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Posted on March 30, 2021 8:00 AM by Jason McKinney
We don’t lack tools to go out and share, or to engage those who come to us (though perhaps some tools are better choices than others). You’ve likely heard much about Three Circles as a tool for sharing the gospel. It’s simple, reproducible, biblical and sticky. There are, of course, other good tools. Tools are only good if they are used!
 
What is often neglected regarding the use of our tools is that they are excellent filters. Our 15-second Testimony, 3 Circles and other methods let us know where someone is. They may be a Red light, someone who is not interested. Perhaps they are a Yellow light – interested but not ready to commit – in which case we can continue sharing stories of hope (people encountering Jesus). They may be a Green light, ready to follow Jesus! Still they could be a believer after all. We won’t know until we use a filter.
 
Throughout the path of discipleship, there are filters that allow us to see who’s desirous of going further and who’s a red or yellow light. Jesus often applied filters, such as parables, questions and hard teachings, to draw out those ready for more. Jesus modeled how to make disciples; we need only follow His model.
 
We need to be proficient with our toolset, but also recognize where to invest our own time. Our tools are our filters; we need to use them wisely. 
 
--Jason McKinney is CABA's church planting coach. He pastors One Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. 
Posted on March 5, 2021 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
Why yes, of course, I’m glad to not eat meat offered to idols! No worries. That might cause someone weaker to sin and I wouldn’t want to do that. 
 
Wear a mask and socially distance? Why would I do that? What do you mean someone may stay away from my church because we are exercising our freedom?! That sin is on them, right? They’re just weak, I tell you! Hey, let’s get back to meat offered to idols. I don’t like that anyway. 
 
Of course, I remember that verse in 1 Corinthians that says “everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful [or] builds up.” (10:23 CSB). 
 
Are you saying that wearing a mask and socially distancing during a pandemic with new variants could make it possible for the weaker among us to fellowship with us again? Would non-believers be more likely to check us out as well? I hadn’t thought about that. 
 
I don’t think you’re talking about meat offered to idols. I guess this meat and mask stuff do go together because “no one is to seek his own good, but the good of the other person” (10:24). 
 
Yes, I’ll listen to another Bible verse. Is this one going to hurt, too?
 
“I also try to please everyone in everything, not seeking my own benefit, but the benefit of many, so that they may be saved” (10:33). 
 
So, okay, I have freedom, but I’ll gladly limit that to help others come to Christ!
 
--Mark Snowden wears a mask during the Covid pandemic as director of the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. 
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 January 8, 2020 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
Not too long ago, the IMB gave each missionary a quota of how many gospel tracts they needed to distribute each month. And by the end of the month, some missionaries in the Americas admitted to getting in their cars and throwing tracts out their window at the people waiting at bus stops.
It was the first drive-by peltings.
 
They carried no accountability other than to get rid of tracts. But were they being held accountable in the things that brought spiritual transformation?
What are you counting in your church? How do you count disciple-making? Tracts given away? Quarterlies distributed? Budget used up? We have trustees, financial committees, and watch closely over the money counters. Could you imagine if they were just counting offering envelopes each week? Silly, right? But is the same umph-with-wisdom being given to disciple-makers? What’s your church’s oversight look like?
 
Pastors occasionally connect with me about disciple-making efforts for their church. It was great talking with a church planter / preacher in another state recently regarding his attempt to preach in hopes that his (so-so) sermons would be enough to disciple his congregation. Working together, I had him contrast his ability to disciple from the pulpit with small group leaders facilitating weekly meetings among 9 to 12 people.
 
The size of the small group determines the need for accountability. When the participants can “hide” in the larger group, then they tend to stop growing in the Lord.
 
Another leader who served as a discipleship strategist in another state called me. He was concerned for some “creeping” backsliding and occasional doctrinal error among some small groups that were developing their own Bible studies. With this leader, the key was to help him train small group leaders to hold their group participants accountable for what they volunteer to do, believe, say, decide, etc.
 
It’s truly all about making disciples. Accountability defines spiritual growth and multiplication. And it is far too often overlooked.
It’s time to hit the brakes and stop driving by real opportunities people are seeking to grow in Christ and multiply themselves in the lives of others.
 
--Mark Snowden is the Director for Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on July 15, 2019 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
When I accepted Jesus as my Savior as a boy, I walked the aisle at the end of an evangelistic service. Someone filled out a card with my name and address and then the pastor presented me to the church. I was voted in as a member right on the spot pending my baptism.

Churches today are taking a closer look at how they receive decisions. Those who continue to live a lifestyle contrary to biblical teaching are being received under a form of “watch care.” They don’t have voting rights and cannot hold office, serve on committees, or be approved as a Bible study teacher. In some churches, this requires a change to bylaws and constitutions.

