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Did that title grab your attention? If it did, then I did my job. I am an old marketing guy, remember that. Thus, I know that the title of a sermon, article, blog post, tag line, etc. must be catchy in order to grab and lure people to read your stuff.

This is why we exist. What am I talking about? The Church. I’m talking about the Church of Jesus Christ. So, do you know why we exist? We exist to go and share the Gospel. These are our marching orders:

Matthew 28:19-20

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.”

Sadly, 51% of church goers have no clue that what you just read is the Great Commission.

That’s so sad that I can’t even comment on it. My question is: Are you going? I ask myself: Is our church going? If not, why not? We’ve got to be “going” folks…in everything we do! I’m talking about seeing your life, your marriage, your career, your home, your hobbies…EVERYTHING as ways to leverage the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the life of others. Use what you have and where you are to reach people. And here’s the thing…if it’s not happening in your church, then you should go somewhere that is reaching out.

The truth is: most churches “tithe to themselves,” as I’ve heard it stated. They give to themselves in how they spend money. They do stuff for them…not, the people outside the walls of the church.

Believe me…I think about this a lot. As a pastor, I think about, “Kevin, what are we doing as a church to reach people?” In other words, I’m thinking about what the motive is in each ministry and program of the church. And here’s the truth: If it’s not reaching people for Jesus, we need to ask ourselves…why in the world are we doing it?

Now, I say all of that to say how thankful I am for MPBC. No, our church isn’t perfect…far from it. Because we have non-perfect people attending it. But, I do believe we have a desire to reach people. And as I look at our annual church calendar, I see that in the things that we plan and do. We are trying to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus and we seek to bring them into the body and train them for works of ministry. In other words, it’s my job to teach and equip people to be Gospel-sharing people. We’ve got to be making disciples. And that must start in our homes and then spoke out into the world into every area of our lives (work, hobbies, buying groceries, you name it).

This past weekend we had 1,307 people go through the doors to watch and experience our annual Passion Play. It was incredible! The weather was tough in that we were dodging snow flakes and sleet, but we were able to do three of the four showings. And we still had 1,307 people! Crazy!

Now, anyone who knows me at all knows that I don’t have people repeat a prayer after me and then “crown someone saved” by snapping my fingers and doing that kind of invitation. But, like the Apostle Peter at Pentecost, I give people an opportunity to pray in their own words and receive Jesus and then follow-up with us (the Elders/Pastors of the church). With that said, we had in the neighborhood of three dozen people who made professions of faith with triple that of folks who said they were believers, who prayed to recommit their lives to a closer, more dedicated walk with Jesus. That’s astounding! Truly it was and is amazing to see how the Holy Spirit moves when the depiction of all that Jesus did for us is displayed on a stage.

Here are some of the pictures of those scenes and the preparation and work that went into the play.

I can’t tell you how much this brings our church together to attempt to do something for the Lord that’s much bigger than all of us! It involves over 180 people. It brings wonderful camaraderie.

Praise the Lord for all that He accomplished!

What’s next? Our Community Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday at 2 pm.

Yep! We’re hiding 10,000 Easter Eggs and we’re going to use it to share the Gospel. We’ll start out in the church, where we’ll gather everyone up to share the resurrection and then to the field to hunt those eggs. The truth is: there will be a lot of folks who will bring their kids to hunt Easter Eggs with candy in them that perhaps would never come to church the next day, Easter Sunday, for service. So, we GO! That’s right…we GO and get outside of the walls and compel them to come in…even with Easter Eggs.

What’s after that? Our Soccer League (Saturdays from April 14th through May 19th).

Again, folks might bring their kids to play soccer and hear the Gospel on a field, who may never come to a church service. That’s “GOING” and that’s reaching out. And it’s a ton of work and it takes a ton of people to pull all of this off. I’m so thankful for a church that wants to GO! Again, we’re not perfect…but, we’re trying and we’re praying the Lord will continue to have favor on us and anoint these efforts for His kingdom and His glory.

Might I say that we also have another team heading to Mexico/Texas this Saturday. They are going to be placing the windows in the second floor of the church in Progreso, Mexico and sharing the Gospel in Weslaco, TX. Pray for them, would you please!

I celebrated my 50th birthday yesterday and the day before, 3.27, we celebrated the fact that 12 years ago was “Gotcha Day” in China for this little girl:

Look at her now…

Where has the time gone? Thank you Lord for our dear, sweet Clara! You ordained it that we would have the privilege of raising her! What a blessing!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “You Can’t Be Neutral About This…”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytjNW42MzZ3P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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We know God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. We know that He is Sovereign over all. We know that He has a plan for all of our lives. And we know His will is perfect for our lives. But, how often do we really feel like we’re “in the will of God?” My great-uncle once told me, “Kevin, I feel like every now and again I my life sweeps across the will of God, but all too often, I didn’t realize it until I was out of His will again.” You’ll get a hearty Amen from me on that! It’s not that I feel I’m walking in the path of sinners, but it’s kind of like hitting a golf ball. You’ve really got to tag that little ball in the sweet spot of the club before it will really take off. You can be close to the sweet spot, but still shank it right into a pond.

Well, I believe I’ve witnessed the will of God quite a bit lately. Three examples I can give you that I really believe I’ve seen the hand of the Lord moving and working. And they just happened to all occur on the same weekend.

Many of you know I went to Texas and Mexico over the weekend of January 20-21. Andrew went with me. He’s a joy to be with (and I mean that…not just because he’s my boy…but, he truly is a good kid). This is us on the plane…

God’s beauty…

He loved the Mexican “Coca Cola.” Honestly, they do seem to taste sweeter and are more stout! 🙂

Andrew was so inspired being in Mexico that we’ve pulled out our Rosetta Stone and he’s learning some more Spanish.

