Our mission as a convention is
simple: created by churches, for
churches, to help churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ. The KBC staff aims to live out this mission
of helping churches fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus. But what exactly does this mission statement
mean for the KBC?
exist as the Kentucky Baptist Convention because Baptist churches throughout
Kentucky in 1837 desired to cooperate for the furthering of the gospel. The KBC owes its existence to Baptist
churches created the KBC for churches. In other words, the KBC was created not to be
served by the churches, but to serve the churches.
To help churches
the KBC exists to help churches do what God has called the church to do—the
Great Commission. Because the KBC was
created by churches, for churches, the convention exists to help churches. Helping mobilize churches for the Great
Commission is the mission of the KBC.
Reach Kentucky and
the world for Christ
did not give the Great Commission to denominations or mission boards; He gave
it to the church. Denominations and
mission boards are helpful insomuch as they help
churches reach those across the
street and across the sea with the gospel.
If your church needs help with
carrying out the Great Commission of Jesus, please call on us. If your church desires training or resources
or ideas for Great Commission work, we are happy to help. After all, we were created by churches,
for churches, to help churches reach KY and the world for Christ. Contact [email protected] to
begin the discussion on how we can best help you.
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.
Last week I was privileged to attend the 20-Year Anniversary Banquet of Meridzo Ministries in Harlan County, KY. I too am celebrating 20-years with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and Lonnie & Belinda Riley were two of the first people I met when I came on board. It has been amazing to see Meridzo Ministries develop over the years. Every time I make a visit, new and exciting things have happened at the ministry.
Dr. Larry Martin, retired Missions Team Leader with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, has also connected with Meridzo from the beginning, and shares about the evening as a guest writer to this blog:
Meridzo Center Ministries,
Lynch, KY celebrated 20 years of ministry in the heart of Appalachia on
September 6-7. More than 200 people from at least 10 states gathered for a
banquet on Friday evening at the Benham Schoolhouse Inn and a cookout on
Saturday at Shekinah Village and The Stables at Creekside Glen. At the banquet,
22 current staff members of Meridzo were recognized. Meridzo is a faith-based
ministry; no staff member receives a salary.
At the banquet four
speakers shared about the impact of Meridzo: Dr. Larry Martin, retired KY
Baptist Convention missions team leader; Dr. Bruce Ayers, president emeritus of
Southeast KY Community College; Claude King, co-author with Henry Blackaby of
the Experiencing God study; and George Otis, Jr., producer of Transformation
Videos from communities around the world which are experiencing unusual
movements of God. Martin has often described the movement of God in Lynch as
“the greatest movement of God in one location I have experienced in more
than 50 years of ministry.” Otis referred to the movement in Lynch as the
greatest example of transformation he has encountered in North
Lynch Mayor John S. Adams
emphasized the positive impact of Meridzo Center during the past 20 years. In
honor of that impact on Lynch and the surrounding area, he announced that the
street on which the Meridzo Center office is located will be renamed
Lonnie and Belinda Riley,
the founders of Meridzo Center Ministries, served for more than 20 years
through the Ohio Southern Baptist Convention and in local churches in Ohio and
Mississippi, before returning in March 1999 to their home area of Southeastern
KY. Belinda was reared in Lynch; Lonnie was reared in Hazard and attended
college in Lynch. There he met Belinda, became a believer, and felt a call to
ministry. Unexpectedly, in late 1998 both sensed God leading them to
“return home and help hurting people,” as they put it. Over the
past 20 years God has displayed His power in amazing ways.
On Friday evening Lonnie
announced a transition in leadership. Lonnie will remain the President and
Chairman of the Board for Meridzo Center as well as continuing to do speaking
engagements and representing the ministry. Drew Baldwin will succeed
Lonnie as the CEO. Drew and his wife Leah have been Meridzo staff members for
the past 10 years, and Drew has served as COO since 2014.
More information concerning
Meridzo is available in the book “Miracle in the Mountains” and the
DVD documentary “It’s Only Cookie Dough.” Website for Meridzo
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
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
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]
In response to Scripture (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15 and Acts 1:8), churches should be intentionally sending their members. Sending them on mission trips, church planting efforts, ministry projects and disaster relief responses. The church can reach our world with the gospel by putting the focus on how many we send rather than how many attend.
does it mean to send? Sending isthe act of enlisting, equipping and
mobilizing believers to engage the world with the gospel through local
community ministry, short-term mission experiences, church planting efforts, disaster
relief work, vocational ministry, and long-term missionary service.
A sending church equips its members
go, challenges them to live on mission every day, and provides many opportunities
for them to demonstrate the gospel using their gifts, talents, and life
First Baptist Church, Inez, Kentucky is one
example of a sending church. FBC Inez
has experienced tremendous missions participation growth during the last two
years because pastor Casey Carver has
made sending a priority.
Pastor Casey preached a month-long series of
sermons on the importance of missions, challenging the church to not only pray
and give, but to send and go. He used “One
Call” to send a missions themed daily devotional by phone to the entire church
during that month-long emphasis.
