Tucked into the community of Manchester in Clay Co. is Cross Mountain Fellowship, a KBC assisted church plant led by Pastor John “Boo” Smith. Boo, as he is affectionately called, formerly pastored Gray Fork Baptist Church in Manchester. While he was pastoring, he began Impact Outdoors, a ministry designed to introduce kids and young adults to the outdoors. Boo used his love of outdoor sports such as archery, hunting and fishing, bike riding, and camping to engage local youth with the Good News of the Gospel.
Church Planting and Development Associate Toby DeHay visited Boo in Manchester early in the spring of 2022 and was blown away by how the Lord has blessed Boo, Impact Outdoors, and Cross Mountain Fellowship. “The Lord’s hand is all over Boo, his church, partnering churches/association, and the ministry. The first time Boo took me up the mountain I was amazed! I saw a campground with 25+ sites (RV and tent camping with or without electric and water www.campspot.com/park/cross-mountain-campground ), a children’s play area, bike trail with a repair station, archery range, ax throwing area, open pavilion, Koi pond, and storage cabins for their camping and fishing gear. They also teach drug education and prevention along with the outdoor ministry. I’ve never seen a ministry like it in my life. It was absolutely amazing!”
Impact Outdoors sits on 183 acres on a beautifully wooded mountainside. This outdoor passion turned ministry opportunity began to change the way Boo and his wife began to think about their area. I need a quote on how this changed him toward planting a church. Boo began to see young couples coming to Bible studies as a result of the mountain ministry and immediately saw the need for a new church in Clay County. AMS Frank Peters said, “We are excited for this new church to join our association and working with them through the Cooperative Program and missions.” Living Water Community Church of Mt Sterling is Cross Mountain Church’s sending church. Pastor Grant Cannoy loves what Boo is doing in Clay County and is happy the Lord is giving them the opportunity to partner with Cross Mountain.
While the Impact Outdoors Ministry is located 1.5 miles outside of Manchester, the church is currently located in the city of Manchester and is sharing space with another church who hosts a recovery ministry in the same building. Boo says, “This location has been such a blessing for us. A partnering church has allowed us to use this space on Sundays and has been very gracious about us creating our own worship area. We partner with Operation UNITE, the Clay County Tourism Commission, as well as private donors and churches to make all this happen. We currently have around 60-75 in attendance weekly and have been blessed with people joining, being saved, and baptized!”
Pastor Boo and a team from the Purchase Area Association in Benton Ky have recently made plans to learn how area churches from the west can partner with Boo and Cross Mountain Fellowship. AMS Dennis Manley said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for our churches to potentially partner with a new church in the east. They are reaching people in a way that relates to our folks. Hunting and fishing is in our blood too! We want to be a blessing to planters like Boo while encouraging our people to be on mission in Kentucky.” Toby DeHay said, “I love that pastors and AMS’s throughout Kentucky are excited to partner with their KBC assisted planters. Boo’s story is an awesome example of how healthy partnerships bless both parties.” If your church or association would like to learn more about your KBC assisted church planters, please visit https://www.planterportal.com/user/viewprofilelist?org=idu9rekuwisp.
Sometime around 2014, I was asked by Charles Brock to produce a tract version of his Good News for You! booklet. I began to pray, which led me to begin brainstorming, which led me to the first tract I produced. I added matt419.net to the mix as an evangelistic site and included the text to the Good News tract. A cowboy church pastor friend of mine in AZ shares this site every week with his church as a way to share the gospel!
GNFY! has been through at least four revisions and includes the English version above, Spanish, Mardi Gras English, and Korean. Good News begins with the bad news first. All have sinned. It then moves toward more bad news and shares the punishment we deserve and will receive, and then shares even more bad news in that there is nothing we can do on our own to be made right with God. The Good News is that Jesus took the punishment for us! We repent, confess our sins, and receive Him as our Savior. We are born again as children of His!
I’ve partnered with the Gospel to Every Home effort with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and produced a Good News tract in KJV that is a quad-fold and allows for a little more space for QR codes and a sample gospel prayer. I really like the quad-fold tract. It will be the one I base my future GNFY tracts on as I like the layout and room for QR codes.
