Blog
Posted on April 10, 2017 8:11 AM by Tom Pendergrass
Categories: Evangelism
2017 Evangelism Catalyst CABA Report
Tom Pendergrass
 
It has been a joy to serve again this year in Evangelism, this time as the Evangelism Catalyst for CABA. It has been a year of transition in understanding the new role for each Catalyst and my role in particular. It has been an honor to serve alongside the men who serve as Catalyst Leaders and alongside Mark Snowden. His friendship, encouragement, exhortation, and passion are several reasons why we brought him on board. To hear and see his vision and missional heart has been an inspiration.
 
I have focused the last few months on our Evangelistic Strategy, leading out in County-by-County meetings. We met in eight different counties and were graciously hosted by pastors in CABA who did a remarkable job! We had 26 churches participate. We followed up that training with our Evangelism Roundtable hosted by Clough Pike. We had eleven churches participate in which Jack Helton, Mark, and I led sessions. We also viewed “The Case for Christ” movie excerpts. This evangelistic movie is out for a special showing in theaters on April 7.
 
I wanted to give a special shout out to Jack Helton, our State Evangelism director and to NAMB who provided our Three Circles Evangelism Kits for free. Jack’s leadership and passion for souls is a resource I highly encourage our pastors to use.
 
Disaster Relief has fallen under my umbrella and I so look forward to getting to sit down with all our leaders as we plan toward the future and expand our borders. CABA can take great thanks for the tremendous job out Mud-Out unit does every year, working alongside our NAMB partners. We will announce soon a couple of dates to meet and network together to see Disaster Relief expanded in CABA.
 
The Block Party Ministry is underway! A special thanks to Patti and all the she does to set this up. Registration is now online as the TRESS, the Trailer Reservation System at www.cincinnatibaptist.com. Please remember that this ministry is used virtually non-stop once the weather breaks and the sun begins to shine again in Ohio—160 times in 2016. Make every effort to leave the equipment better than when you receive it. We also stress that you need to be trained before you can use the trailer. These help meet insurance requirements.  Please check the CABA website for the next training you can attend. The team at Lakota Hills do an awesome job of hosting and training our church leaders.
 
One final thought that I would like to leave you with is what I stressed at all our Evangelism Training events, “NEVER DO MINISTRY ALONE!” We exist to make disciples and train up the next generation of CABA and Kingdom leaders.
 
See you at the Evangelism Expo April 29 that we’re hosting at Urbancrest!
 
Posted on April 10, 2017 8:09 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
Disciple-making Catalyst CABA Report—April 2017
David Frasure, Disciple-making Catalyst
 
A healthy church is a church that is making disciples who can make disciples.  From the bed-babies to the senior adults, our task is to move people toward the goal of winning and making disciples for Christ that He may be glorified and pleased.
 
All of us can see and value the larger group ministry of the church.  The morning worship gathering creates a wonderful place for worship and edification.  Yet, as we study the life of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles, we cannot help but notice the value of using smaller groups for interactive discipleship.  Discipleship happens best in the context of relationships that are developed in small groups.
 
Because healthy small groups are so effective, that has been a key emphasis in our strategy for making disciples in the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.  According to our ACP reports, CABA churches averaged about 8,500 people in worship last year, yet only had 5,400 people in Sunday School and Small Group Ministry.  That means about 42 % (3,100) of our morning attendees are not being discipled and, in all likelihood, about 2500 will no longer be active church members five years from now (research shows that 80 % of those who attend worship only will drop out of church in five years).  Our churches need to reach 500 people a year, just to break even!
 
To keep more people in discipleship last year, we offered special training for pastors and Sunday School directors.  David Francis, the Sunday School specialist from LifeWay Christian Resources, came to our Association, offering rich insights into Sunday School and Small Group Ministry.
 
We have also been emphasizing Vacation Bible School training in our Association.  Last year we had one of the largest VBS clinics in Ohio, in our area.  Nearly half of all Christians come to faith in Christ before they turn 13, with two-thirds receiving Christ before their 18th birthday.  Obviously, our ministry to children is important to the kingdom and it is strategic for the success of the church. In addition, we are providing resources for churches to host Backyard Bible Clubs in an effort to reach and disciple more children and their families for Christ.
 
