Today's From the States features items from:
Biblical Recorder (North Carolina)
Baptist Message (Louisiana)
Baptist New Mexican
Illinois Baptists urged
to 'Choose2' in 2012
By Meredith Flynn
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Illinois Baptist)--In 2012, Illinois Baptists can have a major impact on the state by making a simple choice, said IBSA's Tim Sadler.
Choose2 is a statewide prayer strategy to encourage Illinois Baptists of all ages to choose two lost friends, neighbors or co-workers and pray twice a day for their salvation.
"What could God do with nearly 150,000 Illinois Baptists who love their unbelieving neighbors enough to choose to pray for them?" Sadler said.
"What could God do with thousands of passionate Illinois Baptist school children praying for their classmates and teachers?
Choose2 is composed of three simple steps:
1. Choose two friends, family members, neighbors or co-workers who do not have saving faith in Christ.
"He or she should be someone with whom your life regularly intersects," Sadler said. There's a relationshipbuilding element to Choose2 along with the intercessory prayer element, so Sadler encourages Illinois Baptists to choose people they see on a regular basis.
"Choose a son or daughter; brother or sister; father or mother; your child's teacher, principal, or coach; the kid who mows your lawn; a waiter or waitress at a restaurant you visit often; or someone in your neighborhood."
2. Commit to pray for their salvation Twice a day.
Ask God to give you an opportunity to share your faith, and to provide boldness, Sadler said. Choose2 commitment cards and wristbands can serve as daily reminders and are available at IBSA.org/Choose2.
"Some specific things to pray for are that God will make them curious about spiritual things, that they will clearly grasp their need for a Savior, and that God will surround them with other witnessing Christians."
3. Invite your Choose2 family members or friends to at least two events at your church this year.
Ideas include small groups Or Sunday School classes, worship or revival services or Vacation Bible School. Additionally, this year's GPS (God's Plan for Sharing) emphasis will focus on attractional evangelistic events (see page 5 for more information). Sadler urged Illinois Baptist churches to use the Choose2 emphasis to prayerfully prepare for evangelistic events planned for later this year.
This month, Illinois Baptist pastors will receive Choose2 materials with creative ideas on how to implement the prayer strategy amongst families and churches, as well as specific ideas for different age groups. For more information, visit IBSA.org/Choose2 or contact Sadler at (217) 391-3131 or TimSadler@IBSA.org.
This article originally appeared in the Illinois Baptist, newsjournal of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Meredith Flynn is associate editor of the Illinois Baptist.
Church planter reflects
on journey, God's provision
By Buddy Overman
FRANKLIN, N.C. (Biblical Recorder)--Bryon Lamb knew God was calling him to plant a church that would intentionally engage the unchurched people in his community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Lamb was not trained in church planting, had never started a church, and he wasn't even sure he had the means to start one.
Lamb soon learned that when God leads, God provides.
Lamb was serving as a bivocational pastor in what he described as a traditional church when he first felt God calling him to church planting. "There was an unchurched person who kept coming but did not fit in wearing blue jeans and Crocs," Lamb said. "It was obvious they did not feel comfortable because everyone else was wearing suits and ties."
That experience ignited a passion to start a new church where everyone would feel comfortable regardless of their appearance. "People need to know there is a place they can come no matter what they are wearing and feel accepted and loved," Lamb said.
Lamb talked with his director of missions, Jeff King, about his idea for a new church. King put him on track to receive church planting training through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC).
The BSCNC trains more than 100 church planters in North Carolina each year. After passing an initial assessment, potential planters are eligible to receive basic church planting training through the BSCNC.
Lamb said the BSCNC training provided everything he needed to launch a new church. "I learned so much during basic training that I went back to our 10-member church plant group and we went through the material together," Lamb said. "It has really blessed us."
It was not long before the team was finalizing plans to launch LifeSpring Community Church in Franklin. They needed some help renovating the facility they rented as their worship center, and they wanted advice from an established church before finalizing the bylaws.
King arranged a meeting between Lamb and Davis Hooper, pastor of Coweeta Baptist Church, to see if Coweeta would consider partnering with LifeSpring during the launch period.
At first, this seemed like an unlikely pairing. "We are two polar opposite church families," Lamb said. "Coweeta is probably the most traditional church in the association. I never thought they would consider sponsoring a church such as ourselves."
The generational gap and different worship styles were not a concern for Hooper. He knew Lamb had a passion to see people come to faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
"I had no reservations about helping Bryon," Hooper said. "We were eager to help."
