How Will You Be A Voice For Life?

Near the conclusion of the creation account found in Genesis 1, God’s Word makes a profound statement that highlights the significance and value of all human life.  Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

While there are many rich truths that could be gleaned from this single verse of Scripture, the fact that we are created by God in His image is what gives all men and women a deep sense of worth and value. Mankind is the crowning jewel or the zenith of God’s creation, and the Bible underscores this truth throughout the pages of Scripture. For example, John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Throughout this month, many followers of Christ will set aside a time to remember and reflect upon the sanctity of human life and holiness of God.  Churches will celebrate the fact that life is a gift from God, and they will also grieve the numerous lives that have been lost prematurely due to abortion, abandonment, abuse, violence, persecution, or some other means. As believers, we are called to be a voice for the powerless and to serve and support those in need by sharing the grace, love, compassion, and good news of Christ with others. There are several ways that individuals and Kentucky Baptist Churches can be a voice for life. Consider how God may be calling you to be involved.

We can pray for those whose lives are the most vulnerable, particularly the unborn, the disabled and the elderly. We can stand ready to come alongside and minister to those who find themselves in the midst of a crisis pregnancy or the loneliness that often comes in the late stages of one’s life. Maybe God is calling you to adopt a child, serve as a foster family, or minister to refugees.  Perhaps God is asking you to play a part in the restoration and healing process with someone who experienced the emotional and physical pain of an abortion months or even years ago, but they still long for forgiveness and spiritual healing. Will you help that individual to know that God loves them and offers a new start in life?

In whatever way God leads you to be an outspoken voice for life, remember the truth that we are all made in the image of God. An individual’s worth and dignity is not based upon their culture, class, country of origin, or the color of their skin. Every single person has value to God because they are made in His image, and each individual is precious to Him. Remember, whoever is precious and valuable to God should be precious and valuable to us.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” — Genesis 1:27

The Missions Mobilization Team exist to serve you and your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. Email or text John Barnett, KBC missions strategist, to discover new opportunities and tools for you and your church to share the love of Christ by being a voice for life! Email: [email protected] Text/Call: 502-654-3385.

Working Together

The Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention is one of the greatest things that unites us as churches across our convention. As each individual gives of their tithes and offerings through their local church, their church sends a portion of money to the Cooperative Program. This money is used to support our missionaries, ministries, church plants, compassion ministries, and the list goes on. Cooperatively, we can do far more together than we could ever do on our own.

The dollars and cents are easy to calculate and report as those funds are distributed. But what is even more visible, is when Southern Baptists unite together in service and assist those in need. We have witnessed firsthand during the December storms that affected Kentucky across our state the Cooperative Program in action. There were the tornadoes in western and south-central Kentucky, with flooding in eastern Pike County.

This is where we could see the Cooperative Program not just funded, but lived out. During this time of disaster response, Kentucky has been blessed not only by so many of our own church members stepping up to help, but so many from countless states who have come to help. And it makes a difference. Disaster relief teams from several of our neighboring states assisted us during this response.

Our disaster relief volunteers have responded in some very cold, dirty, and unpleasant places. They have taken their time, vacations, and even their own money to help others who are hurting. But this is what they train for. This is what they prepare for. And lives are changed.

For example, there were two elderly ladies whose home had flooded. With no one to help them and no where to go, they continued to live in their wet and dirty home, sleeping on a wet bed for nearly a week. A Kentucky and West Virginia Baptist disaster relief team arrived and discovered this need. Within hours, two beds, frames, sheets, pillows, and blankets were brought to their home, and they once again had a dry bed to sleep in. They assisted them with cleaning up their home and made a difference. This is the Cooperative Program lived out.

Our cooperative giving makes a difference. Our cooperative praying makes a difference. Our cooperative sharing makes a difference. And our cooperative serving makes a difference.

Don’t wait for another disaster or crisis to get involved. There are two spring disaster relief trainings coming up in March and April. Check out the web site at www.kybaptist.org/dr for more information and details. Be prepared to work together. Be prepared to make a difference.

Lessons from COVID for Short-term Missions

Coronavirus

Two years ago, no one imagined that we would still be dealing with COVID-19 in 2022. We will wade through this virus and by the summer the world will be back to normal, so we thought.  Well, that didn’t go exactly as we had hoped.  Two years later, we are still dealing with the virus, as we are learning ways to navigate in a world with it.  While we may not yet have a new normal, we certainly are not shutdown like we were in early 2020.  As we think about churches continuing to support the work of missionaries through short-term missions, there are some lessons we can glean from the last two years. 