As we look forward to the days ahead, I am excited to announce that we will have a VBS Clinic on Tuesday, April 25 at 7:00 PM at Fellowship Baptist Church in Maineville, a Children’s Ministry Conference on Saturday, September 9 at FBC South Lebanon, and we are planning a Sunday School Workshop on Saturday, October 7 with Allan Taylor, who formerly served with Pastor Johnny Hunt at FBC Woodstock as the Minister of Education, and currently serves on staff at LifeWay.  We also are developing a Discipleship Team and free resources that can aid churches in worship, children’s ministry and small groups.
 
Posted on April 10, 2017 8:06 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
2017 CABA Missions Report for Book of Reports
 
Fran Trascritti served six months as Missions Catalyst for CABA. He has resigned to take a position with LifeWay Resources and will be missed. In the six months that Dr. Trascritti served CABA, he worked with the CABA director to develop an association-wide Acts 1:8 missions strategy.
 
JERUSALEM:
a.     Hunger Funds: CABA changed its reporting forms in the first quarter 2017 to track God’s activity. Praise God for the 20 evangelistic encounters, six professions of faith and two baptisms. Two churches had 14 volunteers who served 424 hot meals just in the first quarter 2017. Let the CABA office know if your church has an evangelistic feeding opportunity. This project allows CABA to reimburse expenses through giving to the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio and the North American Mission Board to the glory of God! 100% of giving to Hunger goes to meals. SBC Hunger Funds go to provide hot meals.
b.     Global Impact Conference: CABA joined in with Urbancrest to help support their GIC with more than 800 attending from five CABA churches. Mission education came in the form of booths, displays, testimonies, and a “Taste and See” night with foods from around the world.
c.     Plans are underway to begin Unfunded Church Planting. Travis Smalley, Oliver Hawkins, Fran Trascritti, and Mark Snowden met to begin planning for (unfunded) church planting by lay and bi-vocational approaches.
 
JUDEA:
a.     Mission Trips to Cincinnati are encouraged by every church. God has placed us in nine counties. A Mapping Project is planned to identify peoples in our communities, focus prayer, and then connect with them here, there, and everywhere.
b.     The Cincinnati Area has agreed to a partnership with the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board through 2019. Whenever a church visits Cincinnati, then we should respond with missions back in their community.
c.     P2 Missions and World Changers are planned this July. Volunteer to help with meals and prayer.
 
SAMARIA:
NEW! Boston: CABA has been approved to join in with other Ohio Baptists who have ongoing partnerships with New England. Mark Jones, SCBO partnership coordinator has requested CABA work in Boston. How you doin’?
 
ENDS OF THE EARTH:
NEW! Refugees of Southern Italy: CABA’s leaders have accepted the strategic opportunity to join in with other Ohio Baptists who have an ongoing partnership with southern Italy – from Naples to the refugees of Italy’s “heel.” Steve Long, SCBO partnership coordinator, requested that we coordinate work with Steve Brown, IMB missionary serving in Naples, Italy. Ciao!
Posted on March 1, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
There is an old story of two lumberjacks who had a competition to see who could saw the most wood in a day. The first man was young and strong and no doubt had the greatest endurance. The second was not as young and not as strong, but had years of wisdom on his side. As the two began at the break of day, it was obvious that both were intent on winning the competition. The only real surprise was that the older lumberjack would stop and while he rested, he would casually sharpen his saw blade.
 
At the end of the day, the young man had done an impressive amount of work, but the older lumberjack had clearly won the contest. The loser had worked harder, but had not worked smarter. By keeping his blade sharp, the experienced man was much more effective.
 
Many businesses spend a great deal of money providing "in service training" for their employees. Why? They know it is worth the extra effort and finances to make this investment in their people. Wouldn't you rather go to a doctor that stays abreast of the latest medical breakthroughs? Ask school teachers about what it takes to keep their teaching certificates. They are required to continue learning in order to hold onto their classrooms.
 
It also makes a lot of sense to stay sharp as a Bible teacher. Let's freely admit that none of us have "arrived" as master teachers. We all have room for improvement. That's why a wise teacher continues to intentionally grow, developing skills and character.
 
There are at least five areas in which Bible teachers need to keep growing:
1.Spiritual character. We need to study and develop deeper character, becoming more like the real Master Teacher, Jesus.
2.Bible knowledge. We need to understand Bible doctrines and biblical principles. There is no shortcut here.
3.Communication skills. It is possible to have great Bible knowledge and yet have great difficulty communicating it.
4.People skills. Poor people skills can actually drive out more people than the best outreach program can bring in.
5.Responsibility recognition. As we understand our responsibilities and accept the assignment the Lord has entrusted to us, we will be the team players the church needs to be most effective.
 
