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Posted on February 15, 2019 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
A farmer spent years teaching his son how to plow, plant, and harvest. Through years the farmer grew old. By 1947, the man was a grandfather and his son now had a boy of his own. Together, the two men watched the son plow by himself for the first time. By the middle of the day, the son had grown weary and was far from finished. He looked up at the house and his father held out a glass of water. When he got to the house he saw food and a pitcher of lemonade.

As the son devoured the meal, he said, “Dad, thanks for letting me do it. I know you know what I am doing wrong. Tell me how to do this better.”

His dad with a smile said, “Thanks for asking, son. I have noticed your horses are pulling against each other. You need to reset the harness. And your plow needs to be tilted another 8 ½ degrees.”
    
The son said, “Thanks, Dad. I knew you would know what I needed to do.” He ran down the hill, made the changes and began to cut right through the field!

The Dad was very pleased that his son had asked for help. He turned and thanked his Dad for all the instruction and years of training.

With a smile, Granddad said, “Don’t we have another team in the barn?”

That’s all Granddad had to say for the Dad to immediately go get the horses and the other plow and head for the field where his son had now covered two-thirds of the field. Joining his son, the work was accomplished in short order and all three men celebrated around the dinner table that evening.

Because a grandfather had been a good father, he was able to teach his son and impact lives for generations.
A missions leader at DAWN, a para-church organization, told that story to make a point about the need for making disciples. And can those disciples make disciples?

Plowing, planting, and harvesting for the Kingdom of God is hard work. When reading about church planting movements in Steve Smith and Ying Kai’s book, T4T: Training for Trainers, in my flesh I was actually pleased to see that they just didn’t show up and a movement started. Now, don’t get me wrong. A movement did start by God’s power, but they faithfully worked very hard.

Smith said, “It will be hard work—it has to be. You’ll be exhausted at times. But it must be kingdom work. Work counterintuitively: don’t do things the way you expect them to work naturally, but rather look for the very different ways God’s kingdom operates” (122).

We all want to experience a harvest, but often forget about plowing and planting. A very determined missionary in the Middle East once told me, “The fields are not only not ripe unto harvest, we’re spending a lot of our time busting up boulders and hauling off gravel trying to find some dirt to do the sowing.”

Jesus told the Parable of the Sower to emphasize the seed was sown in different soils (see Mark 4:1-20). The seed was the Word of God and the soils represented the hearts of those who received the Gospel message. While I do not believe anyone in Jesus’ day thought that the sower lost three-fourths of his seed, the sower did know his field. And he knew what seed would grow when planted in the good soil.

As your family and friends gather for Christmas, look upon it as a time for sharing the Christmas story and the essence of the Gospel—why Jesus came. Spend a little time plowing and planting in your fields for a spiritual harvest that impacts lives for generations.
 
Mark Snowden is the Director for Missional Leadership for the the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on February 7, 2019 9:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
Posted on February 5, 2019 8:00 AM by Ken Slaughter
Categories: Prayer
We are familiar with the discipline of prayer.  But I encourage you think of prayer also as a skill to be developed.
 
Most people (and all sheep) generally lack both discipline and skill. They respond instinctively or arbitrarily to whatever happens to them. Leaders (and shepherds) are just the opposite. They see more and they make new things, good things, happen for others. Christ has called His people to be leaders and shepherds.
 
We are the salt and light of the world… agents of Gospel conversion on a mission of world transformation. We don’t have the natural ability to accomplish this mission. It will not be accomplished by human might or power, but only by the Spirit of God. He is the Great Shepherd. He is the vine. Without Him, we can do nothing. But with Him all things are possible. And God is with us.  It takes discipline and skill to be an effective leader. With skill, we take actions that lead to outcomes. And with discipline, we routinely learn (often from failures) to  sharpen our skills. A disciplined hunter goes to the shooting range regularly. And while each shot is important, the shot taken on a hunt is most important.  It is good to be disciplined to pray routinely and often.

But it is better to learn from that… and to go on to be a spiritual leader praying with developed skill. I don’t mean skill that sounds impressive to people. I mean skillful   praying that brings results. It’s time to take our prayer lives off the practice range and into the field of spiritual battle.
 
