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
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.
Posted on March 2, 2020 8:00 AM by Admin
Categories: Leadership
Notes provided by Allen Suit from breakout at the Midwest Leadership Summit 2020
(David Manner, Kansas/Nebraska Associate Director)
Root causes of conflict:
     o    Relational/leadership deficiencies
     o    “Conversational narcissism” – talking to/about ourselves.  (Ex.:  talking about how we/I prefer worship vs. who we worship)
     o    Conflict is inevitable, but does not need to be fatal.
7 suggestions:
     o    Spend more time at the table (communion):
Have often made this ordinance a routine and occasional experience.  
Ideally, reconciliation would happen before you come to the table.  Relational healing is available when you come to the table.
Variety of ways to do communion, so that it is not routine.
      o    Take care of our own 10% of the conflict:
Staff conflict often happens because each person operates as an independent contractor vs. a team member.
Staff need to be in community.  Typical reasons why they would be in conflict:
•    Aren’t pastoring each other
•    Aren’t loving each other
•    Aren’t praying for and with each other
•    Aren’t sharing ministry together (e.g., territorial and defensive)
•    Aren’t playing together
     o    Play the ball where the monkey drops it
Resilient and flexible vs. rule-bound
Ex:  In 1820’s, the British built the first golf course in India.  The monkeys would pick up the ball and move it (into the rough, into the fairway, etc.).  Tried lots of things to prevent the monkeys from doing it.  Finally, they changed the golf rule to say, “play it wherever the monkey drops it.”
     o    Drink coffee with the senior adults:
Really listen and hear them out.
Jumping into change without considering the consequences can leave people feeling marginalized.
Options: (a) Demolition:  take a wrecking ball to the church, splintering everything.  (b) Deconstruction:  repurposing elements of the structure, reclaiming their value.
     o    Seek unity, not uniformity:
     o    Enter the danger:
Don’t avoid conflict, hoping it goes away.  It only goes underground and will surface later.
     o    Break camp and cross the river
You may get to the point when you are just appeasing conflicters.  If God is calling, then you may need to move, even if they are not willing to go there.
     o    You are ushers, not the bride:
Humility.  When you think you have it, you no longer have it.
Help others find their place.
Deference vs. preference.  (Ex.:  you know the names of famous Everest climbers, but it is the Sherpas who get them there).
How will you assist others vs. yourself.  (Ex:  baseball.  “Lay down a bunt” – sacrificing for others).
Posted on February 25, 2020 9:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
When a schoolteacher prepares for her class at the beginning of the year, she is taught to write out a course description and course objectives.  In a Sunday School class, we aren’t that formal, but it is valuable to consider what we are really trying to accomplish when we set out to teach a Sunday School class.  Here are several objectives we should seriously consider.
1. To lead people to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.  As a Sunday School leader, the spiritual condition of each enrollee and prospect should be my first concern.  I can save no one, but I can offer opportunities and take the initiative to see that each person I am responsible for  can understand and respond to the gospel.  Even in preschool areas, our objective is to create a learning environment in which children can be guided in the direction of the Savior as spiritual seed is planted in their lives.
2. To move people closer to Christ in their personal walk with Him.  People should be more in love with Christ as a result of being a part of our Sunday School class.  They should see Jesus lifted up and exalted and have the opportunity to know Him more and serve Him better.  This is the discipleship emphasis of Sunday School.  The spiritual growth of each prospect and member is a primary concern a Sunday School teacher or leader.  This is how spiritual leaders are developed and called out to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.  One key objective is to move people Christ-ward. 
3. To get people involved in the Great Commission and other meaningful ministries related to reaching and discipling people for Christ.  Jesus gave the church a mission statement that has motivated the church for 2,000 years.  It should be obvious that the mission statement of the church is also the mission statement of the Sunday School.  Bible knowledge alone has never been the objective of the church or the Sunday School.  We know that God has called us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.
4. To enhance genuine fellowship and love for one another.  The Sunday School has the opportunity for people to develop meaningful spiritual relationships that will enhance their growth in Christ.  It provides ways to pray for and serve one another by meeting practical needs.  Trying to meet the needs of a multitude is an overwhelming task, but as we focus on those in our care, we can touch one life at a time, face to face and heart to heart.  This is the primary way Jesus did ministry and enhanced fellowship among His disciples and it is still effective today.
5. To help people discover the Word of God.  The Bible is the textbook of the Sunday School.  God’s Word changes lives.  However, every good teacher knows that people learn in different ways and at various learning levels.  So, the teacher adjusts his teaching style to make God’s Word understandable and easy for his class to learn.  Motivated by love for God and the people being taught, the teacher connects the struggles and needs of the learner with the solutions and principles of the Scripture, allowing people to discover how to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives.
The Sunday School experience can be truly life-changing as we keep the right objectives in mind.  Why we do a thing is at least as important as what we do and how we do it.  As we lead our Sunday School classes into a new decade, we recognize that great things begin with the right motivation.  May God be glorified as we work together to make disciples who worship God, grow in Christ and share Jesus with the world.
Posted on February 24, 2020 8:00 AM by Admin
Midwest Leadership Summit Breakout notes provided by Allen Suit, member, Mt. Carmel Baptist and Chairman ALT, CABA
Dr. Gary Mathes, AMS, Clay-Platte Baptist Assoc., Kansas City, Mo.
Note:  he did a good job of describing the various generations and the historical shapers of each generation (e.g., Builders, Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, Alpha).  I have asked for his presentation with all of the details.

