Blog
Posted on September 3, 2019 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
This summer I visited South Asia. One city’s population tops 12 million making it a giga-city. And it is 99.9% non-evangelical Christian. The trip culminates an Acts 1:8 model for CABA pastors.
 
My director of missional leadership job description includes being active in my local church. For the past two years, I have served as Missions Committee
 
Chairman at Clough Pike Baptist. Josh Carter is the pastor. The committee caught the Acts 1:8 vision working among So. Asian Indians and the church adopted it.
 
Clough Pike now has an active partnership here in Cincinnati with a NAMB church planter. Last February, I led a team to Boston to work with the (only) So. Asian Indian (NAMB) church planter in Boston. These godly men are both from the same state in So. Asia, so in July, I led a vision team to what we’re calling Curry City, for security purposes.
 
This “Glocal” challenge started here in Cincinnati. So. Asian Indians are one of Cincinnati’s largest people segments. Who would the Lord have you engage here in Cincinnati, Boston, and around the world? There are 47 people segments in the Cincinnati Area, but only 11 are engaged. That means some 36 peoples have no one evangelizing among them.
 
When we contacted the IMB, the missionaries overseas said, “You’ll need to use No Place Left when you work in So. Asia.” The team that was traveling from Clough Pike was glad because we’ve all become NPL trainers in the past year. When we visited Boston, we trained that church in NPL methods.
 
Sitting at a coffee shop one day, I shared Three Circles with a Hindu man. He wanted to know more and gave us his contact information. But across from us was a local lawyer who was already a born-again Christian. He said, “That was fantastic hearing you witness like that! Can you teach me?!” So, he slid in next to me and for 45 minutes, I trained a brother who had never witnessed before how to share his faith and make disciples.
 
So, don’t just ask, “where” can I serve? Instead, try asking God “who” needs a witness here, there, and over there? You might just end up eating the best curry of your life!
 
-- Mark Snowden serves as the director of missional leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on August 19, 2019 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
Within 90 days of teaching 19 church members from several churches how to start a church, they had begun a biker church and a Hispanic church. A biker complained that the seminary had yet to send them a biker. And nobody in the training was very good at speaking Spanish. Nobody spent any money. Yet, this model is both simple and effective.
 
Here is how any church can start a new church. NAMB has a pipeline for planters and CABA is capable of helping with traditional church planting and even multi-site, which is now popular. And, available to your church through CABA is a process that is based on Acts and does not require funding. It’s like church planting for the rest of us. And it’s in seven steps that rely totally on the Holy Spirit.

1.    Prayerfully mobilize teams of two that go out to do the work of the Lord.
2.    Address lostness by understanding the people, area, or interests.
3.    Develop a master plan to help everyone be onboard and focused.
4.    Evangelize abundantly through relationship-building and follow-up.
5.    Gather new believers into small groups and meet whenever it suits them.
6.    Coach leaders from within the group including pastor and teachers.
7.    Mobilize believers from the new church to seek new people and places.
 
Church members doing the planting keep their membership and tithe in their sending church. Pastors serve as encouraging champions. As CABA’s coordinator for church planting, it is my role to coach and connect with them. Funds are budgeted by CABA to develop and support church planting teams of church members.
 
These types of church plants work anywhere as they are a biblical model. We’ve seen them fit a unique niche where church members do not have much disposable income – refugees earning minimum wages (peoples), low income apartment complexes and university students (places), and some groups associating around a unifying purpose such as bikers, shift workers, or truckers (interest).
 
Pastors might look for these seven characteristics that seem to fit successful apostolic disciple-makers:
a.    Highly relational outgoing people who make friends easily; joiners
b.    Maturing believers looking for “next”; risk-takers
c.    Those who are often restless and sometimes criticize the status quo
d.    Strong in faith and seeking ways to be spiritually more mature
e.    Often bite off more than they can chew; love being busy
f.    May appear capable, but might lead a pastor to not easily trust them
g.    Comfortable attending other churches and Christian events
 
The Apostle Paul would easily be identified as having a missionary gift. Right by his side on the Second Journey was Silas, who was a prophet. Timothy was very much a shepherd / teacher in his own right. And Luke evangelized through writing the Gospel and Acts. Each of those character qualities are captured in Ephesians 4:11 apostle, prophet, evangelist, preacher/teacher. Perhaps Paul remembered his effective missionary band (recorded in Acts 16) and recognized those leaders in Ephesus. Their purpose was to bring the church to maturity. And healthy things multiply.
 
