How do you measure success? The world looks at bank accounts, houses,
prestige, degrees earned, or your position in the company. The athletic world looks at scores, games
won, and championships attained. The
church may look at membership rolls, worship attendance, the number of baptisms,
or the size of buildings. All of these
things are indicators or “marks on the measuring rod”. But true success is obedience to God. How can you be more successful than obeying
God who created and sustains us, and calls us to obediently join Him in the
There are more than one hundred
successful missionaries serving in Kentucky through the Mission Service
Corps. These Mission Service Corps missionaries
are having an impact in all areas of ministry through local churches,
institutions, associations and individual ministries. In terms of ministry opportunities, the sky’s
the limit with Mission Service Corps missionaries because each one has a
special ministry that fits their giftedness and uniqueness. Each missionary felt God’s calling on their
life to do the specific ministry they’re involved in.
Mission Service Corps missionaries
are committed to long-term mission service (4 months or longer for at least 20
hours per week) and are either self-funded or supported by partners while on
the mission field. Successful Mission
Service Corps applicants are carefully screened to serve in specific ministries
and following approval, are commissioned and participate in an orientation
prior to their placement.
If you want to be obedient to
God, and therefore successful, prayerfully consider if God wants you to be a
Mission Service Corps missionary by asking yourself these questions:
you felt an unusual moving and/or stirring of God in your heart?
God alerted you to see or hear of missions and/or ministries that you could
God placed in your heart a strong desire to help others?
you available to serve, either by going someplace or by remaining at home?
the Lord call you previously to missions or a special service and you were not
able to or did not respond?
God assured you that He will provide enabling for all He may call you to do?
If you answered “yes” to several of these questions, you
are aware of God working in your world and He may be calling you to serve as a
Mission Service Corps missionary.
Let me encourage you to…
seek guidance from God’s Word,
talk to and pray with your pastor or Associational
discuss your feelings with family members, and
pray, asking God to show you what He is doing
and how you can be a part of it.
The genius of the Mission Service Corps missionary structure
is that every Baptist can be directly involved in missions. For some, involvement means responding to
go; for others, it is providing so that someone
else may go. For still others, being involved
means praying for those who go and their partners; and for many it is a
combination of these.
Mission Service Corps missionaries won’t climb the
corporate ladder, become a celebrity, be featured on ESPN, or make as much as Bill
Gates, but they will be successfulif they serve the Lord with gladness by
answering His call to go. Will your response
be, here am I, send me?
I talked with a pastor last week who was discouraged and hurting. The reason he was discouraged might surprise you, because worship attendance wasn’t down and the church wasn’t behind in the budget. It wasn’t because of internal fighting or dissatisfaction with his sermons. Instead, this pastor was discouraged because members felt like conducting ministry in near-by apartments was too dangerous for the church. They didn’t want to go to that hard place because it could be un-safe for them.
I remember a similar situation many years ago when I was serving
as a student minister. I had planned a
mission trip to inner-city Chicago and some were questioning whether or not
they should allow the trip to take place because it could be un-safe. We did
go, and God blessed.
The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is our foundation for
going and making disciples everywhere. Everywhere,
sometimes include unsafe or hard places.
I’m not suggesting that we face all danger with no regard for the safety
of ourselves or others. But, like Paul
and Barnabas in the book of Acts, we are called to “risk” our lives for the
cause of Christ (Acts 15:26). Do we really
want to remove our gospel witness from the hard places in the world where it is
most needed? Jesus doesn’t call us to
safety, He calls us to GO! If we always
choose safety over obedience, we’ll never make disciples of all the world.
The Great Commission commands us to go. Here are three reminders found within The
Great Commission that will help us as we seek to be true to the calling.
1. The Great Commission reminds us of Jesus’ power over all things. These are the words of the risen Christ, who
had overcome death on the cross. He
claimed all authority and gave us the authority to represent Him in the world that
we live in.
