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– I’m George Yates. I am with the office of Labor Care and Church Health, with the Alabama State Board of Missions. And I live in Kentucky and worked down there normally two weeks a month. But not getting to come down as often now as I was, but hopefully that’ll pick back up here in just a few weeks, and be able to connect in person with some of you again. So glad that you’re joining us today, that you’re here today. This is one of series of webinars, that we’ve been doing through our office, and it’s a conjunction between our offices and all the offices there at the State Board of Missions in Alabama. And we’ve titled on Pathways to Connect different things that we need to connect with the church to connect. And one is with God, the creator, connect through worship, connect through prayer, connect through the community. And that is connecting with small groups, Sunday school, Daniel Edmonds led that. And then last month or on December, we did one. Daniel Edmonds led it as well, that was on discipleship, and had some others from around the state with us. Today we’re beginning, there’s two sessions in this. This part is connecting to the commission, that’s the great commission. And in connecting to the mission we’re talking with churches today about cultural connection. How to make cultural connections, not just as a body as a church, certainly that but also help your individual members, to connect with the culture. So we’re gonna talk about that. And so I’m glad to have with me, joining me today, and I’m gonna introduce them as they are on my screen. Josh Cook. Josh is the director of church revitalization, for the Birmingham Metro Baptist Association, and has a degree in revitalization. So glad to have you with us, Josh, today. There and he could share anything else you want to, about your position as we get into this. And then Mike Williams. Mike is on staff. He’s the associate pastor at Golden Springs Baptist church in Anniston, and glad to have Mike with us too. I’ll be sharing a little bit more about each of those, as I introduce them again in the program as we go through here. And then there’s the bearded guy at the bottom of my screen, anyways at the bottom, is Daniel Wilson. He is the director of the office of evangelism. He is your state missionary for evangelism, and then he’s here because he’s gonna be leading the next one of these, and talking about personal evangelism, and connecting with the culture around you as well. And glad to have them with us. Of course, your screen may say that Doug Rogers is with us. If you can see him, that is not Doug Rogers, but we’re so grateful for Matt Burford jumping in, Doug has got a one or two others going right now on these webinars. And so Matt has agreed to join in and to help. He’s gonna be running things behind the scenes. So grateful for that, Matt. Thank you so much for being here today, and taking this on for us. And we’ve got… Down at the bottom of your screen, there’s a couple of different things there. There’s a chat you can go and you can chat. We ask that you use that for interacting with each other. We’ll put some things on there. I’ll put my email address and others will put their email addresses on there as we go. Or if there’s any links that we have, we may have those, if you know something you can add it. But if you have a question for us, we will have a time of Q&A. And if you have a question for us, I ask that you use the Q&A box at the bottom. Just click on the Q&A at the bottom, it’ll open up a box and you can put that question in there. And that way we can distinguish between the two, and hopefully not avoid or miss any of your questions if you were to misplace them, and put them in the chat box. So I encourage you to do that, use that Q&A as we go through here, if you have any questions for any of the panelists for today as we go. Let me pray with us as we get started here. Father God, I thank you so much for this opportunity, to come together with all of these, that are here today on this webinar, and those who will be watching it, when it is posted in a week or so on the website. Lord, I pray that you would use us as your instruments today. Lord, as Matt prayed earlier, I just pray, and thank you, Lord. We know you could have done this on your own, but you chose to use us in these areas of ministry. And so we pray that the experience, and the knowledge and the wisdom that you’ve given us, to pass on today to share with others, that it would be shared in a way, that your Holy Spirit has been able to use it, to take it and use it in churches in an individual’s lives across the great State of Alabama and beyond. Lord, we just thank you for what you’re doing in our churches. We thank you for the health and most of our churches, and pray for those who are seeing a health issues in the churches. And even churches that are having to shut down again for in-person services due to COVID and maybe other reasons as well. So father, we just pray that you take this hour, and You may help us all. Those of us speaking to speak what your Holy Spirit leads us to. May your Holy Spirit guide our speech and our talk, and also Lord, the ears of everyone else that we could hear, and take to heart what it is that you want us to learn from this. That we can be greater, great commission churches, more effective for you and your service, because you’ve called us in your service for this reason. In Jesus’ name, we pray, amen. Well, today, as I mentioned, this webinar is titled… It’s one of our series in a series of Pathways to Connect, but this one is called Cultural Connection. How to connect with the