We were there for this…

Can you make that out?

  • Baptist Church
  • Mount
  • Pleasant
  • MPBC
  • Fund Independent

They renamed their church after our church to thank us for the 9 years of work we’ve done to help build the church. What a joy!

This is Pastor Oscar and his wife Miriam and their boys, Oscarito and Eli.

What a wonderful family! Pastor Oscar and Miriam were planted by this couple…

Pastor Lupe Garcia and his wife. They are from Rio Bravo, about 45 minutes away. Oscar and Miriam went to Progreso on faith and saw the need for a church there. Progreso is a border town and there are tons of US visitors. The need for a church was great and Pastor Oscar said he’d go.

It was a great service!

This is the original group that grew from Pastor Oscar and Miriam’s work.

Oh how I love these people! We had a great time of celebration afterward upstairs (what we have helped build over the last three years)…

See those holes in the walls? We’ll be helping to put windows in those holes and to stucco the walls and ceiling. Lot’s to do this “mission season.” It’s gratifying to see all of this. It’s also gratifying to see MPBC here at home who loves people so much that we’re willing to work, raise money, sacrifice and give for the work of the kingdom and our brothers and sister in Progreso. Thank you MPBC! I believe it’s one of the main reasons the Lord has blessed us so much as a church.

Well, that’s #1. Blessing #2…

See these people…

That’s Pastor Jason and Katie Church and their wonderful boys, Caleb (beside of Jacob), Wesley (beside of Andrew) and Liam (on the end of the table next to Katie). What a wonderful family! They’ve been in Weslaco for almost 6 years. They have been serving the Lord in building a church called “Church of No Walls” and being the caretakers of our properties (MPBC) in Weslaco, for teams to come down and work in TX/MX from our church and others. They’ve done a fantastic job!

We’ve been praying for Pastor Jason and their church! We’ve helped to establish a storefront church on Texas Blvd, (Main Street), Weslaco.

They’ve been working so hard to grow the church and reach the people of Weslaco. We’ve been praying with them and for them as they seek to reach the community. Now take a look at this church…

That’s New Life Baptist Church on 6th Street in Weslaco (two streets over from Main Street). See this man with Jason…

That’s Pastor Manny Portillo. Pastor Dale Jennings and I Skyped with Pastor Jason and Pastor Manny several weeks ago. Pastor Manny is the current pastor of New Life Baptist Church. Yet, Pastor Manny came to Pastor Jason (they’ve known each other for several years) and said, “Jason, I believe the Lord has told me to come ask you to come and lead the church: New Life Baptist. You see, Manny is also a chaplain for Hospice and his job is so busy that there are times he is called out on Sunday mornings and can’t preach at the church. He is unable to keep office hours or really be there for the people. Pastor Manny knew of Jason’s work and Manny went to his leadership and said, “I believe Jason is the man for our church.”

The leadership met and take a look…

Jason is now serving as one of the pastors along with the Music Pastor, Steve Chamblin. This is pastor Steve…

The church was one of the first four churches established in Weslaco. This sign is outside of the church…

Here’s some of the old history photos of the church in the early 1920’s-30’s…

Unfortunately, over the years, the church had dwindled down to just six people. Those six knew they had to do something. They asked Pastor Manny to help them and he did. He along with those good people grew the church as far as they could take it. But again, Pastor Manny’s job keeps him so busy that he can’t do all that he wants to do and needs to do. So, Pastor Manny and New Life is looking to Pastor Jason to help the church to go to the next level.

Well, I was there and I saw just how much the people love Pastor Jason and Katie and their family!

Jason is filling the pulpit now…

Katie is part of the Praise Team…

Jason is keeping office hours four days a week from 9 am – 2 pm. Here’s his office…

Now someone is at the church to help meet the needs of the people. Talk about a shot in the arm to the church! What a blessing! And oh…the church is so nice. Those six folks sacrificed so much to keep it all going. And there is no debt on any of the buildings or property!

It’s beautiful!

It can hold over 400 people…

Here’s the kitchen…

It has a large field…

A beautiful gym with stage (I took the picture from the stage).

They had a movie night last Wed. night in the gym and showed the film via a screen from the stage. I was able to attend Sunday School and hear the people gush over Pastor Jason and all he is doing for the church.

I know that at least three, possibly four of the people in that SS class were of the original six that I mentioned earlier. But, here’s what I’m really thankful for…

Lives are being touched…

What a blessing! And in case you are wondering, nothing changes with the work with MPBC. We see this as a God-send! We are excited as a church (MPBC) to partner with New Life. And New Life is so excited to have Church of No Walls and their folks join them. The New Life folks said they see MPBC as another way of reaching people in the Weslaco area! Oh how I love seeing God’s hand! He’s working folks! Believe me! It’s amazing to see! Brothers and sisters in North Carolina, Texas and Mexico working together!

Blessing #3…

Andrew and I go to the airport on Sunday after church and lunch to prepare for our trip home and I’m so excited to listen to my niece, Leah Church and the Carolina TarHeels play Duke. At the airport I was able to get wifi and watch the final quarter (and the eventual overtime) on my phone. Andrew and I were going nuts! Carolina was down to the Blue Devils by 19 points, but came all the way back to tie. Leah was popping three-pointers all over the place. She ended up with five three’s for the game and she hit two monster 3’s in overtime to ice the game.

I was so happy that I was almost crying! (Actually I did wipe away a tear or two.) Why? Because Leah has worked so hard to get to this point in her life.

And she gave all the glory to Jesus Christ. You can read about that here in this article in the Daily TarHeel. It’s a great article about Leah and team and the huge comeback that was truly amazing! It’s titled “Take Me to Church.” (Gotta love that title!)

http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2018/01/church-wbbside-0121

What a fantastic and amazing weekend Andrew and I experienced. All in God’s amazing timing!

