A “Beautiful” Mission Experience

 

Prom Picture

As the school year comes to a close, there are many “end of the year” activities.  One that juniors and seniors always look forward to is their Junior/Senior prom.  For twenty-nine ladies in the Albany, Kentucky area, prom was made a little sweeter this year (not to mention less expensive on the parents), thanks to Albany First Baptist Church and their “A Beautiful You” event.

The church, working through the High School’s Family Resource Center and announcements in the newspaper and on the radio, identified ladies that could use a little “special touch.”  Prior to the prom, the church provided a nice sit-down dinner, complete with cloth table coverings and napkins, formal place setting with china and stemmed glasses, and flowers.  A couple of speakers shared with the ladies how God had made each of them unique and how to accept themselves as God had made them.  They shared about how to have a positive self-image and how to have a God-confidence in their lives.

After dinner, students from the Somerset Community College cosmetology program did the ladies’ hair, nails, and make-up and gave them tips, techniques, and trends in each of these areas.  Three Mary Kay Dealers provided make-up and gave out samples.  Each lady also received a door prize.

This is the third year that Albany FBC has hosted “A Beautiful You,” but this year it included another element.  During the past year, a lady from Florida closed her consignment shop for formal wear and moved to Kentucky.  She donated approximately 65 formal dresses and another 20 were donated from other sources for the event.

Following the hair, nails, make-up, and door prizes, each young lady got to try on, model, and choose a prom dress.  Dresses were available in sizes 0 to 28, short dresses and long dresses, dresses in all styles and colors.  Someone said it was kind of like the show “Say Yes to the Dress.” Shoes and jewelry were also available from which they could choose.

Each lady left looking gorgeous and ready for her prom.  Pray, however, that the “outward beauty” is not all that she left with.  Pray that each lady will come to know the “inward beauty” that God has created her for.

According to Kathy Conner, from Albany FBC, the church hopes to make this an on-going event.  Already they are planning for next year’s “A Beautiful You” event and have collected 60 dresses to date.  May this unique mission opportunity be a way to reach many young ladies for Christ.

Global Conquest…Now

God is a conquering God.  Last month I explored God’s conquest in the OT by looking at Joshua’s leadership among the people of Israel and their campaign to take the land of promise.  We see glimpses of God’s conquest strategy in the OT.  Ultimately, God will use His people to conquer lives, not lands.  He will conquer these lives not by force, but by transformation.  As the prophet Ezekiel foretold, there is a day when God will conquer by removing hearts of stone and replacing them with hearts of flesh.  In that day, God will put His Spirit within His people to transform their lives (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Brazil crowdAmazingly, God uses people whose hearts have been changed to bring about change in others.  Like those trumpeters in Joshua’s day, we need trumpeters today.  Now these trumpeters are not blasting their horns, but proclaiming the Word of the Lord.  The apostle Paul makes it clear, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how will they hear without a preacher” (Rom 10:14)?

Paul continues saying, “How will they preach unless they are sent?  Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things” (Rom 10:15)!  God’s strategy for global conquest is through foot soldiers—boots on the ground.  The logic is simple. In order for lives to be changed by the good news of Jesus, people must believe on the Lord.  But one cannot call on the One in whom they have not believed.  Still yet, how could one possibly believe in One whom they have never heard?   Further, how could one feasibly hear unless someone preaches/proclaims the news of Jesus?  So, trumpeters are needed.  In fact, they are vital.

In order to trumpet, trumpeters must be sent (Rom 10:15).  They must be sent to march around/in their city, their schools, places of work, neighborhoods, and ends of the earth.  Global conquest happens through incarnation, through personal presence.  God conquers by sending.  Ultimately, He sent His Son (John 3:16).  In Joshua He sent an army of foot soldiers to march around Jericho (Joshua 6).  Today, He sends an army of foot soldiers to march around the world.  God’s conquest is not of a particular land today, but of people.  In fact, God’s conquest is global because people are global.  In the end, God conquers people from every tribe, tongue, and nation through the blood of the Lamb (Rev 5:9).  Yet, in order for these people to believe on this slain and resurrected Lamb, trumpeters are needed to trumpet.

So grab your horn and let’s go conquer for the glory of God and the spread of His fame!

Good Fishing

Matthew FishingJesus said to His first disciples, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.”  (Matthew 4:19.) 