  • The mission of God is not thwarted by a virus nor by anything or anyone else.  Nothing will stop the advancement of the gospel, even when the world apparently shuts down.  Jesus said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell will not overpower it” (Matt 16:18).
  • Encouragement of missionaries on the field has perhaps never been more necessary (at least in my lifetime).  We all find ourselves in need of encouragement as the demands and challenges of life in a fallen world press on us.  Paul’s church planting pattern involved circling back to churches he planted to “strengthen the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith…” (Acts 14:22).  While Covid is still front-and-center, many other issues compound the challenges of ministry, especially cross-culturally.  The pressure cooker of today’s realities requires churches to provide intentional encouragement to help sustain field personnel across the globe.   
  • Hitting a moving target is never easy.  Let’s face it, data and policies seem to change weekly related to Covid.  Expecting these unexpected changes will aid the short-term mission team in staying focused on the mission rather than the obstacles.  For Paul, Roman imprisonment did not derail his plans for gospel advancement (Acts 28:30-31).
  • Since we are dealing with a moving target, stay up on current Covid information.  Short-term mission teams will need to research Covid requirements for their travel locations.  Even connecting flights, particularly in other countries, may require something different than the team’s destination city or country.  CDC provides information related to the virus (http://cdc.gov).  To find up-to-date info about travel in particular countries, search “US embassy and consulates in ________ (name of country).”  Then simply select the information about Covid-19.
  • Flexibility is still the 11th commandment in short-term missions.  “Thou shalt be flexible,” says the short-term mission team leader to his team.  Covid does not lessen the discomforts of crossing communities, countries, and cultures; it enlarges them.  God does not become frustrated over challenging circumstances, whether Covid or the like. He is sovereign over them.  While describing the glorious salvation of God’s people, Paul reiterates that God works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph 1:11).  God’s sovereignty is not meant to be a topic of theological debate.  It’s meant to be a comfort for our lack of sovereign control.  This truth is not just for our salvation, but for all of life, even short-term missions. Thus, be flexible as God is moving the pieces of the puzzle as He sees fit for your short-term mission team. 

While COVID-19 remains active, the gospel of Jesus marches on.  Short-term missions can still be part of God’s plan to engage communities, cities, and countries around the world with the good news of Jesus.  Don’t allow Covid to derail your church’s mission involvement.  Rather, trust God as He is working, and then adjust and plan accordingly.                     

Be an Encourager

The holidays are over.  2021 is history, and we are now a few days into 2022.  The New Year finds us reflecting over the year just ended and looking ahead with new resolutions, goals, and plans.  We vow to be a better person, to do better.  We commit before the Lord to be a better Christian, to be more consistent in Bible study, prayer, witnessing, missions, and/or other areas of our lives in the year ahead.

Several Scriptures over the past few days have really encouraged me as I begin this new year.  The Lord, speaking through Isaiah (43:18-19) says, “Do not remember the former things.  Nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.”

What “former things” from 2021 do I need to put behind me?  What “new thing” is God wanting to do in my life?

My New Year had begun in the Gospel of Mark from “The Living Insight Study Bible.”  Jesus is beginning His ministry.  He calls and teaches His disciples.  He is preaching and healing, casting out demons, and ministering to the people.  Chuck Swindoll comments, “Throughout the Gospel, Mark describes Jesus as a servant.  If Jesus is our model, then servanthood is our method.  If servanthood is our method, then people are our ministry.  We don’t serve things – we serve people.  If people are our ministry, then involvement is our means: Touching lives. Listening. Taking time. Looking. Caring. Helping. Seeing the one person in the crowd who needs us, and taking the time to touch, hear, and help. That is servanthood.”

 What does servanthood look like for you in 2022?  How might He be calling you to serve?  Who might He be calling you to reach out to? 

This past Sunday a visiting preacher at our church shared about Barnabas.  We immediately think of Barnabas as being an encourager.  Encouragement is a big way that all of us can serve others.  If there was ever a time that people (including all of us) need encouragement, it is now.  We are going into our third year dealing with a pandemic, and it is just a bleak time. 

Kentucky ended 2021, and began 2022, with devastating tornados and flooding across the state.  Thanks to Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief for being on site to help during these times of crisis.  Thanks to churches and individuals that helped with cleanup, encouragement, donations, and for just “being there” to support and encourage families that have been impacted.