Counselors are on the frontlines of decision-making and follow-up. Just as we say in sports, “the best offense is a good defense,” so the best follow-up is good preparation. Prayer for revival and spiritual awakening saturate everything the counselor will ever do on behalf of the church. They must know how to lead someone to faith in Christ and use their own testimony when appropriate to do so.

It is important to be security-minded and sensitive to those who come forward. “Why have you come today?” is still the best question to use to greet people making decisions. A child may have come on a dare. A college student may admit looking for a place to meet a godly spouse. A man may want help paying his car payments. An older adult may want to be in a church where their children belong. And, of course, there are those who are making spiritual decisions with eternal consequences!

Listening is the key. My wife was a decision counselor in a church when we lived in another state. A woman came forward and the pastor nodded to Mary Leigh to accompany the woman to a counseling room. The married woman confessed to having an affair with a co-worker. My wife was coached to listen carefully and arrange a meeting with one of the church staff, which they did.

Children and students should not be escorted by an older man into a private counseling room. All they have to say is, “he touched me,” and, well, it’s over. Despite having had a godly reputation, it will be instantly ruined. Counseling with parents present is always advised or in a pinch, a front pew in the open is advised.

After the decision is made, and made public, new believers must be discipled intentionally. They may be carrying baggage from another religious background. “New Believers Following Jesus” is available free from my office. New believers need training in five areas: abiding with Jesus in prayer and worship, obedience beginning with baptism by immersion and stewardship, studying the Bible, loving others as part of active church life in and beyond the church, and telling others about Jesus as He commanded in the Great Commission.

Hal Seed pastors New Song Community Church, Oceanside, Calif. This SBC church has seen over 17,000 people come to Christ. Seed explained to a group of us that during their invitation time, they encouraged new believers to give fist pumps right where they stood if they made a decision. Trained counselors spotted them from the back and handed them a guide. They treated the first 20 minutes after their profession of faith as the most important time in the life of a new believer. Each of these counselors took the initiative to schedule meeting times the coming week.

Decision counselors have that immediate relationship that works perfectly for follow-up. Invite parents, spouses, or friends to join in, too. When you reinforce the decision and the Gospel message, they may follow Christ, too.  
I’m available to help you train your church’s decision counselors. (CABAdirector@gmail.com)
 
Mark Snowden is the Director for Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on July 1, 2019 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
Is it possible to train church members as missionaries?
 
Jesus began His earthly ministry with laity from a variety of backgrounds. By the time the Holy Spirit indwelled them permanently in Acts 2, most of the disciples exhibited mission-specific transformations.

If Peter, who began with no missions training—and was likely illiterate—had jumped straight into ministry, he would have likely gone into humanitarian work doing something like helping people learn to fish. However, after being with Jesus and the Twelve, Peter developed speaking and leadership skills to the point that he carried authority to address very weighty issues.

Matthew was a tax collector and could have jumped straight into money management seminars, but after being with Jesus, he became a skilled writer, using his sharp mind for detail to capture, among other things, the Sermon on the Mount.
 
Mission-specific training is necessary for your church members to invest time to walk with the Master and determine where God is calling them to make a contribution. Training is delivered with an expectation that there will be functioning teams. The training may be done in a way that is highly reproducible using oral-friendly methods, too. Training should be so reproducible that those you train can pass it along, too. Complex training programs (usually literate worldview) have their place, but the priority should be upon the lost and not the comfort level of the missionaries.
 
When Jesus called His disciples in Matthew 10, He named the Twelve. Matthew records the names in pairs, not as individuals. In Matthew 10 and Mark 6, six teams of two were then sent out to the villages to seek a Man of Peace which would permit the duo time to stay in the village.
 
The Twelve who were Jesus’ disciples moved as a team and some clearly had specific roles. Teamwork counts. We’re not “lone wolves.”
• Andrew was akin to the evangelist, bringing people to Jesus (Peter and the boy with the lunch).
• Peter was a strategic leader, speaking often, defending the ranks, and addressing group dynamics of the early church (feeding widows, addressing greed, breaking through the barrier of the Law).
• Peter, James, and John formed an inner circle to Jesus (transfiguration).
• Thomas was a healthy skeptic, but willing to die with Jesus.
• Judas Iscariot was the group’s treasurer, likely dispersing funds to the poor.
• The other disciples were often the workers (picking up after the Feeding of the
5,000).
 
It cannot be overlooked that several women traveled with the Twelve. They maintained cultural roles at the time, which were not always those of servants, but also financial backers.
 
Jesus also prepared His men to move on to other villages if they were rejected. This event became an important experiential training event that Jesus reflected upon years later with the Twelve. In Matthew 10, Mark 6, and Luke 10, the disciples were initially expected to travel extremely light and be gone for a limited period of time. In the Upper Room discourse, Luke 22:35-36 records Jesus reflecting on the earlier mission and giving them a command to take not only clothes, but a sword.
 
