Posted on January 3, 2023 8:00 AM by Michael Clary
Categories: Leadership
There once was a certain kind of evangelical Christian I felt free to make fun of. I was pastoring a fast growing church in an urban environment, and a spirit of elitism had infected us. No one would correct me on it because they made fun of them too. The people we felt free to mock were conservative, uneducated, backwoods fundies who still read the KJV. They lacked the theological sophistication and cultural insight I had acquired while doing campus ministry and studying at seminary. I came from the hills of WV. Appalachian, born and bred. I knew these people well because I grew up around them.
But I had moved on. I was better than them. I was more learned and cultured. I had "seen the world" and they hadn't.
I was a successful church planter in an urban cultural context in Cincinnati. My sending organization flew me around the country to share my success stories and train younger planters in the "way it's done." I would not have admitted this at the time, but deep down, I felt superior to my hometown people and their country religion. My ministry "success" was at least partly driven by a desire to separate myself from them and prove that "I'm not one of those fundie Christians." But then it began to dawn on me: I was standing on the shoulders of giants.
My grandfather was one of those country preachers. His provided for his family by working a physically demanding job in a steel mill his whole life. His family was poor, but he did what needed to be done. He had only received a 6th grade education. He didn't know how to read very well. He listened to the KJV bible on audio cassette on his 45 minute commutes to work. Up and back, every day, listening to the Bible. King James! Scripture got under his skin.
My mom told me a story once. When he was filling out paperwork or writing something and didn't know how to spell a word, he would remember where that word was in his KJV bible, then look it up to see how it was spelled. My great-grandfather was the same way. He only received a 3rd grade education. He planted a church deep in the hills of WV and built a church building for it on his property. He ministered there for many years, preaching from his KJV Bible. He lived to be 102 years old and was healthy and energetic up to the very end. In his 90s, he would take fruit baskets to the "shut ins" of his church who were much younger than him. He married his wife when she was 14. He remained faithful to her and they enjoyed 74 years together.
In my office, I have this poem framed that my great-grandfather ("Popo Galley") wrote on Sept. 1st, 1928, about his call to ministry. He didn't really retire, he just slowed down. He remained faithful to that calling for the rest of his life. He died on July 1st, 2011. He stayed true to the Lord and to his calling for 80 years. EIGHTY YEARS! And here I was, three or four years into my new church plant, attracting a few hundred people, feeling like I'd accomplished something. Feeling superior to men like my grandfather and great grandfather.
So I repented. I repented of my arrogance. I repented of my self-righteous attitude towards "that old time religion" that sustained my grandparents who had so much less than me. I repented of looking down on faithful, older Christians who had passed on a legacy to me. I share all these things because my arrogance was cultivated in an evangelical subculture that produces a spirit of elitism. And I wanted to ascend the ladder and reach achieve notoriety within that subculture.
What I have learned is that subculture is actually sub-Christian. Elitist Christianity cannot survive the rigors of hard discipleship. But my grandparents did. And they handed me a legacy to follow. There are many points of doctrinal disagreement that I would have with my grandfathers. But these were men who suffered and knew how to suffer well. These are the sorts of men that deserve our respect and admiration. Men who finished well and stayed true. Men of whom the world is not worthy. By God's grace, I want to follow in their footsteps and be like them. SDG
--Michael Clary pastors Christ the King Church, Cincinnati. 
Posted on November 8, 2022 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
How do you improve your sermons and address six problems church members say they have with sermons?
1) too many complex ideas,
2) too much analysis and too little answer,
3) too formal and too impersonal,
4) too much theological jargon,
5) too propositional with not enough illustrations, and
6) too many dead-ends and give no guidance to commitment and action. (Reuel Howe’s points noted by Clyde Fant in Preaching for Today.)
Last summer I picked up nine tips that should improve written sermons to be delivered orally. These were inspired by Ohio pastor Dave McClellan’s book, Preaching by Ear:
1. Imprecise: Avoid reporting and go for discovery by telling your points rather than reading them.
2. Formulaic: Use phrases and words people expect. Some liturgical expressions are welcomed.
3. Redundant: Tell them what you’ll tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. Speech class 101 was right!
4. Tradition-driven: Inspire more than provide an information-dump.
5. Close to everyday life: Keep it local rather than what happened in, say, 1436 in Germany.
6. Familiar with suffering: People are vulnerable and need some empathy.
7. Participatory: Individualism is cold, while community builds upon a common experience.
8. United in purpose: What’s your church’s cause/purpose/one-best-thing? Avoid generalities.
9. Comfortable with stories: Stories let you walk around a truth and see how it applies to you.
Next week, try using your sermons not to write a book, but help people encounter God!
