Earlier this month, Broadway Baptist Church sent a team to Panama to work with the Kuna Indians in the San Blas Islands. Multiple teams the past several years from Broadway have traveled to Panama to work with the Kuna Indians. We had the privilege of baptizing five believers in the ocean, preach at a Kuna Baptist church, visit a Cuban refugee camp, and meet IMB missionaries. We hope to go again in early 2018 and work with the Embera and Wounaan indigenous peoples.
Tomorrow I leave for the San Blas Islands off the Atlantic coast of Panama. Broadway Baptist Church has an International Mission Board partnership with Panama to reach the Kuna Indians. The Kuna are a people group of 85,500 people with 4% being evangelical, which means they're considered a "reached" people group. In order for a people group to be considered "reached" they must be at least 2% evangelical.
The area we'll be traveling to are islands where no churches are present. We hope to evangelize, baptize new believers, train pastors, and disciple believers we meet. Please be in prayer for our trip - you can learn more about the Kuna Indians of Panama on the IMB's People Groups website.
AWANA - which stands for Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed - every week 3.7 million children in 47,000 churches participate in the largest children's ministry throughout the world. This early beginnings of Awana reveal why children enjoy it:
"In 1941, the children's program at the North Side Gospel Center in Chicago laid the foundation for the principles of Awana. Lance Latham, North Side's senior pastor, collaborated with the church's youth director, Art Rorheim, to develop weekly clubs that would appeal to churched and nonchurched kids. As a pioneer in children’s ministry, Art created new and innovative ways to reach kids with the gospel and lead them to know, love and serve Jesus Christ. Other churches learned about the success of the program and inquired about its availability. In 1950, Latham and Rorheim founded Awana as a parachurch organization."
From my experience, children attend and enjoy Awana because it's fun. One of the biggest challenges to reaching children is overcoming boringness - gametime, prizes, and weekly themes makes Awana interesting and fun.
If your church is struggling reaching children - Awana creates the excitement and interest children will want to attend. As they memorize Scripture, children earn Awana bucks to purchase items from the store. As they complete their book, they earn badges. Games, Prizes, Badges, Scripture memorization - Awana is the most-child engaging program available to reach for Christ. All four of our children love it!
Why I Love Awana
We just completed our first month of ministry here in Lexington. It's been 31 days of meeting people, learning the community, and planning for the future. One of the great men I've had the opportunity to spend time with is Broadway Baptist Church's minister of outreach and visitation - James Heard - also known as "Brother Heard."
Brother Heard has been in the ministry for 60+ years and is one of the greatest assets to Broadway Baptist. A former pastor of several Lexington churches and the former interim pastor of Broadway Baptist.
Brother Heard took me on my first home visit, first hospital visit and knows nearly every member and attender at BBC. One of the great blessings of discipleship is not only do you get to disciple others, but someone will disciple you. Brother Heard has discipled me this first month.
On January 1 - 30 days ago - during my installation service, the director of missions prayed that our time at BBC will be our most fruitful years of ministry. What an accurate prayer - with a mentor in Brother Heard, it can certainly happen!
Earlier this month on Sunday December 11, Broadway Baptist Church in Lexington voted to call me as their new pastor. Tomorrow we move 422 miles north up I-75. Sherri and I have only lived in three cities: Vestavia Hills, Alabama (hometown), New Orleans, Louisiana (seminary), Moreland, Georgia (First Baptist Church), and now Lexington, Kentucky.
We moved to Moreland 8 months pregnant in a horse trailer. We leave with 4 children and 11,000 lbs. of "stuff."
We're excited about the future, yet sad about leaving friends behind. First Baptist Moreland is an outstanding, Bible-believing, established 187 year-old church in south Coweta County. Many folks for nearly 12 years have been saved, baptized, and disciples made. I'll never forget the Fall Revivals of 2010 (with Gerald Harris) and 2013 (with Bailey Smith) - there was a line to get saved - a 15 minute invitation - we sang "Just As I Am" 19 times...
God's going to bring a great pastor to First Baptist Moreland who will take the church to a new level - whether in Moreland or Lexington - God is always advancing His church forward!
Last Sunday evening was First Baptist Moreland's annual "Hanging of the Green" service. We explained the meaning of advent and the candles on the wreath. Many times Baptists don't celebrate advent and have never learned the meaning behind the four candles around the wreath.
Advent is a four week period before Christmas. The advent wreath is a teaching tool used to prepare for Christ's coming. It's an evergreen wreath with four candles around it and one candle in the center. Here's the meaning of each candle:
Trunk or Treat 2016 is two weeks from today! It's Saturday October 29 from 4-6 p.m. on the field next to First Baptist Church, Moreland, Georgia. The address is 2930 S. Highway 29 Moreland, GA 30259 www.fbcmoreland.org - we hire a Coweta County Sheriff's deputy so you can cross the highway safely.
