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A Message from your Lead Missional Strategist

As a network of Southern Baptist shurches, we exist to facilitate cooperation between member churches for Kingdom Impact. We seek to engage the mission force with the mission field throughout the North Central Florida area and beyond. On this site you will find ideas, opportunities, and resources to connect in leadership development, church planting and mission engagement. We stand ready to come alongside you and your church leadership to help you pursue the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

Statement To Our Community

“We, the Executive Committee of the North Central Florida Baptist Association, vow to lead our churches to stand together against ALL racism, hatred, bigotry, and violence.  We unite together in the brotherhood of Christ for freedom and equality.  God is our Father and the creator of all, regardless of one’s skin color, language, or ethnicity.  We commit to work together to accomplish peace with all people and stand against the aforementioned injustices.  We remain united in one voice on this matter.”

Tomorrow, hate arrives to Gainesville, Florida.  People with no agenda but to pursue their interests, race, or create a great disturbance to disrupt and disunify our community are unwelcome.  Let me urge you all to stay at home and do not engage or give a platform to Richard Spencer or his group.  Let the peace of God that passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds. Let’s figuratively and physically cross hands in unity against hate!

 

A Knot of No Return?

Yes, this photo shows the former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.  What has this to do with my church?  Well, more than you think. This past week one of SBC’s flagship churches, Prestonwood Baptist Church, announced it is pulling its funding from the Southern Baptist Cooperative program.  $1 Million dollars is being diverted into a holding account and will not be given unless Pastor Jack Graham gets his way.  Because Russell Moore disagreed with him, the agency head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, may be job hunting soon.  Dr. Moore, in fact, did not support the now newly elected U.S. President Trump while he was running, thus creating great angst among some SBCers. He has even resorted to using some derogatory terms regarding those who did vote for Trump, therefore, things have escalated.

Withholding of money by prominent people often occurs during crises in churches and denominations.  However, if we let a crisis become too polarized or escalated, we end up destroying everything we worked for and all that God is doing.  Nikita Khrushchev desperately wanted to avoid war with the U.S. and thereby destruction of his country, and ours, during the Cuban missile crisis. He wrote the following to JFK:  We and you ought not now to pull on the ends of the rope in which you have tied the knot of war, because the more the two of us pull, the tighter that knot will be tied. And a moment may come when that knot will be tied so tight that even he who tied it will not have the strength to untie it.

It is time to rethink this position of solidarity and polarity against the rest of the SBC, Pastor Graham.  If you think of it, can you fault a Bible-believing Christian who chooses not to vote for a skirt-chasing, LGBTQ-affirming, name calling, often non-Christian acting candidate just because he or she wants a few better Supreme Court picks, enact changes in healthcare legislation, or hopes to see some Executive Orders reversed?  Just because someone thinks differently than us, doesn’t mean it’s time to tighten the knot.  To the contrary, it’s time to untangle the mess.

Honestly, if we can’t live at peace with people with whom we share so much in common, in both spiritual convictions and political goals, it speaks poorly of our relationships with Christ. It also speaks poorly of our churches and our denomination including the fundamental premises we stand for; Glorifying God, Missions, and Cooperation.   Pastor Graham’s example to each of our 46,000 churches says it’s OK to withhold money because a person or church disagrees on a non-ecclesiological or non-salvific matter.  This stand flies in the face of our SBC core values.  Ultimately it means I can withhold my tithe, funds to the Association, and funds to the Florida Baptist Convention because I simply don’t agree with a person’s perspective.  Withholding funds hurts His church and the mission to reach our community and world.  Please, Pastor Graham reconsider your position.  Talk with Dr. Moore and work it out, if only for the Name of the one you serve.  Do it before the knot is too tight to untie!

Our Annual Missions Celebration is Just Around the Corner

SAMARIA.

It is that place we don’t often think about, but just a half-people away.  In our case Samaria uses the metric system, public transport, and the word “eh” a bunch.  Toronto is just across the border with Buffalo, NY.  It is a melting pot like you wouldn’t believe, people from around the world flock to Toronto for opportunity and life.  49% of the residents are 1st generation immigrants.

One of those who made the trip to live in Toronto is our very own North American Mission Board missionary family, the Strobel’s.  David and Gina moved their two girls to our Samaria, into a suburb of Toronto called Mississauga to plant the Journey Church.  Toronto is a NAMB SEND City.

