Thriving or Surviving

By Tim Reese

The song Thrive by Casting Crowns includes the lyrics:Casting Crowns wrote 'Thrive'

“We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive”

In life and ministry I have often found myself just surviving when overwhelmed by life’s demands, a need for personal spiritual growth, family responsibilities, ministry needs, and a changing workplace environment.

All too often it seems as if I am just trying to survive-to balance all life’s demands, to keep my head above water.  When I heard this song I could not help but think of my own life and wonder why I do not feel like I am thriving. Are we really made to thrive?  As I wrestled with this for a few days, God began revealing to me that we are! In 1 Peter 2:16 God says “Live as people who are free…as servants of God”.

Thrive: to grow or develop well.

We need to keep the definition of thrive in mind. It is not a feeling or status in our culture but rather a status with God. When we look at Jesus’ life, we can see that He thrived and did not try to just get by. We cannot say that we have more on our plate than He had. With family turmoil, social turmoil, and the knowledge on the upcoming sacrifice for the world’s sins, He really did have the world on His shoulders.

So how do we thrive? Here are three suggestions.

1.  Listen to God and others. For me this is a learned task that I am still learning. A lot of stress in this life can be decreased if we would listen to God and those around us. This helps us work through life situations by not trying to take on problems by ourselves, but by praying and listening for God’s direction. All too often we talk at God and not with Him. We also need to listen to those around us. For example: when my wife has a problem I feel the need to fix it. (Often without listening to her actual needs, I am already ahead of her and assessing the problem that I think she needs “fixed”.) Jesus says in John 18:37 “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” An important part to thriving and not just surviving is to hear what it is that God wants us to say or do in all situations.  We also need to be listening to those around us to see what they need and how we need to respond to them. Whether that is with our spouse, kids, co-workers or fellow brothers or sisters in Christ, we must listen.

2. List your priorities. A way to reduce anxiety and to thrive is to prioritize our life. What’s most important? “The Enemy of the best is the good. ” -Jerry Rice. As pastors and leaders within the Church it is easy to become so busy with many “good” things that we become God's Word makes it plain that we are to thriveoverwhelmed and miss out on God’s best calling for our lives.

Listening to God’s Word shows us what should be our first and second priorities in Matthew 22:37 & 39 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” God says that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we are not loving ourselves and are neglecting our needs and our family’s needs because we are so busy loving everyone else then that is neglecting what scripture teaches on how we are to lead our lives. When we put those two highest on our list of priorities then we will be in a mindset to follow God’s perfect direction in all other areas of our lives. Thus, being able to grow (thrive) in Him.

3. Live life accordingly. In order to thrive, or to grow and develop well, we must live both in God’s promises and in His perfect will.  We see just as God promised Joshua that He would not leave or forsake him, so we can trust that He will also be with us! We are NOT alone and we need to cherish and trust that promise. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that whatever we do, do all to the glory of God.  In all situations in our lives if we are going to thrive, then our aim must be to glorify our Creator and Savior! Without that we are not going to grow and mature as God desires.  He has plans for all of us. The question is:  Are we listening for God’s guidance in those plans? Are we making God’s plans a priority?  And are we living out those plans?

When we look at the world’s definitions of thriving, (big house, nice car, good paying job) we will always fall short and be discontent with our lives. The world’s definition is a moving target.  When John D. Rockefeller was asked the question, “How much money is enough?” his response was, “Just a little bit more. ” This will be our answer as well if we are living by the world’s definition of thrive.  As Christians, we will be frustrated with God because in our eyes we aren’t thriving like we think we should. In reality, God reveals how He wants us to thrive in 1 Peter 2:2 “Like newborn infants, long for the spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation”. God wants us to be with Him! How much more thriving could we need?  God created us to be in a thriving relationship with Him. Are you trying to just survive this life on your own or thrive in an intimate relationship with your Savior?

Originally from central Illinois Tim Reese came to Christ at White River Youth Camp after moving to Southwest Missouri. He and his wife have served in youth ministry at Nixa General Baptist Church since 2011.

