The Lord Will Provide

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 cart.  

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 churches. 

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.   

Four Steps to Embrace Your Community

During the process of reaching the diverse community around us, we must each move from thinking like a missionary to engaging like one. While it can be intimidating to make the transition from theory and strategy to entering and embracing the lives of people, it is well worth it. To make this transition, there are four characteristics we must embrace.

Local Church.Global Vision

1. Be a person of prayer
Simply getting to know a person or plugging into a community is crucial, but it’s not the only goal. We must engage with people and communities in such a way that our hearts become connected — we must pour ourselves out before the Lord in prayer on their behalf. To do so, we need to plead with the Lord to draw our hearts to them in love.

2. Be a learner
A key aspect of thinking like a missionary is humility. We must be aware that we have much to learn about the beautifully diverse cultures and communities that God has created. If we are not careful, we can subconsciously impose our desires, ideas, preferences and systems onto the people we are hoping to engage. As humble learners, we can look for opportunities to meaningfully and lovingly serve the people or communities we are seeking to engage. Here is a helpful list of categories for potential pathways of engagement:

  • Seasonal – Are there certain times of the year that present unique opportunities for engagement in contextually appropriate ways?
  • Social – Are there opportunities to provide or enhance experiences to build meaningful relationships and community?
  • Sports – Are there sports or athletic opportunities that resonate meaningfully that could be offered or enhanced?
  • Study – Do you have the skillset to provide support or share a desired knowledge to the person or community? Be careful not to assume that the desire to learn is there.
  • Spiritual – Are there cultural expressions of worship that could foster discussion where you can learn as well as provide a reason for the hope that you have in Jesus?
  • Service – Are there needs that you have the capacity and skills to meet?
  • Situational – Are there certain needs based on a crisis or situational occurrence that you can step into?

Answering these questions thoughtfully and humbly will provide countless ideas for us as missionaries to die to ourselves for the sake of the gospel. After all, this is how they will know what love is (John 3:16).

3. Be a seeker
One of the key purposes of intentional engagement should be to identify a “person(s) of peace.” This was a vital component to Jesus’ missional strategy in Luke 10. A person of peace in a community is a gift from God and an open channel for living water to saturate a community. This person can offer credibility within the community, as well as offer insight into how the community operates.

4. Be a friend
One of the most profound ways to reach those in your community is to be a true and courteous friend. When we speak to people, we should ask their names and pronounce them correctly. We should do whatever is necessary to remember them. Ask meaningful questions and listen intently to the answers. Allow people to share their stories as they are willing.

Inhabit these characteristics and embrace those in your community with boldness and humility knowing that the risen Jesus is with you always. For more tools, techniques, or training on how to understand and impact you community for Christ, please email [email protected]. We are here to serve you.

Storm Chasers

I have served almost twelve years as Disaster Relief Director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention and have been involved in countless disaster responses across our globe – from hurricanes on the Gulf Coast to tornadoes in the Midwest to famines in Africa. As I reflect on these events, there is no question in my mind that God is good and His heart breaks as He watches the suffering caused by these catastrophic events. For those reeling in the aftermath of these life-changing events, the loss can be overwhelming.

So what should our response be as the church to those suffering in the aftermath of these crushing incidents?

The Bible again and again calls us to reach to those wounded by life with compassion.

Jesus taught us in Matthew 7:12, ” Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.”

The apostle Paul commands us in Galatians 6:2, “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. “

This is at the heart of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief. Disaster Relief volunteers respond time and time again to bring practical help, a healing touch, and the hope of Christ to those struggling in the aftermath of disasters. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams are often the first on the ground and the last to leave these broken places. God’s light shines through the darkness as these responders offer the compassion and hope of Christ.

God often uses nature to both bless and to challenge us, to bring us food and to teach us the lessons of the struggle. The Bible challenges the church to fight against the devastation, disease, and brokenness of our world. He calls His followers to enter the battle and to be His hands and feet of compassion in a broken world. We are to leave the sidelines and enter the fray. As John reminds us,” This is how we have come to know love: Christ laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16).

Historically, the church has always responded to tragedies with sacrifice and courage. During the third century it was the church that remained to minister to its neighbors when most others fled the plague. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief provided millions of meals and rebuilt scores of homes. And last year, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief provided over 116,000 meals to survivors of Hurricane Florence and assisted hundreds of families with chainsaw cleanup and recovery after Hurricane Michael.

As the followers of Christ, we choose to be “storm-chasers”. But we do not chase the storm to gather data, we chase the storm to bring help, healing, and hope.

If you would like to learn how you could become a Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer, go to www.kybaptist.org/dr or call us at (502) 489-3527.

