aiding feeble churches.” Feeble is a word that means weak due to illness. The opposite of feeble is strong and healthy. Let me be clear, feeble is not small. Many of our small churches are strong and healthy. A small church, even a poor church, can be marked by vitality, unity, purity and maturity. Also, a large and wealthy church might be feeble—spiritually weak and sick!
We work together because some of our churches are strong and healthy while others are weak and sick. Those churches that are strong have an obligation to strengthen their brethren—to help, encourage, assist. Over the years, health and strength ebb and flow. Some churches that used to be strong and healthy are now feeble; some that were feeble find new vitality. The strong come alongside the weak.
We help our feeble churches because we love them. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We share a common bond—one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Jesus loves these churches, and so must we.
We encourage our feeble churches in order to advance the Gospel. The local church is the pillar and support of the Truth of the Gospel (1 Tim. 3:15). The Gospel light will shine in our neighborhoods and among the nations when the local church is vital, healthy and strong. A feeble church is a dim light. Our dark world waits for the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We assist our feeble churches for the sake of the glory of God. Do you remember the report of the brethren to Nehemiah? They said that the brethren in Jerusalem were in great distress and reproach. When a church is in distress for years, it can become a reproach. On the other hand, when a feeble church finds new life, strength and health, the Name of Jesus is exalted. We work together to “aid our feeble churches” so that the Name of our Lord might be glorified.