In the Lord’s timing when you’re ready, a short manual is available from Snowden Ministries. The book is Workers in the Harvest: Missionary Training for Church Members. Write SnowdenMinistries@gmail.com.
Posted on June 18, 2019 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
The Cincinnati Area Baptist Association exists to address lostness through pastors. CABA decided at its Annual Meeting October 2017 to no longer fund church planters in order to appropriate funds (about $100/mo.) into services that would benefit them rather than fund them. Here are several services that CABA is blessed to provide to church planters.
 
1.    CABA has employed a Network & Fellowship Coordinator, a Church Coach, and a Block Party Ministry Coordinator to augment the work of the Director of Missional Leadership. At the present time, the association’s ministry works through nearly 30 pastors and church leaders across the Cincinnati Area to benefit church planters and existing churches alike. Treating church planters the same as pastors in the association means being available to them for networking, coaching, and providing services to them as needs arise. Connecting to these quality resources is at no cost to planters. Financial support of CABA by the church plants is voluntary and appreciated.
 
2.    Prayer is always a priority for planters and pastors. CABA has an active prayer ministry with several dedicated prayer warriors ready to pray at a moment’s notice. Other prayer needs may be broader and may be shared, when requested, through CABA’s communications channels.
 
3.    Planters appreciate half-price rentals on trailers, tents, and food machines as part of CABA’s Block Party Ministry. The Trailer REservation SyStem (TRESS) is available to make reservations at www.CincinnatiBaptist.com and click on TRESS on the toolbar to get started. Included as a benefit is repairs at no cost to the planter. A delivery and pick-up service valued at $50.00 and mileage for the driver normally charged to churches is offered free to all SBC plants and charged to CABA instead.
 
4.    Church planters and their spouses are provided with free biblical counseling from licensed counselors with doctorates or masters in biblical counseling. This is billed at $100 per hour-long session directly to CABA with no charges to the planter.
 
5.    A free logo service is available to church plants to assist with their branding and image communication. A professional graphic designer(s) are available to work with the planter to convey the image that best represents their ministry. A fee of $100 per logo is charged to CABA instead.
 
6.    Networks – planters are invited to gather with CABA pastors for training, support, and fellowship. Networks are convened according to geography or covo / bivio status. Regional conveners are paid $100 per month by the association to facilitate peer learning, prayerful support, and fellowship. The Cincinnati Area has been divided into zones because a planter’s time is valuable and this association is physically large, covering nine counties. Each meeting usually includes a meal provided by CABA.
 
7.    Coaching – World-class coaching is available to help CABA planters break through barriers by developing strategy, structures, staffing, budget, and measures to enable the plant to achieve and sustain vitality. Coaching helps planters break through barriers by sticking to a plan rather than managing for the exception. Coaching also includes mystery guest and facilities assessment for free. The Coach is provided free to each planter and on a retainer of $1,000 per month by CABA.
 
8.    Fellowships are conducted at least quarterly to involve planters and sometimes their wives and children. Fellowships are planned for just the wives, too. The idea is to provide a break in different venues that a planter and his family may not be able to do on their own. Sporting events, park experiences, family fun nights, and other gatherings are typical of the fellowships provided to planters to give them, their wives, and families a sense of connectedness.
 
9.    CABA helps church planters keep planting more new churches. New churches are more likely to start a new church than a church that is five or more years old. CABA prioritizes an unfunded church multiplication approach through missionary teams of church members, bi-vocational members, and going multi-site. The whole association has become a church planting support system, including raising up indigenous church leaders, including new pastors.
 
10.    Funding for one-shot evangelism blitzes, mailings, and other community engagement is available.
 
11.    CABA’s Church Planting Teams Council stands ready to support any church that plants a new church on its own. That means the Council supports new church planting efforts started by a Southern Baptist church-related plant that is already underway in the Cincinnati Area. Information is provided to help prioritize next steps whether it is among a group like them or whether they must cross-cultures to work among some other group. This group is comprised of a pastor, a planter, and a family specialist. The Council provides a safe environment for strategy plan feedback, strategic funding for survey projects, evangelistic blitzes, and family helps such as parental workshops or marital counseling.
 
12.    New churches reach a point in which they are self-sustaining. At this point, usually when it is about three years after launching, churches are invited to enter a credentialing process to be received as a voting member of the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. A guide titled, “A Closer Look” is available to planters as early as possible to help them understand how they can become part of CABA’s missional community. The free guide addresses issues like tax-exempt status, which can save a church plant hundreds of dollars and many hours.
 
