“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.