2020 was an interesting year to say the least! One morning I was reading the Bible, praying, and asking the Lord how I could serve Him evangelistically during that tough season. He gave me the idea to produce the “What is Truth?” tract in English and Spanish. I’m extremely grateful for Pastor Jamie Masso who has translated several tracts into Spanish for me. What is Truth? is based on Pontius Pilate’s question of Jesus in John 18:38. Throughout the tract I used quotes from famous people (actors, musicians, and politicians) and end with Pilate’s quote as I share the gospel. Here is a gospel presentation I like to share.
In 2022 I would like to produce a couple more GNFY tracts. My goal is to have a black and orange one (like the GTEH example in NKJV or ESV) for the fall season and a red and green one for Christmas. Each fall I get asked by friends if I know of a good tract for Halloween. I get mine at LivingWaters, but thought I mind provide some GNFY this year! The same is true for Christmas. Check out the picture of the tracts with little candy canes Concord Baptist did in 2016 and 2017 below! In 2023 my goals are to produce spring and summer themed tracts to have on hand.
If you’d like a sample, please let me know. I’ll be happy to send you a few at no charge. I do not sell these, but occasionally people ask for more than a sample. I simply ask for you to donate money toward producing more (I can let you know what one costs me per tract plus shipping). Our KBC Evangelism Team has a few of these to share with churches as well. Over the past 8 years I believe I’ve ordered about 60k tracts; the majority of which have been shared by believers in Kentucky as they engage their friends, neighbors, and daily connections with the gospel. Blessings my friends!
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, to Timothy, a true son in the faith: 1 Tim 1:1–2. NKJV
In the past I’ve found myself asking this question: Why aren’t leaders intentionally discipling and raising up new leaders? If you are like me, your mind wanders to reasons that may not the the best. We sometimes assume the worst, which is not fair, nor gracious. As I thought more about it I began to think of several reasons that may actually keep a leader away from actively discipling others. While these are neither exhaustive nor valid for a lifetime of ministry, they are explanations why many are not intentional in this area for a time.
1. They are following the pattern of those who discipled them
Sometimes following a pattern is good. This winter my wife bought me a houseplant puzzle. Yup. A puzzle. A houseplant one. I love plants! If we didn’t have the picture on the front of the package, we’d still be putting that puzzle together! Other times following a pattern doesn’t turn out too well: i.e. every time I buy a new grill and use the instructions that are written in poorly translated English with a myriad of bolts that are only a fraction of an inch in difference. I always have to put it together at least two or three times to get it right! The same is true of our discipleship pattern, or how we’ve initially learned to disciple someone. The pattern wasn’t wrong, it just could have been better.
Sometimes a leader uses only one discipline or method of discipling and believes it to be complete. An example may be their preaching ministry. I’m not arguing against preaching, or that people can’t be taught through preaching. I believe in it, practice it, and share truth through it. If pressed about multiplying oneself in other leaders, and a leader says the only way they do it is through preaching, I wonder if they are effective or replicate themselves often. I’ve heard the same argument with evangelism. “I evangelize each Sunday from the pulpit. That’s the place that the Lord has called me to do it!” I believe this is not a reproducible method. Do we have a church full of preachers who are able to convince their friends, family, coworkers, and people they meet on the street to show up each Sunday they preach? Of course not!
Believers need to be careful to teach and encourage through many spiritual disciplines. We will never reproduce a healthy disciple who reproduces healthy disciples if we focus only on evangelism, or leadership principles, or preaching, or academia, or our brand of correct theology, or getting through a particular set of books. We must carefully read scripture, practice what we read, and model ourselves after our Master and those who followed Him as disciples. This includes a healthy diet of reading, prayer, practical training, watch me/go do, reading/listening/watching, and is coupled with an expectation of reproduction.
2. They are serving in a context where they feel there are no potential prospects
I’ve been here! I got some of the best advice/rebuke from a brother when I said, “There’s not a single person here who is interested in learning to reproduce themselves as a follower of His!” Really! Not a single person. First of all, I was honestly sharing what I thought was my reality and truly felt this way as I asked each faithful man, “Would you like to meet each week and read God’s Word and grow together?” The rebuke from this brother was, “Have you prayed about it? Have you asked God to send you someone?” NOPE! I thought the situation was too helpless even for God. How incredibly sinful of me! Not only had I not brought the situation to the Lord in prayer, I didn’t even think He would do something in my midst with those He’d already sent me to lead.
