JEFFERSON CITY -- Building relationships is key to most ministry, Churchnet (Baptist General Convention of Missouri) Executive Director Jim Hill believes. That's the concept he will rely on as the new president of the North American Baptist Fellowship.
Hill, who will be eligible to serve two 2-year terms, assumed the post in July. The NABF is one of six regional fellowships affiliated with the Baptist World Alliance.
Formed in 2002 in response to the conservative direction the Missouri Baptist Convention had taken, Churchnet became part of the NABF in 2005. "That was one of the first things [to join both the BWA and NABF] we worked on when I became [the BGCM] executive director," Hill explained.
He was invited to serve on the NABF executive committee in 2006, and a few years later, another Churchnet representative was added. The Missouri entity is the second-largest financial contributor to the NABF, only behind the BWA itself, Hill said.
The Missouri leader said he wants to see the NABF continue the growth it had made under outgoing president David Goatley. "I want us to continue the trend of it really being a North American fellowship for as many as want to participate," Hill said.
In addition to numerical growth, he hopes to see increased collaboration among regional and member bodies.
"The potential for collaboration and helping each other...is a great thing," he said. "My own experience in BWA has shown me that it is one of the richest experiences of Baptist diversity.... Even in North America there is a wonderful diversity among the Baptist family.... We have the opportunity to collaborate and to learn from each other and not to reinvent the wheel."
Participation in the NABF "is essentially about relationships.... It puts in place a structure for those relationships to grow," Hill added.
A "lot of good" grows out of developing relationships, he said, because, in relationship, Baptists "can identify common concerns and needs" and then try to address them together.
Among the approximately 223 BWA member bodies, many have far fewer resources than do some of the smaller NABF members. "We are all responsible for using our resources, not just to the BWA but also to one another," Hill said.
Hill was Churchnet interim executive director in 2004 and has been in the top spot since 2005. He was MBC executive director from 1998 to 2001. The Maryville native previously had served with what is now the North American Mission Board.