Syncing churches in ministry

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Guest post by Kentucky Baptist Convention President Kevin Smith.

As a pastor, I stand with the 3,500 Baptists in my local church. As president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, I stand with 750,000 Baptists in my state convention. Together we desire to see the Great Commission pursued in our commonwealth and beyond! No individual congregation can accomplish this task alone.

The 42 state conventions are the primary, relational promoters of cooperative ministry and the Cooperative Program. Whether associations, state conventions, or national mission boards, Baptists have always understood that we are better together.

State conventions have the capacity to pursue ministries beyond the ability of individual congregations and beyond the scope of our national mission boards. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams, for example, show the love of Christ to hurting families in times of crisis. “Yellow Hats” are on the scene often before government assistance is available. This compassion ministry is the collective effort of Baptists at the state convention level.

State conventions also have other distinct ministries that provide opportunities for evangelism:

  • camps/retreat centers—researchers regularly note the percentage of Christians that begin to follow Christ as children. Notable portions of these students make commitments to Christ in camp settings.
  • children’s homes/orphan care—state conventions coordinate Baptists’ efforts to love orphans. For example, in Kentucky, we care for over 1,000 abused and neglected children that desire a “forever family.” Again, the facilities, expenses, and compliance with state laws put this biblical ministry beyond the scope of individual congregations.
  • colleges/universities—although Christian higher education is facing some challenging days, the remaining colleges that stand upon biblical fidelity were often founded and are presently supported by Baptists in various state conventions. This ministry is still vital in many contexts and many Baptists are still committed to supporting these institutions.
  • campus missionaries—state conventions galvanize the local church to reach high school and college age students through campus ministries.
  • Christian witness at state capitols—state conventions have the ability to muster the collective voice of Baptists in the state concerning pressing issues that enliven Christ-followers. For example, for several years, Baptists in Kentucky have rallied against political efforts to expand gambling in our state by placing casinos in an area of great poverty.
  • church revitalization and care for pastors—many pastors in America are discouraged or overwhelmed. State conventions intentionally, as part of their ministry assignment, seek to address these two concerns. While our national missions boards focus on international missions and church planting/re-planting, state convention staff seek to intentionally support and resource pastors, especially the vast majority of SBC pastors that are single-staff or bivocational.

State conventions sync our 45,000 congregations into one Southern Baptist national/global disciple-making effort, while simultaneously providing focus and strategy for our distinct mission fields. They conduct thousands of presentations/consultations with pastors, churches, and associations to make them more effective Great Commission Baptists through evangelism training, revitalization support, strategic planning and leadership development, worship/music consulting and training, assistance in handling church conflict, pastor search team training, training in church technology and security matters, etc.

Our Baptist cooperation, at the state convention level, allows the majority of our churches to experience a capacity of ministry and mission that is well beyond their individual ability resulting in a greater impact with the message about the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

Posted in Adoption, Baptist Associations, Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Camp Ministry, Church Planting, Churches, Collegiate Ministries, Cooperative Program, Evangelism, Family, Foster care, Kentucky Baptist Convention | Tagged | Leave a comment

Executive Director Report highlights from the May Mission Board Meeting

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I am pleased to update you on our cooperative mission work, particularly as we look back over the past year. First and foremost, totals from the most recent Annual Church Profile give us much cause for celebration. In three key categories, KBC churches continued to see increases for a second straight year. Baptisms are up over the year before, totaling 14,460. Total church membership is also up, as is Cooperative Program giving. Another vital statistic is participation in volunteer mission trips and projects. That number is up, with a total of 105,415 Kentucky Baptists involved in mission work.

Chitwood1As we embraced our new mission statement four years ago, one of the things I stressed to our staff was the need to get out of the building and into the churches. A convention created by churches for churches to help churches had better employ people who are ready to call on churches. To that end, your KBC staff members drove more than 520,000 ministry miles last year, up from 465,000 in 2014. Those miles were, for the most part, en route to visit churches, their pastors and staff, and associational missionaries. I always like to put the distance driven by our team members in perspective, so I’ll add that 520,000 miles circles the globe 21 times or, to bring it closer to home, you could make the trip from Pikeville to Paducah 1,300 times.

As to the ministry accomplished while traveling all those miles, here is a brief synopsis:

  • Your Mission Board staff members preached and spoke more than 1,000 times.
  • We made approximately 10,000 presentations and consultations with Kentucky Baptist pastors, associations, and congregations regarding topics ranging from evangelism training, developing a missions strategy, worship trends, managing church conflict, pastor search team training, utilizing technology in the church, church security issues, and the list goes on and on.
  • Ministry events overseen by Mission Board staff and Kentucky missionaries yielded more than 2,500 professions of faith.
  • We helped churches start 25 new churches and currently have more than 50 church plants in the three-year funding launch phase.
  • To help churches engage the generation of Kentuckians between the ages of 12 and 24, KBC campus missionaries have helped establish 44 teams across the state. These teams, called Twelve24 Teams, are currently engaging 40 middle schools, 59 high schools, and 18 college campuses.
  • KBC staff members created 116 news releases, 67 videos, sent thousands of tweets and more than 1,000 Facebook posts.

In November, we launched our online news site, Kentucky Today, as a complement to the ministry of our Baptist newspaper, the Western Recorder. Kentucky Today has delivered literally thousands of state, national, and world news stories to Kentucky Baptists at no charge, and has provided news and features from throughout the KBC and SBC. Kentucky Today is a tool we created with two overarching goals in mind: to ensure Kentucky Baptists are well informed so that they can better engage our culture, and to strengthen the sense of community among Kentucky Baptists.

Kentucky Baptists still believe in working together, as is evidenced by the fact that CP is at its highest point, year-to-date, than it has been in the past five years. In fact, for the current fiscal year, churches are giving 5 percent above the budget. As I complete my fifth year as your executive director, I celebrate God’s faithfulness and the faithfulness of our pastors and churches to reaching Kentucky and the world for Christ.

Posted in Annual Church Profile, Baptisms, Baptist Associations, Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Church Planting, Churches, Collegiate Ministries, Cooperative Program, Denominational Life, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Kentucky Today, Mission Board, Missions, Southern Baptist Convention, Western Recorder | Leave a comment

In Support of Our Governor

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I am in complete agreement with the statement from Kentucky’s governor, Matt Bevin, (below) and believe Obama’s transgender bathroom edict to public schools to be the most egregious interference into the lives of everyday Americans ever suggested by a United States president. Tens of millions of innocent children and their families will be impacted, offended, and made vulnerable by Obama’s edict. He has rained chaos on our country. I don’t believe America will stand for it, nor should we.

Statement from Governor Matt Bevin: “It is difficult to imagine a more absurd federal overreach into a local issue. Under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the federal government has no authority to interfere in local school districts’ bathroom policies. The President is not promoting unity. In fact, he is doing quite the opposite. He is intentionally dividing America by threatening to sue or withhold funding from our cash-strapped public schools if they do not agree with his personal opinion on policies that remain squarely in their jurisdiction. They should not feel compelled to bow to such intimidation. My administration is researching the options available for ensuring that this local issue is decided by Kentuckians, not by bureaucrats in Washington.”

Posted in Culture, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Family, Government, Public Affairs, Religious Liberty, Social Justice | Leave a comment

Why short-term missions? Here are 8 reasons

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Guest post from KBC Mission Strategist Doug Williams, Ph.D.

williams-dougJesus’ commission to make disciples of all nations is clear. The early church saw the responsibility of Jesus’ command as given to them. But is the church today commissioned to simply send long-term missionaries, or might there be room for short-term missions teams, too? I offer the following eight reasons why the church should include short-term missions as part of its overall missions strategy.

1) Jesus commanded us to make disciples locally and globally (Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:8). The Scriptures do not give us an option of whether we make disciples here or there; it’s both/and.

2) There is more work than workers (Matthew 9:37-38). Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest. Every country I am privileged to share in disciple-making, I hear from our NAMB and IMB missionaries that they need more partners, not just the traditional long-term personnel (though that is true), but short-term teams as well.

3) Volunteer missionaries can be a source of encouragement for long-term missionaries (Acts 14:19-23). Every minister of the gospel needs someone to come alongside of him or her as a source of encouragement. Weariness easily sets in, and our missionaries and churches need to know they are not alone.