Seven Ways to Embrace the Displaced

Imagine being a refugee landing in the United States for the first time. You’ve been waiting for years for the opportunity to start your life again. You haven’t had a home to call your own, your children have only sporadically attended school, and your spouse suffers from insomnia and nightmares about the violence that drove you from your country. You don’t speak English, and you have no idea how to get started in a new country.

Refugees have an array of hopes and fears as they acclimate to a new culture and a new way of life. As followers of Jesus, we need to stand ready to embrace those who arrive in our cities and neighborhoods. We have a ready opportunity to impact their hearts and lives for the gospel as they resettle in our midst. Here are seven powerful and practical ways to welcome them into your community.

1. Greet Newly Arrived Refugees

Greet and transport a newly arrived refugee family from the airport to their new home. Meet them with a welcome basket filled with information about their new community, including emergency contact information, maps, invitations to your church worship services, tutoring sessions, and ESL classes, as well as a note telling them how happy you are to have them in your community.

2. Be a Friend

If you’ve ever moved to a new neighborhood, you understand that you don’t truly feel settled until you’ve been welcomed by new friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, most refugees are accustomed to being ignored, and loneliness is one of their greatest challenges.

For help getting to know a family and becoming a part of their lives as they adapt to a new country and culture, connect with the local resettlement agency that sponsors new refugees in your community, and learn about their volunteer opportunities.

3. Visit Refugees in Their Homes

As with any friendship, you must make time for your new friends. Visit them frequently in their homes and bring along a basket of fruit or a freshly baked cake. Allow time to stay and chat. Ask them questions about their family’s stories and how they came to arrive in your community. Learn about their favorite foods and customs. They’ll likely be happy to share.

In return, you can share more about your family and some of your favorite traditions. If you’re invited to a meal, try everything. They’ll be happy to share their very best with you, even when they have a limited amount to give.

4. Help Refugees Adapt to Their New Communities

Take your refugee friends shopping and explain the different types of stores in your community. Help set up phone service and doctor’s appointments. You can also assist them in registering their children for school and showing them how to use public transportation.

5. Share Your Home and Life

Open your home and welcome a refugee family into your everyday life. Share important milestones by inviting them to birthday parties. Invite them to participate in routine family activities throughout the year. Teach them how to build a snowman and serve hot chocolate or make homemade cookies. Take them for their very first roller coaster ride at a local amusement park. Invite them to your children’s baseball or soccer games or to be your guests at a professional sporting event. Host them for their very first American picnic or cookout.

6. Share Special Holiday Traditions

Invite your refugee friends to take part in your special holiday traditions at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and any other festivities that may be new to them. Share the American tradition of thankfulness with a traditional turkey dinner. Plan your favorite Christmas recipes, sing carols, and give each family member a special gift. In the spring, invite them to the Easter service with your church. Special occasions like these can make your new friends feel honored and provide wonderful inroads to explain your hope in Jesus and the difference he makes in your daily life.

7. Strategic Church and Associational Involvement

Churches and associational networks also have strategic opportunities to be a blessing to refugees in their area. Not only can they provide cross-cultural evangelism training to their members who will be building relational bridges, but they can also provide venues for larger community outreach. Consider the following ministry possibilities:

  • ESL (English as a Second Language) classes for adults and tutoring sessions for children
  • Health screenings and basic health care
  • Classes on citizenship, budget planning, banking, and driver’s education
  • A furniture bank where families can obtain essential household goods
  • Job boards to post hiring opportunities
  • Baby showers for new mothers

Ask the Lord to give you his heart for the refugees in your community. Perhaps Jesus has placed specific families in your area so that you could be the one to demonstrate the gospel to them. Showing and sharing his love and compassion to refugees in your community can be one of the most strategic and rewarding global missions experience you will ever have. Contact John Barnett, KBC Mission Strategist, to get you and your church connected today. [email protected]

They Went because They Were Sent

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. 

What 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 experiences. 

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 sent. 

What is Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief?

Our world continues to experience devastation and destruction annually.  Man-made events as well as natural disasters continue to challenge our minds with “why.”  Why has this happened?  Why me?  Why my community?  As Believers, we cannot answer the “why,” but we can respond with love and compassion as we help those affected know that they are not forgotten by God.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is one of the three largest disaster response entities in the United States. Trained volunteers stand ready to respond when disasters hit across our globe.  Disaster Relief ministry provides an opportunity for believers to be the hands and feet of Christ to hurting people.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief began ministry in 1984 and is part of the larger Southern Baptist Send Relief network of 42 state conventions, the North American Mission Board, and Baptist Global Response.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief is supported by gifts of Kentucky Baptists through the Cooperative Program and the Eliza Broadus Offering for State Missions.  This ministry offers opportunities for believers to be on mission for Christ during times of crisis.