So how do we grow in these areas? Obviously, we need to commit to remain lifelong learners. Even the Apostle Paul requested that parchments and books be brought to him while he was imprisoned so he could learn and grow. We also need to read books to help us develop our craft. We must listen to other teachers and learn how they prepare and become more efficient. We should attend conferences and seminars that allow us to get better. We can listen to podcasts and read magazines on the topic of teaching.
 
David Frasure is the Disciple-making Catalyst for CABA and pastors FBC So. Lebanon.
 
It is so true: You can chop more wood with a sharp axe than a dull one.
Posted on February 10, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
The argument could be made that our lives are made up of that to which we commit ourselves.  The most important decisions of life require commitment and these commitments powerfully shape our lives.  Today we continue to learn the 10 commitments of a healthy disciple.
 
6.  The commitment to discern and follow God’s will for my life.  Discerning God’s will is usually as easy as reading the Bible.  God has shown us His will in Scripture.  We don’t even need to pray about whether or not to attend church, pray, witness or tithe—the Bible already tells us the will of God on such things.  The principles of the Bible guide us to avoid relationships that will corrupt our behavior and those things that would stir up sinful desires in us.  Through the principles of the Bible we know we should not be unequally yoked in a covenant partnership or to do that which will harm our bodies, God’s temple.  As we surrender ourselves to God’s agenda, He even promises to put His desires in our hearts (Phil. 2:13) so we can know His will for our lives.
 
7.  The commitment to be an active part of my church family.  God established the local church to worship God, build believers and share Christ with the world.    A Christian without a local church is like a football player without a team or a soldier without a platoon.  The idea of a Christian not plugged into a local congregation is foreign to the Word of God.  Each of us have a responsibility to protect the unity of the church, to serve the people of the church and support the work of the church.  That requires that we are active and involved.
 
8.  The commitment to minister to others.  First Peter 4:10 reminds us that every Christian is gifted by God to minister to the church.  A healthy disciple is involved in a ministry.  It is a stewardship of our gifts, talents and experiences.  Jesus served His disciples to help us understand the priority of serving others.  We will need to develop humility and learn to put the needs of others ahead of our own needs at times, but that is what it means to be His servant.  Jesus taught us that we descend into greatness.  Disciples lead by serving.
 
9.  The commitment to share Christ with the lost.  Disciples are called “fishers of men.”  It isn’t the job of the preacher or a chosen few.  It’s the mission of all of God’s people to be His witnesses.  Surely, we will have to overcome our timidity, but ignoring the Great Commission is not an option.  As we rely on the Holy Spirit and share what Christ has done for us, each of us can be used to lead people to Jesus.  As we take the initiative to build relationship bridges with the unsaved and “test the waters” for a gospel conversation, we grow in our walk with Christ, and sometimes, have the joy of leading another to know Jesus as Lord.
 
10.  The commitment to mentor others to become disciples.  By making disciples who can make disciples, we multiply rather than just add people to the kingdom of God.  Second Timothy 2:2 gives us the example of Paul discipling Timothy, who discipled “faithful men” who discipled “others also.”  Jesus discipled 12 who discipled others and the church has continued the process even today.  The church is only one generation away from becoming extinct if we fail to disciple others.  Whether it is at home or at church, we each know someone we can disciple for Christ.
 
When Moses died, Joshua was able to take up the mantle of leadership.  But the Bible tells us that after Joshua died there arose a generation who did not know God.  That’s what is at stake.  Our commitment to being Jesus’ disciples will have eternal significance.
Posted on February 1, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
It is no coincidence that the word “disciple” and the word “discipline” come from the same root word.  The Latin word carries the meaning of “pupil.”  The New Testament Greek word carries the idea further to include the idea of “becoming an apprentice” or “one who adheres to the teachings of a master teacher.”  As I study what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, I see at least 10 key commitments emerging from the Scripture.  These commitments are not intended to be a legalistic way to measure what it means to be a disciple, but rather a guide to help us keep moving in the right direction as followers of Jesus.
 
