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!

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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