Blog
Posted on July 15, 2021 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
     All CABA churches should be working toward be a sending church. Three CABA pastors and I have been in touch with a church planter in South Asia for the past year. We haven’t been able to travel, so we have met monthly via Zoom. There are other creative ways to serve on mission, too. A deaf interpreter at FBC Seaman where Boyd Lacy pastors, has spent the last six months discipling a new believer who is deaf via Zoom and now she is teaching the same lessons back to her. 
     What should you be looking for when you connect with a missionary church planter? Here are a few ideas:
     :: Some orientation to the missiology and strategy driving the work
     :: Advice for mobilizing more workers once back home
     :: If this is a second trip or more, then connect with a local church planter for follow-up monthly via Zoom.
     Contact me if you’re in a church with limited resources and want to collaborate with another church on mission. I’ll be glad to train or connect you!
 
-- Mark Snowden serves the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association as director.
Posted on March 9, 2021 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
There was a Baptist Press article last month that reported 200 pastors every month are resigning from their churches, likely never to return. (Here is the article.) Is that on your mind? The article says the stress over wearing masks -- or not to -- has been at the heart of this round. Sound familiar?

CABA is still blessed to have biblical counselors ready to talk with you or one of your staff members. Just send me an email or text requesting help and I'll connect you. You pay nothing and CABA pays the counselor. Dr. Scott Kennedy and David Sherwood are our two go-to guys. Scott will meet with you via Zoom and David can meet you via Zoom or in a neutral spot such as a public library. 

By the mercies of God, there is quality help available to you. All of this is confidential.  
Contact Mark at CABAdirector@gmail.com or (513) 344-0054.
Posted on February 2, 2021 8:00 AM by Scott Kennedy
Categories: Leadership
Not too long ago, many CABA pastors participated in a workshop based on Paul Tripp’s book: Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. It should be most alarming that several of the pastors that endorsed Tripp’s book (James MacDonald, Tullian Tchividjian, Joshua Harris), now represent the dangers addressed within the book.

Everyone experiences problems, including pastors and their families. Sometimes these problems can be self-managed. Other times these problems require outside help. For pastors, some of the unique challenges that come with the position make it extraordinarily difficult for them or their families to seek help when necessary. 
In most vocations, employees are evaluated for the job they do by one or more supervisors. Their personal and family lives are mostly off-limits unless job productivity becomes an issue. Not so for a pastor. A pastor’s work environment is unique. What job, other than pastoring, requires an employee to bring his entire family to work with him at least one day a week, week-after-week? A pastor’s work, personal, and family life are all interconnected and under the scrutiny by not just a few people, but the entire organization.

Additionally, for most people there is a clear demarcation between one’s source of compensation and one’s source of community support. People go to work for compensation. People go to their church for community support. The functions of each are not combined into one as they are for a pastor and his family.  
While there are numerous barriers people must overcome before seeking outside help for their problems, because a pastor’s compensation and community are intertwined, the risk associated with seeking help for he or his family is often greater. If he or his family’s problems become public, he may lose his source of compensation, which only further compounds and complicates his problems. If he loses his source of compensation, his source of community support for he and his family will likely follow as well. 

--Scott Kennedy is a biblical counselor available via CABA. Participate in his Zoom Meeting on March 17 at 10:00 a.m. A link is to be emailed to CABA pastors. 
Posted on January 5, 2021 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
When a missionary to East Asia was learning the local language, their housekeeper listened to the Gospel being translated and conveyed it to her family and neighbors. When the missionaries got to the part about being baptized, the housekeeper invited the missionaries to baptize her household and friends. Before the missionaries had officially “started,” the Holy Spirit was already at work. 

While admittedly slugging through the end of Ezekiel and the details of a new Temple, there was a verse that really popped out at me providing instructions to priests who had been in the Holy of Holies:

Before they go out to the outer court, to the people, they must take off the clothes they have been ministering in, leave them in the holy chambers, and dress in other clothes so that they do not transmit holiness to the people through their clothes (44:19 CSB). 