Rick and Vicki Lawrence; Rick, the former pastor of Summit Baptist in High Springs, and Vicki, our Church and Community Ministries Coordinator at the Association, both visited Mississauga in 2016 and believe God is calling the churches in our Association to partner with the Strobel’s to reach the 730 thousand people in their town.

We are excited to announce that someone from our Samaria, namely David Strobel, is coming our direction to be with us at our Annual Missions Celebration this month.  Please consider joining us on March 7th at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church Alachua in the Family Life Center to meet David and hear about this exciting opportunity for your church.

There will be many opportunities for you to hear about other ministries in our Association, particularly in our Judea and Jerusalem.  Finger foods will be served at 6:00 pm and the Celebration will start at 6:30 p.m.  Tables will line the FLC and you can check out the many ministry opportunities in our area.

Join us on the 7th!  It’s going to be a wonderful night of worship, missions, and fellowship.

See you there!!!

Who Can We Work With?

There are many good Southern Baptists unwilling to work with those who think differently than they do.  The great thing about Associations is we come together because we are stronger together than we are alone. The design of the SBC is to choose to work together in our differences to see God most glorified.  Some believe the Bible must be KJV, others believe deacons may not be divorced, some believe we can only use Lifeway curriculum, and still others believe that you must capitalize the word God when referring to God or you are talking about something other than God, you know, just a god.

So who can we work with?  And under what circumstances can we work or not work together?  I believe it is as much about semantics as the goal.

There are some who assert we cannot, and should not, work with those who do not believe exactly the way we do.  Ordination, marriage, and gender are some of those sticky issues.  Below your LMS will shed light on the direction of the Association regarding who we can work with based on my years of engaging in multiple Kingdom related partnerships.  In my six years of experience working in stateside churches as well as spanning 15 years overseas working together with conservatives, liberals, calvinists, methodists, pentecostals, independents, and even unbelievers to plant or support churches, I have come to the following conclusions regarding who we can and should work with in our Association at different levels.

First, we must agree that there is a difference between meeting with, participating with, joining together, and being together in one mind.

I am willing to MEET WITH just about any religious group. If the Mayor or the Governor asks me to meet with some ministers as part of a council of religious leaders that included Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and other faiths I would more than likely meet with the group at least once.  I have little problem getting together in this way because it is not my organization. I am not affirming the beliefs of any specific group in any way.  In some cases meeting with others actually serves as an open door for the gospel.

Those I am willing to PARTICIPATE WITH is a slightly smaller group. If I am part of an SBC Disaster Relief team and a Muslim Red Crescent group shows up.  I have few reservations about participating with them to help meet human needs, especially in times of crisis and disaster. I am even willing to coordinate our efforts to maximize the help we can provide. Once again this does not require me to affirm anything.

When one takes the step to JOIN TOGETHER with others he or she crosses an unseen line.  By joining together I officially and formally connect in the same organization and at some level say I affirm these people as brothers and sisters in Christ. The best example of this to me is our local Ministerial Alliance. I believe our Associational churches can join together with AoG churches, Missionary and National Baptists, EV Free, Lutheran or even some Catholic churches without compromising our Baptist beliefs because we share a common core set of orthodox Christian fundamentals. HOWEVER, if a church affirms gay marriage, homosexual pastors, adultery in a congregation or with a pastor, accepts any kind of perversion like pedophilia, advocates FOR abortion, or believes that salvation is not by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone then I would have to withdraw as an official part of that organization of churches because I do not want to identify my Association as affirming unbiblical stands. Take careful note; Women pastors, alcohol use, differences in church polity are non-salvific issues and thus while I might not agree with them, I do not cancel the relationship or alliance.

BEING TOGETHER IN ONE MIND is what is necessary to plant a church. We do not have to be exactly the same in our beliefs and practices. But we need to be very close; Baptist Faith & Message 2000 type close.  Like a marriage we do not have to believe exactly the same things, but in fact our differences make us better.  Our differences help us to be stronger, sharper, and more approved.  But to plant a church, and thus be of one mind, we need to affirm and stand on the Bible as well as the B, F & M 2000.

