Blog
Posted on May 1, 2019 6:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
A number of veteran IMB missionaries were given personality tests and then given four samples of print materials to evaluate. Since this was my project, I assumed that the stern accountant-types would choose terse text and bullet-point layouts with conceptual analysis. Not so. The missionaries regardless of their personality type all chose print media that had lots of photos and testimonials of personal struggles or victories.

They chose play over work every time.

There is a sociological norm that people can only handle so much work in their lives. In fact, through years of research and experimentation, the split was 25% work and 75% play. (Play Theory in Mass Communications was developed by William Stephenson. He retired from the University of Missouri in 1974.)

Play Theory says we have a need for more play than work. Some educators take their training and mix with entertaining videos (think PBS’ Sesame Street). Even the 40-hour work week is 24% of the 168 hours in a week. Tack on a few hours of “church work” each week and you get an insight into how church leaders can burn out if it’s all work and no play.

Meanwhile, some people in America actually want more “work” in their lives. I’ve noticed that after their retirement, my parents sought out far more news and preaching. (The average age for Fox News audiences is 69 years old; CNN is 62.)

Through consultation with researchers, I not only learned about Play Theory, but its implications for communicating more effectively, even among those missionaries. I conducted several dialogue sessions for insights. Missionary work was considered difficult and when they got some free time they wanted to be inspired, hear from other colleagues who were coping in similar conditions, and have wholesome entertainment. And they said they could occasionally stand help-oriented advice and skills upgrading.

Is evangelism work or play? Until evangelism becomes a lifestyle, it is work. For good or bad, most followers of Jesus had evangelism presented as work – a course, learning a complex method, or a series of tasks requiring memorization.
After Jesus cast the demons from the man in Mark 5:1-20, He gave him a new task (work). He was not to go with Jesus (play), but return to His family and explain His story about God’s mercy. The former demoniac went not only to his own family, but throughout the Decapolis—the region with ten towns—and told them about Jesus!
 
Q: Why did the little boy keep hitting himself with a hammer?
A: Because it felt so good when he stopped.
 
People don’t do things that hurt; at least not for long. The man from whom Jesus cast out the legion of demons took no courses in evangelism, but actively shared a personal witness that likely became very pleasurable (play).
Sometimes people that love their job say, “I’d hate to have to work for a living.” They mean that what they do day in and day out is a pleasure (positive) and not work (negative).
 
If evangelism seems like a non-pleasurable task, then it is not yet part of your lifestyle. Sure, it can be discouraging to be rebuffed or ignored. But it becomes a glorious positive when there are results. Experts say it takes 40 days to establish a habit.
 
For those of us who encourage believers to be obedient to the Great Commission, we know the joy of seeing people come to faith in Christ. The trainers and encouragers forget that people are hassled by life—kids, spouses, jobs, bills, etc. It’s a lot easier to plop down in front of the TV than engage those around you with the gospel. It’s work!
Yet, Jesus knows what’s best for us. He calls us to come and die to self each day and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Spiritual development that matures makes evangelism the new normal – and that’s good “play” whether you’re an IMB missionary or a Baptist in Cincinnati. Witnessing anyone?
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on April 15, 2019 9:07 AM by Ken Slaughter
Categories: Prayer
Could it really be that the most important part of the worship service is prayer? It is difficult to understand these verses in any other way. Not forgetting the fact that this is the second chapter and not the first. The first chapter stresses the necessity of right teaching. That’s a given. A church with false doctrine is no church at all.

True churches will preach the truth. And when they gather for public worship, the most important part of the worship service is prayer.

“… supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings…” The idea is not to include certain types of prayer and exclude others, rather the idea is to prioritize prayer and plenty of it. Public prayer must be an emphasis in the public worship service.

These prayers are to “be made for all people” . You can’t get any more inclusive than that. There is nobody we should NOT pray for. Paul is emphasizing the local and global (glocal), scope of the church’s influence and work (which flows from the universal scope of the work of Christ Himself).

It is no accident that Paul makes this emphasis
4 times here:
Verse 1 - prayers for ALL people
Verse 4 - God desires ALL people to be saved
Verse 6 - Jesus gave himself as a ransom for ALL
Verse 7 - “Gentiles” means literally ALL the nations or ALL the people groups.
 
If a church loses its outward reach… caring most about itself and losing its concern for others… that church will find itself disconnected from the persona, purpose and power of Christ.
 
