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Posted on May 29, 2019 7:00 AM by Brad Cunningham
Categories: Leadership
Ron “Bink” Garbutt was kind to provide this testimonial.

“The facility assessment that was provided for [Georgetown Baptist] church has been a tremendous resource for our church as we seek to become more effective for the Kingdom.

Brad gave us a very detailed and thoughtful report that outlined many things that we, as regular church attendees, may have never thought needed to be changed. This assessment was a catalyst for discussion that was long overdue for a church that has a desire to reach people with the gos-pel. I am very thankful that CABA and Brad Cunning-ham are offering this to the churches in our association. I would highly recommend that church leader-ship participate in this valuable program.”

I’m still taking requests for Facilities Assessments. Just email me at BradCunning-ham34@gmail.com.
 
--Brad Cunningham serves as CABA's Church Coach and is the senior pastor at Liberty Heights Church, Liberty Township.
Posted on April 1, 2019 1:49 PM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
The email said, “Mark, we’d like you to address this topic: ‘Are We Training Our Pastors Wrong?’” Now, there’s a good way to alienate yourself from godly men you have served alongside for several decades! At least I was able to add, “Or How Can We Train Pastors More Effectively?”
 
The article required hours of research. I began to understand that there was a disconnect between pastors and their church members. The Bible created the biggest gap. Biblical ignorance is rampant in our churches. I discovered that pastors often talk about the Bible, but rarely, if ever, tell intact Bible stories. Most Bible narratives only take about three to five minutes to tell, so why not use them? The index of stories listed in the Reese Chronological Bible adds up to 500 to 700 stories, comprising some 75 percent of the Bible.

Before summarizing a Bible story as his text, one pastor in my hearing said, “I don't want to bore you with the details of this Bible story….” Yet this same preacher told a detailed joke and a longish life story that served his purpose.
Church members have been subtly trained by pastors to tolerate the Bible passages being read in order to hear their pastor’s own thoughts he devoted to sermon development. The random verses used in sermons and Bible studies are often abstract to someone without a broad Bible knowledge coupled with proficient reading levels.  

Rather than establish the authority of God’s Word, some pastors unwittingly establish their own authority at the Bible’s expense. Personality cults flourish that generate a consumer mentality among church-goers. The pastor is expected to do most everything, while the church members watch passively from the sidelines. No wonder the Barna Group reports that only 18% of men volunteer in churches and only one in eight men attend weekly Bible study.

Few churches evaluate the quality, but celebrate the quantity of their members. Encouraging small group leaders to not just teach the lesson but make disciples must become a priority. Celebrations must erupt over disciples reproducing the evangelism and discipleship process done with them in the lives of others.

There is a need for deep change. Pastors are usually trained with such high literacy standards that they forget how to communicate with oral-preference learners. And the majority of people in the U.S. and the Cincinnati Area only “hear” this way (Rom. 10:17).

1.    Systemic changes in education mean taking the training to the pastors. Online learning helps some, but I recommend learning on a local level. At least half of Missouri Baptist churches that have pastors are bi-vocational. The Bible Training Centre for Pastors is one curriculum available for a “cohort” to form and study for two years using only $200 worth of study manuals. www.bibletraining.com

2.    Pastors should be teamed up with an accountability coach who can make their worship experiences to be more interactive, communicate in the common language their people use, and humbly lift up God’s Word over their own. Your association’s director of missions is well-connected and can assist pastor-mentoring.

3.    Pastors must know how to develop different expectations of their members, raising the bar for disciple-making by learning how to coach, support, and empower. Why not model church multiplication within the life of the church? No Place Left training is next scheduled for May 31-June 1 at FBC Mt. Healthy, Ohio. Look for it on Eventbrite.

4.    Pastors should value Bible Storying as a reproducible method. A tremendous opportunity exists for Bible colleges, seminaries, and others engaging pastors. Training is increasingly incorporating orality methods. Pastors need to experience it firsthand to see the power of the Holy Spirit at work through the Bible conveyed in oral form. And they will be excited to see church members catching it, then sharing their faith and the Bible with the lost in their own community.

5.    Teaching pastors how to preach needs to change to encompass the oral learning preferences of most people. TruthSticks Training is available as a starting point. At this writing, TruthSticks Training is scheduled 9:00 a.m. to Noon, Saturday, April 27, 2019, at West Union Southern Baptist Church, 107 Rice Drive, West Union, Oh. Register by calling the church office at (937) 544-7276. To schedule TruthSticks Training in your church, contact CABAdirector@gmail.com.
 
Mark Snowden is the Director for Missional Leadership, Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. He is the co-author of Truth That Sticks and also blogs at http://TruthSticks.us.
Posted on March 19, 2019 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
Steve Hopkins, the SCBO’s Biblical Teaching and Leadership Group Leader, draws four paradigms using Jesus’ parable of new wineskins. In which church are you?
This gives you an insight on where to start:
  • Old wine/old wineskins: Riveted to the status quo, highly resistant to change
  • New wine / old wineskins: Great ideas are known, but old structures and systems can interfere
  • Old wine / new wineskins: Tradition-bound thinking within new structures
  • New wine / new wineskins: Church members are making disciple-makers as they are uninhibited, empowered to do it non-stop, and celebrated along the way.
“Moving to a culture for making disciple-makers in many traditional, legacy churches, may be tough to implement,” Hopkins said. “Be patient—and brutally honest.”
 
