Today’s From the States features items from:
The Alabama Baptist
The Illinois Baptist
The Baptist New Mexican
‘Man Church’ gets Ala. men
involved in ‘every aspect’
By Grace Thornton
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (The Alabama Baptist) — It may be porn. Or pride. Or ruling your family like a tyrant.
But all of those things are just symptoms — the real disease is a lack of discipleship, said Rick Burgess, host of the Rick & Bubba Show and founder of Man Church at Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Vestavia Hills.
“As I would travel, I started asking pastors across the country about their church,” Burgess said. “We’d talk about their women’s ministry, and they’d get excited. I’d ask them about their children, and they’d feel like it was doing great. I’d ask about the youth, and they would always say they had some that were sold out and serious about their faith.”
But then he would ask about the men.
“And their eyes and face would drop down, dejected, and they’d say, ‘We can’t get them involved.'”
As Burgess talked with these pastors he said he began to get the sense that, even subconsciously, church had fallen into the routine of crafting itself to cater to women and children with the idea that the men would follow their families.
So Burgess — feeling convicted that he hadn’t been as involved as he should’ve in his own church’s men’s ministry — began to develop a vision for Man Church, a once-a-quarter service for the men of Shades Mountain Baptist.
Men-style Bible studies
“If you’re already at a men’s ministry at another church, this isn’t designed to bring you in. We want to deal with the things going on in our own body.”
The quarterly service kicks off six to eight weeks of Bible study that men can plug into. Before the next Man Church, there will be breaks taken at man-appropriate times, Burgess said.
“Men don’t need to do one Bible study all year, they’ll fade on you. … We understand it’s hunting season. We understand it’s football season. We want to minister to the men in the way men receive ministry,” he said.
The men who attend Man Church but don’t get involved in the ongoing Bible study fall away from church involvement almost every time, he said. But the ones who do get involved are now “sold-out men who are beginning to duplicate discipleship in their families,” Burgess said. “We’re beginning to get the men of the church rolling into every aspect of the church.”
Danny Wood, pastor of Shades Mountain Baptist, agreed.
“We are seeing men going deeper in the Word of God, building accountability with other men and becoming better husbands and dads,” Wood said.
The fourth Man Church is set for Aug. 28, and while the purpose isn’t to draw in men from other churches, Burgess said anyone is welcome to come check it out and see if something similar could work at their own church.
This article appeared in The Alabama Baptist (thealabamabaptist.org), newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Grace Thornton is a correspondent for The Alabama Baptist.
Chicago church plants
By Morgan Jackson
CHICAGO (Illinois Baptist) — In July, IBSA and Judson University held the third-annual ChicaGO Week, a mission experience for students that partners them with leaders planting new churches in the city and its suburbs.
“Church planter’s hearts, [they’re] just a little bit different than a lot of people’s [in ministry],” said youth minister Danny Walls, who took 34 students from First Baptist Church in O’Fallon to their first ChicaGO Week this summer.
Being a pastor of a yet-to-be established or newly-established church is a different beast, said Walls, “and it’s a cool thing to get to hang out and hear their heart and their vision and see what God’s doing through them. It’s pretty awesome.”
The group kicked off their week by partnering with Dave Andreson, pastor of Resurrection City Church in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood. They helped clean up the middle school where the church has met, and held a carwash to raise money so that lead in the building’s water pipes could be treated. A Mercedes dealership even brought by some cars to be spruced up.
Volunteer Kaitlyn Walker said the carwash gave the group opportunities to start conversations with people and let them know why they were in Chicago that week. “There was this one lady, when I was drying off her car, who was just telling me about her life,” Walker said. “Starting a conversation and meeting someone new like that was really cool.”
Elizabeth McNicol said her favorite part of GO Week so far had been helping people in need. The carwash allowed them to raise money for a good cause, she said, and “it was a fun time to get to know each other more, while still praising God and experiencing the joy that comes from that.”
The O’Fallon students also worked in South Chicago Heights, where Transformation Church is working to reach their neighbors, which include many young families.
The demographic breakdown in the community is about 38 percent white and then a pretty even split between African American and Hispanic, said Transformation pastor Alex Bell. And 79 percent of the population is under the age of 50.
“Within a mile of the church there are about 10,000 people alone,” said Bell. So although it’s not in the heart of the city, the suburban community is very dense with many in need of the Gospel, he explained.
Transformation Church has about 60 members and held weekly sports camps this summer. Averaging around 40 kids, these weeks served as an opportunity to get to know the surrounding community and share the love of Christ with the youth that attended.