13.    CABA has found that No Place Left is a highly effective evangelism/discipleship training module that can start new small groups and churches. This training has been offered three times per year and an NPL Intensive offers advanced training for those who have gone through the initial training. This commitment includes six weeks of follow-up coaching after the initial NPL training.
 
14.    CABA supports church plants by helping them avoid dependency in their additional new church plants as their funding runs out. CABA’s commitment to church planting takes a long-term view. CABA is dedicated to rapid multiplication to be used of the Holy Spirit to win more lost and connect with more needs than a one-and-done experience. CABA provides coaching for laity, bi-vocational, and multi-site church planting. And CABA can guide individuals to participate with NAMB, too.
 
This association of SBC churches praises God for the church planters who are part of NAMB’s SEND City effort. We facilitate each chuch’s mission work among the lost through the funds provided by churches and plants. We always recommend giving 7% to the Cooperative Program (State Convention of Baptists in Ohio) and 3% to associational causes (Cincinnati Area Baptist Association) from the church’s undesignated receipts. The two entities are funded separately.
 
Checks written to SCBO go to 9000 Antares Ave., Columbus, OH 43240.
Checks written to CABA go to P. O. Box 54885, Cincinnati, OH 54254.
 
CABA is committed to doing everything possible for church planters to praise God through its relationship. It’s certainly not “us and them.” Planters are considered very much a part of CABA’s network of developing churches to the glory of God.
 
Mark Snowden
Director of Missional Leadership
Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
December 20, 2017, revised June 20, 2019
Posted on February 15, 2019 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
A farmer spent years teaching his son how to plow, plant, and harvest. Through years the farmer grew old. By 1947, the man was a grandfather and his son now had a boy of his own. Together, the two men watched the son plow by himself for the first time. By the middle of the day, the son had grown weary and was far from finished. He looked up at the house and his father held out a glass of water. When he got to the house he saw food and a pitcher of lemonade.

As the son devoured the meal, he said, “Dad, thanks for letting me do it. I know you know what I am doing wrong. Tell me how to do this better.”

His dad with a smile said, “Thanks for asking, son. I have noticed your horses are pulling against each other. You need to reset the harness. And your plow needs to be tilted another 8 ½ degrees.”
    
The son said, “Thanks, Dad. I knew you would know what I needed to do.” He ran down the hill, made the changes and began to cut right through the field!

The Dad was very pleased that his son had asked for help. He turned and thanked his Dad for all the instruction and years of training.

With a smile, Granddad said, “Don’t we have another team in the barn?”

That’s all Granddad had to say for the Dad to immediately go get the horses and the other plow and head for the field where his son had now covered two-thirds of the field. Joining his son, the work was accomplished in short order and all three men celebrated around the dinner table that evening.

Because a grandfather had been a good father, he was able to teach his son and impact lives for generations.
A missions leader at DAWN, a para-church organization, told that story to make a point about the need for making disciples. And can those disciples make disciples?

Plowing, planting, and harvesting for the Kingdom of God is hard work. When reading about church planting movements in Steve Smith and Ying Kai’s book, T4T: Training for Trainers, in my flesh I was actually pleased to see that they just didn’t show up and a movement started. Now, don’t get me wrong. A movement did start by God’s power, but they faithfully worked very hard.

Smith said, “It will be hard work—it has to be. You’ll be exhausted at times. But it must be kingdom work. Work counterintuitively: don’t do things the way you expect them to work naturally, but rather look for the very different ways God’s kingdom operates” (122).

We all want to experience a harvest, but often forget about plowing and planting. A very determined missionary in the Middle East once told me, “The fields are not only not ripe unto harvest, we’re spending a lot of our time busting up boulders and hauling off gravel trying to find some dirt to do the sowing.”

Jesus told the Parable of the Sower to emphasize the seed was sown in different soils (see Mark 4:1-20). The seed was the Word of God and the soils represented the hearts of those who received the Gospel message. While I do not believe anyone in Jesus’ day thought that the sower lost three-fourths of his seed, the sower did know his field. And he knew what seed would grow when planted in the good soil.

As your family and friends gather for Christmas, look upon it as a time for sharing the Christmas story and the essence of the Gospel—why Jesus came. Spend a little time plowing and planting in your fields for a spiritual harvest that impacts lives for generations.
 
