Time for some training

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Many of us remember a time when Training Union taught us what it means to be a Baptist, writes Bill Jones in the latest newsletter of Texas Baptists Committed.

Many of us do, but many of us don’t. And that’s related to Bill’s point. Since most churches did away with Training Union and its successor, Church Training, fewer and fewer Baptists know what it means to be a Baptist.

“Many members of Baptist churches know no reason for being Baptist except that the Baptist church is the closest… or the one with the most comfortable worship style… or the one with the best youth program for their kids,” Bill says.

Now those are acceptable reasons for attending a church, but why would someone want to drive past a closer church to attend a Baptist congregation? Or why would someone pass up one church’s worship service for one that is meaningful but less comfortable in another church? Or why would someone choose a church with a good youth program but maybe not the best?

There was a time not too long ago when many people would do such things, and there are still many such people today. There are good reasons to make such choices, and they are not just about old habits or family traditions.

I often tell the Sunday School class I teach that I am a big-tent Christian, that we’re going to share space in heaven with the Presbyterians across the street and with other followers of Christ. I’m a great respecter of people of all faiths; but, again, there are reasons to be Baptist beyond tradition, convenience or comfort.

Texas Baptists Committed understands this and wants to help more Texas Baptists learn what it means to be a Baptist. Teaching members of Baptist churches the “importance of historic Baptist distinctives — such as soul competency, the priesthood of every believer, and separation of church and state — is the responsibility of the free and faithful Baptists,” Bill writes.

BGCT Executive Director-Emeritus Bill Pinson has long been involved in this conversation, as well, writing and speaking eloquently about the importance of our Baptist distinctives.

I applaud these efforts. Those distinctives are important for a number of reasons, but they are most important because we believe they enable people to more clearly hear and respond to the call of God upon their lives and to make a difference in the world around them.

We Baptists exalt only one — Jesus, the Christ. We shouldn’t exalt the name Baptist; but we should understand what it means to be a Baptist and how Scripture supports this understanding of being the body of Christ at work in the world today.

Thank you, TBC, Bill Pinson and other Texas Baptists who understand that being a Baptist-type of Christ follower has real meaning and is important to teach to members of our congregations, especially the young and emerging leaders.

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31 Responses to “Time for some training”

  1. David Says:

    Is it better to be a person who understands what “Baptist” means, or to be a Baptist Christian who understands what “Baptist” means, or to be a Baptist Christian who puts into practice daily what he understands it to mean to be a Christian who is a Baptist?

    As a minister of education in a Texas Baptist church, I’d say to aim for all three–and I believe that that also surely must be the actual desire of TBC, the BGCT’s staff, and the writer of this blog posting today. Are we there yet? Not even close, if an evaluation may be based upon the most recent ACP reports of BGCT/SBC congregations and observations of them.

    Call it anything–Church Training, Training Union, Discipleship Training, Training Church Discipleship Union, or etc.; but if the program doesn’t become an ongoing process achieving the tasks typically assigned to it (and which no other program/process/ministry has) targeting individuals in SBC/BGCT churches for their growth in spirit and service, then more decline of our congregations–and not less as hoped and prayed for–can be expected. The liklihood is remote that God will operate counter to His own Word and reach a lost world via a Church which consistently values other things more dearly than Him and His mission.

    Emphasize Sunday School/small group ministry done right; train the leaders of that/those group/s first; expand the training to target each adult member of the congregation until he/she is a believer on-mission with God (serving in Sunday School/small groups, etc.) as He seeks to redeem the world to Himself. Stay at it until Jesus comes for us.

    Some help: http://www.lifeway.com/adultstrategy–and the BGCT’s Ministries Specialist Team (contact info here: http://www.bgct.org/texasbaptists/Page.aspx?pid=2882&srcid=2902).Is it better to be a person who understands what “Baptist” means, or to be a Baptist Christian who understands what “Baptist” means, or to be a Baptist Christian who puts into practice daily what he understands it to mean to be a Christian who is a Baptist?