I began to pray and the Lord began to send. He sent people from outside the church and from within the church. He sent other leaders to encourage me and from whom I could both learn from and pour into. He showed me how nothing is impossible with Him. I truly believe that those who have a desire to pour into other leaders will be able to do so with the Lord’s help and direction.
3. They are trying to keep their head above water
Sometimes the situation is so bad, the last thing you want to worry about is why you aren’t reproducing yourself in other people.
Need another reason to feel guilty about your own leadership, here you go! Come up for air every now and then and just hope to keep going!
Leader/friend, you don’t need another reason to feel guilty. Simply keeping your head above water is not the place the Lord desires for you each week. There’s a reason leaders feel this way at times. If this is you, ask yourself: is my personal spiritual life healthy, is my family healthy, do I feel adequate to lead, what is hindering me from leading the way I need to, have I cried out to the Lord, have I sought godly counsel from others, am I open to listen to godly counsel, when I recall my responses to the advice of other leaders, do I find myself providing excuses or do I listen quietly and try to apply some of the biblical help and advice?
We are not going to reproduce ourselves when we are overwhelmed. (Or…if we are overwhelmed and are reproducing ourselves, we may inadvertently train others that it’s normal and expected to be overwhelmed all the time. The busier you are, the more spiritual you must be!)
4. They may be experiencing depression, feel dejected, or be experiencing symptoms of burn out
The above are signs that something is wrong. Leader, if these describe you and you have not reached out to a family member, friend, or another leader you trust, please connect with me. I’ve experienced times when I felt any one of these (and more than one time I’ve dealt with all at once). Most people feel depressed or have symptoms of burn out at times.
Leaders may feel depressed after a bad Sunday, when they re-live their sermon in their mind on Sunday night, or after an incredibly difficult meeting or family situation. Maybe it’s more than one Sunday, bad meeting, or family situation. You feel depressed often. Leader, this is the time to talk to someone. Focus on the Family has a pastoral care line that is available if you’d like to talk to someone anonymously (1-877-233-4455). Connect with me and I’d love to help you out as well.
Other signs that something is wrong is a feeling of burn-out. One of the best resources I’ve read on this topic is Wayne Cordeiro’s Leading on Empty. Ministry burn-out can happen to anyone; young, old, established church, church plant, bivo, covo, or fully supported. Regular Sabbath rest, vacations, and healthy boundaries are some ways to combat burn out.
Why aren’t leaders intentionally pouring into others at times? The above are pretty good reasons. If you are experiencing any of these, take some time to get healthy. One of the best things I did in my doctoral studies was to begin a monthly pastor’s cohort. We read a book together, encouraged one another, and watched for signs of depression and burn-out among one another. If there’s not one in your area, try starting one (connect with me and I’ll be glad to share some tips on getting started).
5. They don’t feel equipped or adequate to pour into another person
I hear this reason from time to time. When I do, I think of Ephesians 4:11–12 (NKJV): And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
Leaders who don’t feel adequate/equipped may simply need encouragement from another leader, some hands-on training, or some extended time in prayer; asking the Holy Spirit to give them the confidence they need to disciple another believer. Our state has a particular pastor who devotes time each month to younger pastors. I’ve had several of these young men tell me how grateful they are for this mature brother encouraging them in their own leadership. Does this happen in your area already? Ask to join the group! If not, ask someone who is multiplying themselves to let you watch. Ask them questions. Model them as they model Christ. (Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. 1 Cor 11:1 NKJV).
6. There may be unrepentant sins or some sin from the past that is causing guilt
Sin brings death and destruction. The entire earth suffered under the disobedience of the first man and woman. Why wouldn’t we think we would suffer when we are in unrepentant sin? Sin disrupts our relationship with God. When we are unrepentant, we are being prideful, disobedient, dishonoring, and are giving the devil a foothold for more damage. Due to our pride, sin tends to drive us away from the Lord. We know we are in sin, don’t want to confront it, and “hide” from God.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Gen 3:8 NKJV
Friends, this is unhealthy behavior: spiritually, physically, and mentally. When I sin, often the first discipline to go is evangelism. “Why would I tell someone about the love and forgiveness of Christ when I just sinned against my Lord?” Satan uses thoughts like these to keep you from seeking forgiveness and walking in the love of the Lord. An author I read said something like, “God can use a utensil that is straight, bent, or twisted; but not dirty!”
