We were cleaning out some attic space in our home this week, because it is about to be transformed into a small bedroom for our youngest boy Elias to have a space to hole up away from his three older sisters. In the boxes of school book reports, wrestling trophies, and marine corps memorabilia I came across a three-ring binder from a church membership class. At sixteen, I became a member of our Independent Baptist Church and this was the evidence to prove it! Whether or not I understood why the church existed and why I chose to become a member remains a little fuzzy.

Twenty years later, I am always amazed that people will join a church and never know what the church or denomination actually believes or why they exist. I think that many people like myself were simply born into a church or denomination and have continued without asking any questions.​ 

One of my favorite things to do is leader our DNA membership elective each semester. It is an incredible opportunity to meet new people interested in joining our congregation and form new relationships. Lately, we have had a number of existing members join us for the DNA elective because they want to be reconnected to the mission and vision of the church, as well as connect some of our new people as well.

Randall Church has it's origin in this suburb of Buffalo nearly 200 years ago. It has always been Baptist in it's heritage, and has always thrived in it's missional activity. Missionaries have continually been sent from this church to the far reaching corners of the globe for decades, even centuries. In 2013, while still undoubtedly an active church in a Northern city, Randall made an identity transformation by partnering and becoming a Southern Baptist Church.

Though I was not part of the transition team responsible, I am very grateful for the change made then, and now as lead pastor get to embrace the benefits of the decision's ripples. Looking back, I can see three vision priorities that drove the decision.

Three Vision Driven Priorities for becoming Southern Baptist
1. Fulfill our Church Planting Mission Together
2. Move Towards an Identity of a Family of Churches
3. Seize the Power of Partnerships

Practically speaking, we are still very much an autonomous church. We no longer use the term "independent," as that has become it's own denomination term in and of itself. However, it is through this partnership and association with like minded Southern Baptist Churches that we have been able to plant new churches, we have been empowered to respond to disaster relief efforts, and we have  received counsel and support while our own church walked through leadership changes. Still have questions? Here is a closer look on the SBC.

So no, our Northern Church isn't located in a hot and humid climate. But we are very much a Southern Baptist Church. In fact, for churches like ours, the denomination recently approved the use of a new name: Great Commission Baptist. Our denomination has the largest mission agency that the world has ever seen.  We are currently supporting around 5,000 missionaries who are serving in every corner of the world. This did not happen on accident. It is the result of the very reason why our churches decided to come together in the first place.

We believed that one church could only do so much to change the world for Christ, but together we could not only obey the Great Commission better, but also complete it. Today we are a network of around 45,000 churches that are working towards completing the Great Commission, and I am certainly glad to be a part of that activity.

Want to learn more? Email me if you would like to attend to our Associational Annual Meeting this Saturday October 21st, or would like to be part of our next Southern Baptist Disaster Relief team serving hurricane victims in FL and TX. I'd love to help you see why our autonomous church chooses to affiliate. We empower. We engage. We rely on one another for maximum Gospel impact! 

Pastor Milo
@milowilson