8 Ways to Help Your Church Maintain a Missional Focus (Part 2)

By John M Galyen

Since its inception, the church has been focused on outward expansion.  We seek to win people to Christ, not just to have bigger churches or more volunteers for ministry, but because we serve a missionary God who is in the sending business.  God sent his Son to redeem us and provide a relationship with himself.  Now he sends the Church to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to a world in desperate need of a Savior.

The local church is charged with the responsibility of spreading the gospel both locally and globally.  For many churches and church leaders this may seem like an impossible task.  How can a small church is Arkansas, or Missouri, or Kentucky reach the world with the gospel?  Obviously, no church can single-handedly reach the world, but we each have a part to play in God’s plan to redeem every nation, tribe, and tongue.  As a pastor, I want to make sure my church is engaged in local ministry, but I also want to lead them to give to, pray for, and go to all nations because this is what we are called to do.  Last week, I outlined 4 ways that church leaders can help their congregation stay focused on the true mission of the church.  This week, I will go over 4 other ways to keep missions in the forefront of your church’s mind.

5. Read Scripture in Different Languages

Another important part of worship is Scripture reading.  In his book, Worship Matters, author Bob Kauflin suggests a creative way to use Scripture readings to emphasize God’s mission:  Have someone read Scripture in a different language.  This helps remind people that there are believers all across the globe who are worshiping the same God we serve.  If you have a member who can read Spanish, or French, or Russian, invite them to do a reading and then have someone else read the same passage in English.  Though few people in the service may understand the foreign language, they will appreciate the creative reminder that God is not limited in the ways we are and that someday a great crowd will gather around the heavenly throne to proclaim God’s praise in every language.

6. Flags or Banners

Flags or banners can be used to visually remind the church of its missional focus.  The church I serve is planning to hang flags for each country that a member of our congregation has visited on a mission trip.  Over the past couple of years, we have had teams or individuals serve in eight different countries.  We will spend a whole service hanging these flags and reminding the congregation of our missionary missionstask as we point them to the God who “so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”  The flags are not mere trophies celebrating our achievements, but are intended to remind our people of the unfinished task of reaching the world, and to encourage them to pray that the good news will spread widely through these particular nations.  Such a display will not only remind the congregation of their calling, but will also let visitors know that yours is a local church with a global vision.

7.Guest Speakers

Inviting special guests, such as stateside missionaries, is another way to promote a missional focus in your church.  This takes a bit of planning and promotion, but General Baptist missionaries love to visit local churches to share about their work.  During the summer, many missionaries come home to attend the Summit, meaning your church has the incredible opportunity to hear from an active missionary fresh off the field.  Missionaries usually need more notice than you average guest speaker, so consider contacting the International Missions department (www.generalbaptist.com or 573-785-7746) early in the summer to see what missionaries are available to speak to your church while they are home.  Have them share about their work and challenge your church to get more involved with GB missions.

Four young women from our church went on the Women’s Ministries mission trip to India last October.  When they share with our church about GB work in this faraway land, our church responded by voting to financially support the Vemulas.  Recently, Jessey and Brittany Vemula were able to join us on a Sunday morning to share about what God is doing in India.  Again, our church responded by increasing their support for the Vemula’s ministry.  Hearing from an actual missionary on the field is very powerful.  Give you people that change so they can get a glimpse of what God is doing around the world and how they can join Him.

8.  Budgeting & Special Offerings

Your church’s budget reflects your priorities.  Read that sentence again.  Sobering, isn’t it?  Churches spend a lot of money each year on Sunday School literature, media presentations, activities, and local outreach.  None of those things are bad.  But in order for our budgets to be biblically balanced, we need to spend our resources reaching people both locally and globally.  That may mean leading your church to participate in Unified Giving or the annual Ed Steven’s Day Offering.  Ideally, each GB church will do both.  You can teach the kids (and adults) in your church about missions by designating your VBS offering to the annual GBIM project (this year’s project is a new van for Faith Home).  Whatever your level of giving, make sure your church is supporting mission causes that are focused on sharing the gospel and planting churches in unreached areas of the world.  When you give to missions, you are not just donating; you are investing in someone’s eternity.