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “What Happens When Things Go UNRESOLVED.”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytod3MzczZ2P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

I also want to tell you how thankful I am for this young lady…

I can’t believe I’ve got another daughter in her 20’s! Kandace turned 20 on Sunday! Man am I feeling old! I’m so proud of this young lady!

She loves her family…

and the Lord…

and she works hard at her job at Cook’s…

for her students at the dance studio…

and she’s a pretty fantastic lady any way you look at her! I’m a blessed man!

Happy Birthday Kandace! I love you with all my heart!

Kevin

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I had a conversation with a young man last week and he made a comment to me that struck me when describing what he was learning at our church. He said, “You talk with God. I think I talk at God.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “I guess I’ve just never seen how we can actually talk to God throughout the day.” He continued, “I think a lot of Christians only know how to talk at God.”

That conversation has caused me to pause and think…

  • Talking with God
  • Talking at God

The word “with” and the word “at” are both prepositions.

AT
  1. expressing location or arrival in a particular place or position.
  2. expressing the time when an event takes place.

Think about that. When we talk AT God, we are simply expressing our location and we’ve arrived. But, that’s all one-sided isn’t it? “I’m here God! Get ready to listen and bless!”

WITH

  1. accompanied by (another person or thing).
  2. possessing (something) as a feature of accompaniment.

See the difference? When we talk WITH God we’re accompanying Him. We actually possess time and space with Him. How about that? Amazing! Occupying time and space WITH the God of the universe! Wow!

What’s the dynamic of talking WITH God? In other words, how do we talk WITH God? Well, that would be through Jesus Christ. That’s why He came. Initially humankind had the joy and privilege of walking with God in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden, but we lost that joy, when we chose pleasure and knowledge over obedience. The “Fall” in the Garden cost us the ability to walk and talk with God. Now, our way of communication is via prayer, but that prayer must be delivered through the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you understand that prayers to God will not make it above the ceiling if they don’t come by way of Jesus Christ? He is our intermediary. He is our High Priest. We go through Him.

A man asked me years ago, “Does God hear all prayers.” I answered, “Yes, God hears all prayers…but, He’s only obligated to answer the prayers of those who have accepted His Son as their Lord and Savior.” Yes, God hears all prayers in that He knows all. He is omniscient. Yet, to say that God is beholden to answer the prayer of a person who has rejected His Son, Jesus Christ, would be absurd, and most importantly, unbiblical.

Back to the conversation with the young man… I listened to him intently. “I think a lot of Christians only know how to talk at God.” Have we gotten to a place as Christians that we only “talk at God,” and not “talk with God?” Is it possible to live our lives as believers and not really talk to God…hardly ever? Could it be, as American believers, that we actually live through the spiritual lives and journey of our spiritual leaders (pastors, Christians authors, teachers, etc.)? Could it be that the majority of American Christians haven’t talked WITH God in weeks or months or years.

Oh yes…we’ve talked AT God. We tell Him all the things we need and want Him to do. We rush through the prayer getting ready for work or driving to work, as we change the channels on the radio. We talk at God when we breathe a quick prayer before we drift off to sleep or before we gobble down a meal. Can I get a witness? I’m talking about me! I’m talking about going through the motions and believing this lie: “Who are you? Do YOU actually think YOU can talk with God? God doesn’t talk to people like YOU! He talks to people like Billy Graham, not YOU!” Believe me…I’ve had those thoughts and still do. And it’s easy to listen to the lies of Satan. After all, Satan doesn’t want us to commune with the God of the universe. There’s power in that! He wants to keep us powerless and praying powerless prayers. Just going through the motions…obligated petitions that are offered in dutiful monotony, but never expecting to hear from God.

When is the last time God spoke to you? No, I’m not talking about an audible communication from God. But, I’m talking about in your spirit…when is the last time you recognized the voice of the Lord and felt the weight and the power of His still small voice? You see, I’m convinced that young man is right. We do a whole lot of talking AT God and not WITH God. To talk WITH someone intimates a two-way communication. It’s not a one-way deal. I appreciate the fact that the young man said he was learning how to talk with God at our church. And I’ll be honest…at times, I feel I am talking WITH God…but, it’s so easy to get busy and get back into the rut of just talking AT God. That happens when I believe my schedule is more important than the Lord of the universe. It’s my fault, not His. I take Satan’s bait and I hurry through the praying or just don’t pray at all. Oh…I say the words…but, am I really praying, or just reciting my grocery list of “wants?”

I want to talk WITH God. I truly do, but it takes intentionality and it takes longer than 30 seconds standing at the Kurig waiting for my cup of coffee. Can the Lord talk to me as I pull the cup from the coffee maker and the pop tart from the toaster? Sure! But, is it likely? Is it likely that in my business that I’m in a position to be still long enough before the Lord to actually listen? That’s the talking WITH God part that is so easy to neglect. I give Him the list…but, do I listen. It’s when I listen that I enter the realm of talking WITH God and recognize His voice.

My encouragement for us all? Slow down. Slow down to talk WITH God. We’ll be the better for it and our lives will be fuller for the effort.

I really enjoyed Christmas with my families. Pam and Clara are still in China. They go to the orphanage tomorrow (tonight our time) to see where Clara was from. We never got to see the orphanage when we adopted her. We actually received her at a hotel conference room. Here’s the report about her. This is all we knew about her when we adopted her.

