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Why I Love & Support CLMN

By Pat Patten - September 2023



I am a huge fan of the Christian Leaders & Ministers Network of Valdosta, Georgia! Perhaps you wonder why anyone would want to be a part of CLMN? Don’t we already have enough churches and organizations that are doing good work and meeting needs? Aren’t we all already too busy? Yes, but I believe there is something unique in what God is doing in and through CLMN.



THE POWER OF UNITY AND COOPERATION


First, one can hardly look into the Bible to see that God Himself emphasizes unity, harmony and cooperation in His Body, the church. The Psalms speaks about it (Psalm 133:1), Jesus taught about it (Matthew 12:25), He prayed for it (John 17:21-23), the early believers lived it out (Acts 4:32), and Paul urged believers to pursue it (Philippians 2:1-2). Brinson wrote a powerful blog about this last month.


My denominational affiliation is Southern Baptist, and if you know anything about Southern Baptist, you know it was founded upon common doctrinal and theological beliefs, but primarily on cooperating together in the missional work of the Kingdom. I’ll be the first to admit we haven’t always done that perfectly, but it’s a powerful model and I grew up in Thailand as a son of a missionary so I lived the fruit of that cooperative effort.


In a similar way I believe coming together as the diverse Body of Christ, uniting hearts and hands, allows us to do far greater things than we can do alone.



THE POWER OF DIVERSITY AND FELLOWSHIP AMONG US


Ever since I entered ministry in the late 70’s (yes, I am that old!) I have always enjoyed and personally benefited from gathering together with fellow Christians, leaders and ministers. In my first full time church as a pastor in Jasper Florida, my wife and I met with and formed a friendship with several ministers and their wives that we still meet with on an annual basis for a weekend of fun and fellowship. Even though we don’t necessarily agree on every doctrinal/theological issue, we don’t let that stand in the way of our love and friendship we have enjoyed through the years.


Being a leader or pastor can be a lonely place. To have a genuine peer relationship with fellow travelers can be of so much help with the challenges, struggles and heartaches of daily leadership and ministry. This is perhaps one of the most driving forces for me to be involved, to be able to offer a safe place of refuge and support for Christian leaders and ministers of the Gospel. In a similar way, this is why I am Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care and have a Christian Counseling ministry, so that I can come alongside believers and offer them the hope and encouragement I’ve found in Christ. That support is available at CLMN for all who participate.



THE POWER OF WITNESS TO OUR COMMUNITY


One last reason I love and support CLMN. Let’s face it, for far too long a lost and dying world has witnessed the division and fighting of the Body, whether it’s a local church split or churches warring against one another. I believe Satan has used this to keep many from coming to faith in Christ through the ages. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” My own father-in-law, though at the end of his life professed Christ as his Savior, stayed away from the church for all his life because of the hypocrisy he saw among church people.


When Valdosta and the surrounding area sees us coming together in projects like the National Day of Prayer or our recent Serving our Community project, I believe it speaks volumes about what the church coming together really is in our love for everyone that Christ taught.


Nothing speaks to the genuineness of authentic Christianity like a diverse group of Christians, coming from different denominations, races, socio-economic conditions, traditions, as a fellowship like CLMN. Let me close with the words of Jesus referenced above in John 17.


“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” - John 17:20-23, NIV


Jesus said it, I believe it! Do you? Will you love and support CLMN with your time, your efforts and your money? I hope you will!






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