Now, I remember Moses wearing a veil to block the holiness of God shining on his face (Ex. 34:29), but not transmitting it to others. In staff meeting when I mentioned this, Jason McKinney said that helped him understand the miracle of Paul’s work cloths causing diseases and evil spirits to come out (Acts 19:12). 

In this New Year 2021, would you examine what you are doing and those who are affected by it? Do people actively engage you in Gospel conversations? Is the holiness of God being transmitted through you? If God is moving immigrants to our land so we can engage them with the Gospel, is He also putting people in your path just so you can transmit holiness? I’m not saying you need to place a shop towel on them, but don’t veil God’s glory shining out from your life as a follower of Jesus! As we reach a point of removing our masks safely in public this year, may it symbolize unveiling God’s glory and a mouth speaking unhindered.
 
-- Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. He wears a mask in public. His favorite is from the church he attends, Clough Pike Baptist Church, Cincinnati
Posted on November 2, 2020 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
Steve Long invited me to Toledo to observe their network meetings of pastors. Josh Carter and I traveled there. In the prayer time, one of the pastors said, “My son was just diagnosed as severely autistic.” The group rallied to pray for him. The next pastor said, “My wife left me two weeks ago and she and her boyfriend moved her stuff out yesterday.” Josh and I offered to step out, but the pastors wanted us to stay and see how beneficial this huddle was for them. Steve later said, “Our pastors have a safe place to meet and be completely vulnerable. It’s not always this way, but the other sessions together made today’s experience possible.”

In September, I met with Tom Pendergrass and the Urbancrest staff. We brainstormed why a pastor and staff would want to participate in a network of pastors. They quickly built this list:
  • Encourage each other – fellowshipping
  • Team/Cooperation – working together
  • Resources
  • Coach/Train – learning
  • Celebration – recognizing progress
In mid-October, CABA’s regional Conveners met at CABA’s office. Randy Wheeler, a trainer with John C. Maxwell, led the Conveners in leadership training. Toward the end, we listed reasons why our pastors would feel threatened to stop meeting. The #1 prob-lem was identified was the difficulty meeting because of Covid-19, but that also included political & social fear. Other reasons included lack of time, a pastor being too proud to meet with other pastors, buy-in to the idea, fragmentation, and moral failure.

CABA exists to impact lostness and one of the major ways we do that is by having quality regional networks. We have seven great pastors who are extending monthly invitations to get together Southern Baptists excel at cooperation and pastors will find that cooperative spirit at work in our midst. When trouble – or celebrations – come, then there is a network in place that cares, really cares.
 
-- Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership (AMS), Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on October 6, 2020 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
Changes in church size require adjustments for church leaders. The chairman of deacons of a once-large church in another state sought my input on his new plan. The church used to run 900+ and was now doing good to have 250 in AM Worship. His plan was very formal and freed up the pastor for vision-casting just as they had always done. Things had changed in this church, but would the chairman’s plan still be relevant in a much-smaller church?
 
Timothy Keller wrote a paper titled, “Leadership and Church Size Dynamics: How Strategy Changes Growth.” “There is a ‘size culture’ that profoundly affects how decisions are made, how relationships flow, how effectiveness is evaluated, and what ministers, staff, and lay leaders do,” Keller said. “A large church is not simply a bigger version of a small church.” His point was that churches have to attract and keep different types of people who take on or are given roles, largely because of their church size.
 
In reading Keller’s ideas, in short, it was obvious to me that the deacon chairman seeking my counsel was using an outdated church size paradigm. He still acted like just because the worship center could seat 1,200, that the church was still a big church. His plan literally separated his pastor from the very people he needed to touch in order to have closer relationships.
 
Church leaders need to be aware of their changing church dynamics and foster the right outcomes for their churches. Understanding church growth changes a church’s character, how it grows, and barriers to overcome for growth as the Lord leads. 
 
--Mark Snowden is the director for missional leadership, Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on September 29, 2020 8:00 AM by Jason McKinney
You are not a failure.
 
