Every church comes up against the inevitable when they grow or see ministries thriving, facility/space limits. In fact, I've never met a church who was totally content and happy with their facility and had all the space they needed and then some! One of the challenges any ministry leader will have to address is how to maneuver around facility limits in an efficient and fruitful way.
1. Repurpose - Do you have old classrooms that aren't being used on the weekend? What about offices for part-time staff? Those can become new ministry spaces. If you could knock out some walls, put up dividers, or move pieces, you could repurpose an entire space. One thing we did recently was take what had been an unused Adult Sunday School classroom and repurpose it for large group children's ministry. When that happened an entire hallway became open for moving children's ministry, freeing up additional classroom space for growing Adult classes.
2. Consolidate - Sometime walk through your ministry area and take note of every single space (room, hall, etc.) and write down how it gets used, by how many people, and what day/time. You might be surprised to see that a lot of your ministry space is used by very few people on very few times. Could you consolidate so that the same space is getting used more, freeing up more rooms for other purposes? If your church struggles to find ways to use its space during the week, this could help you identify ways to expand your square footage without building.
3. Storage Rearrangement - Sometimes what happens in churches is that when storage needs arise the default is to put it in an unused or underused room. But this stifles the ability to use space for ministry, especially if it's been defaulted to storage for a while. If your church has an attic space, could you have plywood floors or shelves put in to maximize storage? Do you have outbuildings that could be cleared and used for long-term storage? Avoid using off-site storage, unless you're diligent about maintaining and using what's in there, it can often become your donation to a storage company to hold trash.
4. Multipurpose - Churches have two cycles with their facility, week and weekend. Just because something is used for one purpose on the weekend doesn't mean it can't be used for a different purpose during the week. So for example, our fellowship area between services during the week (which had been the "choir room" that only got used for an hour a week) is used as a staging area for a weekday Bible study, and a gathering place for a preschool group. The tables and chairs are moved each time, but the space gets multiple uses. Offices that are rarely used over the weekend provide a space for a beginning small group.
5. Black Bags - Most churches' biggest problem with facility and space is that they have way too much stuff they haven't gotten rid of. Sometimes the best thing you can do with a cluttered space that can't be used is get trash bags and make them disappear. You won't miss it, and you'll never use it again, so why hang on to it? If you feel bad about throwing things away, contact an underserved ministry or church in your area. Often churches hang onto things because they may need it down the road, but as good stewards we must use the resources we have effectively, and we must wisely store and maintain what's necessary to avoid clutter.
One of the overarching themes for how the church operates from 1 Corinthians is for things to be done orderly (1 Corinthians 14:40). How we arrange our facility space and use the physical resources God has given to us is important to ensure we're doing the most to have the most impact.
If you're a leader you need to be a reader. Normally when I read a book I have a goal of getting 2-3 takeaway points for me to consider it to be a helpful book. But to get to those 2-3 points, I have to read 200+ pages sometimes. There's plenty out there that are worth the investment and labor to read through diligently, but sometimes the best books can be summarized much shorter with greater retainability.
I came across an app that helps with that - Blinkist. It does have a subscription fee (about $80 for a year) but with it comes a digital library of thousands of books, from fiction to leadership to biography. They're designed to be read in "blinks" which are roughly 2-3 minute summaries. Along with the reading feature is a text-to-talk feature where it will read as an audiobook.
-Tons of content: You literally have thousands of books at your disposal, which means it'll be long before you run out of titles to read.
-Quick synopsis: Each blink gets to the point, drawing from the author's work with much of the language retained. At the end of the book there's a wrap up where you get the main idea back again.
-Mobile delivery: You mostly use your smartphone to access the library on Blinkist, though there is a desktop feature. Your library goes with you, and you can redeem some time to catch up on your reading.