    As a minister of education in a Texas Baptist church, I’d say to aim for all three–and I believe that that also surely must be the actual desire of TBC, the BGCT’s staff, and the writer of this blog posting today. Are we there yet? Not even close, if an evaluation may be based upon the most recent ACP reports of BGCT/SBC congregations and observations of them.

    Call it anything–Church Training, Training Union, Discipleship Training, Training Church Discipleship Union, or etc.; but if the program doesn’t become an ongoing process achieving the tasks typically assigned to it (and which no other program/process/ministry has) targeting individuals in SBC/BGCT churches for their growth in spirit and service, then more decline of our congregations–and not less as hoped and prayed for–can be expected. The liklihood is remote that God will operate counter to His own Word and reach a lost world via a Church which consistently values other things more dearly than Him and His mission.

    Emphasis Sunday School/small group ministry done right; train the leaders of that/those group/s first; expand the training to target each adult member of the congregation until he/she is a believer on-mission with God (serving in Sunday School/small groups, etc.) as He seeks to redeem the world to Himself. Stay at it until Jesus comes for us.

    Some help: http://www.lifeway.com/adultstrategy–and the BGCT’s Ministries Specialist Team (contact info here: http://www.bgct.org/texasbaptists/Page.aspx?pid=2882&srcid=2902).

  2. David Says:

    Is it better to be a person who understands what “Baptist” means, or to be a Baptist Christian who understands what “Baptist” means, or to be a Baptist Christian who puts into practice daily what he understands it to mean to be a Christian who is a Baptist?

    As a minister of education in a Texas Baptist church, I’d say to aim for all three–and I believe that that also surely must be the actual desire of TBC, the BGCT’s staff, and the writer of this blog posting today. Are we there yet? Not even close, if an evaluation may be based upon the most recent ACP reports of BGCT/SBC congregations and observations of them.

    Call it anything–Church Training, Training Union, Discipleship Training, Training Church Discipleship Union, or etc.; but if the program doesn’t become an ongoing process achieving the tasks typically assigned to it (and which no other program/process/ministry has) targeting individuals in SBC/BGCT churches for their growth in spirit and service, then more decline of our congregations–and not less as hoped and prayed for–can be expected. The liklihood is remote that God will operate counter to His own Word and reach a lost world via a Church which consistently values other things more dearly than Him and His mission.

    Emphasize Sunday School/small group ministry done right; train the leaders of that/those group/s first; expand the training to target each adult member of the congregation until he/she is a believer on-mission with God (serving in Sunday School/small groups, etc.) as He seeks to redeem the world to Himself. Stay at it until Jesus comes for us.

    Some help: http://www.lifeway.com/adultstrategy–and the BGCT’s Ministries Specialist Team (contact info here: http://www.bgct.org/texasbaptists/Page.aspx?pid=2882&srcid=2902).

  3. Ferrell Says:

    Excellent word, David. Thanks for commenting.

  4. spiritualsamurai Says:

    Texas Baptist are about to be thrown back into the ValleyGate quagmire by Otto Arango. He has sued the BGCT, the Baptist Standard and others. Sadly, you cannot ignore someone like Otto who believes the rules were made for him. He sure could have used more training as a Baptist before being given the cookie jar. It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit unfolds.

  5. David Says:

    Dave:

    I’ve served in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, too; the congregations there are stronger than they get credit for–no problem emotionally or spiritually for the previously-affected ones of them to live through this situation again. The brothers and sisters are faith-walking people who hold together.

    You based all of your previous statements on objective evidence, and didn’t slander or libel anyone in the reports you blogged–so no legal problems there. The insurance policy your congregation pays for probably has professional liability provisions; other expenses can be recovered when the suit is dismissed or found in your favor if you aren’t dropped from the suit before it’s concluded.

    The BGCT, its staff, and the Standard also simply reported the truth as they knew it at the time, without false accusations–so, again, no problem with that part of the suit. If the others named did the same, no problem for them either. It appears that the convention was the victim in the matter, as has been pointed out from the start.