The church had not taken a mission trip in
many years, so pastor Casey planned a 3-day mission trip to an eastern Kentucky
ministry that was only 3 hours from their church. They sent 25% of the church’s Sunday morning
attendance on that initial mission trip.
Pastor Casey also encouraged the church to engage in ministry to the local community and many have done so. Members are doing mission work through local ministries like Appalachian Reach Out, Haven of Rest, Heavenly Treasures Thrift Store, and God’s Food Pantry. Additionally, a group of ladies meets regularly to knit items that are given to residents of the local nursing home.
The church recognized the need of children in
the foster care system who arrive at local homes with nothing to call their
own. Therefore, the church began a
ministry in which they provide host families with backpacks filled with items
needed by foster children.
The sending of members on mission continues,
as does the vision for how that will happen.
Pastor Casey has taken steps toward a new ministry called, God’s
Connection, that will serve as a residential drug recovery ministry. That vision includes a coffee shop and thrift
store that will provide revenue for the ministry and a place of employment for
those in the program. They have received permission to use an old motel for the
ministry are seeking donations to help with renovation as plans for God’s
Connection and the micro-ministries are developed.
Sending people on mission out from the church won’t happen
by accident. There must be
intentionality by church leadership, specifically, the pastor. Pastors, will you challenge your members to go? Churches, will you send your members out on
mission as commanded by Christ? We serve
a sending God who expects nothing less from us, than to go, because we’ve been
The muddy and winding Ohio River flows
through or borders six states, two of which are KY and OH. Along the Ohio River’s path sits America’s original
Boomtown—Cincinnati, also called the Queen City. Cincinnati is most notably known as the home
of Reds baseball where the Great American Ballpark rests on the bank of the river.
Metro Cincinnati boasts of 2.1
million people, which is nearly half of the population of the whole state of
KY. Sadly, only 13.7 percent of
Cincinnati’s metro residents are affiliated with any evangelical church. Not surprisingly, in the five counties around
the city, there is only 1 SBC church for every 10,298 people.
How does that compare with the whole
state of KY? There is 1 SBC church for every
1,724 people in the state. This is why
the KBC is partnering with NAMB and Send Cincinnati to connect our churches
with church planters that are investing their lives in the Queen City for
maximum gospel impact.
Just this week, KBC partnered with Send Cincinnati to lead a vision tour in order that KBC church leaders might meet church planters, see the city, and hear the vision for multiplying disciples there.
As one planter noted, “KBC churches have made it possible for us to do more through their partnerships with us than we could on our own.”
Cooperative mission is what we are about as Southern Baptists. We really believe we can do more together than we can by ourselves. The 31 active church planters in Cincinnati believe that as well. In step with a baseball town, our planters need gospel partners in order to move the runner around the bases. We need KBC churches stepping up to the plate to advance these planters and their work for the gospel.
Your church can assist in praying
for, providing for, and/or participating in the work of the gospel being
accomplished in Cincinnati. For more
information about Cincinnati or our other KBC partnerships, email us at [email protected] or visit www.kybaptist.org/vision.
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
Flood and Wildfire Clean up
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
Most of the 2,400 churches of the
Kentucky Baptist Convention have chosen to belong to an association of
churches. Generally speaking, each
association exists to provide support and assistance to member churches. But, the specifics of how that is done and
what it looks like is up to each association and its member churches to
determine for their context.
For years, associations have been able
to assist member churches, and many of them without any real strategy in place.
But times are different today and every association should have a strategy that
is understood and embraced by member churches.
It is estimated that 60-70% of associations exist in a rural or town and
country setting, and they too, need a strategy that guides their work.
According to the 2017 Baptist
Associations Survey conducted by Jason Lowe, the second-most frustrating aspect
of rural/town & country associations (according to church leaders) was a
lack of clear vision/strategy. It’s
interesting to note that the greatest frustration was a lack of church
participation. Perhaps there is a lack
of participation because there is no associational strategy. Additionally, it’s
encouraging to note that according to the same survey, the top reason among
church leaders in rural/town & country associations for why they would
consider increasing their church’s financial contributions to the association
was if the association had a clear vision/strategy. The survey shows how important it is that
every association develop a strategy that church leaders can embrace.
Research provided in The State of
Baptist Associations report did reveal 5 common elements that church
leaders indicated that they wanted to see in their association’s strategy. Those strategy elements were shared by Jason
Lowe in a breakout session during the 2019 SBCAL meeting in Birmingham. Here they are:
evangelism and community engagement strategy –the most desired element of an
associational strategy was to increase the association’s efforts to assist
member churches in evangelism and community engagement. While the details of how that looks will be different
in each context, church leaders want to partner with other churches to engage
their communities with the gospel. Associations
should take the lead in studying spiritual & social demographics of
communities and coordinating efforts to mobilize churches on mission locally.
planting strategy – while some church leaders would prefer that their association
spend less time in church planting efforts, the majority of church
leaders would like to see their association spend more time in leading,
assisting, or (at the very least) supporting local church planting efforts.
– in addition to local evangelism efforts, church leaders want their
association to assist in planning and coordinating missions opportunities
beyond their local area. This could include state, national, or international
partnerships or mission projects led by the association.