2. The Great Commission reminds us of Jesus’ purpose for our
ministries. Our mission is, that we are to make disciples of all the world as
we go. This mission is a call to reach
all people groups. We are called to share
the gospel in our neighborhoods (even the un-safe ones) and in all the nations
(even the hard ones).
3. The Great Commission reminds us of Jesus’ promise to be with us
always. The promise that Jesus made
should be meaningful and encouraging. We
live in a dangerous world, but His promise should bring us enormous comfort
because He will always be with us.
There are many Christians throughout history who have faithfully served the Lord at tremendous cost to their safety and security. Our calling is to be found faithful with the gospel today, even in the unsafe and hard places. Lord, may we choose obedience to you over our safety and security.
Last week, at our annual state convention, we
recognized churches that had shown marked improvement in their missions
participation. Those churches understood the commandment we’ve been given to go
and make disciples of all people and had intentionally sent their members out
It was so interesting to learn of things the
churches had done to encourage their members to be on mission. One pastor even commented that the increased attention
on the various aspects of missions praying, giving and going contributed to a
cultural shift within the congregation that led to the increased missions
participation. They recognized that their church had a responsibility to send
members out on mission trips, church planting efforts, disaster relief
responses and local community ministry projects. Living as sent people had brought
intentionality to their going that God desires for His church. They didn’t just go on mission, but were sent
on mission by their church.
The culture of a church will greatly influence whether or not it becomes a sending church. Culture is the personality of the church. Culture, more that vision or strategy – is a powerful factor in the church. Therefore, it’s possible that the personality or culture of a church will need an adjustment so that it can become a sending church. Here are some steps toward development of a missions culture, that in turn, will produce a sending church.
sermons about missions – tell them of the church’s responsibility to send and
our responsibility to go.
it. Share with leaders, members and
visitors that everyone is commanded to go and we’ll help you to be obedient.
of your failure to send and go as the Bible commands, if you’ve not been doing
impact – share and celebrate missionary achievements, spiritual decisions and
answers to prayer.
with a missionary, or invite them to come and speak during the service.
Pray for missionaries and ministry needs
– share specific needs.
Offer many different kinds of opportunities
for people to use their gifts, talents and skills in missions and ministry
(mission trips, local projects, long term service, etc).
Give scholarships to financially enable
people to go.
Provide missions education opportunities
for children and adults – small groups, Sunday School, online, etc.
and implement a missions fair to introduce members to missionaries and missions
giving to missions and share how the offerings are used.
individuals and groups going out on mission.
a missionary – develop relationship, provide support, give updates on their
work, invite them to come, partner with them in the work, send teams.
So, what is the culture within your congregation? What steps will you take to influence your church’s culture that will result in more people being sent out on mission?
In the book of Genesis, God told Abraham to
offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering.
So, in obedience, Abraham binds Isaac and places him on the altar. At that time, God provided a ram to sacrifice
in place of Isaac and Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh, meaning
the Lord will provide, or the Lord will see to it.
A little over a year ago, God told Kevin
Cornette, pastor of Mays Lick Baptist Church, that they should start a feeding
ministry to address the hunger needs of those living in the area. Believing
that God would provide, Kevin led the church to begin Jehovah Jireh’s House, a
food ministry that now serves over 500 homes in 4 counties. What began with a
couple of chest freezers and a few boxes of food has grown to many pallets of food
that require 14 chest freezers, a large walk-in freezer, a box truck, flat-bed trailer,
and a forklift. And the Lord provided it all!
The ministry has grown to the point that Jehovah Jireh’s House has
become a cooperative effort of multiple churches requiring an average of 100
volunteers on each distribution day.
Poverty in Mason and surrounding counties is
higher than the state’s average of 17%. One-third
of those coming through Jehovah Jireh’s House live in neighboring Lewis County,
which has a 26% poverty rate. Kevin shared that 58% of those coming through Jehovah
Jireh’s House were grandparents raising their grandchildren.
