Because Craig and Menzi are so key to our community I wanted to take time to explain 1.) how Craig’s decision was made and 2.) why we accepted. I would also like to describe 3.) where Craig and Menzi are going and 4.) what our relationship with them and the church they serve will be. And lastly 5.) why you should take courage in all this.
In Christ and for His glory alone,
How Craig’s decision was made?
For much of last year our church was in prayer for Adrian Nathaniel, his family and NBC. Adrian’s health had been compromised after surgery. Crystal Park Baptist Church Benoni (CPBC) were able to assist NBC with premarital counselling, relief preaching and ongoing advice and mentorship over that period.
From the time Adrian passed away in December the leadership of NBC had taken counsel from Lance Laughton, the coordinator of the Baptist Northern Association, Benoni Baptist Church and CPBC. After considering their options the leadership brought a proposal to the Annual General Meeting of NBC that a request for Craig to come alongside them be made.
Why we accepted?
“Strong churches plant [and strengthen] strong churches.”
We’re motivated to come alongside NBC by the consistent model of ongoing commitment to strengthen churches demonstrated in the book of Acts:
Peter and John strengthened believers in Samaria (Ac 8:14-25) and built up churches in various regions (Ac 9:31-32). Barnabas relocated to Antioch to strengthen that community (Ac 11:19-23) and later recruited Paul to help (Ac 11:25-26). Prophets from Jerusalem strengthened Antioch (Ac 11:27) and in turn Antioch sent a collection to relieve Jerusalem (Ac 11:28-30) partnering together with churches from Macedonia, Achaia, Galatia and Corinth (Ro 15:25-26, 1 Co 16:1-3). Jerusalem released John Mark to help Barnabas and Paul (Ac 12:25) and Lystra released Timothy (Ac 16:1-3). Paul and Barnabas strengthened disciples (Ac 14:21-23), churches (Ac 15:36-41, Ac 16:4-5, Ac 20:1-2) and sent delegates to strengthen churches (Ac 19:21-22; 1 Co 4:15-17; Ph 2:19-29; 2 Ti 1:18).
Even in our own experience, Midrand Chapel, together with other churches, partnered with CPBC at a time when we needed help to move the work forward. It is a great joy for us to continue in this ministry of “strong churches planting [and strengthening] strong churches.”
Where are Craig and Menzi going?
Craig is going to NBC. Adrian Nathaniel, NBC’s former pastor, arrived around the same time Mark arrived at CPBC. It wasn’t long until they met and right from the start they recognised shared theological convictions around expository preaching, an elder led church and the Doctrines of Grace. Gideon and Mark partnered with NBC, lecturing over years in their Mukhanyo Theological College distance program and NBC has often joined us for combined evening services. NBC has a vibrant missions focus (to Swaziland and Mozambique) and mercy ministry impact amongst the homeless in Benoni and there is much we can learn from them.
Menzi is going to MBC. Sammy Leballo, MBC’s pastor, was a Christ Seminary student sent out from Midrand Chapel while Mark served as an elder there. While Mark was serving on the executive of the Baptist Northern Association a pastoral vacancy was identified at MBC and filled by Sammy. Ever since CPBC has partnered with MBC in prayer and counsel whenever needed. Mark and Sammy will be travelling to Capital Hill Baptist Church Washington together in May to attend the 9Marks Intensive. MBC has a bright Gospel witness in Soweto and is a beacon of hope regarding how township churches can be reformed and revitalised to God’s glory. MBC has a pularity of elders, partners with HeartCry and is also part of Sola 5 (Sammy serves on the steering committee).
What will our relationship be?
As elders of CPBC we thought it best to clearly lay out what we understand Craig’s role and responsibility would be at NBC: Craig’s service to NBC will be for a 6 month period (renewable) at the pleasure of NBC and in agreement with Craig (this can be withdrawn at any stage by a special or quarterly general meeting of NBC), Craig will attend 3 Sundays at NBC in a month, Craig is able to preach 1 Sunday at NBC in a month, Craig is to attend NBC leadership meetings and act in the role of moderator, Craig is to attend, and give a report back to, CPBC once a month, Craig will for the time being withdraw from ministry obligations at CPBC (including eldership, Bible study and evangelistic activities).
Menzi’s move to MBC will happen in March. Because Menzi has family in Crystal Park, because he was baptised, was sent out on mission, was supported through seminary and has served us so faithfully as a pastoral intern, we expect he will be around from time to time. Also he is going to a church that we have long history with and consider our Gospel partners.
Why you should take courage?
Gideon left last year. Remember that? And now Craig and Menzi. Who’s going to be left? Why would we who love CPBC so much want anything to change?
Friends, the church we love so much isn’t a pleasure cruise, a ship designed to entertain passengers. We’re a battleship, at war, and as Craig and Menzi are deployed, they leave under the command of the Commander in Chief, who desires other ships in His fleet be made fit for battle.
And this should encourage you. Because while the battle may rage the outcome of this war is certain. Jesus Christ has already won the victory on calvary. Of this we are certain. And so when change comes to our church community we see it as Him going about the task of building His Church to His own praise and glory and we are thrilled to be part of that process.
Soli Deo Gloria! Glory to God Alone!