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During September 2014, the Kentucky Baptist Convention EQUIP TOUR is coming to a town near you!  The EQUIP TOUR could be described as a mini-Super Saturday.  The goal of the tour is to provide helpful, practical training that will equip believers to serve their KBC churches with confidence and with excellence.

On Mondays and Tuesdays, from 6:00-9:00 p.m., we will provide training at eight different locations (listed below).  There should be at least one EQUIP TOUR stop within an hour’s drive of every church in Kentucky.

Training will be provided in the following areas:

  • Discipleship
  • Evangelism
  • Assimilation
  • Revitalization
  • Preschool/Children’s Ministry
  • Sunday School
  • Worship/Music
  • Youth Ministry

Additionally, a special session highlighting how your church can become a champion of children in need through foster parenting will be offered at all events as well.

For more information, call the Church Consulting and Revitalization Team at (502) 489-3571 or toll-free in Kentucky (866) 489-3571, or send an email to [email protected]

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Shepherding 2014

eliff-tom-2I’m especially excited about the Shepherding 2014 conference being held at the Lexington Downtown Hilton on January 23-25.  Baptist Health and the Kentucky Baptist Convention partner together to provide an event that will bring a time of Godly refreshment to pastors, chaplains, and Directors of Missions.  The conference is held at the Lexington Hilton in an effort to provide a relaxed setting as well as a relaxed pace.  The hotel staff is among the best you will find in the business and we are grateful that they are hosting us for this year’s event.

As always, we should have a packed house again this year.  The lineup of presenters and worship leaders is outstanding.  Our featured speakers include:

In addition to those above who share in the plenary sessions, we will hear from several other excellent presenters during our breakout sessions.  Check out the information on our website for those exciting details.

If you plan to attend, please register as soon as possible because we are almost at full capacity.  You can register online today!  If you have any questions, please contact me (Steve Rice) at (502) 489-3571 or toll free in Kentucky at (866) 489-3571.

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Sunday School Success

A youth group holds on to a bible.In my first doctoral class, I wrote an exit paper on the Sunday School.  My thesis for the paper was as follows:

“Sunday School is a vital program in the 21st Century Church.”

With all the new trends and changes on the current church scene, some have chosen to downplay Sunday School.  In some instances, Sunday School has been eliminated altogether.  In my opinion, such a decision is ill-advised and potentially lethal to most congregations.  Many churches still have Sunday School-type programs although they no longer use that language.  It doesn’t matter what you call it, but the traditional functions of the Sunday School are usually more consistently and effectively carried out through this church ministry.  I believe churches must embrace certain changes, but not all changes are good changes.  Some ministries are fundamental to the health and growth of the church—I believe Sunday School is such a ministry.

As your Kentucky Baptist Convention staff, Darryl Wilson and I are committed to the improvement and encouragement of the Sunday School.  We are thrilled with the current success stories that are taking place in KBC churches, but we pray for even greater success in the future!

One of the things that I’ve observed in many churches is the need to simplify.  Churches can become so complex that it becomes “watered-down” and less effective.  Many of the ministries of the church could and should be administered through the Sunday School.  This approach allows for simplification, shared ministry, organizational structure, and accountability.

For more help with Sunday School, contact Darryl Wilson or utilize his extensive Sunday School articles.

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Church Revitalization & The Great Commission

priorityThe past few weeks I have been privileged to travel around Kentucky and speak to several pastors at the annual gathering of their associations.  As I began to pray about what I should share with them, God laid Matthew 28:16-20 on my heart.  Although He had been teaching and modeling “The Great Commission” principles for the last 3 1/2 years with the disciples, since they were so important, He gave them a final, post-resurrection reminder!  Here’s my sermon in a nutshell:

16  Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17  And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) 

 Three Post-Resurrection Reminders for the Disciples

1.  He reminded them about His POWER.   Jesus had already taught and demonstrated His power to the disciples.  They were there when He gave sight to the blind.  They watched the infected skin of the lepers become perfect and unblemished.  They heard him yell, “Lazarus, come forth!”  They’re looking at him, now alive, after coming back from the dead, yet He STILL reminded them about His power.  He said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Vs. 19).  “His authority or power in his earthly life had been great. Now it is boundless and includes earth and heaven” (A.T. Robertson).  WHY?  Why did Jesus feel the need to remind them one more time?  Jesus knew there would be times in the future when the disciples would need every possible reminder of His power!

2.  He reminded them about his PRIORITY.  In this reminder, we find the keys to unlock church growth and revitalization.  Forgetting to focus on God’s priority insures that a church will not flourish in the eyes of God.  He told them to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Vv. 19-20).  In other words, Jesus reminded them that His priority was for them to focus on evangelism and discipleship!  When churches place priorities above evangelism and discipleship they are destined for decline.