Spiritual leaders develop skill to pray well, resulting in great effect. Purposeful, directed, passionate prayer focused on Kingdom victories…
praying for specific change… 
outcomes beyond human ability…
that only the Lord can accomplish… these are skillful prayers.
 
God delights in connecting our prayers to His mighty actions. God delights in the one who chooses to pray skillfully for Kingdom advances. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
 
--Ken Slaughter is CABA's Prayer Encourager and pastors First Baptist Church, Mt. Repose, Oh.
Posted on January 23, 2019 8:00 AM by Josh Carter
Categories: Evangelism
What does a healthy, productive, and successful year look like?
 
For some it’s getting a new job, getting a raise, or completing a degree. For many it’s finally working up the motivation to lose that weight that just keeps hanging on. With any of these goals intentionality is required. Diligence, determination, and discipline are all necessary to complete life’s great goals as well as overcome life’s great challenges. 
 
Intentionality matters in nearly everything we do and it matters in ministry the most. Let’s ask the question this way, if you are trying to lose weight or get in better shape, will you be satisfied or disappointed if this time next year your body looks the same if not a little worse for wear? Now,  what about the body of Christ which you serve? God has called us to exercise and be good stewards of the gifts he has given each local expression of the church. God has called us to healthy growth through missions, evangelism, and discipleship.
 
If the church you serve looks the same next year, if not a little worse for wear, will you be satisfied or disappointed that you were somehow unable to make the most of the opportunities that God brought your way?  Like exercise, evangelism and missions take great intentionality. This means that you need to have a focus and a strategy to accomplish the vision, rise to the challenges, and successfully navigate the opportunities that the Lord provides for you in 2019. If you would like help in developing an evangelism, discipleship, or overall strategy for your church the other catalysts and I would consider it a privilege to serve you in these areas in 2019. Like exercising with a good friend, great things can happen when we partner together to accomplish God’s work. 
 
Let me finish by personally inviting you to two upcoming events that will greatly resource you as you   develop your evangelism strategy this year:

~Saturate Cincinnati will take place on             
February 21, 2019 around lunch, and the location is TBD. You can view the website at        https://www.saturatecincinnati.org/

~No Place Left will take place at Clough Pike Baptist Church on February 22-23, 2019.
Mission
 
-- Dr. Josh Carter serves as CABA's Evangelism Catalyst and pastors Clough Pike Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Oh.
Posted on January 15, 2019 8:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
A friend of mine once asked a group of pastors, “Other than leading people to Christ and preaching, what is one other thing in ministry that truly excites you?”  When it came my turn to respond, my answer was easy.  For me, one of the most exciting things in ministry is to see normal, average, garden-variety Christians (like me and you) being used of God to do great things for His glory.  As a pastor, it thrills my heart to see God using our people to impact His kingdom, and I can think of no better avenue for doing that than the Sunday School ministry of our church.  In the context of the Sunday School class, teachers and leaders can see lives transformed, marriages restored, relationships reconciled, addictions overcome, leaders sent out, attendance increase and God glorified.  That sounds a whole lot like the book of Acts to me.  It makes my socks want to roll up and down while my heart leaps out of my chest as an ahooga-horn sounds come out of my ears!
 
One of the things that disturb me about many modern church growth philosophies is the subtle message that says, “Leave the real ministry to the professionals.”  Though it is never stated, it is communicated.  When a pastor or church planter presents his plan for reaching people and growing the church it often focuses on the church members inviting all their friends and relatives to come hear him preach and teach.  That smacks of a big ego and does not remotely match up with the idea of “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry” found in Ephesians 4:12.
 
God’s body building plan has a different kind of focus.  He intends for pastor’s and staff members to build up the congregation of believers and to equip them to do ministry so all of us can enjoy the privilege of being used of God in significant ways.  Sunday School ministry is a very practical outlet for God’s people to get involved in real ministry that involves more than licking envelopes and changing rolls of toilet tissue.  You see, we each have a Great Commission responsibility.  Reaching people and discipling people does not require a seminary degree and I think it is wrong to imply such a thing. 
 
