Blog
Posted on August 29, 2018 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: General, Leadership
Journalists are notoriously a tough crowd. Some go to prison rather than divulge a source. A few are imprisoned or even shot for being mistaken as spies. They take the heat from important people for holding them accountable. And Christian journalists have no fewer pressures as they work hard to accurately explain how God is at work.
You may not be a journalist, but do you have a message of salvation from God? And how will you share it with those who need to hear it? Personal meet-up? Hand them a tract? Facebook them? Tweet it?
 
“The Lord sent Nathan” is how 2 Samuel 12:1 begins. The prophet, Nathan, told David a story and emotionally involved the King. David was upset that a rich man would take a poor man’s only lamb to feed his guest. Nathan stood and delivered one of the most famous judgments in the Bible, “Thou art the man.” David had caused Bathsheba’s pregnancy and her husband, Uriah’s death. Christian journalists and other thought-leaders have a “prophet” ministry not unlike Nathan’s.
 
When Nathan spoke, David repented and the Lord spared his life. When Christian communicators share their stories, they should expect change.
 
Print-only journalism is dwindling in readership across America. From 2003 to 2011, the Newspaper Association of America reported that advertising for newspapers in print and online dropped by half. Some studies say that print journalism will not stop, but it will rather find its niche like radio has done.
 
Newspapers will never again dominate the secular news industry. The hardened write-or-die reporters constantly face the reality that they need to look beyond the literate word to fully communicate. Journalists – print, electronic, social media – must see readers or viewers as audiences.
 
The Millennial age group (ages 19 to 36) have a far more oral learning preference than any other U.S. age segment. They are a communications force that is personally engaged in embracing what is genuine and foregoing the slick, the formatted, and the scheduled delivery. They thrive on “real.”
 
Christian communicators, especially journalists, can learn a lot from those with an oral worldview. Like Nathan standing before King David, they will tell stories out of their calling from God to their ministry. Will those reporting mojo stories let people who interact with their content (visual or story) draw out biblical truth? Users of smartphone and web-based media want to stay informed. They’re clearly blurring the lines of information and entertainment seeking a brave new world of entertainment.
 
The stuff we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste are gateways to our minds—and ultimately to our hearts.  The more senses that are engaged, the more effective the communicator will become. Brain theorists have noted that “emotions etch memories.” Experiential learning means more than “sitting and getting” whether it be by staring at ink on paper, text on screen, or via some other channel. As many pastors are starting to say, “Don’t turn off your smartphones, but text out to your followers and friends the truths that the Holy Spirit teaches you today!”
 
The bottom line is that church leaders must help believers become truth-tellers who craft their own stories of faith. Will churches empower communication in the hands of those who dare to communicate as God sends them?
What is God calling you to say? And how will you say it?
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on August 6, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
The pastor across the table from me saw no need for equipping evangelism team members in his church. He was only concerned that they get out among the lost.
 
“We just let our people learn about missions while they’re doing missions. They grow spiritually when they do missionary work. I don’t mind them meeting to prepare for the trip, but that’s the extent of our training efforts. We really don’t have a need for anything else like that in our church.”
 
“Aren’t you concerned about bringing harm to the people you mean to help?” I asked.
 
 “What kind of harm could my people possibly cause? We’re just talking about working across town in a poverty-stricken area.”

“Just by showing up, volunteers can take on a position of superiority. Experts call this a ‘God complex.’ Yes, your church members try to help, but they make the people with whom they are working feel even more terrible about their situation. If those in need didn’t already have a scarred identity, they often develop one.”
 
“We don’t mean to do harm on a physical needs level, but we do a world of good on the spiritual level,” said the pastor.
 
“Yes, I understand,” I said. “The people may identify with believers in some way, but they often put up a false front for others to see. A lot of them remain as they were, but also claim belief in Jesus. That’s why some people who go to church on Sunday will visit a fortune teller on Monday. We call that syncretism.”
 
“But the lost in our town get to hear about Jesus; some for the first time.”
 
