You are meant for so much more!

We have all asked the question, “Why did this tragic or hurtful situation occur?”  We have all experienced pain in life and have wondered why us.  But have we ever asked the question, “Why do blessings come our way?”  To ask it more personally, why am I blessed with what I have in life?  Psalm 67 is a prayer of blessing adapted from Numbers 6, where Old Testament priests would speak a word of blessing on the people of Israel. 

Psalm 67:1 prays, “God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us—Selah” (all references NASB).  The Psalmist is praying for the grace, blessing, and favor of God.  But why is God gracious, and why does He bless and show us favor?  Verse 2 gives us the reason— “that your way may be known on the earth, your salvation among all nations.”   

God’s good gifts to His people are not meant to be horded by us, but to be heralded for Him.  We have what we have, and we are where we are in order that we might make God known among the nations.  In fact, Paul told the leading men of Athens, “And He (God) made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:26).  When we live and where we live are all determined by God’s good design—a design meant to be used to make Him famous around the world.    

Currently, there are 7,103 unreached people groups or 4.5 billion people unreached with the gospel of Jesus.  Unreached means that of the these 7,103 people groups less than 2 percent of the people follow Jesus.  According to the International Mission Board, a people group is the largest group through which the gospel can flow without encountering significant barriers of understanding and acceptance (www.peoplegroups.org). 

God’s desire, according to Psalm 67, is that the grace, blessing, and favor He gives us (v 1) is to be used to point all peoples to the salvation of our God (v 2).  How might each of us leverage our lives—the good gifts He has given us—to make much of Jesus where He is not known?  The goal God’s blessing to us and our proclamation of Him is so that “the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You” (v 3).      

God’s praise is meant to be global and He desires to use us for that aim.  Life is meant for more than daily schedules of work, school, running errands, and going to ball practice.  We have received educations, homes, cars, salaries, and retirements for more than our comforts.  “God, our God, blesses us.  God blesses us that all the ends of the earth may fear Him” (v 6b-7). You are meant for so much more.  How, then, will you use the blesses from God to impact the nations for His glory?     

KBC: Helping Churches

Our mission as a convention is simple: created by churches, for churches, to help churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.  The KBC staff aims to live out this mission of helping churches fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus.  But what exactly does this mission statement mean for the KBC? 

Created by churches

We exist as the Kentucky Baptist Convention because Baptist churches throughout Kentucky in 1837 desired to cooperate for the furthering of the gospel.  The KBC owes its existence to Baptist churches. 

For churches

Baptist churches created the KBC for churches.  In other words, the KBC was created not to be served by the churches, but to serve the churches.

To help churches

Thus, the KBC exists to help churches do what God has called the church to do—the Great Commission.  Because the KBC was created by churches, for churches, the convention exists to help churches.  Helping mobilize churches for the Great Commission is the mission of the KBC. 

Reach Kentucky and the world for Christ

God did not give the Great Commission to denominations or mission boards; He gave it to the church.  Denominations and mission boards are helpful insomuch as they help churches reach those across the street and across the sea with the gospel.

If your church needs help with carrying out the Great Commission of Jesus, please call on us.  If your church desires training or resources or ideas for Great Commission work, we are happy to help.  After all, we were created by churches, for churches, to help churches reach KY and the world for Christ.  Contact [email protected] to begin the discussion on how we can best help you.    

Cooperative Missions Matters in Cincinnati

The muddy and winding Ohio River flows through or borders six states, two of which are KY and OH.  Along the Ohio River’s path sits America’s original Boomtown—Cincinnati, also called the Queen City.  Cincinnati is most notably known as the home of Reds baseball where the Great American Ballpark rests on the bank of the river. 

Metro Cincinnati boasts of 2.1 million people, which is nearly half of the population of the whole state of KY.  Sadly, only 13.7 percent of Cincinnati’s metro residents are affiliated with any evangelical church.  Not surprisingly, in the five counties around the city, there is only 1 SBC church for every 10,298 people.

How does that compare with the whole state of KY?  There is 1 SBC church for every 1,724 people in the state.  This is why the KBC is partnering with NAMB and Send Cincinnati to connect our churches with church planters that are investing their lives in the Queen City for maximum gospel impact.

Just this week, KBC partnered with Send Cincinnati to lead a vision tour in order that KBC church leaders might meet church planters, see the city, and hear the vision for multiplying disciples there. 

