Ideas for Pastor Appreciation Month

Facebook Twitter Email

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. If you are reading this article, you probably have a pastor. How can you express your appreciation to him for all he does to shepherd God’s flock? Let me offer two suggestions.

shepherding-2017-logoFirst, consider sending your pastor and his wife to Shepherding 2017. Registration is now open for this event here. The Kentucky Baptist Convention and Baptist Health hope that Shepherding 2017 will bring a time of godly refreshment to ministry couples.

As in the past, we desire to bring couples together in a relaxed setting where they can experience renewal, strengthen relationships, and encounter God in worship. The conference begins Thursday, January 26 and concludes Saturday, January 28. Space is limited. Register early to ensure availability. The registration fee covers only a portion of the costs associated with this event. As a means of joining you in blessing and encouraging our ministers, the remaining cost is provided by Baptist Health and by Kentucky Baptists’ gifts through the Cooperative Program.

holy-land-tour-logoSecond, Steve Rice and I will be hosting a Holy Land tour March 11-20, 2017, for any Kentucky Baptist who would like to join us. The tour would be a great learning opportunity for anyone but especially for pastors. Churches may want to consider sending their pastor or at least assisting him with the trip. The estimated total price is $3,869 per person from Louisville, Ky. A $300 deposit (paid to Jerusalem Tours) will reserve your place.

Included in the estimated price are: flights, hotels, touring, breakfast and dinner daily, four lunches, tips, airport taxes and fuel charges (subject to change by the airline). Not included in the estimated price are: optional travel insurance ($292), meals not noted in the itinerary, drinks and items of a personal nature. For more information, contact Dr. Stephen C. Rice, KBC Church Consulting & Revitalization Team leader, at (502) 489-3434 or, or call Jerusalem Tours at (888) 373-8687.

God has blessed us with faithful, fearless men who love the Lord Jesus and His church. Whether the above opportunities work for you and/or your pastor, I trust you will find a way to express your appreciation for the man of God who spends his life preaching the gospel to you and your family, praying for you and your family, serving you and your family, and loving you and your family.

Serving as a pastor is a high and holy calling and those who serve well are worthy of double honor (1 Timothy 5:17). Let us thank God for our pastors!

Posted in Family, Holy Land, Pastor | Leave a comment

The role of cooperative missions and cooperative funding across the SBC

Facebook Twitter Email

How relevant is the Cooperative Program funding model in fueling SBC missions and ministries?

CP-logoAt our dinner table last night, our 13-year-old guest turned to me and asked abruptly, “Do you know why I’m glad my sister is here?” Our guest comes to visit once a week. She is working her way through a residential treatment program, trying to recover from years of abuse and neglect. The question caught me off guard and, knowing at least some of what she and her little sister have endured, I wasn’t sure what she would say next, but I wanted her to understand she was free to say whatever was on her mind.

I simply replied, “No. Why are you glad?”

Her sister was three when she came into the care of Sunrise Children’s Services, the James 1:27 ministry of Kentucky Baptists. Fueled by the Cooperative Program, Sunrise ministers to more than 1,000 hurting kids in Kentucky. With more than 8,000 kids in our state’s care, Kentucky Baptists feel we are only scratching the surface even though we are the largest private provider.

When Sunrise contacted us about a three-year-old, my wife Michelle and I were a little hesitant. We had been foster parents for a teenage boy for a year, and, although he had recently been placed with another family, three-year-olds had never been on our radar. With two kids in college and one heading into middle school, a three-year-old didn’t seem like a “good fit.” But the scriptural mandate to care for orphans doesn’t say much about which kids fit our life-stage or lifestyle, so we took the plunge.

Now, at our dinner table, her 13-year-old sister is about to break my heart even thought I don’t know it yet.

“I’m glad she’s here because I’m glad she has a father.”

I knew our foster daughter had no memory of a father, so I wasn’t all that surprised when, in a matter of hours, she was calling me daddy. But what broke my heart was the 13-year-old celebrating that her little sister now has a father even though she doesn’t.

These two precious girls are among the 400,000 kids in foster care in the US. Thanks to CP ministries like Sunrise, many of those kids are finding foster homes and some are finding forever families. I’d call that relevant.

How relevant is the CP funding model in fueling Southern Baptist missions and ministries? I believe it is not only relevant; I believe CP is essential and irreplaceable.

If CP disappeared today, so would a significant portion of the ministries and mission work of Southern Baptists. Even the ministries and mission work that somehow managed to continue to exist would be significantly crippled. Let me explain why.

While the recent financial struggles of the International Mission Board have been widely reported, the loss of CP would mean a reduction of approximately $100 million, more than a third of the IMB’s annual budget. The loss of that much of the fuel that sends Southern Baptist missionaries to the ends of the earth would be eternally devastating.