•    Stop stereotyping and seek to understand each other.  (Covey approach)
•    Make mission the main thing.
     o    Too many churches let preferences trump mission.  No church is entitled to exist.  We are to be missional outposts.
     o    Need to be like the sons of Issachar – understand the times and know what to do.
     o    Like any mission effort, it is important to deal with location, language, and engagement.
•    Embrace the value of change
     o    Understand current demographics:  family structures, social pressures, tech changes.
     o    How do people communicate?
     o    Is your message relevant?  If your methods aren’t relevant, helpful, it will lead to wonder about the relevance of your message.
     o    Must deal with institutional, spiritual, moral, and legal
•    Be diligent to make Christian faith real & relevant
     o    Authentic, passionate for mission, don’t sugarcoat.
     o    Are digital natives and expect the church to be
     o    Desire for genuine worship vs. overly produced.
     o    Want to engage and make a difference.
     o    Hungry for real relationships.
•    Make mentoring a discipleship strategy.
Posted on February 18, 2020 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
After living in nine cities, Richmond, Va., had the best city planning by far. Before a new neighborhood or apartment complex could be built, studies were done to determine success potential. Professionals identified all the infrastructure that had to precede it. There must be widened roads with curbs, new stop lights, utilities run underground, and every lot staked out. Schools were built or expanded. A church plant to which I belonged was one of the first in an area being developed. When eventually homes or other buildings went in, traffic flowed better than ever. Families had infrastructure that supported them. The area became a boom town.

And that’s how it should be with church revitalization.

Church revitalization requires faith! Planning requires an active faith in God and faithful planning that honors God. In Exodus we read that the entire Egyptian Army was closing in on the Hebrews fleeing from bondage. Matters were urgent and the people knew it! God told Moses to stop standing there by the Red Sea. He was to hold out his staff and start moving. When Moses pointed the way, then God parted the waters and all the Hebrews left Egypt behind on dry ground. (See Exodus 14:16)

Which comes first? Where do you start?

Bill Hounshell has been working with several CABA churches. He’s had some early “wins” by helping them understand their community and its potential. For instance, he identified one church that wanted to wait until they had kids to update their area for kids.

“Many churches will do it when it happens,” Bill said, “instead of getting it ready to happen.”

