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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).
Posted on February 1, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership, Missions
When I was in my 20s, I nearly died and was healed only by the Lord. During that rough time, a thought hit me: Is what I'm doing making a difference? Does it matter?

While I was attending a Purpose Driven Church workshop in 2005, I heard Rick Warren tell attendees to place greeters at their church doors that represented the kind of person that they wanted their church to attract. If that’s 90 year-old men, then that’s okay.

Who does your church attract? To whom does you ministry matter to the glory of God?

Two studies released in 2011 really got my attention. As a leader in the Orality Movement, I couldn't help but notice. One study was by the University of Nebraska and the other was by the American Sociological Association. They showed that whites in America with high school educations declined in their frequency of church attendance, while those with college degrees were the most frequent attenders today.

Churches have increasingly developed a literate culture. After all, we're "people of the Bible." Look at your own church. Does it have a literate worldview preference? is it attracting literates? Almost everything that most church leaders typically are taught to do supports a literate worldview. Projected scripture, reading verses from all over the Bible, using fill-in-the-blank handouts, summarizing biblical narratives, conducting word studies, and exegeting texts. Unfortunately, these things create a non-reproducible environment by church members. There is a disconnect from the general population by literate worldview believers who rarely attract people other than those who are like themselves.

Roughly half of everyone in America struggles with literacy at the level used in the Bible. That statistic is from the U.S. Dept. of Education who conducted adult literacy studies in 1993 and again in 2003.

Training that relies on the literate approach produces believers that cannot easily pass along what they have learned. They often become irrelevant; they don’t matter. Meanwhile, I have heard complaints from the most highly educated pastors as I have traveled the globe that church members are just not witnessing as they should. If making disciples is important, shouldn't we be reproducible among all people, even oral learners? If we just keep doing the same thing, then rank and file church members will just continue to put in a good word for Jesus or invite people to church to hear the pastor, experience the music, or have a Bible study explained to them. No wonder so many churches have turned worship services into what some are calling a show!

So the ways of learning, thinking, and communicating that are second nature to most homiletics professors are dependent on high levels of literacy. We have had literacy skills so long that we forget what it was like before we acquired them. So we seldom recognize the literateness of our homiletical methods. We expect our students to use these skills in preparing and presenting sermons, perhaps unwittingly to the detriment of their listeners. – Grant Lovejoy, “‘But I Did Such Good Exposition’: Literate Preachers Confront Orality.” Journal of the Evangelical Homiletics Society 1 (December 2001): 22-32.

A pastor’s ability to explain the Bible to others is highly valued in training schools. However, is telling every detail of a passage the equivalent of a lawn sprinkler hoping some drops wet the random blade of grass? Are people staying with you or tuning you out? If you go deep, do they go with you?

Small groups that don’t lecture, but ask powerful open-ended questions do a great job at getting people to think. They interact with the text and can reproduce it orally in the workplace. Exegesis is not wrong, but it depends on who says it. If believers do the exegesis as the Holy Spirit leads them, then the church leader can do a better job of making disciples like Jesus did. And that matters.

Our association of churches is immersed in a community with one million unchurched and hundreds of thousands who are not born again. May we matter to them as we seek to be increasingly relevant. You may not be near death, but it never hurts to ask, "Is what I'm doing making a difference? Does it matter?"
Posted on January 19, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
If this association was a Winter Olympic event, it would be bobsledding. The runners count to get in sync, run flat out, and jump in together. They cross a point in which an electronic eye starts a timer. Most of the other Olympic events start from a standstill. Like bobsledding athletes, our pastors enter the New Year on the move!

Two years ago, even in the interview process, I heard how this association needed to work through pastors to help them become sending and fully missional churches. And we are now beginning a new day of associational missions to fulfill that challenge.

The 2018 Winter Olympics are scheduled February 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. During January and February, world-class athletes will gather to practice and compete. And during January and February here in the Cincinnati Area, CABA is launching new ways to help pastors address lostness. In the last edition of Focus, we listed nearly 30 people that are active in serving CABA churches. What a joy to see the fruit of their godly labor begin to grow!

