Today's From the States features items from:
The Christian Index (Georgia)
The Pathway (Missouri)
Kentucky Baptist Convention
Igniting a passion for
missions in Dodge County
By Frank A. Nuckolls
EASTMAN, Ga. (The Christian Index) -- "Ignite Passion!" These two words are the theme for the 2012 Associational Missions Emphasis Week in the Georgia and Southern Baptist conventions. This theme emphasizes the need for a renewed and intensified passion in associations for guiding churches to address lostness in Georgia and throughout the world.
Georgia Baptist associations must have a passion for helping churches become spiritually renewed, revitalized, engaged in church planting, authentic in evangelism, and generous kingdom stewards.
Dodge County Baptist Association and associational missionary Mike Grenade characterize the theme for this year's Associational Missions Emphasis Week. Grenade served faithfully as a bivocational pastor and volunteer mission pastor prior to accepting the call to serve as the associational missionary for Dodge County Baptist Association.
God ignited a passion in Grenade's life to lead the churches in this association to cooperate in mission and ministry. Because of this passion, the churches of Dodge County Baptist Association are not only impacting lives for Christ locally but throughout the world.
Because of the passion for missions and ministry God ignited in Grenade's life, he has led Dodge County Baptists to become more involved in local ministry through the association's Christian Life Center. Through this ministry, volunteers are mobilized to assist individuals and families who have spiritual and physical needs.
Churches work together to provide food, clothing, household items, and spiritual counseling through the Christian Life Center. "Dodge County Baptists are reaching out to the world for Christ through the Christian Life Center by feeding and clothing people in Dodge County, Appalachia, South America, and the Philippines," Grenade states.
Some of the items gathered through the Christian Life Center are used through the associational mission trips in various areas of Acts 1:8. Many people have come to know Christ as Savior and Lord through this aspect of the association's ministry.
Dodge County Baptist Association has a strong desire to be on mission for Christ locally. The churches in this association have worked together to develop a "Backyard Bible Club" trailer. This trailer is a great resource for churches that want to go into their "mission field" and reach out to children and families through Bible study.
Another way in which the churches work together is through "Children's Ministry Day" -- sponsored by the Associational Woman's Missionary Union - where hygiene packs were given to children. Cooperation is at the heart of the local mission emphasis. Through this cooperation, lives were touched for Christ at Christmas through the association's "A Gift for Christmas" ministry. Through this ministry, toys were given to parents and volunteers shared the true meaning of Christmas with those who attended.
Grenade stated recently during an On Mission Celebration, "The Cooperative Program is a means to help Dodge County Baptists reach out to the world. It will take all of Georgia and Southern Baptists praying together, working together, and giving sacrificially through the Cooperative Program for missionaries to be sent throughout the world for the purpose of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Recently my wife, Joy, and I had the privilege of speaking to churches in the Dodge County Association during an On Mission Celebration. Mike Grenade's passion for the Cooperative Program was evident as both pastors and laity gave testimony to his influence and faithful support of the Cooperative Program.
Dodge County Baptist Association has been guided to work together in reaching a diverse population. Grenade guided churches within the association to partner in planting an African-American church and Hispanic church.
Faith in Action Church, planted to reach the African-American community in Eastman, met for awhile in the association's Christian Life Center but now has its own location. Dodge County Association is partnering with neighboring Telfair Baptist Association and its missionary, Alvin Lewis, to share a Hispanic church planter. Through this partnership, these associations are seeking to reach the Hispanic population in these two counties for Christ.
This association is not only involved in local missions but has mission partnerships through Appalachian Regional Ministries of the North American Missions Board. These partnerships have led volunteers from this association to do construction and lead revivals in Powell River Baptist Association in Jonesville, VA. This summer, a team will go to Fleming-Neon, KY to meet the needs in this coal-mining town. Volunteers from this association, under the leadership and passion of Grenade, are involved in missions in South America, Kenya, and the Philippines.