-Cost: $80 may seem like a lot, but when you figure the average print book is $20 and average Kindle is $10, this is a bargain to have that much access
-Lack of specific ministry content: The Leadership section in Blinkist is incredible, and you'll find no shortage of application to ministry. But if you're looking for any kind of church-specific titles, you'll be disappointed.
-Markups: One of the perks of the traditional way of reading is the ability to do markups, to write margin notes, highlight key passages, and interact with the text.
If you're looking for a way to get exposed to great ideas and great books, to redeem your commute, or if you have the attention span of a squirrel in a coffee shop, Blinkist can be a great tool in your learning toolbox. It's certainly worth the annual membership to engage with their incredible library of good books.
Howard Gardner makes a bold statement about who leaders are and what they do - he says that leaders are storytellers, who connect stories to those they seek to lead. The best leaders, according to Gardner, are the ones who are able to be effective at telling stories that motivate and drive people to greater accomplishments.
For us as ministry leaders, the key to being a storyteller is to be a dreamer. We don't get to create a new narrative or derive a novel understanding of Truth. We ought be rooted theologically and doctrinally in what we have for certain in Scripture. The Bible serves as our rudder, keeping us on track and guiding us in everything we do. We follow what Scripture says because it is first authored by God and second handed to us for our instruction and example.
But we need to dream. Think about it for a second. Are you content with everything in your ministry right now? Is everything going exactly the way you want it to? Do you feel like God is being honored and glorified to His preeminence? Or do you have a longing, a burning, for something more? Maybe it's just me, but I want more. I want to see God do more. I want more people impacted. I want more missions. More disciples. More baptisms. More leaders. More families. More.
That's when you dream. Wherever we want our folks to go, we must go before them. We must be the dreamer who can see the future if we would be faithful to follow where God leads. Dreams aren't the product of mindless activity where we wander into our subconscious. Dreams are bigger. Dreams are the place we want God to take us where He gets the most glory from our ministry. As leaders, when we dream we're laying before our people a vision, an optimal and ideal place we can go together.
Your church or ministry needs you to dream. Far too many are content to exist. Churches and ministries who simply exist do so because they've forgotten or failed to dream. The status quo, with all its predictability and stability, has become normal and accepted. So things exist. Dreams disrupt the status quo, and dreams can help turn a ministry or a church from one that simply exists to one that thrives.
Leaders, what are you dreaming about?
One of the myths that we often buy into (especially those of us who are slightly ADHD) is that we can juggle multiple tasks at the same time and do every one of them with excellence. The problem is, we can't. We're simply not meant to. The book The Myth of Multitasking, by Dave Crenshaw, points to a study by Vanderbilt that said there is "no piece of neurological evidence to suggest that the human brain is capable of taking on more than one task at a time." Instead, Crenshaw uses the term "switch tasking" to describe what we do, where we move from task to task, even subconsciously.
Don't believe me? Try this. Write down a simple sentence, "Winter weather is no fun." Try timing yourself. Wrote it pretty quick didn't you? Except instead of writing the sentence, after each letter write underneath it a number. So W, then underneath it 1; I, then underneath it 2, and so on. Took a little longer didn't it?
As pastors we think we can juggle and balance a dozen open windows on our computer, replying to every email and Facebook message as they come in, checking our texts, studying, writing, answering phone calls, and handling office visits.
Guys. Stop it. We're doing stuff halfway instead of giving our excellence to everything we do (cf. Colossians 3:23).
Instead, let's embrace time budgeting. You can set it up however you want that works for you. But budget/block your time where you're focused exclusively on a single task at a time. That means you close your email. That means you don't compulsively check social media. It means you schedule when you return calls, when you answer email, when you commit to your sermon/lesson preparation and study, when you are open to visits.
Here's a few tools to help you shape your time budget:
1. Eisenhower Decision Matrix - This is a way of seeing if something is urgent or important. Most of the time we camp out doing things that are urgent but not important, so we're not able to devote ourselves to the most important responsibilities we have. That's where the D word comes in - Delegate. The Eisenhower Matrix helps us see what we need to Do, and what we can Delegate.
