Larry’s Lines. . . .
By Larry Murphy, Executive Director
Recently, I have been looking at both of our associations, Madison-Chester and Crockett, seeking direction from God as it concerns our health; asking myself where are the two associations—covering three counties—headed spiritually, financially, in growth through evangelism and in discipleship.
As I looked at statistics of other associations across our state, I found we are better than some and worse than others. I began to seriously pray and said to God that I don’t want to be compared to some other association or state convention criteria. My questions were, “God, what is it you want us to do? Let our actions and our commitment to you, God, stand for themselves regardless of others. Am I leading the association in the right path, and am I personally headed in the right direction?
Our strategy plan—now some years old and 85 to 90 percent complete—says we value missions, ministries, training, evangelism, pastor/staff support, and fellowship; and we prioritize church planting, communication, missions, ministries, and resources to the churches. I ask myself, “Do we really? Are we really concerned about taking the gospel to our world through church planting, missions, ministry and helping each individual church move forward in the gospel?
We still have churches calling pastors under the banner of “we want someone to lead us into the future.” Just don’t change anything we are already doing and don’t try anything new. Baptisms, giving, discipleship, Sunday School, missions are always a struggle and asking many churches to think of revitalization and to turn back to their first love, Jesus, is way too hard. Church revitalization is defined as a process by which a church plateaued or in decline is redirected toward a healthy and sustained:
1. Exaltation of Christ;
2. Proclamation of the gospel to the lost
3. Utilization of the Word for direction
4. Expression of God’s love in their communities.
We lack the courage and power to let go of the familiar.
Colossians 3:9-10 says, “You have given up your old way of life with its habits. Each of you is now a new person. You are becoming more and more like your creator.”
Someone said, “The more you do of what you are doing the more you get of what you got.” Change is a part of God’s plan, and we cannot become what He wants us to be by remaining the same. We have to allow the Potter to remake us and mold us into what He wants us to be.
I am praying for courage to be the leader I need to be for our associations, to encourage all of our pastors to lead, and all of our churches to have courage to stretch forward.
Deuteronomy 20:8 is a favorite verse of mine. It says, “Is anyone terrified? If you are go home before you frighten anyone else.” Believer, if you are terrified of moving yourself, your church, and the association forward for Christ, go home until you have courage, but do not hinder others from moving for God. Remember Joshua 1:9 tells us, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Could we commit to each other to be who God wants us to be and be that with all our heart?
Madison-Chester Association of Baptists
Administrative Team Meeting
Monday, July 9 • 10:30 a.m.
Crockett County Baptist Association
Executive Committee Meeting
Tuesday, July 10 • 7:00 p.m.
First Baptist Church, Alamo
Sunday School Leadership Training
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Meridian Baptist Church
161 Harts Bridge Road, Jackson, TN
Practical helps for leaders and teachers. Contact Mark Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.