I had a good friend who was an excellent fisherman, and made a decent living as a fishing guide.  If there was one fish in a lake, my friend would catch it.  Why was he such a good fisherman?  He understood fish.  He knew the time of day that fish were most active.  He knew the best bait or lure to attract the fish that he was seeking.  He knew how deep to drop the line.  He knew the habitat of fish.  He had an effective fishing strategy.  Because he knew fish so well, they were attracted to his hook.  My friend rarely came home empty handed.

In order to catch fish, it helps to understand their habitat, preferences, routines, and most likely times to feed.  In order to reach people, we need to share during times when they are most receptive to the Gospel.  We need to share strategically.

Studies demonstrate that people are most receptive to life-changing truth during times of major change and extreme stress.  People are more receptive during transitions like having a new baby, moving to a new home, or starting a new job.  They are also more receptive during stressful periods such as divorce, financial problems, or loss in a disaster.

As a disaster relief leader, let me share 10 strategic tips in reaching people during times of crisis:

  1. Listen to their story before seeking to share your story.
  2. Demonstrate genuine concern.
  3. Offer real help in any capacity that you are capable of.
  4. Be cautious in making promises and fulfill promises made.
  5. Avoid using manipulative actions and words.  We are not salesmen, but we are trusting in
    God’s Holy Spirit to open and change hearts.
  6. Realize that unbelievers may not act or behave like followers of Christ.  Avoid seeming judgmental and condemning.  If they enter a relationship with Christ, He will change them into a new creation and help them to make needed changes by His power.
  7. Be prepared to share your faith story.  Your story in Christ is a powerful tool in God’s hands.
  8. Be prepared to help them understand how they can experience salvation.  Share what it means to accept Christ, repent of sin, believe in Christ, and confess Him as Savior and Lord.
  9. Allow time for questions, conversation, and the possibility of follow-up.
  10. Pray with them.  This is appropriate even if they are not ready to make a life-changing decision.

What’s the Fuss?

I recently led a workshop in which I shared how many churches today were actively engaging their communities by being the hands and feet of Jesus through acts of service. I suggested that by doing so, the church would be more relevant to the community and doors for spiritual influence would be opened.  One of the workshop attendees commented following the workshop about all the “fuss being made” by people today concerning the importance of the church engaging their community.  He shared how things had changed in the church throughout the years and wasn’t quite certain that community ministry was really going to make the difference that I suggested. I challenged him, as I do you, to think about all the ways that engaging in community ministry could impact your church and why it’s important.  Let me suggest the following ideas for us to consider.  If you have more to add, please comment and share with readers.     What's the Fuss

  1. It’s Biblical – Jesus communicated His message through word & deed (Luke 4:18-19). We are to meet the physical needs of people when we are aware of them (Matthew 25:34-40).  Christ sent out the disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to meet personal needs (Luke 9:1-6).  Jesus had a special place in His heart for those shunned and rejected by society regardless of their socioeconomic level (Luke 14:12-14).
  2. Helps identify prospects – ministering church will never run out of prospects. De-churched believers as well as the lost – when touched by ministry evangelism may look to the church as a place where they can belong.
  3. Builds witnessing relationships with people – the relationship is the incarnation of Christ and may help them understand a verbal witness and establishes trust and respect that is sometimes necessary to gain a hearing for the gospel.
  4. Creates opportunities to share the gospel – if we’re not intentionally evangelistic, then we shouldn’t be doing community ministry because welfare and charitable agencies already exist and usually have more resources.
  5. Increases visibility and connects church with the community – even people who push away from religion are attracted to gestures of compassion and help. It will testify to the genuineness of your church’s faith and open doors that you never thought possible.
  6. Creates opportunities of service for members – joy is found in serving. Believers want and need to serve – but not all are given the chance if opportunities ONLY exist within the walls of the church. You’ve heard it said that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.  It may be that God intended for those not included in the 20% to use their passions/gifts/talents outside the walls in ministry to the community.
  7. Allows believers to grow in discipleship – believer use his/her gifts, talents, education and experiences in service to the Lord. This forces them to learn to communicate their faith. May stir them to deeper Bible study OR serve as a catalyst for a call to ministry or missions.
  8. Enables people to catch a vision for local missions – it’s not just something done “over there”. Ministry happens anywhere there are believers sharing the gospel with the lost and hurting. Serves as a stimulus for missions in general – opening their eyes to needs they had never noticed before.

I wanted to say to the gentleman I’d been talking with – that’s what all the “fuss” is about! But that wasn’t true because to fuss, is to “show unnecessary or excessive concern about something” and we can’t show too much compassion or have too much concern for those who don’t know Christ.