culture. Let me start off by saying, this is not about adopting the culture around you. This is how to communicate with the culture, as the bride of Christ, as members of the body of Christ. How do we communicate with them? We know the passage in 1st Corinthians chapter 9:19-23 and I read this. This is the apostle Paul. He said, “For though I am free from all. I have made myself a servant to all. That I might win more of them, to the Jews I became as a Jew in order to win Jews. To those under the law, I became as one under the law, though not being myself under the law, that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law, I became as one outside the law, not being outside the law of God, but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are outside the law. To the weak, I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” Now, this is sometimes hard for us to grasp, I believe as Christians, even as pastors and leaders in the church. It may not be hard to understand, but it really truly becomes difficult for us sometimes, to grasp it in its purest form, in my opinion. Paul is saying here that he hung out with Jews and with Gentiles a like. And you might say, “Okay, I can do that. I do that. That’s no problem.” And we do. He’s saying here that, he visited with those who study the law, and enforced the law. And he also live with and visited with those who were outside of the law. I like to say I use this, and now you’ll never be able to see this passage again, without thinking of this. But I like to say that what Paul is telling us here is, he rode his Harley Davidson’s donkey with the other Harley Davidson’s donkey riders. He did. That’s what he’s telling us here. He’s using these terms that, “I did all these things and become all things to all people.” Now let me put it in Alabama terms. This is one where some of you will pull back. You say, “Okay, maybe not all people.” But what Paul is telling us, is that he went to football games, and visited with Alabama fans, so that he could win Alabama fans. But then he turned right around, and the next day he would go to Auburn games with Auburn fans. And he visited with Auburn fans, so that he might win Auburn fans too. Paul is stating that no matter what our belief is, no matter which team we’re geared to or what our hobbies are, what our likes are, what our interest or disinterest are, we are called to share, to share. We’re called to share with all of those around us. And I’ve written today’s blog post, I’ve already got one negative response to today’s blog posts. I knew it could be a lightning one but it’s just sharing about we are… In the church one thing I see in the church today, is we’re not showing love alone. I see people spewing hate all over social media to other Christians just because they don’t believe the same way, they believe about politics or other interests. And Paul is saying we are to love and to share with all believers. God has given us, and if some of you, if you’ve been on these before, you’ve heard me say, that God has given us great opportunities throughout 2020, and now into 2021, to reach out into the community, reach out into the culture around us. And I believe unfortunately many churches have not taken advantage, of the open doors and opportunities, that God has given us through COVID and through 2020 and now into 2021. Doors that have been open to us, to reach out to people, to show people that we care, that weren’t there a year ago. But they’re there whether it’s through the COVID or what, we’ve got more opportunities. But it’s not too late for us. And so that’s one of the reasons for this webinar today, it’s not too late because many of those doors are still open, and God’s still opening doors for us as we go through. And I trust that’s one of the reasons that you’ve joined us today, I’m grateful for your attendance today watching us, and joining with us. Now, I believe we all understand the importance of reaching the community. Josh is gonna talk to us in a couple of minutes, about the vital importance of connecting with the culture around your church. And we’re gonna spend most of our time today, talking with you about practical ideas, things that you can do, things that we’ve seen and things that… Initiatives that we may be looking at, or implementing in the different settings that we’re in. We like to think that we’re good at this. How has taken a church through “Reaching the Summit”? This was a church over in Georgia, somewhere in the Atlanta area, about six or seven years ago now. And “Reaching the Summit” by the way, is a process that we use through Alabama, through all offices there you can contact me or Ken Allen. We can set you up to get you more information about that, and get you a free copy of the book “Reaching the Summit.” But it’s a yearlong process that we take people through, to help churches become more effective at being recommissioned churches. And one of the things we do there’s what is called a Vigorous Face-to-Face Summit with reality. It’s a brutal look at the hard facts. And as we were going through this with this church, the pastor said… He had shared with me earlier in a private meeting with him. And then we met with the team, and I asked him to share the exact same way with the team, he did with me. And this is what he said. He said, “You know,” he said, “we set up our booth at this…” And I forgot what they call it. It’s a community festival, ham days or booth days or strawberry days, or peach days or whatever it is. They have one of those in their county. They set up every year a booth as a church did it. He said, “I’ve realized by reading this chapter, that there’s not one thing we