Importance of the Pastor as a Catalyst for Missions

The Pastor is called to be a preacher/teacher within the body of faith.  This place of leadership gives him a unique authority and influence in the local church.  When the shepherd of the flock leads, the flock will follow.   This is crucial for the general health of the church but also for the missional health of the body of Christ.

The pastor is called to be God’s strategist for the local mission field but is also critical for God’s command to take the Gospel to the nations.  When the pastor has a passion for missions the church will be ignited to go into all the world for the sake of the Gospel.

The pastor is vital in:

  • Casting a missional vision. If it is not said from the pulpit most in the pews do not think it is important.
  • Helping the body of Christ understand lostness. When the pastor is consumed by the urgency of our work for Christ, it will overflow to the people in the pews.
  • Making missions a regular and important part of worship. Missions should flow from the worship of God. We were created to give God glory. When we meet God in worship, it stirs our hearts to make His name known among all peoples.  The pastor plays a key role by seeking ways to make missions a part of worship (preaching on missions, showing mission clips, praying for missions, highlighting mission offerings, using missions’ illustrations in his message, inviting missionaries to speak).
  • Preaching the Word faithfully and challenging the people to live life on mission for Christ.
  • Leading by example. The church will never be more committed than their leader.
  • Fostering the development of missionaries within the congregation by seeking to grow and encourage those in the family of faith to serve and surrender to a missions’ calling. Pastors are called to equip up the saints, so that these disciples may be sent out on mission for Christ.  The Missions Mobilization Team at the Kentucky Baptist Convention can assist individuals in connecting with our Southern Baptist missionary sending organizations to begin exploring the missionary appointment process.
  • Developing a comprehensive mission strategy to move the church to reach its Jerusalem, to have impact in the church’s Judea and Samaria, and to take the Gospel to the farthest corners of the globe.
  • Being an encourager of missions and missionaries. Invite missionaries to your church and help the church to build relationships with missionaries.
  • Promoting missions giving. This is the lifeblood of missions, and when we give cooperatively, we can do more for the Kingdom than any of us can alone. The pastor plays a vital role in helping the church to understand why we give to missions and choose to work cooperatively as Southern Baptists.
  • Encouraging the church to pray for missions, unreached peoples, and missionaries.
  • Energizing the flock to “Go.”

The strength or weakness of each local church’s missionary program, its missionary support, and its missionary outreach will depend, more than any other one element, on the mission-mindedness of its pastor.   

Names Do Matter

William Shakespeare, author of “Romeo and Juliet” didn’t think that names should matter very much. He had Juliet say: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”  I would disagree with old Shakespeare on how much a name matters.  What we call something describes its function and helps give meaning to its purpose.  

The role of the local Baptist association has changed throughout history and must continue to do so in order to be relevant and of value to its member churches.  Likewise, the role of the associational leader is ever changing as well. It was in recognition of the changing association that served as a catalyst in 2017 for SBC Associational Leaders to establish a study committee to meet, pray, research and engage in meaningful dialog around the language describing the title and the role of those serving as leaders within local associations.  

The study committee presented their report in Dallas, Texas during the 2018 annual meeting of SBC Associational Leaders.  While there are many perspec­tives on this topic, all can agree that many changes over the past few decades have impacted the function and focus of the local Baptist association. The commission signaled, and I agree, it was time for a fresh look at associational leadership.  

The study report addressed several key items, but the one creating the most discussion, was the recommended use of “Associational Mission Strategist” when referring to associational leaders in the future. The decision to use this terminology is more than just a name change. It describes very well what the role of the associational leader is to be.  Ray Gentry, Executive Director, Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders, shared that “this was the first time in more than 40 years that the title was updated. But having just three or four names spread over three centuries is not all that bad.”  

Most every title used to describe the associational leader has advantages and disadvantages. A frequent complaint about “Associational Missionary” is that when the word “missionary” is employed in common usage it refers to someone commissioned to work on behalf of a group – clearly not to the role of someone guiding a coalition of churches doing the work themselves. “Director of Missions” likewise connotes an image of someone with authority over churches, which is simply untrue. “Executive Director” sounds corporate or secular to others.