Just prior to His Ascension, Jesus prophesied that His disciples would stay on the move beginning from where they were and extending to the ends of the earth. And as they went, they were empowered of the Holy Spirit not only to be witnesses (Acts 1:8), but to make disciples of all peoples they encountered (Matthew 28:18-20).
 
Your church’s evangelism teams will look differently working among certain categories of people, but their purpose remains the same – stimulate and nurture disciples who can reproduce themselves in the lives of others so that churches strengthen and new churches multiply. Their roles and specialized tasks must have three priorities: making disciples, multiplying churches, and developing leaders.
 
--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on May 28, 2019 9:22 AM by Diane Sibcy
Categories: Evangelism
Congratulations to those churches that beat the rest of us to the punch. 24 churches have conducted events through April. There are 70 reservations in TRESS for 2019. 2,065 people attended April events. And there have been 37 Evangelism Encounters.

All the trailers were booked two weekends in a row during the Easter Season. This is a sign to the rest of us to be thinking ahead. Here are some Events to consider in your 2019 planning:
  • End of the School Year
  • VBS
  • Parties in the Park
  • Picnics
  • Sunday School Surprise
  • Community Block Party
I hope you will not miss out on the blessing made possible to you through the CABA Trailer Ministry. Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to reach your community in a non-threatening way through the creative use of the CABA Trailers.

For information on how to reserve a trailer, please e-mail me at this address:

Diane Sibcy
Block Party Trailer Coordinator-CABA
513-687-4104
cabatrailer@gmail.com

MAIL ALL DOCUMENTS AND CHECKS TO:
CABA TRAILER
PO Box 232
Lebanon, Ohio 45036
 
--Diane Sibcy is CABA's Block Party Trailer Ministry Coordinator.
Posted on May 15, 2019 6:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
Your car’s tires have a number for ideal inflation. Your body’s blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol have ideal numbers. When I had cancer, my body confounded the doctor because my “numbers just weren’t right.”
Over the past three years, I’ve made a big deal out of identifying the numbers of lost people in the Cincinnati Area’s nine counties. If you’re beginning to make disciples who can make disciples, then there are three percentage numbers you should track: 2%, 13%, and 25%. That’s it. Track these numbers and you’ll not only impact lostness, you’ll begin to be used of God to transform communities with the Gospel.

Two percent: You’re there. Congrats and praise God! No county in the Cincinnati Area is 98% or more lost.  But we are at 85% lostness. Researchers in evangelical missions agencies around the world have agreed that a minimum threshold of two percent of their population must be born-again—and have recently planted at least one new church. Globally, there are still more than 2,000 Unreached People Groups (UPGs) that have more than 100,000 people that are not born again and nobody is planting churches among them.

We have many UPG segments in the Cincinnati Area. Of the groupings with 50 people or more in them, we have 47 nationalities with any kind of evangelical work underway. There are 36 people groups living near 16 of our SBC churches.
Thirteen percent: This is an odd number in evangelism/discipleship. It would be easier to say a “tithe” at 10% or go on up to the 80/20 rule where 20% do all the work. It’s extremely important, but it is often overlooked. When 13% of a community or people group are born again and are actively making disciples, there is a sociological phenomenon that the other 87% really takes note that something serious is going on.

Sociologists tell us that when only two percent of a population exhibit the desired behavior of a specific cause, then it begins to take off because the next 13% are watching. The initial two percent are often flaky innovators, but the larger group of early adopters know them, understand them, and watch to see if their lives are benefited. In the lingo of evangelism/discipleship, influential non-Christians are counting the cost of following Jesus.

Twenty-five percent: When a group of people exhibiting desired behaviors reaches 25%, it reaches a critical mass. A sustainable movement is possible. This is the line we need to cross for evangelization to become a movement of God.  
You would think that churches and followers of Jesus want to see others become believers. Over time, some CABA Baptists that you might want to include in that 25% evangelical statistic lose their vision. There is a significant chunk of CABA Baptist churches – one-quarter (26%) – that did baptize anyone last year. (Note that 35 churches with SBC ID numbers failed to complete their 2018 ACP reports.)

Only God can bring about a movement—churches planted spontaneously, disciple-making underway, souls being saved, etc. Missions leaders advise to remove as many barriers to movements as possible, so when God is ready to move out, His Spirit is unhindered.

So, to reach 25% is not about numbers and percentages exactly. It only includes those churches that are exhibiting specific desired behaviors. Desired behavior should emphasize a personal relationship with Christ, believe in the authority of the Bible, and prioritize the need to share their faith with non-believers.