3.  He reminded them about His PRESENCE.  He said, “….I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Vs. 20).  They spent the last 3 1/2 years with Jesus.  With His presence, they had gone through storms, faced persecution, walked on water, but now, He was going away.  Jesus knew that they needed to be reminded about His continuing presence through the Holy Spirit.  It seems to me that Matthew 28:20 links back to Matthew 1:23 where the angel announced “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us.”  What a glorious way to began this Gospel acount and what a glorious reminder as we close this Gospel account, GOD IS WITH US!

Churches should continually focus on evangelism and discipleship with the knowledge that God is all-powerful in helping the church fulfill His priority while assuring His presence during the process!  TO HIM BE PRAISE!!!

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I Am A Church Member (Thom S. Rainer)

Church MemberThe last few months I have been serving as the interim pastor of one of our fine Kentucky Baptist Convention churches.  I celebrate that the church recently called a sharp, young pastor who will lead them well in the coming years.

My last four Sunday messages I am choosing to preach through the passages and main points that Dr. Thom S. Rainer makes in his helpful new book, I Am A Church Member.  In his book, Rainer revisits the Biblical responsibilities of those who are privileged to be members of a local church.  He encourages each church member to make the following five pledges:

  1. I will be a functioning church member.
  2. I will be a unifying church member.
  3. I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires.
  4. I will pray for my church leaders.
  5. I will lead my family to be healthy church members.
  6. I will treasure church membership as a gift.

Here’s a little sample from page 6 of Rainer’s book:

“God did not give us local churches to become country clubs where membership means we have privileges and perks.  He places us in churches to serve, to care for others, to pray for leaders, to learn, to teach, to give, and, in some cases, to die for the sake of the Gospel….Many churches are weak because we have members who have turned the meaning of membership upside down.  It’s time to get it right.  It’s time to become a church member as God intended.  It’s time to give instead of being entitled.”

Pick up a copy of this book today!  As a matter of fact, pick up several copies.  They can be purchased from your Lifeway Store for $5 each when purchased in multiples of 20.  May the Lord use this timely book to renew our understanding of and commitment to God’s local church!

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Super Saturday Is Back & Better Than Ever!!!

For more information about Super Saturday, click here!

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4 Things That Should Happen in the First 7 Minutes in Our Churches Each Sunday

FourToday, as I continue discussing Nelson Searcy’s book Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church, I will look at the 7-minute, pre-service period when first-time guests decide if they will return for a second visit. Searcy refers to this time as the time “from the street to the seat.” This is the time before the service even begins. Searcy says “Your pre-service mission is to make every effort to take your guests’ guard down and even put a smile on their face–before the service begins.


  • GREETED: Welcomed with a smile. Searcy says we should memorize the sentence “everything speaks to first-time guests–everything.” He says we should strive for excellence and he defines excellence as “doing the best you can with what you’ve got.” Journey Church discovered from their surveys of first-time guests that one of the things they noticed and appreciated most were the smiling faces and the warm welcome as they entered the building. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A SMILE!
  • DIRECTED: Simply and politely shown to where they need to go. Guests should be directed either by a sign or a volunteer–preferably by both. When it comes to first-time guests, Searcy said the real estate axiom “location, location, location” should be replaced by “signs, signs, signs.” Searcy says that signs are the single best way to ensure that guests can find what they need. I strongly agree, but I think a church can overdo it in this area. You can get so many signs that none of the signs stand out. Having said that, I’ve only seen a couple of churches that had too many signs.
  • TREATED: Shown respect, and happily surprised with comfort food and a drink. Searcy says, “first-time guests want to feel respected and welcomed. They want to know that you are happy they’re there and that you are serious about making sure they have a good experience.” One of the best ways to convey that message is through food, but it should be well done. Searcy says, “Don’t skimp on food. This is not the area to try to save a nickel. Don’t halve foods to make them stretch. Don’t glare at the person who takes three donuts. Good food lets your guests know that you care enough to offer them something for free that will meet a need.” Provide a good, quality coffee with flavored creamers and large cups. Provide juice, bottled water, and a high quality donut. Some may also want to provide bagels and other alternatives.
  • SEATED: Led to comfortable, appropriate seats. If possible, guests should be led to a seat. It is often very awkward when they try to find a seat on their own. The usher will feel comfortable asking someone to slide over, but the first-time guests usually will not do so. Guests typically are among the last to enter. As a result, it is more difficult for them to find seats on their own. A great usher can strategically seat guests in sections that have people their age.

By the way, be sure to buy Searcy’s book, Fusion. We are only touching the highlights here, so you will want to read it from cover to cover. Here are a few of my other posts on similar topics.

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