God Has Provided!!

The holidays are upon us.  Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving and then “very soon it will be Christmas Day.”  As Kentucky Baptists we find ourselves once again in the midst of Christmas backpack deliveries to churches and ministries.  Boys and girls across the state will be blessed as backpacks YOU packed will be distributed to children in need.

Backpack applications were sent out in February, just prior to COVID-19, and we had requests for 17,350.  In a year that has been anything but “normal” we did not know what this year might look like as far as collecting the backpacks, or even how ministries might be able to distribute them which, I might say, is still being worked out.

Our Kentucky Baptist Convention goal for 2020 was to fill 10,000 backpacks, knowing that we would also receive many from partnering states.  Every year I get a little nervous thinking we may not get enough backpacks to fill all the requests but this year, with churches not having in-person services for several months, I was particularly concerned.  Just a few short weeks ago it looked as though we would only have about half of the backpacks that were requested. 

At the end of last week, the deadline for backpacks to be dropped off at our three regional sites, Kentucky churches had donated approximately 5,000 backpacks and another 7,900 were committed from our partnership state conventions.  This gave us an approximate total of 12,900, still about 4,450 backpacks short.  But our needs seem to be met.

Again, due to COVID, some of our distribution sites will not be able to have their normal outreach events and, as a result, have gotten fewer requests.  With our adjusted numbers, we now have the backpacks to meet the needs of our churches and ministries. 

I often think, “oh, me of little faith.”  Over and over again God provides just what we need.  So, I say, “Thank You, God.  Thank You, Kentucky Baptists.  And Thank You partnering state convention churches and associations that gave backpacks so that many boys and girls will have a blessed Christmas.” 

Pray with us that not only will the children receive a nice Christmas gift in the form of a backpack, but that the Gospel message will be shared, and many will come to know Christ as their personal Savior and receive the GREATEST GIFT this Christmas season.

May each of you have a Happy Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas!!

KY Churches Focus on SENDING Rather Than Seating

Our God is a sending God.  Nearly every time He speaks to someone in scripture, He is sending them on a mission.  From Abraham to Moses to Paul, to us, God’s people are always being sent into the world on mission.  He sent His best and only son into the world to save us.  Jesus is referred to as “sent” forty seven times in the New Testament.   Clearly, God is a sender by nature.  Jesus sent the apostles, and He has sent us.  After His resurrection, Jesus passed on this responsibility to His disciples:  “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).

In “Gaining by Losing”, J.D. Greear challenges us to recognize that in healthy growing churches, sending capacity is more important than seating capacity.  Many churches think their primary problems are about declining baptism numbers and poor attendance. When often times, they are evidence that the church has drifted from it’s primary vision to SEND members out on mission. 

A church that is sending equips members to demonstrate the gospel every day in their workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools and be prepared to give an answer to those in our community who ask them to “give the reason for the hope that they have”  (1 Peter 3:15).

What is SENDING?  The act of enlisting, equipping and mobilizing believers to engage the world with the gospel through:

  • local community ministry
  • short term missions
  • church planting efforts
  • disaster relief work
  • vocational ministry
  • long-term missionary service

Below is a list of Kentucky’s top ten churches, in terms of missions participation. Each of the churches has earned recognition because they had a greater percentage of their worship attendance participating in missions this year than they did the previous.

  1. Turner Ridge, Falmouth – pastor Dale Beighle
  2. First, Inez – pastor Casey Carver
  3. Finchville, Finchville – pastor David Ladner
  4. Hartford, Hartford – pastor Jason Bratcher
  5. Kelly, Hopkinsville – pastor Joshua Powell
  6. Island Creek, Manchester – pastor George Grigsby
  7. Oak Grove 2, Eubank – pastor David Gambrel
  8. Deane, Millstone – pastor Chris Dool
  9. Muldraugh Hill, Lebanon – pastor Billy Compton
  10.  Flat Rock, Orlando – pastor Gregory Burton

Let’s reach our communities, nation and world with the gospel by placing our focus on SENDING, rather than seating.    

