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

Pastors are ‘special forces’

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I read an article this week about one of our Kentucky pastors, Tim Morgan, who is doing a great job leading Silent Run Baptist Church in rural Hopkins County. It reminded me yet again of the incredible group of men God has called to serve as pastors in the 2,400 Kentucky Baptist churches.

Tim served 24 years in the U.S. Army, primarily as a helicopter pilot ferreting Navy Seals and Delta Force soldiers into hotspots around the world. He retired from the military in 2012, and, a year later, turned his attention to serving the bride of Christ.

The article pointed out that Tim has brought the same courage and tenacity to his ministry that he was decorated for as a soldier.

We have wonderful pastors across our state, and Tim is certainly one of them. He loves the Lord, the Lord’s church, and has a passion to see the lost saved.

His job as a special ops pilot found him in some of the most dangerous war zones on the planet, but Tim realizes that the battle for souls has even greater risks and consequences, and he approaches his work as a pastor-evangelist with even more courage and conviction.

I am humbled as I reflect on the commitment of all Kentucky Baptist pastors. They have devoted themselves to serving Christ in an all-out push to take the gospel into their local communities, their state, their nation and the world. And the results are remarkable.

“We are pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Last year, for example, these men baptized 13,681 new believers. That’s more than twice the number of people who live in cities like Leitchfield, Princeton, Monticello, Pikeville or Russellville.

Those yearly baptism totals add up quickly. In fact, since 2005, Kentucky Baptist churches have reported 183,059 baptisms. For perspective, that’s roughly three times the number of people living in major Kentucky cities like Bowling Green and Owensboro.

These men are faithful to the Great Commission, realizing the battle for souls is one that comes with great risks and greater rewards. I consider it a great honor to work alongside these great men who approach their work with incredible courage and conviction. Working cooperatively, we’re able to advance the gospel in ways that we could never do alone.

The day in which we’re living is a difficult one for ministry. Yet, Kentucky Baptists are partnering with their counterparts across the Southern Baptist Convention and accomplishing great things. The SBC numbers is excess of 15.2 million people in more than 47,000 churches.

Last year, we baptized more than 280,000 new believers globally. That’s more than 500 baptisms every Sunday, given that most baptisms are conducted on Sunday.

Kentucky pastors are steadfast in their service, and I’m thankful for their faithfulness. These men truly are “special forces” that God is using to reach the world with the gospel.

Posted in Churches, Denominational Life, Evangelism, Great Commission, Kentucky Today, Pastor | Comments closed

Who would miss the Kentucky Baptist Convention?

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If state conventions went away, would we miss them? That question might sound strange coming from an executive director of a state convention. Nevertheless, I think it is a fair and helpful question that I like to ask from time to time.

Might I propose some answers? Before I do, keep in mind that, like local churches, churches from each state set their state convention’s agenda and priorities and determine their own way of doing business. Each convention is unique and operates in a distinct geographical, cultural, and spiritual context. Effectiveness demands that they look and operate differently.

Who would miss the Kentucky Baptist Convention? Tens of thousands of college students. The KBC employs Baptist Campus Missionaries and maintains ministry centers on college and university campuses across the state, resulting in hundreds of college students giving their lives to Christ this past year.

Thousands of teenagers would miss the KBC. Through mission opportunities like Kentucky Changers and the camp ministries of Crossings, teens hear the gospel and live it out on mission. Hundreds of teens have already committed their lives to Christ this summer through Crossings alone.

Churches without pastors would miss the KBC. KBC staff members  often fill their pulpits as supply preachers and interim pastors and assist with the pastor search process through training search committees and, upon request, providing resumes of potential candidates.

Churches looking for help reaching Kentucky and the world for Christ would miss the KBC. KBC staff members provide consulting, training, resources, and networking opportunities to help churches in a wide array of areas like revitalization, evangelism and missions strategies, and church planting.

Hurting people would miss the KBC. KBC Disaster Relief trains and equips volunteers to respond immediately to the needs of people in disaster stricken areas. Those volunteers serve thousands of meals, remove fallen trees, shovel mud, provide clean water, a hot shower, and a clothes washer.