    It may be good that the matter will come to light; there’ll be little new news. All the finger-pointing has been done. People have moved on, and few probably are interested in returning to observe what will happen next. I suppose the latest might have been predicted.

  6. spiritualsamurai Says:

    Thank you for your words. I do hope that Otto has opened a door that let what is left of this mess be cleared up and then we really can move on. However, this could have been avoided earlier. I hate to use the phrase, “I told you so”, but this time it needs to be said.

  7. David Says:

    Priority 1: clear the suit as it relates to you and the others.

    Priority 2: any new news which might be pertinent to a convention of churches already having moved beyond the issue and having no desire to experience the stress of it again.

  8. David Says:

    Several typos in the suit documents at spiritualsamurai. Is this a real law suit, or is someone pulling a prank? Are typographic errors usually common in legal documents of such importance? Has anyone phoned the courthouse to verify? Just wondering.

  9. Ferrell Says:

    Yes, unfortunately, this is real. We do not intend to comment on this much publicly while the legal process moves forward. We obviously believe the suit is totally without merit and that the BGCT has no liability. Please pray that God will help this issue to be resolved and that it will not hinder our Kingdom work.

  10. David Says:

    Thanks, Ferrell.

    Hey, do you see Jon Randles around the Baptist Building these days? I’ve sent several email notes to him during the past month or so, but no reply.

  11. Ferrell Says:

    I don’t see him much because he’s always out and about in the state, but I’ll see if I can’t locate him for you.

  12. Ferrell Says:

    By the way, Jon is without a ministry assistant right now so he’s on his on in responding to phone calls, e-mail and regular mail. It’s kind of a reminder of just how important our assistants are to our work; I know mine, Kathryn Lay, is important to me.

  13. David Says:

    Thanks, Ferrell. I think Jeffie moved a week or two ago. Another ministry assistant was/is handling those duties. The posting for Jeffie’s vacant position came down a few days ago, as if either enough candidates have applied or an applicant has been hired. Some new speaking engagements have been added to Jon’s schedule this week, so I know that he’s busy (but had several open days during the past couple of weeks). Just curious about what’s going on. Thanks again.

  14. Tim Dahl Says:

    Its kind of funny. I’ve a congregation of older baptists. The average age of my leadership is 70 years. Yet, they don’t really know what it means to be “Baptist” either. They lament over the good ‘ole days of Training Union. When I ask them what they got out of it the response is, “Well… it made us speak in front of a group.” No kidding!

    Dare I say that TU wasn’t as successful as some would have us believe? Perhaps I shouldn’t. The reason for the continued death of our churches isn’t because of the fearless, always improvising, cutting edge aspect of them. Perhaps it is time we admit that things really are different, and trying the same old thing over and over again still won’t get different/better results.

    Instead, lets name a couple of churches, like Northwood for instance, and see what they have to teach us. We’ll use whatever money is left over (after we’ve paid off the thief), to sponsor groups (mostly laity) to train at these churches. Then, we implement what we learn. We invest in our community, without corrupting our service with the expectation of gaining members out of it. Every church doing Kid’s Hope, with everyone understanding that it isn’t so their church can get more members.

    Lets exegete the culture that surrounds our churches, and use appropriate worship styles. We’ll still have a good diversity of styles; but we’re almost guaranteed that our personal churches will change.

    Lets sell some of our buildings, and use multi-purpose buildings instead. Ditch Sunday School, and go to home groups. The overhead of all this land/buildings is killing us and offers opportunity for to much conflict. Lets prove that the “Church” isn’t constituted of the “4 walls,” shall we?

    Lets find ways for individual churches to invest for the long term, internationally. Lets not farm out the ministry any more, but instead bring it back to the people. People working out of their giftedness, out of their talents, and using those gifts in strategic ways both at home and abroad.

    Finally, all ministers get to go bi-vo. Working out in the world is how are people are dispersed into it. We should join them, no? We should be around non-Christians to, no? God uses the church in the diaspora. Why do we want to be so insular and isolated?

    No? Yes?