do at that festival, that an atheist could not set up a booth right next to us, and do the exact same thing.” Think of that. What he realized was they were going and they were saying, “Hey what, our church, this is our first Baptist church.” Whatever it was. And he said, “We’re giving out free bottles of water, we’re doing a little craft with the kids.” Or whatever but there’s not anything that we’re doing, that an atheist couldn’t set up right next to us and do it. And I got to think a loud, how many times do we have churches in that same boat? Because until we open our mouth and share Jesus Christ, we’re not doing anything different, than any other organization or group in there. And so we wanna help today to do that, because whatever we do, our thoughts should always be, how can we use this event, this program, this process, how can we use this to ensure it is for God’s glory? And then it is a great commission endeavor? It is in some way helping to fulfill the great commission. To be a great commission endeavor means that, whatever we do, our intent is to share the love and the justness of God and His plan of redemption. Allowing the Holy Spirit to do the convicting. Now, allowing the Holy Spirit to draw those people to Jesus Christ, and to grow… It also will help our members to grow as disciples, or getting them engaged in these projects. So I want to turn it over to Josh Cook. Josh, as I said, is the church strategist for Church Revitalization Strategist. I don’t know I have trouble with that, that’s my title too. Strategists for the Birmingham Metro Baptist Association. And I’ve asked Josh to talk to us this morning, about some reasons for connecting with the culture, and why are those vital to the church? And then he’s going to share a song too, of some of the initiatives that they’re looking at, that may help some of y’all spur some thoughts, with some of you in your churches or your association for AMS, that have joined us today. Josh, would you share with us.
– Yeah. Thank you. It’s a joy to be with you all. And I’m glad that I could be here to share. This past month I was talking to one of our pastors, Bill Wilks, who’s the pastor of North Park in Trussville, and they have an amazing discipleship process, D-life. And built in D-life is mission projects. So every group is supposed to do some mission projects, kind of periodically throughout the year. And so they have a really good cultural connection community in their church. And I was asking Bill about some of the things that have worked really well for them in D-life. And he said that, this past year they wanted to minister to the police department. They wanted to do something for the police department, but they also wanted to help some small businesses. And so one of the things they did was, they found a small food truck owner. So a small business owner who had a food truck, and they commissioned that food truck, to go to the police department one day. And so they fed all the police officers from that food truck. And so it was a ministry to the police department. It was a ministry to the person, who owned the food truck who needed the business at that time. And so it was kind of a two for one. And they had kind of… As I talked to Bill, I really had thought through this. And even though it took a lot, and it was a lot of energy for them, it was worth it, because it was helping them continue to reach new people in the community. And so, I’m grateful for pastors like Bill. I’m grateful for D-life, which if I can just do a little D-life commercial, Bill’s doing some D-life training. So if you want a really, really good discipleship process for your church, he’s gonna be doing some trainings across the state. And one of them is this weekend. I think it’s in South Alabama. And then one here in Trussville on the 23rd. So you can find more about that at BMBA online, our website, but they have a really cultural connecting community. And you say, “Well, why is, why is that important?” Well, when we look not only at the texts that you read, when we think about the great commission, and the fact that we are supposed to reach the world, with the gospel as we make disciples. But also, if we look at principles that we find, I was reading Jeremiah 29. And in Jeremiah he tells the people, he said, “Work, pray, strive for the good of your community, because in that welfare, you is tied to your welfare.” And so, we have this kind of biblical principle. Now we understand that we’re not Israel in captivity in Babylon, but when we are people who are living in a home, and in communities where our welfare are tied really to our communities. When I was a pastor in Hueytown, I became friends with one of our small business owners, her name’s Taylor. And she runs the Merle Norman. And we invited Taylor to come to our church, for a Christmas program to be a judge. And so we invited the small business owners, from across the community to come. And she came in, was a judge for our Christmas program, because we needed somebody that would be somewhat impartial, for this serious competition that we were having at the church. And as I was talking to Taylor, and some of the other small business owners, and in conversations I’ve had with them since then, it’s really easy for us as pastors and as church leaders to look at some ministry things in our community as less important or as something that particularly in church revitalization that one day this would be something that we could do. Like this type of ministry is something we could do one day, when we’re healthier. And we always put that off to that one day. But really when we look at small business, and connecting with