4) We can accomplish more together than we can alone (Matthew 10:5). Cooperation is more than our dollars; it includes our effort. As Jesus discipled his followers, he sent them out together for gospel impact. In short, Jesus planned for multiplication of impact. He knew that kind of impact required teamwork.

5) Volunteer missions work is a farm system for long-term missions (Acts 13:1-3). Throughout his missionary journeys, the Apostle Paul consistently brings others with him. Often those with him are more short-term in nature. Take Mark for example. While his first journey with Paul is short-lived, he later becomes a valuable partner in gospel impact.

6) Volunteer missions work opens our eyes to the need of the gospel worldwide (Matthew 9:36). In looking over the crowds, Jesus is moved with compassion that leads to action. Staying in our comfortable bubbles at home isolates us from the reality of a world desperately in need of the Savior. “Out of sight, out of mind” becomes our motto. Going somewhere besides our home turf allows us to see a world filled with real people who have real hurts and needs.

7) Volunteer missions work is a way to disciple (2 Timothy 2:2). Paul taught Timothy who taught faithful men who taught others. Short-term missions offers a platform for discipleship like no other. Taking people out of their comfort zones and into the vastness of the world is a great crucible for Jesus to work in incredible ways.

8) Because 98 + 2= 100. People often say, “Why should we go over there when people need Jesus here?” Yes, people need Jesus here, but they need Jesus everywhere. Why can’t I make disciples where I live 98 percent of the year and give 2 percent of the year making disciples over “there”? It’s not hard math: 98 + 2= 100.

Short-term missions should be part of an overall strategy for making disciples locally and globally for the glory of God. What other reasons would you give for short-term missions?

Posted in Missions | Leave a comment

Important legislation passed as Kentucky General Assembly session wraps up

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The end of the 2016 legislative session in Kentucky came with drama about the state spending budget but little else in terms of last-minute legislation. Regarding the session as a whole, we are grateful for small victories like the expansion of the Kentucky Safe Infants Act to include churches as locations where unwanted babies can be dropped off during the first days of life without consequence for mothers.

Ultrasound bill signingWe also celebrate the creation of a marriage license that omits the county clerk’s name, thus not requiring an endorsement of same-sex marriages by the clerks. This matter was rightly perceived as a religious liberty issue for county clerks who hold to a biblical definition of marriage.

Another important piece of legislation signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin is a change to Kentucky’s informed consent law that now will require a woman to meet in person or by video with a physician before having her baby dismembered and killed through abortion. It was the first piece of pro-life legislation to be passed in Kentucky in several years. We pray and trust that at least some of the mothers who take time to reflect upon what actually takes place during an abortion procedure will feel compassion for the baby and seek one of a host of options available during a crisis or unwanted pregnancy rather than taking the life of a child.

As these issues illustrate, politics is a lot more than budgets and elections. In some cases, the cherished right of religious liberty is at stake when another bill makes its way to Capitol Hill. In other cases, votes literally are about life and death.

The gravity of these and many other issues is why Kentucky Baptists are committed to being involved in the political process. Some run for office. Some express their views to their elected officials with calls and letters. And, hopefully, all make their way to the voting booth, taking their faith along with them.

Kentucky Baptists are represented in Frankfort, not only by fellow Kentucky Baptists who have been elected to office, but also by a state minister who shares the gospel and equips believers in the Capitol. In that role, Rev. Steve Weaver, Ph.D., is doing a great job connecting with elected officials and employees in Frankfort, helping to create a better spiritual climate in our government. Rev. Tom Troth is also proving to be a tremendous help for the causes of justice and righteousness as he lobbies on behalf of Kentucky Baptists. These brothers, along with the reporting of the Western Recorder and Kentucky Today, are not only helping us stay better informed on the issues, they are helping us use our voice to make a huge impact on issues that matter to people of faith.

You can access the Western Recorder (www.westernrecorder.org) and Kentucky Today (www.kentuckytoday.com) online. Be sure to take advantage of these immensely helpful resources.

Posted in Family, Government, Kentucky Legislature, Public Affairs | Comments closed
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