    Tim Dahl

  15. David Says:

    Didn’t we come from where you suggest for us all to head now? We’d be back to most of it after a while. Efficiency and effectiveness–not to mention God’s will. Probably more relevancy than it appears.

    My take on it all: intrinsic motivation; your congregation and mine don’t have enough of it to sustain the evangelistic ministry we sometimes can talk them into doing.

  16. Tim Dahl Says:

    “Didn’t we come from where you suggest for us all to head now?”

    No, not at all. We’ve been doing the same thing for the past 50-40 years (with relatively few exceptions), and we’ve around 4000 churches (nationally) closing per year.

    “We’d be back to most of it after a while. Efficiency and effectiveness–not to mention God’s will. Probably more relevancy than it appears.”

    You make many assumptions here, most of all that such things as the traditions and institutions founded in the early 20th century are God’s will universally and infinitely.

    “My take on it all: intrinsic motivation; your congregation and mine don’t have enough of it to sustain the evangelistic ministry we sometimes can talk them into doing.”

    Maybe that is part of the problem. Many people still see the church, and the ministry therein, through outdated lenses. We’re going toward a more wholistic form of church, one that will look less like the 1950-60s. The way it is happening, is that the vast majority of our irrelevant institutions (the 4000 that are closing their doors annually), and being replaced by more fluid organisms. Sure, its been said that our churches are organisms, not organizations…but, they’ve been institutions in every sense of the word since WWII.

    In the end, the proof is in the pudding. The churches are still dying, and fewer and fewer people are willing to go into the pastorate to try to save them. We’re the Swiss trying to make old world watches in a Seiko world.

    Tim

  17. st upid Says:

    how did jesus teach his disciples to be good baptists?

  18. David Says:

    Tim:

    Haven’t you and I dialoged about this topic before? At some point, the wondering if and “what about” must end and the “getting down to business” must begin.

    My belief (but I’m willing for someone to prove me wrong through practice): nothing about the world has so changed during the past 500 years that people won’t still respond to loving messages from God’s people–yes, delivered in relevant ways–to know him; and, until God makes people differently than He has for all of human history, His church still has a chance. If it’s the “relevant ways” part that’s the key, it appears that it’s just enough contextual that no one can answer that question for your church but your church.

    If your congregation isn’t very interested in a buying 15-passenger van annually but letting it sit on the dealer’s lot never to be driven in ministry, then the church also probably wouldn’t like realizing that it spends about as much money on the resource people who can help answer the questions it has about how to experience fully the biblical growth God has planned for it–but never asks them to do so. Phone those resource people today then, and put them to work for you (BGCT Bible study staff, evangelism division employees, Congregational Strategists, etc.)!

    I appreciate what you’re doing–and asking–Tim! Also, see: http://www.lifeway.com/adultstrategy (for latest church health/growth info from LifeWay Research).

  19. Tim Dahl Says:

    Hey David,

    Yep, we’ve talked a little bit about this before. Thanks for pointing out Lifeway, but I’ve yet to find anything really relevant to where our churches are going, coming out of any publishing house at the moment.

    As I recall, I did offer a few “getting down to business” ideas. The foremost being, finding the churches (Like Northwood), and having them mentor us. What they are doing you aren’t going to find in a curriculum. There are other churches out there, not all Baptist, that can be learned from…but they are in the minority.

    Along other areas, like becoming less dependent upon buildings, I’m not so sure that we have a choice about that. As churches continue to decline, they simply can’t financially keep things going. Most of the ones I’ve seen (in between Houston and Fort Worth) have buildings in such bad shape that they are hard to sell for what the people think the buildings are worth. Frankly, the overhead is killer and the buildings stopped being an asset a long time ago.

    But, what if this happened: A congregation meets for worship in a community center, built and donated by the congregation to the community. They can use it for their worship services, and it can be used to bless the community during the rest of the week. Thats better than having a large building that is only used 10% of the time.

    About ministers going bi-vo…again, we may not have much of a choice in that matter. With more churches dying, there won’t be as many available pulpits/positions that pay a livable wage. We will have to have second and third jobs to just survive.

