Posted on August 5, 2019 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Disciple-making
The Supremes’ lead singer, Diana Ross, pleaded with her man not to leave her and go to another woman.
The lyrics of that 1965 hit cried, “Stop! In the name of love before you break my heart. Baby baby, I’m aware of where you go / Each time you leave my door / I watch you walk down the street / Knowing your other love you’ll meet.”
That’s how a lot of small group leaders feel when some of their participants begin to miss, look around for something else, and leave. They want to do anything it seems to keep everyone showing up.

But there’s something a bit more insidious lurking in some groups. An associate pastor of a church experimenting with Bible Storying said, “My group won’t do anything. Nothing!”

What’s a small group leader to do? Look carefully at those in your group. What if they stay and never bear fruit for the kingdom, continue living in disobedience to what Scripture commands, and even distract others from joining the group?

I once shut my small group down. After 18 months of no growth, lots of socializing, growing conflicts with the home group schedule, and prayer, my wife and I canceled our group. We simply encouraged them to go to other classes in the church. One couple continues and is very active. A single lady is now engaged to another young man she met in another small group. Another couple bounces from church to church.

It bothered me for months. No spiritual fruit and we were often regressing! We were doing so many things right. But fruit-bearing was getting irritating.

On March 22, 2015, USA Today ran an unusual-for-them article asking “Has the Sun Set on Sunday School?” The article used statistics from research by the Barna Group noting consistent decline in attendance across America. The expectations set for spiritual training in Sunday School were countered by other options ranging from racial divides in an increasingly diverse culture, other fun options, to increasingly sparse family time.

Actually getting someone to attend a small group is amazing in our culture. So, the idea of stopping a small group seems downright drastic. At least it takes thought.

But stop the small group we did and the kingdom of God has been better for it. I’ve invested in the lives of one couple that not only started a new young adult class using orality methods, but the teacher is also starting a Bible Storying group at the jail. And then my wife and I mentored a small group for three months. They are sold-out to start a new work in a Missouri community with no evangelical churches.

Jesus exhibited tough love. Luke 9:57-62 notes that some with good intentions also had their own conditions that prevented them from following Jesus as they should. Jesus would not relent on the conditions to follow Him. Neither should we. Getting buy-in on the front-end seems to be vital. It sets the DNA for the group.

Why was your small group started? What’s its current vision? What progress for making disciple-makers is being made by the participants?

A church planter in Illinois reported to the work group that I was in that he had to stop his small group. They had met for six months with no change, growth, or even sharing their faith. They were a Bible-centric social group that was content to just meet and “do life together.” They were hanging out around the status quo pole. Ouch. Life together with Jesus requires a different set of standards.

Perhaps instead of singing Motown’s lovelorn plea, we need to raise the bar on disciple-making and adopt the title from this country song by Bobby Harden, “All I Want from You (Is Away.)” Let’s keep striving to make disciples that make disciples to the glory of the Lord – and not just cower at the thought of losing someone.

It just might be the right thing to do in the name of Love.
--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on July 15, 2019 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
When I accepted Jesus as my Savior as a boy, I walked the aisle at the end of an evangelistic service. Someone filled out a card with my name and address and then the pastor presented me to the church. I was voted in as a member right on the spot pending my baptism.

Churches today are taking a closer look at how they receive decisions. Those who continue to live a lifestyle contrary to biblical teaching are being received under a form of “watch care.” They don’t have voting rights and cannot hold office, serve on committees, or be approved as a Bible study teacher. In some churches, this requires a change to bylaws and constitutions.

Counselors are on the frontlines of decision-making and follow-up. Just as we say in sports, “the best offense is a good defense,” so the best follow-up is good preparation. Prayer for revival and spiritual awakening saturate everything the counselor will ever do on behalf of the church. They must know how to lead someone to faith in Christ and use their own testimony when appropriate to do so.

It is important to be security-minded and sensitive to those who come forward. “Why have you come today?” is still the best question to use to greet people making decisions. A child may have come on a dare. A college student may admit looking for a place to meet a godly spouse. A man may want help paying his car payments. An older adult may want to be in a church where their children belong. And, of course, there are those who are making spiritual decisions with eternal consequences!

Listening is the key. My wife was a decision counselor in a church when we lived in another state. A woman came forward and the pastor nodded to Mary Leigh to accompany the woman to a counseling room. The married woman confessed to having an affair with a co-worker. My wife was coached to listen carefully and arrange a meeting with one of the church staff, which they did.