The Joy of Giving Yourself for Others and for Christ

C. S. Lewis wrote in his book Mere Christianity, “Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.”

Volunteers with Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief give themselves away for the good of others and the sake of Christ when disasters strike. They have discovered the joy that is found in giving all that we are and have for Christ.

Listen to these testimonies about how they are giving for the sake of Christ through disaster relief:

“We volunteer to help the victims clean up after the disaster in order to speak to their heart.” (Mike Bastin – Pleasant View Baptist Church)

“God uses us, DR volunteers, at a time when hope seems gone.” (Carolyn Gray – Zion’s Cause Baptist Church)

“Disaster Relief opens up doors to people for the Gospel.” (Tom Garrity – Jeffersontown Baptist Church)

“Disaster Relief gives our volunteers a way to show victims of a disaster that God loves them.” (David Bayes – Liberty Mills Baptist Church)

“God uses the love He placed in DR workers, to help people in their time of trouble. Making the DR workers a living Bible.” (Jerry and Andy Cable – Campton Baptist Church)

 “Disaster Relief allows us to demonstrate the unconditional love of Christ to people that have found themselves overwhelmed by circumstances beyond their control. Sharing the Gospel is always much more effective after sharing God’s love.”   (Roger Whitehead – Grayson First Baptist Church)

“Disaster relief is the mirror that reveals the love of God.” (Sammy Hammons – Kirksville Baptist Church)

“Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief allows us to work through the brokenness and point those we are able to serve back to a loving God through His Son, The Lord Jesus Christ.” (Bob Brame – Hickory Grove Baptist Church)

“In the midst of disasters, most people, even those previously resistant to the Gospel, realize they are not in control of their current or future circumstances.  Disaster Relief volunteers come alongside them to help carry their burdens while sharing the Love and hope that is found in Jesus Christ.” (Keith Stinson – First Baptist Church of Richmond)

“The word Kentucky draws Attention (Famous Kentucky Fried Chicken). Kentucky Baptist DR gold shirts draws Curiosity. Curiosity draws conversations. Conversations open doors. BOOM! Opportunity to Share Jesus.” (Janice Gaines – Hamlet Baptist Church)

“In one week of DR I get to share the Gospel more than in a whole year at home with my regular routines.” (Gordon Hayworth – Fairdale First Baptist Church)

“Ian Sterling was saved at one of our Kentucky Baptist disaster responses to Bay Minette, Alabama. Ian was an American Red Cross volunteer and shared how he had observed our volunteers being the church and this drew him to Christ.” (Larry and Elaine Koch – Redemption Hill Baptist Church)

Is God calling you to give of yourself to bring help, healing, and hope when disasters strike?

Find out how you can give and get involved during times of disaster for the sake of the Gospel at www.kybaptist.org/dr .

The Cooperative Program is more than Money!

When I think of Kentucky Baptist, one word that rises to the top is generosity. Kentucky Baptist are generous people, who have a vision to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people everywhere.  I do not take for granted the compassionate prayers, the personal commitment, and the financial sacrifice that Kentucky Baptist make to support missions and ministry efforts in our state, nation, and world. As a former IMB missionary from Kentucky and member of the Missions Mobilization Team, I am thankful for the faithful generosity of Kentucky Baptist in their passionate support of missions through the Cooperative Program.

As stated on the SBC.net website, The Cooperative Program (CP) is the financial fuel for reaching every person for Jesus Christ in every town, every city, every state, and every nation. Since its inception in 1925, the CP has been the primary way Southern Baptists “do” the work of ministry together both locally and globally. Standing on the firm ground of the Great Commission, the CP is a powerful tool that has galvanized the missionary zeal of our denomination for the past 95 years.