Growth Report of Xue Fu Mei  Xue Fu Mei, female, born on April 5th of 2005, was picked up at Wuxue City 16 Qinglin Rd. (the entrance of the third hospital of the city) on April 12th of 2005. At that time she was wearing a pink cotton-padded hat, a white cotton-padded jacket, and red cotton-padded pants. She was wrapped with a pink baby quilt. There was a birthday note with her. Wuxue City Qinglin police substation searched hard for the baby’s birth parents and other guardian. Since they couldn’t find them, they determined her as a foundling and sent her to our institute to be raised till today. 

According to her birthday note we determined her birthday to be April 5th of 2005 and named her Xue Fu Mei. Xue sounds the same as the “Xue” in Wuxue. Fu is the first character of Social Welfare Institute (Fu Li Yuan). Mei means beauty. At enrollment her head circumference was 35 cm (13.8 inches), her chest circumference was 35 cm (13.8 inches), her length was 50 cm (19.7 inches) cm, and her weight was 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs).

Since enrollment Fu Mei has been raised in her foster family. Her health condition is good all the times. She never had contagious disease. She has received BCG Vaccine, Hepatitis B, DTaP, Polio, and vaccine for epidemic meningitis.

Fu Mei receives good care in her foster family. Her health condition is good. Her appetite is good too. At first 2 months Fu Mei ate well and slept well. She was obedient. She could grasp the object in her palm. She could tell brightness from darkness. She could stop crying temporarily when she heard bell ringing. She could raise her head momentarily when she was lying on stomach. 

At 3 months Fu Mei became more sensible obviously. She babbled when she was happy. She recognized people around her. When an adult talked to her she stared at his mouth and smiled. When you made a face to her or when you tickled her, she would smile. 

At 4 months she liked playing with her hands. Occasionally she sucked her finger. She could pull her clothes up to the face or grab things nearby. She could differentiate familiar people from strangers. She liked when her “mother” took her outside to get sunbath. She was very curious. She could pronounce “b, p, m” sounds. She liked to “communicate” with people. She liked when others played with her. If you gave her something, she would touch it and put it into mouth to bite. 

At 5 months we started to add supplements, like egg, noodle, porridge, and vegetable soup etc. to her diet gradually. She grew fast. She could stand with support under arms. 

At 6 months she could sit steadily. She could hold the milk bottle. She tried to get an object in front of her purposely. But when she reached the second object, she abandoned the first one. She could imitate saying “baba”, “mama” etc. She liked tearing a piece of paper. 

At 7 months her hands and feet moved swiftly. She could pinch small beans etc. She could feed herself a cracker. She liked sitting in a walker and learning to walk. 

Now Fu Mei can crawl. She turns her head when you call her name. She understands adult’s expression. She can stand momentarily holding onto objects. When she sees familiar people she will ask to be held and smile to them. If she sees something she likes she will crawl over to get it or stretch her hand asking for it. If you ask for something from her she will give it to you. Now her head circumference is 44 cm (17.3 inches), her chest circumference is 43 cm (16.9 inches), her length is 68 cm (26.8 inches), and her weight is 9.5 kg (20.9 lbs). She has 4 teeth.

Fu Mei has a good appetite. Now her major food is milk and rice cereal. Her supplements are egg, noodle, and porridge. She drinks 170 ml (5.75 ounces) of milk each time. She drinks 4 times a day at 7:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 5:30 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. Her daily schedule is: She gets up at 6:30 a.m. She takes naps at 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. She goes to bed at 8:30 p.m. Fu Mei has a moderate sleep. Usually she defecates after getting up in the morning. She may urinate at any time.

Fu Mei is gentle, quiet and restless. She likes playing with toys. If you take away the toys she likes, she will cry. She is very surprised and excited about new things. She can be quite concentrated. She likes when her “mother” holds her strolling through streets and watching vehicles passing by. She is a lovely child.

Dean’s Signature:      Wuxue City Social Welfare Institute

Now look at this girl…

This is Dottie Windsor, whom Pam and Clara traveled with on the “Heritage Tour.”

Dottie is from a different orphanage, but nearby to Clara’s. This is Pam and Dottie’s mother, Robyn Windsor.

Pam and Clara could have never done this trip without Robyn and her husband Frank. Get this…Frank and Robyn have two biological children, but they’ve adopted SEVEN children from China. Yes, you read that correctly! Seven! They are some of the nicest and most godly people I’ve ever met or known. Frank is 6′ 7″ and loves sports. We have a lot in common! Here’s Frank…

He is COO, Rinnai America (tankless water heaters). Thank you Frank and Robyn for making all of this happen! We love you!

Yes…no doubt about it…I miss Pam and Clara so much! Andrew, Kandace and I are looking forward to picking them up in Charlotte at 9:34pm on Saturday night. After two weeks…it seems like two months!

Here is this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday:  “How NOT To Handle Family Conflict: IGNORING IT”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytybTd4Zno3P2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

By the way…a weather note…

We’ve had 80 hours of below freezing temperatures. Since Sunday morning at 2am. The coldest so far at my house was 2.3 degrees on Tuesday morning. It’s possible we don’t get above freezing today. It’s 28 degrees right now. We’ll see. Here’s the thing… if we stay below freezing today, we aren’t forecast to get above freezing until Sunday afternoon!! That would be around 168 hours (over a week below freezing). I’m almost 50 years old. I’ve never seen it this cold this long. And guess what..,the same people who said it would never get cold again because of “Global Warming” are the same ones who will blame this on “Global Warming.” But you can’t have it both ways folks! 😀 What we are seeing are the normal fluctuations of the Lord’s earth.
Yep, it’s snowing in Charleston and Myrtle Beach! How about that!