God ignited a passion in the life of Mike Grenade and Dodge County Baptists that resulted in mission ministries where people have been influenced for the sake of Jesus Christ. Georgia Baptists, will you pray for God to ignite a passion for the lost in your lives? Will you go and engage the lost population of Georgia for the cause of Jesus Christ?
Frank A. Nuckolls is a Georgia Baptist Convention state missionary for the associational missions ministries. This article first appeared in The Christian Index (www.christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Missouri Baptists weigh
Chicago's vast need for churches
By Kayla Rinker
CHICAGO (The Pathway) -- Chicago needs 20,000 strong churches in its metro area to have the same ratio of people to churches as Missouri.
That means, according to Keith Draper, director of missions for the Chicago Metro Baptist Association (CMBA), the Windy City needs approximately 15,000 more churches than it has now.
It would be an incredible feat, but it is also one that Draper said the CMBA is working toward. And the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) continues to be an active partner in that process.
"By 2020 we would like to see our churches multiply their ministries ten-fold in the city and suburbs to reach over 2,000 new neighborhoods and communities," said Draper, who has also served through the North American Mission Board (NAMB) as a missionary in the Chicago metropolitan area for the last 25 years. "To see that kind of rapid growth we know we need to focus on three areas: growing leaders, growing churches and growing God's Kingdom."
They are off to a good start. Last year the CMBA saw a record 18 new churches planted. They are currently working on 91 projects throughout the city, most of them without a partnering church.
"We are growing God's Kingdom primarily through church planting," Draper said. "We need established churches to partner with our church starts and projects, either alone or several churches together. For example, we so appreciate the work that Missouri Baptist Convention President John Marshall and Second Baptist Church, Springfield, have done in helping several church starts across the city over the past years."
He said whether a potential partner chooses to connect with a church that's similar to their own or if they want to partner cross-culturally, the CMBA needs churches that are willing to help enter into a new neighborhood or reach out to a new people group.
"With 200 languages spoken in our association and over 2,000 people groups here, quite likely those whom God is giving Missouri Baptists a heart for, as far as the ends of the earth, are right here in Chicago," Draper said. "Why not start here? We encourage churches to explore what fulfilling the Great Commission could mean for their church in our context."
The CMBA has made a 7-day Chicagoland interactive prayer guide available on their website, www.chicagobaptist.com. Draper requested Missouri pastors and visionaries read the daily Scripture, watch the one or two video clips offered each day, and pray.
"At the end of the seven days tell us what the Lord has been telling your church using the mission trip form located at the bottom of our home page," Draper said. "We will then try to match your passions and skills with the many needs of our mission field. God is calling all of us to take the gospel to our cities. If God loves people ... and He does ... then God loves cities."
Kayla Rinker is a contributing writer for The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
become inspired planters
By Ken Walker
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (Kentucky Baptist Convention) -- During a 2008 interview with a representative from the North American Mission Board, pastor Tim Colovos said he felt very positive as he recounted the ministry of his Bowling Green-area church.
That is, until the man asked how many churches Oakland Baptist had planted.
"That question convicted me," Colovos said. "I had to say 'none'—and we were 100 years old. On the way back to church, God began to break my heart."
In response, Oakland Baptist held extensive discussions and formed a committee to investigate starting a new church. That led to last fall's launch of Community Church at Cedar Springs.
Community Church's pastor, Graham Lewis, was a member of the church-planting committee. Among other support, Oakland Baptist provided the new congregation with a building and assistance in renovating it.
The $60,000 for the purchase came from a $500,000 building fund dedicated to a new Christian life center at Oakland.
"God convicted our heart," Colovos said. "Since we gave that money, so far we've done $800,000 of construction and haven't had to draw one penny from the bank. What seemed to be a deduction has turned out to be an addition."
Such stirring stories show the value of church planting, said Larry Baker, leader of the Kentucky Baptist Convention Missions Growth Team.
However, he cautions that it requires planning and commitment.
"Church planting is messy," Baker said. "It's hard work."