Children and students should not be escorted by an older man into a private counseling room. All they have to say is, “he touched me,” and, well, it’s over. Despite having had a godly reputation, it will be instantly ruined. Counseling with parents present is always advised or in a pinch, a front pew in the open is advised.

After the decision is made, and made public, new believers must be discipled intentionally. They may be carrying baggage from another religious background. “New Believers Following Jesus” is available free from my office. New believers need training in five areas: abiding with Jesus in prayer and worship, obedience beginning with baptism by immersion and stewardship, studying the Bible, loving others as part of active church life in and beyond the church, and telling others about Jesus as He commanded in the Great Commission.

Hal Seed pastors New Song Community Church, Oceanside, Calif. This SBC church has seen over 17,000 people come to Christ. Seed explained to a group of us that during their invitation time, they encouraged new believers to give fist pumps right where they stood if they made a decision. Trained counselors spotted them from the back and handed them a guide. They treated the first 20 minutes after their profession of faith as the most important time in the life of a new believer. Each of these counselors took the initiative to schedule meeting times the coming week.

Decision counselors have that immediate relationship that works perfectly for follow-up. Invite parents, spouses, or friends to join in, too. When you reinforce the decision and the Gospel message, they may follow Christ, too.  
I’m available to help you train your church’s decision counselors. (
Mark Snowden is the Director for Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on July 1, 2019 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
Is it possible to train church members as missionaries?
Jesus began His earthly ministry with laity from a variety of backgrounds. By the time the Holy Spirit indwelled them permanently in Acts 2, most of the disciples exhibited mission-specific transformations.

If Peter, who began with no missions training—and was likely illiterate—had jumped straight into ministry, he would have likely gone into humanitarian work doing something like helping people learn to fish. However, after being with Jesus and the Twelve, Peter developed speaking and leadership skills to the point that he carried authority to address very weighty issues.

