Blog
Posted on January 31, 2023 8:00 AM by Oliver Hawkins
Categories: Missions
Over the years one observation that I have made is that God moves and raises up church planters in his timing and sometimes when we least expect it.
 
When our area first started receiving Nepali Refugees in 2009, we prayed and worked with churches to raise up leaders. For many years we had one Nepali Church that was SBC. In the past seven years, God has moved in a great way and now there are ten SBC Nepali Churches in the Greater Cincinnati area with a few more possibly being planted soon.
 
A few years ago, the first Arabic Church was planted in Cincinnati. Amer Safadi became the Pastor of the Arabic Church of Cincinnati. God has now blessed Amer’s ministry and is using him to train more Arabic Pastors to plant in other cities. The first Arabic church planting conference was held November 28th-30th in partnership with the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio. At that conference, there were fourteen church planters from six states. The planters were originally from Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan, and the Sudan. Nine of these planters will plant a church in 2023.
 
The speakers included several SCBO staff, Pastor and SCM, Travis Smalley, and Pastor Amer. Dr. Jeremy Westbrook with the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio spoke and presented a compelling challenge to potential planters. Next year’s conference takes place in Michigan July 13th-15th. There are currently plans to plant Arabic churches in Northern Kentucky and Columbus.
 
Other cities need Arabic speaking churches as well. Several will move to Cincinnati to complete a residency working with Amer, then be sent out to plant churches to reach the Arabic speaking population.
 
It is amazing to see all that the Lord is doing right here in Cincinnati. We are praying that the Lord will raise up leaders amongst the Spanish speaking population so that seven years from now we can count many Spanish speaking churches that the Lord has birthed.
 
Amer and the other church planters in Cincinnati are helped by your gifts to the Cooperative program and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. Thank you for your support both by praying for our church planters and supporting them financially.
 
Oliver Hawkins serves as NAMB's Church Planting Catalyst for the Cincinnati Area
Posted on January 17, 2023 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Disciple-making
Generational Disciple-making may be a new idea for some. When you make a follower of Jesus, can they turn around and do the same thing with others?
 
The Apostle Paul trained Timothy who was supposed to “entrust to reliable men who could teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). That’s four “generations.” In this case, we’re not talking age, but believers. When you meet someone that is a believer, do you want to know if they’re making disciples, too?
 
In the Cincinnati Area, we have 1.5 million people who are not evangelical Christians. About one million people are not affiliated with any religious organization.
 
When the SBC Annual Meeting was in Indianapolis, a friend named Lawrence helped a man sitting beside a sidewalk to come to faith in Christ. Immediately, he wanted to know if he could share the Good News with his sister. It turned out that she was a prostitute in the apartment behind them. The new convert said, “My sister will want all the girls like her to know Jesus!” Now, that’s disciple-making! We have such good news to share!
 
This summer while doing DR work in Eastern Ky., I led a teenager named Logan to faith in Christ. He happened to go my brother’s church. When I followed up, I found out that he broke up with his girlfriend and quit coming to that church. They lost track of him. While it’s admirable that the young man accepted Christ, his experience might have become a dead-end. It is my prayer that not only is he growing in Christ “somewhere,” but that he’s sharing his newfound faith with others in his circle of influence. I learned a lesson!
 
The theme of our Pastor’s Conference on March 27 is Generational Disciple-making. Make disciple-making a priority so that multiple generations hear and follow Jesus.
 
--Mark Snowden directs the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on January 3, 2023 8:00 AM by Michael Clary
Categories: Leadership
There once was a certain kind of evangelical Christian I felt free to make fun of. I was pastoring a fast growing church in an urban environment, and a spirit of elitism had infected us. No one would correct me on it because they made fun of them too. The people we felt free to mock were conservative, uneducated, backwoods fundies who still read the KJV. They lacked the theological sophistication and cultural insight I had acquired while doing campus ministry and studying at seminary. I came from the hills of WV. Appalachian, born and bred. I knew these people well because I grew up around them.
 
But I had moved on. I was better than them. I was more learned and cultured. I had "seen the world" and they hadn't.
 
I was a successful church planter in an urban cultural context in Cincinnati. My sending organization flew me around the country to share my success stories and train younger planters in the "way it's done." I would not have admitted this at the time, but deep down, I felt superior to my hometown people and their country religion. My ministry "success" was at least partly driven by a desire to separate myself from them and prove that "I'm not one of those fundie Christians." But then it began to dawn on me: I was standing on the shoulders of giants.
 