The term “Associational Mission Strategist” however, or “AMS” as an abbreviated version, speaks to the singular focus associational leaders have of serving churches to engage with one Great Commission, while skillfully selecting intentional ways to engage and energize local churches to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

If you’re familiar with Southern Baptists polity, you know that it is up to each autonomous association to determine what term they will use to describe their association’s leader.  But for clarity and consistency, the Kentucky Baptist Convention will begin referring to associational leaders as AMS or Associational Mission Strategists.  I’m excited about the term and pray that it will serve as a reminder to each of us of the responsibility entrusted to the person in the role to be strategically focused and intentionally missional in everything that he leads the association to do.   

I hope now, that you will agree with me that Shakespeare was wrong in thinking that a name doesn’t really matter. The names we give positions and people do matter and what we call something has importance. 

Thank You Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Volunteers!

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief finished an active year of disaster response in 2018.  Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are often the first to arrive on the scene in times of disaster and the last to leave.

This past year saw Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers respond to flooding in Kentucky, wildfires in Colorado, tornadoes in Connecticut, and record flooding in Pennsylvania.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief played a significant role in disaster response in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael.  In addition, teams brought clean water to the Central African Republic and Mozambique.

This active year had disaster relief teams serving 40 weeks in response and saw the following ministry:

Volunteer Days: 5468 Days

Ministry contacts: 5468

Chaplain contacts: 3271

Gospel Presentations:  216

Decisions for Christ: 136

Meals Served: 156,388

Damage Assessments: 678

Flood Clean-up Jobs Completed: 407

Chainsaw Jobs Completed: 411

Heavy Equipment Hours of Operation: 692

Temporary Roofing Jobs Completed (Tarping):  113

Showers Provided: 6110

Laundry Loads Provided: 894

Bibles Distributed: 1346

Bottles of Water Distributed: 66,874

Wells Established or Repaired in Mozambique and Central African Republic: 9

“Thank You” Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers for your compassionate and faithful ministry to those devastated by disasters in 2018!

“Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  (1 Corinthians 15:58)

What is 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 disaster 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

You can get trained in 2019 on the following dates:

  • January 12 at Mount Washington First Baptist Church
  • February 2 at Rose Hill Baptist Church in Ashland
  • March 2 at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Hopkinsville
  • April 6 at High Street Baptist Church in Somerset
  • September 14 at Lifepoint Church in Franklin

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.

Iconic Branding

Churches, pastors, and ministries seek to be heard in the massive expanse of one of the most competitive cultural influences in history… the influence and power of global media.  We daily compete to share the most important message of life in a culture that is bombarded with 24-hour, non-stop media clutter.

Marketers today constantly talk about the importance of branding and being relevant in the competitive arena of global media.   The fast food company McDonald’s has done this well through the years.  McDonald’s began by serving hamburgers and fries and not much else.  You can still get a hamburger at McDonald’s today, but you can also get salads, wraps, and a cappuccino.  It is a different world even for McDonald’s and they have continued to adapt their product to stay relevant and to attract customers.

As the church, we must continue to prayerfully communicate the message of Christ in a changing culture and to form mission strategies that are effective and relevant in this new day.  The Apostle Paul understood the need for cultural awareness and adaptability.  That is what he is teaching us in the 1 Corinthians 9 when he instructs us,

“I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).

The Apostle Paul understood the importance of sharing the Gospel in a way that communicates clearly in a sea of competing voices and that is culturally relevant to those whom you seek to reach.  As a church, it is important to develop missional strategies that are culturally relevant and that communicate clearly.  

McDonald’s has evolved from their beginnings in 1955 and continues to be relevant in a changing culture.  As a company, they have been able to adapt and make changes that help them compete in this time of huge cultural shifts.  They have remained relevant and continue to attract customers.

And yet, one thing has not changed, McDonald’s has never changed their iconic branding of the “golden arches“.  They may have changed their menu, but the company leaders have recognized that the “golden arches” sets them apart and makes them recognizable in a flooded market of competitors.  

I would encourage you to learn a second lesson from McDonald’s and the Apostle Paul.  We must continue to adapt to stay relevant but certain iconic branding that sets us apart in a sea of clamoring competitors should remain. Though we must be willing to adapt in practice to effectively reach our world for Christ, we must hang on to that which “brands” us as the church of our Lord.  As Paul shares clearly, “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).  This message must never change and must always remain as that which clearly communicates who we are in a sea of clamoring noise and media clutter.  Christ crucified and resurrected is our unchanging message.

