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Posted on November 28, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
In Fahrenheit 451, author Ray Bradbury depicted book-burning as a way to control the masses. The government in that dystopian future wanted to stamp out dissenting voices. In their place, people were given access to “parlor walls,” which were giant flatscreen televisions airing sappy entertainment and sports. Even Bibles were discarded in the trash or burned. The story’s hero eventually discovered a country hideaway where individuals had memorized entire books. Because a war broke out without them knowing it due to government censorship, everyone was amazed when their city was bombed out of existence. Only those who had memorized the books lived to start over.

America is a free and open society. We experience the opposite of Bradbury’s high-control world no matter how many try to control the messaging spewing from our media. As followers of Jesus, we are exposed to many things that are intended to be attractive and compelling. Yet, those who generate the messages can often out-communicate those of us who lack the resources and channels.

So, is it possible to bring godly change to a society that increasingly touts, “anything goes”? What does it take to influence a nation walking away from biblical truth? As Avery Willis and I proposed in Truth That Sticks, “what does it take to make biblical truth stick like Velcro in a Teflon world?”

A couple of years ago, I traveled to Rome, Italy, and walked where early believers in Jesus had died for their faith. Ornate Catholic churches and enormous basilicas seemed to be on every corner. St. Peter’s Square was built on the place Constantine believed Peter had been crucified upside down. He had a church built there in the fourth century. The current structure was completed in the 1600s. At one time, the papal authority controlled what used to be the Roman Empire. Temples were converted into churches. Christians, especially Peter, were given high credibility in Rome for bringing change to a world that worshipped the Caesars and a host of mythological gods.

Some attention in Rome was given to the martyrdom required to bring Christianity to Rome. Nero crucified hundreds of believers along the Appian Way. Visitors can tour catacombs with burial places decorated with frescoes of lions attacking the faithful. And a cross was erected in the Coliseum to honor those who were killed for their faith. Yet, no power on Earth was able to stamp out the Church. Southern Baptists may have come along later, but we owe a debt of gratitude to our brave spiritual forefathers who died rather than give up their faith.

Some leaders today see a certain "crystallization" underway. Those who carry an unwavering faith in Christ are lining up on one side. Others who choose the way of the world in the name of tolerance are becoming less so. Believers will need to choose who they will serve – and be willing to die for that faith.
 
Paul David Tripp captured some of this us versus them attitude in Dangerous Calling. Don't miss the opportunity to experience the seminar on Thursday, December 6. Click HERE for details and a place to register for this free event.

The church has always grown on the blood of its martyrs. And look no further back in time than happened in mid-November this year with the martyrdom of missionary John Allen Chau. For more, Click HERE. Martyrdom isn't new. Back in 197 AD, an early church leader named Tertullian wrote a letter to the Roman governor in charge of his province. “The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.”

The voice of believers must not become muted in this generation. Some think it is too late. It is not. We must take encouragement from the Apostle Paul who told the believers suffering in Rome, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35).

The equivalent of “parlor walls” in the form of flatscreen TVs are going up in many homes. Biblical illiteracy has created a vacuum in the younger generations. Yet, men and women who are willing to stay informed, keep their faith strong, and line up with other believers can provide the Gospel seed for our generation, even if is done so in blood.
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership, Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. His Twitter handle is @wmarksnowden
Posted on November 15, 2018 10:15 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
Churches with an evangelism strategy have many more baptisms, some 60% more. The key is to be intentional and specific seeking the Lord’s leading in planning. Each CABA church is urged to have a Missions Committee focused on lostness. Here are five steps that pastors should share with a Missions Committee leader.

Step One: Research lostness

Internal assessment: I recommend the “Fruit Inspection” guide available free on our website, www.CincinnatiBaptist.com in the “Leadership” section.  Use it to look for strengths, weaknesses, and even gaps in equipping/discipling among segments of members – missiology, doctrine, depth, lifestyle issues, witnessing experience, etc.