“If your church members are going to evangelize without any follow-up plans in place, then they could actually ‘inoculate’ the lost from ever hearing the gospel clearly again. They think they’ve heard it all.”
This was obviously making the pastor think. He was quiet for a moment, so I asked him a tough love kind of question.
 
“Would your church members be willing to change their focus from what they get out of it to changing what they discover is wrong instead?”
 
The pastor was thinking hard now, so I asked another one—the hard one.
 
“Would they be willing to strip away who they are? Would they literally ‘deny themselves’ and cross into the culture of needy people who are without Christ?”
 
“Then we’d need some training,” the pastor observed quietly.
 
Servant evangelism is often carried out among people who are among the have-nots. Despite contrasts in scale, godly responses to problems tend to be the same for servant evangelism in the Cincinnati Area as international missions.

When we step in with a heart for servant evangelism among people with ongoing needs, we often want to provide labor, materials, and money whether or not that is what the people in need actually want. Bryant L. Myers in Walking with the Poor (WorldVision) exhorts believers to begin working by celebrating all that is already being done correctly, no matter how insignificant.

The warning to do no harm should not discourage Cincinnati Baptists to engage in activities that help those in need. However, it should require each of us to seek out training that is done right. There are no Mulligans as there are in golf, no make-up tests, or “do-overs.” Yes, some believers may go on and do their own top-down thing. However, church leaders who know better must lovingly guide those with missions zeal to the point that they can deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Jesus to walk among people in need.
Posted on July 30, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
A science fiction story once described an astronaut-type volunteer who was able to step into an alternate universe. As a reminder of home, his wife at the last moment handed him their baby’s rattle. In this world, the sound it made was cute and harmless. However, when the rattle was shaken in that other world, the sound waves knocked people down, broke windows, and unleashed a number of other fantastic problems. The traveler with the toy escaped unharmed. He was heralded for his bravery before he even had an opportunity to make a report. Despite the joyous homecoming in his world, just by introducing the otherwise innocent baby rattle into that other dimension, the man shaking the toy had caused unintended catastrophes.

Churches should seek to do no harm among people in need. Like the man shaking the baby rattle, those working among people who are different from them can do things that seem so very innocent, but have serious consequences. Followers of Jesus would never intentionally do harm, of course, but we do need to be aware of the consequences of our actions. We hope our actions can be good, but we often work in ways that create problems, even chaos. And, while recipients put up brave faces as gracious hosts, harm done may never be known as we return to our churches rejoicing in all that was done in the name of Jesus Christ.  

Before medical doctors begin their practice, they are asked to take the Hippocratic Oath. Physicians seek to do no harm with their medical arts. It would be good for us to internalize a biblical equivalent Hippocratic Oath before we go out as “sent ones.”

Jesus put it this way: “Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them (Luke 6:31 HCSB). For believers who follow Jesus, He has a special command that is essential to follow.  “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23 HCSB). We must learn and apply all that we can to do no harm.

Planning for missions and evangelism among people in need takes planning. Teams can be formed. Needs must be assessed. Budgets will be challenged. And churches must turn outward to focus upon the lost. Transforming communities is possible!

Missions that "love loud" keeps people in need in our hearts.
 
When we came out of a restaurant, a man was sitting on the curb in front of where Mary Leigh, my wife, and I parked. We simply asked him if we could get him anything. I went back inside and brought him a meal – maybe his only one for the day. It was easy to witness to Bob when he saw that I cared.

God is sovereign, but His actions in our world should never be despite us. Our servant evangelism efforts in the Cincinnati Area should be to work in tandem with the Lord’s will and ways.
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on June 5, 2018 7:00 AM by David Frasure
I remember thinking that being a pastor involved preaching and caring for people—period.  I was convinced that if I became a scholar of the Bible, I would know everything there is to know about being in ministry.  After working through building projects and insurance claims, promoting events and dealing with local zoning regulations, setting meeting agendas and preparing church budgets, I began to realize that there was a lot more to ministry than praying a lot and knowing your Bible. 
 