This list is by no means exhaustive.  I encourage you to think of other ways you could lead your church to maintain a missional focus.  What is more important is that each General Baptist church establishes and maintains a commitment to spreading the gospel at home and abroad.  Our calling to spread the gospel is not an either/or proposition.  We cannot choose whether to reach people at home or around the world.  Every church is called to do whatever it can, by God’s grace, to take the whole gospel to the whole world.

John is the pastor of Leigh’s Chapel General Baptist Church in Greenville, Kentucky, where he has served for the past 8 years.  He is married, and has four sons.  For more information about General Baptist International and National work, visit www.generalbaptist.com or call 573-785-7746. 

8 Ways to Help Your Church Maintain a Missional Focus (Part 1)

By John M Galyen

Since its inception, the church has been focused on outward expansion.  We seek to win people to Christ, not just to have bigger churches or more volunteers for ministry, but because we serve a missionary God who is in the sending business.  God sent his Son to redeem us and provide a relationship with himself.  Now he sends the Church to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to a world in desperate need of a Savior.

The local church must maintain a missional focus, for both local and global missions.The local church is charged with the responsibility of spreading the gospel both locally and globally.  For many churches and church leaders this may seem like an impossible task.  How can a small church is Arkansas, or Missouri, or Kentucky reach the world with the gospel?  Obviously, no church can single-handedly reach the world, but we each have a part to play in God’s plan to redeem every nation, tribe, and tongue.  As a pastor, I want to make sure my church is engaged in local ministry, but I also want to lead them to give to, pray for, and go to all nations because this is what we are called to do.  There are at least eight ways church leaders can encourage their churches to maintain this missional focus.

1. Preaching

Pastors have a tremendous opportunity to influence their church’s understanding of missions.  You might consider having an annual “Missions Day” at your church where the entire service, including the sermon, is focused on informing and challenging the congregation to live a missional life.  If you are the pastor, either prepare a message that speaks to the Church’s calling to share the gospel, or invite a GBIM staff member to come talk to your church about how they can get involved in international missions.

2. Promote Mission Opportunities

When is the last time you publicized General Baptist mission opportunities in your church?  General Baptists provide numerous opportunities for mission involvement throughout the year.  The Mission Volunteer Program (MVP) plans trips to countries like Mexico, Honduras, the Philippines, and India, among others.  You can learn about these opportunities from the weekly Leadership Team emails, The Messenger, or by contacting GBIM.  Promoting these trips provides church members with valuable information, but also gives them the sense that they can become personally involved in what General Baptists are doing around the world.

3. Testimonies

As people from your church take advantage of these MVP opportunities, you will want to provide them the chance to share their experiences.  One of the greatest advertisements for missions in the local church is a testimony from someone who has “been there and done that.”  Hearing from a fellow church member who just got back from a trip where she worked in a clinic and shared gospel with people in another context can be a very impactful way to remind people of our Great Commission calling.  A testimony service is also a great way to glorify God and let the church know what the team members did while on the mission field.  It can be a fantastic way to remind the church that missions are an important part of your church culture.

4. Prayer

Prayer is an important part of our worship.  As we gather from Sunday to Sunday, one way to help people stay focused on the Church’s mission is to include a time of prayer that focuses on a person, country, or people group that needs to hear the good news.  You could spend a little time doing this each Sunday, or set aside a special prayer time monthly or quarterly.  If your church is sponsoring a GB missionary, do more than just mail in your check.  Take time to pray from them and the work God has called them to do.  You can even make your people aware of Operation World or joshuaproject.net so they can pray for foreign nations during their personal quiet time.

John is the pastor of Leigh’s Chapel in Greenville, Kentucky, where he has served for the past 8 years.  Check back on Thursday for Part 2 of his article on the Church’s mission. 

California

By Carl Nichols

Recently, a General Baptist team including Clint Cook, Gene Koker, and I traveled to the great state of California to meet with and encourage our churches there.  I had the opportunity to meet some very dear friends and partners in the gospel.  We started out in Modesto and spent a day discussing church planting with Jim Julian.  Jim’s heart for God and people is incredible, and I cannot wait to see what happens as a result of our time together.pastors in California sharing a message bilingually

We managed to squeeze in a bit of site seeing on the great Pacific Coast Highway as we traveled south to Los Angeles.  It was only 11 hours later that we arrived in L.A. for a series of meetings the following day.  Did I mention it was ELEVEN HOURS?