Being a servant would certainly include being an encourager.  November and December were extremely busy times for me as I worked with the Christmas Backpack program.  Approximately 15,000 backpacks were filled for boys and girls in Kentucky.  In-state churches provided 8,000 of these, with the remainder coming from partnering state conventions.  Even though I get much joy and satisfaction from the Christmas backpacks, I was tired.  Trying to make sure each location received the backpacks that were needed, and concern that we might not have enough backpacks to go around, I was grew a bit weary.  But what an encouragement it was for me when, two days before Christmas I received a large envelope from a teacher of a group of Hispanic children in Lexington.  These children were not on the list to get backpacks.  However, I received a call asking if we possibly had enough backpacks for them to get one.  There were no extra backpacks at the time but , after contacting other ministries, I was able to locate enough backpacks for these children.  They were so appreciative.  Each of them had written the sweetest “thank you” notes that I have ever received.  Words that said:

  • “Thank you for helping us to get the backpacks.”
  • “I appreciate your kindness.”
  • “I hope you have a great Christmas because you deserve one.”
  • “You are so helpful.”
  • “We appreciate the time of doing this for us, thank you.”
  • “Have a great Christmas.”
  • “We love you for that.”
  • “I really like that you care about us.”
  • “Some of it can go to a donation because some of it we already have so be aware it will go to a good home.”
  • “It was a huge help.”

Needless to say, I was so blessed and encouraged by these students that took time just to say, “thank you.” 

How can we say “thank you?”  How can we be an encouragement to others in 2022?  How can be a servant? 

As Swindoll said, “See the one person in the crowd who needs us, and take the time to touch, hear, and help.”  It could make or break someone’s day.

Happy New Year!!  And thank you for serving. 

WHY YOU SHOULD OPEN YOUR HOME THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

The end of the year is often marked by a seemingly endless barrage of family gatherings, cookie swaps, white elephant gift exchanges, office parties and more.

The holidays cause some to stress and wonder if they can fit everything into their schedule. Others experience profound sadness as they reflect on the loss of a loved one or other disappointments in life. 

As a parent, I am always seeking to equip and encourage my family to live a life on mission. My wife and I pray and ask the Lord to teach us new ways to be intentional in fulfilling the Great Commission at home and in our community.

The holiday season can be a welcome time of gospel intentional hospitality. When Jesus shared meals with people, it gave him the opportunity to enter the lives of the people with whom he was eating. In fact, eating together is one of the most practical ways to overcome any relational barriers that separates us.  Jesus modeled a way for us to use the gift of hospitality as a means to share his grace. Here are three ways to enter the holidays with gospel intentionality:

1. Pray for an Open Door

As Jesus says in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” As you begin to shift your thoughts toward the birth of Jesus, gather your family to pray for your neighbors and the nations in your community. Ask the Lord to open a door for your family to share the love of Christ this Christmas. Then, talk about those you know who need to hear the gospel, and how you could share a meal together.

2. Plan a time to Share a Meal

There is a familiar saying around our house when it comes to dinner: “There’s always room for one more.” And there is. But what takes this from a stated fact to a shared reality is an intentional invitation. When we open our tables to our neighbors, we are offering more than a meal. We are offering an invitation into communion.

3. Prepare (Ask) Good questions.

Around a table, the art of conversation is fostered. Try to avoid questions resulting in one-word answers. Instead ask open-ended questions: “What are some of your greatest memories of the holidays growing up?” or “What is most difficult for you during the holidays?” These questions, when engaged honestly, can connect people at a deep level. Take time to really listen.

Focusing on these three things this holiday season can create space for intimate communion with family members, co-workers, neighbors, international students, or refugees. As you share a meal together and listen to their stories, take time to share your story and how you came to know the Lord. Then, just as you invited them to your table, you might find yourself in a conversation with someone who is wondering how they can find a seat at Jesus’ table.

Lord, help us to open our homes this holiday season for glory of your name, and we pray that many will come to know you! Merry Christmas. We are stronger together!

Disruptions Along the Road

I was driving down the road the other day and noticed some bad spots in the asphalt right in the driving lane. It is obvious it will not take long for potholes to develop and cause some serious repair issues. It’s on a road I travel often, and I happen to think to myself, “One of these days, they will have to block traffic to make those necessary repairs. It will surely disrupt traffic and I hope it’s not on a day when I’m coming through.” (A little selfish thought, I know.) Those trained and with the appropriate equipment will come and do the necessary work for the road to be restored.