Before I answered God’s call into ministry, my first opportunity for service came through my Sunday School class.  I was appointed the task of being the Outreach Leader for our young couples class.  I received a small metal box with a stack of 4 x 6 cards for enrollees and prospects for our class.  God used that experience to shape my life.  I can still remember setting aside a day each week to fast and pray during my lunch break for the growth of our little class of six people.  I would make phone calls each week and encourage people on their birthdays and anniversaries.  We planned a few fellowship times at different homes.  Little by little we saw our group grow and God add people to His kingdom as He blessed the work we did.  Our attendance doubled in a year and it was about ready to triple when Terri and I began to follow God’s calling on our life and moved to Texas.  Our class bought us a new set of tires— maybe it was love or maybe they were making sure we made it out of town, but either way it sure was a blessing!
 
That ministry to that small group of young adults prepared me for greater avenues of ministry and the things I learned then still go with me today.  I was leading a conference not too long ago when a lady came up to share that she was a member of that class.  Of course, I remembered her, but what I didn’t know was how God used a simple birthday card to encourage her in a time of desperation.  As she told me the story, I became all the more convinced of the great value of Sunday School ministry.  Ahooga!  There go those socks, again.
Posted on January 14, 2019 9:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
Arthur Flake was one of Sunday School’s great pioneers.  Mr. Flake was a committed lay-leader who had such success in his local church as a Sunday School Director, that he was eventually asked to be a field worker for the Baptist Sunday School Board.  In the early 1900’s, he was asked to move to Nashville to become the head of the Sunday School department there.  Since then, Flake’s Five-Step Formula has been used over 100 years now to inspire churches to use the Sunday School to reach and disciple people for Jesus.  “What are the five steps?”  I'm glad you asked.
 
Flake’s first principle of Sunday School growth is “Know Your Possibilities.”  That is, know who you’re trying to reach so you can go after the people and build your Sunday School.  Every Sunday School class has great, yet sometimes unreached potential.  Some class leaders may think, “We do not have any prospects, or even suspects!”  The truth is you likely have prospects you haven't even considered.
 
Many Sunday School Directors provide a list of prospects to go after.  You will likely also have many people attending church services that are not involved in a Sunday School class.  These can also become key prospects.  You also need to be on the lookout for visitors who might be prospects for your class.  With these names and addresses in your Sunday School records, you will be able to make phone calls, send letters and make visits to these prospects.  View these people as your regular prospects and keep in touch with them and invite them to Sunday School.
 
Flake’s second principle is “Enlarge the Organization.”  Basically, this principle deals with adding new classes on a regular basis.  Sometimes this means starting a new class as a “mission class” formed out of an existing class.  Maybe five or six people feel led to start the class in order to double the potential.  Sometimes a new class can be started after a surge in growth as a part of a new members’ class.  Whatever the method, starting new groups is one key to church growth.
 
The third principle is “Provide Space and Equipment.”  You cannot get 13 eggs in a carton designed for a dozen.  The principle holds for Sunday School classrooms as well.  Before building expensive space, however, churches should consider other options such as providing two Sunday School times or holding classes in the evening or off campus in homes.
 
The fourth principle is “Enlist and Train Workers.”  Most people do not volunteer to teach or work in Sunday School unless they are asked and challenged to do so.  A quick tour of a Sunday School Teacher’s Quarterly is not adequate training, that’s why churches offer annual training events and regular in-service training opportunities throughout the year.  Even McDonald’s requires the grill cooks to go through “Hamburger University” training.  It only makes sense to have training for teaching God’s Book and doing God’s work.
 
The fifth principle is “Go After the People.”  Even in our day of technology, there is nothing like a face to face encounter to let people know you are interested in them.  Every business knows this to be true.  It is why they spend a great deal of money sending sales reps out to meet clients all over the world.  We are involved in the Father’s business of reaching and discipling people.  This too requires some face to face interaction with lost, unreached church members and unchurched people.  Flake’s formula is “old school,” but it still works when churches (and classes) work it.
Posted on January 9, 2019 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: General
Bob Bakke is an authority on revival and spiritual awakening. In a symposium in which I participated, Bakke spoke in detail about the movement in Scotland that spilled to America and exploded in Cane Ridge, Ky. The Cane Ridge Revival united whites and blacks, rich and poor, rural and urban for weeks. Known as the Second Great Awakening, the Holy Spirit had people praying and crying out to God. And God moved in their midst. 
 
Moving ahead from 1801 to 1970, the Asbury (Ky.) Revival began at a routine 50-minute chapel service at Asbury College and erupted into a time of repentance. Two students went to the west coast and shared their experience among California’s hippies. Known as the Jesus Movement, the Holy Spirit had people praying and crying out to God. And God moved in their midst.
 