Upon arrival in Los Angeles, we spent the day with Bruce Conran and Rene Rodriguez, along with nearly a dozen Hispanic, Filipino, and Korean pastors from south L.A.  I must admit that there are some cool things happening there and I wanted to share a few of them with you:

  • El Instituto Biblio de Asociacion Sheffield (The Sheffield Association Bible Institute), led by Rene Rodriguez, is training individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary for ministry
  • Seven churches have started out of the Bible Institute in the past few years
  • Hundreds of lives are being changed in our churches there, and nearly all of them are led by part-time or volunteer pastors
  • The next generation of leaders from these families point to a great future

When I began leading National Mission as part of the advisory team, we made it a priority to have a better understanding of what is happening in California.  Now we are making a commitment to ensure that the pastors who put in countless hours a week for the gospel know that they have our full support and prayers.  I would also appreciate YOUR prayers for our brothers and sisters in the gospel in California, and for the work they are doing for the kingdom.

Macedonian Call

By Byron Beck

This past October I had the opportunity to travel to China on a “vision tour” to observe the ministry of a group with which General Baptists have a partnership (it shall remain nameless for this article).

A street musician in China

A street musician in China

This organization helps people who want to teach English in Asia to find a university job in one of the great cities of China, or in one of a few other Asian countries. General Baptists have been partnering with them for a few years now-we provide teachers and they have the connections within the country.

I was truly impressed with the quality of people working for this organization and with the support structure they have developed to assist the teachers. Not only do they train and assist teachers for the cross-cultural challenges they will face, but they also provide an essential network for educational, emotional and spiritual care.

these men answered the Macedonian call

The visionary tour group on the Great Wall

I traveled with a great group of men. There were four General Baptist leaders and one Freewill Baptist. We visited two cities: Beijing and Yinchuan. We toured a few Chinese landmarks such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. We worshiped in two churches on Sunday: one in Chinese and one in English (Several stories could be shared about these experiences). We also visited schools and met teachers and students. That, to me, was an exhilarating experience. I was very impressed with the students’ hunger to learn and their respect for their teachers, which is not so common in America.

I was most impressed with the Chinese Christians that I met. There are several stories that I could share, but I would like to mention one young PhD student that we met. His English name was Charlie and he was studying Mechanical Engineering. He told a fascinating story about his conversion that IMG_1887-30included a dream/vision. His encounter with Christ was real and undeniable, but he spoke honestly about how hard the decision was for him.

In fact, being the analytical guy that he was, he drew out for our group a diagram of the “barriers to faith” that he and others must address in their journey toward Christ.

Here are the six barriers:

  • Party Membership – Everyone is encouraged to join, and it is, of course, officially atheistic
  • Education System - They are taught Marxist doctrine and other belief systems that are not sympathetic to Christianity
  • Alternate Faiths - They are told Christianity is not Chinese; if you are going to be religious, pick something like Buddhism
  • Family/Peer Pressures - This cannot be over-emphasized; it is disgraceful to betray one’s family.  Theirs is not a “rebellion” culture and harmony is greatly valued
  • “Normal” Temptations - sexual, materialism, etc
  • The Battle of the Will - Will I surrender to God’s Kingdom? Will I give up my rights for the sake of Christ?

Honestly, I could not have been more impressed with this young man’s insight and his ability to graphically demonstrate the struggle. I was also impressed with his earnest desire to follow Jesus in spite of the obstacles.

I suppose there is a diagram like this that relates to every culture in the world.

There is a great opportunity in China. The Chinese educational officials have told this organization that they would like 300 new teachers over the next five years. That sounds like a “Macedonian Call” to me. What do you think?

Byron Beck has served General Baptist churches in Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri, and has pastored Fellowship General Baptist Church in Poplar Bluff, MO for 27 years. He is married to Kathy Beck, and they have a daughter, Katie.  He will be sharing more about his trip and the different opportunities for you to invest in Asian students overseas at the Summit next week.  His workshop will take place Tuesday, July 22nd, at 1:30 pm in Plaza A.  This is your opportunity to make a major impact on students in Asia, either for a few weeks or a few years.