--Mark Snowden serves as the AMS for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on October 10, 2022 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
he Pew Research Center study in 2019 revealed that sermons typically last 37 minutes.
As I read the graphic, I realized what is underway now is not when churches were exploding.
Today, when I visit CABA churches, there are typically 25 minutes of praise music, maybe 30 seconds devoted to prayer, and 40+ minutes preaching. Invitations are five minutes or non-existent.
During the Jesus Movement in the mid-70s, one Sunday our pastor gave the invitation first and several came forward and got saved. Most Sundays, he would speak 20 minutes and we’d easily have a 20-minute invitation. At that time, church members were far more involved in the service with testimonies, mission reports, prayer needs, and specials by the choir, youth ensembles, or soloists.
Is it because our discipling in churches is so weak that pastors feel that they have to do it? We used to spend every Sunday night in Church Training studying doctrine, Baptist distinctives, the biblical basis of missions, etc.
The Annual Church Profile (ACP) included online viewing last year. Note the jump in the AM Worship attendance. It shoved the trend line slightly upward over the past 10 years. However, it is important to state that our churches have about 9,00 to 10,000 in worship, but they are not keeping up with population increases in the Cincinnati Area.
So, how long should a sermon be? I welcome your input.
Mark Snowden serves as director of missional leadership for CABA
Posted on July 12, 2022 8:00 AM by Cliff Myers
Categories: Leadership
I always enjoy writing articles that challenge and those which are a challenge to write. I was asked recently to write on transcendence in ministry. So, let me tackle “transcendence” from a counseling/coaching/ ministry perspective.
Transcendency is a noun implying an existence or experience beyond the normal. Synonyms are superiority, excellence, and matchlessness. I am already feeling inferior with respect to the request, but let me begin with the fact that I do not begin coaching Christians or Leaders with the question, “Where do you want to go with your life?” but rather by asking, “Where do you sense that God wants to take you?”
Our mind is the seat of intellectual activity. Living and leading with our minds allows us to make wise decisions. Now I sincerely believe God wants to take each of us to places of distinction, glory, honor, and ascendance. My goal as a Pastor/ Counselor/Coach is not to help people experience their dreams but to enable them to embrace God’s Will. Notice I did not mention Stardom or Superstardom as a place God may want to take us.
You see, giving people solutions is not as impactful as helping them discover God’s answer. As leaders must always refrain from taking God’s place in people’s lives. Now everyone falls into ruts, slips into ineffective routines, makes false assumptions, and according to God’s Word, commits sin. Everyone has blind spots. Everyone has room for improvement.
Back to transcendence. Living for Christ is sometimes challenging. Leadership is sometimes hard. How do we become transcendent? How do we soar? Quite frankly it is very simple. Have a deep passion for God and a holy discontent for anything that draws us from Him.
The framework for living a transcendent life and having a transcendent ministry is living by the Great Commandment… “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Jesus is essentially saying we should love God with all of ourselves, with everything in us, with all of who we are. Your heart is what most connects you to God and others. Your soul longs to know God.
Your Strength – That is where visionary leadership comes from. Let me challenge each one reading to be transcendent. Have great faith and optimism. Focus on the future. Work tirelessly for the sake of God’s Kingdom. Live in spiritual integrity. Be a great prayer warrior. Never tire of seeing someone come to Jesus. So, in Charity’s words, do everything “For HIS Glory” and you will be moving in the direction of transcendency.
Where do you sense that God wants to take you?
--Cliff Myers is a biblical counselor serving in the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. 
Posted on May 9, 2022 8:00 AM by Guest Speaker Writer
Categories: Leadership
Here are seven things to consider.
1. Focus on what matters the most. Guard the important things with all you’ve got. Let go of what doesn’t matter.
2. Empower others and celebrate individuality. Entire companies can shut down over the lack of just one bold. Use your spiritual gifts.