As we go forward as an Association.  I am convinced we must be together in one mind.  We need to encourage each other and lift each other in prayer.  We need to support each other and have the grace toward each other Christ showed each of us on the cross. Joining together is good, but if we plan on planting churches and expanding the Gospel in North Central Florida, we need to be of the same mind, a passionate declaration of our glorious Christ.

God is At Work!

What a day last Sunday!  It was God who moved in little Landon’s life, but it was us who received a blessing at the moment of harvest.

After my sermon on Sunday at FBC Lake Butler, a young man walked down front and said he needed to be good and wanted to go to heaven.  I prodded him a little further.  He indicated he really wanted a relationship with God thus the 29th of January became is new birthday.

What a thing to rejoice in.  A young man found reconciliation with the God of the universe and found Jesus at the end of his search.  No telling how many people invested, sowed into, and prayed for Landon, but at this moment a song of rejoicing angels echoed in the halls of heaven.

I was able to introduce Landon to the youth pastor at the church and his sunday school teacher quickly found him after the service.  We made earnest the need for discipleship and that following God is not easy, it’s a process.  He is just beginning the journey.

It is great to know God is still at work.  It is also wonderful to know He chooses to work through each of us.  If we are obedient to give the call, willing to offer the gift, and knowledgeable to lead a person in prayer, the God of the universe can be glorified right in our midst.

I encourage you to give it a try.  Preach the Word and give and invitation as Bobby Welch would say!

It’s Official

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  (I Timothy 2:1-2)

It is time.  The inauguration event has past.  Now it is up to us, the church, to show the world we can love and live together.  I often meet with men from Westside Baptist Church to pray on Monday mornings.  This Monday morning marked a significant day in our prayer meeting.  For eight years we prayed for our past president.  We have yet to change the name on the prayer sheet, but President Trump has taken office.

If your candidate won or lost, it is time to come together.  If your candidate won, this isn’t a time for gloating.  If your candidate lost, it isn’t time for alarm and insults.  Those who feel the world is coming apart need only to look at the deficit spending patterns and our mountainous twenty trillion dollar debt to feel anxiety.

We are the church.  It is our responsibility to entreat God on behalf of our leaders.  Let me encourage you to make it a habit to pray earnestly for our leaders so that we might enjoy tranquility and blessings from God.  Pray for our leaders with thanksgiving because God is on the throne and He gave us a leader that looks just like you and me.  If you don’t like the result, all the more should your knees find mounting calluses form throughout the year.  Pray, yield to Him, and let us come together in unified entreaties to our Lord and Saviour.  This is the time we must come together.  I believe God will do something exciting in our midst if we come together in a fragrant aroma, an offering of prayer to our God!

CAST YOUR VOTE

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”  ―  Abraham Lincoln

Voting is precious.  Few cultures and kingdoms have allowed voting to individual members of the populous.  Nevertheless, we take for granted this right and allow others to be our voice.  I urge every person, especially the Bible believing kind, to vote this election.

Our system of freedom and democracy  is delicate and precarious.  Without the silent majority speaking up to vote their conscience in the voting booths it is possible our religious liberties will be assailed, our legal system corrupted, and rational economic policies ignored.  Without godly people doing their duty, our system of self-governance will fall into disrepair as did the late Roman Empire.

Shall we never squander such a valuable and unique gift from God, that is America!  If we do, it is our own fault for the blisters we must and will endure.

Blessings,
Jeffrey

A Movie For Your Church

I wanted to personally reach out to make sure you are aware of the unique opportunity to bring the The Insanity of God Church Simulcast to the people of your church on Wednesday, November 9th or Sunday November 13th. Lifeway has created a very simple, turnkey way to create a meaningful equipping experience with very little effort from you or the leaders of your church. See more here, including the trailer for the event.
This film features missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken and they journey deep into the persecuted church asking the question – Is Jesus Worth It? Use this film to focus your church on those in persecution and what it means to follow Jesus in every circumstance. The film concludes with a special Q&A with International Mission Board President, David Platt.
I’d love for you to be a part of this. Register your church today for this special event. To learn more visit insanityofgodmovie.com.
RELEASE OF:
LifeWay Films
P.S. The consumer DVD will release in stores on November 21.