Coweeta did everything LifeSpring needed them to do. They helped LifeSpring finish their bylaws, and when LifeSpring had less than 30 days to complete the renovation of their worship center, they were there to help.
"Davis Hooper showed up with 25 people from Coweeta and they got more work done in one day than we could have done in a week on our own," Lamb said.
The relationship formed between Coweeta and LifeSpring is one that has continued to grow. The two congregations have held joint worship services together, and Lamb and Hooper have invited each other to participate in ordination services at their respective churches.
"Coweeta has been wonderful for our church family," Lamb said. "They are a much older congregation than we are, and their commitment to us has really taught our younger people how important it is to be committed to your church family."
Hooper's congregation has also benefited from the partnership. "Our partnership with LifeSpring has taught us that you don't have to be traditional to reach people for Christ," he said.
LifeSpring held its first service December 12, 2010, with 20 people in attendance. Although not quite the beginning they expected, Lamb and his team did not give up. One year later, LifeSpring is averaging 50 to 75 people during Sunday morning worship.
It's the life change, not the numbers, which excites Lamb. "I have seen people who were never churched become on fire for God during the past year," he said. Lamb believes a threefold emphasis of boldly preaching God's Word, intentional discipleship, and a contemporary worship style is making a positive impact.
"It has changed the way people view church," Lamb said. "I had a young man ask to be baptized recently and he told me he did not know church could be this fun."
Part of the fun for Lamb is not being tied to a traditional set of rules. For example, the Sunday before Memorial Day, "we decided to go camping," Lamb said. "We put a sign on the door telling people to meet us at the local campground and to bring their flip flops and chairs."
With LifeSpring growing numerically, and its members maturing in the Lord, Lamb and his team are preparing to plant more churches. "We want to start churches out of our church," he said. "We just want people to be reached for Christ."
Planting new churches might seem impossible to others, but Lamb knows all things are possible with God.
"Church planting was a whole new animal," he said. "I never thought it would happen."
This article originally appeared in the Biblical Recorder, newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
Louisiana Baptists going forward
in Haiti with new strategy
By Karen L. Willoughby
CANAAN, Haiti (Baptist Message)--Even as Southern Baptist disaster relief efforts wind down in Haiti, ravaged Jan. 12, 2010, by a 7.0 earthquake, the Louisiana Baptist Convention focuses its ongoing impact on the million-and-a-half people now living in what two years ago was a green field.
Initial plans include partnering with a church-multiplier national pastor, constructing a church and a medical clinic, and starting an orphanage, all in a part of the Haiti countryside that the people there named Canaan.
"We are intentionally making sure is not a diversion from what we've done in the past with our facilitation of networks," said Wayne Sheppard, LBC's partnerships coordinator and executive assistant to the executive director. "But because of what the Florida Baptist Convention has already been doing in Haiti - since 1995 - we're making sure our strategy works along with theirs.
"It's still going to be our vision for Louisiana that we facilitate churches to do their own missions, but this is a little bit different direction in the sense that we are loosely partnering with Florida and as such have been assigned this part of Haiti," Sheppard said.
"We're moving into the long-term ministry phase of our work in Haiti," said Jay Johnston, associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Covington, La., and coordinator of the Louisiana/Haiti Partnership. "I think we're going to have the opportunity to really see the Kingdom of God expand in Haiti through this work."
Conversations with Sheppard, Johnston and Perry Hancock, president and executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Children's Home and Family Ministries, attest to the movement of God in the development of the strategy for Louisiana's efforts going forward in Haiti. "Coincidences" and "chance meetings" plus the input from Louisiana Southern Baptists, have propelled the planning into what in man's timing might have taken much longer.
When First Lafayette sent a medical team in within two months of the earthquake, they met Jean Odvald Louis - he prefers to be called Pastor Ovald - who is planting Croix-des-Bouquets Church in Canaan. During one of his frequent trips to Haiti, Johnston met Pastor Ovald.
"The pastor is very much of a self-starter and motivator," Johnston said. "He's well-respected among the Haitians and Haitian pastors.
"From midnight Tuesday through midnight Wednesday they have a 24-hour prayer meeting," Johnston continued. "They pray the people in Haiti will come to Christ, that their church will be an instrument of seeing the Kingdom expand on Haiti and beyond, that that this would be a place to disciple people and in turn God would send more people" through the disciples' evangelistic efforts.
"The pastor has started building a building on faith, and is making an inroad in the community," said the Louisiana-based coordinator for Louisiana missions and ministry in Haiti. "He feels like they could plant eight to ten churches out of his church …. He's been working with the training school there to have pastors for these other churches."