The church sees Jehovah Jireh’s House as a
reservoir. The Lord provides the food, they distribute all that they have and
the Lord fills it back up again. Pastor
Kevin shared that “we serve everyone, no matter where they live, because the
Lord has brought them to us for a reason.
One of the primary reasons is because people are spiritually hungry too!” The church has baptized six people as a
result of the ministry and one family reached through Jehovah Jireh’s House now
volunteers on distribution days.
I visited Mays Lick on one of the recent
distribution days and was amazed to see how smoothly the entire operation
went. Hundreds of people registered and
heard the gospel clearly presented before walking through the distribution “store”
to fill up their grocery carts with food, personal hygiene items, fresh vegetables
and paper products. Each person walking
through Jehovah Jireh’s House is accompanied by a church member who shepherds
them through the process, talking with them and helping them to load their
Then, additional volunteers help each family
to load their vehicle with the items in their grocery cart. While the value of the items in the grocery cart
are approximately $125, the cost to the ministry is only pennies on the dollar because
again, the Lord provides. They procure
the items distributed from two major sources and many individuals and
God was faithful to provide what Abraham needed
and He has been faithful to Mays Lick to provide everything they need as well. But
before God provided for Abraham, he had to hear God and respond
obediently. The same was true for Mays
Lick and is true for us. If we want to witness God’s provision, we must first hear
from Him and respond obediently to what He says.
In response to Scripture (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15 and Acts 1:8), churches should be intentionally sending their members. Sending them on mission trips, church planting efforts, ministry projects and disaster relief responses. The church can reach our world with the gospel by putting the focus on how many we send rather than how many attend.
does it mean to send? Sending isthe act of enlisting, equipping and
mobilizing believers to engage the world with the gospel through local
community ministry, short-term mission experiences, church planting efforts, disaster
relief work, vocational ministry, and long-term missionary service.
A sending church equips its members
go, challenges them to live on mission every day, and provides many opportunities
for them to demonstrate the gospel using their gifts, talents, and life
First Baptist Church, Inez, Kentucky is one
example of a sending church. FBC Inez
has experienced tremendous missions participation growth during the last two
years because pastor Casey Carver has
made sending a priority.
Pastor Casey preached a month-long series of
sermons on the importance of missions, challenging the church to not only pray
and give, but to send and go. He used “One
Call” to send a missions themed daily devotional by phone to the entire church
during that month-long emphasis.
The church had not taken a mission trip in
many years, so pastor Casey planned a 3-day mission trip to an eastern Kentucky
ministry that was only 3 hours from their church. They sent 25% of the church’s Sunday morning
attendance on that initial mission trip.
Pastor Casey also encouraged the church to engage in ministry to the local community and many have done so. Members are doing mission work through local ministries like Appalachian Reach Out, Haven of Rest, Heavenly Treasures Thrift Store, and God’s Food Pantry. Additionally, a group of ladies meets regularly to knit items that are given to residents of the local nursing home.
The church recognized the need of children in
the foster care system who arrive at local homes with nothing to call their
own. Therefore, the church began a
ministry in which they provide host families with backpacks filled with items
needed by foster children.
The sending of members on mission continues,
as does the vision for how that will happen.
Pastor Casey has taken steps toward a new ministry called, God’s
Connection, that will serve as a residential drug recovery ministry. That vision includes a coffee shop and thrift
store that will provide revenue for the ministry and a place of employment for
those in the program. They have received permission to use an old motel for the
ministry are seeking donations to help with renovation as plans for God’s
Connection and the micro-ministries are developed.
Sending people on mission out from the church won’t happen
by accident. There must be
intentionality by church leadership, specifically, the pastor. Pastors, will you challenge your members to go? Churches, will you send your members out on
mission as commanded by Christ? We serve
a sending God who expects nothing less from us, than to go, because we’ve been
Most of the 2,400 churches of the
Kentucky Baptist Convention have chosen to belong to an association of
churches. Generally speaking, each
association exists to provide support and assistance to member churches. But, the specifics of how that is done and
what it looks like is up to each association and its member churches to
determine for their context.