Unrepentant sin and guilt over past sins can spiritually cripple us to a point where we aren’t simply doing nothing for the Kingdom, but are actually hurting it.
7. They don’t know any better
We have all been here! I remember when I learned that the biblical disciplines of evangelism and disciplemaking went hand in hand. HOW DID I MISS THIS!! I’d heard it preached, I read it in the scriptures, and had people pour into me. Yet I still did not know what I was supposed to do! “Oh, but ignorance is bliss! When we aren’t aware, there’s no urgency. No need to have a cause for concern. We can simply live a blessed life as a believer with no care or worry that we have a biblical responsibility to share the hope we have in Christ with others, or help them to grow in the Lord. Ignorance is bliss!” Is it though? Here’s the poem from where we get this phrase:
To each his Suff’rings: all are Men, Condemn’d alike to groan, The Tender for another’s Pain; Th’ Unfeeling for his own. Yet ah! Why should they know their Fate? Since Sorrow never comes too late, And Happiness too swiftly flies. Thought would destroy their Paradise. No more; where Ignorance is Bliss, ’Tis Folly to be wise.
Thomas Gray (1716-1771) in An Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College (London: printed for R. Dodsley and sold by M. Cooper, 1747)
Ignorance is not bliss in this case. When I learned of my responsibility to pour into others and begin training younger leaders, the bliss I found was in obedience to Christ and seeing the light turned on in the lives of those I was discipling. It is an absolute joy to spend time training, exhorting, encouraging, and building Kingdom partnerships with those who are or may become future leaders.
And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. 1 Thess. 1:6–7. NKJV
Do you recognize any of the above seven points? Like me, you’ve likely experienced one, two, or all of them at one time or another. Maybe you are experiencing one now. Take some time to pray that the Lord will give you an opportunity to have a “true son in the faith” (1 Tim 1:1-2). I’d love to share more of my experience discipling others with you. Reach out to me we can chat by video or email.
P.S. Maybe you’ve wandered upon this post and have not experienced a new birth through forgiveness in Christ. Time some time to read this page entitled Good News for You.
“I’m super introverted, really shy, and would rather be alone than with others. Sharing my faith is hard for me!” I hear this all the time! This does not describe me, but it is close! I am comfortable in front of people, need human connection, and desire relationships with others, but…
I tend to get overwhelmed in very large groups.
I do not speak first in places where I’m new or unfamiliar.
I have an “on” personality and an “off” one. When I’m speaking, leading, teaching, or representing my work I’m “on.” This tends to drain me. The “off” Toby can be found alone in my car, at home, or with people that I can literally say anything without judgment. I’m filled up in this way.
Most people can describe themselves in this way (sort of!). Many times we use our personality as an excuse to not share the gospel. We talk to strangers about everything, but the one thing that really matters. We don’t have to a pastor, an evangelist, or be gifted in sharing our faith. We are all called to share! (See Matthew’s gospel and how he bookends his work with Jesus’ statements in 4:19 and 28:18-20. We are called by Him to follow and to obey Him!)
Here are 7 different methods of evangelism you might try as a shy Christian:
Tract Distribution: Let’s pretend you are on a fixed income, do not leave the house very often, and are not confident in your ability to share the Gospel. Tract distribution may be the ministry for you! If you only give out 10 per week and only one person came to Christ for every 1,000 tracts you gave out, you’d have won a person to Christ every 2 years doing this ministry! The GNFY! tracts only cost around .07 each. This is a yearly cost to you of only $37. Imagine if 75 people at your local church did this. In the span of 10 years, your church would win over 750 people to Christ simply by sharing a tract. You might say, “That’s not very realistic.” You might be right, but what if I’m half/quarter/eighth correct? Still pretty good! Frank Jenner is a great example of this type of ministry!
Leave them at the gas pump.
Give them to a waiter/waitress with a generous tip.
Hand them to people at the doctor’s office. One of my mentors would visit the oncologists office each week to pray for the patients and hand out Good News For You! booklets. Everyone was so happy to see him and receive a book.
Set up a “Free, Take One” box at funeral homes, hospitals, and with friends who own shops.
Put them in library books as a bookmark for the next person.