Perhaps you have noticed that leading your Sunday School class or heading up a ministry requires skills other than studying and praying.  You must organize people to do any kind of ministry or outreach as a class.  It takes some administrative abilities to plan a trip to a nursing home or organize a class fellowship.  You have to figure out how to enlist people for ministry, keep up with birthdays, keep accurate records for attendance, etc.  You need to develop some administrative skills to do get the job done!
 
If you are like me, administration and organization is not an area of strength.  There is a spiritual gift of administration, sometimes translated organization or leading (Romans 12:8).  God did not give me that spiritual gift!  It doesn't come easily for me.  Certainly, it is wise to have someone with that spiritual giftedness to serve along side you, but it is clear, that if I am called upon to lead a class or ministry, I need to learn how to be organized and prepared to lead the people God has given me to serve.  So how does a non-organizer learn to organize?  Here are a few thoughts.
 
Use a planning calendar.  I prefer to use a notebook style planner.  It never crashes like a computerized planner can.  It may be bulky by today’s standards, but my information is always there in the notebook.  It helps me to take control of my schedule—at least in part.  It keeps me from forgetting something I must do next month, and it helps me not to make the same mistake next year.  I find that great ideas do no one any good unless they are funded, and they get on the calendar.  Otherwise, they become lofty daydreams that never impact anyone’s life.
 
Use a “to do list.”  I divide my weekly "to do list" into three sections.  I have a column for things related to teaching and preaching, a column for caring ministry such as outreach and ministry to individuals under my care and a column for administration items.  I put each task into a time slot for each work day.  Some weeks it works like a dream and other times the unexpected messes it all up, but I will accomplish much more if a start my week off with such a list.  It also helps to organize your list by priorities and do the most important tasks first.
 
Delegate.  I know I am not the greatest at delegating.  It is difficult to know when a person can be trusted to follow through with an assignment or do it with excellence, and sometimes it just seems easier to do it yourself.  That attitude, however, robs people of the joy of serving and never challenges them to grow.  When I’m organizing an event, I make a list of tasks that need to be done.  We may need flyers printed, or materials sorted, or food purchased.  I then try to match the right person to the right task and make the contact to ask for their help.  If I don’t enlist people ahead of time and explain their assignment, I frustrate them and give them a bad experience in ministry.  They may not want to serve next time, because of my poor leadership and organization.  My job is to help them have success with the task and hopefully have an enjoyable experience, in the process.
 
Good leadership requires administration and I’m sure I should have a few more details for this article, but my lack of organizational skills requires me to stop here.  Ugh!
Posted on May 21, 2018 9:00 AM by David Frasure
The online Wikipedia encyclopedia says, “A disciple is a dedicated follower of Jesus.  A disciple is a follower of a teacher.  It is not the same as being a student in the modern sense.  A disciple in the ancient biblical world actively imitated both the life and teaching of the master.  It was a deliberate apprenticeship which made the fully formed disciple a living copy of the master.”  We all know that the Great Commission tells us to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  It is the task of every Christians to be influencing others to move closer to Jesus, so they in turn, can help others move closer to Jesus.
 
For some, it is children or grandchildren who are being discipled day by day.  Others lead a Sunday School class or small group to become devoted followers of Christ.  Others use a one-on-one mentoring approach to disciple a friend.  No matter how you teach or who it is you are discipling, there are three big things to keep in mind.
 
First, we need to think of discipleship as a direction we are leading others to follow.  Discipleship is not the study of material, but the pursuit of a Person.  Discipleship is not a leap in maturity, but a series of small steps in the right direction.  Discipleship is not about a destination, but the direction in which a person is going.  Second Corinthians 3:18 reminds us that we as Christians are “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory…”  It is a step by step process of moving toward Christlikeness. 
 
We often think of discipleship in terms of book studies or courses we have completed.  Certainly, materials can be useful, but a person may do several studies and still not be a follower of Jesus.  If you are simply moving a person closer to Christ, you are a successful discipler!
 
Second, think of discipleship as an intentional friendship that takes you on a mission-focused journey.  Discipleship happens in the context of building a relationship with other persons and then helping them become devoted followers of Jesus through your example as well as your instruction.  Jesus discipled in the context of relationships.  He went out to be on mission with His disciples.  We see that the apostles followed the same kind of pattern.  The “one anothers” of the New Testament require that we have a relationship with fellow disciples.  Relationships require deliberate investment of time and effort.  We never disciple accidentally.
 