Did you notice that two great spiritual movements of God in America happened in small towns rather than in cities? I was raised in Kentucky (Winchester) between Asbury (Danville) and Cane Ridge (Paris).
 
And I was a “Jesus freak.” The idea that God could use His people in a fly-over place like central Kentucky leads me to wonder why God couldn’t begin a new awakening in the Cincinnati Area? In your community? What would it take?
 
Is your church on its knees before the Lord? And look to the younger leaders to begin the movement! Bill Elliff, pastor, Summit Church, North Little Rock, Ark., said, “Older adults will not likely spark a spiritual awakening, but they can squelch one.”
 
God wants to move in our time. I’m deeply impressed that our posture before God to send revival is not a selfish pout, but a humble plea. It won’t come through a prayer that shouts and demands action from God. Instead, I believe that revival – even a great   awakening – will only come through a cry of the heart.
 
--Mark Snowden serves as Director of Missional Leadership (AMS) for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on December 27, 2018 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Disciple-making
A few years ago, I conducted research in 15 small groups using Bible Storying as their method of disciple-making. When looking through transcripts with leaders and experiencing their work, four themes emerged. These elements became four keys to success among those who were doing it best.
 
The small groups that were growing spiritually and numerically were relational, supportive, transparent, and accountable.
 
Accountability is what needs the most attention. It had to be in the DNA of the group.
 
Obedience and accountability are two major bonding elements in discipleship. How much time and effort does your present small group or Bible study class take to make specific applications and ensure that members put them into practice individually and as a group?
 
What No Place Left teaches in Discovery Bible Studies (and I do in TruthSticks Bible studies) and in my orality workshops leads people to obey the commands and examples in the stories. Obedience is simple to talk about, but not so easy to do. But with orality being so reproducible, those telling Bible truths over and over can't help but witness more and grow more, too.
 
If we know these four keys, why don't we do them? Margie Blanchard, wife of author Ken Blanchard (One Minute Manager, Lead Like Jesus), says, “The gap between knowing and doing is significantly greater than the gap between ignorance and knowledge.”
 
We, as NPL practitioners, need to hold people accountable to what we volunteer to do. We'll never get to church unless discipline is in our discipling.
 
-- Mark Snowden is the Director for Missional Leadership, Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. 
This blog was originally posted in No Place Left Ohio's Facebook page.
Posted on December 13, 2018 10:41 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
After interviewing five men from Central Asia in refugee camps, I asked them what would attract them to actually listen to Bible stories on the radio. After suggesting five or six options, I asked, “Would you listen to conversion testimonies from Muslims, even Muslim religious leaders?” Their eyes grew wide. One asked through an interpreter, “There is such a thing?”

In their country, conversion was considered an act of treason punishable by death. One man said that his child was almost kicked out of school for being caught with one page from a Christian coloring book–and they were Muslims. Yet, their religious leaders and thousands of everyday folks were quietly praying to receive Christ. Now, in some Muslim areas, Jesus reveals Himself in dreams that lead them to seek the Truth. However, in this country, many were coming to faith in Christ through the bold, if careful, witness of believers.

When I discussed Muslim conversion in that area with an IMB missionary working among them he said, “The veneer of Islam has created a hunger for the Gospel. They know their leaders don’t have anything to offer and they turn to Christians that they know to request the Bible, evangelistic materials…anything to help them understand the Gospel.”
The point was that the believers had to risk everything to walk in obedience with Jesus. And, in obedience to the Great Commission, they were seeking to make disciples. If they kept quiet, they could live normal lives. If they spoke up, some may believe, but some may turn them in to the religion police.

Step back and examine your walk with the Lord. Is it in obedience to Jesus? Do you share your faith? Are you helping someone become a disciple; even a disciple-maker? Are you currently active or “taking a break”?

When a man was caught distributing the Bible in this predominantly Muslim area, he was brought before a judge. The judge forced him to bring in his pastor. The pastor asked the judge, “What is so harmful in the Bible’s message?” The judge answered, “People will believe the Bible if they read it and I will lose my job.” The judge gave the two believers a stern warning and set them free.

Why would someone want to ask you about Jesus? What is your faith reputation?