The Cooperative Program is far more than money or a funding system for missions and ministry. It has been an effective means of bringing the gospel to those who have never heard of Jesus. In a time when the many people are skeptical of institutional structures, the theological conviction and purpose driving the CP must be elevated above and beyond the tool itself. The tool is wonderful, but the vision of reaching Kentucky and the world for Christ is greater. Missiology is not methodology; it is applied theology.

Through Cooperative Program giving, the Lord allows us not only to partner in fulfilling the Great Commission, but also to fulfill a vision that is greater than ourselves. Each church plays a vital role in discovering the lost, making disciples, and strengthening and planting churches both locally and globally. Collectively, we can accelerate not only authentic gospel impact, but also sustainable gospel witness.  Here is what the Lord has taught me, through the faithful CP giving of our Kentucky Baptist:  

  1. It is Beyond me: I obey God by giving my tithe to our local church. My tithe, combined with the tithes of fellow members, enables our church to reach our community and to live on mission.
  2. It is Beyond us: Our church partners with thousands of others across Kentucky to support missions and ministry statewide through the Cooperative Program. Together, we equipped people to welcome and share Christ with refugee families from more than 10 countries, started a Bible institute to equip International pastors across KY, and partnered with International Churches to make discipleships among unreached people.
  3. It is Beyond Kentucky: As KBC churches partner with 46,000+ Southern Baptist churches, our CP giving sends thousands of missionaries across North America to reach people for Christ and Plant urgently needed new churches. Together, we helped Send City missionaries in Chicago, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, and New York share Christ and plant churches
  4. It is Beyond the USA: Our CP giving sends thousands of missionaries around the world to share Christ and plant churches among unreached and unengaged people groups. Last year, CP giving helped over 3600 workers plant 12,368 churches and see 89,325 new believers! South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central Asia are only a few of the locations KBC churches are with IMB workers around the world!

The strength of the CP is that it allows all Southern Baptist’s churches to prioritize, elevate, and participate in the Great Commission, by partnering together to make Jesus known Here, There, and Everywhere. This is why I am thankful for Kentucky Baptist generosity, and I proud to serve KBC churches as they seek to reach Kentucky and the world for Christ. We are stronger together!

If I can help you develop, share, or equip your church on the impact of cooperative program, please contact me: John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, email: [email protected] or call: 502-654-3385

Churches and the Missionary Task–Healthy Church Formation

IMB Photo

I remember when my first child was born over 21 years ago.  It seems like only yesterday.  She stole my heart in that sterile delivery room with her red hair and chubby cheeks.  As I write this blog, my baby is in labor to give birth to our first grandbaby.  The birth of a child is unlike any other experience.  Giving birth to a child is only the beginning.  There is so much we want of our children. So much that we want them to be.  Ultimately, the goal is to nurture and raise our kids to live for Jesus. 

Church planting in the New Testament is like giving birth.  As we look at the book of Acts, the gospel spreads as churches are birthed—that is, planted in new locations. Paul, the main church planter in Acts, enters a location without the gospel, evangelizes unbelievers, disciples those who come to faith in Jesus, gathers those believers into congregations, raises up leaders, and then exits that place to repeat the process all over again.        

The strategy for gospel advancement in the book of Acts is church planting.  In other words, God uses the formation and multiplication of the local church to spread the gospel of Jesus locally and globally.  While the aim of the Great Commission is to make disciples of all nations, how this is accomplished is through the formation of healthy churches.  Where churches do not exist, missionaries must enter those locations, share Jesus, and begin making disciples in order to form healthy churches.  The task of the missionary is summarized as entry, evangelism, discipleship, healthy church formation, leadership development, and exit. 

IMB Photo

“A church is a group of baptized believers in Jesus Christ who are committed to each other to be the body of Christ to one another and who meet together regularly to carry out the functions of a biblical church” (IMB Foundations). What is it that we want of our churches? What do we want them to be?  Though not exhaustive, IMB Foundations offers 12 characteristics that describe what a sustainable church should be.  Whether the church is new or established, these characteristics are guides for what every church should strive to be.