1. The commitment to meet regularly with God.  I put this first because I believe it to be the most important commitment.  This is how we abide with Christ and make Christ “feel at home” in our lives.  Meeting with Christ through time in the Word and in prayer makes it possible for Him to speak clearly into our lives as we grow to greater maturity.  This commitment brings us a greater sensitivity to His Spirit’s conviction and guidance in our lives.
 
2. The commitment to learn basic teachings about God and His Word.  Disciples should know the basics of the character and nature of God.  We also need to know the basic doctrines of the Bible lest we be tossed about by every wind of doctrine.  Disciples need to know the Bible!  As we grow deeper in our understanding and application of the Word, Christ is seen more clearly in our lives.
 
3. The commitment to discover who I am “in Christ” and allow that to change my thinking and my actions.  Knowing our new identity as Christ-followers is critical to our understanding of the Christian life.  In Christ, we are redeemed, reconciled, accepted, justified, etc. people, and that changes everything.  It changes our sense of worth and allows us to have real security in our walk with God.
 
4. The commitment to a biblical family life.  So many of the New Testament writers emphasized the need for a biblical family life.  So often, people come to marriage with the mind-set of getting their needs met rather than meeting the needs of others.  As children are added to the family, God’s plan is for parents to become disciple-makers for their children.  The love and harmony of a Christian home, enabled by the filling of God’s Spirit, is a powerful testimony to the world.
 
5. The commitment to a holy lifestyle.  The chief character trait of God is holiness.  God is love, but His love is holy love.  He is patient, but His is a holy patience.  When the seraphim fly around the throne of God, they cry out “Holy, holy, holy,” not “Grace, grace, grace.”  All God’s attributes are consistent with His holiness.  The disciple’s commitment is to be holy as He is holy, becoming separated from sinful thoughts, words, motives, attitudes and actions as we grow in Christ-likeness.  Many will say, “Nobody is perfect” and “We sin every day,” but a real disciple sees that as no excuse for avoiding the commitment to grow in personal holiness.
 
Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is not accidental, but intentional.  Spiritual growth, like any kind of growth, is not automatic.  It requires steady effort and reliance on Christ.  It requires discipline.  He is the only One to live the Christian life without fault, and it is Christ in us who will enable us to mature in our faith as we teach others to mature in their faith.
 
David Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh. 
Posted on January 15, 2017 8:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
In our first church, my wife was involved in the outreach ministry.  On occasion, she would send a hand-written letter on church stationary and a gospel tract to absentees and prospects.  One day, she got such a letter marked “return to sender.”  One of our sons went with her to the mailbox that day.  He wondered if there was any mail for him, so Terri gave him the return to sender letter.  He was old enough to read most of the words, so he sat down and started reading the Eternal Life tract.  My son then wanted to know more about becoming a Christian.  A few hours later, Isaiah called me to tell me he had received Jesus and accepted the gift of eternal life.  Today, Isaiah has a family of his own and he teaches Sunday School and plays piano in our church.
 
I for one, want my children and grandchildren to know Christ as Savior.  I do not try to coerce or manipulate them, but I have and I will share the gospel with them as God gives me the opportunity and I will teach them the Bible.  Our world is very deliberate about influencing our children at school and through the media.  Satan is very active in some of the ways our society impacts children.  Some public-school leaders desire to teach their version of sex education at younger and younger ages.  I remember when Heather has Two Mommies was released in 1989 and since then the market has been flooded with homo-sexual themed children’s literature.  In addition, many children’s books propagate a message of intolerance toward the idea that the world was created by Intelligent Design and belief in the Bible.  When a child begins to have a relationship with Christ, it becomes a shield against the anti-God, anti-Bible messages of our day. 
 
Throughout the Bible we read of people having a relationship with God early in life.  Samuel heard God speaking to him at a very young age.  Josiah became a strong spiritually-minded king at eight years old!  David and others were quite young when they encountered and served the Lord.  No doubt these children knew God and their relationship with God guided them throughout their lives.  Jesus Himself was very open towards children and accessible to them.  For us to ignore or minimize the spiritual lives of children would be foolish as well as unbiblical.
The Bible reminds us that the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, judgement and righteousness.  When the Holy Spirit begins convicting the heart of a child in such a way, God wants that child to be saved.  Who are we to argue?  That is when parents and church leaders need to be able to step in and help the child come to faith in Christ.  In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  He reminded us that children do not need to become like adults in order to be saved, but adults do need to become like children to be saved.
 