Matthew was a tax collector and could have jumped straight into money management seminars, but after being with Jesus, he became a skilled writer, using his sharp mind for detail to capture, among other things, the Sermon on the Mount.
Mission-specific training is necessary for your church members to invest time to walk with the Master and determine where God is calling them to make a contribution. Training is delivered with an expectation that there will be functioning teams. The training may be done in a way that is highly reproducible using oral-friendly methods, too. Training should be so reproducible that those you train can pass it along, too. Complex training programs (usually literate worldview) have their place, but the priority should be upon the lost and not the comfort level of the missionaries.
When Jesus called His disciples in Matthew 10, He named the Twelve. Matthew records the names in pairs, not as individuals. In Matthew 10 and Mark 6, six teams of two were then sent out to the villages to seek a Man of Peace which would permit the duo time to stay in the village.
The Twelve who were Jesus’ disciples moved as a team and some clearly had specific roles. Teamwork counts. We’re not “lone wolves.”
• Andrew was akin to the evangelist, bringing people to Jesus (Peter and the boy with the lunch).
• Peter was a strategic leader, speaking often, defending the ranks, and addressing group dynamics of the early church (feeding widows, addressing greed, breaking through the barrier of the Law).
• Peter, James, and John formed an inner circle to Jesus (transfiguration).
• Thomas was a healthy skeptic, but willing to die with Jesus.
• Judas Iscariot was the group’s treasurer, likely dispersing funds to the poor.
• The other disciples were often the workers (picking up after the Feeding of the
It cannot be overlooked that several women traveled with the Twelve. They maintained cultural roles at the time, which were not always those of servants, but also financial backers.
Jesus also prepared His men to move on to other villages if they were rejected. This event became an important experiential training event that Jesus reflected upon years later with the Twelve. In Matthew 10, Mark 6, and Luke 10, the disciples were initially expected to travel extremely light and be gone for a limited period of time. In the Upper Room discourse, Luke 22:35-36 records Jesus reflecting on the earlier mission and giving them a command to take not only clothes, but a sword.
Just prior to His Ascension, Jesus prophesied that His disciples would stay on the move beginning from where they were and extending to the ends of the earth. And as they went, they were empowered of the Holy Spirit not only to be witnesses (Acts 1:8), but to make disciples of all peoples they encountered (Matthew 28:18-20).
Your church’s evangelism teams will look differently working among certain categories of people, but their purpose remains the same – stimulate and nurture disciples who can reproduce themselves in the lives of others so that churches strengthen and new churches multiply. Their roles and specialized tasks must have three priorities: making disciples, multiplying churches, and developing leaders.
--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on June 18, 2019 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
The Cincinnati Area Baptist Association exists to address lostness through pastors. CABA decided at its Annual Meeting October 2017 to no longer fund church planters in order to appropriate funds (about $100/mo.) into services that would benefit them rather than fund them. Here are several services that CABA is blessed to provide to church planters.
1.    CABA has employed a Network & Fellowship Coordinator, a Church Coach, and a Block Party Ministry Coordinator to augment the work of the Director of Missional Leadership. At the present time, the association’s ministry works through nearly 30 pastors and church leaders across the Cincinnati Area to benefit church planters and existing churches alike. Treating church planters the same as pastors in the association means being available to them for networking, coaching, and providing services to them as needs arise. Connecting to these quality resources is at no cost to planters. Financial support of CABA by the church plants is voluntary and appreciated.
2.    Prayer is always a priority for planters and pastors. CABA has an active prayer ministry with several dedicated prayer warriors ready to pray at a moment’s notice. Other prayer needs may be broader and may be shared, when requested, through CABA’s communications channels.
3.    Planters appreciate half-price rentals on trailers, tents, and food machines as part of CABA’s Block Party Ministry. The Trailer REservation SyStem (TRESS) is available to make reservations at and click on TRESS on the toolbar to get started. Included as a benefit is repairs at no cost to the planter. A delivery and pick-up service valued at $50.00 and mileage for the driver normally charged to churches is offered free to all SBC plants and charged to CABA instead.
4.    Church planters and their spouses are provided with free biblical counseling from licensed counselors with doctorates or masters in biblical counseling. This is billed at $100 per hour-long session directly to CABA with no charges to the planter.
5.    A free logo service is available to church plants to assist with their branding and image communication. A professional graphic designer(s) are available to work with the planter to convey the image that best represents their ministry. A fee of $100 per logo is charged to CABA instead.
6.    Networks – planters are invited to gather with CABA pastors for training, support, and fellowship. Networks are convened according to geography or covo / bivio status. Regional conveners are paid $100 per month by the association to facilitate peer learning, prayerful support, and fellowship. The Cincinnati Area has been divided into zones because a planter’s time is valuable and this association is physically large, covering nine counties. Each meeting usually includes a meal provided by CABA.
7.    Coaching – World-class coaching is available to help CABA planters break through barriers by developing strategy, structures, staffing, budget, and measures to enable the plant to achieve and sustain vitality. Coaching helps planters break through barriers by sticking to a plan rather than managing for the exception. Coaching also includes mystery guest and facilities assessment for free. The Coach is provided free to each planter and on a retainer of $1,000 per month by CABA.
8.    Fellowships are conducted at least quarterly to involve planters and sometimes their wives and children. Fellowships are planned for just the wives, too. The idea is to provide a break in different venues that a planter and his family may not be able to do on their own. Sporting events, park experiences, family fun nights, and other gatherings are typical of the fellowships provided to planters to give them, their wives, and families a sense of connectedness.
9.    CABA helps church planters keep planting more new churches. New churches are more likely to start a new church than a church that is five or more years old. CABA prioritizes an unfunded church multiplication approach through missionary teams of church members, bi-vocational members, and going multi-site. The whole association has become a church planting support system, including raising up indigenous church leaders, including new pastors.
10.    Funding for one-shot evangelism blitzes, mailings, and other community engagement is available.
11.    CABA’s Church Planting Teams Council stands ready to support any church that plants a new church on its own. That means the Council supports new church planting efforts started by a Southern Baptist church-related plant that is already underway in the Cincinnati Area. Information is provided to help prioritize next steps whether it is among a group like them or whether they must cross-cultures to work among some other group. This group is comprised of a pastor, a planter, and a family specialist. The Council provides a safe environment for strategy plan feedback, strategic funding for survey projects, evangelistic blitzes, and family helps such as parental workshops or marital counseling.
12.    New churches reach a point in which they are self-sustaining. At this point, usually when it is about three years after launching, churches are invited to enter a credentialing process to be received as a voting member of the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. A guide titled, “A Closer Look” is available to planters as early as possible to help them understand how they can become part of CABA’s missional community. The free guide addresses issues like tax-exempt status, which can save a church plant hundreds of dollars and many hours.
13.    CABA has found that No Place Left is a highly effective evangelism/discipleship training module that can start new small groups and churches. This training has been offered three times per year and an NPL Intensive offers advanced training for those who have gone through the initial training. This commitment includes six weeks of follow-up coaching after the initial NPL training.
14.    CABA supports church plants by helping them avoid dependency in their additional new church plants as their funding runs out. CABA’s commitment to church planting takes a long-term view. CABA is dedicated to rapid multiplication to be used of the Holy Spirit to win more lost and connect with more needs than a one-and-done experience. CABA provides coaching for laity, bi-vocational, and multi-site church planting. And CABA can guide individuals to participate with NAMB, too.
This association of SBC churches praises God for the church planters who are part of NAMB’s SEND City effort. We facilitate each chuch’s mission work among the lost through the funds provided by churches and plants. We always recommend giving 7% to the Cooperative Program (State Convention of Baptists in Ohio) and 3% to associational causes (Cincinnati Area Baptist Association) from the church’s undesignated receipts. The two entities are funded separately.
Checks written to SCBO go to 9000 Antares Ave., Columbus, OH 43240.
Checks written to CABA go to P. O. Box 54885, Cincinnati, OH 54254.
CABA is committed to doing everything possible for church planters to praise God through its relationship. It’s certainly not “us and them.” Planters are considered very much a part of CABA’s network of developing churches to the glory of God.
Mark Snowden
Director of Missional Leadership
Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
December 20, 2017, revised June 20, 2019
Posted on June 5, 2019 7:00 AM by Ken Slaughter
Categories: Prayer
When praying, we need a filter. When I was a child, a younger cousin was chattering on about nothing. My Dad interrupted saying, “Son, your tongue is loose on both ends isn’t it?” Decades later, it still makes me laugh! But then comes a sobering thought: Do I sometimes sound like that when I talk to God?