There’s plenty telling you otherwise. You’ve fought a temptation to feel like you’re a failure. Someone might have even offered proofs that you’re one, not
that you can’t offer even better proofs.
 
First, you were called to follow Jesus. You’re a follower. Visions of grand leadership aside, you’re not the head guy. It’s not on you. You can’t fail God if He’s
not counting on your success.
 
Second, you were called to be a fisher of people. Regardless of the rise or fall of whatever great programs in 2020, your role is unchanged. You’re His follower and fisher; you’re His new creation and His ambassador. Forget failure. Our win is to abide in the Spirit and to make Him known to others. So don’t carry the burden of fighting for success, and don’t cast it on those around you. Instead, embrace the identity in Mark 1:17.
 
Living and leading thus freed, enable others likewise. They too may experience the same identity to abide and make disciples. Pastors and elders are to equip them in doing so, right?
 
Our upcoming cohort will wrestle with the implications of such an identity for ourselves as leaders and our approaches to generational disciple-making. 
 
--Jason McKinney is CABA's church planting coach. He also pastors One Church Cincinnati. 
Posted on September 15, 2020 8:00 AM by Doug Sibcy
Categories: Leadership
When I was 5-9 years old, I played baseball for the little league program in my hometown. However, there was a problem, I was not very good, and by some standards, I was not very good at all. I had average hand-to-eye coordination, so fielding and hitting the ball was an issue. I could not hit very well and rarely caught the ball. I played right field on occasion and typically batted at the bottom of the order.
 
Not to fault the other coaches I had, they were using a common standard of measurement. However, then came Mr. Fox. Coach Fox would work with me, but he just watched for the first few practices and games. He noticed that I was the first one out of the dugout with my gear, the first one to the dugout after the inning was over, and when I was walked, or, actually got a hit, he noticed that I could run like the wind. Soon, he sat me down talked with me about a position that I was unfamiliar with, the pinch-runner. Before I knew it, a player who could hit, but was much slower, would get on base, and Coach Fox would put me in. I still had to play right field sometimes, and eventually became a back-up catcher, but I got to run! He taught me that a walk was as good as a hit. Stealing bases was my specialty.
 
Locating my strengths and weaknesses in baseball was essential to me having fun. I have found the same thing in ministry.
 
While in the corporate world, I discovered a book that changed the way I saw myself, and it transcended into every area of my life: StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Understanding my strengths allowed me to discover a bit more about how I am made up, function, and what drives me. There is an assessment that accompanies the book that ranks 33 traits that everyone has. Here are my top 5:
 
  1. Futuristic-Inspired by the future and what could be. Inspires others with their visions of the future.
  2. Focus-Takes direction follows through and makes the corrections necessary to stay on track. Prioritizes, then acts.
  3. Significance-Wants to be seen as impactful in the eyes of others.
  4. Restorative-Adept at dealing with problems. Good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.
  5. Competition-Measures progress and performance. Strives to win and revels in contests. Setting goals and achieving are critical.
 
Do you have a coach? What are you being measured by? Are the standard, rather than customized measurement tools used, maximize your strengths, or are you, and others, focused on your weaknesses? Maybe a bigger question is, do you even know your strengths?
 
I have learned to focus on my strengths, surround myself with people who have strengths that compliment my weaknesses, and understand that I am not good at everything that God needs for my church to be triumphant. God knows my strengths. If you would like someone to sit down with you, listen, and watch for strengths, give one of the coaches at CABA a call.
 
The first two Pastors to shoot me a note at dsibcy@gmail.com, will receive a free copy of StrengthsFinder 2.0. The only catch is that I would like you to email me a copy of your list.
 
--Doug Sibcy is a church coach for CABA. He also pastors G3 Community Church in Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on September 1, 2020 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
Have you ever experienced success? Did you try to do the same thing hoping for success the next time, too? While visiting Las Vegas, I learned that one of the predictors of a gambling addiction was an early win. Gamblers will keep looking for that thrill even though it never happens again and they lose their shirt. What began as a pastime became a new lifestyle. 