our community, that’s not one day ministry. That’s ministry that’s incredibly important today, for our churches. And this is why particularly when we think about that, things for small business owners is that when churches like North Park, or when your church ministers to a small business owner, then you’re blessing somebody in your community, you’re investing in your community. And that’s not a secret. Small business owners, they communicate with one another. And when there are healthy small businesses in our community, then more small businesses want to come to our community. And when more small businesses are coming to our community, then people want to live in those places, close to good quality businesses. And so that brings more people into our communities. And so really the health of our church, particularly when we’re thinking about revitalization, or at least the opportunity that we have to be healthy, as far as the wideness of the mission fields around us, is tied to the business community. And so when we’re investing in the business community, and when we’re actively investing in those people who are in our community around us, it makes our communities more attractive, which brings more lost people into our communities, which makes for healthier churches. And so as we strive to be healthier churches, we will also want to make sure that we’re investing in the community, so that the community can become… Continue to be or even grow to be more fertile ground, for our ministries as we’re reaching out to these folks. And so it’s really kind of we live not in this disconnected, well here’s the church and here’s the community, or here’s the church and here’s the business world, but this really the symbiotic relationship, where ultimately small businesses need healthy churches, who are doing really good ministry to the communities. And church just need really good small businesses, that are offering the things, that are gonna bring more people into the communities. And so, it’s really beautiful when we begin to see it that way. And I don’t want it to sound like I’m saying that our whole focus should be on blessing small businesses, or making sure our community is safe, right? We’re not doing this with the mentality, or forgetting the fact that this is a temporary home, but we are doing this understanding that this temporary home is our mission assignment that we’ve been assigned to this mission field. And as a good soldier serving in this mission field, we want to try to take as many people with us, to our permanent home as we can. And that means we’ve got to be out in our community. I’m grateful to serve at the Birmingham Metro Baptist Association, and I’m grateful for churches that are all around us, who are doing really good ministry to our community. We’ve got a few things that we’re gonna be trying to do this year. Some of the things you’re already doing, and a lot of our folks across the State are doing. I think disaster relief is a really good way for us, to connect to the culture around us. If you ride through Pleasant Grove, Oak Grove, Bessemer over here and some of the areas that have really been hit hard in the past. There are people who have just really a thing that, “Those folks in the yellow hats who came in during those times of crisis, are absolute heroes.” That was really meaningful ministry that people haven’t forgotten even today. And so there are things like that that we can do. Here in Birmingham, we have Metro changers which is like a world changers, but their mission is really at the Birmingham Metro. And they had a meeting here yesterday, and they were sharing that they’ve been given a grant, to do ministry here in Birmingham proper through mission projects. And churches can come, they can fill out the paperwork with them, and Metro changers needs to use this money. And so we’ve got a church, I’ve heard that, what they’re doing is because of this partnership with Metro changers is they’re going door to door in their neighborhoods saying, “Hey, we want to help you. We want to be a blessing to you. We’re a church, we’re in your community, and we want to do something meaningful. We’ve got the resources, we’ve got professionals who can come in, and help with these projects that you need done. So how can we minister to you?” And they’re opening doors for kingdom conversations. I mean that’s the goal in all of this. They’re trying to be good stewards of the gospel, as they’re going and try becoming better neighbors, to the people all around them. We encourage our churches to be a part of adoptive station. And that’s where we encourage churches to adopt police stations, fire stations, and to have ongoing relationships with those first responders, they are in their community throughout the year. And so that’s an opportunity. I’ve seen pictures of church members who’ve delivered meals, and church members who’ve gone, and who are learning the names of those first responders in their community. And these are really exciting, good things for church members to do. It’s not just church staff, it’s not just pastors and leaders, but this is an opportunity for a church member, to have a place in ministry. And to really feel this and embrace this as their calling. This Christmas we’ll be doing a season of our savior. And I’ve learned a little bit about it this year, but churches across our association, across Birmingham they’ll make… Fill these stockings for kids. It’s a lot like operation Christmas child. And so they’ll fill these stockings and we’ll have a room here as churches bring these stockings in and hygiene kits. And these stockings will go out, not through us, but through mission partners