I heard about a young couple who argued about getting their children involved in church.  The father wanted them to be exposed to the Bible and have the opportunity to trust Christ.  The mother wanted to wait until the kids were teenagers before they learned about God and “religion.”  She reasoned that they needed to be old enough to decide for themselves.  The dad dropped the subject and went next-door to borrow the neighbor’s roto-tiller.  He plowed up a 10 x 10 section of the back yard and came into the house.  The wife was thrilled that he was finally going to plant her flower garden.  She asked, “What are you going to plant?”  The husband replied, “Oh, I think I’ll just let the garden decide what it wants to grow.”  The point was made and the next Sunday the family began to attend church more faithfully.  No body wants spiritual weeds in their child’s life.
Posted on January 8, 2017 11:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
Being a great Sunday School Teacher does not happen by accident.  Certainly, there are people who are especially skilled and gifted in teaching, but even those gifted individuals understand the need to be disciplined in their study habits and to sharpen their skills.  Yet, there is one disciple that seems to stand out above the rest.  Great teachers discipline themselves in many areas.  They know to start early in preparation.  They understand the need to find good tools and stories to illustrate their lessons.  But the one discipline that a Bible Teacher develops that is clearly the most important is the discipline to practice a daily quiet time with the Lord. 
 
As we start a New Year, many are considering resolutions to live by.  I would submit that a commitment to having your own personal daily quiet time with God is the most important discipline anyone, especially a Bible teacher, can develop.
 
Teaching the Bible is not exactly the same as teaching history or training a person to use the computer.  Teaching the Bible is a spiritual activity.  In fact, Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit is our true Teacher of truth.  As Bible teachers, we need to be filled with God’s Word as well as God’s Spirit to be most effective.  We need to meet regularly with the Lord to be overflowing with the Spirit.  That is why we need the discipline of a daily quiet time, but how do we do it?
 
First, we must make a commitment to it!  A daily quiet time is like most things in life.  If I am not committed to it, it won’t happen.  We are generally committed to cleanliness.  That is why we take regular showers and bathe regularly.  We are generally committed to our work and we understand the need to be on time and faithful to the tasks we are given.  Just as good hygiene and a dependable work ethic require a certain level of dedication, staying close to the Lord and walking in His fellowship involves a degree of commitment.
 
In addition to commitment, there are some very practical things we can do to help us have a daily quiet time with God.  We can establish a certain time and place for our quiet time.  Make it a part of your daily routine.  We wouldn’t even think of leaving the house without brushing our teeth.  I know many Christians who feel the same way about their quiet time with God.  I’ve found that the place I have my quiet time is very important because I am so easily distracted.  I need a quiet place free of interruptions and distractions.  I have also learned to keep a pen a paper nearby so I can jot down things that come to my mind, so I can quickly put them aside and focus on the Lord. 
 
Many people find that having a plan for their daily quiet time is also very helpful.  My plan is simple, I journal at least a chapter a day in a note-taking Bible.  It takes about three years to complete, but in the end, I have grown in the Word and I have something special to give to someone in my family.  Your plan may be to simply read through the Bible.  I know one Sunday School Teacher who has read through the entire Bible 16 times by simply following a daily plan of Bible reading during her quiet time.  Some prefer to use a day-by-day devotional book or follow the plan in the Sunday School literature or The Daily Bread.  Whatever your plan is, the key is to aim for consistency.  I’d much rather see Christians have 10 minutes a day consistently than one-hour sessions occasionally. 
 
There will be those days that get out of hand before you can get to your quiet time.  You may forget or have an unexpected issue that alters your daily schedule.  Don’t be discouraged.  Get back on track as quickly as you can and realize that God is more concerned about the direction you are going than an occasional slip up. 
 
David Frasure serves as CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon.
Posted on January 3, 2017 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
Imagine a church with 100 ministers, and only two of them have been to Bible college. Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho, is now a mega-church, but they started out as a church plant with 10 members. But every step of the way, they discipled their members so intentionally, that they have all the ministers that they need. 
 
Gene Jacobs is one such church member turned minister. He is a former Navy sailor who later built cell phone towers. After accepting Christ, he became a member of a small group, then a small group leader, then a community pastor, executive church staff, and is now a church planter.