Don’t be afraid to conduct a study of your community. CABA, through a license with the SCBO, can provide MissionInsight demographics of your church’s community. Take the clue from Georgia Baptists. They did a study among churches that showed those with evangelism plans dramatically increased baptisms. The community stat report is provided by CABA at no cost to your church. The need for planning is also why CABA offers Facility Assessments and Mystery Guests.

No Place Left training includes an opening session on Vision. Vision includes Brutal Facts and Urgency. If you’re looking toward revitalization for your church, then look at reality and wake your folks to the growing army of lostness! Those far from Jesus are coming after Christians in the Cincinnati Area through legislation, busyness, eroding biblical values, and ungodly entertainment options. Hold up the vision God gives you and get moving in faith.

Resources are available from CABA in many forms like MissionInsight and also include coaching from Brad Cunningham (, Bill Hounshell (, and the GC3 Summit Pastor’s Conference, April 20, at Clough Pike Baptist. The theme this year is “reVITALize!”
--Mark Snowden serves as Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on February 17, 2020 9:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
Over the years, the church has seen many church growth strategies come and go.  I’d read and studied many of them in detail—I even have some of the t-shirts!  I’ve seen some plans succeed and some fail.  I’ve seen some work well for a season (like the bus ministry), only to lose momentum and eventually fade away, at least for most churches.  But I have been, and continue to be, convinced that one of the greatest evangelism/discipleship/ministry tools of all time is the Sunday School and it continues to be at the heart of my ministry strategy as a pastor.  There are several reasons for that conviction.
Sunday School gives the ministry to the people.  Many church growth strategies are based on a “come hear me preach” philosophy.  That is, people are saved, discipled and ministered to by the professionals, and the willing, gifted members of the congregation are basically reduced to inviters.  Such a strategy doesn’t line up well with Ephesians 4:11-12 nor the Great Commission.
Sunday School is not a new program with built in resistance and hesitance for “buy in.”  Most churches do not need to be convinced that Sunday School is a viable ministry.  We don’t need a consultant to come and convince the people that this will work if they are willing to embrace it as a ministry.  It may need revitalization in some cases, but it doesn’t need to be sold to the people.
Sunday School is consistent with the New Testament model for ministry.  Clearly the early church used small groups for ministry.  Before the days of church buildings, meetings were held in homes as church members ministered to one another.  Through the hospitality of the small groups, the Bible was taught, fellowship deepened, ministry took place and people were reached.
Sunday School does not rely on people outside the church for its success.  We don’t have to schedule a revivalist to do Sunday School well.  We don’t have to hope someone new will join the church who has the special skills or gifts required.  Our people may need to be mentored and trained, but they have the ability to love people and give of themselves to see people discipled.
Sunday School uses the power of God’s Word.  We all know that the Word of God is powerful to transform lives.  Guess what—the Bible is the Sunday School textbook!  The scriptures in the hand of a spirit-filled teacher who really loves people is a powerful tool.
Sunday School is a ministry strategy the Holy Spirit can bless.  The Spirit is not grieved by Bible study.  The spirit is not quenched by people loving one another in practical ways.  The Holy Spirit enjoys blessing people in Christian community with one another.
Sunday School recognizes the need to minister at various stages of life and levels of learning.  It is difficult for a six-year-old to understand the value of the pre-millennial view of eschatology.  The Bible needs be taught on a six-year-old level to six-year-olds!  The Bible is always relevant, when it is taught well, and good Sunday School ministry is graded appropriately. 
This may sound strange, but maybe we need to start challenging the modern church to think inside the box!  Sunday School has a proven track-record for doing the things we say are important to the health and success of the church.  It hasn’t been around as long as the wheel, but maybe we don’t need to re-invent something that does what Sunday School already does.  Maybe we just need a fresh vision for the potential of something we already know and love.
Posted on February 12, 2020 8:00 AM by Ken Slaughter
Categories: Prayer
Will you adopt this New Year’s Resolution?

“Fully Embrace Prayer as a Way of Life.”

Southern Baptists desperately need to grow in prayer. We have a reputation for Bible literacy and mission work, but not so much for prayer. Let’s change that!