One Week From Today – Pastor’s Appreciation Dinner

Be sure to encourage your pastor to attend the Pastor’s Appreciation Dinner October 20th at Northwest Baptist Church.  Welcome and mingling begins at 6:00 pm and our catered dinner starts at 6:30 pm.  A Retreat in North Carolina will be given away to a blessed pastor who registers that evening!  Our goal is to meet other pastors in the area, enjoy fellowship, and hear a short word from Glen Owens our Florida Baptist Regional Coordinator.  See you next Thursday!!

A Pastor’s Response to Feedback

             We have all had it, the comment, at the conclusion of a service as our friends and parishioners pass us by.  If we were each honest, we enjoy the positive words.  Sometimes our day or week hinges on the feedback we receive from people on Sunday mornings and occasional fall out on Mondays.

             What do we do when we receive the word?  Do we puff up, feel good, maybe even pride enters in?  Yeah, God used you.  He chose to work through a broken and incomplete vessel.  God chose to use you to reach into the hearts of a hurting or needy soul.  Praise God!

             I have found when I think I hit a home run, it really ends up being a foul ball.  When I hit a scrubby shot off the end of the bat it sometimes floats over the fence and I didn’t even know it.  When it’s God’s word, He uses it when and where he wants.

             Authentic character for each of us, however, becomes apparent when the short, unexpected word, articulated along with a hand shake cuts to the core.  What if the comment is mean, short sighted, or critical?  How do you feel then?  What is your response?  Let me urge you to have a thoughtful and loving response prepared for just those moments.  Below are four ways we pastors often respond to criticism:

Ignore Unwanted Comments:
So what does ignoring do?  It can hurt you and it can help you.  First, lost people respond to the gospel in a variety of ways.  The message of the Gospel can inspire the vilest of responses.  Your delivery, your tone, rhythm, vocalization, and even your motions can be distracting and anger a person under conviction.  This is where your thick skin is an advantage.  People comment and it doesn’t faze you a bit.  Your smile and short but sincere “thank you” is all that is required.
Second, if you want the truth, your thick skin can save you, but it can also hurt you.  By ignoring a hitch or habit you can distract from the message delivery.  If you have a repeated word or a mispronunciation you can detract from the real message.  If you stand on one side too often, raise your voice too much, appear unintentionally disheveled or unmatching you can detract from the message that saves lives.  Look for a blind side, it can be an issue for the whole church.

Selectively Listen:
Listening selectively can include an element of the above ignoring response.  You can listen to only the good things people say.  Great pitfalls of arrogance and feelings of “my way or the highway” can deceptively creep in to your leadership.  Nonetheless, you need to sift through the negative feedback and search for kernels of truth.
             If a pastor listens only to the negatives and takes them to heart, that pastor will soon be out of the ministry.  Discouragement quickly sets in when a person thinks his efforts are unfruitful.  To listen selectively, one must be willing to shake off the hurt which can yield enormously helpful results.  Be earnest in one’s self review.  Don’t err on listening to one side more than the other without critical evaluation of each comment, good and bad.

React indignantly, negatively, or hostilely:
If you are honest, pastor, you have responded defensively more than once to critical evaluation, if only in your mind.  I know I have.  I say, “Hey, that can’t be true, I prepared and worked on this and it is from God!”  Other comments might be; “Who put you up to this?” or “Where did you hear that?”  Not listening and/or reacting defensively will most assuredly result in a back lash from the other side.
             Pastor, you have preached it, turn the other cheek and remember God is your defender.  This truth is real and helpful firmament.  With each negative word, God is either teaching you something or allowing you to learn from a seemingly abrasive attack.  Be wise.  Do not disregard the words as a whole, but ask God what He is trying to say through the unkind and uncherished words.  Proverbs 12:18 says; “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  Concentrate on healing and ask God what you need to learn rather than reacting indignantly or hostilely.

Listen Profitably:
If God is teaching you something or allowing these words to hack at your armor of pride.  Don’t pray for their quick passing nor conversely take the words too seriously.  Listening profitably is the stance of humility.  In the wild, animals working at creating a heard or are actively in confrontation, stare at each other, make eye contact, puff up their chests and attack.  Mom always told me don’t stare into the eyes of an angry dog.  In humility, listen and seek to hear what you can learn from the unwanted but possibly warranted words.
Yes, be a learner.  Learning comes from hearing.  Proverbs 19:20 sums it up best, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”  It is true, mean words and mean people hurt.  Yes, you may want to find that heaven on earth where everyone at your church adores you and not an evil word is spoken.  Be sure, that place exists only in heaven above.  Remember there may be some very important truth wrapped up in a pretty ugly package.  Listen profitably and you will be counted as wise.