  1. Biblical evangelism—people come into the church because they have heard and responded to the full gospel message.
  2. Biblical discipleship—members of the church intentionally invest in one another’s lives to grow to maturity in Jesus.
  3. Biblical membership—members are only those who give credible evidence of repentance and faith in Jesus, and who have been baptized as believers.
  4. Biblical leadership—God gives two offices of the church: pastors/elders/overseers and deacons.
  5. Biblical preaching and teaching—weekly teaching of the Word is essential for the church and consists of the exposition and application of Scripture.
  6. Biblical ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper—believers are baptized by immersion in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Lord’s Supper is observed regularly by the church to remember and celebrate Jesus’s death, resurrection and promised return.
  7. Biblical worship—a healthy church offers to God worship as prescribed in His word so that the church sings, prays, reads, and hears the word.
  8. Biblical fellowship—members of the church love each other, encourage one another, and build each other up.
  9. Biblical prayer—the church prays both privately and corporately.
  10. Biblical accountability and discipline—members hold one another accountable to the word and leaders of the church watch over the flock entrusted to their care.
  11. Biblical giving—members give freely of their resources for the support of the church in the making of disciples.
  12. Biblical mission—the church is organized to make disciples locally, but also to do so among the nations.

The birth of a child is unlike any other experience.  New parents look forward to the beginning of their child’s life, but the goal is not to stay in the hospital after birth or even for one’s child to remain an infant.  The goal of any parent is to nurture and raise their child to maturity.  The New Testament church has the same goal.  These 12 characteristics are like a guidebook for new parents on what a church is called to be.  May the Lord send out and use your church to multiply many more churches with these characteristics. 

Sewing for Missions

When KY-MSC Missionary Tim Bargo called asking for masks for the “See You at the Pole” event, Mrs. Gloria Perkins stepped up to the plate.  Knowing of Mrs. Gloria’s sewing projects for missions in the past, I gave her a call.  She had never made masks but did have a pattern and would see what she could get done. 

In about a week Gloria called saying she had 50 masks made and would continue working on them.  In a couple more weeks she called back saying she had made a total of 150. 

“God gave me a talent for sewing and I want to use it for him,” said Gloria, who is a member of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Pine Knot.  Gloria grew up at Bethel but, as a newly married couple, in 1957 she and her husband moved to the Cincinnati area to find work.  An interesting story is that while in Ohio they were members of New Bethel Baptist Church.  Upon her husband’s retirement from GE in 1995 they build a house on her family’s homeplace and moved “back to Bethel” where she has lived and been a member of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church ever since.    

Prior to COVID the Bethel Baptist WMU ladies met monthly to study missions, pray for missionaries and to do projects for local, state, national and international missions.  They promote the Eliza Broadus, Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon offerings in their church and work with their hands to provide items for ministry. 

They made over 100 witnessing dolls and sent to an eastern Kentucky ministry.  Homemade bears, each with a tag that read “Jesus Loves You,” were put in Christmas Backpacks for Kentucky children, as well as sent to a missionary on the Louisiana coast.  Homemade dresses were put in their Samaritan Purse boxes for little girls in other countries.  The WMU also made and sold crafts, donating the money to their church to help with needed projects. 

Tim Bargo was so appreciative of the masks.  “As we are all in an uncharted time with the pandemic Mrs. Gloria Perkins showed the love of Christ by making masks for our First Priority network.” Tim said.  “I find it awesome that God told her to make masks and then weeks later He gave us the masks she made, without ever meeting or knowing each other.  Philippians 4:19 tells us, “God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” He has done that thru Mrs. Gloria!”

WMU groups all around the state are helping our missionaries to serve people and share the love of Christ.  To learn of ways you can use your God-given talents contact the KBC Missions Mobilization Team at 502-489-3530 or email [email protected].  We would love to connect you.

