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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Prayer Request

Prayer Request: Late yesterday afternoon, Phyllis Goodyear (ABC-IN/KY Region Ministry Staff) was involved in an automobile accident. Her injuries include six broken ribs and shattered tibia and fibula in her left leg. They were talking about transferring her from St. Francis to Methodist last night for further evaluation and surgery. Her sister, Jan has been right there with her. The thing they both need most right now is PRAYER. With so much going on, it’s difficult to talk with people right now, so I wanted to suggest that those that know Jan & Phyllis would send cards and notes to the Region Office (1350 N. Delaware St, Indpls, IN 46202) for us to deliver as the whirlwind settles. Please keep both Phyllis and Jan in your prayers.

Phyllis was here with us this past Sunday...

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Death of the Church

Acts 5 tells an interesting story about Ananias and Sapphira. This is the couple who sold a piece of property and agreed to withhold some of the proceed when they brought it to the disciples for distribution. Ananias was challenged by Peter, who explained that Ananias had not lied to him, but to God. The resulting revelation led to Ananias' death. Later his wife came in and met the same fate because she too could not be honest before God.

Now, as easy as this statement is to link to a story on tithing and stewardship before God, I also believe that its a lesson that the modern, established church would do well to remember and re-visit. I always wonder what made this unfortunate couple decide to withhold part of this gift. Were they worried? Scared? Selfish? Was there a lack of faith? In some ways I think all of these issues helped contribute to their foolish decision. Holding back from God, whatever part of ourself that we do whether financial, physical, or emotional seems to be a path that will lead us toward death.

And yet, I am afraid that this is exactly what some of our current churches do. Especially those "establishment" churches that have long and sometimes grand histories (at least in their opinion). There is an ongoing question being asked in the fellowships today of how to increase our membership. How can we get young people to come and support our local church. (This is true for other organizations as well, not just church.) I would offer that this question is closer to the thought process of Ananias and Sapphira, and is a dangerous question for a church to tolerate.

For what is at the heart of such a question: How can we get people come to church? Church seems to be the focus of this question, lifted up as the paramount goal of such a person/community. What is important in this question is the survival of the local church in whatever form the questioner perceives it. Most important to the questioner is the state of this "church". There is more to it than this, the questioner is also asking, "How can I get people to come and support something that is important to me so that they can help me preserve and extend this entity that is so important to me?" See the issue here?

This question reveals a self-interested goal. It exposes the selfish nature of survival. How can I preserve that which is important to me, and how can I convince others that this is so important that they should agree with me and work to help preserve it? Is there any wonder why this question is usually asked by a dying church. I believe this is a question that the contemporary Ananias would ask. Its hard to condemn such a question since it could that this comes out of one's own fear and concern for the local church. There is an aspect of love in trying to preserve something so important that others too might have a chance to respond to the blessings of church life.

So while I will indict the questioner for such a question, I will not indict the love they have for others. Yet we must come to understand the fruitless nature of such a conversation. Asking how others might come to help us runs contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ who came to serve and not be served. The Great Commission holds nothing in it about building large buildings and convincing others to help preserve them. Our call is to go and make disciples...

In the messages I have shared with our local church family I have invited them to turn the idea of bringing people to church on its head. Instead, we talk of bringing church to the people: to our families, our schools, our jobs, and our community. What we are really called to do is share this life changing love of God through Jesus Christ with those outside of our building. Our charge is to make this love known to people by caring for them, serving them, and thinking about them and their needs. A church who asks people to come to worship is revealing a selfish nature. A church who sends people out to care is living the gospel.

What would happen if our members were challenged to do something good for someone this week? Ask our bakers to bake a nice dessert or treat and deliver it to a neighbor for no other reason than to be neighborly? For us to offer a neighbor a helping hand even if it is something as simple as carrying in groceries for them, sweeping off a sidewalk, or making a delivering a casserole to a single mom and her family? And not to do so with an invitation to our church's service or with a tract about how to become a Christian- when we do this it makes the gift more about the giver than the gifted.

Its a simple piece to the puzzle but an important one. Let people know that they are important to God, loved by God, and that God has their best interests in mind.

When we ask people to come to our church. We ask them to believe a lie that we are more interested in them than our own self. This behavior, this mindset is what continues to paralyze and erode the established church.

And yet, we serve a God who specializes in resurrection. For every sin we make, every mistake we confess there always remains forgiveness and reconciliation. Though we might appear to be dying, the promise of Christ leads us to life in greater abundance. It is not too late to rescue this dying breed of church life. There is hope in the midst of decay that those who serve God will find life. But it will not be found in trying to rescue it out of death...life can only be found when we surrender it to our Savior.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

World Mission Conference returning to Greenlake, WI

Starting this year, American Baptist International Ministries (IM) will begin celebrating 200 years of global mission. “This is a remarkable occasion for IM. Not many mission agencies have been able to reach this milestone. We are indeed grateful for God’s leading and guidance during our 200-year history,” commented Reid Trulson, executive director. “We are honoring the past while moving forward into the future.”

