by John F. Klem
Life’s journey does not always go as expected. When Cathy and I moved to Florida three years ago, we planned to settle in for the long term. In fact, we brought her parents with us so they could live in our home and we could care for them. My presidential responsibilities at Clearwater Christian College were deeply rewarding and overwhelmingly stressful. “Visioneering” a gospel-centered philosophy of liberal arts education, living in the midst of college students, growing in love and affection for a distinguished alumni family, and building relationships with the Florida church and business communities were so satisfying. The stressful challenges of college life were unique in some ways for us at Clearwater Christian College, but commonplace for all of us who serve in the education sector.
An Ending and a Beginning
Closing a college
So what happened? In all honesty, there is really no simple answer to that question. Suffice it to say for this article, the board of Clearwater Christian College made the hard decision to close the college out of a context of prayer and counsel and on the basis of the information before them. The fallout of closing the college left faculty, staff, and students disoriented yet trusting in the Lord’s goodness. It was humbling to watch the Lord show Himself strong and faithful by opening doors and providing for the college family. Such an event is not easily overcome mentally and emotionally, so please pray for the Clearwater family as well as our friends associated with Northland International University and Tennessee Temple University, which have also closed.
Moving to a new ministry
My personal story is a testimony of God’s undeserved grace in the fog of these events. Soon after the announcement to close, John Greening, national representative of the Regular Baptist Churches, contacted me about an opportunity with Regular Baptist Press. Initially I was not all that interested. However, after a summer of conversations, I was finding myself more and more attracted to the mission of RBP: to glorify God by providing church educational resources that are true to God’s Word and encourage maturity in Christ. I have always been a churchman at heart, so the possibility of serving the church in this way was to me an ideal gift from the Lord.
Why then did I accept the offer to direct Regular Baptist Press? I did so realizing that the RBP publishing ministry has a high impact on the church, specifically on a fellowship of churches with a rich heritage of fidelity to the Scriptures and the triune God. Yet this impact is not limited to the Regular Baptist community. It reaches beyond to churches that value sound doctrine and that have a heart for evangelism and discipleship. Both Cathy and I see this as a way to maximize pastoral and academic interests.
A Story to Tell
What’s involved in my role as RBP director?
In light of Al Mohler’s book The Conviction to Lead, I see myself as the steward-in-chief of the RBP story. According to Dr. Mohler, the story of an organization frames its mission and identity and explains why you give your life to it. Leaders protect the story, draw others into the story, and keep others accountable to the story. Ultimately, RBP is inspired by the greatest story, that of God’s redemptive work, which shapes our worldview.
I will be advancing RBP’s mission by leading the charge to provide the best Biblical and culturally relevant resources for a strong and healthy church. More than anything, I want to draw others into this story with me.
The story of RBP is an account of amazing printed resources that serve to equip faithful men and women for a ministry of the Word that is wisely and relevantly applied to people both searching and courageously following Christ for a healthy church. For this reason, RBP is a “whole counsel of God” publisher and is not issue oriented. Doctrine and polity distinguish us.
I will be telling the story of RBP through writing, blogging, and social media. I will be guarding the RBP story by leading our authors, editors, and graphics personnel to both create and produce the sound resources that people have come to trust and use through the years. I will work to draw people into the RBP story through relationship building because together we can accomplish more. I am excited and dreaming about the new opportunities that will prayerfully develop for both RBP and Regular Baptist Churches. Our accountability in this story is ultimately to the Lord and His Word that we will preach and teach.
What is it that truly inspires the RBP story?
The really big and genuinely powerful gospel that is all about the greatness of our triune God (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:24) inspires the RBP story. This big and powerful Good News encompasses the life of the believer from conversion through every contour of sanctification unto glorification. First Peter 1:1 and 2 is one text that features the work of the triune God that makes the news so good. The life-giving and life-sustaining Word of God also inspires the RBP story (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:19–21). Biblical authority has been and will continue to be the distinctive fingerprint of both Regular Baptist Churches and its publishing ministry.
Finally, but not exhaustively, the church energizes the work of RBP. Consider some key texts that trumpet a strong church theology. In Matthew 16:17–20 Jesus declares that the church will not be overcome by the armies of Hell. In Matthew 22:37–40 Jesus teaches that the great commands would be the essence of the spiritual life in the new dispensation. The well-known Great Commission text of Matthew 28:19 and 20 outlines the church’s mission, which can be accomplished in creative or mundane ways. The summary statements of Acts (6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20; 28:31) teach us that the advance of God’s Word results in the salvation of individual believers who become part of growing and increasing churches. In Ephesians 4 we learn that the church is equipped and outfitted with leadership. In 1 Timothy 3:14–16 we affirm that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth intimately connected to the mystery of godliness. In Acts 20, 1 Timothy 4, and 2 Timothy 3 we are reminded we must guard sound doctrine and watch out for destructive forces at work against the church.
How do we advance the RBP story?
Now that we are inspired, how do we advance the RBP story in these opportune days? First, we continue to pursue excellence in the production of RBP products. A pursuit of excellence is a humble journey of listening, learning, correcting, maintaining, and advancing the product line. This journey is grounded in the reliability of Scripture and a commitment to sound doctrine.
Second, in keeping with our mission, we will provide the church with products that equip readers to handle the Word, to work with people, and to act wisely and courageously. It would be our joy to prepare others to confidently participate in the relevant conversations and issues of the day.
Third, we will engage the publishing mediums creatively. RBP already offers both print and digital formats of some of its resources and interacts with individuals through webinars and online learning labs. Despite all the digital formats, I believe the demand for the printed page will not be eclipsed.
Finally, we will explore opportunities to advance the story of RBP through collaborative efforts and ministry partnerships.
I look forward to serving you in the coming days and drawing you into the RBP story.
John F. Klem (ThD, Central Baptist Theological Seminary) is director of Regular Baptist Press.