2016 Kentucky Missionary of the Year

John & Teresa

On April 9, during the Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting in Madisonville, John Morris was recognized as the 2016 Kentucky Missionary of the year.  Each year this award is presented to a missionary or missionary couple that demonstrates:

  • Commitment to and effectiveness in evangelism, church planting, or ministry.
  • Demonstration of “going the second mile”.
  • Outstanding performance in achieving assigned tasks.
  • Tenure.
  • Unusual commitment to our Lord’s service.
  • Positive representation of Kentucky Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board.
  • True reflection of being an “On Mission Christian”.

I have had the privilege of working with John since 1999 and he certainly meets and exceeds all of these requirements.

He was a young guy then (actually is still a young guy) but has accomplished so much.  He became pastor of the Lothair Baptist Church in Hazard where he was 20 years old, and served there for 16 years.  During that time he also served as Director of Chreia Church Resource Center and then in some part-time roles with Kentucky Baptist Convention Partnership Missions Department.

In 2013, he became Interim Director of God’s Appalachian Partnership (or GAP as we call it) in McDowell, KY (Floyd County) when the founders and directors moved back to Florida.  Then, in 2014 he was named the Executive Director.  It was in this role that he was nominated as Kentucky Missionary of the Year.

The ministry at GAP has been strengthened under his leadership and is a model ministry.  They engage the community and share Christ through food, clothing and household items distribution, home repair, children’s events, a coffee house called Beans Talk, an annual children’s event called KidStock, money management and parenting classes, The Christmas project, a community wide Easter Egg Hunt, and a mobile home renovation ministry called Dorema, to name a few.

John grew up in Hazard and became a Christian at age 12.  It wasn’t long, he says, before he knew God was calling him to be a missionary.  Because he is from the mountains, John understands the people he is ministering to and is loved and respected by them.  He has helped GAP to become more effective in reaching people and assimilating them into the local church.  In the past 2 years that he has served as Executive Director there have been 58 reported professions of faith.

Serving alongside John is his wife Shaughanessy and their 2 teenagers Jacob and Jhaughanessy.  This family truly serve as a team.

Thank you John for your love for the Lord and your faithfulness in serving Him.  Congratulations on being chosen as the 2016 Kentucky Missionary of the Year!!

To learn more about the ministry of GAP and how you can get involved in this ministry go to www.gapky.org.

Global Conquest…Then

seaThroughout the pages of the Bible, God is the God of conquest. The purpose of His conquering is the spread of His fame. God often does the unimaginable in order that He receives all of the glory and not man. For example, He delivers Israel from Egyptian slavery by conquering their enemy through a series of plagues, which culminate with the Passover and the parting of the Red Sea (Exod 7-15). In order to bring decisive victory over Pharaoh and the Egyptian army, God causes them to pursue the recently emancipated Israelites while on their way to the Red Sea. With their backs against the wall of the sea, God parts the waters so His people may cross on dry land. In hot pursuit, the Egyptian army charges after the Israelites through the newly formed walled-up sea. God causes the wall of the sea to crash down upon the army, destroying the Egyptians.

Not until under Joshua’s leadership, Moses’ successor, will the Israelites finally take the land that God promised them through Abram (Gen 12). Yet, the land promised to them by God was inhabited by other (pagan) nations who were not too keen on giving up their cities. As Joshua and the new generation of Israelites approach the land of promise, an obstacle stood, or flowed, in their way. In order to reach and conquer the first city in this new land, the Jordan River was in the way. Like Moses before him, through Joshua’s leadership God parted the Jordan so the people could cross on dry land. But why did God choose to conquer in this manner?

“So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever” (Joshua 4:24). God often does the unimaginable in order that He receives all of the glory and not man.

stone wallsFirst on the list of conquest is the city of Jericho (Joshua 6). This city boasted of its impenetrable stone walls. How would the inexperienced Israelite army score their first victory with such a defense in place? The strategy that God gave Joshua will never be considered among the most elite military strategies known to man. But that’s just it. God often does the unimaginable in order that He receives all of the glory and not man. The strategy? Walk around the city one time for six days with the army, the ark, and the musicians. In fact, take the trumpet players and let them blow their trumpets (rams’ horns). Say nothing; do nothing. Just walk around the city once and blow the trumpets. Repeat this process for six days.

