Most people have no idea what I’m talking about when I tell them that I am part of a “fellowship” of churches. If I try to explain by contrasting a “fellowship” with a “denomination,” they get even more confused. Unfortunately, sometimes I just have to resort to, “We’re just like the Baptists,” which I’m not sure helps because “the Baptists” are not exactly a monolithic group anymore!

So what does it mean to be part of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC)? Well, in a way, it’s not much different from the “fellowship of the ring,” which I take to mean a somewhat loosely connected group of people united around a common goal. There is no hierarchy and no clearly anointed “Lord of the Ring” to steer the sheep. At times we seem to improvise a lot and at other times we seem to be following a predetermined plan. Though we have a Lord, we have no bosses and the local congregations have the final say.

The ties that bind us together are commitment to the Bible, Church planting, Compassion Ministries and Leadership Development. Every year we get together for a national conference of leaders, pastors and church members who come from different parts of the country and a few from overseas. We gather to encourage one another personally and to hear from speakers who challenge us to live for Christ more intentionally in our communities.

This year we are in Newark, NJ, right by the International Airport at a conference they’re calling “Flinch.” Every speaker is talking about taking risks for God. There is a sober realization that unless we experience some major changes in the way we go about doing ministries, one of these days we may not be a viable fellowship anymore. But change is hard and it comes with sacrifices. We are learning to become “riskologists” for the sake of Christ.

Please pray for the members of our staff and church that are here for the next couple of days. May we learn to be radically obedient to Christ and His Great Commission.

Serving the Lord of the Church,

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz PA