As one planter noted, “KBC churches have made it possible for us to do more through their partnerships with us than we could on our own.”

Cooperative mission is what we are about as Southern Baptists.  We really believe we can do more together than we can by ourselves.  The 31 active church planters in Cincinnati believe that as well.  In step with a baseball town, our planters need gospel partners in order to move the runner around the bases.  We need KBC churches stepping up to the plate to advance these planters and their work for the gospel.  

Your church can assist in praying for, providing for, and/or participating in the work of the gospel being accomplished in Cincinnati.  For more information about Cincinnati or our other KBC partnerships, email us at [email protected] or visit www.kybaptist.org/vision.        

Preparing for Short-term Missions

Have you ever felt strongly compelled be part of something great only later to realize you were extremely unprepared for it?  The call of missions is indeed a great calling.  God certainly calls some to spend long-term amounts of time on mission away from their home.  He also calls others to join His mission through short-term capacities.  Both calls require preparation. 

Short-term missions—individuals and teams joining a long-term missionary’s vision and strategy for advancing the gospel among particular places and peoples—requires much preparation in order to be most effective.   

While there may be times when a mission effort can be pulled together quickly, most often the preparation requires many months.[1]  No rigid timeline exists for short-term missions, but there are some general steps that allow a team to prepare well in advance in order to maximize the impact of the team with the strategy of the host missionary.  Here is a suggested timeline that can be used as a guide:

  • 10 to 12 months prior–determine assignment
  • 9 months prior—determine team leader(s)
  • 9 months prior—publicize mission effort
  • 6 to 9 months prior—recruit team/receive volunteers, deposit due
  • 6 to 9 months prior—contact travel agent to begin searching ticket prices
  • 6 to 9 months prior—schedule initial info meeting, collect bi-monthly or quarterly payments
  • 6 months prior—apply for passport and check requirement for visas
  • 6 months prior—plan team meetings and meet monthly to discuss general mission prep
  • 3 to 4 months prior—purchase plane tickets
  • 3 to 4 months prior—get immunizations (shots!) if necessary
  • 3 to 4 months prior—team meetings should become more specialized according to what the team will be doing on the field
  • 2 months prior—develop prayer team
  • 4 weeks prior—plan commissioning service for team
  • 1 week prior—hold commission service
  • 1 week or month after—plan celebration time with team and/or church

May the Lord use our preparation in short-term missions to have lasting impact among places and peoples in need of knowing Jesus. 


[1] Disaster Relief is an example of mission efforts that take place quickly, but even then, preparation and training have occurred months and even years prior. 

Numbers Matter for the SBC

Their smiles, colorful outfits, upbeat music, movements and songs had the crowd captivated.  While the room was filled with likely 1500 guests, everyone’s attention as they filed toward their tables was on the children.  The IMB hosted dinner at the SBC annual meeting began with the beautiful Swahili children’s choir singing in their heart language.  We then saw the gospel in sign language and later prayed for soon appointed IMB missionaries.  All these special treats represented the importance of numbers for the SBC.    

IMB Dinner SBC 2019

Every year Southern Baptist churches compile internal stats in order to report for the Annual Church Profile (ACP).  Each church sends these numbers to their state convention—numbers which cover multiple categories like membership, worship attendance, small group attendance, baptisms, mission participation, etc.  These numbers intend to represent, for the most part, the health of the local church in a given year.  Numbers represent health ultimately because they represent people.  The SBC is ultimately about people—making disciples of all peoples (Matt 28:16-20).   

While numbers do not tell the whole story, they do reveal an important part of the life of the church.  To minimize numbers is to ignore the importance of numbers in the Bible.  After all, a whole book in the Bible is called Numbers in order to number the people of Israel after their wilderness wondering.  So, while we don’t place all our emphasis upon numbers, we dare not overlook the importance of numbers. 

In fact, the Bible speaks of a great multitude (of people) so large that no one could count the number.  John the revelator wrote in Revelation 7:9-10 of this “great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb . . . crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

John’s words in the last book of the Bible remind us that numbers matter, massive numbers at that.  This great multitude gathers around the throne of God and the Lamb declaring that salvation belongs to our God and the Lamb. To be sure, these around the throne are around the throne because salvation brought them there, salvation from God through the Lamb.    