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I continued thinking through the scenario on the rest of my drive home. We all like it when things go our way and life is smooth. But for the appropriate repairs to be made, it will disrupt the traffic for a time. However, we would all agree, once the repairs are made and traffic is no longer disrupted, the condition of the road is much better than before. I’m grateful to those who are trained and can make the necessary repairs.

I thought even further about how disasters are similar. We like it when life is smooth and going our way. We don’t like any disruptions in our schedule or plans. However, we know disruptions come in many forms. And sometimes, disasters happen, disrupting and completely changing our lives.

There will be a time when our “traffic pattern” will have to stop so we can deal with the mess, the repairs or situation, and the time involved depends on the severity of the disruption or disaster.

Kentucky Baptists is blessed to have dedicated disaster relief volunteers who are trained, equipped, and have the necessary equipment to assist those who have experienced disaster. I’m grateful for all of them. They can assist with cleaning flooded homes. Clearing downed trees. Provide hot meals and hot showers. Wash dirty clothes. Care for children. Minister to those emotionally and spiritually struggling. And make a difference.

In the end, after the cleanup and rebuild, things are much better than before. It causes a disruption and difficulty through the process, but new relationships are formed, encouragement is experienced, and God is glorified.

It is amazing what an encouraging word and a prayer can do to change lives. Maybe we need to reflect and be thankful for the disruptions we experience in our lives. I’m reminded of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” When God is in it, it always works for good.

If you want to learn more about Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief ministry, give to support the work, or discover how you can become an KYDR volunteer, please visit www.kybaptist.org/dr.

“And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42

Lottie’s Letters

IMB, Portrait of Lottie Moon, 1873.

Charlotte Digges Moon was born on December 12, 1840, in Albemarie County, Virginia.  Southern Baptists know her as Lottie Moon (information about Lottie and global stats taken from imb.org).  She served the people of China with the gospel for nearly 40 years.  She became a follower of Jesus in 1858, and at the age of 32 left her home for China where she would sacrifice her time and life for the sake of reaching the Chinese with the gospel of Jesus.  She, more than any, realized that the task was too great to reach the 472 million Chinese in her day, thus more people were needed to bring the gospel to China.

She would write many letters back home urging Southern Baptists to give and pray, but to also consider going.  For those new missionaries being sent through the Foreign Mission Board (International Mission Board today), she urged the FMB to instruct them that they were “coming to a life of hardship, responsibility and constant self-denial. . . . Let them come ‘rejoicing to suffer’ for the sake of that Lord and Master who freely gave his life for them.”

Years of Lottie letters prompted Southern Baptist women to organize and collect $3,315 to send missionaries to China.  In 1918, Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) named the annual Christmas offering for international missions after Lottie.  Today, the goal of this international missions offering named in her honor is $185 million.  Since the inception of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, Southern Baptists have given over $5 billion dollars to international missions. 

Lottie discovered in the 1800s that it takes all of us doing our part to reach the unreached with the gospel.  We need churches praying, giving, and sending.  Because Southern Baptists have taken Lottie’s charge for mission cooperation seriously, in 2020 there were 18,380 new churches planted; 144,322 new believers; 769,494 gospel conversations; 127,155 leaders trained, to name just a few ways in which our collective efforts are impacting the nations. 

Lottie was never one to shy away with her words.  On November 1, 1873, she would write: “A young man should ask himself not if it is his duty to go to the heathen, but if he may dare stay at home.  The command is so plan: ‘Go.’”  Let Lottie’s words on November 11, 1878, in Pingtu, sink deep in your heart:

“Oh! That my words could be as a trumpet call, stirring the hearts of my brethren and sisters to pray, to labor, to give themselves to this people. … We are now, a very, very few feeble workers, scattering the grain broadcast according as time and strength permit. God will give the harvest; doubt it not. But the laborers are so few. Where we have four, we should have not less than one hundred. Are these wild words? They would not seem so were the church of God awake to her high privilege and her weighty responsibilities.”

(imb.org)

Lottie’s letters still echo today. God continues to use her life to compel others to pray fervently, give sacrificially, and go boldly.  As the world population exceeds 7.8 billion people with at least 4.7 billion unreached with the gospel, what part will you play in assuring that the gospel continues to advance? 