2. Pomodoro Technique - Honestly, this is as close as I'll ever get to a tomato. It works though! Taking your day and building in "brain breaks" allows you to stay fresh throughout the day, and keep you focused and on task when you need to be dialed in.
3. Blocking Time - If you use a digital calendaring system, this is an easy way to break up your day and then float around your tasks as interruptions/emergencies arise. Time blocks are similar to Pomodoro, but serve more as boundary lines for what you're planning to do during the block.
4. Limit Visit Time - Chuck Lawless advises using standing as a way to communicate your need to end a visit. Sometimes longer visits are important and needed. But most of the time they're unnecessary and wasting time. So make sure to communicate your availability (30 minutes, an hour, etc.) and use body language to communicate.
5. Prioritize Your Preparation Time - One thing we can't avoid in ministry is that Sunday comes every 7 days. And you can't stand in front of God's people and blame your lack of preparation on being busy. You must be ready, each and every Sunday, to share God's word, whether you're a preaching pastor or a ministry leader with teaching responsibility. So prioritize your time. Communicate to your team and especially your assistant when this time is. Emergencies happen, so be flexible. But when you're devoting yourself to preparation, devote yourself to preparation. Study hard. Read hard. Write hard. Because on Sunday God's people need what you have to say.
What have you found to be a useful way to manage time and focus on
The first time I ever ran a 5K race it was on a dare from a friend that I couldn't do it. And I was promised a donut at the finish line. So I waltzed up to the starting line with my ratty shoes and pre-race routine of coffee and prayer, and took my place. Little did I know that proper etiquette means if you're out of shape and there for the donut you need to go to the back and let the people who know what they're doing have the front.
The gun goes off and for the first 100 yards I'm keeping up with the elite runners. Until the cramp sets in. And I can't breathe. And then I get passed by one, two, ten, a couple hundred people. The finish line felt like it would never arrive. But when I did, I finished my race. And I got my donut.
A lot of us in ministry can feel the same way. We take off out of the blocks on a blistering pace, only to find ourselves struggling to the finish line. It's all about how we start. If we get off to a good start, we'll have the endurance to finish well. So I came up with 7 practices to get off to a good start. Why?
Ministry is a consuming calling - There's no "off time" when you're serving in ministry. Even on vacation your phone will ring and your email will fill up. People don't schedule their family crisis around your availability, and they don't plan on having a loved one die between 8-5. You'll never be able to separate yourself from your vocation, and it's not easy. It can be so consuming that it can cause many to walk away. My first week in seminary I sat in orientation and a professor said "Ladies and gentlemen, I want to be honest with you. In a few years, half of you will be out of vocational ministry."
Ministry is personal, and messy - One of the worst memories I have of ministry is sitting with a guy who'd the night before watched his cousin shot in a drive-by. He said "I feel like God spared me for some reason, but I don't know why." I pled with him for over an hour to trust Christ and be set free from sin and guilt, only to watch him the next day crawl back into a bottle and a pipe. It stunk. There'll also be counseling sessions where relationships were destroyed, friends who let you down, and having to write character letters to keep a high schooler out of jail (true story, had to do that once).
Ministry is hard - You're expected to wear a number of hats (visionary leader, teacher, relational expert, project manager, and plumber). On top of that responsibility of leading your family and your own personal devotion, it can be tough serving in ministry. You'll rarely live up to peoples' expectations of you. It's not surprising the burnout rate for ministry is so high, or that so many pastors report dealing with anxiety/depression, or that many minister's wives struggle to find friendships.
Whether you're just starting in ministry or if you're a veteran who needs a reset (sometimes we need to pause and go back to the starting line even if we're well into the course), give Start Well a read, and my prayer is that it'll be a tool to help you serve Jesus and His Bride more faithfully.