More Like Maddie

By Robbie Myers

At the end of June, we suffered a heartbreaking loss in our home.  Maddie, my wife’s service dog, passed away unexpectedly.  Maddie had been part of our household for over 9 years-her entire life.  Our family has faced many challenges in the past decade, and during those times, I always felt better and more peaceful when she sat in my lap.  Hopefully, she felt that same peacefulness when she took her last breath while sitting in my lap.

During this sad time, we have been intentional about being grateful to God for the time we were blessed to have her in our lives.  We are comforted by the many great memories we have of Maddie.

Maddie’s eyes would stare deeply in mine.  Her look conveyed her loyalty, her love, her admiration.  Whenever we arrived home, she would always meet us at the door with a present.  Usually, it was her most prized possession.  For the past year and a half, that item was a stuffed octopus toy.  This was a Christmas present given to her as we prepared to move to our mission field of Saipan.  Sometimes, she was too anxious to go find the toy so she would grab anything she could find-like a sock.  She would run right up to us, vigorously wagging her tail until we accepted her gift, then wait for us to pet or embrace her.

Maddie’s favorite activity was to go for a ride with her family.  We had to take great care to spell (and not say) the words “ride” and “go” or we would have a hyperactive dog to calm down.  Once in the car she would bark with excitement, and would even push the button to roll down the window so she could stick her head out.

Here in Saipan, I would take her for a walk in beach side parks after a ride.  Invariably, we would be approached by families.  When they walked up to us, they would almost always say the same words-”Your dog is pretty.  What is it’s name?”  We learn a lot from our dogs.This allowed me to engage in a conversation about my family and how we were serving as missionaries.  I was able to have some great conversations about our mission and Saipan Community Church with these families that hailed from all over the world, including Korea, China, the Philippines, Japan, and Russia.  Maddie enjoyed the attention and being petted by all the children.  Her presence helped us with our mission by creating opportunities for us to have conversations with people that would not have occurred otherwise.

As I reflect on the experiences I shared with Maddie, I keep coming back to the same thought-I want to be more like Maddie.

What do I mean, “more like Maddie”?  I mean I want to fix my gaze upon Jesus and worshipfully convey my love and dedication to my Master.  I want to show my joy for being in His presence by providing Him my best.  I want to demonstrate an unbridled enthusiasm for the journeys He has prepared for me.  I want Christ to use me to introduce Him to people from all over the globe.  I want to enjoy the same curiosity and appreciation she had for God’s creations.

In her life, Maddie provided joy to my soul.  Through her passing, she challenged me to find an even deeper joy in my spirit and a stronger relationship with my Savior.

4 Ways to Change the 80/20 Rule

By Franklin Dumond

Several versions of this important obituary have appeared. This one provides a fitting eulogy of this well-known member.

“Our church was saddened to learn recently of the death of one of our most valued members. After only a short illness Someone Else passed away.

Someone’s passing creates a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. Else has been with us for many years and for all those years Someone did far more than a normal person’s share of the work. Whenever there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend everyone agreed that Someone Else should do it. Whenever leadership was mentioned, this wonderful person was looked to for inspiration as well as results. We often heard, “Someone Else can work with that group.”

It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the most generous givers in our church. Whenever there was a financial need, everyone just assumed Someone Else would make up the difference.

Someone Else was a wonderful person, sometimes appearing superhuman. Obviously everyone expected too much of Someone and now Someone Else is gone! Someone left a wonderful example to follow, but who is going to follow it? Who will do what Someone Else did?

When you are asked to help this year, remember we can’t depend on Someone Else anymore.”

The important role of Someone Else is often undertaken by a small minority of those folks who attend a local church.  A popular rule of thumb is that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the members. One significant growth barrier in a smaller church is that a workforce of 20% is just too small to sustain current ministry, let alone add new ministry endeavors. For example, in a church of 50 the 20% workforce is only 10 people!

Here are four pretty simple, but effective, ways to change the 80/20 rule.cultivating volunteers must be intentional

1. Identify who is doing ministry. Pay particular attention to those who are double-dipping by undertaking more than one major ministry task and look carefully to find those often unnoticed servants who are busy behind the scenes.