Over 1,000 children attend Trunk or Treat every year. Here are 5 facts to help you plan for Coweta County's largest Trunk or Treat:
1). We need your trunk. It requires over 75 trunks to host Trunk or Treat. We want children to walk away with a ton of candy. This is a community event - anyone can bring their trunk. If you're bringing your trunk, you need to arrive by 3:30 p.m. (at the latest). In the past we used to give children a card to mark off at each trunk, but we're doing away with that this year. It will keep the line moving faster. Everyone who brings their trunk will receive a coupon for the food trucks. If you bring your trunk, your children/grandchildren are allowed to go through the line at 3:45 p.m. If you bring your trunk, you'll want to bring a chair to sit in. If you run out of candy, we'll have folks walking around giving candy refills. The best place to buy candy is BJ's - you can purchase 1,500 pieces for $40.
2). Admission to Trunk or Treat is a can of food. The food will go towards First Baptist Moreland's food ministry. We give away the canned food at our Thanksgiving Outreach on Saturday November 19.
3). Use our hashtag - win a prize! Take a picture at Trunk or Treat and post on Facebook or Instagram - the picture with the most "likes" wins an awesome gift! Last year's gift was an Amazon Fire. Here's the hashtag you must use: #MorelandTrunkOrTreat
4). We have two Food Trucks! CBO's BBQ and Atlanta City Catering! These two premier food trucks will be selling everything from BBQ to dessert. They'll be parked near the fellowship hall - you can eat inside.
5). The Coweta County 4-H Club will be bringing their horses. Rides are $4 - cash only.
Children don't trick-or-treat at homes like they used to - now they attend Trunk or Treat's at churches. Save the date, bring your children, bring your trunk! Saturday October 29 from 4-6 p.m. at First Baptist Moreland.
Top 10 Things You Need to Know for Trunk or Treat
6 Tips for a Terrific Trunk or Treat
If you're a senior in high school, you're probably thinking about life after graduation. Which colleges will you apply to? What will you major in? Are my grades good enough to get in?
If you're a Southern Baptist high schooler looking at colleges, you need to consider the three colleges affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
All three of the schools are accredited and have active student life, spiritual life, and athletic programs.
Sherri and I were both blessed to attend an Alabama Baptist Convention college and hope to send our four children to Baptist schools.
One of the great fears of Christians parents, is their children move off to college and lose their faith or make regretful decisions. Of course that can occur anywhere, but ideally college can be a time for phenomenal academic and spiritual growth.
Here are the three schools high schoolers and their parents should consider:
Shorter University in Rome, Georgia is the largest and oldest of the three Baptist colleges.
Truett McConnell University is located on the edge of the north Georgia mountains in Cleveland.
Brewton-Parker College in the south Georgia city of Mount Vernon. Brewton-Parker also has an extension center in Newnan, Georgia (near where I live).
Every youth worker knows it's going to happen. You have a 30 minute message, but one of two things occur. Either the teens are bouncing off the wall and you don't finish 10 minutes of your lesson, or the teens zone out and you're finished in 10 minutes.
Student ministers work in extremes. Either too much discussion or crickets. Youth leaders love engaging their listeners, but there's a balance to run an effective class.
Here are three teaching tips to help youth teachers keep teenagers' attention:
1). Never read from the book. You can read from the Bible, but not the study book. If you're reading the study book, the teens are thinking, "He didn't prepare."
2). Never teach with a PowerPoint. If you ever use a PowerPoint, the teenagers are thinking, "If he uploaded the PowerPoint online, I could read it myself on my on time." PowerPoints turn preachers into teachers. They should be banned from all churches. Boring, Boring, Boring.
3). Never use handouts. Teenagers don't want to walk into youth group and receive a copy machined handout. They want their youth leader to teach with passion, real-life stories and appropriate humor - bring the Bible alive. If you hand out anything, hand them a Bible. Teens have been sitting in class at school for seven hours, don't make youth group hour eight.
The best way to get to know people is to connect with them - step into their world. Our team's goal was to do that in Booneville - once you've connected, the door opens to sharing the Gospel. There's a difference between missions and evangelism. Missions is evangelism but in a cross-cultural context. Appalachia is different than Atlanta. There was a great need, but no one begged. Not a single person asked me for money. They arrived daily at the mission wondering if we were giving away clothes and food. You love people for who they are - we can't change them - only the Lord can do that.