Our new IMB president, Paul Chitwood, reminded us so well this week at our annual SBC meeting why we exist as a denomination (Rev 7:9).  The work is still not complete.  John did not promise an incalculable number from some nations nor a few tribes, peoples and languages, but all!  Jesus will not be worshiped by some peoples of the world and praised by many languages on this planet.  He will be praised and prized by all nations, tribes, peoples, and languages. 

We exist for this reason as the Southern Baptist Convention.  Under the “big tent” of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, though differences remain, our common doctrinal commitment allows us, rather compels us, to work together for Revelation 7:9. 

Let’s not forget that numbers matter.  Though not telling the whole story, numbers tell an important one.  We aim for a number so large that no one can count.  We long for people from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.  To this work we set our sights because numbers matter.

Partnerships to Help Churches

The KBC approaches mission partnerships with the goal of helping churches develop gospel partnerships.  Partnerships, in the past, were developed between the KBC and certain organizations/denominations.  For example, the KBC had a partnership with the Kenya Baptist Convention in Africa or the New England Baptist Convention in the northeast.  God used those, and we are grateful for those relationships. 

However, in recent years, we have shifted the focus of partnerships away from the KBC and placed the emphasis of the partnership between local church and local church . The KBC exists to help churches form gospel partnerships for Great Commission impact. 

Therefore, we desire to connect KBC churches to gospel partnerships in Kentucky, North America, and the nations.  We want to resource, train, and introduce KBC churches to missionaries, church planters, established churches, and ministries in order to develop relationships that will further the gospel around the world through the local church.

There is no better way to develop strong gospel partnerships than by spending time together. The church and/or missionary you are prayerfully considering partnering with is best begun with an initial visit. As your church explores possible partnerships with other local churches or missionaries seeking to plant churches, how should you approach your time of discerning if this connection will make a good partnership? Make the most of your short your time while on an initial visit to the church and area.  How might you do that?

  1. Be prayerful—With Paul, pray always.  Be in prayer as you travel from point A to point B. Pray as you walk and talk.  Pray as you hear from planters. Pray as you return to your room.  The point…pray!  Ask the Lord to lead you in how He would have you maximize your impact in this place.
  2. Be flexible—the time is short and filled with much to see and hear and experience.  Be prepared to spend long days with potentially shifting schedules.
  3. Be attentive—take careful notes both on paper and in your head of missionaries/planters, stories, and situations that stand out to you.  What might speak to you now might be forgotten if you do not write it down and make note of why it impacted you.  Be observant of the area you are in (what is the community like, the people, the needs, etc.).  Take whatever notes necessary, so that you can make a prayerfully discerning decision about partnerships later with your leadership team.
  4. Be interactive—this partnership is an experience, not a vacation.  When able, talk with the planters or your hosts about the city, the needs, ways to be involved, etc.  The point is to be engaged in the mission.
  5. Be willing—to partner as the Lord leads you.  As David Platt suggests, bring a blank check (of your life) to the table and ask the Lord to fill in the amount.

In the end, the Great Commission is about the local church partnering with others for the advancement of the gospel.

“I’m Not Worthy!”

As pastor Wayne and his translator walked toward the homeless man in the street, the make-shift tents and people were everywhere.  This is the part of town most people avoid because of crime, drug use and homelessness.  No doubt for this KBC vision team to Brazil, the surroundings were a bit intimidating.  Yet, the team was determined to forego their comfort and share the love of Jesus with those whom society had already abandoned. 

The words out of Wayne’s mouth through the translator were simple, “We have come 3,000 miles from the United States to tell you that God loves you.”  The homeless man stood still and began to weep. He then spoke to the translator in Portuguese.  Shocked by the man’s response, Wayne asked for clarification with his translator.  “What’s wrong?” Wayne asked.

As the translator began to explain, Wayne knew that the Lord was at work.  “You see,” clarified the translator, “the man said, ‘I’m not worthy.’”  By God’s grace, Wayne shared with this man abandoned by society and enslaved to sinful devices that God sent His Son in order to take our sin and bare our shame. 

Indeed, Jesus is our substitute for sin as Isaiah the prophet foretold he would be, some 700 years before the Messiah is ever born.  “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening of our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed…. But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:4-6). 