A couple of para-church groups have a presence in Canaan, but Croix-des-Bouquets is the only church of any kind to be building a permanent structure among that mass of 1.5 million people, Johnston said.
Numerous medical teams followed that first medical mission trip by members of First Lafayette, and over time, "with the strong convictions of many people among Louisiana Baptists who've been doing medical missions it became clear that we need to become established in a community," Johnston said.
"These medical professionals see the need is to have a permanent place and train nursing students in Haiti to provide ongoing medical care, and then send in teams from Louisiana," Johnston continued. "In this way, medical care would continue; it wouldn't be hit and miss" from the sporadic presence throughout Haiti of medical care that is the current strategy.
Many Louisiana Baptists expressed to him their interest in working with orphaned children in Haiti, Johnston said. He talked with Perry Hancock about the Louisiana Baptist Children's Home and Family Ministries providing expertise for the development of an orphanage that also would be connected with the church Ovald pastors.
"I had just had this chance meeting in Florida," Hancock said. He learned about a construction ministry specializing in building medical clinics that is equipped to handle the project management of building a wall around the church property in Haiti, and inside that wall, building adjacent to the church a medical clinic and an orphanage.
"The orphanage would be founded but not owned by Louisiana Baptists," Johnston said. "The actual ownership would be the foundation that's part of the Haiti Baptist Convention."
With the three legs of a church that establishes other churches, a medical clinic that also is a training facility for Haitian nurses, and an orphanage, there is much that Louisiana Baptists can do on countless mission trips, Johnston said.
He suggested mission team members could do backyard Bible clubs, day camps and other ways of reaching out to children and their families.
Physicians, nurses, dentists and others could provide medical care and train Haitian medical staff.
At the orphanage, teams could go in a relieve workers - including the cooks, who also would return the favor by teaching the helpers from Louisiana some Haitian recipes, and give attention to children who have lost their parents and grandparents.
"This is becoming clearer every day," Johnston said. "I think we're going to have the opportunity to see the Kingdom of God expand in Haiti through this work."
This article originally appeared in the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Karen Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Message.
Block parties possible
across New Mexico
By John Loudat
Baptist congregations in each of the state's 13 associations now have access to a block-party trailer, thanks to the generosity of New Mexico Baptists through their annual state mission offering.
Last month the Baptist Convention of New Mexico's executive director, Joseph Bunce, presented keys to the eighth trailer, which the BCNM has been able to purchase and equip, to Steve Griffith, network coordinator for Southwestern Baptist Association. It will be used by churches in Southwestern and Rio Grande Baptist associations.
Griffith told the Baptist New Mexican that churches in the association have already been doing block parties—five in 2011 alone—but with much less equipment than their new block-party trailer contains.
"This is unbelievable," the very grateful associational leader said when Bunce presented him the keys.
Each of the trailers contains a cotton candy, a snow cone and a popcorn machine, and a bounce house, a commercial barbecue grill, a generator and a sound system.
The associations have determined for themselves whether to have graphics printed on the side of the plain white trailer, and they have been responsible for securing other accessories, such as propane tanks for the grill, boxes for the concession equipment and cabinets to hold cleaning supplies and tools.
The convention purchased the first trailer in 2007 and gave it to Central Baptist Association. Since then trailers have been presented for use by Pecos Valley, Tucumcari and Eastern, Western and Mountain, Rio Grande and Mountain, San Juan, and Northeastern and Santa Fe Baptist associations.
The goal of the gifts, the convention says, has been "to provide an opportunity for local churches and associations to be able to intentionally impact their communities with the gospel of Christ through a relationship-building strategy."
Carl Russell, who is now a ministry and evangelism consultant based in Albuquerque, was contracted by the state convention to equip all of the trailers, each of which came with a plain wood floor, to which Russell applied "Rhino Lining."
The convention also has a sports outreach trailer, which is called an "Ultimate Athlete Challenge." It received the trailer from the North American Mission Board and the Timothy Institute for Evangelism in 2009.
The sports trailer contains much of the same equipment as the block-party trailers plus sports balls, soccer and basketball goals and an inflatable obstacle course.
The sports trailer may be checked out by contacting the BCNM's evangelism/discipleship team, firstname.lastname@example.org, 924-2314 (Albuquerque), or 1-800-898-8544 ext. 314.
Russell is available upon request to provide training on the use of the block-party trailers and their equipment, and on how to conduct an evangelistic block party. He may be contacted at (505) 238-5003 or email@example.com.
This article originally appeared in the Baptist New Mexican, newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. John Loudat is the editor of the Baptist New Mexican.
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