    I agree that the “message” of Christ is a wonderful thing, and is relevant to ever generation. However, I seriously doubt about the way we package that message. I have serious reservations about how we are living out that message…Ok, to be honest we aren’t living it out at all. If we were, we wouldn’t have such a hateful reputation as Baptists. It became about the institution of the church a long time ago, and the message of the Kingdom became synonymous with that. Church growth is not the message of Christ.

    Tim Dahl

  20. David Says:

    Fortunately, though, we have a Tim Dahl–who really loves the Lord and His church, and will work his fingers to the bone to make certain that people in his community know Christ as Savior.

    Additionally, Tim gets to partner with David, and together they get to partner with several thousand other like-hearted Texas Baptists and other evangelical believers to stop the very real downward trend by leading UP, not letting anything discourage them or stand in the way! Working as a team to the extent possible, Tim and David and the rest will solve the spiritual problems (e.g., revival) via spiritual means and the administrative problems (e.g., declining buildings) via administrative means. Together, we’ll lovingly “throw the kitchen sink” at the 12 million unsaved fellow-citizens of Texas until they just can’t stand not having what they clearly see we have in Jesus and ask us how they can get that kind of life, too!

    Again, I think you can speak with the BGCT’s staff about these things and get the answers you’re looking for (isn’t that right, staff?–anyone there reading this blog thread?); I think that staff is like a race horse just waiting for the gate to open! I talked to Ed Stetzer (www.edstetzer.com) a couple of weeks ago at Sunday School Week; in Texas, he recommends Milfred Minatrea as an extremely capable resource person–and I totally agree with Ed! (www.missional.org for contacting Milfred)

    It’s an exciting time to be a blood-bought, born-again, serious-minded, loving follower of Jesus Christ–and a very important time for leaders to lead. If Texas Baptists must choose to lead, follow, or get out of the way, then we should choose “lead”! Go get ’em, brother, in your town!

  21. Tim Dahl Says:

    I agree that Milfred Minatrea (www.misional.org) is a wonderful resource. I just wish that the BGCT Administration hadn’t fired him. Sure, WorldConnex brought him in as a contractor (Bill Tinsley is full-100%-WIN!), but the poor guy still has to provide his own insurance (and that nasty tax rate!) last time I checked. But, Milfred is one that has greatly affected my own thinking upon the subject. He was the lone missional voice in the BGCT. Now, you have to go to the CBF to find it.

    As soon as the “staff” puts something out there that isn’t a rehash of the same ‘ole thing, I’ll be there 100%. Until then, I’ve other things to spend my energy on. You see that is the question we have to ask when it comes to cooperation. What are we doing within the cooperation?

    I remember a conversation I had with the previous ED, Dr. Wade about church planting and giving money to struggling churches. I can’t remember it word for word, but it basically said this: Why give money to churches that do things in a way that continues to not reach their community; simply because it is a long standing tradition to do so? When, on the other hand, we can put money into new church starts that are doing their dead level best, to try anything and everything to reach their community? That was a moment of clarity for me. I’ll partner with anyone, assuming that we are 1) headed in the same direction, and 2) using a methodology that isn’t insanity. (note: Insanity here is defined by doing something over and over again expecting a different result.)

    Can Dave and Tim partner to reach their community for Christ? You Bet’chya! However, if the methodology is diametrically opposed, then aren’t we just setting each other up for a fair amount of grief? Yes, you know it.

    Tim

  22. David Says:

    Maybe Ferrell or John can get BGCT staff members from the Missions/Evangelism/Ministry Team or the Congregational Relationships Team to add some comments to this thread today–counsel which points Tim in the right direction for the questions he’s asked?

    Thanks!

  23. John Says:

    David, we’re at an odd time of the year where folks are extremely busy. You may have noticed, even my writing in this space has slowed quite a bit in order to accomplish some other things. Having said that, I’ll check with some folks and see if they’ll pop in.