External assessment: Boots on the ground knocking on doors is vital. Over the past three years, teams of volunteers have mapped the most ethnically-diverse areas of Cincinnati. The same principles apply in canvassing the community where you serve. Then compile the resources into a prayer guide – “the” place to start for mobilizing workers among the lost. CABA’s prayer guide for the “Nations” is on Cincinnati.com, too. Look for it in the “Missions” section.

Evaluate resources available: Be realistic about people, time, and budget.

Step Two: Pray intentionally

Teach your people to pray. The book, One Cry, is a “win” to draw believers into a closer relationship with the Lord (www.onecry.com) It is encapsulated in a six-week program, but can initiate a movement. Sunday School classes need to know how to pray and what to pray for. Getting segments within the church engaged in specific ways is important.

Contact Ken Slaughter, CABA’s prayer encourager to begin praying for the lost across Cincinnati. Contact Ken at emailpastorken@gmail.com. Ask him to add you to our early-morning prayer times.  

Step Three: Equip for disciple-making

Role models: Pastors and church leaders must set the example for their members.

Personal evangelism: No Place Left uses the Three Circles method of evangelism. It is highly conversational and doesn’t assume prior biblical knowledge. It also has a clear path to becoming disciples that can immediately share their faith with the lost.

Teamwork: Sending out teams two by two requires intentionality and training. We’re using No Place Left training, which is an international phenomenon. The next (free) training is February 22-23 at Clough Pike. Registration is on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/no-place-left-cincinnati-tickets-53059832387?aff=ebdssbdestsearch
 
Decision Counselors should help new believers after their decision to follow Christ and make it public. New believers need to know how to lead someone to Christ. Follow-up must be required to help new believers become active witnesses and disciple-makers.
 
Step Four: Sow down the Gospel
 
Widespread evangelization: Initiate a blitz during an evangelistic “season” that may last for one month at a strategic time. The ideal time are the weeks prior to Easter.
Internet: Recording and uploading member testimonies of believers in your church can be promoted using business cards. You may use an existing service such as www.mostimportantthing.org, www.whativaluemost.com, or perhaps your church’s website can host it.
 
Commit to making disciples. That should be every CABA church’s number one biblical priority. Make sure everything done is reproducible and holds people accountable for spiritual development. I believe Bible Storying holds relational and supportive keys to reproducibility. I can provide a catalog of resources to those who write snowdenministries@gmail.com. You can order online the book that Avery Willis and I wrote titled Truth That Sticks that really gets after disciple-making.
 
Step Five: Celebrate with a purpose
 
Baptisms should become more inclusive and celebratory. New believers should invite family members. The focus of the service should be on the need for salvation and baptism. This helps the new believer be a bolder witness for Jesus.
 
As the campaign continues throughout the year, testimonials and experiences should be showcased in every communication vehicle of the church including the pulpit as a prioritized act of worship. Remember, you’re not bragging on what you, a committee, the strategy, or the church did, but giving glory to what God did through your church through the activity of the Holy Spirit. This is an Acts 14:27 event as the church gets together and learns how God “opened a door of faith.”
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. Follow him on Twitter at @wmarksnowden.
Posted on November 1, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
David Evans sat across from several Southern Baptist leaders. He pastored for several years and has had success reaching into the next generation age groupings. He is now the evangelism leader for Tennessee Baptists. 
 
Are young adults on your heart? Consider:
 
:: According to the U.S. Census, the 2013 population estimates of our nine counties were comprised of 322,000 people ages 20 to 34; primarily Millennials. This is 16.9% of our 1.78 million population.
 
:: In the book, The Great Evangelical Recession, John Dickerson noted that 3.7 million evangelicals are 18-29 years old. In that age group, 260,000 leave their churches – and their faith – every year; 712 per day.
 
:: LifeWay research has learned that 35% of 18-29 yea rold “prodigals” do return, but some 65% never do.  
 