Mark Snowden is the Director for Missional Leadership for the the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on November 28, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
In Fahrenheit 451, author Ray Bradbury depicted book-burning as a way to control the masses. The government in that dystopian future wanted to stamp out dissenting voices. In their place, people were given access to “parlor walls,” which were giant flatscreen televisions airing sappy entertainment and sports. Even Bibles were discarded in the trash or burned. The story’s hero eventually discovered a country hideaway where individuals had memorized entire books. Because a war broke out without them knowing it due to government censorship, everyone was amazed when their city was bombed out of existence. Only those who had memorized the books lived to start over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The equivalent of “parlor walls” in the form of flatscreen TVs are going up in many homes. Biblical illiteracy has created a vacuum in the younger generations. Yet, men and women who are willing to stay informed, keep their faith strong, and line up with other believers can provide the Gospel seed for our generation, even if is done so in blood.
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership, Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. His Twitter handle is @wmarksnowden
Posted on November 1, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
     In the third grade, my buddy Jimmy let me borrow his new glasses. I shouted, “Hey Mom, when you wear these glasses you can see every leaf and every blade of grass!”
     Mom said, “And you can’t?”
     Let’s just say that I had my first pair of glasses within a couple of weeks! We sometimes need to borrow others’ glasses to help us focus.
     In IMB missionary Nik Ripken’s book, The Insanity of Obedience, there were a few pages that addressed the focus of mission work. He drew three triangles that represented priorities. He described the consequences of each from a missionary perspective. If the focus was on Triangle 1: Sending Agency and Triangle 2: Missionaries, then work among Triangle 3: the Lost was hampered and created entitlement in some cases.
     In Luke’s account of the growing church, three phases emerged. In general, these characterizations matched up with Ripken’s three triangles.
     Jerusalem Church had an organizational structure. Persecution scattered it. Its leaders had authority over members. There was an inward focus. They settled doctrinal disputes. They investigated Antioch. It was traditional enough for Jewish converts.
     Antioch Church was where believers were called “little Christs.” They prayed and fasted before making decisions. Doors were open to all. They supported their members on mission. They broke traditions observed in Jerusalem, but they sent out very few into God’s harvest fields.
     Harvest provided resources for mission teams, relief gifts for Jerusalem church, and churches started churches with no expectations of support. Harvest reaction brought persecution, the need for discipleship, and counsel from godly leaders.
     It got me thinking about evangelizing among the lost. How much of a priority are they really? And then I thought about discipling efforts in our Baptist churches. What if Sunday School teachers and small group leaders focused primarily upon the needs of their participants or the church to which they belonged? Or what if the Lost were seen merely as not-yet members of our existing churches? Would they be expected to assimilate to the dominant church culture?
     Is it possible for churches to really prioritize the lost in God’s Harvest fields? How would that change things? Would baptisms increase? Would believers awaken to the power of God’s Word active and alive in their lives despite the cost of discipleship?
     Top Priority 1. Harvest: Rather than just looking at lost people and new believers to be convinced to come to our existing churches, why not think about unsaved or newly-saved as truly part of God’s Harvest fields? (Luke 10:2) What if the resources in the Harvest launched new small groups that formed new churches rather than return to solely bless the sending church? The church in Jerusalem scattered only after Stephen’s martyrdom. But later, the church in Antioch rejoiced that God was opening new doors of faith among all peoples (Acts 4:27).
     Lesser Priority 2: Church members: When focused on the lost in the Harvest, it is likely that your church members will suffer. Think of Paul being stoned, imprisoned, etc. Antioch’s “sent ones” sacrificed their time, money, and resources. They endured peer pressure and persecution. If your church members suffer serving God’s purposes, will you celebrate instead of clamping down? Disciple-making is geared to multiplication and sending into the Harvest. Members know success is not measured by attendance.
     Lesser Priority 3: Church/denomination – Focusing on the Harvest sends a clear message to church members that biblical disciple-making is costly. They don’t just send out a few, but continually send as many as possible. Making disciple-makers becomes the norm as priorities shift. It sets a clear example for new believers in the Harvest to follow when persecution kicks in. Meanwhile resources and services may need to be limited.
     Thanks for letting me try on your glasses, Nik. It helped me re-focus. What does God bring into focus for you?
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association

 

Posted on September 5, 2018 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
When Jim Breeden, director, St. Louis Metro Assoc., gave me a copy of the newly reprinted book Indonesian Revival, by the late Avery Willis, I wasn’t expecting much. But Jim hand me a real gift.
 
