Thursday, October 27, 2011

Asking Questions to Find God's Will

by Jim Hill

This past week I had the opportunity to meet with a leadership team as they sought to think strategically about their church's ministry for the coming year. What does God want to us to be and to do during the coming year? It was a wonderful evening as we shared about their church and its ministry. We spent most of the evening answering a series of questions. When I consult with churches and church leaders I often go with a list of questions. The questions grow out of an examination of the congregation's ministry and their community. Some of the questions we discussed included: What is different or unique about our church? How do people in the community talk about our church? How do our newest members describe our church? What do we do well? What has been our most successful ministry this past year? I always like to begin the discussion with an examination of successes and ministry strengths.

As we talked about their community and their ministry, I also asked questions designed to help the church leaders examine how they were impacting their community. How is our church like our community? How are we different? What major transitions have taken place in the last three years inside and outside our church? How are individuals and families being changed because of our ministry? How many church members have internalized our church's vision? How many church leaders have?

The futurist Joel Barker has posed a question which I have restated for churches. What is impossible or seems impossible to do today, but if it could be done would fundamentally change our ministry for the better? Sometimes it is difficult for us to envision the future. It is hard to know what God wants us to be and to do? We may need help in learning to think creatively about our ministry and the future. God specializes in taking ordinary people and accomplishing extraordinary things for his kingdom. He specializes in the impossible.

For many congregations, one of the most strategic questions is what are we going to quit doing? Baptists are far better at starting new ministries than they are at turning loose of those which are no longer effective. When we attempt to everything we deplete our resources, spread ourselves too thin, and often end up with ineffective ministries. We also wear our members and leaders out. In order to free up time, energy, and resources for new ministries and opportunities, churches must be willing to turn loose of old ministries and programs which may no longer be meeting the needs they once did. Change is incredibly difficult. It is particularly difficult for churches. It is so easy to become locked in the traditions and comforts of the past, but God’s Spirit is dynamic and alive. He is always working in fresh and exciting ways. The challenge is to see his hand at work and to be willing to turn loose of our plans so we can join him in his work. What does your church want to be when you grow up? What does God want you to be? I encourage you to start asking questions about your church and your ministry? Maybe God will give you a fresh glimpse of his plans for you.

You can contact Jim Hill, Churchnet Executive Director, at (888) 420-2426, ext. 705 or

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Baptist Covenant II in St. Louis

In November, Baptists will gather at various locations, including St. Louis, for a time of worship, ministry, fellowship, and missions. In 2008, about 15,000 Baptists from different denominations and ethnicities gathered in Atlanta for the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. Churchnet leaders were involved in helping plan the gathering. The following year, Churchnet helped host a regional gathering, the Baptist Border Crossing, in Kansas City. Next week, the second national event will take place at several locations across the nation, with St. Louis being one of the places to join this exciting gathering.

The 2011 New Baptist Covenant will be occurring on November 17-19, and will take place in St. Louis at St. Luke Memorial Baptist Church, located at 3623 Finney Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63113. We hope you will make plans to join this exciting event!

The New Baptist Covenant, which began on April 10, 2006 by former U.S. President and prominent Baptist layman Jimmy Carter and Mercer University President Bill Underwood, is an informal alliance of more than 30 racially, geographically, and theologically diverse Baptist organizations from throughout North America that claim more than 20 million members. Representatives of these Baptist organizations have reaffirmed traditional Baptist values, including sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications for public and private morality, as well as their obligations as Christians to fulfill the biblical mandate to promote peace with justice, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick and the marginalized, and promote religious liberty and respect for religious diversity.

The schedule of the New Baptist Covenant St. Louis will include the following:
Thursday November 17, 2011
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm: A Worship Service that is open to the General Public.
Friday, November 18, 2011
8:00-9:45 am - "Beneath the Skin" Conversations about the Bible and Racism
10:00 am - 11:00 am: A Conversation with former President Jimmy Carter, Bob Abernathy, Dee Dee
Coleman, and Wendell Griffen (to be held via simulcast from Atlanta).
2:00-4:00 pm - Various breakout sessions addressing community concerns, such as HIV education/ministry, the culture of youth violence, and ministry efforts among foreign born national populations.
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm: A second Worship service that is open to the General Public, with speakers to include Carroll Baltimore, Tony Campolo, and Marian Wright Edelman.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
A Day of Service within the community (specific sites and service projects to be determined).

For more information, please view the New Baptist Covenant St. Louis website at or the national New Baptist Covenant website at You may contact the New Baptist Covenant St. Louis team at, or 314-531-1978.

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