The truth is, none of us are worthy.  Our unworthiness is why Jesus came.  He is worthy and only a perfect sacrifice for sinners would “justify the many” because “He will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).  After hearing about Jesus’ love for sinners and that He alone is worthy and could be the sacrifice for our sins (no matter what we have done), the man in that Brazilian street of the largest city in South America, with tears streaming down his face, trusted in the One who bore his griefs, sorrows, and sins.   

Men and women all over Brazil, Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, North America, Kentucky and everywhere in between need to hear of the only One worthy who was the sacrifice for sinners.  People in high rises and low rises, addicted to drugs and addicted to money, on the “right side” of the tracks and the “wrong side” of the tracks all need to know that “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.” 

Kentucky Baptists, we know that we are not worthy.  That’s why Jesus came.  But countless others have no idea that He came, let alone of what He did.  By God’s grace, let’s lead our churches across the street and across the sea to say, “We have come to tell you that God loves you.” Perhaps we, too, will see tears stream down as the unworthy are made new.     

Evangelize the Unreached

Acts is a book about the advancement of the gospel (through the birthing of churches) as the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the lives of Jesus followers. In fact, the Holy Spirit takes would-be cowards and transforms them into lion-hearted witnesses for Jesus. For example, Peter preaches his second sermon at the temple area in Acts 3.  Chapter 4 describes Peter and John being arrested for preaching the gospel.  Peter and John make it clear to the religious leaders who had arrested them that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus (Acts 4:12).  In the midst of hostility, Peter and John demonstrate gospel boldness.

The religious leaders are surprised by the confidence of Peter and John because they were uneducated men.  They further recognize that these two men had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).  In order to squelch the boldness of Peter and John, the religious leaders threaten them to speak no more about Jesus (Acts 4:17).  You can imagine them being told that if they continue with their message, then they will do to them what was done to Jesus.  

Instead of cowering to the threat, Peter and John reply that they cannot help but speak about what they have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).  In other words, we cannot keep silent; we must not keep silent.  They are threatened again and released.

Peter and John gather back with the church and report all that had happened (Acts 4:23).  Peter’s and John’s gospel boldness comes through their confidence in a sovereign God (Acts 4:27-28).  Just as God was in sovereign control over the death of Jesus, He is also in charge of their lives.  Thus, gospel boldness is rooted not in ourselves, but in someone else.   

They pray, not for deliverance per say, but for boldness to proclaim the gospel more (Acts 4:29).  While we might think that their prayer would revolve around asking for a way out, they actually pray for boldness in the midst of hostility.  The gospel spreads from Jerusalem and beyond as the church prays, the Spirit fills, and the believers are emboldened. 

Why such a change from chapter 1 where the disciples are locked up in an upper room?  Well, it’s really quite simple.  Jesus was dead, but now He is alive . . . and they knew it.  Jesus left them in order that He might send another Comforter who would fill them with power (John 14; Acts 1:8).  Still yet, the disciples really believed that Jesus is the only way to be saved.  That means any other way besides through Jesus alone is no way at all.  They were gripped by this truth!  They lived, breathed, slept and ate this truth.  Men and women, boys and girls are eternally lost without Jesus.  Whether as an individual in a remote tribe in Indonesia who mixes animism with Islam or a cultural Christian in suburban Kentucky or a postmodern living in a mega city, all are lost who do not forsake their sin and trust in Jesus alone for salvation.

Ultimately, to be unreached is to not know Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Peter and John were gripped by the truth that Jesus alone saves.  They lived their lives seeking to make Him know, even if it cost them theirs.  May we, too, be gripped by the truth that Jesus alone saves and pray for gospel boldness to reach the unreached.        

“Wait” Before We Go

When it comes to the Great Commission, the lostness of the world is second to the global glory of God.  God’s greatest concern is His great glory among the nations.  Only when our passion for God’s glory blazes will our endeavors to make Him famous among the nations shine bright. 

photo by IMB

Ironically, instead of blazing a trail for God’s glory in Jerusalem and abroad, the early disciples were first told to wait.  Wait?  The strategy for which the Lord gave the apostles began with waiting.  That seems quite odd for a movement that was intended to take the world by storm.  But if you think about it, where does this unquenchable passion for God’s glory among the nations come from? 

Jesus knew that what the early disciples needed most was power from on high, not power from within.  Passion for God is ultimately God-given passion.  Therefore, Jesus instructs the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for what the Father had promised, namely the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).  Both the power and passion for accomplishing the Great Commission comes from above; it comes from outside of ourselves.  The Holy Spirit would ignite a passion and provide the power to go into all the world preaching the gospel (Acts 1:6-8).