Give them to people who knock on your door. Keep a small stash by the door and be ready! My friend Matt has an evangelism rule he calls, “The Homestead Rule.” If you step on his property, he is going to share the gospel with you.
Ask your cashier, “Did you receive one of these today?”
Prayer bookmarks-Use my Fisherman’s Prayer bookmark to record up to nine lost/unchurched names on one side and four evangelistic prayer points on the back.
Ask people, “How can I pray for you today?” As you pray for their need/request, include the gospel.
Invitation to pray via social media
Prayer/evangelistic thank you notes
Organize an evangelistic prayer team at church before the service
One on One Discipleship/D-Groups
Intentionally training other believers to share their faith (you are encouraged too!)
Start a cohort with others-read a book together (one chapter a month with a different person leading) You might choose theology, missions, evangelism, leadership, or any other topic. I’ve used Brock’s Good News For You! seven-week Bible study and have done this one-on-one and in groups of 5-10.
Booth Evangelism-Set up a table and offer free gospel materials at: (Okay, maybe this one pushes the limit for you, but maybe not! Set up a table, provide materials, take a seat and smile.)
Set up at your local mall.
Outside gas stations and Dollar Stores (My friend Ryan got permission to set up outside a Wal-Mart and was able to share the gospel freely!)
Community events such as festivals, health screenings, or parade
Social media evangelism
Post your testimony and ask those interested to PM you for more information.
Share evangelistic videos produced by others.
Share evangelistic Bible verses.
Most of us don’t know our neighbors very well. Use www.blesseveryhome.com to pray for five different neighbors everyday. As you pray for them, you can use their platform to help you keep track of those you’ve prayed, shared, and discipled.
Use the major holidays throughout the year to drop off a gift, ask for prayer requests, or share the hope you have in Christ.
Pay attention to special events in the lives of your neighbors: births, graduations, new movers, etc. Congratulate your neighbor, offer help, and use a Pocket Testament League Gospel of John to share the hope you have in Christ.
NeedHim.org provides a great way for you to share your faith by text, chat, or if you are feeling saucy; by phone! It takes about an hour or so to sign up and you can chat for an hour in the evening, before work, or take 30 minutes on your lunch break to practice sharing with people from all over the world.
I recently had a meeting with a few partnering church pastors who were enthusiastic about a new sister church being planted several miles from their location. One of the pastors said, “We are glad they are planting in our town! They will reach people in ways we aren’t equipped or unable to. We need to learn from them and work to be an excellent partner!” Praise the Lord!!
These existing church pastors understand their communities are over 80% lost/unchurched and are working to build upon the strengths of their local body to do their best to make a Kingdom impact. They also understand they can work with others to see a better Kingdom impact. One of the best-known ways to reach a community with the gospel is by planting a new church. Here are four ways all churches in an area benefit from a local church plant:
All benefit evangelistically
When a new church is planted, they are excited to share the gospel with as many people as they can in ways you’ve tried and ways you haven’t thought of yet. Seeing the evangelistic zeal of others often prompts us to be more evangelistic. We get encouraged to hear another church is seeing people come to Christ and being discipled. We want the same excitement in our church!
All benefit numerically
As the new church shares the gospel and begins to grow, so do their partnering churches and neighboring churches, as all are excited to be a part of what God is doing. People want to join in where there is excitement! Seeing new churches being planted prompts us to think about our context. “Can we start a new discipleship group or a Bible study?” “Do we need another ministry where members are more gifted or there is a community need?” This excitement can lead to Kingdom growth for all. What if our church isn’t seeing numerical growth? We praise Jesus that He is blessing a sister church and their efforts!
All benefit spiritually
When new churches are regularly being planted in our community, we can partner together to grow spiritually. Believers in all congregations are digging into scripture and learning how the first churches and missionaries multiplied themselves. They cry out to God on behalf of the lost and the communities around them. They are also are growing more robust in the Lord. Planting and partnering with plants tend to cause believers to hone the gifts they already have and help them desire to be challenged in others with which they are weak.
All benefit missionally
Part of our worship of the Lord is being faithful missionaries to our own families, neighborhoods, workplaces, communities, and beyond. Learning to understand better how communities are reached through church planting helps us all grow to be better missionaries. Acts 13:1-5 is one of my favorite missional passages that describe a church purposely sending missionaries out and bringing a young intern (Mark) with them.