I don’t imagine that Joshua’s army was too thrilled with this strategy at first. After all, these soldiers were kids when their parents blew it in the wilderness a generation prior. They have been waiting for this day for some forty years. So you can imagine their initial reaction to “encircle the city once, say nothing, blow the trumpets, and go back to camp.” As if that alone was not enough to cause the soldiers to doubt Joshua’s leadership, he then tells them a whopper for day seven.

pile of stones“Alright,” says Joshua, “on day seven we are going to encircle the city seven times.” Perhaps at this point some soldiers are thinking, “Finally, we are about to do something!” Or maybe they are at a loss thinking, “This guy has lost his mind.” Joshua goes on to instruct the soldiers to say nothing, but on the seventh pass he will cue the band to blow the trumpets and the people will…SHOUT! Joshua then adds, “The walls will fall down flat.”

Are you kidding me?! That’s it? The big military strategy of the ages? You want us to what? But that’s just it. God often does the unimaginable in order that He receives all of the glory and not man. The Israelites obey and God does what He says He will do. The army encircles the city, the musicians blow their trumpets, the people shout, and the walls come tumbling down. God conquers this first city so that He receives all of the glory, not Israel.

God stills conquers nations. How He conquered then is different (in some regards) as to how He conquers today. What remains the same is that God often does the unimaginable in order that He receives all of the glory and not man. Next month we will explore how God continues to conquer peoples from every tongue, tribe, and nation.

Being Prepared for a Flood

Johnson county 2015 FloodsFlooding is the most frequent disaster that impacts Kentucky.  Kentucky averages about 56 flooding events a year with an average yearly loss of 30.4 million dollars.

Sometimes, floods develop slowly and forecasters can anticipate where a flood will happen days or weeks before it occurs.  However, flash floods can occur within minutes and without any sign of rain.  Floods can happen anytime and anyplace.  Being prepared can save your life and give you peace of mind.

How can you be ready?

  • Talk to your insurance agent and make sure that you have proper coverage, particularly if you live in an area prone to flooding.
  • Copy important documents.  Keep a copy at home, but store additional copies in a secure place outside the home.
  • Take photos of your possessions and store them in a secure place with documents.
  • Have an emergency plan that includes best contact phone numbers and an evacuation plan.  Have an emergency kit that includes a flashlight, matches, batteries, candles, blankets, and a three day supply of food and water.
  • Monitor weather warnings in your area and heed official instructions.
  • Always follow evacuation orders.
  • Seek higher ground.
  • Never walk or drive through a flooded area.  Turn around; don’t drown!  Six inches of water can cause control issues and stalling.  A foot of water will cause many cars to float.
  • Stay away from downed power lines or other electrical wires.
  • After a flood, check for structural damage before entering your home.  Remove wet and damaged contents and dispose of them properly.  Sanitize affected areas to prevent mold growth and contamination.  Mud and water from flooding can contain chemicals and raw sewage.

“A shrewd person sees danger and hides himself,
but the naive keep right on going and suffer for it.” 
(Proverbs 27:12)

How Many ATTEND or How Many We SEND?

Many churches count how many attend as if that is something that determines it’s success. How many we’re seating on any given Sunday was never intended to be a tool used to determine effectiveness.  But, how many the church sends out each week is an indicator of a church’s health and Biblical obedience.

Send 1 More Logo FINAL

And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” – Romans 10:15  

Our God is a sending God.  Nearly every time He speaks to someone in scripture, He is sending them on a mission.  From Abraham to Moses to Paul, to us, God’s people are always being sent into the world on mission.  He sent His best and only son into the world to save us.  Jesus is referred to as “sent” forty seven times in the New Testament.   Clearly, God is a sender by nature.  In the Old Testament, He sent prophets, angels and the very special Angel of the Lord.  In the New Testament, He sent not only angels, but John the Baptist, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, among others.  Jesus sent the apostles, and He has sent us.  After His resurrection, Jesus passed on his identity to His disciples:  “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).

The English word “mission” comes from the Latin word “missio”, which means sending out, or being sent out.  The word pertains to the sender as well as to the one being sent.  Considering how many times in the Bible God sent people, we can assume the word mission applies to Him as well.  God’s nature is one of action; He is a sender.  He calls people to participate in His work by sending them out to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19).  Send may be a small word, but it evokes big action.

The Biblical foundation for living as a sent people on mission is loud and clear (Matt. 28:19-20,  Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15, John 20:21-22) and churches are expected to send their members out (Romans 10:15).  A “sending church” equips members to demonstrate the gospel every day in their workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools and be prepared to give an answer to those in our community who ask them to “give the reason for the hope that they have”  (1 Peter 3:15).