Third, think of discipleship as a course of action that is different for each person.  Any parent knows that the way you train one child, may be completely different with another child.  The same is true in the way we disciple others.  People learn in different ways—some by seeing, others by hearing.  Some learn best by reading or writing, others by doing.  People respond to teaching that touches them in a personal way.  To guide another person on the discipleship journey, we must understand the person’s hurts and felt needs.  To make a disciple, the mentor must first study and understand the mentee.  A discipler isn’t required to become an expert on discipling, but to have success, he needs to become an expert on the one being discipled.
 
As the world grows colder and harsher toward Christians, the need for enlisting and equipping disciples is more and more evident.  Who in your closest circle of influence needs a mentor like you?  Can you begin testing the waters for a new discipling relationship?  Who can become your apprentice as you partner together for the kingdom?  The church needs teachers, but even more, the church needs disciplers who are making disciples who are “living copies of the Master.” 
Posted on May 7, 2018 5:00 AM by David Frasure
Think for a moment about the one person who has influenced your life the most for Christ.  As you think about that person, what are the key things about that person that you admire and want to see in your own life?  I have asked many Sunday School leaders this question and I have discovered that there are four basic things that make a Christian leader effective in touching the lives of others.  These four skills can and should be developed in all of our lives. 
The first skill is related to personal character.  The people who influence others for Christ are genuine.  They demonstrate traits such as honesty, integrity, generosity, conviction, gentleness and love.  They seek to be free of hypocrisy and as a result, others feel safe around them.  They live out their convictions in everyday ways in everyday life.  These influencers can be trusted with your deepest hurts and most shameful secrets.  The power of their personal character is persuasive and causes us to want to imitate those qualities in our own lives. 
I call this a skill, because personal character really stems from the ability to lead ourselves.  A person of character has learned to say “no” to herself and those personal desires that could lead her down the wrong path.  She has learned to discipline herself in her spiritual life and as she stays close to God, Christ in her comes in contact with those around her. 
The second skill is related to love, understanding and commitment to the Word of God.  The Bible is a life-changing book.  As a Christian leader spends time learning and applying the Word of God to his own life, the change that it makes becomes evident to those around him.  There is a hunger in a Believer’s heart to know God’s Word.  As we learn and grow from the truth and as we share that truth in words and lifestyle, it can have a major impact upon those who listen and observe.
Thirdly, communication skills allow a Christian to influence others in positive ways.  This is a skill that may sound less spiritual in nature, yet often the way we communicate does have a spiritual side to it.  If you would do a serious study of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), you would find that many of the characteristics of love are also the characteristics of good communicators.  The Proverbs also speak of the wisdom involved in choosing our words carefully.  As we study the Master Communicator, we find that Jesus was highly skilled in the use of stories and He used simple words that others could easily understand.  If anyone could speak “over the heads” of His listeners, it was Jesus.  Yet He chose to focus on the needs and level of understanding of His listeners when He spoke.  He spoke with passion and conviction and many wanted to follow Him as a result.
The last skill is associated with how we relate to other people.  People skills do seem to come more naturally to some than they do for others, but we all can learn how to relate better to others better if we would be more deliberate about it.  Most people with poor people skills do not think they have a problem in this area.  That is why it is important for us to keep growing and learning how to be better listeners and become more loving and sensitive to others.  Again, there is a spiritual side to this skill as well and many biblical teachings related to encouraging others.
If you are interested in growing in each of these skills, let me encourage you to check out the video teaching provided at www.missionohio.e-quip.net.  In the search box, type “David Frasure” and you can see five videos called “Basic Training for Sunday School Teachers.”  In the videos, I teach on the four skills every Sunday School Teacher needs to develop.
Posted on February 19, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
Standing around with pastors during a break at a pastor’s conference, one pastor lamented that his church had stopped growing. When I asked why, he said that his building could only hold so many people. When I asked him why a little thing like drywall would prohibit growth, it was like scales fell off his eyes.
“Reaching people for Jesus doesn’t depend on our building size!” he almost shouted.
 
