At the recent Annual Enrichment Conference in Seaside, Oregon (March 7-9, 2016), four different presenters spoke on four obstacles that hold back the Conservative Baptists in the Northwest from being a movement on mission with Christ. These obstacles were in order 1) satan 2) materialism, 3) comfort, and 4) fear. NOTE: I capitalize God, not satan, to properly honor only God. Mark Hoeffner, Executive Director of CB Northwest and teaching elder at Grace church in White Salmon talked about the first obstacle, satan. He reminded us that though satan was decisively defeated by Christ’s victorious death and resurrection, satan remains (in rebellion) a vicious foe of Christ’s church. Through a Bible survey, Mark reviewed satan’s strategy. Satan aims to rule this world. The devil seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. He tries to deceive. He accuses constantly. Satan is our enemy, not fellow Christ-followers! Gospel-driven ministry lives in Christ’s victory and stands against satan. How does satan bedevil our church and attack us when we try to move forward on mission with Christ? Mark Hanke, senior pastor of First Baptist of Salem, next considered the obstacle of materialism. The barometer of materialism is not how much stuff you have. You can have very few possessions and fall into asceticism, the pride of not-having. The antidote to materialism is to recognize that God is the Owner of everything. The materialist acts like a little god exercising ownership. Gospel movements stall when they debate the social implications of the gospel–whether it is better to give a man a fish or teach him how to fish. Instead, we must understand that God owns the lake! Everything belongs to God and all of His resources are available to churches on mission with Christ. How do we act as owners of God’s resources (people and things) in ways that hinder our church from moving forward on mission with Christ? James Gleason, lead pastor of Sonrise in Hillsboro, next considered the obstacle of comfort. Sonrise church has uncomfortably followed the Lord of the harvest into ministry with registered sex offenders. With support and training from Washington County Corrections, Sonrise church began a ministry to people ostracized because of their criminal behavior. This was uncomfortable for some in their congregation and the neighborhood. The church persevered, learned what they need to know, and grew into a respected and safe place of worship and fellowship. Another ministry out of their comfort zone was to add a staff member to their church who serves as a coordinator of volunteer services for Hillsboro schools. The level of cooperation between the church and local schools was initially uncomfortable. However, it has proven to be a blessing to both. How does our church’s commitment to comfort interfere with moving forward on mission with Christ? Greg Spires, teaching pastor of First Baptist of Medford, considered the obstacle of fear. Their church faced the fears of loss of identity and significance when they decided to give away a thriving Christian K-12 school. From the very beginning, the school started as a ministry of their church. Cascade Christian School was thought by some to be the best thing FBC-Medford had going for them. To bless the school with facilities, grounds, and create an independent school board cost the church. Would the church survive without the school? Greg pointed out that the very things you fear are also the things you trust. If you lose certain things (health, money, reputation), you fear you will not be okay. If you keep those same things, you will be fine. Fear of losing is the flip side of trust in keeping. How do our fears (trusting in anything/anyone other than God) hold back our church from moving forward on mission with Christ? Unless we identify and overcome them, these four obstacles will keep our church from moving forward on mission with Christ: satan, materialism, comfort, and fear. With God’s help, Conservative Baptists of the Northwest can again become a movement of churches on mission with Christ!

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