FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Thank you for your interest in The Bridge Network of Churches! These are the questions asked most often by churches who are not yet part of the Network:
1. What is The Bridge Network of Churches?
We are a Network of 95+ churches in the Tidewater/Eastern Shore region of Virginia who have joined in partnership to bring glory to God by equipping, strengthening and encouraging churches in their God-given mission to make disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are diverse in ethnicity, worship styles and age
Most of our churches are associated with the Southern Baptist Convention or Virginia Baptists, but we choose not to restrict our partnerships to Baptist congregations. Non-denominational churches and those from other denominations are joining the Network to receive the high level of service given by our staff.
Our sole focus is on helping the local church be better at fulfilling the Great Commission and living out the Great Commandment.
2. What does the Network do to help churches?
We do three things: we connect people, we cultivate kingdom leaders and we coach churches.
A detailed listing of our services can be found here.
3. What does it cost to be a member church?
We ask that each Network church provide financial support to cover the costs associated with providing the services we offer. Some churches choose to give a percentage of their undesignated offerings (usually 2-3%), while others choose to designate an exact amount in their budget. With 95+ churches supporting us, our annual budget is $362,000 for 2017. You can see a copy of our 2017 Budget .
4. What are the doctrinal requirements for affiliation?
Doctrinal alignment is important to us, but some leeway is given under the issue of local church autonomy. The Baptist Faith and Message (2000) is a belief statement many of our churches subscribe to, while The Baptist Faith and Message (1963) is adhered to by others. Since choosing to move beyond the ranks of Southern Baptists and make our services available to other groups, we understand some churches are Spirit-filled in nature and some practice a different polity than congregationally led; each pastor is interviewed separately and uniquely to make sure we would be a good fit for them.
5. What is expected of member churches?
The Bridge Network of Churches has the following expectations of each of its member churches:
We believe “nothing of eternal consequence is accomplished apart from prayer.” Therefore, we are a praying people and are dependent upon one another’s intercession for successful kingdom work.
The Week of Prayer, held during May of each year, gives churches an opportunity to pray specifically for the direction, needs and opportunities of the Network. We ask that each congregation participate in the Week of Prayer and remember to intercede for our leaders, pastors and churches throughout the calendar year.
Each congregation is expected to elect messengers to represent them at our two annual meetings, held in the Spring and Fall of each year. We also ask that the pastor and lay representative participate in the Executive Committee meetings, held a few weeks prior to each annual meeting.
The Network elects committee members annually and each congregation should encourage their members to accept committee assignments and fill them faithfully.
Special training events are held as needed and churches are asked to encourage their members to register and participate in these events when applicable.
3. Financial Support
The Bridge Network of Churches is dependent upon the financial support of its member churches. In appreciation for congregational support, we provide a high level of personal and professional support to our pastors, congregational leaders and congregations.
Each member church is asked to support the Network financially, either through a percentage of non-designated income (typically 2-3%) or an amount determined by the budgeting process of the church.
We are able to provide high-level services to congregations because of the financial support of each congregation.
4. ACP Reporting
The Annual Church Profile is a reporting system maintained by the Southern Baptist Convention to measure key numbers for the purpose of planning strategic growth in the kingdom. Each Southern Baptist church is asked to complete the ACP annually so the Network can determine effective strategies for the future.
Non-Southern Baptist Churches are not expected to fill out the ACP, but are asked to share requested numbers when contacted, such as baptisms, membership, etc.
6. How can I “try it out” to see if we are a good fit?
You and your leaders are invited to attend any of our events at no cost. A list of next events can be found here. We only ask that you pre-register with the office (757-938-9793) firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, as a pastor you can attend one of our Pastors’ Roundtables to meet and fellowship with some of the Network pastors. Please call Dr. Hardaway (757-572-6135) or email him (email@example.com) to arrange this.
If you would like a personal lunch or breakfast with Dr. Hardaway, he will gladly answer your questions.
You can also set up an appointment with him or Kim Jessie at The Bridge Network offices (1407 Stephanie Way, Suite F, Chesapeake, 23320).
7. What is the process for joining?
Once you let us know you are interested in joining, Dr. Hardaway will arrange a time to meet and conduct an initial interview. The Credentials Committee will then meet to interview you and get to know you. They will forward their recommendation to the Network for admission. The Network will vote at either the Spring Meeting or Fall Meeting, after which a one year “watchcare” period will begin while we all make sure the fit is a good one for your congregation and the Network. At the end of the year, full membership will be assigned.
During the watchcare year, all Network benefits are available to you and your congregation.
8. What is the Network’s stance on homosexuality?
Our pastors met in 2013 and formulated a statement regarding the issue of homosexuality; you can read it here. We believe that all human beings deserve to be treated with empathy and respect, but we cannot affiliate with any congregation who “welcomes and affirms” the homosexual lifestyle.