Interestingly, after Jesus’ departure, we find the disciples locked up in an upper room . . . waiting.  That is, waiting and praying (Acts 1:12-14).  Great Commission advancement always invovles waiting and praying.  A survey through Acts demonstrates that gospel boldness is closely connected and often follows the fervant prayers of God’s people (e.g., Acts 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:6-7; 10:9; 13:1-3).

As we examine the book of Acts it’s no wonder why we see such incredible gospel advancement.  The early church bathed the advancement of the gospel in prayer.  Yet, prayer seems to be an afterthought in so many churches today when it comes to Great Commission faithfulness.  “The gospel must be on the go,” we say.  “We don’t have time to pray when lostness is all around us,” we chide.  Yet, the underlying truth that the early church understood, that we would do well to understand, is that the gospel advances supernaturally through the prayers of the people of God.  In other words, the battle against lostness is first fought on our knees.

photo by IMB

We need churches and associations entering the battlefield on their knees before going to their feet.  Yes, “beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things” (Rom 10:15).  Yet, as we see from Acts, the beauty of our feet comes from calloused knees.  Great Commission faithfulness must begin with empowerment thru prayer.  Strategies void of prayer will be strategies void of power.  Only when God’s people cry out to Him, who alone can take a message offensive and foolish to the world and turn it into a beautiful embrace of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, will that message advance powerfully.  Let us be faithful to advance the Great Commission, but let us wait upon calloused knees for God to give us His power and passion.

Is Risk Right in Missions?*

“Is it safe?” This question echoes across church fellowship halls and Sunday School rooms as short-term informational meetings take place throughout the year in churches of all shapes and sizes. The call goes out in the church for a short-term team to go to ____ and do ____. A meeting is scheduled for those interested in this mission opportunity. Inevitably, pressing upon the inner thoughts of those interested or those who love those who are interested is the question of safety. “Will I or my loved one be safe?”

Forming our theology of risk is vital to an overall strategy for fulfilling the Great Commission. The purpose of a theology of risk allows individuals and groups to think through the reality that any mission endeavor (long-, mid- or short-term) involves risk. New Testament missionaries faced risk (e.g., Acts 9:15-16), and it is only appropriate to understand that today’s missionaries may also face risks or crises while serving God during mission efforts. In the face of such crises, a clear understanding of Scripture, as related to risk, should prepare mission team members to honor God despite difficult circumstances.

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is the foundation of all the church does in the name of Christ. Like Paul and Barnabas in the book of Acts, we are called upon to “risk” our lives for the cause of Christ (Acts 15:26).

Missions can involve high levels of risk—criminal, political, health, or even natural catastrophe.  Understanding God’s call on our lives is essential (Luke 9:23; 2 Timothy 2:1-4).  The biblical legacy of risk is evident in Scripture.  Paul was ready to be bound and even die, if necessary (Acts 21:13).  Some early believers could have escaped but chose not to (Hebrews 11:32-38).

No single response to danger is given in Scripture. Both fleeing and facing danger is given. There is freedom in either case; therefore, we must be careful not to develop hard-and-fast “rules” for risk. For example, Stephen faced risk in Acts 7-8, and the early believers fled in conjunction to his death (Acts 8:1-4). Neither are viewed as superior or less-than in these circumstances. In fact, God uses both facing and fleeing for His glory (Acts 11:19-26).

The problem for the church today is often not the decision of whether to face or flee danger, but whether we should even consider danger as an option. We assume that Jesus wants us to be safe and secure, so why would we go to other places where there are risks?  Jesus does not call us to safety; He calls us to be satisfied (in Him).

Facing or fleeing danger seemed to be assessed most often in Scripture based upon the need for the gospel in a particular place.  In Corinth, Paul, who was apparently fearful, was assured by God that he would be safe while he remained in Corinth preaching the gospel (Acts 18:9-11).  He understood that his calling was one of testifying to the gospel of the grace of God in places where it had not been heard (Acts 20:22-24).  He knew danger awaited him. 

There is a sense of urgency in Scripture for gospel advancement. This urgency means that, at times, Jesus calls us to face danger, and at other times, He calls us to flee from danger.  May God give us the wisdom and grace to do both. *(Portions adapted from Alabama Baptist Convention State Board of Missions Policy and Procedure Manual)