An IMB missionary once challenged me to add up all the available worship seating in our town. Taking that number I was to double it for churches that might do two services. Were there enough seats for everyone that was not born again?
 
In the cities that I have visited and lived, I have yet to know of a single place that could seat all the lost people in their community.
 
According to CABA Churches’ ACP (Annual Church Profile) report for 2016, our churches could handle these numbers:
17,344  Total Church Membership                                     
  8,508  Worship Attendance                       
 
There are about 300,000 followers of Jesus claimed by evangelical churches in our nine counties. Yet, there are 1.5 million who are not born-again. One million people in our association’s counties are not claimed by any religious organization!
 
Here’s why I hate that building material we call drywall: Churches erect really well-designed and beautifully ornate structures that can actually become barriers to growth. When we “max” out Sunday worship everyone gets so incredibly excited! (Most pastors can quote Easter attendance numbers…just ask.)
 
Call it the Drywall Effect. It is closing in on Cincinnati Area Baptists. The CABA ACP also shows Average Weekly Sunday School Attendance at 5,400 people. At least 49% of those attending worship and a whopping 12,000 (69%) of our total church membership are not in regular Bible study. Thom Rainer, LifeWay’s president, says buildings feel full when they’re 80% full. Praise the Lord and pass on the drywall.
 
Don’t think I’m against high attendance drives, buildings, and building programs. I’m just against thinking that it is enough to seriously bring spiritual transformation to millions of our Cincinnati Area neighbors headed for hell. Drywall hammered into meeting cubes should not define us as believers.
 
When the Apostle Paul was writing the church at Corinth, he told them to not compare their spiritual growth with others: “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12 NKJV). The same can be said of churches that become content just filling their meeting rooms while millions continue to be ignored outside of the drywall.

Why not encourage small group leaders to take disciples into their own homes and meet there so that they could grow numerically and spiritually? And why not start some new churches while you’re at it? Some of that 80% seating you’ll need to feel full may be in a gym, a school, a rented office space, a dance studio, a grocery store, a truck stop, a show barn, a machine shop, or your own home.
 
Reaching people for Jesus shouldn’t be hindered by drywall.
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership (DOM) for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on February 15, 2018 9:00 AM by Josh Carter
Categories: Leadership
 
As Pastors, how we engage culture matters. If we are honest, one of the critical ways we engage culture today is through the use of social media. Yet in a culture where anyone can say anything at anytime, when political polarization is an understatement and passions burn like wildfires, weighing the pros and cons of our social media presence can be a really difficult task. Let me ask you this question, have you ever written a post or comment only to delete what you wrote before you hit “send”? Why? 

For me, knowing what to post or when to comment can sometimes be a difficult challenge. I’ll give you a few examples. As I scrolled through Facebook recently (it could have just as easily been Twitter or another platform), here are some of the articles I came across:

•    Baker can refuse to make same-sex wedding cakes, judge rules
•    Kim Jong Un's sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics
•    What Does It Mean to Be ‘Pro-Life’?
•    5 things husbands should do to become romantic

Honestly, there were probably several others that caught my eye too. Let’s be honest though, as pastors, we don’t have the bandwidth to like, share, repost, retweet, comment, or respond to comments on everything that catches our eye. I need some guidelines, some filters, in my life to help me think about when to post and comment.  Below are a few filters that I try to think through when deciding what I should share and when I need to just keep scrolling.
 
1) Is what I’m sharing a gospel issue? Don’t get me wrong, I post about my family, friends, and fun activities. I share jokes, commentary on sports events, vacations, and conferences. However, when it comes to sharing posts where I question “Will this stir controversy or get a lot of comments that I may ‘need’ to respond to,” the following filters are helpful. The first filter is always, is this a gospel issue. If the answer is yes, then I can proceed to the next filter.
 