3. Build high levels of trust. Covid eroded trust. “Trust is given; mistrust is earned.”
4. Accept change as a natural part of life. The average church dies in 30 years. Avoid change when:
a. Obstacles—everyone complains b. Wears you out c. Discussing but not doing d. When structure won’t last e. Structure prevents creativity
5. Take care of yourself. Protect your soul. We need healthy rhythms.
6. Learn how to deal with pain. Help others, also. Learn to “let it go.” Grieve those you lost. Focus on the new.
7. Get better at Follow Our Leader. Jesus still calls, “Follow me.”
--Ron Edmondson was the keynote speaker for the Spring Meeting of CABA. He is a leadership author and Lifeway's podcaster for leadership. 
Posted on May 2, 2022 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
Does your church’s financial team have the correct financial information? Clip this and share it!
Send your Cooperative Program contribution to the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio. The SCBO keeps 50% for work across Ohio and the other half goes to the SBC for mission work, six seminaries, and other SBC ministries.
Address for CP:
Cooperative Program
9000 Antares Ave.
Columbus, OH 43240
Now--Since CABA does not receive CP giving, a check must be written directly to us. 
Address for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association is:
P. O. Box 54885
Cincinnati, OH 45254
The standard recommendation is 10% to missions: 7% CP and 3% CABA. Giving to special missions offerings are above and beyond these goals. Special offerings each year includes the Ann Dunn/Joanne Hopkins CABA Offering, Ray Roberts SCBO Offering, Annie Armstrong NAMB Easter Offering, and Lottie Moon IMB Christmas Offering. Sometimes churches contribute to Disaster Relief directly through the SCBO. Each year on the Annual Church Profile (ACP), all of these and any additional missions contributions total Great Commission Giving. 
Also keep in mind that payment for a CABA Trailer rental should not be considered missions giving to CABA by your church. Make checks for rentals payable to “CABA” Trailers and mail to:
Mrs. Diane Sibcy
P. O. Box 1261
Lebanon, OH 45036
--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on March 29, 2022 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
   A pastor recently told me he’s concerned about new leaders actually doing what they signed on to do. Delegating authority is a great sign that you are developing leaders. However, when you withdraw that authority too quickly it can lead to a lack of trust and interpersonal problems. 
   Ken Blanchard wrote the One Minute Manager who was described as a Situational Leader (HarperCollins 1985, 2013). Blanchard talked about four levels of development—moving from high control to letting go. As a leader dedicated to training, I found the key was in delegation. Each stage was a checkpoint to see if the new leader was fulfilling their commitment. As Jesus said, “He who has been faithful in little will be faithful in much” (Luke 16:10). 
   The problem comes when leaders quickly dump the whole responsibility in a newbie’s lap. The worker invests time, but often runs into problems. Then the leader comes swooping in. They may not like what they’ve seen and heard. They snap and withdraw some or all of their delegated authority. Resentment is a terrible outcome. 
   Many pastors are so busy they want others to take on more and more responsibility. However, each stage requires accountability and oversight. If they withdraw and correct after fully delegating a task, responsibility, or role, then Blanchard called it a “Zap.” Ouch.
    Blanchard taught that leaders are best developed through directing, supporting, coaching, and then delegating. Pastors are wise to follow Jesus’ example of training Simon Peter until one day Peter could lead on his own without Jesus’ personal presence. Pastors must learn to take each task seriously in their church and let go too fast at their own peril. Through accountability, pastors begin to see authority transferred carefully with full respect of the leader they develop to the glory of God. 
--Mark Snowden serves as director of the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. He has a masters in Communications Managment from Virginia Commonwealth University
Posted on January 24, 2022 8:00 AM by Ron Renner
Categories: Leadership
We began as First Baptist Church of Dent, Cincinnati, with an intentional process of revitalization in August 2018. Through five months of training, the entire church committed to do whatever it took to keep our church from dying. This included our six charter members. God put together two of the most essential 
things when it comes to bringing a church back to life. One, a leader. 
I believe the leader makes all the difference. It has to be a man who has the skill-set and the giftedness to help people understand what has happened in their church, what to do about it, and how to get it moving forward again. Two, a group of people that realize reaching people and growing the kingdom is more important than personal preferences and heritage. What we’ve seen God do at Beacon of Christ has been phenomenal. Not in terms of size, but in relation to kingdom impact. 
Here are just a few of the highlights we’ve experienced as a result of trusting God, trusting leadership, and surrendering ‘personal 

 Change the name from FBC Dent to Beacon of Christ Church.
 Change the Constitution and By-laws which led to a redesign of our ministries and organizational structure that match our vision and purpose. About 60 percent of the church is serving in some capacity. 