By the way, in addition to being active in the WMU, Mrs. Gloria also serves as church organist.  Thank you, Mrs. Gloria and Bethel Baptist WMU, for allowing God to use you to promote and support missions.

Simple Lessons for The Called

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – General Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State

If I could break down all I have learned to share with a next generation of those called by God, I would offer these simplified lessons:

  1. Maintain integrity.  “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the perversity of the treacherous destroys them” (Proverbs 11:3).
  2. Preach the Word.  Handle the Living Word of God accurately and herald the unchanging truth of God with conviction. “Preach the message, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).
  3. Offer application not just information when you preach and teach, because God desires transformation. Jesus said in Matthew 7:24, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house upon the rock.”
  4. Be willing to engage in strategic innovation without compromising God’s unchanging message in an age where things are changing faster than anytime in human history. This is the heart of what the apostle Paul is sharing in 1 Corinthians 9: 22-23 when he proclaims, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”
  5. Help people to navigate truth in a time of instant information. Wisdom is more than an accumulation of information, and discernment is vital in this age of information overload. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 offers us incredible wisdom, “But test all things.  Hold on to what is good.”
  6. Love the flock. Being an effective leader means nothing if you do not genuinely care about those God has entrusted to you. “Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God, and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness” 9! Peter 5:2).
  7. Awaken a passion in followers of Christ to study the word. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
  8. Seek to inspire the church to be filled with a deep love for our Lord that is more than an intellectual knowledge.  Jeremiah 29:13 reminds us of this truth, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”
  9. Maintain a balance in worship that keeps the Word of God elevated but does not devalue music, prayer, giving, the ordinances, and fellowship as essential elements of genuine worship. May we worship as taught in Colossians 3:16-17, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
  10. Learn to work with people and to build unity in the family of faith. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling of which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, putting up with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).

Baptist Associations Need Our Prayers –

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.” 

The Baptist association has been defined as “a fellowship of local autonomous churches with a singular vision to work together to claim their surrounding areas and ultimately the world for the Kingdom of Christ!”

Southern Baptist associations are much like Southern Baptist churches in that they are a diverse group and are unique in many ways. Some associations are large while others are small, so they cooperate with a neighboring association to accomplish their vision, maybe even sharing an Associational Mission Strategist (AMS).

I am blessed to have been part of some great associations in my ministry.  I remember as a young man how the Green Valley Association brought churches together to do missions that our individual church could not do by itself. I’ve seen associations equip and resource leaders for ministry service through their church.  I know of several Kentucky associations that serve as catalysts for church planting, and others that lead member churches to engage in evangelism and ministry efforts.  

The Baptist Association is a value to member churches and important to their accomplishment of The Great Commission.  Therefore, Southern Baptists have chosen to recognize October 18-25, 2020 as the Week of Prayer for Associational Missions. 

Would you join with me in praying for your association in the following ways?

1. Pray for a spirit of unity and harmony within the churches as they partner together. Satan loves to cause division between believers and churches.  Jesus pointed out the importance of unity in His priestly prayer (John 17) and a lack of harmony between churches is a stumbling block to accomplishment of Kingdom goals.

2. Pray for your Associational Mission Strategist and his family. An AMS is many things to many people, but he must first-of-all be a spiritual leader. He is expected to care for and challenge churches while loving and leading pastors.  He has a difficult task. He and his family will be under attack and need your prayer support. 

3. Pray for a clear vision to plant new churches. There is great opportunity in our state today for the planting of new churches.  New churches are needed as we become increasingly unchurched and lost. Existing churches may not know how to plant a new church, but an association can be proactive and helpful to provide needed leadership and support.

4. Pray for effectiveness in strengthening existing churches. Many existing, traditional churches are struggling today. Their effectiveness is sometimes hindered by history and attitudes that limit their vision and create unnecessary challenges to outreach. An association is able to encourage and provide the resources for dysfunctional churches to become healthy and spiritually reproductive.