Ethnic peoples and refugees in Kentucky would miss the KBC. KBC missionaries minister to those who find themselves strangers in a strange land. They provide ESL classes, a gospel witness, discipleship training, and church plants. KBC also partners with ministries like Refuge Louisville to touch the lives of refugees in Kentucky and with Baptist Global Response to help Kentucky Baptists do the same all around the globe.

The homeless would miss the KBC. Shelters like Louisville Rescue Mission receive financial support from the KBC as well as volunteer involvement that is often facilitated by the KBC.

This list goes on so let me just say that I believe the Kingdom would miss the KBC. If I didn’t, I would work somewhere else.

Some might ask, “Couldn’t individual churches provide many of the ministries accomplished through the KBC?” My response is that individual churches are already providing these ministries … cooperatively through the KBC and, of course, on their own. The KBC is an extension of the local church and allows the local church to do more by partnering with 2,400 other churches. Much more.

Posted in Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Collegiate Ministries, Denominational Life, Disaster Relief, Education, Evangelism, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Kentucky Changers, Multiethnic ministry, Pastor, Pastoral Resources, Pastors Search | Tagged | Comments closed

10 Reasons to stop giving through the Cooperative Program…and why they’re wrong

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As I near a quarter of a century of ministry in and to churches cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention, I can reflect upon countless conversations about the cooperative missions offering known as the Cooperative Program. In my role as a pastor, those conversations took place in budget committee meetings, missions committee meetings, in church hallways and parking lots, and occasionally over lunch. In my role as a state convention executive director, or as I often refer to myself, “the chief CP fundraiser in Kentucky,” those conversations take place every day, often many times a day, wherever I go.

Over the years, I have heard lots of reasons church members thought we should cut CP giving and lots of reasons pastors choose not to lead their churches to give more than a token amount through CP. Here’s a “Top 10” list of reasons to stop giving through CP…and why I think they are wrong.

  1. Our church budget is too small to give through CP. Giving through CP can seem illogical for a small church or a church plant but, similar to the principle of tithing, can also be an act of discipline and faith where we choose to obey God, trust in God’s provision, and then witness just how generous God can be (Mal 3:10). Giving through CP is also a way for small churches and church plants to do Kingdom work they may not be able to do on their own.
  2. Our church budget is too big to give through CP. In a large church, budgeting a significant percentage for CP also means a significant amount of dollars. Ten percent of a $50,000 budget looks differently than ten percent of a $5,000,000 budget. But if a church can survive on $45,000, surely a church can survive on $4,500,000! The old adage, “Not equal gifts but equal sacrifice” causes us to think in terms of generosity rather than the number of zeroes on a check written to take the gospel to the nations.
  3. We have too much work to do in our community to give through CP. Every community I’ve ever lived in, visited, or just driven through has more work to do than one church can get done. Jesus did not command the church to do everything that needs done in its local community but he did tell the church to be a witness in Jerusalem AND Judea AND Samaria AND to the ends of the earth. CP makes that possible.
  4. We want to plant churches. I thank God for the renewed focus on church planting that is sweeping across the SBC and we need more, not less, churches committed to planting churches and intimately involved in the lives of church planters and newly birthed church plants. But, in addition to throwing significant support behind one, two, or, in the case of a megachurch, even five or ten new church plants, giving through CP allows a church in Kentucky to support 50 new plants in the state, approximately 1,000 new plants in North America, and thousands more around the world. CP lets every church be part of a church planting movement.
  5. We want to support “our own” missionaries. Long ago, Southern Baptists became convinced that cooperation was a better way to reach the world. Cooperation allows missionaries to stay on the field rather than fly back home to raise support. Cooperation provides for greater accountability, better training and support, and a comprehensive worldwide missions strategy. And, all 3,600 of the men and women who faithfully and sacrificially take the gospel to the nations through the International Mission Board are “our own” missionaries. Just ask them.
  6. We don’t know how our CP offering is used. Maybe you don’t, but you can. The information is fully disclosed, down to the penny. Budgets are publicized. Audits are available. Board oversight is diligent. And for every dollar, I stand ready to give an account. I’d also be happy to stand before your congregation, meet with your finance committee, or provide a host of resources that explain the CP and how it is being used to reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.
  7. We don’t like some of the things CP supports. As a father, pastor, and denominational servant leader, I have always found a few things I didn’t especially like in my home, church, and convention. But since there is plenty I do like, I stay put. That’s always the best opportunity to help fix anything we consider broken.
  8. We don’t agree with the leader of a CP funded entity. Disagreements abound “where two or more are gathered” and so can fellowship…unless we walk away. If we stay, sometimes we can reconcile, other times we must agree to disagree, but unless we witness a departure from essential doctrines or ongoing and unrepentant sin, choosing to “take my ball and go home,” thus walking away from the incredible kingdom work made possible by CP, is a bad decision.
  9. Our church is big enough to do what our state convention does. No, it isn’t. Large churches do a lot and for that I give thanks. But no church in Kentucky, by itself, can minister to 1,200+ abused and neglected kids, assist thousands of students with their education, plant 50 new churches, provide equipping and encouragement to hundreds of pastors and thousands of church leaders, do disaster relief ministry every day in several places around the world, and, every day, feed the hungry, provide housing for the homeless, love the refugee, and so many other things. But, through CP every church in Kentucky can do all of that and more.
  10. We don’t get anything from CP. Yes, you do. Every church giving through CP gets to be obedient to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), obey James 1:27, minister to “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40), model generosity toward other churches (2Cor 8:1-5), reproduce itself through church planting, and have access to a host of consultants, resources, tools, and ministries designed to help the church reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.