It is the iconic branding that sets us apart.

 

 

Steps to Engaging Your Community with the Gospel

Ministry in and to the community is the most critically important, but often overlooked activity of the local church. The church gets busy doing the “inward focused” activities that serve and even appear to strengthen the church.  But somewhere along the way, they fail to turn outward and engage the local community by meeting it’s needs and sharing the gospel. This inward focused mentality is killing many churches.

Community

Tom Rainer in his book The Autopsy of a Deceased Church shares that one of the common denominators among dying churches is their failure to engage the community around them.  We see it in every city, both urban and rural.  What used to be a thriving and community-involved church is now stagnant, unengaged and quietly dying.

Lifeway research shares that 78% of non-church attenders believe that the local church is more concerned with organized religion than with making a difference in their own community. Perhaps that’s why non-attenders aren’t coming anymore.  They question what the church does and its significance in the life of the community.

Churches must start asking the question, “How can we effectively engage our community in such a way that we meet real needs and open doors for sharing Christ?”

Before a church dives into unchartered waters and begins ministry to the community, there are important steps to take that will ensure it is relevant, needed and well executed.  Just because “ABC” church in another town is doing a ministry well is not reason enough for your church to invest and engage in the same ministry, unless it’s needed by your community, and God is leading your church to implement it.

Here are some suggested steps for engaging your community through meaningful and relevant, gospel-centered ministry.   

  1. Pray Seeking God’s Leadership – for direction, open doors, resources, powerful witness, laborers for the harvest, and receptive hearers. Prayer teams, elderly widows/physically handicapped, prayer walking areas of need.  Total dependence on God.
  2. Share Vision and Involve Others – with church staff, lay persons, community leaders and people of influence; Through book study, sermon series, testimonies, newsletter/web page or blog.
  3. Assess Community Needs – assessments like Community Assessment Tool.
  4. Determine Giftedness and Available Resources – church resources, passion of members, spiritual gift inventories, surveys; Eph 4 – God has equipped each believer for “works of service”. There are several different church assessments available.
  5. Find your “sweet spot” by matching discovered community needs with the church’s gifting and resources to determine which ministry to engage in.
  6. Plan the Ministry –
    1. Enlist Passionate Person and Leadership Team
    2. Decide on Ministry
    3. Determine Mission Statement –
    4. Prepare Goals and Objectives –
    5. Prepare and Implement Action Plans –
    6. Gather Resources and Enlist Volunteers –
    7. Provide Ministry Training – including evangelism (testimony, tracts, scripture, CWT, Share Jesus Without Fear, FAITH, 3 Circles, Tell Your Story or Most Important Thing, etc.).
  7. Set the Ministry in Motion –
  8. Evaluation –

The possibilities for community engagement through meaningful ministry are endless and only limited by you!

Here are some Community Ministry Ideas:

  •  Parents & Married Couples – parenting courses, marriage enrichment classes, money management 
  •  Women – wives of deployed soldiers, Mothers of Preschoolers, pregnancy care, shelter for abused women/children,  prostitution/human trafficking,  mentoring mothers
  •  Men – literacy, job skill training, computer use, jail/prison, mentoring for ex-offenders, homeless shelters
  •  Students – tutoring/homework assistance, backpack ministry, latchkey kids, sports ministry, foster parenting/adoption, college/university campus
  •  Health Care – clinics, preventive health workshops/screenings, taxi service to doctors, prescription assistance, nursing homes
  • Special Ministry- developmentally disabled, physically handicapped, internationals, refugee resettlement, raceways, truck stops, resorts & campgrounds
  •  Community – food/clothing, benevolence, money management classes, cooking classes on limited budget, rehab house trailers, multi-housing, laundromat, adopt a public school, car repair for low income families
  •  Support Groups – gambling, sexual addiction, substance abuse, grief recovery, divorce

Why Cultural Awareness is Important in Ministry?

Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28:18-20 to “go and make disciples of all nations.”  To do this effectively requires us to have some understanding of the community and the culture that God has called us to minister within.  Race, age, religious belief, economic status, language, educational background, unique community marks of identification, major social issues all have impact on our mission field and can be bridges or barriers to the Gospel.

Every church needs a cultural awareness of their mission field.