Indonesian Revival documented a people movement that occurred in 1966-68 in which two million Javanese came to faith in Christ. It’s not only a good read, but Avery based it on his doctoral dissertation at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The trigger for the revival was that the government of Indonesia passed a law requiring every citizen to declare their religion. In a matter of two years, two million people aligned with Christians. They learned about Christ, often seeking out churches to understand the Bible, salvation, and basics of the faith.

Out of five evangelical denominations that had tremendous growth, the Baptists among whom Avery worked as a missionary had the least growth. That’s right. The work that Southern Baptists were engaged in had the fewest converts, baptisms, and numeric church growth. They also required believers to dress and act like Christians in the southern United States.

Avery’s bias toward literate worldview is on display in the book. Avery mentioned that 93% of the Javanese were illiterate at the time of Dutch independence in 1942, but never again addressed their inability to handle the literacy required to read God's Word. And he frequently stressed the importance of reading Scripture in disciple-making efforts while lamenting the lack of seminary-trained leaders. Yet, it was not until 2000 that Avery started to get a handle on what could have been done to use orality to win more to faith in Christ. It makes you wonder if he thought so many others could have come to faith in Christ during that movement of the Lord.

Avery’s remarkable shift to using orality is documented in Truth That Sticks. He helped found the International Orality Network and was its first executive director. My intent is not to provide an analysis of Avery’s work from 1977, but through my orality lens, it is now startling to contrast how a literate worldview bias influenced the bedrock strategy of evangelicals and particularly Baptist missionaries at that time. One unidentified leader said that the pre-Baptism classes lasted three months to a year. He said that "probably twice as many people were refused baptism for failing to meet the requirements as were baptized" (147). It does not say the "catechism" used a literate approach, but the reader is given that assumption.

There were 13 Church Growth Coordinates (228) that Avery identified. These coordinates were responsible for how believers were introduced to Christ. Some methods were rapid. Others were slow. Avery made comparisons such as nurture (slow) vs. evangelism (rapid), clergy (slow) vs. laity (rapid), and classes (slow) vs. masses (rapid). I wonder if Avery could revisit this analysis today if literacy methods would be slow and addressing those with orality preferences would be fast?

After studying this revival, I wonder what evangelistic efforts across the Cincinnati Area could be still just as biblical, but rapid, especially among adults. Is it possible to accelerate response to the Gospel by giving the Holy Spirit more opportunities to work?

Consider making these changes based on ideas generated by Indonesian Revival:
1.    Know the lost. Transform communities from their worldview toward biblical alignment. Listen carefully, catching nuances. Learn from cultural informants. Adapt without compromising the gospel.
2.    Learn and use oral methods. In Missouri, 90% struggle with reading comprehension on the level the Bible requires. Thousands in the Cincinnati Area struggle with the literacy required just for a job application.
3.    Emphasize disciple-making. The early church in Acts baptized quickly and sought to disciple because they lived life together. Disciples who can make disciples is the best indicator that you’re doing it in obedience to Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20).
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on August 15, 2018 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism, Missions
Nobody met me at the Mexico City airport. And from what I could tell, nobody was speaking English. I had to reach deep for every syllable I had learned in a Spanish class just to navigate across town. When I later paid the taxi driver in pesos and walked toward my destination the sense of accomplishment was incredible. God had kindly immersed me – sink or swim – in an alien culture. And for a 21 year-old at the time, that was a really big deal.
 
What I remember most about my arrival as a summer volunteer in Mexico was the chatter of unintelligible voices. I love the sound of people speaking other languages and particularly Español. The language has a melodic rhythm that I love to hear. Unlike my Spanish learning labs, nobody was speaking each word dis-tinct-ly and s-l-o-w-l-y. It was several weeks later until I could pick out words and begin to make sense of the river of sound gushing from Mexicans that I really wanted to understand. I once caught a pastor label me “El Mudo,” meaning “The Mute.” When he realized I understood what he said, I then heard him say in Spanish something like “be careful what you say, he understands more than he speaks.”
 
Genesis 11 describes people that had one language that started to build a great city and a tower that would reach to the heavens. God was cut out of their plans. So, God confused their language and the act scattered people across the earth. The building project stopped, but was forever labeled, “Babel.”
 
The primary sin of the people of Babel was leaving God out. Rather than having an opportunity to work with God, their apathy and self-reliance blocked them from joining God’s mission in a God-denying world. Sound familiar?
More than 2,000 years later, Acts 2 tells of 120 followers of Jesus who were praying during the Pentecost festival.
 
When the Holy Spirit came upon them, they spilled out into the streets of Jerusalem telling everyone the mighty works of God. And they did it in the languages of those they encountered.
 