I invite you to pray about what more we can do to introduce people in our communities (and in Cincinnati) to Jesus. First of all, we should pray. Also check out saturateusa.org.
 
Ken Slaughter serves as CABA's Prayer Encourager and pastors First Baptist, Mt. Repose Baptist Church in Milford, Oh.
Posted on April 1, 2019 1:49 PM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
The email said, “Mark, we’d like you to address this topic: ‘Are We Training Our Pastors Wrong?’” Now, there’s a good way to alienate yourself from godly men you have served alongside for several decades! At least I was able to add, “Or How Can We Train Pastors More Effectively?”
 
The article required hours of research. I began to understand that there was a disconnect between pastors and their church members. The Bible created the biggest gap. Biblical ignorance is rampant in our churches. I discovered that pastors often talk about the Bible, but rarely, if ever, tell intact Bible stories. Most Bible narratives only take about three to five minutes to tell, so why not use them? The index of stories listed in the Reese Chronological Bible adds up to 500 to 700 stories, comprising some 75 percent of the Bible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not all change works. We’re after deep, systemic change that aligns with God’s way and His will.
 
--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on March 1, 2019 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
A number of exciting new Christian movies hit last year. Excellent Christian radio stations broadcast throughout our area. On cable and satellite TV there are a number of channels carrying the gospel. Tracts are in abundance. Bibles are being distributed and creating opportunities for spiritual conversations.

What can your church do to use different media tools to accelerate response to the gospel in your own community?

The word “communication” is very broad and encompasses more than a dozen categories ranging from drama, storytelling and research to advertising, TV and social media. Generally, media tools fall into three categories: print (books, periodicals, newspaper), electronic (audio, video, digital), and traditional (drama, stories).
Marshall McLuhan is credited with saying, “The medium is the message.” Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is the one that convicts and not the manipulation of some media tool. However, the axiom is true, “The medium can affect the message.” Stated plainly, the communications tools may be used or misused.

Media tools can do two things very well:
1.    Help people evaluate a new idea objectively and from a safe distance. This helps them count the cost, risk assessment, and determine the value of decisions.
2.    Reinforce relationships and confirm decisions made in the past. They can promote loyalty, recruit others to try it, and assist explanations for actions taken.
Media tools can do two things poorly:
1.    Push into places where they are not welcomed, endangering the sender. Media tools can distort viewpoints, generate biases, and jeopardize the faithful.
2.    Alienate people instead of fostering personal relationships. They can make people throw up shields, add distance, and can inoculate against future attempts to share the Gospel. Church leaders need to make some very important decisions. Should they work quietly with hand-to-hand distribution or in a much more mass appeal?

A public launch of some Christian media tool, such as a movie or even a splashy event, lends “credibility” among people that don’t know Jesus as their Savior. If a news article, magazine feature, or public figure discusses the actual title of the resource or event, then acceptance is more likely among non-Christians. They may not trust you, but they can trust an authority they respect.

Even a well-timed and attractive ad in a newspaper, poster series, billboard, or cable TV spot can carry a certain amount of “preparing the way” for receiving Christ into their lives. Among the most antagonistic people, it might be necessary to tell amazing stories that you know to establish credibility as a storyteller. If they happen to be from the God’s Word, then so much the better!

Churches must try to communicate clearly and in places in which intended audiences can receive them in time. In Romans 10:14-17, Paul not only expressed the need for preachers, but he also focused on the importance of faith coming by “hearing” or “understanding.” In the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:1-20, Jesus offered no condemnation on the sower for getting some seed among the thorns, in with some rocks, or sprinkled along the pathway.

An evangelistic video showing or gospel tract distribution is like a fireworks show. The crowd stands around giving their ooohs and aaaahs. But spectators can be fickle. They wonder, “What is next?” or “What else do you have?”
So, think “river,” not fireworks. When a person steps into a river, they quickly feel the flow of the current. Evangelistic media should provide multiple entry points that should all lead the same direction. Whether far upstream or way downstream, the strength of the current varies, but the movement is in one direction. One media use should lead the user or viewer closer to a believer who can introduce them personally to Jesus.

Evangelism-discipleship media tools work together over time to create powerful effects. Give the Holy Spirit many opportunities to bring spiritual transformation.  
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. He holds a Masters in Communications Management from Virgina Commonwealth University.
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.