Josh Greene, Lead Pastor of First Baptist Church Fairdale, exhorts every pastor to “claim your people”–connect, identify, and bind your life with theirs. In our current church culture where it is not uncommon for pastors to serve multiple churches in a relatively short span, it can become easy to view ministry and the people as a job. May we all take a step back, let the exhortation sink in, and strive to deeply love and unashamedly claim our people.
One of the great strengths of a minister is when he unashamedly claims his people. He is proud to be connected and associated with them. So much so that the bond between the church and its minister grows and grows and becomes so tight and strong. The minister loves them, identifies with them, connects with them, and becomes like them. And vice versa. A lot of this is seen in the Biblical analogy of a Shepherd and his sheep.
This past week I had my heart stirred in such a great way around this concept. I was studying the book of Titus.
Titus is a small book. Its only 3 chapters long. Only 46 verses. It many Bibles it all fits on to one page. It is short and simple.
The Apostle Paul wrote Titus this short letter to encourage him as to why Titus is still remaining on the island of Crete. Paul had recently been there doing mission work. Many people had gotten saved. Churches were set up in each town on the island, and those churches now needed good leadership. So Paul left Titus there to put what remained into order. He was to appoint elders in every town to lead the churches. And Titus’s large task was to go and correct the false teachers who were already in these churches.
The book is short yet so profound on what a church is to be like = How the people who make up the church are to believe the right things according to the truth and then also have faithful consistent godly lives that go in accordance with the truth they so strongly believe. It really is a rich little book of the Bible!
So the setting is that Titus is currently living in Crete. He was not born and raised there. Paul left him there. But he was living and ministering there at the time. Paul however was not. Paul no longer lived there. He used to live there. He used to work and serve there, but he does not live there any longer during the time he was writing this letter to Titus.
This is where my heart was so stirred. So challenged. So convicted. So blessed.
At the very end of Titus, Paul is closing his letter with his final instructions and greetings. There are 15 verses in chapter 3, the final chapter. In verse 14, Paul writes this to Titus:
“And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.”
This is a great verse for so many reasons. But what really got me was that phrase “our people.”
Whose people? Now maybe he was referring to all Christians everywhere. That certainly makes sense too. It works. It applies. But I don’t think so. I think Paul is an awesome pastor and he wants Titus to be an awesome pastor too. After all, Titus is his “true child in a common faith.” So Paul refers to the believers in Crete as “our people.” Paul is identifying himself with the Cretans.
Yes, the Apostle Paul is identifying himself with the Cretan believers. This is remarkable. Those of us who call ourselves ministers today have a lot to learn from this idea. Here are a few comments:
As I am thinking through all of this, I am wondering if the inability to call your old church folks “your people” says anything about whether they were ever truly your people. Maybe they never were. Maybe ministers sometimes just have jobs and never connect. Maybe once you move “your people” are out-of-sight out-of-mind. I hope not. Praise God that surely wasn’t the case for Paul.
Maybe Paul was just so gripped by that stunning truth at the end of Hebrews. Verse 13:17 that says leaders are keeping watch over souls and will have to give an account for “the people.” Surely, surely, surely if they are “our people” we will proudly, boldy, sacrificially claim them!
This post originally appeared on Josh’s personal blog.
Ashley Clayton, Vice President for Cooperative Program and Stewardship Development, joins Dr. Frank Page, President and CEO of the Executive Committee and Jon Akin of B21 to talk about some fault lines within the SBC. Whether it be Calvinism, CP giving, or age of baptism, there are certain points of tension between Southern Baptists that could affect our cooperation in the advance of the Gospel. Let’s join in on this conversation and all be willing to openly discuss these issues in order to promote unity and cooperation moving forward.
B21 would like to thank the Cooperative Program for hosting such pertinent, timely, and engaging discussions at their convention booth. They have made all of their video sessions available for free online. Make sure you avail yourself of these great resources!
It has just been announced that David Platt is the next President of the IMB. We are so thankful for the Trustees hard work, and we could not be more excited for this election. Here are several reasons we think David Platt is a great choice:
David Platt has a track record of aggressively leading his church to support cooperative missions. Brook Hills gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to the CP and SBC causes.