IM’s overarching theme for the next three years is Mission to the Third Power or Mission3. U.S. and Puerto Rico churches, friends, missionaries, donors, ABC regional staff, volunteers and missionary partnership network members will begin seeing this theme on all IM materials starting in 2012. “We’re excited about Mission to the Third Power because it recognizes our missiology rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” commented Trulson.

IM’s 3-year bicentennial theme, Mission3, is a short hand way of expressing the following core ideas:

1. IM’s entrance into its third century of mission

2. The mission of our triune God

3. IM’s three-fold understanding of making disciples: helping people come to Christ, grow in Christ and change their worlds with Christ.

4. Three years of bicentennial celebrations, starting in 2012

5. Three mission foci: evangelism; health & healing; and anti-human trafficking

IM will kick off the three-year anniversary with a huge 7-day World Mission Conference (WMC) May 18 -25, 2012. After a six-year hiatus, the weeklong WMC is coming back to the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, WI. The 2012 conference, which will include a 3-day call retreat, focuses on discerning God’s call to Christian service and how to make that call a reality. The theme for 2012 is Mission3: Hear the Call. (For more information go to http://www.internationalministries.org/read/38513-may-2012-hear-the-call.)

The “Call Retreat” portion of the WMC will be an experience designed to help individuals consider and discern God’s call to ministry in an international and cross-cultural setting or right here in the U.S. in pastoral leadership of a local church or missional engagement in local church communities. “International Ministries is moving into an era of renewed, proactive efforts to cultivate missionary candidates and match them with the invitations and opportunities from our international partners,” notes IM Director of Recruitment Jim Bell. “We are looking forward to meeting and interacting with persons whom God might be calling to step out into faith into new ventures of service.”

Moving forward into 2013, IM will be providing information about significant celebrations in Myanmar (Burma). Baptists in Myanmar are inviting American Baptists to their country to share in bicentennial celebrations. 200 years ago in 1813, American Baptist missionaries Adoniram and Ann Judson arrived in Burma as the first Protestant missionaries from North America. They translated scripture, led people to faith and helped establish churches, schools and medical work in Burma. The Judson’s mission and work inspired many Americans to hear the call to support mission and to become missionaries. Their ministry 200 years ago was an early part of the remarkable movement of people throughout S.E. Asia becoming followers of Jesus.

In June 21-23, 2013, American Baptists in the U.S. and Puerto Rico will gather in Overland Park, KS for the ABC Biennial meeting. IM will bring its global missionary focus to the Biennial, celebrating the missionary service of Adoniram and Ann Judson under the theme of Mission3: Embrace the Cause!

The year 2014 will include a grand finale: all the American Baptist missionaries will be brought back to the U.S. for a national bicentennial World Mission Conference to celebrate IM’s founding 200 years earlier in 1814 as the “General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America, for Foreign Missions” and to launch us into our “third century” of global mission. The conference will be held July 19-26 at the Green Lake Conference Center in WI. The theme for 2014 will be: Mission3: Rise to the Challenge!

For more information, or to use your financial resources to contribute the bicentennial events, please email david.worth@abc-usa.org.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Covenant Sunday

This Sunday, January 29, we will be talking about what it means to be a covenant people. Based on the life of Abraham in Genesis 17 we will explore God's plan for Abraham and his family in our regular worship service at 10:45 a.m.

Immediately following worship we will head downstairs for a Crooked creek community pitch in luncheon. Please bring a covered dish to share as part of this meal. Special guest visitors from our Regional office will be with us to help us discuss our understanding of God's covenant with Crooked Creek Baptist and our purpose for ministry together.

We hope you will make every effort to attend this important meeting as much the future work of our church family will be developed in this meeting!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January 16- MLK, Jr Day of Service

We all know that the third Monday of every January is now a federal holiday! But don't use this as a day to take time off-- use it to take a day to serve! Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"

Why not turn this into a day of service in your local community or neighborhood? Want some ideas? Check out these tools at: http://mlkday.gov/plan/actionguides/foundation.php

At Crooked Creek Baptist we will be celebrating on January 15 the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the legacy of non-violent service he offered to this country!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January 29 Pitch In and Vision Casting

Remember that on Sunday, January 29 Crooked Creek Baptist will be focusing on its vision for our ministry into the future. Worship this day (and all month) will focus on this topic as we seek to discern God's call for our church family. Following worship on January 29 we will meet in the Fellowship Hall for a pitch in dinner, followed by a visioning meeting with some help from our Area Church Leaders to discuss how we might define and carry out God's vision for our community! We hope you will make every effort to attend this important day in the life of Crooked Creek Baptist!