For years, associations have been able
to assist member churches, and many of them without any real strategy in place.
But times are different today and every association should have a strategy that
is understood and embraced by member churches.
It is estimated that 60-70% of associations exist in a rural or town and
country setting, and they too, need a strategy that guides their work.
According to the 2017 Baptist
Associations Survey conducted by Jason Lowe, the second-most frustrating aspect
of rural/town & country associations (according to church leaders) was a
lack of clear vision/strategy. It’s
interesting to note that the greatest frustration was a lack of church
participation. Perhaps there is a lack
of participation because there is no associational strategy. Additionally, it’s
encouraging to note that according to the same survey, the top reason among
church leaders in rural/town & country associations for why they would
consider increasing their church’s financial contributions to the association
was if the association had a clear vision/strategy. The survey shows how important it is that
every association develop a strategy that church leaders can embrace.
Research provided in The State of
Baptist Associations report did reveal 5 common elements that church
leaders indicated that they wanted to see in their association’s strategy. Those strategy elements were shared by Jason
Lowe in a breakout session during the 2019 SBCAL meeting in Birmingham. Here they are:
evangelism and community engagement strategy –the most desired element of an
associational strategy was to increase the association’s efforts to assist
member churches in evangelism and community engagement. While the details of how that looks will be different
in each context, church leaders want to partner with other churches to engage
their communities with the gospel. Associations
should take the lead in studying spiritual & social demographics of
communities and coordinating efforts to mobilize churches on mission locally.
planting strategy – while some church leaders would prefer that their association
spend less time in church planting efforts, the majority of church
leaders would like to see their association spend more time in leading,
assisting, or (at the very least) supporting local church planting efforts.
– in addition to local evangelism efforts, church leaders want their
association to assist in planning and coordinating missions opportunities
beyond their local area. This could include state, national, or international
partnerships or mission projects led by the association.
Development Strategy – associations need to make sure that opportunities are provided
to equip, encourage, and strengthen pastors and church leaders. Consider
developing a Leadership Pipeline, especially if your association has difficulty
in identifying enough pastors to serve in your churches. Partner with your
state convention to provide workshops and conferences that assist in developing
– when asked to identify what would motivate them to increase their church’s
financial contributions to the association, one of the most popular answers was
an increased awareness of the association’s ministry efforts among church
leaders and lay members alike. Therefore, associational leaders must not only
implement a clear strategy for helping churches partner together to advance
God’s kingdom, they must share the message of how it is being done through
email, newsletters, social media, etc.
And it must be clearly communicated frequently and consistently.
Association’s that have an effective strategy to guide them will prove value to member churches and bring benefit to themselves. If your association doesn’t have a clearly defined strategy, now is the time to develop one. For assistance in developing a strategy for your association, contact your state convention or an associational mission strategist.
There was a celebration reception at
the Freeda Harris Baptist Center in eastern Kentucky earlier this month to
recognize retiring missionaries Greg & Alice Whitetree and incoming missionaries
Richard & Amy Greene.
Richard served as a pastor in
Salyersville before being called to come serve as director of the Baptist
center in Pike County. He and Amy have a
10 year-old son Alex, who has Down syndrome and has always been an active part
of their ministry. It was not uncommon
for Alex to accompany Richard when pastoring, as he made visits, took care of
things at the church, handed out popsicles or met needs in the community. Coming to Pike County to serve as missionaries
at the center will not be any different.
Alex will be there serving alongside his parents as they feed the hungry,
operate a thrift store, welcome and direct the work of volunteer teams, conduct
mobile Bible clubs for kids in the hollers and share Christ.
Something very special happened during
the introduction of the Greene family at the reception. After Richard and Amy
were introduced, Alex took the mic and said, “my name is Alex and I’m a
missionary”. Wow, what a statement of
intent and understanding. I was moved by
his candor and innocence. Here is a
young man that understood anyone can be a missionary.
