by Tim Faulkner
God’s work always outlasts us but never overlooks us. God gives us enough time and resources to accomplish what He wants us to accomplish both alone and with others. Our focus is multi-generational.
God’s Work Always Outlasts Us
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12, ESV).
What Paul says in these verses might be summarized as “God’s work always outlasts us but never overlooks us.” The responsibility to grow Christ’s church belongs to stewards. Some are to prepare. Everyone is to participate. The church is the hero.
As we began to say goodbye to the church in Naples a couple years ago, Jacki and I had an opportunity to reflect on our role over the time that we had been there. We had played many roles in that church, but as missionaries we were always trying to develop successors and turn over our ministries to people who would be there long term so that we could leave the church in good hands. We realized that our role had become very important in that church and yet our desire for that church was not just to be healthy for the time of our lives, but beyond us for generations. God impressed on me the idea found in Paul’s words in Ephesians 4. Whether our time in a local church is short or long, we are simply stewards of what Christ is doing through His church.
As I step into a new chapter of ministry as the General Secretary of the International Baptist Convention, those who have been around me enough over these past four years know that I have a very strong sense that God has been preparing me for this. It wasn’t too many years ago that Jacki and I were talking, and I was asking her “Do you think that God perhaps led us not only from small towns in upstate New York to the city of Philadelphia and then overseas to Naples, Italy, to minister in a different culture with a different language, only to then take us on to something else that we never saw coming?” Indeed, God developed in us this idea that has been confirmed, that these steps in our development and these stages in our lives were so that we might steward well a new season with the International Baptist Convention.
It’s been millennia now since Christ left His disciples with the commission to make disciples. That group of apostles, empowered by the Spirit, gave birth to the local church, that because of persecution and other reasons, has spread around the globe. Today, we recognize that through the English language we have a unique opportunity in the International Baptist Convention to continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ. And we recognize that we have a context that we often call unique where we may have a very limited time to minister to the people who are in our churches. But I think that the message is the same whether the time is short or long, we are simply stewards of Christ’s work.
It is with great joy that I step into this role as GS and Jacki accompanies me in this. I am excited to be able to minister to you, serve you, and encourage you, the pastors and leaders of the International Baptist Convention. We recognize the value of your role for the people who will spend time in your church and will come to Christ in your church and for the people who will spend some time in your church and then be launched to other places where they will continue to make disciples for Jesus. We feel tremendous gratitude to the Lord for all that He has done in our lives and for the opportunity that He is allowing us to have in this role.
We want to get to know you and your families, and we want to be there for you, rejoicing with you and suffering with you. We want to help you, as all of us figure out how to appropriately minister in the context where the Lord has placed us. In so doing we find encouragement in the verse that I was given when I was baptized: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV). God’s work always outlasts us but never overlooks us.