My favorite question of all time

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I’m occasionally asked, most often by young pastors, “How can I get involved in the KBC?” I love that question. In fact, it is one of the most gratifying and hopeful questions I’m asked. When more people get involved in the cooperative mission work of Kentucky Baptists, more of that mission work gets done. More churches get planted, more orphans get loved, more people take mission trips and, most importantly, more people hear the gospel.

So, how can you get involved, or more involved, in the cooperative mission work of Kentucky Baptists? Here are three simple steps.

First, take advantage of opportunities to learn about the work and find the area that appeals to your gifts and interests. Attend the KBC annual meeting, come as a guest to one of the meetings of the Mission Board, check out the information on the KBC website, sign up for Kentucky Today, subscribe to the Western Recorder, and meet with a member of our KBC team. As you learn more about the ministries and mission work of Kentucky Baptists, you will also learn about events like mission vision tours, training opportunities for Disaster Relief, and how to become a foster parent.

Second, if you are interested in the work “behind the scenes,” then talk to those already involved and let them know you are willing to serve alongside them. Behind the visible work of Kentucky Baptists are a host of committees and boards that plan and oversee the work. The most well known is probably the KBC Mission Board. Most Mission Board members are nominated by their local Baptist association and processed by the KBC Committee on Nominations before being elected by the messengers at the KBC annual meeting. Membership on our KBC entity boards, like the governing boards of Oneida Baptist Institute, Sunrise Children’s Services, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, etc, begins with the recruiting efforts of the entity president, vetting by the KBC Committee on Nominations, and election by the messengers at the KBC annual meeting. The KBC president and members of the KBC Committee on Committees appoint people to serve on a host of convention committees and in other special roles. The bottom line is that the best way to get involved in the work behind the scenes is to connect with people already involved and share your availability.

Third, sacrificially support the work by praying and giving. Prayers and financial support makes possible the cooperative mission work of Kentucky Baptists. As you lead your church to pray and to give generously through the Cooperative Program, state missions offering, and other special offerings, you become involved in every aspect of the work. You are now helping to love the orphan through Sunrise, helping to equip pastors through our educational institutions, helping minister to the homeless, the prisoner, and the addict. You are providing a hot meal to a storm victim in Puerto Rico, mudding out the  house of a flood victim in Houston, handing out a backpack full of school supplies to a second grader whose father lost his mining job in Prestonsburg, and giving a week’s worth of food to a teenager raising her 3 younger siblings, orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in Johannesburg.

And with all of them, you are sharing Jesus. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in that?

 

Posted in Adoption, Affinity Evangelism, Annual Meeting, Baptisms, Baptist Associations, Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Church Planting, Collegiate Ministries, Cooperative Program, Crossings, Disaster Relief, Evangelism, Foster care, Great Commission, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Mission Board, Missions, Pastor | Leave a comment

Unprepared & scared: Lessons learned after 24 Halloweens

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I was called to the pastorate of Southfork Baptist Church in Owen County on Halloween in 1993. I was a newly married, second year seminary student with a clear sense that it was time I move from supply preacher to undershepherd.

As Michelle and I drove back to the Louisville after the evening service, we talked through managing her teaching schedule that week, my class schedule, and still finding time to pack everything we owned into a U-Haul by Saturday morning in order to meet the church’s request that we be “on the field” by the next Sunday. Actually, the request was that I start my pastoral ministry that Wednesday, but I managed to convince the Pastor Search Committee I needed more than two days to move.

I was excited, nervous, unprepared, more than a little scared, and incredibly humbled that God would allow me to be the pastor of Southfork Baptist Church. The church was posting numbers in the 30s for worship attendance. Whether the number had been five or five hundred, I was called of God to preach and teach His word to them and to shepherd them on His behalf. And I felt the weight of the assignment.

This week I begin my 25th year in vocational ministry. Reflecting upon the 24 years behind me, I realize I still have much to learn but here are some things that are coming clearly into view.

First, the call to ministry is a fragile stewardship. To serve and lead the Lord’s church is the highest calling and heaviest burden I can conceive. It is both an astounding privilege and, at the same time, a hardship that is difficult to express, sometimes feeling like more of an affliction than an assignment. Many who face the challenges and expectations, ride the rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows, and endure the ongoing reality of spiritual warfare, eventually lack the strength or willingness to continue. The minister’s marriage and family are constantly tested by the unavoidable stress and erratic schedule of ministry. The minister is blessed to experience spiritual joys known to few but also carries the sorrows of all who are under his care. It is a fragile stewardship.