Many times people who are not believers exert their authority because they feel it is their role as an official enforcer. That doesn’t mean that some time later they won’t seek you out. In one Muslim area, a police sergeant told a believer that he had to guard a shipment of Bibles. He wondered about the fuss over a mere book until he began to read it. When he got to the part about Jesus, he prayed to find a believer who could resolve the situation. He gave his heart to Jesus, but felt conflicted because he had to keep enforcing the local law.

There are many enforcers who exert negative influence against the Gospel. In America, they typically are in seven “power centers:” government/military (elected officials/leaders), business (CEOs), education (superintendents/principals), news media (anchors/producers), sports (star players), arts & entertainment (writers/actors), and the family (head of households).

Why not be intentional to talk to them about your faith in Jesus?

In predominately Muslim areas, sharing Christ is understood to be done going against the dominant culture. Increasingly, Cincinnati Baptists find themselves witnessing in a hostile environment. Just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3 faced down a king passing laws hostile to their faith, so believers today are facing a furnace of their own.
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership (AMS) for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on November 28, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
In Fahrenheit 451, author Ray Bradbury depicted book-burning as a way to control the masses. The government in that dystopian future wanted to stamp out dissenting voices. In their place, people were given access to “parlor walls,” which were giant flatscreen televisions airing sappy entertainment and sports. Even Bibles were discarded in the trash or burned. The story’s hero eventually discovered a country hideaway where individuals had memorized entire books. Because a war broke out without them knowing it due to government censorship, everyone was amazed when their city was bombed out of existence. Only those who had memorized the books lived to start over.

America is a free and open society. We experience the opposite of Bradbury’s high-control world no matter how many try to control the messaging spewing from our media. As followers of Jesus, we are exposed to many things that are intended to be attractive and compelling. Yet, those who generate the messages can often out-communicate those of us who lack the resources and channels.

So, is it possible to bring godly change to a society that increasingly touts, “anything goes”? What does it take to influence a nation walking away from biblical truth? As Avery Willis and I proposed in Truth That Sticks, “what does it take to make biblical truth stick like Velcro in a Teflon world?”

A couple of years ago, I traveled to Rome, Italy, and walked where early believers in Jesus had died for their faith. Ornate Catholic churches and enormous basilicas seemed to be on every corner. St. Peter’s Square was built on the place Constantine believed Peter had been crucified upside down. He had a church built there in the fourth century. The current structure was completed in the 1600s. At one time, the papal authority controlled what used to be the Roman Empire. Temples were converted into churches. Christians, especially Peter, were given high credibility in Rome for bringing change to a world that worshipped the Caesars and a host of mythological gods.

Some attention in Rome was given to the martyrdom required to bring Christianity to Rome. Nero crucified hundreds of believers along the Appian Way. Visitors can tour catacombs with burial places decorated with frescoes of lions attacking the faithful. And a cross was erected in the Coliseum to honor those who were killed for their faith. Yet, no power on Earth was able to stamp out the Church. Southern Baptists may have come along later, but we owe a debt of gratitude to our brave spiritual forefathers who died rather than give up their faith.

Some leaders today see a certain "crystallization" underway. Those who carry an unwavering faith in Christ are lining up on one side. Others who choose the way of the world in the name of tolerance are becoming less so. Believers will need to choose who they will serve – and be willing to die for that faith.
 
Paul David Tripp captured some of this us versus them attitude in Dangerous Calling. Don't miss the opportunity to experience the seminar on Thursday, December 6. Click HERE for details and a place to register for this free event.

The church has always grown on the blood of its martyrs. And look no further back in time than happened in mid-November this year with the martyrdom of missionary John Allen Chau. For more, Click HERE. Martyrdom isn't new. Back in 197 AD, an early church leader named Tertullian wrote a letter to the Roman governor in charge of his province. “The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.”

The voice of believers must not become muted in this generation. Some think it is too late. It is not. We must take encouragement from the Apostle Paul who told the believers suffering in Rome, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35).

The equivalent of “parlor walls” in the form of flatscreen TVs are going up in many homes. Biblical illiteracy has created a vacuum in the younger generations. Yet, men and women who are willing to stay informed, keep their faith strong, and line up with other believers can provide the Gospel seed for our generation, even if is done so in blood.
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership, Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. His Twitter handle is @wmarksnowden