Mission & Ministry Summit

Take the Land

by Clint Cook, Executive Director

Clint Cook - Summit Keynote Speaker - possessIn 1994, I was privileged to speak at the General Association held in Nashville, Tennessee. My scripture portion was from Joshua 1. “Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the Lord said to him: You are old, advanced in years and there remains much land yet to be possessed.”

This passage is very similar to the key scripture chosen for the 2017 Summit theme: Take the Land. Deuteronomy 1:8 says, “See I have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore to your fathers….”

These two passages have some interesting similarities: they both deal with the Promised Land, and they are both statements to Joshua. The difference between the two passages is Joshua’s age.

In Deuteronomy, we see a younger Joshua who was following a senior leader. Later we have a seasoned, mature Joshua who had encountered many ups and downs over a 40-year span of time. Joshua 1 shows us a man who had weathered the death of Moses, navigated his growth from warrior to national leader, and saw the result of disobedience. It was under Joshua’s leadership that the people of God finally conquered and possessed the Promised Land.

Then, in Joshua 13, the Lord gives a very clear analysis: “There remains yet very much land to possess.”

Like Joshua and the nation of Israel, each of us is given a similar directive by God to Take the Land. Disciples of Jesus are commanded in the Great Commission to go and make disciples. I see a direct correlation between God’s directive to Joshua and the Great Commission to the church.

As a 32-year-old pastor at that G.A., I was a lot like Joshua: young, impetuous, and intimidated. I knew the Great Commission commanded me to share the gospel and make disciples. I also knew of many older General Baptist pastors and preachers who had been blessed with fruitful ministries and growing churches. I recall that I reminded the 1994 audience that the General Baptist movement needs young, middle-aged, and older disciple makers, because, “There remains very much land yet to be possessed.”

Our movement has made wonderful progress for the Kingdom through souls saved, thousands of disciples trained, new churches organized and new international fields opened. Yet, have we run out of communities to change? Has every person we know been won to faith in Christ? No!

Just because General Baptists have had some successes, our assignment is not finished. In the midst of our praise to the Lord for these blessings, we must never lose sight of God’s mandate that remains unfulfilled: “There remains very much land yet to be possessed.”

So what can we learn from these passages?

First, whatever the age of your church, the age of your members, or the age of your pastor, we will give an account one day not only for what we have accomplished, but for what still needs to be done.

Second, the Great Commission is an ongoing, never-ending, retirement-free directive to the church. Church member, leader, pastor: our assignment is not complete. There is more land yet to possess!

Third, let us remember that making disciples is like fighting those Old Testament Canaanites. Sharing our faith is a spiritual battle that is full of obstacles, obstructions, and strongholds. But it is a battle we must continue to fight. The children of Israel dwelt on the obstacles. They asked, “Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts saying the people are greater and taller than we are. The cities are great and fortified up to the heaven.” (Deuteronomy 1:28)

We’re in this fight together. When we Stay Connected, we Stay Strong. Let’s hold fast to God’s response to the nay-sayers in verse 29: “Do not be terrified or afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you, He will fight for you.”

My prayer is that 2017 will be the year every General Baptist church renews its commitment and obligation to Take the Land for, “There remains very much land yet to be possessed.” Join us at the 2017 Summit where we will challenged even more to Take the Land!

Turnaround 2020

Turnaround 2020 Launches!

The new Church Growth initiative, Turnaround 2020, was recently launched at the 2016 Mission & Ministry Summit. General Baptist Ministries is pleased to announce the launch of the corresponding website, www.turnaround2020.net!

Turnaround 2020 will assist General Baptist churches to discover and to achieve their full redemptive potential by the year 2020.  Many participating churches will see significant increases in attendance.  Others will double or triple in size as they realize the potential the Lord has placed before them.  Still others will see revitalized programs and more effective ministries. Turnaround, by simple definition, results in something different.  Change can be awkward and frightening or it can be pleasant and rewarding.  Undergirding our overall approach to turnaround in existing congregations are four core principles that will always show up in turnaround.

  1. An outward focus will be regained or intensified.
  2. Members will display responsible, high-expectation behavior.
  3. A clear discipleship process will be in place.
  4. Leadership and relational skills will constantly improve.

Turnaround 2020 is offered to maximize Kingdom impact by equipping and inspiring local churches to accomplish the Great Commission.  Many of these churches are already well down the road of turnaround.  Others are just beginning that sometimes daunting task.  Thus in addition to the plan book, coaching and mentoring opportunities will also be organized for those who are willing to make that level of higher commitment.

Turnaround 2020 addresses three important areas of turnaround found in numeric decline, the lack of evangelism and ministry ineffectiveness.

These will be addressed through a plan book produced annually to provide assistance with assessment, systems development and leadership training.  A storyboard of real life turnaround efforts reported by a variety of churches will also be developed as a companion piece and included on the website.  The plan book will be freely distributed by download and made available to all who request it.

Continue reading

Faith Home - Honduras

Starting, Equipping, Inspiring – Obeying the Great Commission

By Clint Cook, Executive Director

This post was originally published in the 2016 Spring issue of the GB Messenger. Don’t receive the Messenger? You can always catch the latest digital issue on the Messenger website, www.gbMessenger.org

General Baptists are obeying the Great Commission. I clearly recall the first-hand view I received back in 1999 when I went on my first international mission trip to Honduras.