But, Baker added, established churches that perhaps are not ready to plant a congregation can seek out new works in their community and assist those budding congregations in a variety of ways.
Spiritual and financial encouragement has been the key to a stellar church-planting record in Kentucky. In recent years, Kentucky Baptists have seen a 90 percent success rate with church plants, compared to a 68 percent ratio nationwide.
In 2009, Kentucky Baptists started 47 new churches. That number increased to 52 in 2010.
Baker said the 2011 total is 28, because of the ongoing sluggishness of the economy, and because Kentucky Baptists planted several Hispanic churches in a brief period of time.
The KBC does "a real good job vetting the church planters," Baker said. "In most cases where there is a church planter, the local association is involved. I don't know that every (state) has that kind of support."
Now averaging 65 to 70 on a Sunday, the boost that Community Church received from the KBC and Oakland Baptist has been invaluable, Lewis said.
"It has been a tremendous relief (for) us, that we didn't have to fight and struggle with finances," said Lewis, who baptized 16 converts the first year. "It's been a godsend to allow us to get on our own feet. In the next few months we expect to be a stand-alone church."
Church planter Sellers Johnson has enjoyed a similar experience in the south central Kentucky town of Glasgow after starting Community For Christ with help from Coral Hills Baptist and the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Formerly a pastor in Cleveland, Ohio, Johnson got to know Glasgow during a two-year ministry partnership that Victory Baptist Church of Cleveland had with Coral Hills.
First appointed as a church planter to Cleveland by the North American Mission Board, Johnson moved to Glasgow to help start a congregation for the African-American community.
After doing prayerwalking and survey work two years ago, Community For Christ began weekly Bible studies in a community center.
Now a multi-cultural church, it meets in an old storefront about a mile from downtown. In mid-October it moved its Tuesday youth Bible study to 11:30 a.m. on Sunday so young people can join adults at the 1 p.m. worship service.
Although averaging 20 to 30 for Sunday services, Johnson said 70 people accepted Christ as Savior last year because of the new church's outreach. He credits Coral Hills with making that possible.
"Without their help we probably wouldn't be in the building we're in and we probably wouldn't be as far along as we are," the pastor said. "It's truly important to the work being done."
This is the second plant for Coral Hills Baptist. About three years ago it formed an 18-month-long partnership with River Pointe in Munfordville, a KBC High Impact church that received financial assistance and other support from the convention.
Coral Hills' pastor, Ray Woodie, traces the congregation's participation in planting to a mission trip several years ago to North Carolina. As people returned from that and other trips, he said it stimulated additional interest in missions, with two families later becoming international missionaries.
"It helped us see that missions was more than a name in a prayer book," the pastor said. "Several people saw that they could go across the street or across the county. They realized that God had a greater purpose for them."
In addition, local church planting helped Coral Hills Baptist redefine success.
They realized that a church's purpose is not defined by how many people are coming to services, but how many are going out to serve, Woodie said.
"And if that's the measure of success, then any church can be successful," he added.
Colovos agrees that the benefits of church planting go far beyond the numbers.
Not only did helping start Community Church excite the members, Oakland Baptist is seeing doors open that could lead to planting a second church in another area of Edmonson County.
"It has awakened each of us," said Colovos, who recommends every KBC congregation consider sponsoring a church plant. "It couldn't be going any better."
For information about church planting, contact KBC by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (502) 489-3528 or (866) 489-3528 (toll-free in Kentucky).
The Kentucky Baptist Convention is a cooperative missions and ministry organization made up of nearly 2,400 autonomous Baptist churches in Kentucky. A variety of state and worldwide ministries are coordinated through its administrative offices in Louisville, including: missions work, ministry training and support, church development, evangelism and more.
For more information, visit the KBC website at www.kybaptist.org, find "Kentucky Baptist Convention" on Facebook or follow "kentuckybaptist" on Twitter.
Story by Ken Walker for Kentucky Baptist Convention Communications.
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net