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.