The Apostle John instructed us:

“Let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

In times of crisis, people need more than empty words.  They need someone to come alongside them with genuine help and real hope.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief brings practical help, the healing grace of Christ, and the hope of the Gospel to those devastated by disaster.  More than 4500 Kentucky Baptists are trained as disaster relief volunteers.  Volunteers can staff mobile kitchens designed to provide thousands of hot meals, move in with a chainsaw after a tornado, assist homeowners in cleaning up a flooded home, offer spiritual care as a chaplain, and provide many other disaster services.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are trained in:

  • Bulk Supply Distribution
  • Chainsaw Ministry
  • Chaplain Care
  • Emergency Childcare
  • Damage Assessment
  • Flood and Wildfire Clean up
  • Mass Feeding
  • Roof Tarping
  • Radio Operations
  • Shower and Laundry Ministry
  • Water Purification and Well Repair

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief has a host of resources that can be mobilized during times of disaster.  Resources that can be deployed are:

  • 4 Mobile Kitchens with the capacity to prepare 68,000 meals a day for disaster survivors
  • 27 Chainsaw/Flood/Fire Recovery Trailers
  • 2 Mobile Communication and Command Units
  • 7 Mobile Shower trailers
  • 1 Mobile Laundry Trailer
  • 2 Mobile Childcare Trailers
  • 3 Mobile Water Purification Units
  • 1 Mobile Roof Tarping Trailer
  • 1 Kuboda Skid-Steer
  • 1 Mobile Lift
  • 2 Fork-lifts

To learn how you or your church can get involved in this Kingdom ministry go to http://www.kybaptist.org/dr, or call (502) 489-3527. Our next Disaster Relief training is at Lifepoint Church in Franklin, Kentucky on September 14. You can register for this training at
http://www.kybaptist.org/drtraining/

Strategy is a MUST for Baptist Associations

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:

  1. Local 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.
  2. Local church 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.
  3. Missions Strategy – 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.
  4. Leadership 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 leaders. 
  5. Communication Strategy – 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.   

My Name is Alex and I’m a Missionary

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.

Although 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.

Amazing Grace

Jesus demonstrated to a broken world that “grace” is more powerful, more inviting, and more life-changing than fear, lectures, or judgement.  God’s truth is embraced when we understand that God is good and desires to give us life.

Our Christian faith teaches that Jesus fully satisfied God’s wrath and judgement on the cross, and assures everlasting life to all who follow Him through the resurrection.  God offers us forgiveness, acceptance, love, and life through the life-changing grace of Christ. 

The Bible shouts to the world the best news ever, “God in His deep love for us has poured out His grace that we might know Him and have life in Him.”  It truly is “Amazing Grace.”

Understanding the depth of God’s grace has three powerful, life-changing results in our life:

  1. It overwhelms you with gratitude.
  2. It captures your heart and awakens deep trust in the God who has poured out His grace on you.  When grace captures your heart, you embrace God’s biblical truth because you realize God desires the best for us and that His way is the best way.
  3. It motivates you to overflow with grace to others.

In 2 Timothy 2:1, the Apostle Paul exhorted young Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Paul is reminding this young Christian leader that as Believers we started in grace, stand in grace, and are strengthened in grace.  God calls us who have been given such grace to be strong in grace, to be empowered in grace, and to be a witness in a broken world by overflowing with grace.

Mercy ministries give us an opportunity to demonstrate the life-changing grace of Christ to a broken world.  In times of disaster, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers illustrate the grace of Christ by offering unmerited help and kindness to those devastated by the ravaging loss of a disaster event. 

God calls His followers to wade into the muck and to be His agents of grace.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief extends the grace of Christ by sharing a hot meal to the hungry, cutting a tree off the home of a widow, bringing clean water to a village, cleaning out the flooded home of our neighbor, or praying with one overwhelmed and broken by loss.

Time and again those whom we minister ask disaster relief volunteers;

“Why would you come and help me?”

“Why would you travel so far, sleep on cots, help someone that you have never met, and do it all at no cost?” 

 I am thankful that we can share with them that it is all because of the grace of Christ.  We offer grace because God has poured out His grace on us. And as we demonstrate that grace it opens doors to share the best news ever that God in His deep love offers that life-changing grace to all who will receive it.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief demonstrating the strength of Christ’s grace as they offer help, healing and hope!

Effectiveness of Baptist Associations Questioned

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.