Three Goals for the Future

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With a new year comes new beginnings, big dreams, and hopes that we want to accomplish. These goals that we set span our personal walks with the Lord, our roles as spouses and parents, our ministry, and our careers. Many of these desires that we hope to see come to fruition have been in our minds for years, and some are brand new.
 
OUR PAST
 
Over the past couple days, I have been jotting down my hopes and dreams for the Pillar Network. Our network began in January of 2009 with a simple desire of assisting church plants in their fundraising efforts, by providing payroll management services, care/coaching from healthy sending churches, and a commitment to see this accomplished within the SBC umbrella.

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In 2012, our vision expanded when we set our hopes on seeing the Pillar Network become an SBC National Church Planting Network.  Pillar’s efforts would evolve towards training and equipping SBC churches to become healthy, reproducing, church planting churches. These churches would cooperate together to equip, plant, and revitalize churches for the good of the Kingdom. We established a board consisting of pastors from sending churches that had a desire to partner together, using their gifts to complement one another, that agreed to some key characteristics that would define our like-mindedness, and the expectations for partnership. This gave us a foundation by which our churches have sought healthy partnership.
 
OUR FUTURE
 
Over the past 5 years the Lord has matured our vision, grown us in number, moved us to establish Pillar Network Regions, and increased our ability to provide a model for healthy associating within the SBC. The question that I continue to wrestle with is: “What should the Pillar Network seek to accomplish over the next 5 years?” Here are some of my dreams that I hope come to fruition.
 
DREAM 1: I desire for the Pillar Network to be defined by love and cooperation.

It is important that we have a reputation within our denomination and greater evangelical life as a unified, humble, network of pastors and partner churches that are defined by love and good deeds towards all. The SBC is considered the largest evangelical denomination with over 47,000 churches. With as many congregations in our family, we have an amazing opportunity to serve other SBC churches, by modeling Christian cooperation and grace.  I genuinely believe that if this is our attitude then we will see greater Gospel influence and less misunderstandings between churches that think a bit differently.
 
DREAM 2: I desire for the Pillar Network to champion a strategy for planting new local SBC associations all throughout North America. 

This dream may sound a little strange at first glance, but I truly believe in the importance of associationalism within our denomination. It is no surprise that local associations as a whole have been struggling at times to find their identity and purpose. In fact, it grieves me, but I hear of local associations dissolving on a monthly basis all over the US. In the 18th-19th centuries, our associations were the bedrock of our denomination. They set the strategy for church planting and missional growth, which eventually gave birth to our state conventions, mission agencies, the formal SBC, and the cooperative giving strategy. I believe healthy Baptist associationalism is something that should be regained within our denomination. As long as we are committed to a church planting strategy, we should also be planting healthy local associations. 
 
DREAM 3: I desire for the Pillar Network to become an international church planting network.

One of the reasons we started Pillar was due to a belief that the scriptures present a church planting model where local congregations plant other churches directly. This model also displays church plants of both national and international origin.  Eventually, I hope that Pillar will become an aid to our partner churches in their efforts to establish new, international church plants!  As a part of the Pillar Network’s commitment toward becoming multiethnic and multicultural, we could learn much from international churches and establish healthy partnerships with our brothers and sisters all over the world. The SBC is blessed to have agencies such as the IMB and NAMB who could likely assist our churches in such efforts, as we continue to take ownership of the mission God has laid before us, in reaching and discipling the lost.
 
CONCLUSION
 
The synthesis of many of these aspirations are beginning to take form even now in our network.  It is my prayer that God will add his blessing to our cooperative efforts throughout 2018 as we seek to glorify him in all we do through the Pillar Network.

Zach Nelson