May we share in Lottie’s unprecedented concern and do our part, as we hear her once again say, “The needs of these people press upon my soul, and I cannot be silent. It is grievous to think of these human souls going down to death without even one opportunity of hearing the name of Jesus.”

“Gotcha Day” Celebration

When parents adopt a child, they many times will celebrate “Gotcha Day” to recognize and remember the day the child joined their family.  Recently CoffeeTalk Ministries and Events, a women’s ministry of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Lexington, had a “Gotcha Day” Celebration, or actually a “Gotcha Weekend” Celebration, for their adoptive KY-MSC Missionary Jill Boddy. 

Jill serves with HR Ministries in Princeton, a ministry of reconciliation that focuses on redemption, reconnection, and reentry.  HR mentors and ministers at several Kentucky Job Corps campuses, corrections facilities throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama, and through a community-based thrift store, Joseph’s Storage Bin.  Jill is involved in all aspects of the ministry and is very active in showing and sharing the love of Jesus Christ to those she serves. 

Serving in ministry is so fulfilling for those God has called, however there are times the missionary gets tired, may be involved in difficult situations, or just needs the support of others.  That is where Jill’s adoptive CoffeeTalk Family comes in.  They are there to pray for her, to encourage her, to assist with needs she or HR Ministry may have, and even to get her away for some rest and relaxation time.    

Recently the CoffeeTalk ladies invited Jill to Lexington for the weekend to officially welcome her into their “family.”  They provided a hotel room complete with a welcome basket filled with candy, snacks, and even included an Ale-8. 

Saturday was filled with lots of activities which began with lunch at one of the ladies’ houses and a special covenant ceremony where they pledged to pray for Jill daily, to meet needs as they can, to join her in ministry and send their encouragement and support.  They had a time of prayer for Jill and presented her with a “Gotcha Day” certificate.  The day ended with dinner, shopping, and a tour of the Lexington.  Marilyn Creighton, director of CoffeeTalk, shared that they had an opportunity to pray with their waitress, who was having a bad day and broke down in tears when they asked how they could pray for her.  The waitress was so encouraged and told us we “were the kindest people I have served all day and you have meant so much to me.”     

On Sunday Jill attended worship at Cornerstone Baptist Church where she spoke in the women’s Sunday School Class.  During the worship service Jill was introduced to the congregation, prayed for by the pastor, and told she was a missionary to Cornerstone Baptist Church as well as CoffeeTalk.  Lunch with the pastor, his family, and some of the church family concluded this special weekend.

Jill was overjoyed by the hospitality of her adoptive CoffeeTalk Family and the church.  “It means so much to know that I have ladies that have my back and are constantly lifting me and the ministry up in pray,” Jill said.  “The weekend was such a blessing.  The ladies surprised me with gifts of lotions, candles, soaps, and cards.  One lady gave me a month’s worth of sealed encouragement cards and told me whenever I felt down to open one and read it.  These have become a part of my morning devotions.” 

Thank you, Marilyn Crieghton, CoffeeTalk Ministries & Events, and Cornerstone Baptist Church for your support of a KY-MSC Missionary.

You too can be an encouragement to a KY-MSC Missionary and will be blessed as well.  For information on adopting your KY-MSC Missionary go to www.kybaptst.org/adoptmissionary

Less May Mean More

It’s interesting to note how often we use numbers to determine the success or effectiveness of our churches.  We talk about how many attend on Sunday, the number of small groups, how many were baptized or the annual budget.  If attendance is less this year than last, things must not be going well.  However, that’s not necessarily true if the number attending is fewer because they’re sending out missionaries, ministry leaders and church planters.  But how often do we describe a church by the number they’ve sent out?  

Throughout the Word of God, it’s very clear that God’s people are to go because we are sent by Him (Genesis 12:1-3, Isaiah 6:8, Matthew 28:18-20, John 20:21, Acts 1:8).  So, why not describe the success of our church by how many went on mission trips, the number of members engaged in local ministry, or how many we’ve sent as missionaries or church planters.   I think it would be exciting for this reason to greet pastors and church leaders with – “how many less did you have in worship this week?”  

We typically celebrate growing attendance in church and grieve if the numbers are less than last year.  But what if the numbers are less because we’ve sent more?  The sending of missionaries, church planters and mission teams is reason to celebrate.  Let’s see if we can begin a shift in our thinking and conversation to realize less may mean more if the church is sending people out on mission.  Our sending may mean a smaller number is gathering, but how exciting it would be!  Let’s celebrate fewer people in our small groups and worship if it’s the result of more Christ followers going out with the message of Christ. 

