Enlisting a Short-term Mission Team

Your church wants to partner well with missionaries and perhaps even knows with whom and where you will partner.  But how does a church go about enlisting people to go on short-term mission efforts?  Is it best to just open up the mission effort to any and all who want to go?  Are there some suggested practices that might aid a church in enlisting its members for short-term missions? 

The following are suggestions for churches as they begin enlisting people to join in short-term mission efforts.

  1. Clearly communicate the mission to the church.  The members need to know why the church is engaging in this mission partnership and how a short-term mission effort will enhance that work. 
  2. Work closely with the pastor(s) in the process of recruiting and/or approving team members.  The pastoral leadership of the church often knows the members best and, as the shepherds of the flock, should speak into the selection of those who will represent the Lord and the church in short-term mission efforts. 
  3. Plan an informational meeting to discuss: location, purpose of mission, cost, expectations, and Q & A.  An intentional interest meeting will often give members additional info that they can pray through in determining if this mission effort is right for them at this particular time. 
  4. Schedule interviews and/or have an application process.  Talking through or providing an application that covers location, personal testimony, personal growth as a believer, reason for wanting to go, emphasis on being a team player, importance of flexibility, and the need for physical and emotional stability are all important matters to cover with interested team members.
  5. Inform person of decision.  There is strength in numbers. Prayer throughout this process is vital.  It is best that the approval of short-term mission team members not fall to the decision of one individual.  In working with the pastor leadership, a mission team/committee is helpful for many reasons, not least of which is to discern prayerfully the best team for this particular short-term mission effort.   
  6. How to say “wait.”  There will be times that it is not best for an individual to go on this particular mission.  We want every believer to be involved in Great Commission work.  Involvement will vary from person to person depending on gifts and experiences.  So, using the word “wait” is intentional, rather than “no.”  The reasons for waiting can be varied but learning to say “wait” is important. How do we best say “wait”?  Pray for God’s grace and wisdom.  Involve more than one person in the conversation.  Communicate why you are suggesting the person wait.  Offer steps of growth. Encourage their cultivation of passion for God.  Communicate with clarity, compassion, and grace.  Affirm the person in the Lord and close with prayer.

Enlisting church members for short-term missions is an intentional responsibility.  Rather than simply extending a “y’all come and go” request, there are some intentional steps that can be taken to better ensure that those who are going should be going.  We enlist short-term mission team members because we want to partner well with missionaries. And we want to partner well for God’s glory and fame to spread most effectively through the strategy of our partner missionaries.   Learn more tips about short-term missions at International Team Leader Training March 3-4 or September 22-23. For more information, visit: www.kybaptist.org/itlt.

God’s “Blessengers”

In August 2022 I received a phone call from Lisa McCoy, with Lewisport Baptist Church in Hancock County. Lisa is a member of God’s Messengers, a ladies Sunday School Class of eighteen or so members, that range in age from sixties to upper seventies. During prayer time, the ladies shared their concern about the people of eastern Kentucky following the devasting flood just a few weeks prior. The church had given a monetary donation through Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, had even gathered resources to send to the area, and were already filling fifty Christmas Backpacks for children in Kentucky. However, these ladies wanted to do more…something more personal.

In the past, the Class had “adopted” a local family at Christmas and thought perhaps this was something they could do for an EKY family that had been affected by the flood. Lisa called me and asked for help in making a connection.

I put Lisa in touch with Lester & Bessie McPeek, Kentucky Mission Service Corps Missionaries in Jenkins. Bessie knew of a family (dad, mom, 10-year-old daughter & 3-year-old daughter) whose home had been heavily damaged from the flood, and a family that would be a perfect match for this Sunday School Class. Bessie sent ages and sizes of the family members to Lisa, and the class went to work. They bought coats, shoes, underwear, socks, hats, gloves, and two or three outfits for each family member, along with toys and bath towels. One lady also made four blankets to send. The items were mailed to the McPeeks, who planned a big Christmas party for the family.