and across the area. And so mission partners who already have the relationships, who are doing good ministry to people in our area, are able to take these stockings, and be able to give them to families who may not have anything for their kids. And so that’s something that a lot of folks can do. You can be involved, you can pack a stocking, and that’s a blessing to some child, that whose name you may not know in your community, but we trust that Good Gospel Partners are gonna be able to use that, as an opportunity to share the gospel with those kids. And so there are so many really exciting things. One other that I can share with you is at Valley Del, they are leading out an effort this year in Birmingham, to really not just be out in the community, but to be together as the church, the Capital C Church. And so in a couple of weeks here they’re gonna be doing a weekend of service, where churches from all across the association can come together, and have mission projects all around our community, all around the Metro that they can partner with. And so it may be that if you’re a larger church, and you can have several teams, then normative sized churches can have teams in different places as well, doing ministry that’s bigger than any of us could do if we were just trying to do it on our own. And ultimately that’s the beauty of Southern Baptist and Association a life, is that we are better when we partnered together. That all of our churches working together can do a better job of reaching Birmingham and your city. And so I’m grateful for churches who have a vision, to reach the community and reach the city. And I pray that God will continue to give opportunities, for churches to see those opportunities all around them, and have the boldness to go out and do that good ministry.
– Thank you, Josh. Man, what a great word. Great inspiration and insight. Several good things there that people could look at, or maybe get something to run from it. As soon as you mentioned the word food truck, brought out a story that I just read up two weeks ago online, where a church rented a food truck, and paid for the food truck for one day. Not just for the police department, but for… They said, I think it was on the church parking lot, and invited the whole community, and they paid for it. Anybody, and everybody that came that day, and wherever that truck was parked at, anybody that came that day, they paid for that. And, probably had a sign out there that said, compliments of their church. So things that you could do. So really good ideas though. Several of those that you just mentioned. Folks, if you want any of these ideas, if you don’t catch them, you can go back. This will be up online, in about a week, or you can email any of us for the ones that we talk about and say, “Hey, would you tell me more about what you spoke on this topic?” And we’d be glad to do that. Let me give you 10 more practical ways that you can connect mainly with the business culture. And I’ve shared some back in August, or September, when we did one of these. I was sharing several of these. Some of you may have heard that. I’ve shared some of them on my blog posts over the month, and also on other webinars. National webinars that some of you may have been involved in as well, but I’ve written down 10 that I just wanna share, that you could do. Some of these don’t cost anything at all, other than maybe a little bit of your time. But first one is, and I have shared this one before, is conversations with local business owners about what they’re experiencing, and your business. This is one of those doors that God’s opened through COVID that we didn’t have before. Business owners need somebody to talk to. They can’t necessarily always talk to their employees, or even to their spouse, or other people about this. And just offer as a pastor, or staff member, or some of your lay leaders to just go and call, and ask, invite, ask, invite yourself, see if you can go in, and sit down, and talk to that business owner, and just find out what’s on their mind. “What, has it been for it like you? How has your business suffered because of COVID?” Or whatever topic you wanna use. And then offer to pray for that, pastor, and that business. And if there’s a need that he mentions that you can help with, or your church can help with, then take it back to your church, and see what you can do to help them with that. There’s other things that I’ll talk about that you can do in that way. Another thing very similar is offer a listening ear. If you talk to the business owner, ask him if you, or some of your people could come in, and sit down, and talk with their employees one-on-one. Just say, “I know that your employees are hurting. I know that your struggles, different struggles that are happening because of the last year what’s happening in our nation. And we’ve got people, they’re not trained counselors, so we’re not going to come in and counsel, but we’d just love to come in, and be a listening ear for your employees. If you would just give us one corner of the restaurant, or one of the business, then we can sit down one-on-one with them, and just spend about 10 to 15 minutes, with any of your employees that want to. We just want to be listening ear. And if there’s anything we can do to help, we’ll try, but we also want to pray with them.” That’s all you have to do. And that’s something they can get as many people involved as they want to in the church. And it gives you an opportunity to show the community that you care. I’m really big on sharing on that, that term until we show people that we care, we can’t expect them to understand, and love the God that we share, and