CABA’s bobsled is on the rails and we’re moving. Full-time, bivo, church planters alike. We’re not starting from a standstill, but entering the race against lostness at a good clip. The clock is ticking! Jesus promised to return and we don’t know the hour. The Lord has used the past to ready us for this day. This time.

And we’re off – helping our pastors address lostness through coaching, networking, and planting churches. Together.
 
Mark Snowden is the CABA Missions Catalyst and serves as Director of Missional Leadership (DOM).
Posted on May 12, 2017 7:09 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
While I was leading a Bible study on spiritual warfare, one woman spoke up and said, “I don’t have to worry about spiritual warfare. I don’t witness, so Satan leaves me alone.”

What blessings this lady was missing in seeing others have a personal relationship with Jesus. To their credit, those who were in the Bible study stifled their shock and expressed their concern.

For the past 15 years, I have had a dozen prayer warriors who have committed to pray for me at least one time every week. They pray every week for my family because the first day of each month, I send out an email to them asking them to pray for Mary Leigh, my wife, and me. I’m detailed and specific. Sometimes I give them the exact date prayer cover is needed. They are partners in God’s mission in my life.

Ask any missionary what they need most and that they will usually say, “Prayer!” Southern Baptist missionaries are always grateful that the Cooperative Program giving from our churches provides their financial support. They don’t have to raise money, but they still have to do “friend-raising.” They raise their own support for volunteers to visit to augment their work and especially for providing prayer cover for them. The same for your associational missionary, too!

A prayer leader at the IMB once said, “Prayer doesn’t get you ready for missions. Prayer IS missions.” I agree. Prayer doesn’t force God to do anything and prayer is not a Santa wish-list. It is a supernatural way of connecting with God and aligning with His will and His purposes.

Involving others–at least one dozen—in what God has called you to do. It blesses you and them, too! How do you mobilize effective prayer? Here are two ideas:

1. Paint a word picture by telling your story. When we say, “Pray for the XX number of Navajo who are lost,” that’s one thing—generic and cold. It’s another to say, “Pray for my wife and I working with Sally. Sally is 14 and being pressured into sex trafficking. Pray that she will hear the good news of Jesus.” It’s specific, urgent, and still warm.

2. And don’t forget that sharing answers to specific prayer requests encourages more praying as the focus increasingly brings glory God. It’s not bragging, but allowing prayer warriors to celebrate with you!
 
Recruit at least a dozen prayer supporters who will engage in spiritual warfare alongside you. And consider joining CABA’s Prayer Team. Email Roger Hauck at karoghauck@gmail.com.
 
This year’s Associational Week of Prayer is scheduled May 14-20. Packets have been mailed to each church. Contact the CABA office to request pew envelopes and prayer guides. We have plenty!
Posted on April 10, 2017 8:06 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
2017 CABA Missions Report for Book of Reports
 
Fran Trascritti served six months as Missions Catalyst for CABA. He has resigned to take a position with LifeWay Resources and will be missed. In the six months that Dr. Trascritti served CABA, he worked with the CABA director to develop an association-wide Acts 1:8 missions strategy.
 
JERUSALEM:
a.     Hunger Funds: CABA changed its reporting forms in the first quarter 2017 to track God’s activity. Praise God for the 20 evangelistic encounters, six professions of faith and two baptisms. Two churches had 14 volunteers who served 424 hot meals just in the first quarter 2017. Let the CABA office know if your church has an evangelistic feeding opportunity. This project allows CABA to reimburse expenses through giving to the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio and the North American Mission Board to the glory of God! 100% of giving to Hunger goes to meals. SBC Hunger Funds go to provide hot meals.
b.     Global Impact Conference: CABA joined in with Urbancrest to help support their GIC with more than 800 attending from five CABA churches. Mission education came in the form of booths, displays, testimonies, and a “Taste and See” night with foods from around the world.
c.     Plans are underway to begin Unfunded Church Planting. Travis Smalley, Oliver Hawkins, Fran Trascritti, and Mark Snowden met to begin planning for (unfunded) church planting by lay and bi-vocational approaches.
 