Bessie & Lester invited the family to their ministry center, prepared a spaghetti dinner (along with homemade cake). Bessie said, “I don’t want them to eat on paper plates, I want to set out our best china,” which is what she did. The tables were decorated with red cloth tablecloths, Christmas plates, cups, glasses, and napkins, and candles burning. The Christmas tree was lit, and the presents from God’s Messengers were under the tree.

The dad was surprised when he too received gifts. “I didn’t know I was going to get gifts,” he said. “I thought I was just bringing the children for Christmas gifts.”

 The ten-year-old daughter had wanted jewelry and make-up. When she opened one gift there was a jewelry box, filled with jewelry. She was delighted.

What a special Christmas blessing for a family that had lost so much. Thanks to Lewisport Baptist Church’s God’s Messengers Sunday School Class and KY-MSC Missionaries Lester & Bessie McPeek for showing and sharing the love of Christ.

This is a Christmas that will be remembered for a long, long time…not only by the family that received the gifts, but by the ladies of God’s Messengers Class, and by the McPeeks.  Everyone was blessed by this generous act of love and kindness. 

Lisa McCoy shared, “One of the best parts is that I have made a new friend in Bessie.”  By the way, the Sunday School Class never met the family they had blessed this Christmas. 

Bessie also shared that the family was able to move back into their home before Christmas and even put up a Christmas tree. To God be the Glory!!

Sometimes It Is Good to Push Pause

The other evening, we were home watching a movie and my wife needed to tell me something so I reached for the remote and pushed pause so I could give her my attention. If I had not, I would have continued to be distracted by the movie and missed something important I needed to hear. It is good to hear the important things!

Not only is it good to hear the important things, but it is also good to pause and remember the important things of the past. As we are coming to the end of 2022, we should hit “pause” and reflect on all God has done in our lives over the past twelve months.

There are so many things I am grateful for, and all God has taught me over the past year. He continues to mold us and make us more like Himself and show us who He truly is. There are several things which come to mind.

I am reminded of His PROVISION
The past year has been a year of disasters. We began 2022 still cleaning up from the western Kentucky tornados, small disasters throughout the commonwealth all year, and then the major flooding in eastern Kentucky, with Hurricane Ian in Florida immediately followed. But God provided the volunteers, the finances, the equipment and the opportunities. He changed lives in the midst of difficult days and reminded me of His provision. He is good.

I am reminded of His PROTECTION
The work of disaster relief can be dangerous. Cleaning up debris, cutting up trees, preparing hot meals and so much more present its unique dangers. Even the travel to and from on the highway can be treacherous. I am so grateful for God’s protection of His faithful servants to protects us from the dangers around us. He is good.

I am reminded of His PROVIDENCE
I am constantly reminded I am not in control. Only God is but I get to be part of what He is up to. He puts us all in places or allows us to meet just the right person at the right moment which opens a door of opportunity that changes lives…and mine. I think back over the moments of what we originally thought was a disruption of our plan, actually became a teaching moment or opportunity in which we recognized only God could plan. I am grateful for His continued interest in me. He is good.

I am reminded of His PROMISES
There are so many promises of God I find in the Scriptures which encourage us in our time of need. He is always with us; He will never fail us; He is our strength and hope; and the list can go on. As we search the pages of the Word of God, His promises are found throughout the pages. And He reminds of His promises just as we need them. He is good.

I remember a friend of mine from my church in Missouri who we all called “Geezer.” He and I shared a favorite verse in the Bible which simply read, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). As good ole country boys we shared our own version that read, “Shut up and listen!” We would often smile at each other and one of us would say those words to the other because we both needed to remember to pause and reflect on God and who He is.

What a good God we serve. Remember to push “pause” and be still and listen closely. Do not miss the important lessons. He is good.



Why you should open your home this holiday season

The end of the year is often marked by an endless barrage of family gatherings, cookie swaps, white elephant gift exchanges, office parties and more. The holidays can be incredibly stressful for some individuals or families, and a time of profound sadness for others. However, the holiday season can be a welcome time of gospel intentional hospitality.

