It is vitally important that missionaries get to know their mission field. The Apostle Paul did not have a one-size fits all approach on his mission tours. He adapted his methods depending on where he was. He did things differently in Athens, in Corinth, in Ephesus.
Since arriving here in this Trinity River mission field in January, Donna Kay and I have been working hard to learn not only the geography but also the people, culture, demographics and spiritual condition of the area. In addition to prayer, research, and observation, I have discussed these matters with several leaders in our association.
Let me share with you a few things I believe the Lord has shown me about what He wants from our association of churches.
First, we must call out the called. Could it be that many of our future pastors are already in our churches today? We need to challenge our young men to consider whether the Lord might be calling them to serve as a pastor. The best pastor for many of our Trinity River Baptist churches is a Trinity River Baptist—someone who lives here and loves it here.
Second, we must train those men God is calling. Many times when we send our young men away to be trained, they don’t return to us. We need to take responsibility upon ourselves and give them the specific training that they need in order to pastor the churches in our area.
Third, we must emphasize bivocational and volunteer ministry. Most of our churches cannot totally support a pastor and his family, let alone additional staff. And that is not true only here. The future of the church across our nation and around the world is going to require men giving their lives to pastor churches while supporting themselves through other means.
Fourth, we must plant new churches. We can’t depend on our 41 churches to reach the more than 35,000 lost people in our communities. But we can depend on those 41 churches to ask the Lord where He wants them to plant more churches.
I’ve heard some say we need to fill up the churches we have before we plant new ones. If we wait until that happens, we will never plant a new church. And even if we filled all 41 existing churches to capacity, we could not reach the 35,000 lost of our community. We need to fill up our churches and start new churches, too. We can’t afford to wait while people are dying without Jesus.
Fifth, we must revitalize our existing churches. Every church needs a pastor who will lead, a congregation who will support and follow that pastor, a compassion for the lost around them, and a great commitment to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. A struggling church that begins to take those things to heart will soon find itself revitalized by the Holy Spirit. For an example, see the story about Smith Point Community Church on the next page.
On mission with you,