Kevin

 

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That’s a picture of the marker indicating Mount Pleasant Baptist Church was established in 1875. That’s 142 years ago. That’s only 10 years after the end of the Civil War. Needless to say, the church has been around a long time. I love this artwork of Ivo Dean McGee, who is now with the Lord:

That was the church in 1875 when we started. A handful of men from the community started the church and look at what we are today…

Could they have imagined such a place? When I was a boy…this is how the church looked in 1974 when I was six years old…

Times sure have changed in the last 142 years. Here’s the total campus now…

The building at the top right is the old church, (we now call the Prayer Chapel) and the building attached to it making an “L” shape was built in 1960. It’s the administrative office building and houses the old fellowship hall on the ground floor. The building at the back of the Prayer Chapel, which has the drive-thru attached, was completed in 1996. I was the chairman of the building committee for that project. In fact, in 1992, as a wet-behind-the-ears 24-year old, I was named chairman of a committee called the Long Range Planning Committee that would eventually become that Building Committee. We built the Reach Center as the multi-purpose facility that it is and moved into it on July 6, 2006 that’s in the foreground of the picture to the left.

It still blows my mind that we average (year-to-date) over 600+ in attendance with three services each week. I remember as a boy when we had goals for High Attendance Sunday set at 100.

Now, I say all of that to share some things I read recently from Thom Rainer and LifeWay Research. This is Thom:

He’s a phenomenal researcher and I want you to see his study about churches and whether or not they’ll survive. Here’s his study research:

The Study encompassed 1,000 randomly selected churches with available data for 2013 and 2016. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%. (If you’re not a numbers nerd that means this data is incredibly accurate.) The possible weakness of this study is that it only includes churches of my denomination (Southern Baptist).

We took this path because we have a gold mine of data. I do believe, however, this data can be a good approximation of evangelical churches, and a rough approximation of all Protestant churches in North America. We used average worship attendance as our metric rather than church membership. We found:

  • 56 percent (not 80%) of churches are declining.
  • 9 percent of churches are plateaued.
  • 35 percent of churches are growing.

Over 61 percent of churches average fewer than 100 in worship attendance. But if your church has fewer than 100 in worship, it is likely to be a declining church. In fact two out of three of these small churches are declining. There is a direct correlation with the rate of decline in a church and the size of the church. Simply stated, the smaller the church, the greater the rate of decline in attendance. Perhaps these three statements will clarify my point:

  • A declining church with an attendance of 200 or more declines at a rate of 4 percent each year.
  • A declining church with an attendance of less than 100 declines at a rate of 7.6 percent per year.
  • A declining church with an attendance of less than 50 declines at a rate of 8.7 percent a year.

It’s a death spiral. Declining smaller churches decline much more rapidly than larger churches. Once the declining church goes below 100 in attendance, its days are likely numbered. Here is the sad summary statement of the research: Once a church declines below 100 in worship attendance, it is likely to die within just a few years. The life expectancy for many of these churches is ten years or less. Here are some surprising discoveries from this research:

  • If a church is growing, it is highly likely to be growing faster than the community in which it is located. In fact, 91 percent of the growing churches are outpacing the growth of the community. That is a huge number! And it’s really good news if we can move our churches from decline to growth.
  • Growth and evangelistic effectiveness are not limited to any one geographic area. To the contrary, we saw a very low correlation between the geographic region and evangelistic effectiveness. I see such information as very hopeful, because it tells us that demographics and geographic location are not usually limitations for churches.
  • We can no longer use membership in our metrics for churches. It does little good to use membership as a metric in most studies of large numbers of churches. Many churches have bloated membership rolls filled with missing and deceased members. Other churches don’t bother to even measure membership at all. This reality forces us to use worship attendance as our base metric. It is the most common and, usually, the most accurate metric churches keep.

 Here are the summary metrics:

  • 31.8% of churches are growing, and they are growing faster than their respective communities.
  • 61.0% of churches are declining or plateaued, and they are declining more rapidly than their respective communities.

We surmise the following: Culture is not causing churches to compromise. Churches are compromising and culture is saying it’s okay. The way you bring people into a church will show them the expected commitment level for the future. You must have introductory or perspective new member meetings.

  • Regular church attendance has waned in recent years as the commitment level of members continues to drop.
  • Leaders in the church set the example of commitment for the rest of the church. In other words, if leaders in your church sporadically show up, the rest of the members will see that and follow suit.
  • Unfortunately, there are a significant number of Christians who no longer see church attendance as important.

Our conclusions as to why they don’t see it as important:

  1. The importance of the local church in the community has been minimized.
  2. We worship the idols of activities.
  3. We take a lot of vacations and play a lot of sports.
  4. We do not have high expectations of our members.
  5. We make infrequent attendees leaders in our churches.

However, We are encouraged to say that once a church has a turnaround from decline to growth, the outlook becomes very positive. We pray for our churches and their health.

Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Is the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. Thom has a Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

That’s some good information. And here’s some interesting information from our church clerk, Amber Edmiston:

According to our Chronological Membership Roll

Increase in Members Per Year from 2007 to 2017 (10/1-9/30)

’07-28                         ’12-42                         ’17-60

’08-46                         ’13-95                         Total = 607/11 years = 55.2 people per year

’09-66                         ’14-70

‘10-63                         ’15-49

‘11-36                         ’16-52

That’s pretty amazing! And it shows the hand of God on us. Will it continue? Only God knows. I promise you these three guys are going to keep working hard, praying hard and trusting in Jesus…

Thanks be to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Kevin

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It’s summer and it’s hot! It’s also really busy! For me this season of the year is loaded. From VBS to all the committee meetings, planning for the new year, budgeting, etc. And on top of that, we’ve had so much sickness and death in the church. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in 12 years here. That’s how it goes. There are seasons of time for all of us. There are peaks and valleys. We all like the mountaintop experiences, but if you’ve ever climbed a mountain, you know you don’t stay on top long. You have to come down. But, the Lord is faithful and He sustains us in all things. You know that to be true don’t you. I sure do. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He’ll be with us until the end of time. Praise the name of Jesus!