Since November 2021, Kentucky Baptist have welcomed and served over 900 of the nearly 1400 Afghans that resettled across the state. By using Global Hunger funds, churches were able to help more than 550 Afghans receive food for their first 3 months in Kentucky. God used the generous giving and hospitality of Kentucky Baptist to not only open homes for church members to share a meal with these beautiful people, but also to open hearts to receive the gospel. Today, there are new believers being discipled across Kentucky, families and individuals participating in bible studies, and a new church plant.

When Jesus shared meals with people, it gave him the opportunity to enter the lives of the people with whom he was eating. In fact, eating together is one of the most practical ways to overcome any relational barriers that separates us. Jesus modeled a way for us to use the gift of hospitality as a means to share his grace. Here are three ways to enter the holidays with gospel intentionality:

1. Pray for an Open Door

As Jesus says in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” As you begin to shift your thoughts toward the birth of Jesus, gather your family to pray for your neighbors and the nations in your community. Ask the Lord to open a door for your family to share the love of Christ this Christmas. Then, talk about those you know who need to hear the gospel, and how you could share a meal together.

2. Plan a time to Share a Meal

There is a familiar saying around our house when it comes to dinner: “There’s always room for one more.” And there is. But what takes this from a stated fact to a shared reality is an intentional invitation. When we open our tables to our neighbors, we are offering more than a meal. We are offering an invitation into communion.

3. Prepare (Ask) Good questions.

Around a table, the art of conversation is fostered. Try to avoid questions resulting in one-word answers. Instead ask open-ended questions: “What are some of your greatest memories of the holidays growing up?” or “What is most difficult for you during the holidays?” These questions, when engaged honestly, can connect people at a deep level. Take time to really listen.

Focusing on these three things this holiday season can create space for intimate communion with family members, co-workers, neighbors, international students, or refugees. As you share a meal together and listen to their stories, take time to share your story and how you came to know the Lord. Then, just as you invited them to your table, you might find yourself in a conversation with someone who is wondering how they can find a seat at Jesus’ table.

The Mission Mobilization Team exist to serve your church. To discover how you can embrace the nations as your neighbor, email or call John Barnett at [email protected] or 502-654-3385.

Thank God for the “Little” Things

Last week, while attending the Kentucky Baptist Convention, I received such an uplifting email from KY-MSC Missionary Keith Decker.  In addition to serving as Executive Director of Cedaridge Ministries, Keith serves as pastor of Black Oak Baptist Church in Williamsburg.

On Sunday, November 13, Black Oak Baptist Church went to Mr. Gatti’s Pizza for a children/youth outing.  Most of us know that Mr. Gatti’s offers a buffet with pizza, pasta, salad, dessert, and a game room.  It is a favorite spot for many, not just youth. 

The church paid for the meal.  Keith shared that, as they were eating, several of the young people came up to him and asked if they could go back for more food and drinks.  “Yes,” Keith said to them, “you can get all you want.  It is an all-you-can-eat buffet.” 

A little blond-headed boy came and gave Keith a big hug, followed by several others.  “It was then I realized that some of our kids had never been to a place where they could eat all they wanted,” Keith said.  “It just blessed my heart.  We were doing something that would touch these children for the rest of their lives.  We were ministering to our children/youth with a simple trip to Mr. Gatti’s.  It reminded me of what Jesus meant when He talked about caring for the sheep.  It was one of the most blessed times I have had in an outing.”

Keith said his mind raced back several years to when he had first started in ministry and took his first group of kids to Mr. Gatti’s.  He realized then that many of the children had never had a full stomach before.  He shared that with the restaurant manager, to which the manager replied, “whatever these children eat and drink is free.” 

Keith sees God in the little things.  “I just thought how amazing God is,” Keith said.  “It is such a privilege to be used by Him.”

 At one time Keith was one of those little boys that didn’t have all he wanted to eat.  God has blessed him and now allows him to minister to boys and girls who also are less fortunate.