In 2013, Brook Hills gave $100,000 to the Southern Baptist Executive Committee to be allocated nationally; $25,000 to the Cooperative Program through the Alabama state convention; $12,500 to the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home; $15,000 to the Birmingham Baptist Association; $300,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions; and $325,000 to the International Mission Board in special designated gifts, for a total of $777,500, or 8.9% of the church’s total giving for the year, to Southern Baptist causes. Projections for 2014 are: $175,000 to the Southern Baptist Executive Committee; $25,000 to the Cooperative Program; $15,000 to the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home; $68,000 to the Birmingham Baptist Association; $300,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions; and $718,000 to the International Mission Board in special designated gifts, for a projected total of $1,301,000, or 13.8% in total church giving.
David also gives personally to resource the mission of God. He does not receive money for the books he writes. All of the earnings go to resource radical.net (i.e. Disciple-Making International) where materials are translated into the most popular languages in the world to equip leaders all over the globe. He makes great personal sacrifice to reachthe nations!
Whenever such a high profile position is being filled, people often like to the play the percentage game when it comes to CP giving, but we all understand that every state convention is not the same, and churches have to make giving decisions that are best for them since we are a convention of autonomous churches and ultimately accountable to God for how we fulfill the Great Commission.
Some state conventions use their CP dollars to support liberal institutions. Some keep too high a percentage in state in some people’s eyes. So, it may be best for the Great Commission for a church to support the CP nationally, but not support it with as high a percentage locally if such conditions exist. We cannot know for sure the reasons why Brook Hills chose to give directly to Nashville, but the result of it is clear – more resources have been given to reaching the unreached!
David Platt has led his church to do everything they can within the legitimate structures of the SBC to advance the Great Commission. They have given to the CP, they have given to Lottie, and they have given to other SBC causes. A few years ago, the SBC messengers overwhelmingly adopted the GCR recommendations – one of which was “Great Commission Giving.” Brook Hills has utilized a track the SBC endorsed and has done so generously!
In addition, the GCR recommended that every state convention move to a 50/50 split so more resources would go to the unreached. Brook Hills has given in such a way that the bulk of their missions giving makes it to the unreached, and this impulse was overwhelmingly approved by the SBC!
They have given generously through Great Commission giving and much more of their budget goes to meeting urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. A leader like David – who prioritizes giving to advance missions among the unreached through SBC channels – is a great choice to lead our missions agency.
Not only has David Platt sacrificed personal resources for missions, but also he has led Brook Hills to sacrifice programming and accouterments in order to get more money and people to the nations. If we had more pastors like David Platt and churches that gave to cooperative missions like Brook Hills, then we would have more missionaries among the unreached, and that kind of visionary leadership might cause churches and state conventions to sacrifice more for the nations.
As we’ve written, in 2013 almost half a billion dollars was given to CP ($486.8 million). Almost $300 million of that was kept in the state conventions ($298,850,365), which means that approximately $94 million out of half a billion went to the IMB. Under our current system, the CP dollars roughly spent per person to reach Alabama is $4.72 ($23 million kept in a state with 4.8 million people), North America 99 cents ($309 million kept by states and given to NAMB among 313 million people), and the world 1 cent ($94 million given to IMB among 6.9 billion people in the world minus the US)!
We need a leader – like David Platt – who has a track record of getting more resources and people to the unreached. We need a leader who cares more about rescuing cooperative missions than rescuing the Cooperative Program. CP is a means to something greater. We believe it is probably the best means to that end and encourage others to be a part of it, but let’s not elevate the means above the end – the propagation of the gospel.
David Platt has shown that creativity in leading his church to reach the nations by various giving and going mechanisms. And, David recognizes that creativity is needed in order to multiply the cause of the Great Commission. In this video, David talks about how we can move from 5,000 missionaries to tens of thousands. We pray that under his leadership that is exactly what will happen!
David Platt has a track record of mobilizing not just resources but people to fulfill the Great Commission. Brook Hills has sent out dozens of missionaries to the hardest places in the world in order to reach the unreached. Brook Hills is committed to sending their people short, mid, and long term to be directly involved with gospel proclamation among unreached people. This includes regularly sending out dozens and dozens of short term and mid-term teams to places like the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. In addition to the short and mid-term teams, Brook Hills has at least 4 active long-term church planting teams (through the IMB) engaging unreached Muslim peoples in places like North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and East Asia.
The SBC is a diverse people theologically and methodologically. Our history has proven that! The SBC has differed on the finer points of soteriology since our inception, and yet we’ve always been able to cooperate together for the higher cause of reaching the nations for Christ. We’ve had that fact restated in the last year by a Task Force appointed by Dr. Frank Page on Calvinism that brought unity rather than division. Also, this discussion of the best way to fund cooperative missions and getting more money to the nations has been going on for decades, and yet we’ve still been able to work together for the cause of international missions.
