Today’s From the States features items from:
The Christian Index (Georgia)
Western Recorder (Kentucky)
Florida Baptist Witness
Ga.’s Asian American churches
poised to make a difference
By Gerald Harris
SUWANEE, Ga. (The Christian Index) — More than 50 Asian American church leaders and youths gathered at Se Kwang Baptist Church on Dec. 5 for Georgia’s first “A2CP2” conference sponsored by local Baptist churches, the Georgia Baptist Convention, and the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.
According to Paul Kim, Asian American consultant for the SBC Executive Committee and first speaker for the conference, “A2” stands for “Asian American” and “CP2” stands for “Church Planting/Cooperative Program.
Thirteen youthful Asian Americans consisting of five guitarists, a drummer, three keyboardists, and vocalists provided excellent music leadership for the conference. Jerry Baker, GBC state missionary in Intercultural Church Planting and Missions Ministries, who was engaged in another ministry assignment, greeted those in attendance via video.
Jeremy Sin, a North American Mission Board National Church Planting catalyst working among Chinese and Asian people groups, welcomed the attendees by saying, “I hope this will become the beginning of Asian churches working together more effectively to accomplish God’s purpose in Georgia.”
Yong Nam Suh, Intercultural Church Planting and Missions Ministries missionary with the Georgia Baptist Convention, stated that Gwinnett County is the epicenter of ethnicity in Georgia with more than 50% of the population ethnic, mostly immigrants.
Suh indicated that there are 60 Korean Baptist churches in the GBC and more than 300 ethnic Baptist churches in all. He addressed second generation immigrants, emphasizing, “We pray that this meeting will launch the beginning of a greater understanding of who we are as Georgia Baptists and inspire a greater involvement in missions and church planting.”
In Kim’s message he stated, “Some of you were born here in America and some of you were brought here by your parents, but God has a purpose for you and that purpose revolves around following Christ.”
Kim’s message was based on Mark 8:34: “When he had called the crowd with his disciples, he said to them, if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”
He emphasized, “College students want to follow something or someone, but often end up following the wrong thing.
“First, we are to follow Christ by denying self. I have discovered that even in the Christian life people fill their lives with the wrong things. I live in Boston and where I live people are forever talking about the Red Sox or the Patriots. Sports teams dominate their lives. We get distracted from following Christ. What have you denied in order to follow Christ?
“Second, we have been called take up our cross. Following Christ may not be easy. It may mean persecution, even death. Are you willing to die for the cause of Christ?”
What it means to be Southern Baptist
Kim not only talks commitment, missions, and church planting, but he has demonstrated that commitment as a pastor and preacher of the Gospel. As pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, MA, he led his church to plant 26 different churches — 13 were planted in the United States and 13 were planted overseas.
Following his message, Kim gave those in attendance a thorough look at what it means to be a Southern Baptist. He referred his audience to go to the Internet to view “A Closer Look” on the sbc.net website. “A Closer Look” gives a six-page synopsis of what Southern Baptists are all about. It is a helpful guide to anyone who wants to know who Southern Baptists are.
Then Kim showed a video, “Forged by Faith,” highlighting the history of the Cooperative Program. He showed real passion in regards to orienting the attendees on the lifeline that holds Southern Baptists together and funds the Convention’s missions and ministries.
The video depicted the plight of the southwestern part of our nation prior to the construction of the Hoover Dam. The unpredictable weather in that part of the nation produced either a flood or a drought. It was feast or famine. He explained that before the Cooperative Program societal giving, which characterized the denomination, was unpredictable and ineffective.
Hoover Dam provided for flood control and irrigation. Farmers received a dependable supply of water in Nevada, Arizona, and California. The hydroelectric generators of Hoover Dam suddenly began to produce nearly 1.5 million kilowatts of power.
The creation of the Cooperative Program produced a similar affect by providing a unified effort across the country that solved the feast or famine problem within the Convention. Churches started giving 11% of their receipts through the CP and enabled the denomination to take a giant step forward in Kingdom finance.
Most of the Convention’s ethnic churches are relatively small, so Kim presented some interesting statistics to illustrate the value of the smaller churches. He explained that in 2013 the churches in the SBC that average over 1,000 in worship attendance gave $85,836,209 to the Cooperative Program, but that churches averaging less than 250 in worship gave $195,966,100 to the CP.
Kim added, “Smaller churches matter. Small churches can become game changers.”
Georgia is becoming a state with an increasing population of people from the far-flung corners of the earth. Georgia Baptists and the Asian American church leaders are focusing on reaching these ethnic groups with the message and love of Christ.
This article appeared in The Christian Index (christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. J. Gerald Harris is editor of The Christian Index.
Ky. churches use Inasmuch
model to reach thousands
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Western Recorder) — What would it take to reach more than 34,000 people across the Bluegrass state with God’s love? How do believers get the chance to share the gospel in an increasingly anti-Christian culture?
Both questions were answered recently by 104 Kentucky Baptist churches with “Operation Inasmuch.”