Love you today!
Jeffrey

The Reward of the Pastorate

So you have been called to the pastorate.  How amazing it feels to be called by God!  But not in the too distant future, you come home on a Sunday afternoon having spent your last ounce of yourself and receiving feedback that makes you want to throw in the towel.  Hey, you say to yourself, even low paid sewage workers get better treatment!  You’re right.  They don’t call the sewage worker when their child doesn’t come home.  They don’t call the gardener, the roofer, the plumber, or the salesman when their marriages fall apart or a family member finds out he or she has cancer.  They don’t expect anyone else to work for near nothing yet expect you to be near 100% on call.  So you have been called to the pastorate, what’s the good news?

You and only you are the pastor of this group of people.  They are your flock.  God gave them to you as a gift to shepherd and care for, how great is that?

You get to relate to your people.  Some will have fond thoughts of you as their pastor for decades hence.  Many will call your name and wish you were with them to share special moments long after you are on to the next place God takes you on this journey of obedience.

Your church actually pays you to do what God called you to do! Lovin’ it!

You can be flexible.  Often you can make your own schedule, so long as you get everything done….

As the pastor of a church, you have already gone as high as you can go in Southern Baptist life. Being a denominational leader means you get to serve more, it doesn’t mean you have arrived.  Pastors are the leaders, the molders, and the makers in SBC life. 

It only takes a little re-orientation of your expectations to find true reward in the call.  Yes, challenges exist, but there are some pretty significant rewards in obeying the call.  Don’t give up.  Don’t give in.  The good times are coming.  Stay true to the call you have received by the God that cares for you.  You are loved and highly favored!

Gaining By Losing

Few books have captured my attention and interest the way J.D. Greear’s recent book Gaining by Losing has this past month of reading.  Dr. David Chauncey, the new pastor at Westside Baptist Church, took his staff through the same book.  We held a short group session for pastors in June and passed this book out.  The way J.D. describes church reflects a new and growing paradigm of church.  Let me share a snippet from the book, I would love to read your comments after.

“I lived in a Muslim country for several years, and I was friends with dozens of people who went to the mosque weekly.  At no point did I consider going with them, I wouldn’t have gone for a special holiday.  I wouldn’t have gone if I were facing hard times.  I wouldn’t have gone if the imam were doing a really helpful series on relationships or if he told really funny stories that helped me see how Allah was relevant to my life.  I wouldn’t have gone had they added percussion and a kickin’ electric guitar to the prayer chants.  Islam was a completely foreign world, and one in which I knew I clearly didn’t belong.  So I didn’t go.

I take that back.  I did visit the mosque one time, because a Muslim friend invited me, and I wanted to honor him by learning more about his life and faith.  It was an unmitigated disaster.  First, we had to sit in weird, uncomfortable positions for extended periods of time.  And everyone but me seemed to know what to say at various points of the service. They would all suddenly stand up, in unison, leaving me clamoring to get to my feet, which was hard when you couldn’t feel your legs anymore.  They all dressed up in the same outfit, and my Nike shirt and Levi jeans made me feel pretty out of place.  At one point they sang out an “Amen.”  At that point I thought I knew the drill, harkening back to my days in a country Baptist church.  So I hit the harmony note.  No one else deviated from the primary note.  Everyone turned to stare at me.  I felt like a side of bacon at a bar mitzvah.”  p. 30.

I made four observations from the above quote.  You may find more, but here is what stands out in my mind:

1) People in our neighborhoods and at work, those we do life with, do not find relevance in, or a necessity to, attend church for any reason.

2) People aren’t coming to church.  Nothing you can do is going to attract them.  It may have worked up until the 80’s or maybe the 90’s but we are not finding lost people coming to our churches.

3) Lost people coming to our churches are most often personally invited.  While believers changing churches or moving to a new area may find their way into your church, lost people generally do not come without a personal, relationship based invitation.  The new key word to church growth and kingdom impact in our community, then, is relationships, relationships, and relationships.