5. Pray for a passion and plan to impact lostness, both locally and globally.  The 2010 Glenmary reports shows that only 12.9% of Kentuckians attend a church of any kind.  Lostness in the Commonwealth abounds! Some churches need training, resources, or an evangelistic initiative like the Gospel to Every Home in-order to impact lostness. 

6. Pray that your association is challenged to resource, support and encourage every pastor.  There is no doubt that pastors are targeted by the enemy who desires to destroy their families and ministries. The AMS can be a great friend and encourager to local pastors. Fellowship and time together gives pastors the opportunity to just be themselves and share their needs and frustrations.

So, please pray for your association and your AMS during the week of prayer for associational missions. Lead your church to pray for the association and AMS too!  As the association grows stronger, the churches will benefit and become more effective in their Kingdom work.

Hard Places, Hard Times!

SUPPORTING GOSPEL WORK IN OPPRESSED PLACES AND DURING TURBULENT TIMES!

“14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17)

The Apostle Paul not only understood that the Great Commission belongs to the local church, but also that “sending churches” must pray, encourage, and partner with their “sent ones.” As Kentucky Baptist Churches, we have the joy of supporting and partnering with IMB missionaries around the world, through our Cooperative Program Giving and Lottie Moon Christmas Offerings. However, the Great Commission is more than simply our giving, it includes our willingness to have gospel partnerships in hard places, among hard people, and during hard times. The spread of the gospel faces challenges because people are battling their own personal sin and pride in the face of the “offense” of the gospel. In addition to the challenge of human sinfulness and depravity, sometimes the gospel runs up against challenging settings. Christians in places of religious freedom still carry the biblical burden to take the gospel into higher security or closed settings. The Great Commission is not an option clause, but a command from our living Lord, Jesus Christ. The ultimate goal for these difficult settings is to see the Holy Spirit establish a long-term, doctrinally sound, multiplying church presence for the glory of God.

If we are to partner in a high security location, we must first build and maintain a relationship with a committed missionary who resides in the difficult place or among the difficult people. Workers in hostile areas live with spiritual oppression as a constant companion, much like a tumor that cannot be removed. A good partner carefully considers the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical challenges that exist in this particular setting.

God can use you and your church to not only preserve the wellbeing of your missionary partner, but also play a critical role in fulfilling the Great Commission by doing three critical things:

Pray
We must pray for our missionaries, but beyond that, they need to know we are praying for them. Ask them for specific requests and then follow up to see how the Lord worked. Find out their specific cultural challenges and commit to pray for them. Paul asked his friends to pray for him, and he gave them specific prayer requests.

Encourage
We must also encourage our missionaries. These are real people who have real interests, hobbies, preferences, etc. Do not forget that they have a favorite genre of music, a sports team they keep up with, jokes they enjoy, frustrations as a parent, concerns as a spouse, and a thousand other facets that make them human. Treat them the same way you treat other friends. Talk with them about their interests, fears, joys, and sorrows.

When neglected, the humanity of our missionaries is what often takes them off of the field. When cared for, the humanity of our missionaries is often what makes them the most effective. People who live in spiritual oppression are looking for someone who is living out hope. Ask your church members, how can we play a part in ongoing encouragement to our field personnel? Find ways, be practical and be consistent.

Go
The Bible is overflowing with commands, reasons, and motivations to go, serve and spread the gospel with your physical presence. It is not only important for some of us to go to difficult places long-term, but also for others to go to these places short-term in order to help our missionaries by encouraging and supporting them. Due to the travel restrictions caused by the current pandemic, you might consider “going” on virtual mission trip, which is an excellent way to pray, encourage, and connect with workers in hard places!  But as you go either physically or virtually, go for the benefit of your spiritual partners and the lost, not to fulfill your own dreams. There is a specific danger present in any type of mission trip that makes it about the individuals going instead of supporting strategy of the workers living on the field.