When contrasting Babel with Pentecost, it’s easy to see what happens when believers pray expectantly. God equips them to be His effective witnesses, even when testifying to His greatness among those with a different language or culture.
 
God wants an opportunity to work through us, not despite of us. At Babel, the people chose to work together in the most aggressive building project known to mankind….but without God. They missed the opportunity and it brought disunity. At Pentecost, when empowered by God, the believers’ community was transformed as 3,000 repented, believed on Jesus, were baptized, and became disciple-makers.
 
Yes, it is hard to cross-cultures to take the Gospel, but the Holy Spirit provides and empowers. There are few higher honors given than to learn a lost person’s language.
 
Years ago, I received a call from a woman who was upset about illegal immigrants working in her community. But the reason she called was to ask, “Am I supposed to witness even to illegal immigrants?” I shared with her that legal or not, when any person returns to their homeland as a born-again Christian, they could share the good news of Jesus as they went. She was quiet a long time. Then she actually sighed and said, “Okay, I’ll witness to them.”
 
Pray for God to send workers into His harvest field to adopt one of the Cincinnati Area’s some 40+ immigrant people groups. Some have churches planted among them, but some have just been discovered and are not likely to be born again.
 
A missionary was waiting for me at the airport, but waiting at the wrong airline. Mistakes happen. However, I believe that when we align our lives with God’s mission, He provides a way – even if it’s just to get a guy like me – or you – across town and onto the Lord’s harvest field.
 
 
Mark Snowden serves as the Director for Missional Leadership of the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on April 14, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
Many proclaim that everyone in their church is a missionary! Now you and every member in your church can be trained as missionaries. No Place Left is a movement for those who have heard God’s call upon their lives. It’s not a denomination or a doctrine. It’s biblical. Church members in turn, will not only work in the harvest fields, but they will be used of the Lord to pray out other workers into the harvest fields.

In Luke’s gospel, he noted that Jesus gathered His disciples together and sent them on a mission. They were to go out two-by-two to help the people before telling them that Jesus was on His way. As Jesus looked out over those who were obediently following Him, He was moved to the point that He gave them a missionary command. These 70 went out to at least 35 towns in their homeland.

“And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2 ESV).

Workers in the Harvest. That’s you. That’s me. And that’s people who have yet to be saved.

Jesus fully completed the work that the Father had given Him to do. His parting commands were recorded for us as a reminder today.

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20 CSB).

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 CSB).

The calling and goal of all missionaries is to make disciples. These followers of Jesus then want to be together in a church that constantly reproduces itself. Missionaries want to evangelize, start churches, help members mature, and train church leaders. Whether using confrontational evangelism or ministry projects to convey the gospel relationally, they are both a means to the end of seeing all peoples have a saving relationship with Jesus.

On June 1 and 2 in Cincinnati, we’re conducting training called No Place Left. It seeks to form teams, evangelize in a way that forms small groups. And then they help that group take on characteristics of a church. Church members involved in NPL methods keep their membership in their sending church as well as their tithe.
 
NPL training requires sacrifice, but one that followers of Jesus will find affirming. Church leaders will recognize that missionaries already exist in their midst. Their work should be recognized as a significant ministry in their church.
For details and to register go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/no-place-left-cincinnati-tickets-44221102508?aff=es2
Posted on March 1, 2018 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
This is to put out a call for people across Cincinnati who will begin addressing lostness in new ways:
1.    Willing to throw parties.
2.    Regularly invite people into your home.
3.    Make the most of spontaneous encounters.
4.    Become the life of your neighborhood or where your relationships are being forged. When life happens, you become the go-to people.

Those four things are what two guys named Hugh and Matt decided to do. They had jobs and families. But for a year, they worked hard at engaging people and made friends with fifty people. Fifty. When their neighbors noticed several cars outside Hugh’s home, he told them, “We like to have some time together where we intentionally talk about life and God.” When a neighbor asked, “Is that something that is open for us to come to?” They said, “Sure, whenever you want. We’ll let you know when we’re getting together next.” And that’s how a new church was birthed.
 
Now, that happened in Denver to two serious church planters named Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, recounted in their book: And, the Gathered and Scattered Church (Exponential Series, 2010). They continue to be bi-vocational – working and planting.
 
Pastors, in your church, who’s up for making friends and also telling them how to align their life story with the story of Jesus? And who is up for helping start new small groups of your friends and have their gatherings take on characteristics of a church?
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership (DOM) for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association (CABA).
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