My grandfather was one of those country preachers. His provided for his family by working a physically demanding job in a steel mill his whole life. His family was poor, but he did what needed to be done. He had only received a 6th grade education. He didn't know how to read very well. He listened to the KJV bible on audio cassette on his 45 minute commutes to work. Up and back, every day, listening to the Bible. King James! Scripture got under his skin.
 
My mom told me a story once. When he was filling out paperwork or writing something and didn't know how to spell a word, he would remember where that word was in his KJV bible, then look it up to see how it was spelled. My great-grandfather was the same way. He only received a 3rd grade education. He planted a church deep in the hills of WV and built a church building for it on his property. He ministered there for many years, preaching from his KJV Bible. He lived to be 102 years old and was healthy and energetic up to the very end. In his 90s, he would take fruit baskets to the "shut ins" of his church who were much younger than him. He married his wife when she was 14. He remained faithful to her and they enjoyed 74 years together.
 
In my office, I have this poem framed that my great-grandfather ("Popo Galley") wrote on Sept. 1st, 1928, about his call to ministry. He didn't really retire, he just slowed down. He remained faithful to that calling for the rest of his life. He died on July 1st, 2011. He stayed true to the Lord and to his calling for 80 years. EIGHTY YEARS! And here I was, three or four years into my new church plant, attracting a few hundred people, feeling like I'd accomplished something. Feeling superior to men like my grandfather and great grandfather.
 
So I repented. I repented of my arrogance. I repented of my self-righteous attitude towards "that old time religion" that sustained my grandparents who had so much less than me. I repented of looking down on faithful, older Christians who had passed on a legacy to me. I share all these things because my arrogance was cultivated in an evangelical subculture that produces a spirit of elitism. And I wanted to ascend the ladder and reach achieve notoriety within that subculture.
 
What I have learned is that subculture is actually sub-Christian. Elitist Christianity cannot survive the rigors of hard discipleship. But my grandparents did. And they handed me a legacy to follow. There are many points of doctrinal disagreement that I would have with my grandfathers. But these were men who suffered and knew how to suffer well. These are the sorts of men that deserve our respect and admiration. Men who finished well and stayed true. Men of whom the world is not worthy. By God's grace, I want to follow in their footsteps and be like them. SDG
 
--Michael Clary pastors Christ the King Church, Cincinnati. 
Posted on December 28, 2022 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Direction
Going into my 7th year at CABA, I sure hope Jesus returns! But should He tarry, here are some things you'll want to get excited about as much as me!
 
1. CABA's Consultants begin rolling in mid-January. Everyone has been trained over the past six months and are ready to go. Pastors, thank you for participating in interviews! Pray for Aaron Swensen, Brent Wilson, and Mark Wilson as they begin helping "network solutions" and "develop a dynamic resource network."
 
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Good communication is a two-way street, so we are working with John Park to develop ways to get you engaged. We want to involve church leaders in lasting solutions.
 
3. Go and Tell! Ray Taw is helping any and all of us join in on international partnerships. Some churches are already planning on a trip to the IMB in January and then to South Asia in August. Where could God move you? I just met a South Asian at a convenience store. He had never heard about Jesus since he's been here. Go and tell and go again!
 
--Mark Snowden serves as director for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on November 15, 2022 8:00 AM by Jason McKinney
Categories: Disciple-making
How many of you do you want?
 
You are called to make disciples. As with Paul (1 Cor 11), you model for others a basis of what to do and achieve. You model how to be a new creation and ambassador. Sermons and classrooms are great for passing information and vision, but not multiplication of yourself as a disciple-maker.
 
So how many of you do you want?
 
Self-deprivation aside, you want others to become Christ-followers like you. How many can you spend time with, modeling for, raising up, and sending out? Jesus had thousands in a crowd, but he poured into twelve, not all ending in success. Yet here we are, millennia later, with so many “little Christs [anointed ones].”
 
So…how many?
 
Say you pour into twelve. Or even just three. Each week, discussing the Word together and equipping them with the tools and confidence to turn to three others to do the same that same week. Now your three is twelve. And not with hours of solo prep to dazzle or any material to reproduce, but with time spent together in simple, reproducible, biblical togetherness that they can pass on freely. That way, your three each pass on to their three, who will go and pass on to three more, each. The twelve become thirty nine. 2 Timothy 2:2 – four generations.
challenge it, or explore it together? Let’s talk!
 
1-3-9
 
Discipling for generational growth gets out of control. It’s messy and Spirit-dependent. Jesus lived in the world of messy. Yet that messy, movement-oriented release of personal control allows us to become more, obedient to the Spirit as we raise up disciples to be obedient to the Spirit while raising up other disciples likewise. Then we reach where we alone could not reach. Want to think through this, challenge it, or explore it together? Let’s talk!
 