The focus of the church must change from how many gathered to how many were sent.  It will be hard to talk over lunch or in meetings without asking how many attended small groups or gathered for worship this week.  But by changing the conversation, we’re taking a step toward changing the score card that determines success.  

Missional Skills: Developing Healthy Exit Strategies

The landscape of Kentucky has changed!

The nations are now our neighbors. Over a quarter of a million Kentuckians do not speak English at home, and nearly 180,000 citizens of the commonwealth are foreign born. Many of these are unreached peoples who have yet to hear the gospel.

Population growth in cities like Bowling Green, Lexington, Owensboro and Louisville has outpaced the growth of the church. In fact, we now have areas all over our state, both urban and rural, with inadequate numbers of churches to engage the lost.

Our towns and communities are seeing culture shifts, as our nation continues to transition and deal with the impacts of a global pandemic. Attendance in churches continues to fluctuate, and many churches are having to learn news ways to engage their community with the gospel.

The good news is that many of our Kentucky Baptist churches are meeting these challenges head on. They are working through the problems and looking for effective ways to see the gospel advance. The Gospel to Every Home and Acts 1:8 Mission Assessment Paradigm continue to help many churches and associations, as they reengage their communities with the gospel.

Is your church already playing a role in seeing our state reached with the gospel? Maybe you are strategizing to engage an unreached people group in your community, working in a partnership to revitalize a church, or preparing to launch a team to start a new church in a pocket of lostness. If so, it is time to start thinking about an exit strategy.

In Mark chapter 1, after John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). He calls some of his disciples, heals many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out demons. Then, in Mark 1:35-39, Jesus arises early and goes to a desolate place to pray. And when Simon and others who were searching for Jesus found him, they said, “Everyone is Looking for you.” But Jesus said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” So, Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons (paraphrase vs. 35-39). Although Jesus healed people everywhere he went, he understood the purpose for which he had come, and it guided his path and influenced his decisions. Even though the Lord may not have shown us every step we should take to accomplish his mission, it should not stop us from developing an exit strategy.

Advancing with the end in mind
Exit strategies have long been an important component of how missionaries engage peoples, cities and regions with the gospel. Effective exit strategies help with ministry alignment and evaluation, bring clarity in communication, establish healthy boundaries, and create a trajectory and momentum toward multiplying gospel work.

Establishing biblically grounded, well thought through exit strategies is a valuable step in preparing your church for gospel advance in Kentucky.

Developing healthy exit strategies
It is one thing to have an exit strategy. It is another thing to have one that is effective. Here are a few considerations as you begin to think about developing an exit strategy to fit your context:

1. A biblical foundation: Start with a clear understanding of the mission and characteristics of a New Testament church. Then, map out clear objectives for church autonomy. A helpful question to ask is, “What biblically needs to be in place before we exit the work?” One reason churches lose strength, momentum and eventually die is that they do not have a strong biblical foundation. A great resource to consider as you think though the ecclesiological and missiological foundation in your exit strategy is 12 Characteristics of a Healthy Church by the International Mission Board (IMB).

2. A vision for sustainability: A good exit strategy must address sustainability related to areas such as finances, leadership readiness, overall cohesiveness of a body and other practical issues. A key question to ask is, “What practically needs to be in place for this new work to be autonomous and sustainable long term?” With the high failure rate of new church plants in the U.S. (some suggest as high as 70-80%), we need to make sure we don’t exit before the new work is positioned well to stand on its own.

3. A commitment to ongoing relationship: Exiting does not mean abandoning. When the Apostle Paul exited his work, he maintained contact and relationship with local churches. As you think through your exit strategy, ask the question, “What will the ongoing relationship and support look like after we leave?” Think through what ways you will continue to relationally support and encourage the church. Clear expectations regarding the ongoing relationship will go a long way in the flourishing of a new work.

Establishing biblically grounded, well thought through exit strategies is a valuable step in preparing your church for gospel advance in Kentucky. As we begin to think more like missionaries, let’s consider how we can best craft and develop effective exit plans for the work to which God has called us.

The Mission Mobilization Team exist to serve you and your church. Click: www.kybaptist.org/missions-strategies/ to connect with our team. Email either John Barnett [email protected] or Doug Williams [email protected] to discuss next steps. We look forward to serving you.