Many people picture a missionary as a middle-aged man who leaves his job in America to evangelize and plant churches in Africa. But that is a simplistic view. Today, African Christians reach out to Muslims in the Middle East. College students spend their summer teaching English in Asia. A family in America befriends and witnesses to international students. A truck driver responds to those hurting following a disaster and a 10 year-old boy in Appalachia wants to share Jesus with people he meets. All these are missionaries.
technically a missionary is someone specifically called by God and sent out by
the local church, every Christian has a mission to share the gospel and make
disciples. But simply put, a missionary is an ambassador of Christ
and every believer is expected to live out
our faith and represent Christ as we go.
You don’t have to be formally educated,
have years of experience or receive a salary to be a missionary. You just have-to be willing to GO. The
Greene’s are beginning to learn the community and meet the people who live
there. But I have a feeling it will be
Alex who the community knows best because he is so accepting of others and
shares an infectious smile with everyone he meets. Thank you Alex, for being a missionary at the
Freeda Harris Baptist Center.
The Baptist association has been an important part of our history as Southern Baptists. It has been described as “the oldest cooperative unit in Baptist life tracing its existence back over 300 years.” Therefore, because of its long history, one could assume that the association must be effective in networking and helping churches in missions and ministry. But longevity of an organization doesn’t guarantee its relevance and value.
I have participated in associations that were effective and viewed as important by member churches. However, I’ve also seen associations where the focus had subtly shifted from serving and assisting churches to maintaining the associational staff and budget. So, what determines the effectiveness of an association? While the answer to this question is in some part determined by the context of the association and its member churches, there are some basic principles that can be applied to any association of churches.
Several years ago, Hugh Townsend (North American Mission Board) and others presented a model for a 21st Century Association known as the Four F’s: Fast, Focused, Flexible, and Friendly. It’s something that I have referred Kentucky associations to on numerous occasions. I would suggest that the leadership of every Baptist association or network of churches evaluate their effectiveness through the lens of these four F’s. Consider building the association’s structure and documents around these as well.
Fast – How long does it take your association to make a decision to spend $1,000? If a church has a need to be met, or the association has a ministry opportunity for its churches that it is made aware of, how fast can you meet it? Can you do so within hours or days, or does it take weeks and months? Effective associations are able to minister effectively in a short period of time.
Focused – Priority-based core values, mission, vision. Focus on taking the association to the churches… and when they need it. Customize what you do. Is the association’s focus on serving the churches and assisting them in advancing the Gospel, or is there a mindset that the churches are there for the association? The focus of the association should be on assisting the churches in their mission of reaching the lost and discipling the saved.
Flexible – How do you respond to immediate or emerging opportunities and needs? Is your structure flexible enough to meet church needs and conduct mission and ministry opportunities as they arise, or is it necessary to wait three or more months until the next Executive Committee or Annual Meeting to get approval? An Administrative Team or other committee/team should have the ability to adapt and readily meet the needs of the churches and the community. The structure should be simple, effective, and welcoming to new pastors and churches as well as to existing ones.
Friendly –Do the churches find the association ready and able to provide assistance and resourcing at their point of need and in a timely fashion? Is your association staff and leadership pastor/church friendly, or are they more concerned about not being inconvenienced? Is it relatively easy and simple for a pastor/church leader to contact the person needed and access the info/material that is available, or is it difficult?