During ChicaGO Week, the students from FBC O’Fallon got the chance to kick soccer balls, shoot hoops, and get to know the kids in South Chicago Heights. Many also took some time to prayer walk and pick up trash in the neighborhoods surrounding the church.
Referencing the prayer prompts they were given, Elizabeth McNicol said, “I prayed a lot for the police department, that they [would stay] safe.” The main thing she prayed over places she passed, though, was that those inside would come to know Jesus.
This article appeared in the Illinois Baptist (ibonline.ibsa.org), newsjournal of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Morgan Jackson is an editorial contributor to the Illinois Baptist.
N.M.’s Lives Ablaze
camps change lives
By Kevin Parker
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Baptist New Mexican) — Technically, the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s 2016 Lives Ablaze Student Camps spanned three weeks at two different locations in three separate installments. Here are the numbers. Combined, 37 churches attended the camps. Those churches sent 650 campers, a number that includes both students and adult sponsors. Student campers contributed to an offering to aid the convention’s India partnership. Together, they gave $3,558.41 toward the effort. Spiritually, 22 students made decisions indication salvations. Eighteen others made public decisions to renew their commitment to following Jesus. Another 10 expressed a call upon their lives to vocational ministry. Seven students sought prayer or assistance with other concerns during response times.
But, behind the numbers lies another story. Camp offers students an opportunity to encounter the Bible’s truth and God, Himself, in a focused spiritual environment with lots of help and encouragement around. Camp never coerces students to make spiritual changes in their lives. Instead, camp pastors, other leaders, and group sponsors help students connect their life situations and inner struggles with the claims of Scripture. Response times help them “connect the dots,” and students do.
One student who attended camp for the first time and made a decision to become a Christian said, “It was my first time coming to camp, and Tuesday morning I gave my life to Christ and accepted Him as my Savior. And after Garrett [camp pastor, Garrett Wagoner] was talking about how when he was little he got baptized — and he didn’t really know what it meant — that spoke to me, because I basically did the same thing. I just did it because everybody else was doing it, and I wanted to fit in. So, that spoke to my heart when I accepted Christ.”
Another student commented on enjoying camp, including the speakers, the breakout groups, and meeting new friends. More than enjoyment, he said, “I feel like I got a lot closer with him [God] whenever we were doing the personal and church worship, and I felt like I got to explore more in the Bible than I normally would have. And, I was able to be more focused on Him without all of the distractions of my everyday life.”
The camp took another student beyond just inspiration. He said, “It was definitely inspiring but not only inspiring it was a great change for me. … I accepted Christ into my heart this week….” He continued, “Before I came here [to camp], I was hoping that Christ would lead me to do it, because I was scared to face the challenges of accepting Christ in my heart and learning lessons after it. … Before I came here I was really cluttered, and it wasn’t good for me. As soon as the preacher said God would give you a cleansed heart, I just knew that that was it. I needed to accept Christ into my heart because I knew He was the answer.”
Cliff Jackson, youth pastor at First Baptist Church, Deming, values the environment and the opportunities it gives his church’s students spiritually. He said, “Camp is such an amazing and unique opportunity for students to connect with God in a way that they can’t really do at home in their everyday, normal, lifestyle and environment. We are up here in the mountains, with no cell service, being saturated with God’s presence through worship, Bible Study and having little to no distractions.”
The theme for all three of the Lives Ablaze Camps was I.D. (Identity) based on 1 John 3:1. It says: “See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called the children of God; and so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” Students explored the foundational importance of clearly understanding the identity Jesus gives them. If their identity originates somewhere else, they likely will not speak about Him, nor have any desire to do so. Basically, the students learned that Christians talk about what they love! Campers also learned how non-spiritual sources of identity, like family heritage and background, personal accomplishments and physical appearances, eventually crumble and can destroy a person.
Jason Anderson, youth pastor from First Baptist Church, Silver City, echoed other’s sentiments and summed up camp this way, “Getting the youth group away from home up into the mountains where there is no cell phone coverage or WiFi is the most valuable thing we do all year. … The pastor and band interact with students all week. The adults from various churches work together as cluster group leaders and form lifelong friendships. Students from all over New Mexico (and sometimes Texas and Arizona) look forward to seeing each other at camp every year, and at other BCNM events throughout the school year. Meal times are filled with fun conversation around the table, not to mention some of the best ‘camp food’ you’ll find anywhere!” He ended with an observation, “At Lives Ablaze Camp, lives are changed.”
This article appeared in the Baptist New Mexican (bcnm.com/bnm), newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. Kevin Parker is editor of the Baptist New Mexican.
EDITOR’S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board’s call to embrace the world’s 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board’s call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. The items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.