One of the greatest needs in Appalachia is clothes and food. Yesterday our team served over 300 hot dogs throughout Owsley County. Booneville has a local food pantry that receives a weekly delivery from Lexington - hundreds of residents rely on this food to meet their hunger needs. Giving away free clothes and food is one way to open the door to advance the Gospel. We always include tracts with the food and ask if residents have prayer requests. We're thankful for First Baptist Church of Frankfort, they own and operate the mission center we're staying at. They bought an old motel and renovated it for mission teams to stay and work out of.
Our ministry team went to the nursing home and senior's center. Many people don't think about sharing the Gospel with senior adults. One of our team members asked an elderly man about his relationship with God, and he responded, "I'm going to hell."
He told him he didn't have to go to hell, and shared the Good News about Jesus. That senior citizen trusted in Christ yesterday in Booneville, Kentucky. We have no idea who God is preparing to respond to His Word. We're told in Isaiah 55:11 that His Word never returns void. Yesterday, one more was added to God's Kingdom.
Last week at the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump spoke about, "Forgotten America." The flyover part of our nation that's missed economic growth. 34 people from First Baptist Church, Moreland, Georgia are staying in Booneville, Kentucky. Four different teams serving and sharing the Good News in Owsley County.
Many times when we think of missions, we first think internationally. While that must be a priority, we can't forget of our home. The needs are great here in Appalachia - God hasn't "Forgotten" about this part of America. Be in prayer for our four teams as we begin a life-changing week.
30+ folks from First Baptist Moreland will be headed to Booneville, Kentucky next month for a week-long mission trip. Last weekend, 6 people traveled to Booneville to see what to prepare for. One of the most important things about having a great mission trip is preparation. Here are 4 steps mission teams should take before going on their mission trip:
1). Take a Preview Trip. Some of the mission trip leaders should travel to the ministry sites a month or two in advance to see what you'll be doing and make any necessary adjustments. Take pictures, come back excited - become contagious about the upcoming trip.
2). Create a Daily Schedule. Everyone should know what they're doing everyday. You should wake-up in the morning and know where you'll be working, how you'll get there, where you're eating and what supplies you'll be needing. Wasting time wastes your mission trip.
3). Come Prepared for Unplanned Expenses. A flat tire, an expensive restaurant, helping others in need, having to buy extra supplies. There are unplanned and unexpected expenses on every mission trip. Make sure teenagers bring spending money - they always want to buy the most.
4). Be Prepared to Share the Gospel. Memorize the Romans Road to Salvation or the ABC's to Salvation. The purpose of all mission trips is to lead others to Christ - everyone should come expecting the opportunity to see others get saved.
Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a week-long, non-stop, 3-hour best week of the summer. This year at First Baptist Church of Moreland - we host VBS on Sunday June 5 to Thursday June 9 from 6-9 p.m. Family Night is Sunday June 12 at 6 p.m. Every child 3 years old to completed 6th grade needs to attend, even if they can only come one or two nights, it's worth it! We have alot of new people attending VBS this summer, so we wanted to let parents know what to expect.
Here are six things you need to know to prepare for VBS:
1). You need to pre-register online. When you arrive on Sunday June 5 at 6 p.m. you'll have no paperwork to complete if you've already signed-up your child. Our goal is 217 children, which would be an all-time record. 100 children have already pre-registered. Here's the registration website: https://kideventpro.lifeway.com/myChurch/?id=31271
2). You need to buy your child a Submerged VBS yellow t-shirt. They cost $7 with sizes from youth XS to adult 3XL. To order a t-shirt, email our director, Mandy Ross, at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook her. If you pre-order your t-shirt in advance, it will have the church's name on the shoulder. T-shirts aren't required, but they do help your child have a better experience.
3). We provide your child with dinner every night - for free!
4). Drop-off at 6 p.m. is at the church's back-door and pick-up at 9 p.m. is at the church's front-door. Our church's security team releases your child. All VBS leaders are required to pass a background check.
5). We have an offering war between the boys and the girls. Children will have their change sucked from their hand into an offering machine. Monday night is pennies, Tuesday night is nickels, Wednesday night is dimes, and Thursday night is quarters. If the boys win, they get to pie VBS director Mandy Ross on Thursday night. If the girls win, they get to pie pastor Daniel Ausbun on Thursday evening. Our offering goal is $1,000 and every penny goes towards the Georgia Baptist Children's Home in Palmetto.
6). Family night is Sunday June 12 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the sanctuary. Your child will perform the VBS theme music they've learned all week - afterwards is an Ice Cream Sundae party in the fellowship hall. They should wear their t-shirt. Arrive early to get a seat.
Five VBS Takeaways
3 Reasons to Consider Club VBS this Summer
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