Development Strategy – associations need to make sure that opportunities are provided
to equip, encourage, and strengthen pastors and church leaders. Consider
developing a Leadership Pipeline, especially if your association has difficulty
in identifying enough pastors to serve in your churches. Partner with your
state convention to provide workshops and conferences that assist in developing
– when asked to identify what would motivate them to increase their church’s
financial contributions to the association, one of the most popular answers was
an increased awareness of the association’s ministry efforts among church
leaders and lay members alike. Therefore, associational leaders must not only
implement a clear strategy for helping churches partner together to advance
God’s kingdom, they must share the message of how it is being done through
email, newsletters, social media, etc.
And it must be clearly communicated frequently and consistently.
Association’s that have an effective strategy to guide them will prove value to member churches and bring benefit to themselves. If your association doesn’t have a clearly defined strategy, now is the time to develop one. For assistance in developing a strategy for your association, contact your state convention or an associational mission strategist.
There was a celebration reception at
the Freeda Harris Baptist Center in eastern Kentucky earlier this month to
recognize retiring missionaries Greg & Alice Whitetree and incoming missionaries
Richard & Amy Greene.
Richard served as a pastor in
Salyersville before being called to come serve as director of the Baptist
center in Pike County. He and Amy have a
10 year-old son Alex, who has Down syndrome and has always been an active part
of their ministry. It was not uncommon
for Alex to accompany Richard when pastoring, as he made visits, took care of
things at the church, handed out popsicles or met needs in the community. Coming to Pike County to serve as missionaries
at the center will not be any different.
Alex will be there serving alongside his parents as they feed the hungry,
operate a thrift store, welcome and direct the work of volunteer teams, conduct
mobile Bible clubs for kids in the hollers and share Christ.
Something very special happened during
the introduction of the Greene family at the reception. After Richard and Amy
were introduced, Alex took the mic and said, “my name is Alex and I’m a
missionary”. Wow, what a statement of
intent and understanding. I was moved by
his candor and innocence. Here is a
young man that understood anyone can be a missionary.
Many people picture a missionary as a middle-aged man who leaves his job in America to evangelize and plant churches in Africa. But that is a simplistic view. Today, African Christians reach out to Muslims in the Middle East. College students spend their summer teaching English in Asia. A family in America befriends and witnesses to international students. A truck driver responds to those hurting following a disaster and a 10 year-old boy in Appalachia wants to share Jesus with people he meets. All these are missionaries.
technically a missionary is someone specifically called by God and sent out by
the local church, every Christian has a mission to share the gospel and make
disciples. But simply put, a missionary is an ambassador of Christ
and every believer is expected to live out
our faith and represent Christ as we go.
You don’t have to be formally educated,
have years of experience or receive a salary to be a missionary. You just have-to be willing to GO. The
Greene’s are beginning to learn the community and meet the people who live
there. But I have a feeling it will be
Alex who the community knows best because he is so accepting of others and
shares an infectious smile with everyone he meets. Thank you Alex, for being a missionary at the
Freeda Harris Baptist Center.
This past weekend I was once again reminded of the story of
a mission team that came to serve in eastern Kentucky. They had a great week with the children and
youth and, when saying their sad goodbyes, a person on the team said, “don’t
worry, we will be back,” to which one of the local children replied, “that is
what they all say, but they never do.”
That statement gripped the heart of the team member and caused them to change
their plans and come back the next year.
It was during that visit that the mother of the child who said “they all
say that” accepted Christ as her personal Savior. This team developed a partnership in eastern
Kentucky and came back many times.
Partnerships are important, because it is through
partnerships that relationships are built.
In partnerships missions, teams “adopt” a specific location and go multiple
times to the same place, perhaps even several times in one year. They may bring a VBS team on one trip, a
construction team on another. The local
residents get to know the team members, develop a bond and look forward to them
coming each year.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting and presenting
a certificate of appreciation to Spartanburg, SC First Baptist Church who has
been partnering with Bell, Knox and surrounding counties for 50 years.
Bell County Associational Mission Strategist Bruce Walzer says
he has personally worked with this team for 30 years as they come and do Vacation
Bibles Schools, basketball and cheerleading camps, a feeding program and
construction. Bro. Bruce said they do whatever
he needs them to do in his association.
Many lives have been touched in those 50 years. One local lady shared that her children,
grandchildren and now great-grandchildren came to know Christ through the VBSs
of the Spartanburg team and thanked God for their faithfulness to come year
after year. Another man, now in his 50s,
shared that he had accepted Christ at one of the VBSs when he was 9-years
old. On a video, child after child confessed,
“I gave my heart to Jesus.”
The families of Kentucky are not the only ones impacted by
the Spartanburg FBC team. Leaders of the
group say this is where many of their youth shared Jesus for the first time
and/or led someone to Christ for the first time. And, many are in ministry today because they
heard the call of God on their lives during Kentucky mission week.
Linda Gilden, who was on that first mission trip 50 years
ago shared about a 5th grade boy that was misbehaving. She sat down with him and asked what was
going on, to which he replied, “nobody cares what I do.” Linda was able to share with him that she
cared, and that God cared.