 20 Baptisms in 36 months! All but two have been professions of faith with people between the ages of 14 and 77. 
Most of these have come from a Catholic background. (About 90 percent of our community is Catholic.)
 Developing a different church “culture.” This is a mind-set that takes time, patience, and a lot of prayer. 
 Be committed to the Word! Every time we presented a change to the church, we put together a biblical basis for “why” we needed to do this. 
 I heard once, “love the people, love the place.” I remind myself of that every day. Stay the course. If you start, finish! Don’t compromise God’s leading, but always let your love for people and God supersede all. 
Can any church do this? Maybe. The question lies in, “are we willing to?”
--If you would like to have Ron Renner as a 
coach in your church, please contact him at or (513)550-5945
Posted on November 16, 2021 8:00 AM by Brad Cunningham
Categories: Leadership
“We have abandoned the regional megachurch model. Instead of trying to grow and become the largest oak tree we can possibly be where we can be seen from miles around and we can tout all the people sitting under the shade of our branches, we want to instead be an orchard with as many gospel outposts planted as possible.”
Those are the words I shared with our church publicly in casting a vision for a multi-site church strategy. We have also publicly communicated that our desire was to cap our attendance at our Liberty Township location at 1200-1500. Each time we approach that number, our vision would be to deploy people to start a new campus or strengthen an existing campus located in the community they live in.The vision is not the growth of Liberty Heights Church, the vision is the spread of the gospel further and faster.
As the church has grown larger over the past ten years – we have felt the tensions that often come with larger churches. Relationships are harder to develop. Fewer people can get to know the staff and vice versa. Keeping people from being anonymous almost becomes impossible. Getting people connected to groups and ministry becomes increasingly complex. We started noticing this as we grew past 800 several years ago and certainly when we grew past 1,000.
The New Testament Church was familial in nature, but the larger a church becomes, the harder it is to feel like family. Unfortunately, the trade off in local church ministry is that if you want a high level of excellence – choose a large church. If you want lots of access to the staff and more of a family feel – choose a smaller church. We believe an intentional multi-site strategy truly can offer the best of both worlds. It allows people to be on mission with their actual neighbors through community-based churches instead of large, regional mega churches. It is an intentional move away from attractional into missional.
Multi-site provides the evangelistic impact of a new church plant, but guards it from a lack of resources that often serve as the catalyst to the failure of church plants. Only 4 out of 10 church plants survive and one of the leading causes of failure is the lack of resources related to people and money. Our Orchard Initiative sends both from our original location, that is led by a campus pastor, through live preaching – but he also receives the resources and encouragement from a larger team dynamic.
--Brad Cunningham pastors Liberty Heights Church and its four satellite campuses based in Liberty Township, Ohio.
Posted on September 14, 2021 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
In a meeting with Aaron Swensen, our CABA Moderator and pastor of SonRise Church, Aaron shared how he had encouraged another pastor. The pastor was dejected because 20% of his regular attenders had not returned to regular worship services. Aaron switched it around and complimented the church for having 80% of the members return. I liked Aaron’s perspective and positivity. He ministered to another pastor at an important juncture in his ministry.
Jason McKinney, CABA’s church planting coach, had another change in perspective at a meeting conducted by leaders in No Place Left. They identified ten qualities of a church using the church at Corinth in the Bible as an example. Jason’s church actually had more going on in his church than Corinth did!
What markers do you use to determine your church’s health? No Place Left uses 10 markers that are not budgets, bodies, and buildings:
1.      Repent & Believe – professions of faith in Jesus
2.     Baptisms – first sign of obedience
3.     Pray – constant and consistent
4.     Go Make Disciples – maturing, but also going
5.      Love – exhibited by care
6.     Worship – genuine adoration
7.      Lord’s Supper – ‘til He comes
8.     Give – a culture of generosity
9.     Leaders – developing and empowering
10.  Gather – finding ways to meet
Celebrate or address any or all of these markers of a healthy church.
NOTE: This year many CABA churches have been distributing Hope Changes Everything CSB New Testaments. They were funded by the Dunn-Hopkins Associational Offering. In the back are printed the “10 Commands of Christ.” Each of those Bible studies line up with the 10 Qualities of a Healthy Church. In No Place Left training, the Church Circle is a church health diagram for new believers to study and participate in churches who want to be as biblically healthy as possible. If you would like to have a few dozen of these Bibles to use, LifeWay blessed us by printing an additional 1,000 copies. I believe at this writing some 700 still remain.
--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership, CABA
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