Evans’s church asked, “Is the church really relevant in my life?” That question inspired the church to look at three important practices that would get after lostness in his community, and particularly Millennials.
 
1. Assimilation process. Their church voted that church leaders could include 13 year-olds. Evans pointed out that by the age 18, most students have left their  churches.
 
2. Causes. Next generation young adults want to be part of something bigger than their life. They want to be personally involved and support projects that help meet need and also bring the gospel into the conversation. Keep casting vision.
 
3. Memories. Young adults with children have one     
window of time each week. The best time to help families make memories might be Saturday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., right after nap time.  Evans added, “Kids aren’t sharing the Gospel because their parents didn’t.”
 
Being a role model is the key.
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on November 1, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
Running backs in football have an amazing knack for finding a hole in the line just wide enough to sprint through. And once they pop through, they begin  running for daylight. CABA has an amazing team and many pastors have begun running for daylight. Over the past year, our association has been led of the Lord to address lostness by making strategic shifts in budget, leadership, and equipping for our pastors.
 
:: Networking is underway in five of our regional zones. Pastors are gathering for fellowship and also topical discussions that shape their ministries.
:: Coaching is underway for more than 20 CABA churches. Some are working on bringing deep change. Others are hosting Mystery Guests or doing Facility Assessments. Scheduling for 2019 is underway.
:: Disaster Relief callouts have done evangelistic mudouts in the Carolinas and Florida.
:: In the first nine months, we set a record for Block Party Trailer reservations with 107 events that were used to initiate 500 Gospel conversations. ? Church planting has 24 CABA pastors supporting 28 church plants across the association.
:: We’ve trained at least 80 church members to initiate Gospel conversations and start new small groups that
could become churches. No Place Left has its fourth training scheduled Nov. 2-3 and three more in the works for 2019. :: Partnership mission Vision Trips to Boston’s church planters have resulted in at least  five partnerships.
 
Praise God that CABA pastors are running for daylight to the glory of God!
 
Mark Snowden is the Director for Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on November 1, 2018 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
Recently we introduced a new mentoring/discipleship plan we developed for our church. This plan uses materials developed by my wife Terri and me over three decades of ministry together. The material is designed as a “launching pad” for mentoring/discipleship relationships.
 
The mentors will have six meetings with a mentee, using the material to guide a discipling relationship that can be adapted to the needs of the participants. I want our Association to be aware of the materials, in case a pastor or church leader would like to begin their own mentoring relationship with a friend, associate or family member or use it in their local church.
 
The plan follows these five basic guidelines:
 
FIVE Inductive Bible studies are used each week that the mentee can do in about 20 minutes as part of his daily Quiet Time with God—these are reviewed in the weekly meeting with the mentor FOUR Basic objectives are involved—to grow closer to God, grow closer to others, be used of God to build and strengthen His kingdom, and help mentees become discipleship-makers 
 
THREE Principles to keep in mind—this is about a process. It involves a transparent mentor/mentee relationship and it requires a flexible, open-ended approach, resulting in mutual growth.
 
TWO Bible verses are committed to memory each week ONE weekly meeting with your discipleship mentee covering the assigned material.
 
If anyone has interest in this, I would like to offer the materials free of charge in a Word document, with the    understanding that it will never be sold.  Email me at pastor@gotofbc.com if you are interested.  If you would like me and a couple of our men to provide a three-hour introduction to this discipling/mentoring plan in your church, please call me at 513-315-7575 and we will work something out.
 
David Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Ministry Catalyst and he pastors First Baptist, South Lebanon.
Posted on November 1, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
     In the third grade, my buddy Jimmy let me borrow his new glasses. I shouted, “Hey Mom, when you wear these glasses you can see every leaf and every blade of grass!”
     Mom said, “And you can’t?”
     Let’s just say that I had my first pair of glasses within a couple of weeks! We sometimes need to borrow others’ glasses to help us focus.
     In IMB missionary Nik Ripken’s book, The Insanity of Obedience, there were a few pages that addressed the focus of mission work. He drew three triangles that represented priorities. He described the consequences of each from a missionary perspective. If the focus was on Triangle 1: Sending Agency and Triangle 2: Missionaries, then work among Triangle 3: the Lost was hampered and created entitlement in some cases.
     In Luke’s account of the growing church, three phases emerged. In general, these characterizations matched up with Ripken’s three triangles.
     Jerusalem Church had an organizational structure. Persecution scattered it. Its leaders had authority over members. There was an inward focus. They settled doctrinal disputes. They investigated Antioch. It was traditional enough for Jewish converts.
     Antioch Church was where believers were called “little Christs.” They prayed and fasted before making decisions. Doors were open to all. They supported their members on mission. They broke traditions observed in Jerusalem, but they sent out very few into God’s harvest fields.
     Harvest provided resources for mission teams, relief gifts for Jerusalem church, and churches started churches with no expectations of support. Harvest reaction brought persecution, the need for discipleship, and counsel from godly leaders.
     It got me thinking about evangelizing among the lost. How much of a priority are they really? And then I thought about discipling efforts in our Baptist churches. What if Sunday School teachers and small group leaders focused primarily upon the needs of their participants or the church to which they belonged? Or what if the Lost were seen merely as not-yet members of our existing churches? Would they be expected to assimilate to the dominant church culture?
     Is it possible for churches to really prioritize the lost in God’s Harvest fields? How would that change things? Would baptisms increase? Would believers awaken to the power of God’s Word active and alive in their lives despite the cost of discipleship?
     Top Priority 1. Harvest: Rather than just looking at lost people and new believers to be convinced to come to our existing churches, why not think about unsaved or newly-saved as truly part of God’s Harvest fields? (Luke 10:2) What if the resources in the Harvest launched new small groups that formed new churches rather than return to solely bless the sending church? The church in Jerusalem scattered only after Stephen’s martyrdom. But later, the church in Antioch rejoiced that God was opening new doors of faith among all peoples (Acts 4:27).
     Lesser Priority 2: Church members: When focused on the lost in the Harvest, it is likely that your church members will suffer. Think of Paul being stoned, imprisoned, etc. Antioch’s “sent ones” sacrificed their time, money, and resources. They endured peer pressure and persecution. If your church members suffer serving God’s purposes, will you celebrate instead of clamping down? Disciple-making is geared to multiplication and sending into the Harvest. Members know success is not measured by attendance.
     Lesser Priority 3: Church/denomination – Focusing on the Harvest sends a clear message to church members that biblical disciple-making is costly. They don’t just send out a few, but continually send as many as possible. Making disciple-makers becomes the norm as priorities shift. It sets a clear example for new believers in the Harvest to follow when persecution kicks in. Meanwhile resources and services may need to be limited.
     Thanks for letting me try on your glasses, Nik. It helped me re-focus. What does God bring into focus for you?
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association

 

Posted on October 25, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
My mother’s favorite story is about a little girl who needed new shoes, but foolishly spent her money on a beautiful purple jar. One day she opened the jar and dropped it on the floor. All the purple water spilled out. She was left not only with a useless jar, but shoes that hurt her feet. 
 
Recognize this as a parable for evangelizing opportunities. Millions are distracted by dressed-up philosophies while they hobble along, having settled for what they wanted and not what they needed.
 
In the Cincinnati Area, believers do not witness for Jesus in a vacuum. There are churches in many places as well as on television. Thousands of messages bombard non-Christians shaping their theology, doctrinal premises, and understanding of Christianity prior to salvation.  Countering with Truth is as simple as speaking to your neighbor. A testimony from a friend or coworker can shine light on Satan’s ploys. The Holy Spirit is at work!
 