Jason McKinney pastors One Church and serves as Church Planting Coach for CABA. 
Posted on November 8, 2022 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
How do you improve your sermons and address six problems church members say they have with sermons?
1) too many complex ideas,
2) too much analysis and too little answer,
3) too formal and too impersonal,
4) too much theological jargon,
5) too propositional with not enough illustrations, and
6) too many dead-ends and give no guidance to commitment and action. (Reuel Howe’s points noted by Clyde Fant in Preaching for Today.)
 
Last summer I picked up nine tips that should improve written sermons to be delivered orally. These were inspired by Ohio pastor Dave McClellan’s book, Preaching by Ear:
1. Imprecise: Avoid reporting and go for discovery by telling your points rather than reading them.
2. Formulaic: Use phrases and words people expect. Some liturgical expressions are welcomed.
3. Redundant: Tell them what you’ll tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. Speech class 101 was right!
4. Tradition-driven: Inspire more than provide an information-dump.
5. Close to everyday life: Keep it local rather than what happened in, say, 1436 in Germany.
6. Familiar with suffering: People are vulnerable and need some empathy.
7. Participatory: Individualism is cold, while community builds upon a common experience.
8. United in purpose: What’s your church’s cause/purpose/one-best-thing? Avoid generalities.
9. Comfortable with stories: Stories let you walk around a truth and see how it applies to you.
 
Next week, try using your sermons not to write a book, but help people encounter God!
 
--Mark Snowden serves as the AMS for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on November 2, 2022 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
Ed. During the Week of Prayer, CABA promoted “Churches Multiplying Churches.” We heard from several pastors for how they support church planters throughout the Cincinnati Area--and beyond.
 
Jerome Byrd, Good News Baptist, supports Gene Moore, who is planting Guiding Light Church. “We support him with prayer support,” Jerome said, “we also took up an offering for him recently to help with the work. He also has access to our baptistry and we also assist him in various outreach projects that he’s already held. Two families from our church are also with him each Sunday.”
 
Tom Pendergrass, pastor, explained how Urbancrest supports their church plants: “At Urbancrest and as a pastor we approach church planting from the same model we do with missions. Pray, Give, Go, and Send. Our goal is to support the church plant in a holistic approach that begins with the fundamental principle of prayer. We try and surround our church planters with a core group of intercessors who pray on a consistent basis for their needs. When we commit to give, our partnership is for a minimum of five years to give the new church plant a greater chance to become self supporting. Going is where we can send teams to help with various projects that need boots on the ground. This can be from one day to two week commitments. At times we can send our members to help for extended periods of time. Finally, the send aspect includes the planter as well as sending families to become a part of the core team of the new church. Over half of our current church planters came from Urbancrest. I want to encourage pastors to consider being involved in one of these four ways.”
 
Mark Jones, lead pastor for Living Church, tells of the ways they support planters: “We support Martin & Karen Jones in their church planting through having them participate in a ministry we provide called The Living Room. This is a monthly zoom call with other house church leaders from around the world. Martin actively participates in this call every month to learn from other like minded church planters. We also come alongside them by providing Martin with monthly coaching with our lead pastor, who mentors and coaches Martin through a monthly coaching meeting. One other way we support the Joneses is by serving on their church’s board providing feedback and guidance.”
 
Supporting Planters Can Lead Overseas, too! Overseas travel to South Asia was discouraged by the IMB during COVID. However, an IMB missionary, two pastors, a church leader, and I found a way to continue supporting a church planter. He is bivocational and lives in a bustling city. We have met regularly over the past 18 months via Zoom. We have a standing meeting time. It helps that he works a night shift, so we can meet with him during our day. We have used our meetings as a time for prayer, encouragement, problem-solving, and equipping. The missionary has pulled out of the conversation, but our CABA group continues to meet. Some of our wives have met, too, to offer encouragement.
 
--Mark Snowden serves as the AMS for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on October 17, 2022 10:12 AM by Jason McKinney
Categories: Missions
Gene Moore’s Guiding Light Church has been holding services now at the Moore’s venue in Sharonville. It’s quite a space! Of course, they’ve been very active in exploring various ways of engaging the community.
 
What excites me most isn’t a worship location, however. Gene gets that reaching his community takes more than any one congregation. More than working as a church planter, Gene is working out how to be a multiplying disciple-maker that can see multiple gospel communities forming. People can attend churches anywhere, he says. His desire is to raise people up to work, and by work he means go out to be the church.
 
While Guiding Light does have a gathering of people to worship on Sunday, Gene is intent on the church being defined by the work of the gospel in community during the week. It's easy to have a mindset of invitation, enabling our people to become ambassadors of the church, inviting people to our activities. Yet our calling is to be ambassadors of Christ.
 