I’m heading out for Nashville tomorrow. Kandace and Clara are once again involved in FASA (Fine Arts Summer Academy) at Lipscomb University in Nashville. The Academy is hosted by the Annie Moses Band. It’s a wonderful and busy time for them as they continue to polish and hone their singing and playing skills for the Lord.

I’m so proud of my children, (and I mean that in a non-boasting way). Quoting 3 John 4 says it all for me: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” No one’s kids are perfect, but I’m thankful for mine and for their talents and most of all for the fact that they have given their lives to the Lord and are seeking Him.

Katy wrote a blog post early this week that thrilled my heart. I’m glad Pam and I taught her at least one thing that was good. 🙂 Take a look…

THE LOST ART OF KIND GESTURES

There was a time when people stopped everything, even when it was completely inconvenient to come to the aid of a friend or an acquaintance or even a stranger. I’ve noticed since entering the world of adulthood that a lot of that mentality isn’t there like I thought it was. Interestingly – though not surprisingly – it seems that the older generation is the most likely to serve and sacrifice even when they know they won’t get anything in return.

In churches it’s most fascinating. Being completely honest, it’s amazing to watch millennials and some of generation X and their (our) lack of passion to be there for others. We are one way on social media… sweet and supportive in comments and statuses, hoping other will think that is how we are in real life. But are we?

My mom and dad tried to not only teach, but demonstrate a lifestyle of serving others. Sometimes I was on board and other times I was annoyed. I did not understand why I had to help mom clean up the house to have over company. I was too immature to realize it was a young couple coming over with their three young children, new to our church, looking for encouragement desperately. Mom was always organizing a children’s event at church, or directing a Christmas play, while dad was on the phone with a couple on the brink of divorce, sharing Scripture that would save their marriage. They had us working in the kitchen pouring drinks, making soup, delivering food to the elderly. We made our little allowances and were reminded to give out of them.

I say this not to brag, because many other families have done the same. It should be normal. Is it? Not really anymore. We say, “We just want to put our family first and if we have time we can give to our church and our community.” But one of the greatest ways to love our children is by helping them love others.

And my generation is the worst with the “consumer mentality.” We were raised to take the easy road and “find yourself” and do whatever is best for YOU. At the time it sounded like a nice idea, until all the bratty kids grew up. They’ll come to every event that’s free, but won’t lift a finger to volunteer. It’s easy to look godly and sacrificial on Facebook and in Instagram pictures, but when it’s ugly, dirty work that takes rolling up your sleeves and helping, serving, loving deeply… it’s not so glamorous. I remember a time when my favorite way to serve God was being on stage leading worship. I still enjoy it, but right now I get the greatest blessings out of doing the unseen. I never thought I would say that. This is something I’ll learn more about throughout my whole life, I’m sure.

I’m no master and who doesn’t like attention? We all do to some extent! But let’s take a step back and just learn to be generous again. So I encourage you, take the meal, send the note, hug the elderly lady. Do all the stuff no one sees, that you don’t get paid for. Great is your reward in heaven, but the feeling of pure joy down here is pretty great too. 

You’re 100% correct my dear daughter!!

You know I love statistics. I read this at Barna Research the other day. Not surprising…

Southern cities top the list of Most Churched Cities, but the fog of liberalism is drifting from the north and the west and we must continue to be on guard to teach and preach the truth of God’s Word, not man’s ways. See that here…

And to think that the northeast was where this nation started. It was in the northeast that we found the most dedicated Christians when this nation was founded. Are you curious what “Post-Christian” means? Well, here’s the metrics for the study by Barna Research:

Post-Christian Metrics
To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet nine or more of the following factors . “Highly post-Christian” individuals meet 13 or more of the factors (out of these 16 criteria).

  • Do not believe in God
  • Identify as atheist or agnostic
  • Disagree that faith is important in their lives
  • Have not prayed to God (in the last week)
  • Have never made a commitment to Jesus
  • Disagree the Bible is accurate
  • Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
  • Have not attended a Christian church (in the last 6 months)
  • Agree that Jesus committed sins
  • Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
  • Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
  • Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
  • Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
  • Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
  • Bible engagement scale: low (have not read the Bible in the past week and disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate)
  • Not Born Again

My, oh my have things changed. Just look at what people now believe and consider “morally acceptable”…

I guess I was surprised to see that (according to Gallup), 69% of Americans believe it’s okay for their to be sex between an unmarried man and woman. Wow! 7 in 10 Americans believe that’s okay! Wow! And yet, according to Gallup, 78% of Americans say they are “Christian.” Folks, what kind of Christianity is that? It’s not Biblical Christianity. No! It’s a “make-it-up-as-you-go, please me” Christianity. And the winds of that kind of progressive liberalism and pagan viewpoint on God’s design for marriage has summarily destroyed the family in America.

But, Americans are messed up in what they think about God and the Bible anyway. Let me prove the point…

Folks, that’s almost half of Americans either AGREE STRONGLY or AGREE SOMEWHAT that all people pray to the same God. That means “all roads lead to heaven.” What a travesty for Jesus if that was the case. What a waste this was…

If all religions lead to “God,” then Jesus wasted His blood for nothing! Yet, all roads and all religions DO NOT lead to God, only Jesus does! Jesus said, “I am THE way, THE truth and THE life and NO ONE comes to the Father EXCEPT through ME!” John 14:6 (my emphasis added). Notice the article “the” that Jesus used. He didn’t use the article “A” before the words “way, truth and life.” And you know what? He proved He was the only one who could say that when He conquered death! The resurrection seals the deal, folks!