Andy Stanley, an Atlanta pastor, once led a workshop on “system dynamics” at Exponential, an annual conclave for church planting. He said, “The chatter in the hall trumps the vision statement on the wall.” Do people actually trust what’s going on and reinforce it with their behaviors? What impedes or accelerates progress?
 
Change for change’s sake just swaps one set of problems for another. However, when we align with the Holy Spirit’s leadership and do the will of God, then making disciple-makers becomes valuable, desired, and fruitful in a way that exalts the name of Jesus.
 
--Mark Snowden is the director of missional leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on March 18, 2019 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
The Lord must be trying to tell me something. I’ve been reading about change and attended what I thought was a seminar on church revitalization, but it was really about leading lasting change. Many of the same principles were used.
 
John Kotter has the best reputation in the business world for “leading change.” He’s got a great book by that name, too. Kotter has eight steps to change that are widely recognized as successful. If your church or ministry needs change to actively making disciple-makers, consider these steps:
 
  1. Is it urgent yet? Paint a picture for your church or small group that explains why making disciple-makers is so urgent. Step back and be realistic about what is not happening; what you’re missing.
  2. What leaders will implement a churchwide heartcry for evangelizing? Kotter calls this a “guiding coalition” who has the authority – and guts – to do the right thing to make needed changes.
  3. What is your vision for making disciple-makers as active witnesses? Let everyone know the opportunities. It helps to work backwards from a preferred future to identify strategies, resources, and people needed to get going.
  4. How will you communicate your vision? Meet one-on-one and then with groups. Listen. Be bold! Tell stories of change and how it was a blessing.
  5. Who needs to be empowered to act? Typically, the most highly-relational people are best at evangelizing in a warm, welcoming manner.
  6. Are you celebrating “wins” along the way? How is the Lord bringing change? Brag on what God is doing!
  7. What tweaks need to be made to keep on track? Change is good if it keeps moving forward. Learn from mistakes and build upon them. Keep training and raising up leaders who get it.
  8. What structures and systems need to be changed to keep the movement going? Jesus said not to put new wine into old wineskins. Keep making adjustments as needed.

Not all change works. We’re after deep, systemic change that aligns with God’s way and His will.
 
--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on November 1, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
David Evans sat across from several Southern Baptist leaders. He pastored for several years and has had success reaching into the next generation age groupings. He is now the evangelism leader for Tennessee Baptists. 
 
Are young adults on your heart? Consider:
 
:: According to the U.S. Census, the 2013 population estimates of our nine counties were comprised of 322,000 people ages 20 to 34; primarily Millennials. This is 16.9% of our 1.78 million population.
 
:: In the book, The Great Evangelical Recession, John Dickerson noted that 3.7 million evangelicals are 18-29 years old. In that age group, 260,000 leave their churches – and their faith – every year; 712 per day.
 
:: LifeWay research has learned that 35% of 18-29 yea rold “prodigals” do return, but some 65% never do.  
 
Evans’s church asked, “Is the church really relevant in my life?” That question inspired the church to look at three important practices that would get after lostness in his community, and particularly Millennials.
 
1. Assimilation process. Their church voted that church leaders could include 13 year-olds. Evans pointed out that by the age 18, most students have left their  churches.
 
2. Causes. Next generation young adults want to be part of something bigger than their life. They want to be personally involved and support projects that help meet need and also bring the gospel into the conversation. Keep casting vision.
 
3. Memories. Young adults with children have one     
window of time each week. The best time to help families make memories might be Saturday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., right after nap time.  Evans added, “Kids aren’t sharing the Gospel because their parents didn’t.”
 
Being a role model is the key.
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on November 1, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
Running backs in football have an amazing knack for finding a hole in the line just wide enough to sprint through. And once they pop through, they begin  running for daylight. CABA has an amazing team and many pastors have begun running for daylight. Over the past year, our association has been led of the Lord to address lostness by making strategic shifts in budget, leadership, and equipping for our pastors.
 
:: Networking is underway in five of our regional zones. Pastors are gathering for fellowship and also topical discussions that shape their ministries.
:: Coaching is underway for more than 20 CABA churches. Some are working on bringing deep change. Others are hosting Mystery Guests or doing Facility Assessments. Scheduling for 2019 is underway.
:: Disaster Relief callouts have done evangelistic mudouts in the Carolinas and Florida.
:: In the first nine months, we set a record for Block Party Trailer reservations with 107 events that were used to initiate 500 Gospel conversations. ? Church planting has 24 CABA pastors supporting 28 church plants across the association.
:: We’ve trained at least 80 church members to initiate Gospel conversations and start new small groups that
could become churches. No Place Left has its fourth training scheduled Nov. 2-3 and three more in the works for 2019. :: Partnership mission Vision Trips to Boston’s church planters have resulted in at least  five partnerships.
 
Praise God that CABA pastors are running for daylight to the glory of God!
 
Mark Snowden is the Director for Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
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!
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