Second, vocational ministry is not a job but a way of life. There is no work schedule for trips to the emergency room or answering phone calls or text messages from those who are experiencing a crisis. Much of the work of the church is evenings and weekends, those precious moments when a minister’s working spouse and children may not be in a crisis of their own, but certainly need the time and attention of their husband/father. Striking a balance that doesn’t cause one to be a derelict minister or a derelict husband and father is challenging at best. And it must be a way of life.

Third, the call to ministry comes to those with feet of clay. Disqualifying sin should not be tolerated by the church but no minister will meet a standard of perfection, whether as a preacher, evangelist, administrator, husband, father, or, simply, as a man. As much as a minister needs the grace of God, the church must also extend grace. Could they find a better preacher? Maybe. A pastor with a more charismatic personality? Possibly. A man whose wife was friendlier after church, even though she had to get three kids ready and off to church by herself, then kept the nursery, and will spend Sunday afternoon at home alone with the kids while her husband goes to a funeral visitation before making the deacons’ meeting before church and the Finance Committee meeting after church? Could be. But those willing to extend a little grace will realize that, if they have the man God has called to be their pastor, they have just the man they need.

I’m thankful for the grace God, and the people of God, have extended to me by allowing me to serve as a pastor and now a state missionary. I can’t imagine a more blessed and fulfilling life.

Posted in Family, Personal Reflections | Leave a comment

Pastor’s Appreciation Month

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Nearly every Sunday I have the privilege of preaching in a different church in Kentucky. The pastor is often present. While a few minutes of interaction before worship and casual discussion over lunch afterward does not provide the opportunity to see deeply into any man’s heart, what I have seen gives me a growing love and appreciation for those who serve as undershepherds of the Good Shepherd.

I see men who love people and have a desire to serve others, men who love the Lord and want desperately to please Him with their lives. I see men of conviction, who would be willing to lose all of their worldly possessions before they would stop “speaking about what they have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). I see men who eagerly proclaim the gospel with the confidence that God will use even their stammering to bring the lost to Himself.

I also see men who carry heavy burdens. They carry the grief and pains of God’s people. They carry the brokenness of children whose parents are divorcing, the unspeakable sorrow of parents who must bury a child, the emotional devastation of a man whose wife has been unfaithful, the fear of a young mother diagnosed with cancer. They help to carry the regrets of a man who looks back on the wasted years of his youth and the concerns of a grandmother for her lost grandchild.

Yes, in prayer, they cast their cares and the cares of their flock upon the Lord (1Peter 5:7), but they do not have the privilege of turning off their love and concern for His sheep when they say “Amen.”

Scripture says, “Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 7:15). While the phrase “all the days of his life” may not seem terribly significant, I contend it is remarkably significant. Carrying the burdens of a pastor and remaining committed and faithful in ministry, over the long haul, can be incredibly challenging. Thank God for those who strive to be faithful all the days of their life!

Let’s pray for our pastors. Let’s find ways to encourage them, to help carry their burdens, and be a blessing to them.

“God, thank you for our pastors. Bless, use, and reward them. And help us to appreciate, love, and encourage them. Bless their families. Protect them and prosper them. Bless their preaching. Give them fresh insight into the deep truths of your word and a passion to share those truths with saints and sinners. Give them the tender heart of a shepherd, the courageous heart of a prophet, and a heart filled with love for you and your people. Amen.”

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KBC Annual Meeting: Join us for a time of celebration, renewal

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The Kentucky Baptist Convention annual meeting, coming up on November 14, is hardly more than a month away. I hope you are making plans to attend. The KBC Pastor’s Conference will be held on November 13 at Highview Baptist Church East Campus and is open to all to attend at no charge. The KBC annual meeting will be held at the same location on the following day.

The annual “KBC family reunion” is a time of celebration when the people known as Kentucky Baptists will offer praise and thanksgiving for the ways God has chosen to use us this year. And we have plenty to celebrate!