This past summer, I joined Sajjan Betham, a member of Newtown First, to evangelize in his neighborhood. In only one hour, two families committed to being in a Bible study at Sajjan’s home.  While I was waiting for an hour at the Health
Dept., the security guard and I discussed salvation. He said that he had heard the Gospel already because he used to work at Kroger with Jerome Byrd, who now pastors Good News Baptist. 
 
In Luke 10, Jesus sent out His disciples with a purpose to intentionally prepare people in towns to receive Jesus and His kingdom message.  Trained as disciple-makers, believers in your church can join with other believers in God’s harvest. Acts 1:8 carries a promise to witnesses that they will receive power.
 
The important thing is to obey Jesus and prayerfully “look to the harvest fields” (John 4:35).  Worldly ideas are like purple jars that fill our neighborhoods, but they fall short of God’s saving design. Engage in intentional evangelism that proclaims Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), then make disciple-makers.
 
--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on October 16, 2018 10:00 AM by Josh Carter
Categories: Evangelism
Here are six tips to be more evangelistic this next month:
 
1) Pick a Tool. I like to use “The 3 Circles.” You may not love evangelism tools or you may like another evangelism tool and that is fine. I just know when I go to share Christ, it is always better to go prepared than unprepared. 
 
2) Pick a Time. As a pastor or church leader, a thousand different things can come up during your week. You must, and I stress that, carve out time to be evangelistic. If you do not, you will not. 
 
3) Pick a Place. Determine where you will go in your community to share the gospel. You will rarely share the Gospel in your office, so pick a place where the community gathers and then go to them.
 
4) Bring Someone Along. I am always more evangelistic when I know someone is with me than when I’m by myself. Maybe it’s just the pastor in me, but I intentionally bring someone to show how it’s done. I tend to do a little better, too.
 
5) Share with Your Church. If you want to build evangelistic zeal in your church, start giving personal accounts of how you have been evangelizing. You will probably find the fresh new accounts to be more relatable and encouraging to the church than the story of how you led someone to Christ 20 years ago.
 
6) Consider Some Help. If you would like some help on growing in evangelistic zeal personally or as a church, reach out to me because CABA has some great pastors and resources that you can pull from to help you and your church impact the lostness around you. In fact, it’s the reason CABA exists! Contact me at JCarter@CloughPike.com
 
Josh Carter serves as CABA's Evangelism Catalyst and pastors Clough Pike Baptist in Cincinnati.
Posted on October 15, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Disciple-making
     How people learn is important. How they progress toward belief and action is more important. 

     A white-haired man was introduced to me after preaching. He was starting a church in the next town over, but his comment startled me. “Mark, I appreciated what you said about new believers knowing more lost people. In all my years of ministry, I never thought about training up a new believer to share their faith. And I wanted you to know I’ll be going out with them to share Jesus with their family and friends. I’m headed out right now to start that in my ministry.” You could see the determination in his eyes. It wasn’t too late for him to learn and act.

     There’s a social phenomenon that God instilled in each of us. We respond to innovations that bring change at different rates. When I was studying marketing, I was fascinated by the work of Everett M. Rogers, an Iowa farmer’s kid-turned-scholar. His father was reluctant to use a hybrid corn until a drought proved its worth.

     Rogers identified segments of society that would adopt new ideas and tools. Innovators (2.5%), Early Adopters (13.5%), Early Majority (34%), Late Majority (34%), and Laggards (16%). If you plot this on a graph, it makes a nice bell curve. Those in authority tend to be Laggards while those with the most education and income tend to be Innovators. But Innovators can be fickle although they’ll try practically anything new.

     James F. Engel picked up on this and while teaching at Wheaton College and proposed a numerical scale from -8 (lost) to 0 (conversion) to +3 (discipleship). The Engel Scale provides a way of tracking evangelism-discipleship spiritual progress.

    Jesus was way ahead of Rogers and Engel when He taught in the parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-20) that people are like different soils. Each of us interacts with the seeds of the gospel in different ways. The same is true with evangelistic disciple-making. In that parable, Jesus stressed the importance of being like the good soil, receiving the Word, and bearing fruit for the kingdom.

