Blog
Posted on July 3, 2020 7:00 AM by Kirk Kirkland
Categories: Leadership
   Three years ago I led our multi-ethnic, urban church plant to join the convention. At the time, it was one of the most difficult decisions I could make as a young pastor. I questioned the idea of being connected to a denomination that was formed over the issue of slavery. Of course all of that happened in the past but the connotation of the name “Southern” Baptist was very present.
 
   Though it was extremely uncomfortable, I decided the best option was to face the issue head-on. I called a town hall meeting and we laid it all out for everyone to know, criticize, and decide. When it came time to vote it was an unanimous one. So here we are!
 
I know how divisive and difficult talks about race & racism can be. My natural tendency as a non-confrontational person fights against it even now. But I am persuaded that there is a higher calling that compels me to push to the front and point the way to Biblical truth.
 
If we bury our heads in the sand of status quo or popular opinion the next generation of disciple makers may leave us there to die, wandering in that wilderness. Now is the time to take your stand so let’s stand together! Let’s face it head-on for the glory the God and for the love of neighbor!
 
-- Kirk Kirkland pastors Revive City, Cincinnati and is also NAMB's Send City Missionary for the Dayton, Oh., area.
Posted on July 1, 2020 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
   Followers of Jesus and their churches can take the initiative to change their relationships with those in the Cincinnati Area. To do so aligns with biblical principles. A culture of repentance, awareness, and generosity in our churches must be cultivated.
   I am convinced that CABA churches do want to invest in people and activities that are used of the Lord to bring spiritual transformation. Churches can aid those who have needs, especially in the African-American community. Here are some suggestions inspired by Jemar Tisby’s book The Color of Compromise (Zondervan 2019):
•    Underwrite the salary of a Black bi-vocational pastor so he can minister fulltime.
•    Fund church planting efforts in predominately Black neighborhoods so that disciple-making is local and not preached from infrequent outsiders.
•    Provide a scholarship for a Black youth to attend college so that educational attainment becomes a reality.
•    Learn from a pastor who is different from you who is leading a seminar so that the pastor is honored, shown respect, and relationships are built.
•    Attend community gatherings as a learner. Open council meetings and prayer events provide opportunities to understand and cry out to God for justice.  
•    Focus prayer, meet spiritual needs, and pay utility bills for a year of a struggling predominately Black evangelical church so that it becomes a vibrant witness.
•    Open your church or help a church in a needy area to sponsor after-school activities to develop leadership among Black teenagers, tomorrow’s leaders.
•    Teach biblical activism for church members so that reforms are Bible-based.
•    Ensure SBC seminaries include Black histories so that every student understands and appreciates contributions made to kingdom advance.
•    Use Black History Month to celebrate Black leaders who were followers of Jesus so that your church has positive role models to celebrate.
•    Remove flags, monuments, plaques, and other Confederate symbols from the Civil War that still exist on your church property to remove stumbling blocks to church health.
•    Invest in education by sponsoring predominately Black public schools needing books, technology, and teachers so that relationships can be formed and communities spiritually transformed through relationships with believers and churches.
•    Change the color of leadership in your church, especially when it’s in a community undergoing racial change in order to better relate and serve.
 
--Mark Snowden serves as Director of Missional Leadership, Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on June 10, 2020 8:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Leadership
In average towns along the eastern shoreline there once was a great fear of an unusual shark.  Somehow it had made its way across the ocean to terrorize people up and down the seacoast.  There was little doubt that people were being attacked and some were dying from the many sharks that had migrated west.  The evidence of the sharks’ attacks was clear for anyone to see.

Lifeguards in every town were put on high alert by various officials.  Most lifeguards decided it was best to keep people out of the water, safely on the beach.  A few thought that the likelihood of the sharks attacking on their little stretch of beach was so small, that there was no need to keep people out of the water.  The decision weighed heavy on the lifeguards.  They really weren’t prepared for such unusual circumstances.  The shark problem was unprecedented.  
 
Some of the beaches saw no attacks at all and declared that they were not afraid of a silly shark from overseas.  After all, there are always sharks lurking here and there and that didn’t stop them before, so why should it stop them now?  Many of these lifeguards had put up some specialized fencing that would likely protect people while they were swimming, but others just decided to take the risk since the odds were so low that their smaller beach would have an attack.  
 