As we enter Thanksgiving week let’s look for God in the “little things” and thank Him for His blessings on us, even a pizza…or turkey and the trimmings.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Going Changes Lives

When you hear your church or an organization talk about taking a mission trip, whether a few days to a couple of weeks, does something in your spirit tug at you to go? You hear about the work they may be doing, the difference it can make, and the opportunities it will provide. It pulls at your compassion, and you consider your options. And too often, I hear of people changing their mind, making up excuses, or just do not get signed up. And honestly, they miss a blessing.

I am reminded of many in the Bible who said “yes” to God when He called them. In particular, I think of Abraham when God said to him in Genesis 12:1, “Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.”

Can you imagine going somewhere blindly without really knowing what will happen next? But in reality, we do that every day of our lives. We do not know what the day will bring so all we can do is simply be on mission where we are and let God direct our path.

However, when you go on mission, take a mission opportunity, say “yes” to God, I have learned going really does change lives. Not only to those I minister and care for, but I am changed.


When disasters strike and Kentucky disaster relief volunteers respond, there are some things I have noticed. And this is true with anytime we go on mission.

God Takes Us to the Unfamliar.
Every time I respond to a disaster; every time I go on a mission trip; every time I say “yes, I’ll go,” God takes me to unfamiliar places. There are new people to meet, new sites to see, new opportunities to experience, new skills to learn and so much more. And He changes me.

God Shows Us the Unexpected.
I have learned no mission trip has ever gone as planned. The reason: I am not in control. God is. I have experienced tire trouble in a strange town only to have an unexpected encounter to have a gospel conversation. I have seen God set up divine appointments with someone that only God could schedule. I have had people come up to me at a gas station asking for prayer or for a Bible which opened doors for ministry. All completely unexpected. I am reminded, I am not in control, God is and in unexpected ways, places and time. And He changes me.

God Teaches Us the Understanding.
When Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet in John 13, He said to Peter in vs. 7, “Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” There are so many times in the going and even in the doing I do not understand the why. But I have learned to trust and know God will show me. Not always in my time, but His. And as He teaches me, understanding comes. And when the understanding comes, He changes me.

The next time God tugs at your heart calling and compelling you to go on mission for Him, will you take that step? Will you say “yes?”

Let God take you to the unfamiliar, show you the unexpected, and teach you the understanding. And I promise you, your going will change you. He changed me.

Healthy Church Formation

Do we need to plant more churches or strengthen existing churches today? In other words, what should be the focus of our churches: plant new churches or revitalize/strengthen current churches? Healthy church formation is not about choosing between these two as if they are opposing options.

(A church meets in a small building in South Asia, IMB photo)

We need both.  Healthy church formation comes through discipleship. Discipleship must be intentional, or it will not occur.  Followers of Jesus need to be taught scripture reading, doctrine, prayer, evangelism, church membership, fasting, missions, parenting, biblical view of work, ethics and so much more. In other words, each church must have a robust and intentional method of discipling their own people from the youngest to the oldest – from the cradle to the grave – with the word of God.

Churches must ensure that disciples are being formed within their congregations. Paul reminds the church at Colossae that the goal of every church is to proclaim Jesus by “admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete (mature) in Christ” (Col 1:28).  Similarly, Jesus instructed his first-century followers on that Galilean Mountain to “teach [all believers] to observe all that [he] commanded [us]” (Matt 28:20).  Ultimately, we are after the transformation of lives rather than simply the preservation of information.  Jesus and Paul are concerned with disciples living out the teaching of Scripture and not simply knowing the teaching of Scripture. 

So, what might a transformed disciple look like?  The IMB speaks of 6 marks of a disciple (Foundations, IMB).  In other words, every church’s goal is to see every Jesus follower mature by the transformation of the word in these areas of their life:

  • transformed heart- being born again with a new heart
  • transformed mind- being renewed in our minds
  • transformed affections- being led with godly desires/affections
  • transformed will- being obedient in what we do
  • transformed relationships- being reconciled with others because of Jesus
  • transformed purpose- being engaged in God’s mission

In essence, then, establishing healthy churches involves the holistic transformation of each disciple in every aspect of their life—heart, mind, affections, will, relationships, and purpose. 