JUDEA:
a.     Mission Trips to Cincinnati are encouraged by every church. God has placed us in nine counties. A Mapping Project is planned to identify peoples in our communities, focus prayer, and then connect with them here, there, and everywhere.
b.     The Cincinnati Area has agreed to a partnership with the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board through 2019. Whenever a church visits Cincinnati, then we should respond with missions back in their community.
c.     P2 Missions and World Changers are planned this July. Volunteer to help with meals and prayer.
 
SAMARIA:
NEW! Boston: CABA has been approved to join in with other Ohio Baptists who have ongoing partnerships with New England. Mark Jones, SCBO partnership coordinator has requested CABA work in Boston. How you doin’?
 
ENDS OF THE EARTH:
NEW! Refugees of Southern Italy: CABA’s leaders have accepted the strategic opportunity to join in with other Ohio Baptists who have an ongoing partnership with southern Italy – from Naples to the refugees of Italy’s “heel.” Steve Long, SCBO partnership coordinator, requested that we coordinate work with Steve Brown, IMB missionary serving in Naples, Italy. Ciao!
Posted on October 1, 2016 9:13 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
Colin Marshall and Tony Payne in their book, The Trellis and the Vine, pointed to the need for the structure of the church to bear healthy spiritual fruit. They framed this balancing act by describing a vine that grew on a trellis.
If your priority is the trellis, then you’ll trim the vine to grow to fit the trellis (institutional boundaries). Some caretakers become so enamored with the trellis that they fail to tend to the vine. And the vine is what produces the fruit.
 
Snippets from the vine can be added to additional trellises to spread the fruit-bearing Gospel, mainly by church planting.
 
So why not just plant new churches and channel all evangelism in that direction? I am fully supportive of rapidly-reproducing church planting.
 
In the two church plants with which I have been related, less than 5% of their members were newly born-again and baptized. Most members came from other churches; baptisms being primarily from those transferring membership from non-Baptist or mainline Christian denominations using sprinkling.
 
So if Cincinnati’s 1.5 million lost are to be saved in THIS generation, church-based evangelism carried out through disciple-making is essential, right along with church planting efforts. And I must add that this can also be done through unfunded church multiplication. The good news is that models exist that can be used right away.
Workers in the Harvest is a training method I have used to start new churches on a shoestring. After training 19 church members in Missouri, they started a biker church and a Hispanic church within 90 days. Another church began sending out pairs to witness to form new small groups.
 
New churches are not your church’s competition. Sinful lifestyles, recreational pursuits, and entertainment makes people too busy for our churches. As David Garrison noted in Church Planting Movements, we must remove barriers within our churches so that when God chooses to begin a CPM, there are as few as possible to restrict growth.
CABA and its churches must tend to both the trellis and the vine, drawing ever closer to Jesus because apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).
 
SIDEBAR:
Survival Rate for Church Planting
 
Quinton Moss, the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio (SCBO) church planting leader, in September, told our group of state and associational missions leaders that over the past 10 years, 306 SBC churches were started in Ohio and 216 still exist; a 70.6% success rate. In the past five years, 169 churches were planted with 138 still functioning; an 81.7% success rate.
 
In 2007, NAMB studied nine evangelical agencies and found that 68% succeeded across the U.S. And, of those who did get a church planted, the average attendance after three years was 73 people.
 
If  new churches average 73 people, then the 1.5 million lost in Cincinnati require 20,548 churches.
NAMB working through the SCBO provides each church planter $900 per month the first year, $700/ mo. 2nd yr, and $500/mo. 3rd year. CABA supports each planter $100/mo. the first three years. Over the three years, each planter receives $26,400 total.
 
 
Posted on September 1, 2016 9:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: 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.
 
Genesis 11 described people that had one language that started to build a great city and a tower that would reach to the heavens. God confused their language and the act scattered people across the earth. The building project stopped, but was forever labeled, “Babel,” which we associate with unintelligible babbling.
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. Today, the Cincinnati Area compares too closely!
 
More than 2,000 years later, Acts 2 told of 120 followers of Jesus who prayed 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.
 
A missionary was waiting for me at the Mexico City airport, but he was 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. Pray for opportunities!
 
(c) 2016 Mark Snowden