4) Our services can be awkward and uncomfortable.  Those who are used to our services often forget what it is like to not know the Baptist drill.  An ancillary assumption is, people who feel uncomfortable will likely never return to your church.  So it makes sense then, if we do things by wrote and appear uncomfortable and unnatural, lost people will have a difficult time being comfortable.

So based on the above four gleanings from the text, what will you do at your church?  How can we change, not at the expense of the message, to be relevant, be welcoming, and be comfortable, while still worshiping our God?  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below….

Oracle for America

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I have spent a good bit of time in the last few weeks processing a word God gave me during a recent morning Bible reading.  While reading Isaiah 19 I had one of those “aha!” moments.  It was, God I hear Your whisper and am listening….

Below I take some liberties with the passage and replace two words.  You’ll probably notice the changes quickly.  Take note of three things:

Brother against Brother

Being Demoralized

God is going to give a cruel master

Christians take note. The problems coming in and after November are not unseen or unexpected.  God said clearly as I read this passage, can you see the similarities? We are on a difficult course, one that will be hard for many.  Remember, the problem isn’t our culture or community, it is us.

Christians and the Church are the problem.  Christians (actually those calling themselves Christian) are the reason God is sending judgement.  People in our pews and in our theater seating have checked off their weekly church box and live like reprobates the rest of the week.  Church leaders have succumbed under the pressures of deacons and committees and do not institute church discipline.  The church ignores these crises and continues forward.  If we don’t concentrate on revival and seek the Lord, the below is inevitable.

Join your Association and new Prayer Coordinators, Bruce and Isabel Smith form FBC High Springs, in praying for revival in our Association.  Prayer and large scale repentance within the church is the only means of avoiding this coming crisis.  Thank you for your prayers!

19 The oracle concerning America.
Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to America;
The idols of America will tremble at His presence,
And the heart of the Americans will melt within them.
“So I will incite Americans against Americans;
And they will each fight against his brother and each against his neighbor,
city against city and kingdom against kingdom.
“Then the spirit of the Americans will be demoralized within them;
And I will confound their strategy,
So that they will resort to idols and ghosts of the dead
And to mediums and spiritists.
“Moreover, I will deliver the Americans into the hand of a cruel master,
And a mighty king will rule over them,” declares the Lord God of hosts.

The Dividing Wall of Hostility

Brothers and Sisters,

Dallas, Baton Rouge, Kansas City, and even in Minnesota and Michigan we hear of and see violence.  Violence against police, violence against citizens, all sorts of violence is happening today. In recent days and weeks there has been no fix.  It also doesn’t look like it is going to get better anytime soon.  Anger is welling up in everyone.

We all know the answer, but we fail to do anything.  We all know that once Christ reigns in a person’s life he or she finds peace and we find peace with each other.  Ephesians 2:14 says; “For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in the flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” and in verse 16, God says; “and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

Yes this spoke of Jews and Gentiles, but it is no more real today than it was in the first century.  Jews despised Gentiles, there was hate and hostility between both groups.  Paul reminded them, though, we have peace.  Those in the Spirit are reconciled not only to God, but to each other.  Christians, I urge you to stand up.  Let us stand with our brothers in Christ; no matter the color, no matter the past, no matter our party affiliation.

The dividing wall of hostility is broken, we are no longer two separate people.  We may have different worship styles, accents, or church governance, but we have one God.  We Christians must rise up and show how our great God has killed our hostility toward each other, thereby being an example to our community.

Why Church Planting?

Tim Keller asked the same question recently.  You can really connect with his thoughts on Why Church Planting? by visiting the following link: http://www.acts29.com/why-church-planting/.

Here is where I want to camp today, there is significant evidence that new churches best reach the unchurched, period, period, and period. 

Keller says; “Dozens of denominational studies have confirmed that the average new church gains most of its new members (60-80%) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshipping body, while churches over 10-15 years of age gain 80-90% of new members by transfer from other congregation.”

Our own Rick Lawrence, pastor of Summit Baptist Church in High Springs and former Church Planting Director for the Florida Baptist Convention, stated in a recent CP meeting that church starts see a 4 to 1 baptism ratio verses an established church Baptism ration of 10 to 1.  That means as far as reaching lostness, church starts are two and a half times more effective at reaching people for Christ.

So, based solely on the two above facts; church planting reaches those not attending any church and are 2 ½ times more likely to baptize new believers, we must prayerfully consider church planting if we are going to reach North Central Florida.