Based on the Four F’s, how effective is your association? If associations aren’t effective, they will cease to exist because they are no longer of value to local churches.
by Eric Allen, Leader, Missions Mobilization Team, Kentucky Baptist Convention, June 2019.
church was founded as a missionary sending organization. It was not intended to
be a religious organization with missions as only a department within the
organization. Its primary purpose was missionary and its members were to be
involved in the spreading of the gospel.
many local churches today are not engaged in missions. Oh, they may send an
offering or even pray occasionally for missionaries, but their focus of attention
and participation isn’t upon missions. Sadly, many local churches have gone
from being the important participant who makes things happen in missions (like
in the book of Acts) to being a gentle spectator.
can the church once again, become the seedbed for mission involvement and
First of all, we can’t assume someone in the church will automatically lead this effort. If it’s everyone’s responsibility, it quickly becomes no one’s. It’s takes an intentional effort by a specific person or group, and not just the pastor. Having a team or group of people who are tasked with this responsibility is critical to ensuring that missions is focused upon and carried out by the congregation. So, form a team, committee or group of people who will help the church re-establish its rightful place in missions. It’s not important what you call them, but there is something effective about a group of people that work together on how they can engage and help the whole church to focus on missions.
Secondly, specific steps must be taken to restore the local church’s sense of participation and importance in missions. Determining how that will be done is responsibility of the “missions committee” or “Acts 1:8 team”. Here are some role recommendations that will guide this group in leading the church to once again, becoming a missions focused, engaged participant in reaching their community and the world for Christ:
Raise awareness and educate The first and most basic task of the missions team should be raising awareness and educating the church family about missions. This includes arranging opportunities for members to learn more about the missionaries, the spiritual and physical needs of people living within a region, and how the missionaries are seeking to address those needs. It might be slides or videos in worship or an article in the newsletter, highlighting a missionary the church is partnering with. Consider a digest of missions efforts or missionaries supported by the church with data, pictures and testimonies, outlining ways members can be engaged.
awareness through Sunday School classes, community groups, and children’s
ministry. Teach and focus on missions year-round, inviting missionaries to
speak or have them Skyped in during a worship service. While some churches feel that an annual
missionary conference is enough, it seldom sustains the church for the whole
Lead out in prayer The missions team must lead the way by getting church members involved in missions in practical ways. First, encourage them to pray for missionaries every day.
them how to use the monthly prayer guides published by the NAMB or IMB. Praying
for one missionary or one locale every day is a great start. Few people can
pray for “the whole world,” or “all the missionaries,” in
any manageable way.
prayer for missionaries and missions projects during the worship service and in
small groups. How can we expect people
to give and go if we aren’t willing to set aside time to pray.
Develop strategy Every church receives many requests from people or organizations asking for money. They are many worthy causes, but no one church can help everyone.
a strategy for how you will allocate funds and support various missionaries or
ministries. A strategy will give
direction and purpose to the missions committee’s task and to the church’s
The missions team must decide one basic question: How does God want our church to be involved in missions? Consider developing a strategy that simultaneously involves the church in their local community, state, nation and world. This may sound overwhelming, but it is possible for even the smallest of churches to adopt this kind of Acts 1:8 strategy.
The KBC Missions Mobilization Team is equipped to help
your missions team in the development of a strategy. They can also help the
team to assess the church’s current level of missions engagement through MAP,
Missions Assessment Profile. For assistance, contact www.kybaptist.org/missions, [email protected] or 502-489-3530.
Encourage missions giving One way or another, if God’s missionary mandate is to be fulfilled, missionaries must be supported by local churches. The missions team’s role is crucial, whether the church determines an annual missions dollar amount that is divided between missionaries and projects, raises a challenge goal amount for each of the missions offerings, or takes on the personal support of a number of missionaries.
financial support should be determined by the church’s missionary strategies.
That strategy guides budget decisions by the church. Without some direction and
purpose to the missions program, money is usually spent for the most persuasive
speakers and causes. This leaves little opportunity for critical needs that may
receive little attention. The committee must guard against this kind of
The missions team must also shield the budget from “pet” causes, which often come from influencers within the church. Tough, sometimes unpopular decisions must be made. This is easier to do when the church has agreed on both its missions strategy and its budget in advance.
Provide missionary care
While I’m thankful for missions sending agencies like our IMB and NAMB, I’m
afraid the church has relinquished its responsibilities to nurture missionaries
who are sent and now serving. In full cooperation with mission boards, churches
must take more responsibility for missionaries.