2. Identify what ministry is being done. Pay particular attention to those ministry tasks that sustain the current program of the church and to those that engage the community. Look at the nominating committee report to see what assignments are being given. Check the church calendar to see what is happening.

3. Broaden your concept of who can do ministry. Once you have identified who is doing ministry start looking at who is not doing ministry. Many folks are very willing to help but they will not volunteer for a ministry assignment. Find a way to invite them to help on a short term basis. Use the strategy of “I do ministry—You watch me” then “You do ministry—I watch you” and finally “You do ministry and I cheer you on.”

4. Broaden your concept of what ministry is and how it can be done. Divide larger tasks into smaller units so more people can be involved. For example, fellowship events can involve a few volunteers showing up early and staying late or there could be a setup crew/person, a serving crew/person and a clean-up crew/person. One greeter could always be in place or several greeters could take turns one Sunday at a time.

Does every ministry have a prayer component? Organize folks who will pray for each class, for each servant, for each church program.  Jesus noticed in his day that the harvest was ready but the workers were few. Things haven’t changed all that much, have they?

Have you noticed other effective ways to change the 80/20 rule?  Click on ‘Leave A Comment’ at the top of this article to share your views and experiences with us!

To Change or Not to Change

By Clint Cook

I recently had a very important exchange with a young pastor who has just taken a position at an established, traditional church.  Since arriving, he has discovered that the church is severely outdated in a number of ways which limit its impact on the community.  This young pastors can face many obstacles when initiating changepastor desires for his church to be an important influence within their community and wants to lead the church into the 21st century.  He proceeded to ask me what is perhaps the most common question a young leader asks when beginning a pastorate at an older, established church: “Is there ever a point in a pastorate when all the needed change is simply too risky?  Is there a point when you say it’s just not worth it?”

My response was that he should ask and answer the following questions regarding his church:

1.  How long do you anticipate staying in this church?

If a pastor doesn’t think he will stay very long in a church, this its not worth encountering resistance and (most likely) causing friction due to change and new ideas if he isn’t going to see it through.  If your personal preference is to stay in a church only 2-3 years, then leave the church’s methodology alone.

2.  What is your opinion of the church leaders?

You will need a lot of influencers to be able to pull off major change.  When a pastor first comes to a church, he is only the nominal leader.  This existing church leaders are the ones still in charge.  If you want to initiate change and survive the process, you have to carefully assess the mindset of your church leaders.
3.  How much change do you believe the church can withstand?

Maybe the best way to analyze this is to break down the age groups of your congregation.  If you congregation is predominately a 70+ congregation, then they are less likely to handle change as easily as a 40 and under age group.  Know your age groups and their percentages before implementing change.
4.  Is the facility designed in a way wherein you could offer an alternative contemporary service at a different time and leave the main worship hour in its current traditional style?

Change can be made easier if you first add something new, but leave the existing service alone to maintain stability and continuity for traditional worshipers.
5.  What has God put in your heart to do?  Are you diligently searching His will?

There’s no other biblical book that can help a young leader approach change in a church than the Old Testament book of Nehemiah.  Read it and learn.

When all of these questions are answered, a young leader is in a much better position to truly evaluate whether or not it is worth leader a church through major change.

Do you think this list is missing some elements to consider before implementing change?  Do you know of other ways to help make a transition smooth when undergoing important shifts?  Click on ‘Leave A Comment’ at the top of this article to share your experiences and opinions.

GO!

By Carl Nichols

“The local church is the hope of the world.”  Bill Hybels

When I first heard that statement, it rocked me.  I thought Jesus was the hope of the world?  And he is!  However, Jesus established the local church as his means by which the gospel was to advance.  Furthermore, he shared with his disciples in John 14:12 that we would do even “greater things” than we saw him do on Earth.  What a great theme for Summit 2014!

I believe in the local church.  I believe it is indeed the only hope for this world to turn back to Jesus.  With this in mind, National Missions is excited to announce something brand new this year at Summit: the Go Project.  The Go Project was envisioned out of multiple discussions about a network to expand our reach and plant more churches in the next few years.  After a series of meetings and through several improvements and fine-tuning, the Go Project was born.  It will officially launch at the 2014 Summit later this month.  What is it?  The Go Project is an initiative to plant 15 new General Baptist churches over the next five years.