Further, disciples transformed by the gospel will contribute to overall healthy church formation.  But what does a healthy church look like?  Helpful in this conversation is the IMB’s 12 Characteristics of a Healthy Church (Foundations, IMB).

  1. Biblical evangelism
  2. Biblical discipleship
  3. Biblical membership
  4. Biblical leadership
  5. Biblical preaching and teaching
  6. Biblical ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper
  7. Biblical worship
  8. Biblical fellowship
  9. Biblical prayer
  10. Biblical accountability and discipline
  11. Biblical giving
  12. Biblical mission

If establishing churches involves the ongoing growth of existing churches and not simply planting new churches, then our desire, as seen in these 12 characteristics, is for healthy church formation.  Aiming for church health, thus, involves these characteristics.

What plans does your church have in place to ensure that all believers are taught not simply to know the Bible, but to live [observe] the Bible?  How is your church ensuring its ongoing healthy growth by intentionally focusing on these 12 characteristics?    

Pastoral Care for Sent-Ones

Shepherding Sent-Ones

In terms of the local church sending missionaries, one of the most overlooked areas is missionary care. Providing missionaries with a touch point of Pastoral Care is critical for them to not only maintain a healthy relationship with the church, but also sustain a healthy relationship and share Christ well among the nations. In order to plant healthy churches, we must have healthy disciples. Here is a simple outline or template of a Pastoral Care Plan with touch points:

Purpose: The goal of the Pastoral Care Plan is to have every missionary family and single adopted and advocated for by the church and the pastoral care team.

Limitations: Pastoral Care is intended to provide a base level of encouragement, care, and advocacy. Pastors need not feel the full load of care and advocacy unless desired. Each missionary has access to care through multiple channels including Sunday school classes, community groups, a care team, and missional staff (voluntary or paid).

Details: I ask that pastors consider committing to a missionary family/single and following through on basic touch points of communication and being accessible to the missionary. We want each missionary to feel like our pastors are “in their corner.” 

Step 1: Know what you are committing to (suggested touchpoints):

Every Month: Provide a simple touch point. This could be a short email of encouragement,  WhatsApp, a handwritten letter, or something of the like.

Every 6 months: Have one Zoom call.

Every year: Send a care package from your family to theirs. If possible, build it into the budget, and do not forget to include shipping cost.  

 Step 2: Commit to a missionary family/single by

1) Signing up for available missionaries on the excel document.

2) Send an email to the missionary letting them know that you are committing to be their pastoral advocate.

3) Calendar your monthly touch point so you do not forget!

Step 3: Keep other leaders in the loop as needed. If you need help, have questions, or are concerned about your missionary; please let us know and we will be glad to help.

Adopting a missionary is a simple way you and your Missional Community can begin serving in missions. For information about adopting a Kentucky MSC missionary, visit  www.kybaptist.org/adopt-a-missionary. To learn more about adoption options with national and international SBC missionaries, contact the Missions Mobilization Team ([email protected] or 502-489-3530). If you have any questions about setting up a Missionary Care Plan, please contact John Barnet ([email protected] or 502-654-3385).

Ministry on Rattlesnake Ridge

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting KY-MSC Missionary Hilton Duncan and three of the volunteers at Integrated Community Ministries (ICM) in McCreary County, Kentucky.  Located in an area known as Rattlesnake Ridge and situated in the foothills of Appalachia, ICM is making a huge difference in the lives of families in a county that is one of the poorest in the United States. 

Hilton’s wife Barbara, also a KY-MSC Missionary, is from the area and Hilton said, “I just married into the family and the area.”  The ministry began in 1999 when Barbara’s grandmother was very sick and dying of cancer.  Her grandmother had a large garden and did not want her garden “stuff” to go to waste.  The community rallied around the family and took care of the garden for them that year.