This year, will you commit to prayer? Pray regularly and with discipline. Pray alone… Pray Scripture back to God… Pray with your family, a small group, a mid-sized group, with your whole church… and commit to at least one prayer event that will include multiple churches.

As spiritually alive persons, we are created for this. It is essential to our being. We need to pray and others will benefit when we do. God desires that we become praying people and our churches become houses of prayer.

Prayer becomes indispensable to every true disciple of Jesus because: Through prayer we come to know our specific place and assignment in God’s Kingdom. The one who doesn’t pray can’t really be “on mission” because they’re out of communication with HQ. They’re spiritually AWOL!
Furthermore, prayer and Scripture are antidotes to the deceptions of the enemy.

God’s perfect design includes specific plans for our lives and our churches. Prayer helps us “see” and “know” what those are. I’m praying that in 2020, CABA churches will become houses of prayer filled with praying people gaining 20/20 spiritual vision.
--Ken Slaughter is CABA's Prayer Encourager and pastors Mt. Repose Church, Milfor, Oh.
Posted on February 10, 2020 8:00 AM by Chris Workman
Categories: Leadership
Midwest Leadership Summit Notes provided by Chris Workman, pastor, Harrison Ave. Baptist Church, Harrison, Oh.
Leading Your Church
Dr. Doug Munton
FBC O’Fallon, IL
Midwest Leadership Summit 2020
Springfield, IL
“What you do will come from who you are.”-Munton

What A Ministry Leader Needs to Be
1.    A growing follower of Jesus.
2.    A committed servant to others.
3.    A lover of God and people.
4.    A determined pursuer of God’s will.
5.    A godly example to others.
6.    A person of deep faith in God’s power.
7.    A faithful communicator of truth.
8.    An overcomer of past mistakes and failures. (We are broken healers)
9.    An encourager of ministry partners.
10.    A passionate “go-getter”
11.    A learning student of effective ministry.
12.    A person able to overcome discouragement.
What A Ministry Leader Needs to Do
1.    Vocalize the vision.
2.    Lead healthy change.
3.    Model the expectations.
4.    Make difficult decisions.
5.    Enlist and de-enlist.
6.    Connect with staff, volunteers and guests.
7.    Prioritize the priorities.
8.    Calm the turbulent and stir up the complacent.
9.    Define the win.
10.    Organize for effectiveness.
11.    Go after people for God’s glory.
12.    Communicate effectively.

January 28, 2020
Posted on February 6, 2020 8:00 AM by Admin
Categories: Leadership
(Hayden Shaw, based on his book Generational IQ)
Note:  his model that describes the various categories of change reactions is a good one.  Will need to get it out of the book.
     o    Ex.  Preservation (more security), progressive (up for any change), light-eaters (no change is any good)

•    Ask: “I wonder what they would prefer that is different from what we do” vs. “what’s wrong with them.”
•    Music runs deep into the brain.  Don’t underestimate the impact of the change here.
•    It’s not the change, it is the wave that follows.
     o    My change needs may be different than yours (per the model).
     o    Problem:  when the leader has no sympathy for those who find a change emotionally taxing.
     o    You must shepherd them through the change, not just preach at them.  Listen, listen, listen.
     o    Find ways to honor the past.
•    Your options:  find a safe place for them to go or kick them out (sacrifice them for the greater “good”)
     o    For those who are feeling left out or disenfranchised, they need to know they are safe.
•    Some see change as the enemy – it can be a gift.
•    Celebrate the change long afterwards, and keep listening.
•    Churches run on vision, businesses run on profit/cash.  It is easy to deflate the dreams at church.
•    Need to accelerate shepherding vs. preaching them through the change.
•    Can’t solve all emotional responses, but you can burp them like a baby (i.e., hold, soothe, listen, etc.)
Notes from Allen Suit attend breakout at Midwest Leadership Summit 2020. Allen chairs CABA's ALT and is a member of Mt. Carmel Baptist in Kenwood.
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