SENDING is the act of enlisting, equipping and mobilizing believers to engage the world with the gospel through:

  • local community ministry
  • short term missions
  • church planting efforts
  • disaster relief work
  • vocational ministry
  • long-term missionary service

Will you accept the SEND challenge?   Will your church SEND at least one more on mission this year than you did last?  It is our desire to help you discover what it looks like to SEND One More.  We welcome the opportunity to help you and your church take the next steps toward obediently joining God in His mission.  To accept the SEND Challenge or request assistance for your church (training, strategy development, resources, placement, etc), visit www.kybaptist.org/SENDmore.

Meet Our New 2016 Kentucky Missionaries

MSC logo

Spring officially arrived this past week, the dogwoods and redbuds are in full bloom, and everything is pointing to new life.  What an exciting time of year.  We are in the middle of Holy Week and, as we reflect on what Christ did for us on the cross, we look forward to Resurrection Sunday and the thoughts of serving a Risen Savior and the new life we have in Christ.

Each year at this time we are preparing for the annual missionary orientation and commissioning of the new missionaries that are serving in Kentucky.  The orientation is a time for the missionaries to learn about the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Program, and resources available to them.  This time of networking with each other is most valuable.

Eight men and women have sensed God’s call to serve in ministries across our state and will be commissioned at the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union Annual Meeting on Saturday morning, April 9th, at Madisonville First Baptist Church.

The new missionaries are:

  • Jeff Burke (from Henderson), serving as Director of the Kathy J. Strange Answer Center, an outreach ministry of the Green Valley Baptist Association in Henderson.
  • Nelle Thomas (from Elizabethtown), serving as Director of Mission Hope for Kids, an outreach to students in Elizabethtown.
  • Kimberly Robinson (from Louisville), directing the Hands of Hope for Women Ministry through the Bashford Manor Baptist Church in Louisville.
  • Amy Wells (originally from upstate New York), ministering to vulnerable children and families of Appalachia through New Heights Church in Pineville.
  • Josh & Tasha McWherter (from Murray), serving with God’s Appalachian Partnership in McDowell to reach children and families in the Floyd County area of eastern Kentucky.
  • Allison Norris (from Somerset), serving in a ministry to young women in the Richmond, KY area.
  • Holly Decker (from Barbourville), serving with Cedaridge Ministries in Williamsburg to reach families of need in Southeast Kentucky.

We want to extend a special invitation for you to join us in this special commissioning service and to pledge your support to these new missionaries.

The 2016 Kentucky Missionary of the Year will also be recognized at this service.

For more information on the Kentucky WMU Missions Celebration go to http://kywmu.org/annualmeeting.

Hope to see you there.

March Madness and Missions

basketballI am a football fan who occasionally dabbles in watching basketball. However, I must admit that there is something exciting about March Madness! Maybe it’s the story of the Cinderella team that no one gives a shot to win, but somehow finds the right combination at the right time. Maybe it’s because of the frenzy of games and the do-or-die situation that every team faces. Whatever the reason, I enjoy the excitement. Regardless of whoever you are pulling for this much is true—no team makes it to March Madness without intentional preparation.

This same kind of intentionality is true also for the church. Jesus calls His disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8). Jesus’ call is for every church regardless of size or location. Obedience to Jesus’ disciple-making command is not for the faint of heart. Disciple-making is hard work. Faithfulness and effectiveness in the Great Commission must be intentional. If we aim at nothing, we will always hit nothing. In order to be a Great Commission church intentionality is essential.

If we do not make the Great Commission priority it will never be priority. There will always be committee meetings, staffing issues, member care concerns, as well as a whole host of other (important) matters that compete for our attention. It’s not that these issues do not need our attention as leaders in our churches, but not to the neglect of the Great Commission. To prioritize internal church issues over the external and clear command to make disciples of all nations is to minimize or even ignore Jesus’ final words to the disciples.

Because church ministry is filled with multiple layers of responsibilities, an intentional plan for Great Commission faithfulness is a must. No team aiming to arrive at March Madness does so without intentional preparation. So why would the church of our Lord be any different when it comes to following Jesus’ final earthly words?

There are multiple levels of Great Commission preparedness. Churches need to know why they exist, who they are in Christ, what they are called to do, and how they will do it. If every church is called to makes disciples of all nations (and they are!), then every church must figure out what that looks like for their congregation. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the Great Commission, but there are basic principles that apply to all. The Missions Mobilization Team at the KBC is happy to help you march through disciple-making principles for your church without all the madness!