“Pray without ceasing” is not a call to “stream of consciousness” praying. God already know our thoughts, not all of which are worthy of prayer. Some thoughts should be screened out; others, refined and purified. Unceasing prayer is a call to raise our average spiritual aware-ness, resulting in more frequent and perceptive prayer.

As we “watch and pray” we gain understanding about what God is do-ing and what we should do. Prayer is part of a process of supernatural empowerment for insightful, holy action. Passionate prayers come when our hearts reach further than our natural abilities. Consider Anna and Simeon in Luke 2. Perhaps we must learn to care more before we can pray more.

It is bold of sinners to enter God’s holy presence at all. We can do so only because of the bloody self-sacrifice of our great High Priest. Guard your steps. Consider the effort David put into his carefully crafted prayer-songs. We may not be prayer artists, but we should be thoughtful.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 says: "Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few."
--Ken Slaughter serves as Prayer Encourage for CABA and pastors First Baptist, Mt. Repose.
Posted on May 31, 2019 7:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Disciple-making
To know where a person is on their journey, just ask!
Use appropriate discussion questions that help those in the small group you lead.
And listen! They could surface some serious issues. Don’t be afraid to raise issues that can lead to meaningful discussion that “goes deep.”
DOCTRINE: Through inductive Bible studies that I lead, I use a specific Bible story that conveys the doctrinal truth. I ask specific questions about a belief (salvation by grace) or a practice (baptism). It often helps to revisit the truth later to reinforce it.
BELIEFS: Include a time at the beginning of a teaching session when you ask for reports. What happens when they witness or tell Bible stories to others including agnostics, atheists, and the combative? Be sensitive to those who had tough questions asked of them. Ask the group how they would have responded. Ask the person who was facing doubts how they would have answered if asked that question next time. Coach them by offering to go with them to meet their friend who may or may not have gotten an answer, but is still expecting one.
SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION: Change is tough for anyone. Reaching a point of vulnerability is important for every witness or class member to share freely about their feelings and even failures at being Christ-like. Being genuine counts.
Life has so many distractions. Do you seize them as kingdom opportunities. I recently saw a poster that said, "Keep Calm and Disciple On." How true in today's situations. And, by making disciples, we continue to live out our relationship with Jesus in obedience and love.
--Mark Snowden serves as the director of missional leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
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
--Brad Cunningham serves as CABA's Church Coach and is the senior pastor at Liberty Heights Church, Liberty Township.
Posted on May 28, 2019 9:22 AM by Diane Sibcy
Categories: Evangelism
Congratulations to those churches that beat the rest of us to the punch. 24 churches have conducted events through April. There are 70 reservations in TRESS for 2019. 2,065 people attended April events. And there have been 37 Evangelism Encounters.

All the trailers were booked two weekends in a row during the Easter Season. This is a sign to the rest of us to be thinking ahead. Here are some Events to consider in your 2019 planning:
  • End of the School Year
  • VBS
  • Parties in the Park
  • Picnics
  • Sunday School Surprise
  • Community Block Party
I hope you will not miss out on the blessing made possible to you through the CABA Trailer Ministry. Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to reach your community in a non-threatening way through the creative use of the CABA Trailers.