We are calling you, each church and church member, please consider your role in planting a church.  Can you pray for church planting?  Can you give toward church planting? Can you join a group of passionate, sold out, local believers in planting a church this year?

We have church planting training, partnerships and a network for church planters, and some finances to begin this biblically mandated charge from God here in North Central Florida.  How will you partner?

The Summer to Pray

We are in the middle of a cultural battle. Everyone is well aware of the battle going on right in front of our eyes. We as Christians are also aware that this battle is not going on only with boots on the ground, but is raging in the heavenly places. Satan is bent at destroying our churches, families, and God’s created order.This summer we face two crossroads as Jesus’ church. This call for our churches to face these crossroads in battle formation is critical. Our battle formation is prayer. Prayer is more urgent than ever today. Please consider ways you are going to encourage your family and church to pray for our nation.

The first battle this summer will involve multiple legal confrontations over transgender school bathrooms, lockers, and showers. Both sides want to win this culture war before school begins in the fall. We need to be on our knees over how we as a church will respond to the secular lefts’ embrace of individual identity determination and how that will play out in culture, schools, and in our churches.

The second significant battle on the docket this summer is California’s physician-assisted dying law which takes effect on June 9. This is expected to be a huge step forward toward a national euthanasia movement. Folks, the right to life is critical. God designed it, gives it, and takes it away. We are not the shepherds of life. Soon, it is possible with the continued limited resources for health care while at the same time experiencing an expansion of the health care system, the government will determine who lives or dies.

Do not enter into judgement, finger pointing, or hateful conversation. Our battle is the Lord’s. It is our mission and assignment to follow our commander into war. Get your helmet, sword, shield, breastplate, belt, and sandals. It is war time and your commander stands ready. It is time to get into battle, PRAY!

God is at Work Today!

I recently heard from Pastor Dennis Tabor, currently serving at Forest Grove Baptist Church.  Would you believe another eight people accepted Christ this past week and are going to be baptized?  That brings the total for Forest Grove since February to near 30 people who have walked in obedience in baptism.  Folks, this isn’t Gospel light.  Pastor Dennis isn’t selling an easy gospel, he and his members are simply presenting THE Gospel to those who need hope and good news.  Each of our communities are filled with similar people, but many of us have given up sharing or grown accustomed to thinking either about ourselves or that the world doesn’t respond to the good news anymore.  Let me urge you to try again.  Talk to your church and ask them to reengage their families and circles of influence with the best news in the history of man.  God just may show up like he has at Forest Grove!

If you would like an opportunity to go share, June 4th is our monthly trip to Grace Marketplace to feed the hungry.  If you can’t come June 4th, let us help you find another time you can feed and lead others to the Saviour of the world.  If you would like other ideas to engage your community like joining us at the Alachua County Fair so you too can have opportunities to share the Gospel, read the newsletter below.  Be encouraged, your church has the same good news for a new generation, equally important and relevant.  It simply takes willing hearts and prayerful people to see fruit.  We want to help, let’s reach our communities together!

Have a Great Memorial Day with those close to you!

Blessings,
Jeffrey

It’s Here!!!

Yes, the long anticipated Evangelism Trailer has arrived and currently is parked in back of the NCFBA office. If you were unable to come to the orientation in April, we would love for you to be able to utilize the trailer and its contents to reach and connect with your community, so call and come in to be oriented. Summer is fast approaching and if you need the trailer, please contact Mary at our office with your request to reserve the trailer on your date.Currently included in the trailer are two bounce houses, popcorn maker, snow cone maker, games, and a grill. The trailer can be used for outreach, community gatherings where you want your church to have a presence, for VBSs, or for other church events. The priorities of our Association are to foster Unity between churches, create opportunities for Kingdom Impact, and be on the Cutting Edge. This trailer can be used for each of our priorities! We are already getting many churches signed up, so call today!

See you in the Community this summer!
Jeffrey

Here Comes the Evangelism Trailer!

On the 21st of April we receive our Association’s new ministry addition, an Evangelism Trailer!  This wonderful evangelism tool is a long time coming to North Central Florida Baptist Association.  Churches will be able to use the items in the trailer to attract and engage those not usually interested in “churchy” events.  The trailer includes three bounce houses, a popcorn maker, a cotton candy maker, and a snow cone maker.  We need more items, but this is a great start.