The Apostle Paul taught us about the need for cultural awareness in ministry in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.”

We are called as believers to be Ambassadors for Christ.

A good ambassador:

  • Has knowledge of who he is and who he is representing.
  • Knows extensive knowledge of the place that he has been assigned…culturally, socially, politically, geographically, etc.
  • Shows respect for the people that he will serve among.
  • Seeks to identify and connect with the people that he will work with.

Do you know your community?

Strategic Cultural Demographics – Strategic Mapping for Ministry/Outreach

  • Ethnic Diversity/Make-up
  • Geographical Divisions
  • Income Levels – average income
  • Educational Levels
  • Employment/Unemployment – biggest employers
  • Percentage of Poverty and homelessness
  • Population Distribution by Age – fastest growing age segment
  • Languages Spoken
  • Major Social Issues that Impact community – drug usage, teenage pregnancy, etc.
  • Unique Community Markers of Identification – university, resort area, military base, etc.
  • Projected Community Growth Rate over Next Five Years – community stagnant, declining, or growing
  • Religious Beliefs in Community
  • What Percentage of Community Looks Like Your Church?

There are several ways to gather this information to help you to understand the culture of your community.  Information can be gathered from census and other community data resources on the internet.  Often real estate groups, local Chambers of Commerce, and schools will have good community information.

Church Leaders should also do personal observation in the community to verify or to discover additional community information.  Drive through the community.  Walk through neighborhoods.  Look for significant community markers or cultural markers (ethnic restaurants, non-Christian places of worship, community assistance or resource centers, colleges, military base, recreational areas). Identify local places where people congregate.  Observe and engage people in local gathering places.

The goal is to learn about people in your community and identify points where the church can build bridges to Christ.

The keys to developing a missional cross-cultural strategy in your church are:

  • Listen and observe
  • Be sensitive
  • Look to build bridges to Christ
  • Share the Gospel in the heart language of your community/target group
  • Make decisions when possible with those of your target group
  • Be inclusive when you reach people – allow them a place in the family of faith
  • Be willing to make changes that break down barriers to the Gospel
  • Do not sweat a few mistakes but seek to learn from them.

 

Importance of the Pastor as a Catalyst for Missions

The Pastor is called to be a preacher/teacher within the body of faith.  This place of leadership gives him a unique authority and influence in the local church.  When the shepherd of the flock leads, the flock will follow.   This is crucial for the general health of the church but also for the missional health of the body of Christ.

The pastor is called to be God’s strategist for the local mission field but is also critical for God’s command to take the Gospel to the nations.  When the pastor has a passion for missions the church will be ignited to go into all the world for the sake of the Gospel.

The pastor is vital in:

  • Casting a missional vision.  If it is not said from the pulpit most in the pews do not think it is important.
  • Helping the body of Christ understand lostness.  When the pastor is consumed by the urgency of our work for Christ, it will overflow to the people in the pews.
  • Making missions a regular and important part of worship. Missions should flow from the worship of God.  We were created to give God glory.  When we meet God in worship, it stirs our hearts to make His name known among all the nations.  The pastor plays a key role by seeking ways to make missions a part of worship (preaching on missions, showing mission clips, praying for missions, highlighting mission offerings, using missions’ illustrations in his message, inviting missionaries to speak).
  • Preaching the Word faithfully and challenging the people to live life on mission for Christ.
  • Leading by example.  The church will never be more committed than their leader.
  • Fostering the development of missionaries within the congregation by seeking to grow and encourage those in the family of faith to serve and surrender to a missions’ calling.  Pastors are called to equip up the saints, so that these disciples may be sent out on mission for Christ.
  • Developing a comprehensive mission strategy to move the church to reach its Jerusalem, to have impact in the church’s Judea and Samaria, and to take the Gospel to the farthest corners of the globe.
  • Being an encourager of missions and missionaries.  Invite missionaries to your church and help the church to build relationships with missionaries.
  • Promoting missions giving.  This is the lifeblood of missions, and when we give cooperatively we can do more for the Kingdom than any of us can alone.  The pastor plays a vital role in helping the church to understand why we give to missions and choose to work cooperatively as Southern Baptists.
  • Encouraging the church to pray for missions, unreached people, and missionaries.
  • Energizing the flock to “Go.”