Here are just a few of the nuts and bolts of what the Go Project will focus on to make this happen:

  • Assessment – We believe that strong church plants are led by leaders with a specific gift set.  Therefore, we value assessment as the starting point for all church planting candidates.  Our next assessment is at the end of August in Tampa.  If you are interested in planting, or know someone who is, please contact Vince Daniel at vincedaniel308@gmail.com.
  • Training – The proper systems are vital to the health of any church and thus every planter is required to attend a week long training event we call “Boot Camp” where we focus on the necessary systems for a healthy church launch.
  • CoachingChurch planting can be a lonely task.  We believe strong coaching both pre- and post-launch are essential in the health of the planter and the church.
  • Funding - Church planting has substantial up-front cost.  We believe plants should be funded to meet the needs of their particular community.  We are looking for churches and associations who believe strongly that the local church is the hope of the world to partner with us to reach the five year goal.
  • Networking – We believe that one of the most valuable tools a planter can have is relationships with other like-minded pastors.  We will work to provide networking opportunities within our church plants.

Our National Missions team is incredibly excited about the future of General Baptists and we cannot wait to officially launch the Go Project in a few weeks.  See you at the Summit!

 

Eight Point Eight Two: How long do pastors stay in one church?

By Dr. Franklin Dumond

A recent research poll from Lifeway Research suggested the average pastor’s tenure in a local church is 3.6 years (See Dennis Cook, July 18, 2011). Other studies and informal polls suggest the average or typical tenure may be a bit longer, while studies of effective leaders suggest an average tenure of 11.2 to 21.6 years. Trevin Wax suggests that most studies of the average tenure in a local church show the number to be between 5 and 7 years.How long do pastors stay at one church?

A survey of General Baptist pastors suggests the average pastoral tenure of those currently serving a church is 8.82 years. This number comes from reports submitted by 107 pastors in response to a survey mailed to approximately 700 General Baptist pastors. Bivocational pastors who responded indicated an average tenure of 7.77 years while fully funded pastors indicated a current tenure of 10.79 years. The report only measured length of service in the current ministry setting rather than average length of stay in several ministry settings.

A similar poll of Cooperative Baptists in South Carolina found an average tenure of 9 years while Barna Research reported that mainline congregations are served by the same pastor for only about 4 years.

Noted researcher and church consultant Lyle Schaller pointed out years ago that while longer tenure does not guarantee church growth, shorter pastoral tenure almost always insures lack of growth.

In an ironic twist on the numbers Gary McIntosh suggests in a blog post from June 14, 2013 that long pastoral tenure may hurt a church. His observation, based on several interviews with pastors who stayed for 25 years or more, was summarized as “The first ten years were great; the second ten years were good; I should have left in year twenty!”

This cycle is rather normal, since pastors come with a vision for the future but over time there is a natural tendency to focus more on the relationships within the church rather than those outside it. Further, pastors come to a church with a briefcase full of ideas but over time these ideas may run their course. Thus a wise pastor must reinvent himself every 7-10 years to remain effective in his leadership.

Leonard DonohoLooking back on nearly 60 years of ministry Rev. James Trotter remarked “I left some of my pastorates too soon.”

At age 95 Rev. Leonard Donoho passed along the same advice given to him when he started ministry in 1943 “I was a young minister in the association and had some good brothers to advise and guide me in my ministry. The best was to ‘stay in there and preach the Word.’”

Are there keys to staying in there? Cecil Robertson, looking back over nearly 70 years of ministry, indentifies perhaps one important key to staying in there when he says “I love people because God does.” In addition to this love for people there must also be a love for the task as he goes on to say, “I love preaching, seeing souls saved, and all that goes with ministry.”

James Black, with more than 60 years in ministry, remarked about starting over again, “My goal would be to have longer pastorates.” To accomplish that he suggests, “I would rearrange my priorities. My priorities were God first, then ministry, then family. If I could go back, my priorities would be God first, family next, then ministry.”