Please come or send someone from your church to join us as we find out more about the trailer.  We will learn how to operate the blow-up bounce houses and popcorn, cotton candy and snow cone makers, as well as facilitate neighborhood transformation through an evangelism strategy utilizing our new EV trailer.

Be sure to mark your calendar on Friday, April 21st at 10:00 a.m.  The orientation will take place at our office on 39th Avenue.

SEE YOU THERE!

Missions Celebration

On the 22nd of April we will have the privilege to host Gordon Fort, a Vice President of the International Mission Board.  Dr. Fort is an engaging speaker.  He will share stories and present a word that will inspire.

From my personal experience, Dr. Fort is a great missionary, wonderful friend, articulate orator, and will make our Annual Missions Celebration a no-miss event.

Be sure to mark your calendar on Friday, April 22nd at 6:00 p.m.  The Missions Celebration will be hosted at First Baptist Church High Springs.

SEE YOU THERE!

Networking for Church Planting

Not more church planting!  Some people I talk with believe we have enough churches.  They simply think focusing on the existing church, maybe through programs or training, will help our churches grow and regain some of their lost health.  Frankly speaking, ladies and gentlemen, hoping some existing will grow by any means of training is wishful thinking.  These churches aren’t bad or wrong, they simply are irrelevant. These churches are inward focused, not thinking about the lost world around them.  This is where planting a church makes an entrance, Church Planting is a good thing.  It gives planters and congregants a fresh start, a new perspective, another option to reidentify with church.

We are excited about the Church Planters meeting March 1st in just a couple of weeks. Rick Lawrence, former Church Planter with the State of Florida and current pastor at Summit Baptist Church in High Springs, will lead this helpful connection meeting. He will be speaking on “The Six Things Every Church Planter Must Know For a Successful Church Plant.”

The second priority in our Association is Kingdom Impact. This meeting is for kingdom impactors, those currently Church planting, pastoring with planting in mind, and those who have planted. Please plan on being at the office at 10 am and expect a great lunch around noon. We hope to see you here!
Jeffrey

Let’s Be Praying for Each Other

What makes North Central Florida Baptist Association churches unique? Few times this past year have I been so excited as I was to be standing in our sister church in Micanopy reading the bulletin. On the back in the prayer concerns section I saw what really makes us unique. There was a request for Island Grove Baptist Church.Island Grove is in need of a pastor. Folks, cooperation is the preeminent attribute of working well together. Seeking God’s face for one another and standing in the gap for one another is the essence of Unity. Unity is our first priority. Kingdom Impact and being Cutting Edge are also important priorities in our Association, but Unity often stands illusive. Let me encourage you to take to your knees this month and join us in praying for pastors for the following churches:

Forest Grove,
Island Grove,
New Hope,
North Pleasant Grove,
Northwest,
and Santa Fe

When we pray for the right man, a man who seeks to worship God, lead others in worship, and disciple others, we pray rightly. Pray for men of integrity. Pray for men with compassion and grace. Pray for men who love God most. And pray God would protect and provide for His bride in the meantime.

It is a JOY to serve with you!
Jeffrey

Thank You Pastors! Mark Your Calendars for December 17th

Pastors and Staff,
We want to say thank you!  It is Thanksgiving and nearly Christmas.  We are thankful for you and for your participation in ministry in our Association so we want to give you a gift.  Come and join us at Grace Baptist Church.  4Rivers BBQ will provide the meal!!!!  Glen Owens from the FL Baptist Convention will join us.  Bring your wife on a date, childcare will be provided.  Mark December 17th at 6:00 pm.  This will be fellowship and fun.  Can’t wait to see you.
Blessings,
Jeffrey

November Thankfulness

This time of year often causes one to be thankful.  The Association and the FL Baptist Convention are thankful for you.  Seriously.  To show our gratitude we want to invite you to a banquet in December.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! On December 17 we will host a pastor’s banquet.  We will be sending out more information next month.  We want you to reserve the evening today.  Let’s make it a date for our wives.  I guarantee the food and atmosphere will be great!

May this time of year cause you to pause, in all the hustle, bustle, and church calendaring, how good God is.  Let’s be thankful together and rejoice in what God is doing among us (1 Thess 5:18).

Blessings,
Jeffrey