Central Association Office Has Moved

Please take note that the Central Association office has officially moved to 2340 Manley Road in Sun Prairie. Thanks for your patience as we unpack and settle in over the next few days. Our phone number, e-mail, and fax number will continue to be the same.

Saying Goodbye to Paul and Jerry Harwood

Today I visited Midvale Baptist Church, the first Southern Baptist church in the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention. The congregation of Midvale said goodbye today to Paul Harwood, pastor, and his wife Jerry. Paul and Jerry will be moving to Nevada next week as Paul becomes the Director of Missions for the Northeast Baptist Association in Nevada.

Paul served as the pastor at Midvale for eight years and he brought stability to the congregation. After the service today, the congregation had a potluck dinner which included a tribute to Paul and Jerry.

Please be in prayer for the Harwoods as they move to Nevada and for Midvale Baptist as they search for a new pastor in the weeks and months to come.

Pastor Interviews for Diagnosis

This week 13 of our 14 pastors in the Central Baptist Association were interviewed by a team from the North American Mission Board. The purpose of these interviews was for specific needs to be revealed so the CBA can do a better job resourcing our churches. The results will be compiled and studied and then a prescription meeting will be held in early January 2007.

Why have these interviews? The main reason to have these interviews is so we as an association can become relevant to our churches. Our vision is to resource churches to fulfill the Great Commission in their own community. I belive many needs were surfaced this week and our association will be challenged by the answers given during the interview process.

If you have any questions about the results or findings of the diagnostic survey, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at mark@cbaow.net or call the office at 608-825-9946.

Assessing Those Who Will Succeed

There are many ways to assess potential church planters and prospective pastors. We have some of the best assessment tools in our toolbox in the Minnesota-Wisconsin state convention. Yet there is one question that I think rises to the top, “Do I like to be around this person?”

I believe that someone can know a lot about church planting and church growth but they are never going to be successful in planting a congregation or moving a church forward. Because ministry is really all about people, I have come to the conclusion that liking people and being able to have people like you is a necessary ingredient.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning being a people pleaser or helping the hearers to have “itching ears.” Rather, I am talking about how Jesus “grew in favor with God and man.” My reading of the Bible shows me that people liked being around Jesus.

It seems to me that we forget the obvious sometimes. God wants us to be a pleasing “aroma” to other people. We need to find ways to get into the lives of people and allow them to enjoy our personalities. How do we find ways to have people enjoy being around us?

We start allowing their interests to be ours. Have a sense of humor as the average person loves to laugh. Be ready to research areas that you might not already have so you can connect with other people. If possible, meet them at their workplace and take a tour of their office, factory, etc. Allow yourself to be somewhat vulnerable so they can see inside of you.

Remember, we are looking for the person of peace as we minister the gospel. We ought also to be the person of peace so people want to stay in our home and hang without us.

Taking a Look in the Mirror

Lamentations 3:40 says, “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” One of the most important elements of the Christian life is self-examination. Taking time to examine our church health is also very important.

I encourage churches to take a church health survey at least once a year. Currently, we are in the process of taking our churches through a congregational survey designed by Church Central. Every church that has taken the church health survey has been more healthy after the survrey process than before.

Why is it so important to diagnose church health? When is the last time you went to the doctor? Most people go to the doctor at least once a year. Regular check-ups are part of mainitaining physical health. We have our cars serviced on a regular basis. Taking a look at our church health on a regular basis, at least once a year, can also be very helpful.

Currently, our church health survey diagnoses six areas: ministry, discipleship, evangelism, worship, fellowship, and prayer. At least 15 percent of the congregation needs to complete the survey in order to obtain accurate results. The results come back in detailed formats and can be easily shared with the leadership of the congregation by e-mail.

Is God leading you to make adjustments in your church? How do you know which ones are the right ones to make? Pray about taking the church health survey in your church. Contact me to set up a time to talk about it more or let me know when you would like to go through the process. For more information, you can go to www.churchcentral.com.

Adapting To Fast Change

On July 4, 1776 King George of England wrote in his diary, “Nothing much happened today.” If King George lived in our world today he would have had a very hectic day. The Declaration of Independence would have been posted on the internet for all to view around the world. He and the politicians of England would have been scrambling to diffuse the Revolution taking place in America.

The fast paced world we live in requires us to adjust to change rapidly. I encourage you as church leaders to be on the lookout for the changes God wants you to make in your life and your ministry. Be encouraged that the tools at your disposal allow you to make effective use of the technology around you. Instead of being like King George, you can keep up with the very latest.

At the same time, God wants us to slow down enough to be in tune with Him and His will. My prayer is that you will be aware of the world around you and trusting in the God who made this world. With this combination you will be able to keep us with the change the Lord sends your way.

Planning Ahead For Next Summer

Summer misisonaries and summer misison teams are great ways for you to add energy to your church. At the same time, you can help young women and men fulfill the call that God has on their life. Right now is the time to act for next summer as most churches plan a year in advance. The deadline for requesting summer missionaries is August 1,2006.

To request mission teams, go to www.thebridge.namb.net and register your church. To obtain summer missionaries, you can call the North American Mission Board and talk to the Missionary Mobilization department.

What can mission teams do? Mission teams can help you with construction, sports camps, Vacation Bible School, Backyard Bible Clubs, drama, surveying, and a host of other projects. I encourage you to vist www.thebridge.namb.net and check out all the projects that are being done around the country.

A summer or semester misisonary can help strengthen a church. Many summer misisonaries work in the area of children’s ministry and youth ministry. There are a lot of other ministries that college students can help in your church. Because most college students are eager to serve, they bring a great deal of spiritual energy and excitement.

Please pray about what God may have you do next summer!

A Great Toolbox

One of the best web sites that has a lot offer for both a church planter and a pastor is The Church Planting Village found on www.churchplantingvillage.net. This web site contains a number of valuable tools for both church plants and existing churches. On this web site you obtain the nuts and bolts of how to set up church. You can get help with everything from working with the web site to setting up your consitution.

I encourage you to put this site on your Favorites list and to access it as you have need. Because there is so much involved in the organizaton of church, it is very helpful to have a site that contains so much and is free of charge.

Partnering Together for Greater Results

Partnership is a key element of our work in the Central Baptist Association. Whether you are a church in our associaiton or a church many miles away, please know that we welcome your partnership. There are three basic ways you can partner with us:

1. Prayer – We believe the work of God starts with the heart of God. Please be sure to put the churches of our the Central Association on your prayer list.

2. People – You can send people to us in the form of mission teams, summer missionaries, summer missionaries, Mission Service Corps personnel, church planters, and many other ways.

3. Provisions – You can give financially and tangibly to the work here. Because most of our churches in our the infancy stage, there are many resources needed.

Feel free to contact us in the office at 608-825-9946 to find out ways you can partner. May God bless you for your interest.

June 13 Update

I am starting this blog to make you aware of the move of God here in the Central Baptist Association here in Wisconsin.

Here are some news items taking place in the Central Baptist Association:

– Congratulations to Amanda and Derek Miller in the birth of their baby boy, Ethan.

– July 11th Officers’ meeting

-August 5th – Executive Board Meeting at Trinity Baptist in Reedsburg