     Southwestern Ohio is saturated in a sensual world that is 3D. It moves and engages them. It provides community experiences, even if it’s avatars interacting online. Most churches in CABA provide evangelism and discipleship that relies totally on “sit and get” methodology. Come to the class. Come hear the preacher. Watch this performance. Are we relegating believers to be spectators? Kyle Idleman was spot-on with his book, Not a Fan. The book is a call to get out of the stands and onto the playing field.

     Different people take more or less time to believe in Christ and eventually act to make a decision. When we share Christ and our faith with those who are lost, they may be closer to a decision than we may expect. Bill Fey who developed Share Jesus Without Fear likes to say that it takes about seven exposures to the gospel message before a person will surrender their heart to Jesus.

     And the same goes for us who are believers. Are we growing in our faith? Are we willing to make significant changes to the glory of God? It’s easy to say, “I’m sticking with what got me here. If I change it’ll destroy my credibility. Those in my church will think I was wrong all this time and I’ll lose my job.”

     Living out the faith is important for others who are watching our lives and how it benefits them. It can’t be done inside church walls and cocooning in our homes. Bringing the lost into our lives requires lifelong learning leading to a verbalization of our faith. As we interact, we watch them grow in their faith until Jesus is Lord. And then seamlessly, we walk with them into newness of life, encouraging them to bear spiritual fruit to the glory of God.

     One of the key aspects of the No Place Left training is smoothly moving from evangelism to studying the Bible. I'd love to see you Nov. 2-3 at the NPL event at New Hope, Loveland, Ohio. It's free for everyone in your church. Here's more details and info on how to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/no-place-left-cincinnati-touch-3-tickets-49916692170

--Mark Snowden is CABA's director of missional leadership.

Posted on October 2, 2018 10:00 AM by Ken Slaughter
Categories: Prayer
   When crisis strikes, think twice before reacting. It may be a blessing seen only through Spirit-aided sight.  For reasons obvious to all, fear is the natural reaction to crisis. But for reasons unseen by most, faith is the reaction of the redeemed. And faith is first voiced in prayer.
   Prayer makes sense when we realize the best possible outcomes are supernatural ones. But Americans don’t naturally think this way. So, we rarely pray with urgency and passion.
   Jesus said people are most blessed when they least look like it. In times of grief, suffering, injustice, and slander… we are blessed. Natural eyes overlook spiritual realities. Jesus draws our attention to invisible blessings seen by spiritual eyes.  Americans are a pragmatic people. We value the aid of human agencies. That’s why we pay taxes and invest in warranties and insurance policies. If we valued supernatural aid, we would invest in prayer and the Word.
  We prepare for material threats because we see them. But what about unseen threats? What good is it if we gain the whole world and lose our souls? What of the inner life? Thoughts and desires? Character? Our spiritual condition? Relationships?
  The human heart is an unseen battleground. For the lost, it is territory occupied by invisible enemy forces. The only hope for the natural (lost) person is the gospel. But if we believers are occupied with physical things, we are blind to the spiritual desperation of others. Seeing no need, we share no gospel, and pray no prayers. We fail not only the lost, but Christ also. The Church in America is a sleeping  giant.
   O God, wake us up to supernatural truth! You have called us to invisible Gospel work. Bend our lives around that mission!
   Supernatural work will not be accomplished through natural human ability. Drive us to prayer and fasting, that we may come to our senses!  Open our eyes to invisible realities. We are born again as Your children. You have washed us with Your Son’s blood. Speak to us through Your Word. Sanctify and empower us by Your Spirit…that we may see the          invisible, touch the intangible, and accomplish the impossible for Your glory and for the salvation of many people.  
 
-- Ken Slaughter serves as CABA's Prayer Encourager and pastors Mt. Repose Baptist in Milford, Oh.
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