The loss of CP would mean a reduction of approximately $50 million for the North American Mission Board. What would that do to NAMB’s capacity to fuel church planting in SEND cities or Southern Baptist Disaster Relief response to flood victims in West Virginia and Louisiana, fire victims in California, and hurricane victims along the coasts?

Since the ministry of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission is almost exclusively funded by CP, without it, Southern Baptists would lose their voice in Washington. And the resources that ERLC provides to help pastors address issues like religious liberty, human trafficking, racism, and abortion would no longer exist since those resources are paid for by CP.

What of the approximately 17,000 students currently enrolled in SBC seminaries? Without CP, their tuition and fees climb 30%-50%. That’s a tough blow for missionary candidates who need to be debt free to get appointed or pastors on tight budgets sacrificing to get formal training for ministry. A seminary with no CP fuel becomes a terribly expensive ride.

Without the fuel of CP, most of the significant ministries and mission work of Southern Baptists’ state conventions would come to a screeching halt. In the Kentucky Baptist Convention, that would mean Disaster Relief would be no more. Our annual retreat to encourage and strengthen ministry couples, known as Shepherding, simply wouldn’t happen. The evangelism training and church revitalization consulting that has helped contribute to growth in baptisms and overall church membership for two straight years in Kentucky, with no CP, would be no more.

If CP disappeared, the nearly 15,000 students who show up at our summer camps, called Crossings Ministries, would surely be disappointed and God would no longer use the gospel preaching at camp to win hundreds of kids to Christ each year. Without CP, the 1,000-plus hurting kids being loved and cared for by Sunrise may still suffer the pain of ongoing abuse, hunger, and neglect. Our educational institutions in Kentucky, which currently allow us to disciple and equip over 8,000 students, would, in some cases, be shuttered and, in other cases, see tuition hikes that would put them out of reach of far too many students.

On and on goes the negative impact that the loss of CP would have upon God’s Kingdom work in the states, our nation, and the world.

Thankfully, the essential and irreplaceable fuel of CP is still flowing! Southern Baptists still believe in cooperation and still give sacrificially to fund missions and ministries through CP.

Here in Kentucky, for two straight years, CP giving has grown. And, for the first time in a decade, our churches exceeded the CP budget this year. At the same time, Kentucky Baptists are digging deeper for other missions offerings, setting new records in giving through both the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions and the Annie Armstrong Offering for North American Missions.

The omnipotent God wants for no resource. He will accomplish His purposes without any dependence upon Southern Baptists. But thankfully God is choosing to use Southern Baptists to share the life-giving message of the gospel and build the eternal church of Jesus Christ. In Southern Baptist cooperative missions and ministries, God has provided the Cooperative Program as the fuel to accomplish His purposes. CP is not only relevant, it is essential and irreplaceable.

And, in a very real way, CP provided a safe place for our three-year-old foster daughter to escape abuse and neglect. For me, it’s a reminder that, though we use words like “cooperation,” “missions,” and “ministries,” CP makes a difference in the lives of real people with real hurts and real needs. And we, as Southern Baptists, are working cooperatively to provide the help and hope of Christ to them. How relevant is the Cooperative Program funding model in fueling SBC missions and ministries? Innumerable people, whether orphans who have been rescued from abuse or lost adults who have been saved through the power of the gospel, would tell you it is altogether relevant.

Posted in Cooperative Program, Southern Baptist Convention | Leave a comment

Kentucky Baptists have much to celebrate at this year’s annual meeting

Facebook Twitter Email

The Kentucky Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, coming up Nov. 15, is only two months away. I hope you are making plans to attend.

Annual-Meeting-16-Give-Hope-logoThe 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 new records for KBC churches in missions giving through the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions and the Annie Armstrong Offering for North American Missions. We will celebrate two consecutive years of growth in Cooperative Program giving and two consecutive years of growth in baptisms and overall church membership. And, for the first time in a decade, we will be able to celebrate the fact that our churches’ sacrificial giving exceeded the Cooperative Program budget. We will celebrate the true and undefiled religion of Kentucky Baptists, being lived out as we care for a record number of hurting children through Sunrise Children’s Services, now surpassing 1,000 kids. We will celebrate Kentucky Baptists’ commitment to discipling the next generation, as evidenced through our ongoing investment in Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, where enrollment is growing; a record number of students enrolled at the University of the Cumberlands; and rapidly growing enrollment at Oneida Baptist Institute.

And that is just the beginning of all we have to 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 (1 Peter 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 not only be 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 Nov. 15 at Florence Baptist Church. I hope to see you there!

Posted in Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and Week of Prayer for North American Missions, Annual Meeting, Baptisms, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Cooperative Program, Denominational Life, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Oneida Baptist Institute, Sunrise Children's Services, University of the Cumberlands | Leave a comment

What do new overtime regulations mean for churches?

Facebook Twitter Email

Guest post by Jim Donnell, KBC Associate Executive Director for Convention Operations

Questions abound regarding the recently released Department of Labor regulations for overtime pay. Here are answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on this important, albeit confusing topic.