The year 2020 is leaving us reeling because of the pandemic, business closures, racial unrest, just to name a few. In our churches we now have services regularly on Facebook Live and small groups meeting via Zoom. Some of what we knew we shouldn’t be doing we did anyway. At least two church services had to go back online since members tested positive. It’s easy to focus on just one week at a time. 

Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains, said that when he was out jogging, he violated every rule when he encountered a black bear near his home in California. He didn’t stand his ground, talk loudly, and wave his arms. Instead, he ran screaming down a hillside back to his cabin. When he shared the story with a tour guide in Alaska, he expected her to a approve of his escape technique. Instead, she said, “Jeez. You were really lucky. If you do that up here, a bear will kill you.” Tod, who is the vice president and chief of leadership formation at Fuller Theological Seminary went on to say, “Most of us trying to bring change in a post-Christendom world are attempting to use lessons we learned in one situation that are keeping us from adapting to a new spiritual terrain. But perhaps a humble stance of curiosity, awareness and attention, as well as healthy skepticism at our own success, may indeed be the first lessons we need to learn, especially when our egos are on the line.”

CABA planned 2020 around church revitalization. What we could not have predicted is that almost all of our churches now face the need for revitalization. Some pastors are telling me that their attendance is really low, but their financial giving is up. Other pastors are slacking off planning for a post-Covid situation, figuring on returning to normal. But they were saying that in April looking to June. In June, they were saying that about August when school resumed. And now we’re looking hopefully at November after the election. Meanwhile, the church paradigm is shifting. As the Steve Miller Band used to sing, time keeps on slipping into the future. The Barna Group’s surveys from mid-July found that one out of three church members have stopped in-person church attendance and 14% have already switched to a new church. 

CABA is providing new learning opportunities for pastors and church leaders based on a new emerging reality in the Cincinnati Area. It’s more than about coping, but infusing new skill sets that address deep church revitalization. After all, you can’t outrun a grizzly bear. 

--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. He enjoys hiking, but has never been near a grizzly!
Posted on July 14, 2020 7:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
When I was at the Kentucky Baptist Convention, our evangelism director entered my office. He wanted to apologize. He told me that he had criticized me for installing a great big satellite dish next to the Baptist building, when his budget couldn’t afford ballpoint pens. Then he said, “That satellite dish isn’t for you, is it? You’re downloading training tools for our whole staff.” I smiled and agreed that it was to help everyone.  
 
CABA has entered into a way of helping everyone. We have been invited into a coaching relationship with Denominee as part of the Future Team of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio. Denominee was developed by Will Mancini and the North American Mission Board for coaching state conventions and associations. Over the next two to three years, the strategy-development process is to focus firmly on helping each church go to their next level. This requires a customized coaching approach for each pastor as they lead their church.
 
By my count, there have been 16 CABA pastors who have engaged in CABA’s coaching process since January 2018 and 275 church members trained in disciple-making through No Place Left in the past two years. The Denominee process should help not just CABA, but all pastors. Some pastors will want to lead their church to have a robust missionary focus. Others will want members to be engaged in community transformation through disciple-making. Others will want to shake off the status quo to be constantly innovating in ministry. What is your church’s next hurdle? Pastors can help their churches go to the next level up as the Lord leads.
 
CABA still prioritizes addressing lostness. For some pastors, it’s as simple as whispering “over here” and they’re off and running. For others, CABA’s coaching and networking function as a silent partner with pastors who want to lead or be equipped in specific areas. Many pastors can name one thing that they can pass along to equip other pastors and church leaders. Look for five ways that your association can help equip by:
   (a) convening learning events
   (b) collaborating with other pastors on similar needs
   (c) intentionally diffusing innovations
   (d) welcoming church coaching
   (e) conveying break-thru learning perhaps through triads and direct mentoring.
 
The Denominee Process is similar to the satellite dish at the KBC. CABA wants to equip your church with unique tools that help you go next level up to the glory of God.
 
-- Mark Snowden serves as the Director of Missional Leadership, Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
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