Also, be realistic about the results you will see during your time in a difficult area, or during your time of virtual trip. In many of these places, the work is long and often times they have yet to see the “harvest.” Radical Prayer, persistence, and patience in working the soil is required. The Lord is free to work in any way that He desires, but those who “go” must keep in mind that they might not see a massive turning to the Lord on their first trip.

As you partner with missionaries in difficult and possibly hostile locations, you are part of bringing unreached and unengaged people to the throne room of God. There are many places you could go or ways you can participate in fulfilling the Great Commission, but the greatest blessing is to go and serve where the Lord calls you. The work is large, the challenges are daunting, the need is overwhelming, but the eternal value of even one soul is worth every bit of effort we can summon. Remember the words of the Lord Himself in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest.”

The Missions Mobilization Team is here to serve you and your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. Even during the pandemic, we can help you Discover the Opportunities, Develop a Strategy, and Equip your Church to Pray, Encourage, Go! Whether you are just getting started or needing to start a new, our team can help you take the next step. Email John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, at [email protected] or call 502-654-3385.

Churches and the Missionary Task: Discipleship

The aim

Missiologists often say, “God’s church doesn’t have a mission. Rather, God’s mission has a church.”  The aim of the Great Commission is to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:16-20).  This Great Commission aim is the reason every church exists.  Discipleship is third in the missionary task (entry, evangelism, discipleship, healthy church formation, leadership development, and exit).  While entry and evangelism are essential components of the missionary mandate, the goal is not simply to be present or even to share Jesus only.  The objective is to help believers mature in the faith. 

“A disciple is more than a person who has mastered a set of information, or practices a set of spiritual disciplines and shares the gospel.  Discipleship involves the intentional transformation of heart, mind, affections, will, relationships, and purpose. . . .  The essential tools for discipleship are the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God” (IMB Foundations). 

IMB Photo

The plan

Churches who make long-term commitments to partner with missionaries in the missionary task can play a vital role in the process of disciple-making through these essential tools.   But like anything in life, a goal without a plan to achieve it results in an unrealized goal.  IMB mobilizer D. Ray Davis shares the importance of a healthy plan for these essential tools of discipleship (“The Missionary Task: Making Disciples Who Make Disciples”). 

When it comes to the Word of God, IMB has found that new believers need to grasp three aspects of the Bible—the big picture of the Bible (creation, fall, redemption, consummation); effective Bible study (method); and major themes (e.g., nature of God, sin, holiness, judgment, salvation, etc.). 

As for the Spirit of God, new believers need to know that God’s Spirit alone brings transformation in the believer’s life through the Word of God. Walking in the Spirit is a life-long endeavor for all believers.  “Discipleship must be done in conscious dependence on the power and work of the Holy Spirit” (IMB Foundations). 

Lastly, God uses the people of God collectively through the church to help mature believers.  “Scripture makes it clear that discipleship ordinarily happens in the context of the local church” (IMB Foundations). 

As Davis explains,

“All missionary teams—and church partners—should have a robust, healthy discipleship plan for new believers that includes elements such as baptism, local church membership, and basic spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible study, worship, fasting, and sharing the gospel. Furthermore, new believers need ongoing training in areas like biblical marriage, parenting, family life, a biblical understanding of work, the church, suffering and persecution, integrity, and a new identity in Christ that supersedes any earthly identity” (Davis, “Making Disciples”).

The end

Every church and every church member is to be engaged in this global disciple-making plan.  While not every member will carry out this plan in the same way, every member has a part to play through means such as praying, going, encouraging, giving, and sending.  Churches working intentionally with long-term missionaries by following their strategy for disciple-making provide great encouragement and movement in fulfilling the Great Commission.  In doing so, the church will be marked not simply by mission activity, but mission identity—disciples who make disciples.

How is your church making disciples both locally and globally so that missions is not an activity of your church but its identity?  I am more than happy to help you in this cause. You can reach me at [email protected]