If you would like more information on how to develop a strategy to plant a church or partner with a church planter, please connect with us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org If you feel called to plant a church, please visit www.kbcplanterportal.org. Here is the link to the Kentuckytoday.com article that was featured on 18 Feb 2022.
Covo and Bivocational Church Planting: 3 Lessons From Jake Davidson
In the fall of 2021 I interviewed church planter Jake Davidson of New Beginnings Baptist Church in Pembroke. NBBC is a part of the Christian County Baptist Association and is partnering with the association, the KBC, and others to reach the lost with the gospel. As we talked, three main principles kept coming to the top: church planters must be Focused in their Evangelism, Be Thankful in their Covo/Bivocational Work, and always Learning.
Jake is a very evangelistic pastor. His sermons are centered around the gospel, he teaches evangelistic principles to those attending NBBC, and schedules time each week with his church to go into the community and share their faith. One member told me, “before coming to NBBC, I wasn’t sure how to share my faith or how people would receive me. After going out on Wednesdays with my pastor, I feel confident to share with anyone!” Jake and the church are praying that the Lord will give them relationships with those in the military community as Pembroke is very close to Fort Campbell. Pastor Darrell Crawford of Living Hope Baptist in Hopkinsville is very excited to be partnering with Jake and NBBC as their sending church. “Jake loves sharing the gospel with people. If you’re not sharing the gospel, you can’t plant a church.”
Jake and his wife Ashley are very grateful for the business that the Lord has allowed them to run from their home. Jake says this has not only provided for their needs, but has given them a way to work together to raise their children at home. “There is no way we could have started this church without having the freedom to work like we do. The Lord provides for our needs through our church, partners like our sending and supporting churches, the KBC, and our business. It’s through our business that that the Lord gave that we are really able to provide food and keep our household running.” Together, they design and build custom seat cushions using the Etsy platform. You can support them at https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheDavidsonDesign.
Jake is also an avid learner. He is working to complete his MDiv from Gateway Seminary and gave this advice to anyone in ministry: “I highly encourage other bivocational pastors to keep getting as much education as possible. It’s grown me spiritually, taught me how to exegete scripture, and how to lead. God uses the current classes I’m taking for situations I’m encountering. I’m thankful for the KBC’s partnership with Clear Creek Baptist Bible College and their Certificate Program for Bivo pastors. Programs like this one and the one I’m going through are excellent for church planters.”
Jake mentioned the amount of spiritual warfare he encountered was unexpected. “Satan will go after you, your wife, and your family. God has grown us through it and has blessed our family. If you are praying about planting a church, be ready for spiritual warfare. Satan will attack you.” When asked how Kentucky Baptists can partner with him and the church, he said, “We ask for and need your prayers. We are small and don’t need much right now. Evangelism is free and we have plenty of work to do, but we need prayer partners.” If you’d like to sign up to pray for planters like Jake Davidson, please visit http://www.kybaptist.org/pray4.
Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. (Acts 9:31 NKJV)
Chapter nine of Acts provides the account of Saul’s miraculous transformation through the power of the gospel to Paul the Apostle. He went from breathing threatsand murder (9:1) against the disciples to being called Brother Saul (9:17) by Ananias. This new believer, anointed by the Lord to boldly bring the gospel to the nations, was strengthened by the church and IMMEDIATELY going to preach Christ in the Jewish synagogues. What an amazing transformation!! What a testimony from a group of believers supporting, loving, and encouraging one who is sent!!
How can the rural or smaller church do the same today? Is it possible that a body of 20-60 believers encourage, equip, and send in the same way? Let’s take a look at Acts 9:19-22:
So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.
How can the smaller church partner with a planter or one who is sent/being sent (I use the phrase “being sent” because all churches are tasked with not only supporting/sending, but making disciples. Every church needs to do their best at identifying and training the next generation of leaders.)? Here are some principles that all churches can follow:
Every church can provide strength to those sent/being sent. (So when he had received food he was strengthened) Every believer needs to learn more about scripture, the gifts that God has given them, and have a safe place in which they can do these things. Every church can provide ways to practice ministry while encouraging, equipping, and giving helpful feedback to those eager to learn. If the Lord has not provided your church with a hungry disciple, open your doors to local/regional church planters who want to learn how to preach, teach, or evangelize. Give them much love, grace, and be a place they will remember with fondness 20 years from now!