That’s the number of churches that used the Inasmuch model of community ministry to minister to 34,357 people in need from Fulton to Prestonsburg and from Boone County to London. The effort involved 4,937 volunteers from these churches conducting 592 mercy ministry projects, ranging from visiting nursing homes to building wheelchair ramps for disabled persons, from paying for a person’s laundry at a laundromat to conducting a car care clinic for single moms, and many others.
“We are very proud of what Kentucky Baptists have done to reach people in their own community with God’s love,” said David Crocker, executive director of the Inasmuch ministry. “And we are pleased to have been part of this massive ministry project. It shows what can happen when ordinary believers are given the tools to minister to their neighbors.”
The Missions Mobilization team of the Kentucky Baptist Convention partnered with the Inasmuch ministry, based in Knoxville, Tenn., in 2015 to train about a hundred churches in how to use the Inasmuch model.
In each of the 10 training sessions, a member of the KBC staff shared some simple ideas of how people who are ministering to people’s needs may also be prepared to share the gospel. More than 300 opportunities to share the gospel were reported by churches using Inasmuch, and several resulted in either professions of faith or first-time attendance to a church by the people who were helped.
Eric Allen, Missions Mobilization team leader at the KBC, set up the Inasmuch training sessions in early 2015. He reported to the convention in Elizabethtown the results of the effort. His team is planning to offer a new round of training sessions across the state in early 2016. For more information, contact him at Eric.Allen@kybaptists.org.
Calvary Baptist Church in London is an example of the impact that Inasmuch can have on a church as well as its community. With an average attendance of 350 on Sundays, the congregation sent out 230 volunteers to do 26 projects in which 710 people were served.
Monica Binge, coordinator for Calvary’s Inasmuch, said, “We did everything just as presented at the workshop and had church members participating who had never done so before. It has really set our church on fire!”
Even small churches did well with Inasmuch. Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Manchester has only about 20 people on Sundays, and all 20 were involved in its Inasmuch in which they served 130 people.
The total dollar value of ministry rendered through services by the 104 Kentucky churches totaled $693,148, which is a combination of materials either donated or purchased and volunteer time.
“We look forward to seeing what God will do in communities across Kentucky in 2016,” Crocker said. (WR)
This article appeared in the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Fla. churches reach growing
home school community
By Keila Diaz
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Florida Baptist Witness) — The rate of home education enrollment in Florida has increased steadily since the 2009-10 school year, according to the Florida Department of Education, with home schooling now making up 3 percent of student enrollment in the state.
As home schooling continues to become a preferred method of education for more and more families across Florida, it also presents Southern Baptist churches with a unique opportunity for outreach in their communities.
In Duval County, which led the state with 5,916 students enrolled in home education in 2013-14, First Baptist Church of Jacksonville has been serving the home school community through its First at Home ministry since 1993.
Kim Ebbers, the First at Home ministry coordinator and a home school mom herself, has been leading the group for the past four years. She says that the most important role that a ministry like First at Home can play is to offer support to home school parents and students.
First At Home hosts meetings throughout the month to discuss various topics of concern to home school families, including testing, college requisites and dual enrollment. Any home school family, whether a member of FBC Jacksonville or not, can attend these meetings.
In January, Ebbers teaches home school 101 for families that are new to the home schooling scene and need basic guidance to get started. The group also hosts open forums where parents can talk about the challenges they’re facing and receive feedback and advice from other parents.
All of those meetings serve as an outreach to the Duval County home school community and are a simple way to let people know that the church is there, said Ebbers.
For the home school children, FBC Jacksonville offers annual Thanksgiving feasts, spelling bees, science fairs, park days and even their own high school graduation ceremony.
There is a $20 annual membership fee that is used to cover the Thanksgiving feast, paper products, administrative fees and the cost of maintaining the group’s website.
In Hillsborough County, Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon is known as the home schooling church, says Suzanne Nunn, director of Bell Shoals’ home school ministry, FISH, and chairwoman of the Florida Parent Educators Association board.
Nunn said that years ago families who home-schooled their children did so largely for religious reasons; they wanted more control to teach their children their faith and beliefs. Today, however, Christian and non-Christian families are leaving the traditional education system because they have become disillusioned with cultural issues being taught in schools, she said.
“There are also those who feel like they can provide the best education for their children and focus on their particular child’s talents, abilities and needs,” Nunn added.
Churches that have a home school ministry have an additional and effective outreach tool, said Nunn, because the families coming out of traditional schooling are going to need support, and the church can be ready to offer it.
FISH, which stands for Families Instructing Students at Home, averages between 170-200 families per school year. And this year Nunn estimates that of those who weren’t already members of Bell Shoals at least five have started to become involved in the church.
Nunn and Ebbers agree that churches can start by offering monthly support meetings for home school families within their membership or community. Simply having a venue to meet in can be a big help to those families.
But the most important first step, says Ebbers, is for churches to recognize the trend toward home schooling.
This article appeared in the Florida Baptist Witness (gofbw.com), newsjournal of the Florida Baptist Convention. Keila Diaz is a reporter for the Florida Baptist Witness.
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.