In other places, however, there were shark attacks—most were minor scares with only a bump or bruise, but others were devastating bites—some attacks were deadly.  These lifeguards lived with great regret because of their decision to allow people into the water too soon.  The alarm had sounded in these places, but the concern was minimized by the officials and beachgoers alike.  The lifeguards felt certain they had nothing to fear, but the results were truly tragic.
 
The shark attacks began to lessen as the sharks began to move further offshore, deeper into the ocean in their seasonal patterns, but there was still an occasional attack in some places.  It caused many lifeguards to breathe a sigh of relief, however, when officials began to loosen restrictions and they began to carefully allow people into the ocean again.  Various safeguards were put in place to assure the public safety as the people returned to the water.  The lifeguards had to take the threat of attack seriously.  Conspiracy theories had floated freely in various places, yet it did not make sense to risk lives when danger was clearly present and perhaps even lurking nearby.  It seemed best to err on the side of caution in spite of the desire to see people enjoying the ocean.
 
As people began to return to the water, there was great joy.  Some even shouted and cried uncharacteristically, realizing they had taken their time at the beach for granted in the past.  Others still wanted to play it safe around the water, but no one blamed them for their lingering concerns.  They all eventually returned with a sincere desire to make the most of every moment they had with family and friends.  It was such a wonderful time of celebration and reunion.  
 
Some still say the Corona Shark is a myth.  Others know by experience that the sharks were real.  But one thing the people all agreed upon was that it was good to get back into normal flow of their lives.  There is nothing quite like enjoying a time of Sunday fellowship with people you know and love in those gracious, cleansing waves of love the ocean provides.  
 
The lifeguards are still keeping a close eye on the horizon, but they also have a heart of gratitude for the joyful faces they see smiling in the sun.  They also wonder how many inland folks are missing out on this peace and love.  The water is going to be warm and satisfying this summer.   
 
--Dave Frasure pastors First Baptist Church, South Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on June 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
Have you visited that Indian Restaurant takeout by the gas station in Eastgate? It’s about as authentic as Indian lunch buffets in Colerain and Sharonville. Have you been making friends with the owners of the Moroccan restaurant in Northside? Oh, and don’t forget about that Turkish upscale restaurant in West Chester. The owner will come out and talk with you personally. The Vietnamese restaurant in Norwood was so much fun to visit with a Nepali-speaking Bhutanese pastor. Did you know that according to the Yellow Pages, there are 16 Vietnamese restaurants in Cincinnati? And not one Southern Baptist church is predominately Vietnamese?
 
All around the Cincinnati Area, there are restaurants run by first generation immigrants. They want to talk with you. They want your patronage, for sure, but they’re open to talking about their faith, too.
 
Years ago, the police urged us to take a bite out of crime. In these ethnic restaurants, you can take a bite out of lostness.
 
--Mark Snowden serves CABA as the Director of Missional Leadership
Posted on May 19, 2020 7:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
Each of the eight errors listed here is associated with eight phases that have the potential to help your church realize change:

1.    Establish a sense of urgency.
2.    Create a guiding coalition.
3.    Develop a vision and strategy.
4.    Communicate the change vision.
5.    Empower a lot of people to take action.
6.    Generate short-term wins.
7.    Consolidate wins and make even more wins.
8.    Institutionalize changes in the church culture.

Steps 1-4 have the potential to thaw the status quo. Steps 5-8 are new practices.

Where are the errors? Leaders too quickly skip Steps 1-4. And most leaders don’t stick with the sequence. A solid base quickly deteriorates and gets left behind. Momentum never gets going enough to overcome inertia and the effort fizzles out.

However, settle down and work these eight phases WELL and you’ll enjoy lasting change.

--Mark Snowden serves CABA as Director of Associational Leadership. This blog was adapted from John P. Kotter, Leading Change, Harvard Business Press, 2012, pp. 22-27
Posted on May 11, 2020 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Direction
Are you preparing yourself to bring change B.O. — Beyond Opening? Let me start by highly recommending the first few chapters of Joshua and 1 Samuel. Joshua and David brought lasting change as they were God's men doing God's purposes with God's resources in God's timing.
There are also some very helpful business books to recommend to you. I’ve just finished three years on the executive council of the SBCAL - Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders. Back in 2017 we all agreed to read five of the six books in the photo that's attached. I added Seth Godin’s 2002 book.
 
Out of our study, we changed the name of the associational leader to Associational Missions Strategist (AMS), developed  an ideal job description, identified 17 AMS proficiencies, and wrote a book that is to come out next month. It was a joy to write one of the chapters. For CABA pastors, you'll be delighted to know that my JD is very similar to what was recommended for the AMS role. From our Spirit-led process, I can recommend each of these business books to the pastors that don’t want to go B.O. and sink back into the status quo, but effectively bring missional change to the glory of God.
 
Books:
Start with Why - Simon Sinek
Leading Change - John P. Kotter
The Advantage - Patrick Lencioni
Managing Transitions - William & Susan Bridges
Deep Change - Robert E. Quinn
Survival is Not Enough - Seth Godin
 
-- Mark Snowden is the AMS for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on May 5, 2020 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
David Garrison, author of Church Planting Movements, introduced me to the idea of being a lizard. A lizard stays on the hunt looking for food, unlike a frog who sits around on a lily pad waiting for his food to come flying by.

Over the years, when I’ve done missionary training, I’ve given out little plastic lizards. On my birthday, I often hear from some of those I’ve trained and they all say they still have their lizards. In fact, I have three sitting on my computer as I write this. Something about being a lizard attracts us. And I’m not talking about that gecko on TV.

Missionary thinking demands identifying the resources needed to get the job done–time, talents, and treasures. These resources are in the harvest, but need to be discovered. Waiting around for someone to stumble upon your need is unnecessary and potentially harmful.

1.    Lizards stay on the hunt. They are extremely quick and are very determined. They know food is out there waiting to be found. Jesus said that we must count the cost before starting (Luke 14:28). Missouri Baptists are not in competition. We are known for cooperation and we’re in a new day of powerful partnering. During Workers in the Harvest missionary training, a learning exercise challenges participants to share their resources. It has rarely happened. We tend to protect our own and share nothing. When Jesus sent out His followers on mission, He said, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay” (Matthew 10:8 ESV).

2.    Lizards can be almost anywhere. “The lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces” (Proverbs 30:28 ESV). Access to people is possible with a bit of courtesy, patience, and tenacity. At times, this means humbling yourself to seek resources among the haves, but also walking among the have-nots. There’s no excuse to impose limitations when God knows our needs. We trust that He is already at work among those with resources to carry out His will; the unfinished task of evangelization.

3.    Lizards are cold-blooded and need warmth from the sun. Apart from the Son of God, “you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Lizards seek out the sun on a regular basis, and we must seek out the Son, too. During life’s cold snaps, we might need to spend more time with Him than in other seasons of life. The theme of the State Evangelism Conference is “Desperate for Jesus.” Register to attend at www.mobaptist.org/sec.

4.    Lizards vary in size and shape. First, they’re reptiles, not amphibians. According to the Reptile Database, there are 6,145 species of lizards (Aug. 2015). There are 13 species in Missouri. Some lizards are chameleons that can shift their color to match their environment. Some are three inches long while others are ten or more feet long. Only two species are poisonous. God made us all unique. When the Holy Spirit entered us as a guarantee of our salvation, He also uniquely gifted us. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Psalms 133:1 NASB). As we live for the Lord, we are invited to join Him in His mission.

5.    Lizards live in communities. Networking and resourcing go hand-in-hand. They know where to get needed help. They are usually seen alone, but they have mates that give them responsibilities beyond their own needs. They develop a healthy appreciation for those around them, learn from them, and can be alerted to danger or alert others through body language. The point is that they are skilled communicators.
You can take an analogy only so far, so I’ll claim what Garrison liked to add, “When a lizard gets his tail chewed off, he can grow a new one.”
 
That’ll hunt!
 
--Mark Snowden, Director of Missional Leadership, Cincinnnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on April 17, 2020 5:30 PM by Mark Snowden
Categories: General, Leadership
During the SCBO's Conference call this morning, Dean Fulks, a pastor in Columbus, was asked how they counted viewership on their Facebook Live worship service. He raised a caution that anyone that scrolled by the screen during the service was counted as a viewer. He said that they only counted viewers that had spent at least three seconds.
 
That got me wondering. How many are you counting as viewers? Do you multiply the number by three per view to get at Households? What about members of one household that watched on tablets, smartphones, laptops, and on their TV's? Do you go live or playback a recorded service? Those metrics are all different.
 
Stephen Jennings at Clough Pike and Tyler Freeman at Sonrise Church helped me this afternoon understand a few things to pass along to you:
 
1. FB Live seems to be the most common way to stream your church's worship service. You want to look for "Through Play." These folks watched the whole service. These are the "real numbers" and get at more than Viewers who might have been scrolling through. And remember, FB Live typically goes just to members of your church who have "liked" your church's FB page. Only when they Share your service on their own feed can your church show up in their friends' FB feed. All you'll see is how many Shared and not who actually watched the service.  
 
2. You can BOOST your service on FB Live for only $10 per week. This gets people viewing your service who are more than just your regular church members. Boosting your FB Live feed will let it stay online for three days; five days for $20. Boosting your FB Live feed will let you choose demographics like parts of town and age group priorities. Where the $10 boost might expose you to 2,500 FB users, a $20 boost goes up to about 7,000 FB users. When they're looking at videos, then your video will show up next and they may choose to watch it. Encourage comments. Some churches hear things like, "This church is in my community and I didn't even know it."
 
3. When you record your service in advance and then play it at your normal worship service time, you want to track "Clicks to Play." Viewers literally have to hit the arrow to start the worship service. This is available as an option on FB Live and YouTube. There is an advantage to having a smoother worship experience, equalizing audio, and permitting editing of the sermon for either time or mistakes.
 
4. Know your families. Look at your numbers and think about your church's demographics. Are they families with teens watching separately on several devices? Are Mom and Dad holding their wiggly kids in their laps and occasionally changing diapers as they watch? Or are they Empty Nesters glued to the screen as a couple? This helps you know how to come up with a general count of people watching at one time each week.  
 
5. Yes -- many new people really are watching at least some of the church services online. Tracking is different than engaging. Tracking those numbers when the COVID-19 mitigation efforts are relieved is worth the effort to "boost" and track. However, providing incentives to sign "guest registries" online can be worth it. Will you send them a free Bible? Will you make a contribution to a food pantry in their honor? Will you have someone available to call 24/7 for counseling or prayer? What works as an incentive to engage with your social media can nurture a budding relationship. Now's the time to experiment!
 
Finally, some churches are investing in new video gear to maintain their social media presence. Just be sure that the numbers of viewers that you're encountering are real and not just those who are scrolling on, leaving a digital "1" in their fast-moving wake. Look toward the day when a viewer becomes an active follower of Jesus, quite possibly because you took the time to engage those viewing your church's worship service back during those "sheltering in place" days.
 
--Mark Snowden serves as Director of Missional Leadership, Cincinnati Area Baptist Association (AMS, DOM)
Posted on April 1, 2020 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
Firemen are awesome first-responders. They run toward the action. And when they arrive, they know what to do and how to do it.
Here are five evangelism ideas to spark your thinking as God’s Fire Investigator.
 
1.      Where did the fire start?
   A home across the street from me once burned because a garage had faulty wiring. You can’t always look at someone and know the wiring in their heart. Engage them in conversations that are caring and genuine.
   The lost today hesitate to come to a church. It’s a strange, out of touch world to them. They are much more comfortable in your home. And some are wide open to hosting a Bible study in their own home.
 
2.     What clues did the fire-starter leave behind?
   An arsonist’s explosion can quickly set little fires in a wide arc. A careless cigarette may smolder in a leaf-filled gutter, eventually setting an entire house ablaze.
   How did you come to faith in Christ? What was done with you is what you’ll repeat. It’s what you consider “normal.” That tends to be what you’ll repeat, even if it’s not easily replicated. 
   In the original Star Trek series, one episode involved furry creatures that were born pregnant. Will you help a new believer go witness to a person who needs Jesus? (It’s a boy!) What does it take your new small group to start two others? (Twins!) Can a new church plant already be planning their first three plants? (Triplets!)
 
3.     What accelerants came together to spread the fire?
   Fire is self-sustaining, but only with certain accelerants present. We are admonished not to quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). The godly counterparts for oxygen and flammable material include the Spirit of God and the Gospel mixing with tinder-dry souls.
   We don’t need to debate the value of a traditional legacy church or a house church. It’s the body of Christ at work, not under just any purpose, but knowing how to rightly handle the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15) in a way that spreads the Gospel fire.
 