Every church should provide an atmosphere of learning/training. (Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus) Churches big and small should be practicing a 2 Tim 2:2 ministry of looking for and teaching faithful men (women) who are able to do the same. This starts with creating a learning/training culture. Does each leader have an “apprentice,” is there an expectation that the church will assist financially with those who may desire theological or practical ministry training? By creating this type of atmosphere, those who may feel an internal call from the Lord will not be left guessing if their local body will support them outwardly. While you are praying for one among you to be sent, putting steps in place that allow you to partner with a “sent one” in the neighboring town/county.
Every church can encourage those gifted in missionary work to practice their gifts. (Immediately he preached the Christ) Give those who are learning an opportunity to preach, teach, lead, or organize. Give them some basic guidelines, act as a coach, and praise them for a job well done! When the task is complete spend some time asking questions like, “What went well?” “What would you have done differently?” “Did you achieve the goal you set?” Paul was very gifted in preaching, discipling new leaders, and defending the faith because he boldly practiced. Ask those who are mentoring new disciples in the church next door to include your church in some of their exercises. They will get a chance to practice and you will get a chance to learn how others are training disciples.
Every church should learn about and understand their context. (in the synagogues) Paul knew the Jewish culture better than those around him (Phil 3:4-6). How well do you know your Jerusalem? Order a free demographic study from your Baptist convention, do a “windshield survey,” or do a 300-500 home door to door canvasing in the spring or fall. Better yet, do all three and sit down with some key leaders to review what each of you have learned to share collectively with the church. You will be surprised how many churches think they know their context, but are surprised of what they find when they dig. Help those in your church who feel led to “go” understand the basics of cultural exegesis. You can partner with the church planter in your area by offering help for his door to door efforts by going, writing follow-up cards, praying, or simply asking their sending church how you can help.
Every church needs to focus on preaching and teaching a biblical gospel. (that He is the Son of God) We get the cart before the horse when we create a plan and tack this on to the end. Paul understood who Jesus was and clearly preached the gospel to the Jewish people. He also had a group of believers who encouraged him as he was doing so. Is your church clearly articulating the gospel in Bible study classes, small groups, one on one, and in the worship service? If you asked each of those attending on a Sunday morning, “What is the gospel?” what would they say to you? The gospel is a first tier issue and should not only be clearly communicated, it should be expected that those who are training for ministry be able to articulate is as well. Ask a sister church to send you one of their apprentices, planters, collegiate ministry assistants, or new disciples to do a training on sharing the gospel. Your church will be blessed and encouraged as well as the one teaching.
Every church can encourage believers to embrace their personal testimony. (Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?) I felt out of place for the longest time in the church due to my testimony. I didn’t run wild in the streets as a teen, steal my neighbor’s car for a joy ride, or spray paint the school purple. My testimony prior to my conversion was not spectacular. It took me awhile to be okay with the fact that my testimony is my testimony. One day while on lunch break I was flipping through the radio and stopped on a radio preacher. While he preached I grew convicted that while I had told people I was a Christian, I had not truly received Christ and was not born again. The weight of my sin was so heavy that I cried out to God for forgiveness in my truck and was born again. Your testimony is probably different and it’s yours! Embrace it. Learn to share it and encourage others to share theirs. An easy way to find those who are “faithful men/women” (2 Tim 2:2) is to think about evangelism and discipleship in a two-part manner. 1). Has the person you are talking to been born again? You are sharing the gospel with them and learning where they are with the Lord. 2). If they are born again, are they currently being discipled by another, or are actively involved in a 2 Tim 2:2 ministry? Sit down with your local church planter and encourage them in their evangelism/disciplemaking ministry? Ask them about books they are reading, sermons to which they are listening, and favorite mentors they currently have in person or virtually.
Every church can help those sent grow continually. (But Saul increased all the more in strength and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.) This one is very easy because it’s super practical. Your church can help the one among you who is called to go by buying him/her books, paying for all or a portion of a conference, or hosting a weekly/monthly study or encouragement group. You can ask them what the Lord is teaching them and praise them for being obedient to His calling. Amazon cards, Logos Bible Software gift cards, or a scholarship for an online class is super helpful! Your church can support your own 2 Tim 2:2 apprentice or send some love to a sister church who is doing a fabulous job with sending disciples.