For information on how to reserve a trailer, please e-mail me at this address:

Diane Sibcy
Block Party Trailer Coordinator-CABA

PO Box 232
Lebanon, Ohio 45036
--Diane Sibcy is CABA's Block Party Trailer Ministry Coordinator.
Posted on May 15, 2019 6:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
Your car’s tires have a number for ideal inflation. Your body’s blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol have ideal numbers. When I had cancer, my body confounded the doctor because my “numbers just weren’t right.”
Over the past three years, I’ve made a big deal out of identifying the numbers of lost people in the Cincinnati Area’s nine counties. If you’re beginning to make disciples who can make disciples, then there are three percentage numbers you should track: 2%, 13%, and 25%. That’s it. Track these numbers and you’ll not only impact lostness, you’ll begin to be used of God to transform communities with the Gospel.

Two percent: You’re there. Congrats and praise God! No county in the Cincinnati Area is 98% or more lost.  But we are at 85% lostness. Researchers in evangelical missions agencies around the world have agreed that a minimum threshold of two percent of their population must be born-again—and have recently planted at least one new church. Globally, there are still more than 2,000 Unreached People Groups (UPGs) that have more than 100,000 people that are not born again and nobody is planting churches among them.

We have many UPG segments in the Cincinnati Area. Of the groupings with 50 people or more in them, we have 47 nationalities with any kind of evangelical work underway. There are 36 people groups living near 16 of our SBC churches.
Thirteen percent: This is an odd number in evangelism/discipleship. It would be easier to say a “tithe” at 10% or go on up to the 80/20 rule where 20% do all the work. It’s extremely important, but it is often overlooked. When 13% of a community or people group are born again and are actively making disciples, there is a sociological phenomenon that the other 87% really takes note that something serious is going on.

Sociologists tell us that when only two percent of a population exhibit the desired behavior of a specific cause, then it begins to take off because the next 13% are watching. The initial two percent are often flaky innovators, but the larger group of early adopters know them, understand them, and watch to see if their lives are benefited. In the lingo of evangelism/discipleship, influential non-Christians are counting the cost of following Jesus.

Twenty-five percent: When a group of people exhibiting desired behaviors reaches 25%, it reaches a critical mass. A sustainable movement is possible. This is the line we need to cross for evangelization to become a movement of God.  
You would think that churches and followers of Jesus want to see others become believers. Over time, some CABA Baptists that you might want to include in that 25% evangelical statistic lose their vision. There is a significant chunk of CABA Baptist churches – one-quarter (26%) – that did baptize anyone last year. (Note that 35 churches with SBC ID numbers failed to complete their 2018 ACP reports.)

Only God can bring about a movement—churches planted spontaneously, disciple-making underway, souls being saved, etc. Missions leaders advise to remove as many barriers to movements as possible, so when God is ready to move out, His Spirit is unhindered.

So, to reach 25% is not about numbers and percentages exactly. It only includes those churches that are exhibiting specific desired behaviors. Desired behavior should emphasize a personal relationship with Christ, believe in the authority of the Bible, and prioritize the need to share their faith with non-believers.

Track the spiritual transformation of the peoples in your community. Are they just starting out under 2%, getting really serious at 13%, or becoming sustainable past 25% by exhibiting godly disciple-making behaviors?

CABA’s next training in disciple-making is May 31-June 1 at First Baptist Mt. Healthy. It’s free, but you need to get tickets here: Eventbrite Tickets
--Mark Snowden is the director of missional leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association (CABA)
Posted on May 13, 2019 7:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
Evangelizing has been on our heart this Spring! Here are three specific ways we've support evangelism:
1. Saturate Cincinnati: Some 1.5 million still are far from God. Southern Baptist churches and other kingdom-minded churches are joining together as never before to make Christ known across the Cincinnati Area.
Saturate Cincinnati: 347,000 households were adopted zip code- by-zip code. Some 67 CABA church leaders have taken on a huge task to distribute door-to-door kits containing the Gospel. 90+ zip codes have been adopted. That’s 43% of Hamilton Co. and 63% of the surrounding counties. Sign-up to adopt a zip code, which is usually 10,000 homes: to register your zip code and get the free kits.

2. Who’s Your One? This Southern Baptist initiative is simple yet profound. Pray for one person and seek opportunities to share the saving good news of Jesus with them! Free resources are online at

3. No Place Left continues! NPL seeks to start spiritual conversations that lead to sharing Three Circles – or your own preferred method in your oikos; circle of influence. Then it leads to forming new small groups and even unfunded church plants. More than 200 have been trained in weekend events. Register for May 31-June 1 at Mt. Healthy. It’s free, but you need tickets:
--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.