This year we will celebrate a record number of children being ministered to through Sunrise Children’s Services and a record enrollment at University of the Cumberlands. We will celebrate generous Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, and Eliza Broadus mission offerings. We will celebrate thousands of baptisms, thousands new KBC church members, and dozens of new church plants. We will welcome newly affiliated churches into our KBC family and celebrate the Cooperative Program giving in KBC churches that surpassed the KBC CP budget for a second straight year.

And that is just the beginning of all we can celebrate!

The Apostle Peter called God’s people a “chosen” people. Peter wrote,

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1Peter 2:9-10)

In these days, when some will speak against us because of our commitment to the truths of Scripture, my prayer for Kentucky Baptists as we gather for our annual meeting is that our time together will be not only a time of celebration. I also pray that we will renew our commitment to live and serve in such a way that we will display God’s glory and Christ’s love so others might be drawn to Him as the Spirit uses our good deeds and verbal witness of the gospel. I pray that what should happen will happen, that through us the light of Christ will shine brighter as the world becomes darker.

Mark your calendar for the KBC annual meeting celebration on November 14 at Highview Baptist Church East Campus. I hope to see you there!

Posted in Annual Meeting, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Pastoral Resources | Leave a comment

Annual review highlights serve as encouragement for churches

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Each year, your KBC Mission Board staff members sit down with their immediate supervisor to review their work over the past year and agree upon goals for the upcoming year. This meeting is important to help each team member plan his/her work in concert with the mission statement of the KBC and is one part of the overall employee performance assessment process at KBC.

Supervision of the Executive Director-Treasurer position falls not upon one person but upon every member of the Mission Board. Since that board has over 100 members and a two-way conversation with a group that large is difficult, the Administration Committee of the board appoints a sub-committee for my review. In preparation for my review, I typically compile information to include in an “Executive Summary” of my work and the work of the Mission Board staff over the past year. Here is some of the information I included.

Strategic Results of the Cooperative Work of KBC Churches and the Mission Board Staff:

  • Continued growth pattern in KBC total church membership at a rate of nearly 10,000 per year
  • Continued growth pattern in the number of Kentucky Baptists involved in volunteer mission trips at a rate of more than 5,000 per year, with a 2016 total of 105,415
  • Celebrated and encouraged the evangelistic efforts of KBC churches as they baptized over 13,700 new believers
  • Supported 50 KBC church plants currently in the 3-year funding phase
  • Celebrated and encouraged the ongoing sacrificial giving of Kentucky Baptists who contributed more than $30,000,000 through the Cooperative Program and the state, national, and international missions offerings
  • Lobbied for the most significant prolife legislation passed in Kentucky in 13 years as well as legislation passed to strengthen the protection of religious liberties in Kentucky
  • Encouraged, trained, and equipped thousands of Kentucky Baptists through personal visits, sermons, seminars, and events in areas like missions, evangelism, church planting, revitalization, and discipleship
  • Facilitated the work of KBC Disaster Relief volunteers as they served thousands of people in the midst of tragedy in Kentucky, neighboring states, and around the world
  • Witnessed exponential growth in the reach and influence of Kentucky Today, amassing more than 125,000 unique readers between March 1, 2017 and July 1, 2017. Google Analytics locates readers in 1,000+ communities in the state and in 167 countries
  • Worked with Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, his staff, and cabinet leaders to launch the Open Hearts/Open Homes initiative for adoption and foster care reform

Strategic Hires:

Rob Patterson, Regional Consultant

Larry Purcell, Regional Consultant

Matthew Mofield, Baptist Campus Missionary

Tom Latek, Kentucky Today Frankfort Correspondent

Todd Gray, Evangelism & Church Planting Team Leader

Mark Maynard, Managing Editor, Kentucky Today

Savannah Lewis, Electronic Media Assistant

Nick Stamford, Information Technology Help Desk Representative

The cooperative work of Kentucky Baptists is much more than can be communicated in a brief article but hopefully the above highlights are an encouragement to you and your church as you support and participate in that work. I thank God for your partnership in the gospel (Philippians 1:5).

Posted in Baptisms, Baptist Polity, Church Planting, Churches, Cooperative Program, Denominational Life, Disaster Relief, Evangelism, Foster care, Great Commission, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Kentucky Legislature, Kentucky Today, Mission Board, Prolife, Religious Liberty, Vision | Comments closed