We're just 3 days from Christmas Eve Sunday, pastors and ministry leaders can I give some last minute words as you pray and prepare for hosting services with members, family, friends, guests & visitors?
1. Don't Out-Think The Room - I get it. It's hard to stay fresh when you preach 45-50 Sundays a year to keep things fresh and innovative. This isn't the time for that. Kevin DeYoung had a really good post on avoiding being cute at Christmas. We'd be wise to pause and keep the main thing the main thing - that Christ was born and good news had come for all mankind.
2. Sing the Carols - A couple radio stations in our area for the month of December have gone 24/7 Christmas music. In half an hour you'll likely hear a handful of solid, Christ-focused, Kingdom-announcing carols. Sing those. Christmas provides you a wonderful time to exalt the Christ Child while singing what's familiar. There's richness in those carols, and we can never tire of singing "Joy to the World, the Lord has come..."
3. Keep Christ the Focus - Rudolph, Frosty, and yes even Santa have a place and are fun elements to the Christmas season. Bake cookies, sing Jingle Bells, watch the Christmas specials on TV, cringe when Cousin Eddie shows up in the RV, and if your family does Santa totally enjoy those cookies left out! But for our worship, leave that out. Focus all your attention and gaze and wonder on Christ. The shepherds dropped everything to worship, the Wise Men travelled for maybe 2 years to fix their eyes on the Savior, and Simeon waited his whole life to hold the hands that would be pierced for our sin.
4. Follow up with your guests - It's so easy for us to look down on the "CEOs" who attend this weekend, the Christmas and Easter Only crowd. But they are visitors, guests, prospects. Follow up with them. Don't make a stupid remark about "well it's nice to see some of you from last year again" or something like that. Be grateful they're at your church. And give them a phone call after Christmas thanking them for visiting.
5. Have fun! - This is a special season, so make the most of it. Enjoy your service this weekend. Worship with your family. One of my greatest joys last Christmas Eve during our service was holding my then 2 year old and singing Christmas songs to him. It really does only come once a year, so enjoy it!
Most of us who serve in ministry find ourselves in a typical church in a typical community. Our Sunday attendance is less than 200. We may be the only full-time (or only paid!) staff member. We may find ourselves peeking slowly at our giving totals. We may even have a "Megachurch Next Door" that has all the bells and whistles, brings in nationally known speakers, whose children's ministry is on a giant rocket ship, and whose choir lofts can hold our entire congregation.
Can I be honest? Sometimes I think we find ourselves jealous of the apparent success of these large churches in our community. I think we feel on some level a sense of "competition" or a concern that the larger churches will take over our communities.
But the Megachurch isn't your enemy. It never has been. It never will be.
1. No Megachurch can reach everyone - I heard once from someone that their church needed to be aggressive in the community because "XYZ Community Church was building a campus in the area." No matter the size of the church, it cannot permeate lostness everywhere. Depending on where you live, the surrounding area of your church is anywhere from 50%-90% unengaged with the Gospel. Our county alone has over 300,000 people in it. That's at least 150,000 (but closer to 220,000) people who have no engagement with a local church.
2. Not everyone fits at a Megachurch - One of the strengths of a Megachurch is their size (they're able to do incredible community ministry, host nationally recognized events, and provide an anchor for their surrounding community). But not everyone is comfortable with the size of a Megachurch. Sometimes they're too imposing--my wife was on staff at one Megachurch the truckers affectionately called "Fort God" when their CB signals would get mixed up, and one in my hometown we called Six Flags Over Jesus. There can be too many people, the parking lot may be too big, people get lost, or people genuinely crave a more intimate setting. That's ok. Not everyone needs to be a Megachurch member.