I could probably think of a few other reasons I’ve heard for not giving through CP but I can’t stop thinking about all the things God is doing through CP.

Posted in Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Baptist Polity, Christian Education, Church Planting, Churches, Collegiate Ministries, Cooperative Program, Culture, Denominational Life, Disaster Relief, Education, Great Commission, International Mission Board, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Leader Training, Missions, Partnership, Pastoral Resources, Seminary, Southern Baptist Convention, Stewardship | Comments closed

Work to do!

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More than any other season of the year, summer is the time for Kentucky Baptists to be on mission! Volunteer mission trips in and out of state and overseas are on the calendar for most of our churches.

Here at home, probably the biggest mission event in our communities is Vacation Bible School, a time when churches all across the state will be ministering to and sharing the gospel with families. Kentucky Changers is also a big part of a missional summer for many of our churches committed to sharing Christ in their Judea. In addition to hosting Kentucky Changers, the WMU staff members have a calendar packed with summer mission activities and trainings. I recently had the privilege of spending time with Crossings Ministries’ staff as they prepare for their summer mission of sharing the gospel with some 15,000 young people at our Kentucky Baptist camps.

Kentucky Baptists will benefit from thousands of reinforcements as we seek to reach our state for Christ this summer. Volunteer mission teams from churches sprinkled across the Southern Baptist Convention choose Kentucky as a missions destination each year, most doing their work in the summer. While the mountains of Eastern Kentucky and counties along the Mississippi River Valley receive the lion’s share volunteers, several other communities in our state are host sites as well.

Why such a flurry of activity for Southern Baptists and Kentucky Baptists while most are simply enjoying the “lazy days of summer?” The Bible’s final chapter helps answer that question. No less than four times do we find the imminent return of Jesus referenced in Revelation 22. In verse 7, Jesus declares, “I am coming soon.” In verse 10, the angel warns, “The time is near.” Then, in verses 12 and 20, Jesus twice more announces, “I am coming soon!”

At the moment of his return, the invitation to “Come…take the free gift of the water of life” extended in verse 17 will forever be closed. Those who have accepted Christ’s invitation will have their sins forgiven and enjoy eternity in his heavenly kingdom. But those who have not accepted the invitation will receive the wages of their sin in an eternal hell. Yet, until that moment, the invitation still stands. And that invitation is to be heralded by those who, themselves, have accepted it. Thus, the highest privilege and heaviest obligation in history rests upon us: we are to share the hope of the gospel while there is still time for the lost to be saved.

Summer is close at hand. So is the Savior’s coming. Kentucky Baptists, we have work to do! Whether you are headed out on a mission trip, planning a major outreach project in your community, gearing up for VBS, or for all of that and more, pray for those efforts, for your fellow church members, and fellow Kentucky Baptists and Southern Baptists, asking God to let this summer be a great season of harvest for His glory and the good of those who can be saved as we share the gospel.

Posted in Evangelism, Kentucky Woman's Missionary Union | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed