Posted on September 15, 2020 8:00 AM by Doug Sibcy
Categories: Leadership
When I was 5-9 years old, I played baseball for the little league program in my hometown. However, there was a problem, I was not very good, and by some standards, I was not very good at all. I had average hand-to-eye coordination, so fielding and hitting the ball was an issue. I could not hit very well and rarely caught the ball. I played right field on occasion and typically batted at the bottom of the order.
Not to fault the other coaches I had, they were using a common standard of measurement. However, then came Mr. Fox. Coach Fox would work with me, but he just watched for the first few practices and games. He noticed that I was the first one out of the dugout with my gear, the first one to the dugout after the inning was over, and when I was walked, or, actually got a hit, he noticed that I could run like the wind. Soon, he sat me down talked with me about a position that I was unfamiliar with, the pinch-runner. Before I knew it, a player who could hit, but was much slower, would get on base, and Coach Fox would put me in. I still had to play right field sometimes, and eventually became a back-up catcher, but I got to run! He taught me that a walk was as good as a hit. Stealing bases was my specialty.
Locating my strengths and weaknesses in baseball was essential to me having fun. I have found the same thing in ministry.
While in the corporate world, I discovered a book that changed the way I saw myself, and it transcended into every area of my life: StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Understanding my strengths allowed me to discover a bit more about how I am made up, function, and what drives me. There is an assessment that accompanies the book that ranks 33 traits that everyone has. Here are my top 5:
  1. Futuristic-Inspired by the future and what could be. Inspires others with their visions of the future.
  2. Focus-Takes direction follows through and makes the corrections necessary to stay on track. Prioritizes, then acts.
  3. Significance-Wants to be seen as impactful in the eyes of others.
  4. Restorative-Adept at dealing with problems. Good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.
  5. Competition-Measures progress and performance. Strives to win and revels in contests. Setting goals and achieving are critical.
Do you have a coach? What are you being measured by? Are the standard, rather than customized measurement tools used, maximize your strengths, or are you, and others, focused on your weaknesses? Maybe a bigger question is, do you even know your strengths?
I have learned to focus on my strengths, surround myself with people who have strengths that compliment my weaknesses, and understand that I am not good at everything that God needs for my church to be triumphant. God knows my strengths. If you would like someone to sit down with you, listen, and watch for strengths, give one of the coaches at CABA a call.
The first two Pastors to shoot me a note at, will receive a free copy of StrengthsFinder 2.0. The only catch is that I would like you to email me a copy of your list.
--Doug Sibcy is a church coach for CABA. He also pastors G3 Community Church in Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on September 1, 2020 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
Have you ever experienced success? Did you try to do the same thing hoping for success the next time, too? While visiting Las Vegas, I learned that one of the predictors of a gambling addiction was an early win. Gamblers will keep looking for that thrill even though it never happens again and they lose their shirt. What began as a pastime became a new lifestyle. 

The year 2020 is leaving us reeling because of the pandemic, business closures, racial unrest, just to name a few. In our churches we now have services regularly on Facebook Live and small groups meeting via Zoom. Some of what we knew we shouldn’t be doing we did anyway. At least two church services had to go back online since members tested positive. It’s easy to focus on just one week at a time. 

Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains, said that when he was out jogging, he violated every rule when he encountered a black bear near his home in California. He didn’t stand his ground, talk loudly, and wave his arms. Instead, he ran screaming down a hillside back to his cabin. When he shared the story with a tour guide in Alaska, he expected her to a approve of his escape technique. Instead, she said, “Jeez. You were really lucky. If you do that up here, a bear will kill you.” Tod, who is the vice president and chief of leadership formation at Fuller Theological Seminary went on to say, “Most of us trying to bring change in a post-Christendom world are attempting to use lessons we learned in one situation that are keeping us from adapting to a new spiritual terrain. But perhaps a humble stance of curiosity, awareness and attention, as well as healthy skepticism at our own success, may indeed be the first lessons we need to learn, especially when our egos are on the line.”

CABA planned 2020 around church revitalization. What we could not have predicted is that almost all of our churches now face the need for revitalization. Some pastors are telling me that their attendance is really low, but their financial giving is up. Other pastors are slacking off planning for a post-Covid situation, figuring on returning to normal. But they were saying that in April looking to June. In June, they were saying that about August when school resumed. And now we’re looking hopefully at November after the election. Meanwhile, the church paradigm is shifting. As the Steve Miller Band used to sing, time keeps on slipping into the future. The Barna Group’s surveys from mid-July found that one out of three church members have stopped in-person church attendance and 14% have already switched to a new church. 

CABA is providing new learning opportunities for pastors and church leaders based on a new emerging reality in the Cincinnati Area. It’s more than about coping, but infusing new skill sets that address deep church revitalization. After all, you can’t outrun a grizzly bear. 

--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. He enjoys hiking, but has never been near a grizzly!
Posted on August 20, 2020 8:00 AM by Joshua Lenon
Categories: Disciple-making
Anything we can do to stop encouraging outsourcing the primary spiritual development to those other than the parents would be a win. I believe this season would allow for churches to reconsider an approach towards integrating families in ways they would not have been able to before. 
The question for us comes in how we set up parents for success each week and month. Our family team works on activity packets that translate the weekly teaching into “kid” and they also create family discussion cards for dinner times and drive times. 
Red Door is not currently meeting in person and that has caused a shift even for us. We have personally found that engaging our kids with a live stream is a battle not worth fighting. Most of our parents were feeling like failures for not keeping their kids engaged in a live stream. One hour with adults talking for most of it is hard for a kid. That should not be the barometer for success. 
We decided it was better to encourage parents to use different outlets for the kids during the time they watch the live stream. We have focused on helping parents with the discussion cards through the week and resources they can use for devotions as well as other media resources. The primary question continues to be… How do we set-up a parent for success? 
When we do meet in person, we will return to packets for the kids to use during our service. These are usually filled with: 
1.    A coloring sheet (or sheets) 
2.    An activity that corresponds to the teaching
3.    A snack
4.    A tray for them to use as a writing surface
Most parents raised in church feel like it is important that their kids sit and listen. I prefer to think they should play and listen. The kids in our gatherings are picking up waaaay more than their parents realize. It is usually when the kid blurts out a question mid-week about what was said on Sunday when the parent realizes their kids were hearing a lot more than we thought. But it’s the same way at home. We don’t think our kids are listening until much later when they blurt something out we didn’t think they had heard—usually to our surprise! 
Kids are going to make things louder and more interesting. Good. Parents will be frustrated and embarrassed. No big deal. I think any pastor that is going to encourage it should embrace it with vision for what it could and should be. Not simply as another thing to endure during COVID. The pastor is the one who has to set the tone to let parents know that it is no big deal if their kids do kid things. I have had kids walk up and ask me questions as I’m teaching. Great. We aren’t running productions. How we handle our kids’ hearts these days will be a big deal. They will know if they feel like a nuisance or a part of what is happening. 
I don’t know what pastors’ timelines are for returning to “normal” childcare and kid’s ministry. But I do think that embracing bringing the family together could be good for this season (and beyond if willing to consider it).
“Taking Kids’ Ministry Home” is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. and repeat the session live at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 1.
Features Joshua Lenon, Pastor, and Ben Eckstein, Family Pastor, Red Door Church, in Fairfield, Oh. We plan to meet via Zoom. Join the Zoom meeting
--Joshua Lenon pastors Red Door Church in Fairfield, Oh. 
Posted on August 19, 2020 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Disciple-making
Mary Leigh and I hosted a small group in our home before coming to Cincinnati. It was fully age-diverse. We had kids in elementary school sitting beside recent retirees. We also had a teen couple that was dating and got married after high school. We were part of a church plant that couldn’t afford much meeting space to rent, but we prioritized disciple-making above all other obstacles or challenges. We were family-integrated in all we did. 

Family Integrated Churches as a movement holds the keys to discipleship, especially during COVID-19. The Barna Group’s annual report on the state of the church usually points to declining Sunday School attendance that stretches prior to the pandemic and social distancing guidelines. In 2015, even USA Today carried an article titled, “Has the sun set on Sunday School?” Barna’s study showed the Sunday School couldn’t compete with “fun” options, competed with what little time families had to be together, and even cited racial divisions interfering at church. 

Many Sunday School workers spend so much time on their one hour on Sunday morning that they forego disciple-making outside of church walls. Meanwhile, the family’s Dad is not being the spiritual leader of his family. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 ESV). The CSB says the responsibility is to “parents.” 

Moms and Dads can be encouraged, guided, and provided for as spiritual leaders for their children. What does it take for Dad to lead worship and become a protector against predators? How can families become stronger in the Lord? How can FIC’s prevent teen exodus in high school? 

FIC’s are not creating bunkers. Dad becoming a spiritual leader doesn’t replace his church’s pastor. Socialization of children in a healthy church context is important. Yet, age-graded programs don’t have to continue being the status quo. What if Sunday School workers were freed up to become disciple-makers in their home and community?
In this unusual time of potential pandemics ripping across our churches, helping parents become active disciplers must be intentional. Church leaders must not just provide activity sheets for elementary-age kids or books for teens to review, but active times of spiritual growth with parents tracking spiritual progress in key areas – worship, prayer, devotions, Bible study (including dialog on key points), fellowship, ministry inside and outside the church family, evangelizing, and being on mission. The church cannot easily do that right now. Families can. 

Red Door Church in Fairfield is one church that is excelling as a family-integrated church. They were a church plant in 2010 and are now in CABA’s top five in AM Worship attendance. Discipleship started and stayed in the family. Explore their model and then accept their offer to help your church strengthen disciple-making in the home. 

“Taking Kids’ Ministry Home” is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. and repeat the session live at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 1. My special guests: Joshua Lenon, Pastor, and Ben Eckstein, Family Pastor, Red Door Church, in Fairfield, Oh. We plan to meet via Zoom.  Join the Zoom meeting:
-- Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership, Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. He and his wife, Mary Leigh, have been part of two church plants and one re-plant. 
Posted on August 3, 2020 7:00 AM by Jason McKinney
Categories: Disciple-making
   Ask a planter what he needs, and he’ll probably first tell you “Support,” but then likely “Leaders.” Who of us wouldn’t want additional leaders? We need men, women and even kids who can engage the communities around us with the gospel and truly make disciples, the kind of disciples that can make disciples.
   This September (2020), our association will begin a discipleship residency, which will be a practicum for disciple-making. The primary goal will be to become healthy disciples who make new disciples who make new disciples. We’ll seek to reinforce our identity as a new creation (followers) and develop competency in our identity as ambassadors (fishers) in order to better strive to fulfill the Great Commission (make disciples and teach them) to the ends of the earth. Practice, loving accountability and partnership
will be key.
   This residency is designed for “co-vocational” laborers who have a hunger for more outside the walls of the church. The residency is open to men, women, single and married couples. Whole families are encouraged to participate in the residency as much as they are able. Our time will be a practicum of practitioners, building a coalition of peers to labor in Cincinnati and beyond.
   Contact Jason here.
=Jason McKinney pastors One Church and is serving as CABA's Church Planting Coach.
Posted on July 28, 2020 7:00 AM by Ken Slaughter
Categories: Prayer
   I asked members of my church to share how prayer has changed their lives. Anita wrote: “In 1994 my husband, Jim, in four days went from having a sinus infection to being paralyzed from the neck down! Hewas struck with (GBS ) Guillain-Barre Syndrome. This kills 5% and most recover to spend life in a wheelchair. I prayed for God to heal Jim. He was able after a month to start moving again. And he can now walk and work. He does have constant pain, but he has God to walk with him through the pain. Throughout his recovery he had such great faith, that he would accept whatever God had planned for him.”
   I’m thankful for Jim and Anita. Both of them are amazing leaders at Mt. Repose. And as such, they are  answers to my prayers. Pastors, I encourage you to pray that God will empower you to raise up and equip leaders for your church. God has answered that prayer for me many times over the years. So I continue to pray for leadership development in our church, in CABA, the SCBO, and the SBC.
   On a more personal note, my Dad has always been a good man, but for most of his life has been far from God. Soon after I came to Christ, I began praying for my Dad to come to Christ. A few years ago, God answered that prayer! It took about 35 years, but God answered that prayer. Now we are together in Christ. Thank you, Lord!
-- Ken Slaughter serves as pastor, Mt. Repose Church, and is CABA's Prayer Encourager
Posted on July 14, 2020 7:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
When I was at the Kentucky Baptist Convention, our evangelism director entered my office. He wanted to apologize. He told me that he had criticized me for installing a great big satellite dish next to the Baptist building, when his budget couldn’t afford ballpoint pens. Then he said, “That satellite dish isn’t for you, is it? You’re downloading training tools for our whole staff.” I smiled and agreed that it was to help everyone.  
CABA has entered into a way of helping everyone. We have been invited into a coaching relationship with Denominee as part of the Future Team of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio. Denominee was developed by Will Mancini and the North American Mission Board for coaching state conventions and associations. Over the next two to three years, the strategy-development process is to focus firmly on helping each church go to their next level. This requires a customized coaching approach for each pastor as they lead their church.
By my count, there have been 16 CABA pastors who have engaged in CABA’s coaching process since January 2018 and 275 church members trained in disciple-making through No Place Left in the past two years. The Denominee process should help not just CABA, but all pastors. Some pastors will want to lead their church to have a robust missionary focus. Others will want members to be engaged in community transformation through disciple-making. Others will want to shake off the status quo to be constantly innovating in ministry. What is your church’s next hurdle? Pastors can help their churches go to the next level up as the Lord leads.
CABA still prioritizes addressing lostness. For some pastors, it’s as simple as whispering “over here” and they’re off and running. For others, CABA’s coaching and networking function as a silent partner with pastors who want to lead or be equipped in specific areas. Many pastors can name one thing that they can pass along to equip other pastors and church leaders. Look for five ways that your association can help equip by:
   (a) convening learning events
   (b) collaborating with other pastors on similar needs
   (c) intentionally diffusing innovations
   (d) welcoming church coaching
   (e) conveying break-thru learning perhaps through triads and direct mentoring.
The Denominee Process is similar to the satellite dish at the KBC. CABA wants to equip your church with unique tools that help you go next level up to the glory of God.
-- Mark Snowden serves as the Director of Missional Leadership, Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
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.
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