I did read an article by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council that I found interesting about “Faith in the White House.” See what you think…

http://www.frc.org/updatearticle/20170711/faith-whitehouse

July 11, 2017

Yesterday, I was invited to join about two dozen evangelical leaders from around the country at the White House for various briefings on a full range of issues which included the repeal of Obamacare, federal court appointments, foreign policy, Israel, and about a half-dozen other topics. The day-long meeting included time with both President Trump and Vice President Pence, concluding with prayer for them both in the Oval Office.

As I have stated before, I don’t agree with every decision or action by this administration, but I do agree with most — and I have found President Trump and the team he’s assembled to be genuinely interested and responsive to the concerns of the evangelical community. Trust me, after 14 years in this city, I am not naive to the ways of Washington, so it means something when I say that I am more optimistic that we (concerned Christian citizens) can change the course of this country and turn America back to the source of her greatness. To see this happen, we must not grow weary in well doing.

We must pray for our leaders, who are men and women with feet of clay, but many of whom have hearts after God. We must not be distracted or discouraged by the increasing volume of the media that has all but thrown off its disguise of objectivity. I never thought I would say this, as a former TV reporter that has defended the media, but DON’T TRUST THE MEDIA! Identify and rely on alternative, verifiable conservative news sources. FRC provides relevant and reliable information on timely topics, but you need more. A few other sources I trust are CNSNews.com, The Daily Signal, Todd Starnes at FoxNews.com, and The Washington Examiner. It is also critical, probably now more than ever, that you respond to our alerts as we work with the president’s team to drive forward a mutually beneficial agenda. Now is the time!


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Good advice!

Kevin

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I sat in an office earlier this week and a lady asked me that question: “How are you doing that?” The question came because she knew I was a pastor and she knew about our church. She was lamenting the fact that her church wasn’t growing and they were trying really hard. My heart went out to her. Honestly, I’m praying she and her husband don’t burn out trying to do everything in their church. Yet, I pondered the question: “How are you doing that?” The “that” is “success,” or at least that’s the way I took it.  Honestly, I get that question quite a bit these days and I guess I still don’t have a very good answer.

Is MPBC perfect? No. No church is, but every church has fallible and sinful people (of which I’m chief). Interestingly, I just saw on Facebook where a lady told one of our members that she was no longer attending our church. And that’s okay. That’s why we have different churches, preaching styles, music styles, etc. Honestly, I’m okay with that. I used to take it personally when someone left the church, but I don’t any longer. I know the Lord has a plan for all of us and for where He wants us to be. We’ve not had many leave the church through the years, but it does happen from time to time. Nonetheless, it is true that the church has grown exponentially in the last 10 years and it is truly hard to explain. However, I heard years ago where a man said, “If you can explain it, then it’s probably not God.” I like that. Because I honestly couldn’t answer the lady with the “how” to her question.

For you see, a church can change the music style, put up screens in the sanctuary, the preacher can lose the tie and the pulpit can become a stool and an I-Pad, but that still might not change your church or make it grow. It might. But, it might not. Yet, as I’ve pondered the question for several days now, I’ve come to these four conclusions: #1 If you’re faithful to teaching the Word of God (I exegete and teach Scripture verse by verse through books of the Bible) and lifting Jesus up, that’s essential. #2 If you’re faithful to sing about Jesus, (you pick the style), and the words to the songs are Biblical and sound, that’s essential. Remember, Ephesians 5 teaches us to sing: Psalms, Hymns and spiritual songs. Do it all. #3 If you’re reaching beyond the walls of your church and being the hands and feet of Jesus (we call that missions), that’s essential. #4 If your congregation shows love for all people and are excited about coming to church, they’ll tell others (Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20), and that’s essential.

You might ask, “What about children’s church, youth group, nurseries, and other age-segregated programs?” My answer: they’re not essential. We don’t have them and it’s not slowed us down a bit. In fact, you can click on the “Adult-Centered Youth Ministry” tab if you want to see more about my Biblical understanding of the things just mentioned. But, the bottom line is something I’ve not even mentioned yet. What’s the glue to all of this? Drum roll please… THE FAVOR OF GOD. That’s right, the hand of God and His mercy and grace bestowed on a group of people for His glory. It’s about an often mis-used word: anointing. Yes, “anointing.” And no, I’m not going to go all Benny Hinn on you. The anointing of God is truly His unconditional blessing and favor that can’t be earned or “worked up.” It’s just His goodness on display. I’m so humbled to say that I’ve sensed that anointing in our church and all I can do is say, “Glory be to God!”

So, I looked at the lady in that office and I said, “I’ll be praying for you.” I asked her where she went to church and the pastor’s name. She told me both and I’ve been praying for the last few days for them. God can do anything! But, I did tell her this: God doesn’t necessarily desire for every church to “get big.” Yes, MPBC is averaging 600+ people for our three services, but that doesn’t mean the Lord desires every church to get that size. Honestly, there are times that people make disparaging remarks about the church because of our size. But, I can’t control the growth of our church anymore than I can control the direction of the Yadkin River. I can tell you this: I’m certainly not going to put a message on our church sign that says: “We’re full, don’t come!” And I’m not going to apologize that the Lord has chosen to bless us. Why is it that growth is good in every other area of life (watching our children grown, businesses grow, gardens grow, our favorite teams win), but it’s not spiritual somehow for a church to grow. Well, tell that to the first church after Peter preached on Day 1 and they added 3,000. Not 30, not 300… They added 3,000!

I hope I encouraged my sister in Christ by telling her to “keep on keeping on” and realize that she can’t do it all. And the goal is not to get BIG, but to be faithful…nothing more, nothing less and the rest is in God’s hands. There was just one Peter. There was just one Paul. But, the Lord used Epaphroditus and Aquila and Priscilla. He used a group of women (Luke 8) to fund the ministry of Jesus. On and on I could go. So, my advice: just be you. Be faithful to the Lord and seek Him first and just be you.