After a missionary begins serving, the missions team should work to ensure they are cared for. Specific suggestions include encouragement visits, communication with them (email, letters, Facetime, etc.) providing supplies and resources, sending care packages and mobilizing short-term teams to assist in the ministry.
forget to make caring for the children of missionaries part of your focus as
well. The church should be aware of
cultural adjustments, loneliness, and moral tests that MKs face.
for missionaries while on stateside assignment (or home on furlough) gives the
committee many chances to show care in meeting such needs as housing, cars,
clothing, vacation retreats, administrative assistance, etc.
Call out the “called”
Many young people receive their “call” to missions in college
organizations or at missions conferences. That’s great, but I am saddened that
so few of our church’s passionately challenge those God has called to go and then
actively send them.
In the book of Acts, the “call” of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13) came to them from the Holy Spirit through the church at Antioch. The missions team should look for people with cross cultural interest and ministry skills, and then challenge them to prayerfully consider serving in missions.
Be missions specialists Don’t let the word specialist scare you and keep you from assuming this role. The missions team can become missions specialist by familiarizing themselves and learning from many different resources. Resources may be missions books, magazines, newsletters, special seminars, conferences or our mission sending agencies (IMB, NAMB).
Missions team members should specialize to more effectively accomplish their role. Subcommittees (or individual committee members) can be organized by the Acts 1:8 strategy, each having a responsibility for a specific area (local, state, nation and world). Another way to organize for specialization is to assign each subcommittee/individual one of the recommended roles discussed in this article (education, prayer, strategy development, giving, and missionary care).
In closing, a church that chooses to form a missions team that actively functions as outlined above will find itself right in the middle of what God is doing! It will be a seedbed for missions engagement and they will be impacting the world with the gospel as God intended. My prayer is that more of our churches will have a missions or Acts 1:8 team helping them to organize around missions, rather than religion.
Every year in our
country, more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies
involving more than 6.6 million children. On average, 4 to 7 children die every
day because of abuse and neglect. On any given day, there are well over 400,000
children in foster care in the United States. Given the number of kids in
and out of the system over the course of a year, far more children now require
protection from the state. For example, in 2015, over 670,000
children spent time in U.S. foster care.
What does any of that
have to do with your church?
The psalmist wrote,
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him” (Psalm
Mark records that Jesus
“took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms,
he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name
welcomes me’” (Mark 9:36).
Matthew quotes Jesus as
saying about children who were in his presence, “See that you do not despise
one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see
the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
James stated, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is
this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” (James
As Kentucky Baptists
seek to live out the teachings of Scripture, we recognize that we have an
obligation to acknowledge, welcome, and do all we can to protect children,
especially those who are vulnerable or have already been victimized. We have
been called to care for orphans of dead parents and orphans of the living, kids
whose family has been declared unfit, even a severe risk to the child. One of
the ways we meet that obligation is through our financial support of the
ministry of our Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children, known today as Sunrise
Children’s Services. Every church giving through the Cooperative Program and/or
through the special Thanksgiving Offering, supports Sunrise.
What more can we do?
Raise our awareness to
signs of abuse and neglect and being proactive about reporting anything that
looks suspicious is a good place to start.
With 8,700 victimized
kids in the state system in Kentucky, let’s consider adopting a child or
training to be a foster parent.
Most of us could provide
respite care for a foster family, which means you keep a child overnight or
over the weekend.
Any of us could become a
mentor and visit a girl or boy who lives in an institution without anyone in
their lives who ever interacts with them except those who are paid to do so.
We could serve as a CASA
volunteer—a “Court Appointed Special Advocate” who has volunteered to be
assigned to kids in the court system to help them navigate the bureaucracy and
Maybe you could start an
orphan care ministry in your church.
These are just some of the many ways we can help protect at risk children and seek to heal the hurts of those who have become victims.
Written by Dr. Paul Chitwood, President, International Mission Board