Children singing along Sunday School songsMy first mission trip abroad was alongside one of my deacons, Ken Morris, in which I was to preach and he would lead worship on a medical/mission team. Our trip began at Faith Home where we visited with the children and workers and toured the grounds. We then traveled with the rest of our team several hours by bus over difficult terrain to the capital city of Tegucigalpa and then to a very remote village in the hills near Tegucigalpa.  The country of Honduras had only recently survived the deadly and destructive hurricane named Mitch. Their political and economic infrastructure lay in shambles, their roads and other transportation system was nonexistent, and their citizens were in dire need of help. One of the most amazing things I remember about that trip is that despite all of these obstacles, the Honduran people were joyful, grateful for our help, and starving for the gospel! The depth of their struggles and loss paled in comparison to their desire to learn about a man named Jesus and their need for a Savior. While some were unable to change their current situation, they were determined to change their eternal destination. I cried day after day as I watched the altars fill with people asking Jesus into their hearts. I realized I was watching the carrying out of the Great Commission! Continue reading

An Interview with Gary Baldus – Part 2

This is the last of a two-part post of an interview with Gary Baldus, pastor of New Walk Church in Zephyr Hills, Florida.

General Baptist Ministries asked Gary several questions about his walk with Christ, his calling to ministry and church planting, the personal and ministry connections with General Baptists, and the ongoing work of New Walk Church.

General Baptist Ministries (GBM):  You served as Moderator/Host for the Mission & Ministry Summit in 2013. How did this experience impact you personally? How did it impact New Walk Church?

Gary Baldus (GB):
 What an unbelievable experience!  Our church loved it.  They look back on that as one of the coolest things to be involved in that we have ever done by serving all those leaders who traveled to Florida.  It was like a New Walk Event.  We just watched our church rally to the cause. We told them, “We have all these people coming down and these are the General Baptist people who helped us get started.”  They just thought it was awesome that they could serve those people who had invested in New Walk from a distance.

Pastor Gary Baldus

GBM:  As you look to the future what do you see as the greatest challenges for our General Baptist network?

GB:  It all boils down to money and men.  Many are called and few are chosen.  God sifts through people and not all guys are capable to lead church work.  I have people tell me of their call so I give them ministry assignments.  It is not unusual that six months later they are crying because ministry is so hard and they quit.

GBM:  How did your connections with General Baptists aid in the construction of New Walk’s first permanent buildings?

GB:  Our building would not have happened if not for the General Baptist Investment Fund.  This was like when the Kingdom Expansion Campaign was involved at the outset.  This is a faith based thing for us so we had to have someone who believed in us to be the right kind of lender. We are going to spend the next 2-3 years on stabilization and taking care of things to maintain a healthy operational base but if it had not been for a group of people seeing the potential in New Walk we would probably still be in the YMCA setting up and tearing down every time we had a meeting. Continue reading

Staying Connected, Staying Strong

Staying Connected, Staying StrongStaying Connected, Staying Strong

Those four words say a lot to me not only as Pastor, but also as Executive Director.

As a pastor, I am reminded of the parable Jesus told:  “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?” [Matthew 18:12 NKJV]

Jesus used a simple illustration to communicate a directive to every pastor-shepherd. In order to truly disciple Christians into fully devoted, mature followers of Christ, helping them stay connected to the body of Christ is essential. Jesus made it clear that shepherds keep their sheep connected to the fold. For the local church this means we are to seek for straying sheep and help them reconnect to the fold of the church. Jesus made it clear that shepherds keep their sheep connected to the fold. For the local church this means we are to seek for straying sheep and help them reconnect to the fold of the church. Click To Tweet

As Pastor, I’ve always viewed this shepherding task as a very important and serious responsibility. The spiritual lives of my sheep are dependent upon their connection to the church. A shepherding pastor must also strive to help members stay in the fold of the church. If they stay connected they are better protected from tragic pitfalls and hidden obstacles that await outside the church. A church is always stronger with 100% of its sheep in the fold than it is when even a few are missing.

As Executive Director, the words, Staying Connected, Staying Strong, also have a sobering effect on me. I am reminded that as General Baptists strive to advance the Kingdom, every mission field is crucially important to us. For we “are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). We can never forget the sacrifices of missionary families who travel to different states or countries to spread the gospel. We can never forget the sacrificial giving of individuals and churches that help develop new ministries in the U.S. and around the globe.

I always feel a burden when I visit our mission fields. I want to make sure that our missionaries and national workers know that they have a larger General Baptist family in the United States who love them and want to stay connected with them. As a network of churches called General Baptist, we must stay connected to the ministries God has provided to us. As a network of churches called General Baptist, we must stay connected to the ministries God has provided to us. Click To Tweet

We try to maintain this connection by having our missionaries, and now some national workers as well, travel to the United States to attend the Summit. I want this to continue each year so the ability to meet with, pray with, worship with, and laugh with their greater General Baptist family will breathe encouragement into the lives of our missionaries, national workers and the mission fields they represent.

I believe Jesus is pleased with our General Baptist family when we seek to stay connected at the local, national, and international levels.

Local pastor, I know how tough ministry life can be. One weapon in Satan’s arsenal is isolation and separation. Pastors, we don’t want you to be disconnected, struggling to do ministry alone. We have designed conferences to equip you to do the work more creatively, efficiently, and meaningfully than ever before. Our Barnabas Project attempts to make personal connection to you. We offer services to help personal networking and maintain current communications.

Local church, regardless of your size, location, or budget, we value your connection to General Baptist Ministries. In light of the troubled state of our culture and the recent ruling by our U.S. Supreme Court regarding marriage and family, the time to stand strong together upon the Word of God is now.

Missionaries and national workers, we believe in your sacrifice and mission. We are dedicated to giving you our prayers as well as our financial support.

Staying Connected, Staying Strong. May these words stir every General Baptist. No Pastor can be left behind. No mission field can be forgotten. No local church can be cast aside. No General Baptist can be overlooked. You belong to a larger body of believers committed to helping you do more together than you could ever do alone.

Clint Cook – Executive Director
General Baptist Ministries