Donnell-JimI keep hearing something about new overtime regulations. What is this all about? All of this is related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal law that dictates minimum wage and overtime be paid to certain employees. Some employees are exempt from these requirements due to the duties they perform and the salaries they are paid. The federal Department of Labor, which administers the FLSA, recently released new regulations increasing the salary threshold that must be met in order for an employee to be considered exempt from the overtime pay requirement. That threshold has been raised from an annual salary of $23,660 to $47,476. This increase becomes effective December 1, 2016.

Are churches required to comply with these new regulations? Unfortunately, the vast majority of churches are not exempt from complying with the FLSA and, subsequently, these new overtime regulations. Some churches may be of the size that they do not engage in interstate commerce (i.e, do not purchase goods from across state lines, do not make interstate phone calls, etc.) and, as a result, they would be exempt from the FLSA. These churches, however, are few and far between.

Are ministerial staff members impacted? This is the good news. Some employees are always considered exempt from the FLSA. This group includes ministers employed by churches and religious organizations. It also includes staff members who may not be ordained or even have the job title of “minister,” but who still perform duties of a ministerial or spiritual nature.

What steps should a church take to comply with these regulations? First, churches should review the salaries that are being paid to any non-ministerial staff members who are currently being treated as exempt. Secondly, for any employees who are being paid an annual salary of less than $47,476, a decision must be made as to whether or not the church is willing to increase the salary to at least the new salary threshold amount. If so, the staff member may continue to be paid on a consistent salary basis with no adjustments due to hours worked. If, however, the church is not willing or cannot afford to increase the salary to at least $47,476, the staff member must be converted to a non-exempt status. Work hours must be tracked and overtime paid at the rate of one-and-a-half times the regular hourly rate. The church may continue to pay the employee on a salary basis, however, once hours worked in a given work week reach 40, then the salary must be converted to an hourly rate and the overtime hours paid as previously stated.

If we have questions or need assistance, who should we call? Well, unfortunately Ghostbusters can’t help with this one (just kidding), but the Kentucky Baptist Convention is here to help churches. So, churches can call me toll free at (866) 489-3371, and I will be glad to discuss these issues. Please know I am not an attorney, but I can provide general information and guidance. If more assistance is needed, I can refer you to a competent employment law attorney who will provide any legal counsel you may require.

Posted in Churches | Comments closed

What happens to my stuff after I die?

Facebook Twitter Email

What happens to my soul after I die? That’s a vital question for every person to ask. Everyone who believes the Bible, has trusted Jesus as Savior, and confessed Him as Lord knows the answer to that question. For us, the greatest desire is that others would ask the same question and, in doing so, recognize their need for Jesus and be saved.

Kentucky-Baptist-Foundation-logoWhat happens to my stuff after I die? That’s another vital question for every person to ask. Everyone who believes the Bible, has trusted Jesus as Savior, and confessed Him as Lord knows that we are stewards rather than owners of “our” stuff. What we “have” is only what God has entrusted to us. The Bible instructs us to tithe as a means of acknowledging we love and serve God rather than stuff.

Have you considered making a provision in your will to tithe your estate? Why should you? Here are a few reasons, among many.

First, by tithing our estates, we can acknowledge we love and serve God even in death. Our will can be a great opportunity for us to communicate to the Lord our devotion to Him never wavered, and our desire to be good stewards of what He entrusted to us was never in question.

Second, by tithing our estates, we can provide for souls to be saved even after our testimonies fall silent. Church evangelism and outreach programs, associational ministries and mission work, and the cooperative mission work and ministries of Kentucky and Southern Baptists all require financial resources. An estate tithe can be a significant way to provide for these ministries that share the gospel with lost and hurting people.

Third, by tithing our estates, we can leave a legacy of stewardship for our families and the world. The best way to teach my children and, someday, my grandchildren biblical stewardship is to model it. I’m confident they will be paying close attention to the contents of the wills belonging to Michelle and me on the day those wills are executed. What a great opportunity to disciple them!

Fourth, by tithing our estates, we can display our love for the Lord’s church. I love the church. I love it because I love Jesus and, since the church is His body, failing to love the church is failing to love Him. I love the church because the church loved me, introduced me to my Savior, helped raise me, and has helped me raise my children. The church has taught me eternal truths, encouraged me when I was ailing, comforted me when I was grieving, and given me countless opportunities to do the same for others. If I can bless the church in my death and help ensure her ongoing ministry until Jesus comes for her, I don’t want to miss that opportunity.

If you would like more information on how to leave money to your church or Baptist mission work, contact Richard Carnes at the Kentucky Baptist Foundation by EMAIL or by phone at (866) 489-3533. The ministry of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation for you or your church comes at no cost since Kentucky Baptists’ Cooperative Program gifts help provide for it.

Posted in Kentucky Baptist Foundation, Stewardship | Comments closed