4.     What structural elements contributed to the blaze?
   Individuals can set many spiritual fires for the Lord as they share Jesus. However, leadership in a healthy church provides the structure needed to keep it going long-term.
   A men’s ministry leader I counseled in southwest Missouri wanted to get a witnessing fire burning in his church. I made sure to include the idea of a monthly meeting for accountability, trouble-shooting, and encouragement. The idea was not to turn witnessing into a program, but provide long-term structure to the effort.
   Each element in a church should contribute to not burning-out for Jesus. Worship, prayer, the ordinances, evangelism from a missional lifestyle, missions among all peoples, making disciple-makers, stewardship, and leadership should all contribute to stoking a white-hot zeal in each church’s commitment to making disciples through evangelism.
 
5.     Where did the fire spread?
   Wildfires often leap over houses when sparks are picked up by the wind. There’s an outbreak here. Now it’s over there. Tracking movements of the Lord is exciting. Who shared Christ and did they pass it along? Who knows whom? The movement of God does not always follow a neat line.
   Barriers to the spread of the Gospel must be identified and minimized. If your fellow church members never interact with anyone on a spiritual level, then their “sparks” of faith cannot spread. As fire must spread to stay alive, so believers must circulate among others. Turn the godly combustion loose!
   Take an inventory in your own church. Who is on fire for the Lord? How can you team them up with someone whose wood is wet and get them fired up?
 
-- Mark Snowden, Director of Missional Leadership, Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
 
Posted on March 26, 2020 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
Let me step back a second from COVID-19 and shine some light on what was already going on in our community's homes just prior to the current isolation. Consider the brutal facts:
 
Feb. 2020: Meth seizures in the Cincinnati Area are up 1,600% 2015-2019 (Cin. Enq.)
Nov. 2019: Suicide rates are up 45% in Ohio from 2007-2018 (Cin. Enq.)
Apr. 2019: 3 in 10 people in Cincinnati struggle to find food mainly due to closing grocery stores (Cin. Enq.)
Apr. 2019: 60 million pounds of food is wasted a year in Hamilton Co. (Cin. Enq)
Jun. 2017: 7 in 10 adults (68%) are overweight in the Cincinnati Area (NKY Tribune)
Mar. 2020: Consumer debt among all Americans increased $2.3 trillion since 2009 (up 19%) in this order--mortgages, auto loans, student debt, and credit cards. (Experian)
Undated: People with mental health problems are likely increasing to have new and worsening symptoms (CDC)
And just today's news: 187,784 people made unemployment claims in the last week (Cin. Enq.)
 
If we thought church attendance was dropping before March 2020, consider that new habits may nail that coffin closed. And it’s not just about what we’re doing, it’s that those who were former members, the disenfranchised, and the lost world can no longer participate. Their health may be too bad. They’ve taken on second or third jobs that keeps them away. They now are experiencing a reality that seals them off from church.
 
In a blog and podcast, Andy Crouch, Kurk Keilhacker, and Dave Blanchard said, "From today onward, most leaders must recognize that the business they were in no longer exists. This applies not just to for-profit businesses, but to nonprofits, and even in certain important respects to churches."
If every church is now a start-up organization, in SBC parlance, we're all now very much like a church plant. If it takes a plant two to five years to get established, then every pastor and church leader needs to re-establish itself with that reality in mind.
 
When Ed Stetzer interviewed church leaders in Spain and Italy for his blog on Christianity Today, he came away saying, "Prayer calms our panic and also directs our preparation."
 
There are seven essential things churches must pray through to prepare for a reality beyond this event:
1.     Assemble a team to lead the cause. Who’s with you?
2.     Address lostness by understanding your community’s felt needs and perspectives. What’s changed? Why are they lost?
3.     Develop a plan that is realistic given your church’s resources, realizing that resources are in the harvest. What is the path to reconciliation?
4.     Convey the Gospel in all you do. How will you evangelize? What messages communicate today? What Scriptures convey relevant truth?
5.     How will small groups meet and what will they do? Will it be business as usual or fierce disciple-making that is relational, supportive, transparent, and accountable?
6.     Develop leaders non-stop. Become a leadership factory. Insist that everyone lead someone else and let it grow from there. Practice. Coach through transitions. Empower and give authority.
7.      Mobilize more teams and disciple-makers.
(Source: Workers in the Harvest book and Bible study is available from SnowdenMinistries@gmail.com)
 
These seven tasks were developed when I was in NAMB's Church Planting Group. I pulled together these seven from my work at the IMB and also as a consultant for Saddleback Church's P.E.A.C.E. Plan. This outline can provide a strategic game plan for such as time as this. Today is a time to plan and train so that when doors of opportunity open in the aftermath, we’re ready to re-enter as workers into God’s harvest fields.
 
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