Thursday, May 25, 2006

"Transformation" Rebranding Reminds: All Denominations are Parachurch Organizations

A generation ago, in his The Problem with Wineskins, United Methodist theologian-missionary Howard Snyder reminded us that denominations and denominational agencies are themselves parachurch organizations. (Try selling that at the Vatican--you'll be as popular as Dan Brown.) The Scriptures only recognize the church on earth in two dimensions: worldwide (small-c "catholic") and the local church. Now I'm a big supporter of churches in association: I've been president of the Foothill Baptist Association since 2000.

As PSW becomes TM:AMOBCCTCTWFC (see below) and ABC of the West is already Growing Healthy Churches, Snyder's assertion is being borne out in real-world experience. The question is: can this renewal be translated into greater missional effectiveness? And if it can be, what will the impact be on the existing ABC and on the US church scene?

ABCPSW to Become Transformation Ministries

The American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest will become Transformation Ministries: “a movement of Baptist churches committed to change their worlds for Christ.” Following the decision of the ABCPSW Board of Directors to withdraw from the Covenant of Relationships of the American Baptist Churches USA, the Region’s Board of Directors announced the new name on May 11.

“The name Transformation Ministries focuses on what we are, rather than where we operate,” said Dr. Dale Salico, the ministry’s Executive Minister. “The congregations of Transformation Ministries are committed to bring hope to individuals, families, communities and the world. That hope is found through faith in Jesus Christ. Through the love and power of God, people of all ages, cultures and races can find God’s purpose and meaning for their lives.”

The name, Transformation Ministries, reveals the commitment of the leaders of this ministry to deep change. “As we turn to Christ in faith,” Dr. Salico explained, “we begin a journey toward becoming the men, women, young people, and churches God wants us to become. Many people think of the church as a static institution. Christ never intended His church to become fossilized. He commissioned His followers to proclaim His life-changing power and love in the world through our words and our actions. Christians do not think they are perfect or that they have all the answers. Christians are people who are finding answers together in the Bible, and learning together what it means to live in the strength of the Lord.”

Transformation Ministries is the rebirth of a movement of churches that traces its roots to 1869, when the Los Angeles Baptist Convention was formed. In 1895 it became the Southern California Baptist Convention, and in 1970, the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest. The convictions and core values of Transformation Ministries remain true to its heritage: historic Christianity grounded in the authority of the Bible as the Word of God. This mission movement that brought the Gospel to the West in the 1800’s, today proclaims Christ’s life-changing message to the rich smorgasbord of cultures of the Pacific southwest and world.

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