The strength or weakness of each local church’s missionary strategy, missionary support, and missionary outreach will depend, more than any other one element, on the mission-mindedness of its pastor.   

What Can the Church Do to Address Human Trafficking?

HOW SHOULD THE CHURCH RESPOND TO THOSE ENSLAVED TODAY?

“Wash yourselves. Cleanse yourselves.  Remove your evil deeds from My sight.  Stop doing evil.  Learn to do what is good.  Seek justice.  Rebuke the oppressor.  Defend the rights of the fatherless.  Plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:16-19).

The church cannot ignore the issue of human trafficking.  The church is called stand against evil, seek justice, care for the least of these, and rebuke the oppressor.  Our God calls us to speak out and to reach out.

AS FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST, HE CALLS US TO BE AGENTS OF JUSTICE AND TRUTH… OF LOVE AND GRACE.

What can the church do?

  • Care enough to get involved.
  • Begin paying attention and being aware of those that may be victims of human trafficking.
  • Avoid the temptation to blame the victims for their situations.
  • Be willing to reach out and offer a hand of help and hope to someone victimized by trafficking.  Offer unconditional love and remember that the chains of sin are not always broken quickly.
  • Realize that breaking the chains of trafficking will not come easy; it will require time, patience, and endurance.
  • Understand that not every situation will result in success, but through the power of God, victories are possible.
  • Address the issue of pornography honestly with your church from the pulpit and in small groups.
  • Begin men’s and women’s groups, where individuals can find a safe place to share their struggles and be freed from pornography’s hold through transparency, accountability, biblical study, and prayer.
  • Train church, children, and youth leaders to recognize the signs of abuse and trafficking vulnerability; and seek to increase awareness how perpetrators utilize extortion and weak areas to exploit the vulnerable.
  • Utilize MinistrySafe and their five-part system that provides a framework for sexual abuse prevention in your ministry areas.
  • Be cautious in allowing new members or new attendees to your church in serving in children’s or youth ministry.
  • Conduct Child Protection training for church, youth, and children’s leaders.
  • Develop child protection policies that build in safeguards.
  • Conduct background checks on youth and children’s leaders in the church before allowing them to serve.
  • Teach Biblical sexuality in appropriate settings to youth and adults.
  • Support or volunteer with a ministry that is working to free victims from trafficking.

The church can make a difference and free those chained by exploitation and evil.

“Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked” (Psalm 82:4).

Unpacking Your Short-Term Mission Experience

After you’ve planned, prepared, implemented and returned from your mission trip, it’s time to unpack. Not just your suitcase, but the mission experience itself.  Follow-up is an important part of going on mission because it helps the participant to understand what they learned and how God can use it in their everyday life.   There are people needing a witness in our own neighborhood and unreached people in our local community.  Taking a mission trip to another state or even a foreign country should help us to be more comfortable sharing our faith and encourage us to be a Christian witness in our hometown. There are so many ways to impact our community and the area around our church using the same skills and resources we take overseas.  So, help your church members returning from their mission trip to unpack their experience and awaken within them the realization that the mission isn’t over.

Here are some suggestions for unpacking the mission experience that provide continued growth:     

  1. Talk about the ministry experience and ask how what they did there can be used here at home.
  2. Share journal entries, pictures and videos with the church.
  3. Have a time of testimony and “sharing” during a public worship service.
  4. Provide a safe environment for discussing what they learned about themselves (weaknesses, failures, disappointments) and what God is teaching them.
  5. Ask them what they learned about God?
  6. Share about the experience on social media with pictures and testimony of God’s activity.
  7. Challenge them to consider how the mission experience may be the beginning of a journey God has planned for them, leading to vocational ministry, missionary service, or involvement in local ministry.
  8. Help them to plan service initiatives at home that draw connections between their missions experience away and service at home.
  9. Encourage them to continue the spiritual disciplines practiced on the trip like prayer, devotions, Bible study and worship.
  10. Send letters or emails of thanks and encouragement to the host missionary. Share with them how God used the mission experience.
  11. Discuss what “next steps” they will take on their spiritual journey.
  12. Send a reminder email or letter to every participant 1 month after returning with a picture of the group on the mission trip with the words… “Don’t forget! God did great things and He isn’t finished with you.”

Unpacking the experience can be a tremendous blessing and serve as a reminder to what God did … and is still doing.