3. Most Megachurches are Kingdom Effective - I've had the pleasure of bumping elbows (literally sometimes) with several megachurch pastors and their staffs. And the overwhelming impression from those guys was that they were sold out to the Kingdom, passionate teachers of the Word, they were committed to missions, and they had a heart for both the Lord and the lost. We shouldn't find ourselves jealous. We should find ourselves thankful for these partners in ministry who can do things others can't. I'll never forget being invited to a networking lunch at a Megachurch in a previous ministry stop. Our host, the Student Pastor, said it best "We want to host this and make it available and make it free, because we can. And we want you to know we love you and are here for you."
4. Bigger ≠Better - It can be easy to look at bigger churches and think that's where we should be, to admire the platform God has given those guys. One lesson I learned early was that the only reason the grass is greener on the other side is because it's been well fertilized. Bigger ministries are a bigger grind, come with a bigger target (look at all the "watchdog" blogs written about Megachurches), and carry expectations other churches don't. Bigger budgets, bigger staffs, bigger impact often come with bigger headaches.
5. Megachurch Pastors are Pastors Like You - They're faithful. They're committed to the Word. They love their family. They care about their church. They long for revival. And they genuinely love pastors. Many will give you an hour of their time to invest in you, to pray for you, and to mentor you. They may have bigger congregations and lead more through their staff than you do, but there's still a connection between you built on a shared calling and commitment to serving the Lord. During my doctoral studies the most helpful and considerate people for my dissertation research were larger church pastors, who wanted to help someone who was where they were before. I'll never forget their kindness and willingness to share with me their insights in ministry.
So pray for the fellow churches in your area, and be committed to seeing your neighbors and the nations brought to Christ and impacted for eternity.
For some reason, we're fascinated with train wrecks. In sports, no train wreck has captured our attention more in the last year than the Ball family. Just in case you've been in a cave, the Ball family is headed by outspoken (understatement) dad Lavar, and sons Lonzo, LaMelo, and LiAngelo. The best way I've described them is "The Kardashians of basketball."
It'd be too long to list everything that Lavar has said, but to list his "Top 5":
1. He could have beaten Michael Jordan 1-on-1
2. He admonished a female journalist to "stay in her lane" when questioned about his previous sexist comments
3. He pulled his AAU team off the floor over a female referee and refused to play again until she was removed
4. He demanded a $1 billion shoe deal for Lonzo before he was drafted
5. He claimed his 18 year old son was better than Steph Curry ever could dream of being
The most recent headline was his ongoing critique of the Lakers and their coach. To Walton's credit, he's remained above the circus around him and his team. And Lonzo, the rookie point guard for the Lakers, seems to have his head on straight and is focused on basketball. But we can't miss the disruption and enabling of a constant problem that won't go away.
When leaders enable, they create a dysfunctional and chaotic environment. When it happens in the church, we see decisions, ministries, and leadership roles filled by those who lack the biblical and character qualifications to lead. So it's imperative for those called to lead in the church to lead well and to stop enabling.
Enabling allows bullies to reign - One of the most difficult times in ministry for me was when I had a church bully after me. In fact he made it clear to his circle of friends (and to anyone who'd listen) that his reason for being on the personnel team was to have me fired. At a number of points, someone could have done something. But no one did, even though his intentions were known. By God's grace, he didn't get his wish, and he left mad to another church where the same problems are happening.
Enabling defaults to the squeaky wheel - The reason why people continue to cover Lavar Ball is that he keeps having a microphone put in his face. Much like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, the way to fix enabling is to simply ignore. When leaders focus on the squeaky wheel, they're diverting time and energy and attention away from their calling and their leadership.
Enabling leads to an endless cycle of appeasement - One of the most important lessons you can learn in leadership is that you can't please everyone. Appeasement is where a leader tries to keep everyone happy, but in the end can't keep anyone happy. Conflict isn't resolved. Necessary changes aren't made. People's feelings, rather than clear vision, becomes the driving force for action.
Enabling is distracting - You can never focus on what God has called you to as a leader when you or others are enabling malcontents. It's killing cockroaches. Every time you stomp on one, two more show up. And so you spend all your time distracted, focusing on stuff that doesn't matter and ignoring matters of eternity.