  24. David Says:

    Thanks, John. As you know, I’m a big supporter of Texas Baptists’ very capable BGCT staff–readers here would be interested in knowing how staffers in each convention division/department/team are helping local churches become the “missional” ones Tim mentions above. We’ll all be busy together–doing what counts most for souls and eternity!

  25. Paul Says:

    David,
    I will enter this thread if you like… before church starting I was a strategest and also in Bible study/ discipleship…. But…. I have my son’s football game to attend now but will be back tonight.

  26. David Says:

    Paul:

    That’d be great–and maybe Tim could meet with you sometime in the DFW area for a face-to-face discussion of missonal matters and the church he serves there. I think it’d prove very helpful.

    If you can get other Strategists/Starters/Evangelism/Missions/Ministry BGCT staffers to provide input for Tim and other readers here during the next few days, that’d be great too!

    Best wishes for your son’s team tonight.

  27. Paul Says:

    Tim and David,
    First, we lost the game 35 to 10 and in the words of my LB son “I don’t want to talk about it..OK!” Anyway back to my World… you guys…

    Tim, you said…

    “In the end, the proof is in the pudding. The churches are still dying, and fewer and fewer people are willing to go into the pastorate to try to save them. We’re the Swiss trying to make old world watches in a Seiko world.”

    I could not agree more… but you are showing me that you too have been affected by the old outdated system… Because unless you are just wearing a digital watch for fashion then look around… it has moved on to now… you keep track of the time on your iphone… and if you are poor then your pre-paid cell phone. Nobody under 30 owns any kind of watch… Tim, I really am just kidding you:) Laugh…
    But you are right and society is changing in dynamic ways… but the way people learn and are motivated has not changes so much… people have always responded to quality leadership that is relevant to where they are NOW…
    The problem is most of our churches cannot change and adjust as quickly as needed to stay relevant to our communities and what happens is… What the people need in our church culture worldview and find relevant is not the same as what the non-churched worldview need and find relevant… So, we need both IMHO… We always need new Christ followers so that they can be relevant to those who don’t know Jesus and we need Old Christ followers to provide a deep authintic on going jouney of faith… We fail if we stop doing either…

    “But, what if this happened: A congregation meets for worship in a community center, built and donated by the congregation to the community. They can use it for their worship services, and it can be used to bless the community during the rest of the week. Thats better than having a large building that is only used 10% of the time.”

    Tim, I am trying to get resources to do this very thing to reach the colonias because they need these centers to deliver social services ect… what if the Pastor of the church was Bi-vo and was also the center director as his other job… and what if these centers used solar power so that the community could afford the elect. bills and be carbin nutral… What if because clean water is such a problem in these areas this same center had a watering station in the parking lot with free water cards available form the center director (oh, he is also the pastor) who is also trained to do the maintanance on the equipment and because the center can afford A/C cooling stations on those super hot days which can save lives… I have this very idea before a potental donor. Pray! We are trying to be relevant… We need each other. Thanks for this stream… Any questions?

  28. David Says:

    Paul: Thank you VERY MUCH for your reply here (seem to be the only BGCT employee either reading this blog this week, or the only one with answers, or both?)! And, sorry to hear about your son’s football game–unless you were playing one of our city’s teams! (Maybe a pack of Life Savers . . .) ;-))

    Tim: I think you asked great–and scary!–questions in your comments above. If you DO find relevant ways to minister to your community, please take photos and keep a journal, because those ways will be history before you know it! I think it’s part of the leader challenge everywhere–in both secular and sacred vocations. Of the 4 main problems all purposeful people-groups (churches included) must solve daily in order to see tomorrow, the one which most relates to your questions is: ADAPTATION–adjusting your methods for telling your message (and/or delivering your product) to your world. Where adaptation is done well (along with addressing the other 3 main problems), progress may be made; where it isn’t addressed well, decline begins or is sustained. Easy as that.