My parents are involved in a church that lost their pastor not too long ago. Their church immediately put together a Pastor Search Team and started evaluating resumes. Now, I grew up in that church, so I poked some fun at Dad, “Have you not discipled a leader out of your church to step into the pastoral role?” Poking right back, Dad said, “Well, Mark, we’d have to totally change  everything we’re doing in  discipleship training for that to happen.” To which I said,  “And?”  He knew what I meant.
 
Willow Creek Church in Chicago  learned as reported in Reveal,  that they were doing a great job  winning people to faith in Christ,  growing them a bit, but keeping  them in classes in a constant  learning environment rather  than discipling their members  toward leadership. It was no  wonder the long-time church  members expressed being a bit  bored with Christianity – and church. 

Some churches keep their best members  practicing and practicing and never put them in the game. Willow Creek stifled their members into frustrated benchwarmers. Real Life Ministries found a feeder-system that worked for them and ignited growth among their members. What would work for your church? 
 
Curtis Sergeant, a missiologist, has said two powerful things:
  1. The resources are in the harvest. (It could be that your next pastor isn't even saved yet.)
  2. If you wait until you need leaders to train them, then it's too late.
 
If you count up all the available seats in every New Testament church in your county, I am sure that there would not be enough seats to bring in every lost person, even for two services every Sunday. And what a legacy for a pastor to grow their own replacement capable of rightly dividing the Word of Truth! Let’s use God’s Word to win the lost, nurture them in the admonition of the Lord, and grow your own leaders. Please look carefully at participating in the Associational and State training events. (See CABA's Calendar.) These are geared to be highly  reproducible to help you "grow your own" leaders to the glory of God.
 
Mark Snowden
CABA Director of Missional Leadership
Posted on January 2, 2017 2:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
What would our world look like if all the humans decided to never reproduce again?  I suppose at first, we wouldn’t notice much of a change, but in a few years, we would no longer see baby changing stations in restrooms and diapers would no longer come in infant sizes.  In six years, we would notice all the preschool buildings being vacant and car seat companies have gone out of business.  In 12 years, all the elementary schools would be closed.  We might even enjoy the savings in our property taxes.  We could remake little league parks into more practical things like walking tracks for out-of-shape adults or nice places to walk the dog.  In 20 years, all the high schools would be gone and the buildings could be used for important things like doctor’s offices and hospitals.  There would be no more school buses polluting the air.  No one would ever have to be bothered with children again.  How great would that be?
 
I think you would join me in saying that such a world would not be great at all.  We all know that in 80 years there would be no one to care for the diminishing elderly population.  Soon humans would be extinct.  We realize a world without children would be a terrible thing.  Instead of new life, all we would see is decay, disease and death and there would be no one able to change it.  Although children are messy and they take a lot of time and sacrifice, we all know that they are worth it.  We all know that without them, we would become an endangered species. 
Okay, let’s leave that “what if” scenario and focus on reality.  What happens to churches that stop reaching the next generation for Christ?  Ugh, let that sink in a minute.  Unfortunately, we have far too many real-life examples in our world.  Those churches become insignificant and eventually close the doors.  For a season, they may enjoy not having to deal with enlisting nursery volunteers, VBS week, wear and tear on the carpet and crayon marks on the walls.  At first, they may enjoy not having to shush teenagers on the back row and having the music style suit their generation’s preferences.  But without a deliberate effort to reach the next generation, those churches decay… and dwindle… and eventually die.  If enough churches have such an attitude about reaching children and teenagers, the church in general will become an endangered species and the world is hopelessly lost without the message of redemption.
 
Ministry to children and teenagers is messy at times.  They take time, energy and money.  But I think we all agree, they are worth it!  We all can recognize that the future of the church depends on this current generation sacrificing for and investing in the next generation.  But it’s okay, the future strength and success of the local church is worth it!  As kids are reached and lives are changed, the kingdom is increased.  Studies show and our own common sense confirms, that children are more open to spiritual truth and can become harder toward the things of God as they become adults.  Two-thirds of Christians trust Christ as Savior before they turn 19 years of age.  Reaching won’t be easy, but God’s kingdom is worth it!
 
My challenge today is that we would ask God to give us a vision for reaching the next generation for Christ.  That we would begin to pray regularly for the children and teenagers in our church to become strong disciples of Jesus Christ.  That we would begin to plan strategically to impact young lives and find fresh ways to reach children, teenagers and their parents for the sake of the gospel.  That we would be willing to make the investments today that will yield spiritual fruit in the days to come.  Will you accept such a challenge?