Disciple-making is equipping people to engage around them with the gospel and discipleship. Church growth should be a mere bi-product of our focus on disciple-making and church planting. Contact Jason at jtrait@me.com to find out more about Church Planting in CABA.
 
Jason McKinney serves as CABA' church planting coach. 
Posted on October 10, 2022 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
he Pew Research Center study in 2019 revealed that sermons typically last 37 minutes.
 
As I read the graphic, I realized what is underway now is not when churches were exploding.
 
Today, when I visit CABA churches, there are typically 25 minutes of praise music, maybe 30 seconds devoted to prayer, and 40+ minutes preaching. Invitations are five minutes or non-existent.
 
During the Jesus Movement in the mid-70s, one Sunday our pastor gave the invitation first and several came forward and got saved. Most Sundays, he would speak 20 minutes and we’d easily have a 20-minute invitation. At that time, church members were far more involved in the service with testimonies, mission reports, prayer needs, and specials by the choir, youth ensembles, or soloists.
 
Is it because our discipling in churches is so weak that pastors feel that they have to do it? We used to spend every Sunday night in Church Training studying doctrine, Baptist distinctives, the biblical basis of missions, etc.
 
The Annual Church Profile (ACP) included online viewing last year. Note the jump in the AM Worship attendance. It shoved the trend line slightly upward over the past 10 years. However, it is important to state that our churches have about 9,00 to 10,000 in worship, but they are not keeping up with population increases in the Cincinnati Area.
 
So, how long should a sermon be? I welcome your input.
 
Mark Snowden serves as director of missional leadership for CABA
 
 
Posted on September 19, 2022 10:03 AM by Phil Hopper
Categories: Missions
Everything was unplanned, but everything went as planned. This sentence seems contradictory, but to those who know the sovereign hand of God, this sentence makes perfects sense. When a tornado swept through the Goshen community on July 6, we were caught flat-footed, but God had been preparing us for this moment for over fifteen years. I have been blessed with the privilege to pastor Hill Station for almost twenty years, and my wife and I have been around HSBC for almost all of our lives. This has allowed us the unique opportunity to witness God’s hand in preparing the church for this moment. God is always at work. His sovereignty can be witnessed in the short and long terms.
 
Several years ago, Ohio Baptist had a partnership with Tennessee Baptist. Our former pastor, a Tennessean by birth who came to HSBC via West Virginia, returned to Tennessee after his time in Ohio. This Tennessee connection caused HSBC and the Weakley County Baptist Association to form a five year partnership which bought large mission teams to stay at HSBC and serve in our surrounding area. This mission team converted a Sunday school room into a restroom with two showers and a washer and dryer in our basement. The need to accommodate these large groups caused HSBC to install RV hook ups. Another Tennessee church provided the funds for a tankless hot water heater for the showers.
 
As Chain Saw teams with Disaster Relief were being deployed to Goshen, Tennessee Baptists returned to Goshen. We had the privilege to house over 80 Disaster Relief volunteers over two weeks. Tommy Wilson was one of those volunteers. Tommy was probably the only Tennessee Baptist that had ever heard of Goshen because he was part of those Weakly County mission teams. It would be easy to dismiss this story as coincidentally, but we know that God was preparing Hill Station to host these Disaster Relief over many years. We had not planned for the tornado but it was part of God’s plan.
 
As we were planning our yearly schedule, Vacation Baptist School was not falling on the calendar in any manageable way. After some prayer and brainstorming, a church member suggested moving VBS to Goshen’s spring break. VBS would work on the church calendar over spring break, but we had never done that before, nor had anyone we had known had ever done VBS over spring break.
 
Hill Station has always been a church willing to try something new and outside the normal box. Spring Break VBS was scheduled. We knew our community and we would need to provide dinner night nightly. This forced us to purchase two new stoves to replace the two stoves that only half way worked. This was only one example of God’s plan for the summer of 2022. It would have been impossible to cook on those old stoves and feed the Disaster Relief teams. When the Disaster Relief rolled in, there were two new stoves waiting on them. There are numerous other stories of God working through the Goshen tornado and its aftermath.
 
The tornado caught us by surprise, but God has never been surprised. Looking back, we can see where God has been preparing Hill Station for this moment for years. I just wonder what God is doing today that is preparing us for what will happen in the years to come. God is always at work. He is never surprised. Rejoice in God’s sovereignty. It is all part of God’s perfect plan.
 
Phil Hopper pastors Hill Station Baptist Church near Goshen, Oh. 
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