2) Does this post (or article) help the people of my church and community better understand the gospel for themselves? Not every post or article, even if it is a gospel issue, helps to advance the gospel in the lives of the people I pastor or in the community I serve. Sometimes it’s because I’ve beaten a dead horse, meaning I’ve said and shared the issue so much that those who paid attention already get it and those who disagree are ignoring me altogether. Other times it’s as simple as the post or article is muddled in communicating the gospel. Finally, other times, the article is just so long that no one is going to read it all the way through. If I am struggling to read the whole article myself, it’s probably not one I want to pass along to burden others with too. Note, you actually have to read the article yourself to know these answers!
 
3) Am I passionate about what is being addressed? There is rarely sense in sharing a post or article that I myself don’t feel a certain level of passion about what is being addressed. My passion will lead to compassionate responses. If I am dispassionate about the topic, I’m usually quick to look for a way out, a shut-down comment to end the discussion. That leads to my last filter.
 
4) Do I have the time for follow-up comments and conversation? Honestly, this is a big one for me personally. Sharing the gospel and addressing gospel issues always takes time. As much as I would love to think that my wit and intellect are so amazing that people are just going to see how simple I have made an issue and agree with me, this is rarely the case. One-liners don’t shut down arguments, they shut down conversations, meaning I have lost the right or ability to speak truth into someone’s life. If I don’t have time to thoughtfully engage in a meaningful way, I often don’t share in the first place.
 
So this is just some of my process when discussing and sharing “hot-topics” on social media. Do you use these? What would you add to the list?
 
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 11, 2018 10:00 AM by Josh Carter
Categories: Leadership
This past week was my first week officially working for our association (though I’ve served as the Leadership Catalyst in a volunteer capacity for the past year and a half). I’m incredibly excited to begin this new role because it allows me to spend more time with pastors in Cincinnati with the goal of encouraging them personally and helping them discover resources to lead their congregations to reach & disciple more people, that then kingdom of God would increase! I consider this a huge privilege and so I want to share with you a couple of goals I have as the year begins:

First, we want to see pastor networks flourish in every region of Cincinnati. This is a tall task but we know that creating localized networks for continued encouragement, prayer, personal accountability, and  spurring one another on (Hebrews 10:24) to better lead our churches is incredibly valuable! In the coming days you might be contacted by one of our leaders to get plugged into a group near you. I’d greatly encourage you to do so. As pastors we often tell our congregations that everyone needs to be a part of a small group but then fail to take our own advice! Pastors, we really are better together! CABA Pastor Network Groups will each look different, taking on the personality and dealing with the needs of those involved, but most will meet once a month at a time convenient for the majority of local pastors. We have several leaders in place but are still looking for leaders in several areas of our city. Feel free to contact me at JCarter@CloughPike.com if you would like to help lead a group in your area. You can also view the map of the Cincinnati Area to see what region your church is in.
My second goal is to help pastors in our association get to know one another through creating multiple opportunities to have fun together. Have you forgotten ministry is supposed to be fun!?! We get the privilege of serving at the pleasure of the King of kings! How exciting is that? Still, sometimes we are so busy tending to the needs, planning and coordinating events of our own churches that we don’t take time to have a little fun ourselves. These fellowships create stress-free environments to bless you and often your families too. The next fellowship is a Pastor’s “Guys Night” with the Cincinnati Cyclones on March 22nd. This event if for pastors only but look forward to a late Spring event to bring your whole family. Tickets to the game are free but you need to contact Patti at CABAoffice@gmail.com to reserve your spot.

The third goal is to simply spend time this year connecting to pastors throughout our association. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have it all together but I’m happy to be a resource for you guys in any way that I can. James told the early churches that sometimes you have not because you ask not (James 4:2-3). I know this is contextually about praying to the Father, but it’s can also be true in everyday life and ministry. If you need something, feel free to shoot me an email and I will do my very best to connect you with resources that can make a difference in your ministry. Some resources that are available are coaching for you and your church, evangelism or discipleship trainings for your church, help planning your preaching for the year, among many others.

Thank you pastors for letting me serve you through our association. I’m looking forward to getting to know many of you better and to being a part of what Jesus is doing and is going to do in our city!
 
Josh Carter is CABA's Leadership Catalyst and pastors Clough Pike Baptist Church in Cincinnati.
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