Enabling opens patterns of sinful behavior - Whenever we enable people, we're letting them know that they can get what they want how they want. Because there's no checks, no boundaries, no accountability, and no one stopping it, there's no backbone to stop bad behavior. Last night I read an article about a Christian college who fired a journalist for exposing a pattern of enabling. A prominent trustee, who was a nationally known author, was known to have a gambling problem. In response, the college chose to remove gambling as a barrier for serving. Instead of holding to convictions, the school enabled and opened a door for sinful behavior to be condoned.
I finally took the plunge yesterday.
I threw out a pair of gym shorts from 1998. Even though they didn't fit right, the waistband was fried, and they were as faded/ratty as you'd expect, they survived every purge. Until I noticed I looked like Steve Urkel with them hiked up.
A lot of churches still have a pair of old shorts. It might be a ministry or program that's been around so long but no one knows what purpose it has anymore. Or it's an aging facility with more water in the bucket than the roof when it rains. Maybe it's a staffing model that's been around since the 80s. Chances are your church has some old shorts, and it's time to throw them out.
One passage that's been swirling around has been Philippians 3:13-14.
I absolutely love what Paul does with this, he puts the past in its rightful place and keeps his eyes forward on where God wants him to go, be, and do. There's a goal forward for Paul, for us as Christians, and for the churches we serve. The past deserves to be honored, recognized, and applauded. None of us have arrived where we are apart from the sacrifice, labor, and love of many who came before us.
But we can't hang on to the old gym shorts anymore. There's too much Gospel urgency.
We have to be adaptable. Things don't work like they used to. No longer can we build a service and attract a crowd. Our primary communication is through social media, not mass mailouts. We're bridging up to 5 generations in our worship gatherings. Old gym shorts hang on to how things were done before. And we can't do that. There's too much Gospel urgency.
We have to be sacrificial. It's hard throwing away old gym shorts. They're comfy, they're known, they're connected to good memories (when I got mine I was in great shape with abs, now I have a spare tire). Throwing out the old gym shorts means that we're willing to give up what's comfortable and safe for what's risky and costly. We can't fund ministries the way we always have, we can't afford to maintain oversized facilities. We may have to ask about downsizing, about merging, about multiplying by going multi-site or multi-service or multi-ethnic. There's too much Gospel urgency.
We have to prioritize. It's really easy to keep stuffing old gym shorts in the drawer. It means we don't have to change. But when we throw them out, we're willing to make a priority of what's most important. For many of our churches, we need to recognize the priority of investing in families. That means we may need to throw out some gym shorts that keep us from making families a priority. Are you using children's areas for storage or are they filled with old, dirty resources? Does the way you set up your worship services, church calendar, and activities take family availability into consideration? There's too much Gospel urgency.
We need to declutter. We're too busy. Our schedules are too full. We need an interpreter to make sense of our church's calendars. Families are pulled in different directions by competing ministries. In the effort to be "all things to all people" we try to do everything. We're cluttered. Just like the drawer full of old gym shorts. What is most necessary to accomplish God's vision for your church? Focus on those. Devote your time, energy, resources, and funding those ways. One of my pastoral mentors shared his greatest regret was "I wish I'd done less so I could have accomplished more." There's too much Gospel urgency.
How have you seen your church throw out old gym shorts and be more effective in ministry?
One of the hallmarks of any SBC gathering is the constant mentioning of the Cooperative Program. I think it's in the SBC constitution somewhere to mention it at least 964 times during a gathering. But the CP is one of the greatest things about being Southern Baptist. And its missions and ministry effectiveness is no less than a miracle. Our previous stop was in Murray KY and outside First Baptist is a historical marker for the beginnings of the CP.