Well, let me tell you about next week. Honestly, I’m still recovering from the week’s work. The work in Mexico was H-O-T! And I mean HOT! It was 103-106 during the biggest chunk of the week. That made it in the 110-15 degree range for “real feel temps.” Yet, we got the work accomplished in Mexico (for the roof on the church) and in helping the “Church of No Walls” and Jason and Katie Church in Weslaco, Texas.

We couldn’t have completed the work on the roof or continued the work in Weslaco, without the work of the April Team:

And now for a collage of pictures… Enjoy!

  

I believe this picture says it all…

I mentioned earlier about how to grow a church. Those pictures above will do it.

I wrote a blog post 7 years ago in 2010 about why a mission trip can change your life. Check it out below. That post explains the very beginning of the work we were doing in Mexico and Texas.

https://dkevinbrown.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/why-a-mission-trip-can-change-your-life/

Several folks have asked me through the years why we don’t just stay in Wilkes County and do missions right here. Why go to China (which we just had a team return last week, as well…read all about it at Kandace’s blog: http://kandacebrown.blogspot.com/2017/06/china-part-2-orphanage_26.html)

We’ll be heading back to the Philippines in November. So, here’s my blog post to answer that question:

https://dkevinbrown.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/why-we-go/

Take a mission trip! Do it! It will change your life and change your church. If you would like to learn more about doing mission work in TX and MX, you can contact our missionary pastor, Jason Church at: forhisglorychurch.jc@gmail.com or on Facebook. The church Facebook Page is: Church of No Walls. https://www.facebook.com/churchofnowalls/ Jason can schedule house groups in the Mission House of up to about 30-32 people. He’ll plan and coordinate the work for you and train you on to bring a team to Texas. We only charge $125 per person for an entire week at our mission house. The biggest expense is the plane ticket (usually around $500-$600 per person). But, it’s amazing to consider that you can do missions in another country and our country this inexpensively.

Indeed, it was a great question I was asked earlier this week: How are you doing that?

Yes, thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ for the privilege to serve Him and watch Him bless, even though we are undeserving!

Kevin

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Another summer is upon us and it’s in full swing in my world. This week is VBS and next week is off to Texas and Mexico. In the midst of that Kandace and 8 other ladies in our church are in China and there is the process of putting together the budget for next year, getting people in places to serve (Nominating Committee) and planning for the future. There’s never a dull moment.

Pray for us tomorrow night. We’ll have a ton of parents here and they’ll be watching their children and see what they’ve learned this week. I’ll be sharing the Gospel by way of the Three Circles.

It’s a fantastic way to share the Gospel and how the Lord delivers from brokenness all those who will repent and believe in His Son. If they will do so, they can be restored to God’s design for them. A perfect life? No. But, a life where His presence and peace covers us and provides for us strength and security for each day. Knowing God is the most unbelievable part of life. To actually call the God of the universe: “Father” is mind-boggling to me! But, that’s the offer to all those who will receive Jesus by faith, and choose to repent of their sins and follow Christ. It’s such a simple exchange. But, it’s so hard for so many. Satan has such a stronghold on their lives and their minds. Truly, salvation is a spiritual transaction and we must approach people by means of prayer as the greatest tool in our sharing the Gospel… Yes, a good approach (like the Three Circles above) is necessary…but, the essential thing is prayer.

So, I’m praying already about who will be here tomorrow night. I’m praying the Holy Spirit will speak to hearts as they watch the Three Circles. I love this presentation of it from a student at Appalachian State University.

How cool is that! So, pray for us tomorrow night around 7:30 pm, as I share the Gospel.

I checked the weather forecast for Weslaco, TX. When we land on Saturday it’s supposed to be 101 degrees. Yikes! We’ll be seeking to pour the roof of the church next week. That will finish the project. It’s hard to believe we started working on this project five years ago. Praise the Lord that it will be complete (Lord willing and there are no issues).

This is how it looks as of today…

We want to get that roof on next week! But, we also want to minister to the people of Weslaco, TX. We have been going to Mexico since 2008 and it’s been a wonderful journey to watch children who were very little, who are now grown and continuing to follow the Lord. It reminds me of the Apostle Paul has he went back to the same towns on his missionary journeys to care for the people and to encourage them. That’s what we seek to do as well. Pray for our team of 26 as we head down on Saturday. Thank you!

My goal is to upload pictures on Facebook throughout the week as much as I can. I’ll look forward to reuniting with Kandace as she will arrive back on the 23rd and we’ll arrive back on Saturday the 24th. It’ll be about 1 am or so before I hit the sack…but, I’ll look forward to hugging my girl the next morning before heading off to church to preach. Reuniting when you haven’t seen your family for a couple of weeks is bit like heaven if you ask me. What a grand reunion we will have there one day. How in the world does our Heavenly Father hold back from sending Jesus to come get us… I’ll never know. His love and desire for more to come to know Him before it’s too late must be the overriding desire of His heart. Otherwise, it would be: LET THE REUNION BEGIN.

Here’s this week’s Two Minute Tuesday. Senator Bernie Sanders really put his foot in his mouth last week. See here, why he doesn’t understand the claims and teachings of Jesus at all. Also see  why the Senator doesn’t even understand our Constitution. How does a man like this ever get elected? It’s beyond me. And on top of that…he was almost the Democrats choice! YIKES! It’s gotten almost 4,000 views as of this afternoon.

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/kfbewhc

Here’s last week’s TMT on “Judging.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/lnz5z6z

Kevin

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