Track the spiritual transformation of the peoples in your community. Are they just starting out under 2%, getting really serious at 13%, or becoming sustainable past 25% by exhibiting godly disciple-making behaviors?

CABA’s next training in disciple-making is May 31-June 1 at First Baptist Mt. Healthy. It’s free, but you need to get tickets here: Eventbrite Tickets
 
--Mark Snowden is the director of missional leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association (CABA)
Posted on May 13, 2019 7:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
Evangelizing has been on our heart this Spring! Here are three specific ways we've support evangelism:
 
1. Saturate Cincinnati: Some 1.5 million still are far from God. Southern Baptist churches and other kingdom-minded churches are joining together as never before to make Christ known across the Cincinnati Area.
Saturate Cincinnati: 347,000 households were adopted zip code- by-zip code. Some 67 CABA church leaders have taken on a huge task to distribute door-to-door kits containing the Gospel. 90+ zip codes have been adopted. That’s 43% of Hamilton Co. and 63% of the surrounding counties. Sign-up to adopt a zip code, which is usually 10,000 homes: SaturateUSA.org to register your zip code and get the free kits.

2. Who’s Your One? This Southern Baptist initiative is simple yet profound. Pray for one person and seek opportunities to share the saving good news of Jesus with them! Free resources are online at Whosyourone.com.

3. No Place Left continues! NPL seeks to start spiritual conversations that lead to sharing Three Circles – or your own preferred method in your oikos; circle of influence. Then it leads to forming new small groups and even unfunded church plants. More than 200 have been trained in weekend events. Register for May 31-June 1 at Mt. Healthy. It’s free, but you need tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/no-place-left-cincinnati-tickets-57641126160?aff=ehomesaved
 
--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on May 1, 2019 6:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
A number of veteran IMB missionaries were given personality tests and then given four samples of print materials to evaluate. Since this was my project, I assumed that the stern accountant-types would choose terse text and bullet-point layouts with conceptual analysis. Not so. The missionaries regardless of their personality type all chose print media that had lots of photos and testimonials of personal struggles or victories.

They chose play over work every time.

There is a sociological norm that people can only handle so much work in their lives. In fact, through years of research and experimentation, the split was 25% work and 75% play. (Play Theory in Mass Communications was developed by William Stephenson. He retired from the University of Missouri in 1974.)

Play Theory says we have a need for more play than work. Some educators take their training and mix with entertaining videos (think PBS’ Sesame Street). Even the 40-hour work week is 24% of the 168 hours in a week. Tack on a few hours of “church work” each week and you get an insight into how church leaders can burn out if it’s all work and no play.

Meanwhile, some people in America actually want more “work” in their lives. I’ve noticed that after their retirement, my parents sought out far more news and preaching. (The average age for Fox News audiences is 69 years old; CNN is 62.)

Through consultation with researchers, I not only learned about Play Theory, but its implications for communicating more effectively, even among those missionaries. I conducted several dialogue sessions for insights. Missionary work was considered difficult and when they got some free time they wanted to be inspired, hear from other colleagues who were coping in similar conditions, and have wholesome entertainment. And they said they could occasionally stand help-oriented advice and skills upgrading.

Is evangelism work or play? Until evangelism becomes a lifestyle, it is work. For good or bad, most followers of Jesus had evangelism presented as work – a course, learning a complex method, or a series of tasks requiring memorization.
After Jesus cast the demons from the man in Mark 5:1-20, He gave him a new task (work). He was not to go with Jesus (play), but return to His family and explain His story about God’s mercy. The former demoniac went not only to his own family, but throughout the Decapolis—the region with ten towns—and told them about Jesus!
 
Q: Why did the little boy keep hitting himself with a hammer?
A: Because it felt so good when he stopped.
 
People don’t do things that hurt; at least not for long. The man from whom Jesus cast out the legion of demons took no courses in evangelism, but actively shared a personal witness that likely became very pleasurable (play).
Sometimes people that love their job say, “I’d hate to have to work for a living.” They mean that what they do day in and day out is a pleasure (positive) and not work (negative).
 
If evangelism seems like a non-pleasurable task, then it is not yet part of your lifestyle. Sure, it can be discouraging to be rebuffed or ignored. But it becomes a glorious positive when there are results. Experts say it takes 40 days to establish a habit.
 
For those of us who encourage believers to be obedient to the Great Commission, we know the joy of seeing people come to faith in Christ. The trainers and encouragers forget that people are hassled by life—kids, spouses, jobs, bills, etc. It’s a lot easier to plop down in front of the TV than engage those around you with the gospel. It’s work!
Yet, Jesus knows what’s best for us. He calls us to come and die to self each day and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Spiritual development that matures makes evangelism the new normal – and that’s good “play” whether you’re an IMB missionary or a Baptist in Cincinnati. Witnessing anyone?
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
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