David is a worthy candidate because he is a BF&M 2000 advocate. He loves our theology. Further, every time he has preached on the convention floor, he has ignited a renewed passion for missions within the SBC. He has received enthusiastic support for these sermons as he called the SBC to focus on her greatest task. Every time he preaches at a convention or one of our seminaries, more people are mobilized to sell all they have and go to the unreached.
Field personnel that we’ve spoken to are ecstatic about David being President – many of them already know of his love for mission because of Brook Hills active partnership with the IMB all over the world.
A man so obviously consumed by the Great Commission we believe will unite us! He will be a pied piper calling Southern Baptists across the nation to go the tough places! We think that he will be good for the SBC, but infinitely more important than that, his presidency will be a good thing for our involvement in the mission of God. And we think it will be good for the CP, as thousands of young (perhaps nominally involved) Southern Baptist pastors are made aware of the IMB in a way they never have been before because of the platform of David Platt.
We prayed the trustees would elect the best man for the job regardless of convention politics, and we believe David Platt is a great choice. We ask all Southern Baptists to pray for and get behind this man who has preached so passionately about the nations, given so much towards reaching the nations, and has already released so many missionaries to the nations. Let’s thank God that He led the search team and the IMB trustees to select him.
Josh Greene, Lead Pastor of First Baptist Church Fairdale, is passionate about community involvement in the local church. In this post he outlines how his church gets involved with their local high school. While schools provide incredible potential for outreach and ministry, many of our churches fail to have a lasting or recognizable presence on campus. May Josh’s wisdom from experience challenge and excite our own ministries to get involved with our local schools.
Our church just wants to be involved.
Overall, we genuinely just become “fans” of their programs. We want them to win. We cheer for them. We support them.
I hope this helps. Seems so simple and basic. But we think it’s great!
This post originally appeared on Josh’s personal blog.
With the release of his new book, Aspire: Developing and Deploying Disciples in the Church for the Church, Matt Rogers, pastor of The Church at Cherrydale, wants to provide a tool for relational discipleship. Among other things, it provides a one-year plan that is ideal for one-on-one disciple-making. In the post below Rogers challenges us all tho question, while small groups are good, are they enough to make disciples? You can order your copy of Aspire today at Seed Publishing Group. Also, a 10% discount is available for orders of 25 copies or more.
Small Groups Are Good But They’re Not Enough
by Matt Rogers
I vividly remember my first church planter boot camp. I was young, naïve and filled with zeal for God’s church. The message presented at the training was clear—you are given the task of making disciples not simply growing the next great church. The bulls-eye for the success of the church, we were told, is to make disciples. This seemed clear enough to me.
The answer to the follow up question seemed equally straightforward in my mind. We were asked, “How will the church that you plant go about the task of disciple-making?”
“Small groups,” I said without a moment’s thought. It was like saying “Jesus” in a Sunday school class of six-year-olds. Of course that was the right answer. Our church would take people, put them in small groups and let the magic happen. Relationships would form, the gospel would be communicated and disciples would be built.
Five years later my answer would be more nuanced. Small groups are good but they are not enough. Small groups provide some wonderful gifts to God’s church. In our church, they’ve excelled at:
Certainly these are components of effective disciple-making, but they are insufficient in and of themselves. True disciple-making necessitates a one-on-one relationship with a growing Christ-follower over an extended period of time.
You simply cannot mass-produce disciples—even on a small group level.
Imagine that God saves your neighbor Joe whom you have been investing in for several years. Joe begins to attend the weekly gathering at your church and starts coming to the small group that meets in your home.
In the small group he meets new friends, discusses a Bible passage, begins to serve and may even begin to open up about areas of sin. However, the small group can’t disciple Joe sufficiently, because it is not designed to. Why?
The Power of One
A small group is not designed to do all the work of disciple-making. But a person in a small group can.
Ideally, every Christ-follower would strive to enter into intentional, long-term relationships with at least two other people for the purpose of disciple-making. They would meet together regularly, talk about the gospel and seek to apply it to their lives.
Does this mean that we throw out small groups? Certainly not. Let’s continue to run hard after small groups recognizing that they are a part of a much bigger process of disciple-making.
We need healthy week worship gatherings where the Word can be proclaimed through the preaching and singing of the Word, the prayers of the saints and the practice of baptism and the Lord’s supper.
We need thriving small groups where people can learn to love God’s church by building relationships with one another and living on mission together.
We need a culture of relational disciple-making that infuses vibrancy into the life of the church body because of the shared investment that all of God’s people have in fulfilling the Great Commission by making disciples.