    Is there hope? Not without much intrinsic motivation, hard work, and divine blessings; but, otherwise, YES! Research done during the past 10+ years indicates that, among other things, if your congregation has these 8 characteristics–achieved in any godly way–then you probably have yourself a missional church experiencing biblical growth and blessing its community (and if not, then not; think about the churches you know):

    Spirituality which is passionate individually;

    Relationships which are loving practically;

    Worship which is inspiring corporately;

    Leadership which is empowering primarily;

    Structures which are functional continually;

    Small groups which are holistic relevantly;

    Ministry which is gift-based consciously; and,

    Evangelism which is need-oriented intentionally.

    Some parts of biblical church growth are spiritual; all the rest is administrative (i.e., leadership and management). For an established congregation to experience each characteristic above, lead and manage it for (relate each item below to the corresponding characteristic above):

    1. Revival
    2. Holy Spirit
    3. Freedom
    4. Training
    5. Administration
    6. Teamwork
    7. Assessment
    8. Adaptation

    Tim, a fellow with training in chaplaincy may require a little guidance from a brother with the knowledge, skills, experiences, and resources which Paul has to offer. The other Team Leaders of the BGCT and their staffs have similar things to offer (and really ought to chime in here to say so; I don’t know where they are–but it isn’t as helpful to you right now, I know, and–as I think you’ve indicated–if they’re waiting for you to attend one of the events they have scheduled, their wait may be a lonnnnngggg one!).

    Exodus 14:13-15, brother!

    David Troublefield
    Wichita Falls, TX

  29. David Says:

    Tim:

    By the way, in its attempt to be/remain missional/relevant, the congregation I serve as minister of education has partnered with 2 local Assembly of God churches for doing Adopt-A-Block ministry every Saturday morning. Teams from the 3 churches converge on a specific street near our campus on Saturdays from 10:00-12:30; we bring our lawn equipment, kitchen/bathroom cleaning supplies, general know-how, etc., and proceed down both sides of the street–meeting neighbors and offering to help in any way they need assistance (we only do what the neighbors tell us they need us to do = “relevant”). When the neighbors ask why we do what we do, we simply tell them that Jesus Christ loves them and we love them too. We have the opportunity to share the gospel with people on their porches and to invite them to trust in Christ as Savior. In doing all of this, we discover other ministry needs which the families have. We invite the neighbors to participate with us in our congregations’ various other ministries. Today, our congregations also conducted an event in the city park next to our church’s campus–food, music, and school supplies.

    Also: for the sake of children in our city, our congregation partners with another local SBC church to conduct Upward sports evangelism leagues. Flag football and cheerleading are underway now, and basketball and cheerleading will follow immediately beginning in December. Presently, 150 children are registered for football and cheerleading; 180 participated in basketball and cheerleading last year–but more are expected this year, as our 2-church partnership will add a third SBC congregation. We are the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th largest SBC churches in town; the largest SBC congregation is able to conduct its own Upward leagues–for a grand total of 400+ local children interacting with Christian adults who love them and share the gospel with them each week for 7 consecutive months! As their parents are “captive audiences” during the 16 games of all the sports seasons, we share the Bible and the gospel with them at halftime (the parents always stay to hear the halftime devotionals).

    Our congregation lodged in its family life center 100 cyclists who were in town last Friday night to participate in the 27th annual Hotter Than Hell 100 Bicycle Race (provided 110 goody bags with gospel tracts and racer-related items to each cyclist; during the past 4 years doing this, some guests have trusted Christ as Savior). From Sunday until yesterday, we also lodged 45 disaster relief workers (Texas and other Baptist Men; ALERT Team from Big Sandy) in town to aid local homeowners with recovery due to floods which occurred about 1 1/2 weeks ago. The BGCT provided direct financial assistance to families affected by the flooding (we connected with our Service Area’s Congregational Strategist, David Bowman; he came the very next day with necessary forms to be completed and returned the following week with checks for the families).

    See the need; run to the need. Relevant. Missional?

  30. David Says:

    Each cyclist only got 1 goody bag, not 110!

  31. Paul Says:

    David,
    Sounds like you and your church are doing well… keep it up.
    As for why more staff have not joined this stream… well i know many are working with evacuation efforts… I am not so far, but could go if called.
    Thanks
    Paul Atkinson
    church starting BGCT

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