The Cooperative Program is a voluntary, collaborative effort of over 46,000 SBC churches to partner together for missions, ministry, and evangelism. Each church sends a portion of its weekly offering to its State Convention, who keep part of it for ministry in the state (church planting, collegiate ministry, church revitalization, disaster relief, etc.) and forwards the rest to Nashville where the money is distributed to six seminaries, two mission boards, our Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, historical archives, all for the purpose of reaching the world for Christ. It's a lot of numbers. But those numbers represent faithful people giving faithfully and a faithful God using those monies in incredible ways.
So why should we love the CP? I think there's at least 10 reasons.
1. It allows churches of all sizes to impact the world - The church I pastor runs 200 on a full Sunday. We can only do so much. Other churches are 10x our size, and they can do more on their own. But through the CP we're able to support missionaries around the world.
2. It brings churches together - When you put 46,000 churches together you learn that none of them are alike. They're in urban or rural settings. They're ethnic or anglo. They're contemporary or traditional. They're single-pastor or elder-led. They're Reformed or "Traditional." But despite all those differences, one common thread remains, cooperating together for the sake of the Gospel.
3. It's voluntary - Some churches choose to be extra generous with their CP giving, and others have to be more careful because they have a limited budget. Each church has the freedom to give as they see fit, and trust God with the results. We're not forced into giving or threatened with expulsion (the minimum in Florida is $250 a year!).
4. It's accountable - Every year trustees are elected to serve as Convention representatives over each of our entities. Their work is to ensure theological fidelity, and also to ensure that the CP funds are used wisely and effectively. When we give in our churches, we can know that our monies will be used well.
5. It's global - The interconnectedness of our world today means that our missions impact is global even when it's in our backyard. Our seminaries are filled with international students committed to being trained for ministry and then returning home to lead churches and ministries there. Our college campuses attract global students, who are reached with the Gospel. Our church planters are strategically placed in cities around the US and Canada with a global emphasis (NYC, LA, Miami). So a church in Possum Trot, Kentucky (yes it's a real town) can support a church planter in Seattle leading a Chinese church who sends out a missionary to Beijing.
6. Our missionaries are supported - The church I pastor has a retired missionary couple who are our biggest champions for missions and the Cooperative Program. Because of the generosity of faithful churches, they never once had to write home for support, or come off the field for months to fundraise. When our mission board sends a family, they ensure they're taken care of, so all their effort can be on impacting their community for Christ.
7. Students prepare for ministry affordably - One way I've personally benefited from the CP has been the generosity extended to seminary students. Tuition is subsidized for SBC students by 50%, making a world-class theological education both affordable and accessible. Our six funded seminaries are churning out graduates committed to the Kingdom, and carrying on the great legacy left behind by the alumni before them.
8. We have a prophetic voice - In the last year no SBC entity has come under fire more than the ERLC, which is our public policy and ethics channel. But with the ERLC and its leadership under Dr. Moore, Southern Baptists have a trusted, authoritative, and respected voice on cultural issues. With shifting tides on gender identity, sexuality, marriage, abortion, religious freedom, and more, it's critical for us to have more than a seat at the table but a voice crying in the wilderness. Our CP giving allows for the ERLC to speak from a biblical worldview, to voice concerns to Congress and the Courts, and to proclaim the unchanging gospel message of salvation through Christ.
9. Churches get planted - The president of NAMB, Kevin Ezell, shared with us at the Florida Convention that their goal is to plant 1,200 churches every year. That means this Sunday over 20 churches will launch around North America alone. Each of those churches stands as a witness to the community around them for the love of Christ and the preaching of the Gospel. And where churches get planted, the Kingdom expands. Where the Kingdom expands, lives are changed.
10. It has endured - The way we give has changed. Millennials have no idea what a "pocketbook" is. Churches have had to tighten the belt in light of the 2009 recession. Ministries have had to streamline. State conventions have downsized facilities. Networks and digital communication have reduced the need for brick and mortar. But despite all the changes that have happened and have yet to, the process remains. As a testament not only to the work of God but the faithful labor of previous generations of Southern Baptists.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.