When Barbara’s grandmother passed, the family decided to do fruit baskets for those that had helped them during her illness.  A lady from the community called and said she had some clothes that she would like to donate and asked if they could distribute the clothes for her.  One mother was able to get school clothes for her children that year thanks to this donation and asked if they would keep give out clothing.  Barbara agreed.

The first Christmas Hilton and Barbara were planning a yard sale to raise money to purchase coats for fifty children.  It “just so happened” that a lady named Lynn from Alpharetta, GA had stopped by and overheard their conversation.  Lynn was a member of a large church just outside of Atlanta and asked if she could go back and share with her church about this need for coats in Appalachia.  The church sponsored the event that year and provided coats and gifts for one hundred children. 

Fast forward twenty-three years and ICM has expanded to serve three hundred fifty kids and families with clothing and so much more, not only at Christmas, but year-round.  In addition to the thrift store, they offer a food assistance program that serves one hundred fifty plus families a month.

Through ICM’s after-school program students have access to a computer lab, get help with homework, life skills, and much, much more.  Back-to-school events help to provide needed school supplies to the students.

Their Front Porch Ministry and Youth Ministry Programs introduce the families to Christ and minister to the spiritual needs of those they serve.  Through Bible studies, youth ministry, and counseling services the families not only learn about Christ but are exposed to strong Christian examples.  Visiting mission teams lead Vacation Bible Schools during the summer months that also teach the children about Jesus.

At Christmas mission teams partner with ICM to provide each child with new toys, clothing, the Christmas Backpacks, and other items.  Families receive food to prepare a Christmas meal.  For most, this is all they will receive for Christmas.

The list could go on and on as to how Hilton and Barbara Duncan are impacting the lives in their own community through Integrated Community Ministries.  All assistance programs are offered free of charge to the families.  Local volunteers, businesses, and mission teams come alongside ICM to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the families they serve.  Oh, and in addition, Hilton is also pastor of Stearns First Baptist Church.

In February 2016, at the 50th Governor’s Prayer Breakfast where Guest Speaker Coach John Calipari emphasized actions over words, Hilton & Barbara were awarded the William Cooper Faith and Community in Action Award for serving the needy in Eastern Kentucky.

Please pray for Hilton & Barbara and Integrated Community Ministries as they continue to serve.  Pray especially for Barbara as she is having some health issues, and for Hilton as he also cares for his wife and as he serves the church.

To learn more about this ministry and how you can get involved check out their website at www.ky-icm.org.  You will be blessed.

It’s Time to Pray

As we have all watched Hurricane Ian make landfall on the news and weather stations, there is no doubt a stirring in our hearts for those affected by this massive storm. We are all amazed at the magnitude of this storm, the power it has to create such destruction, and the amount of rain it has produced. Once again, our hearts hurt with those who are hurting.

Southern Baptists are mobilizing to bring help, hope and healing to those who are hurting. Feeding operations are currently being set up and operating. Mobile shower units, recovery units, chaplains, support equipment and more are being sent to provide for the needs of people.

It’s time to pray.

It’s time to pray for those who have been directly affected by this devastating storm. Many have lost loved ones or their homes. Many have lost their jobs and belonging. It’s time we pray for them that their immediate and long-term needs are met.

It’s time to pray for those who are mobilizing to bring help to provide meals, clean up the debris, and restore needed resources. It’s time to pray for their safety as they travel and work.

It’s time to pray for financial support to come to purchase supplies, food, water, fuel, household items and more. The needs will be enormous. It’s time to pray how you can give to support the relief efforts.

It’s time to pray that even in the midst of this destruction, God would open doors of opportunity to have gospel conversations with those who are asking “why?” Southern Baptist chaplains are mobilizing to care for the emotional and spiritual well being of those who are hurting.

It’s time to pray for the local churches who have been affected and the pastors who are caring for their congregations. The needs will be great. It’s time to pray for churches who can partner with churches to lend support and make a cooperative kingdom impact.

It’s time to pray that the God of heaven will bring a revival to this land. As big and powerful as this storm has proven to be, our God is bigger still. May we cry out to Him to meet our need.

It’s time to pray.

Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1