we talk about. And so, just offer that listening ear, pray for other people. Then you can take meals to local businesses. Do it. If you don’t wanna take a meal, do the food truck thing. That was a great thing to do. You know, just do the food truck, but just prepare a meal. This way, you can get a lot of people involved in your church. You say, “Hey, we’re gonna do this. We did this inside the church. And the next move is to take it outside the church.” I just suggested it to our pastor, and staff and they ran with it. And I said that I would cook the meat. I love cooking outdoors. I’ve got two smokers, I’ve got one fairly large one. And so I just barbecued a bunch, or smoked a bunch of Boston Butts. And we did pulled pork, and other people did macaroni and cheese. Some did baked beans, and did other side dishes and desserts. And then we came together. So we had people doing those. Then we had a group came together, and put all that up, plated it up, and then another group delivered it. So you’re involving other people. And we did the social distancing thing. We wore gloves, we just did a porch delivery. But it was something we could do, but you could do that also with businesses. And this is our next step, is to now do it with business, and just call a small business, and just say, “Hey, how many employees do you have that are there on Thursday? This Thursday we want to bring a free meal to you all. No strings attached, just to say, we understand the struggles of 2020, and feel what you’re going through. And we care about you as a business in our community.” And just take a meal to them. Buy a meal, buy a pizza and take it to them, if you don’t have people. But the more people you can get involved, the more disciples you’re growing. And so whatever you can do to do those kinds of things, take meals, or something like that to local businesses. We often think about doing it for the police department, fire department, first responders and hospitals, but what about that consignment shop? Or what about that new little cafe down the street? Or if some of those other small businesses in the area. You can help those out as well. They’re hurting too. And they will appreciate you showing them that you care as a church. Another thing you can do is choose one local business each month, and lead an effort to support that local business as a church. First Baptist Rogersville. They’re in Alabama, I’m working with that church, and their vision team, I was working with them over the fall. And I’ll do a couple more things with them now. But I shared with them a post that I shared on one of our, I believe a story that I shared, in a blog. And I believe I also shared it on one of these webinars, and it happened in California, a friend of mine, I was doing a webinar for them, and friend of mine was hosting it. And he said, “George, I was interim of a church. And what happened is, church had been the first part of COVID. They weren’t able to meet, weren’t able to fellowship.” So when they got started back meeting together, they wanted to have fellowship. And so they decided to go out on a Wednesday evening, and have a meal at a restaurant. Social distancing, doing what California required them at the time. And so they did. And the Wednesday night that they chose, that was not the restaurant that they chose was completely empty. Nobody else there. So it was real easy to get in, get out, get their food. Food was good. So the next week they decided to go back to the same restaurant, and they did that for several weeks. Then the pastor was in the bookstore next door, when the owner came up to him, and said, “You’re that pastor? Aren’t you?” He said, “Yes, I am.” And he said, “I want to thank you, and your church for saving my friend’s business through COVID.” See, they didn’t realize. And then he admitted right there on that Zoom call. He said, “George, we weren’t doing it to save anybody’s business. We was doing it to fellowship together. We hadn’t even thought of what we might be doing, and how God might be using that.” And so that’s something you can do now. Getting back to First Rogersville, when I shared that story with them, what they came up with was, they go and sponsor one restaurant one night, each month. So the pastor will go out, he knows the community, he knows to the restaurant owners. He goes, and he talks to one of the restaurant owners. And he asked them in that conversation talking to him like we talked about the first, but he asked him a question. He says, “What are your two slowest nights? Your two weakest nights, as far as income?” And they’ll tell him two nights of the week. And he goes back, and the church picks one of those nights, and they’ll say, “Okay, on February the 19th, we’re supporting Joe’s pizza.” And so the church can either go, and eat at the restaurant. They can order in, I mean order to carry out, or they can order for delivery. But just support that restaurant. And it really boosts that economy for that restaurant for that night. Now some of the church, I’ll be honest with you, some of the church, and even staff wanted to, “Well, let’s do it on Sunday.” He said, “No, that defeats the purpose. We want to do it on the night that they need it. They don’t need it on Sunday. She told us the first restaurant was that Monday night, and Wednesday night were two of those nights.” So they started doing Monday… They did Monday nights on that. And so, just choose one local business. It may not be meals, it may be something… Or furnishing that way, supplying. How can you support that business for the month? And maybe for the entire month? For this month, we wanna support this restaurant, or this local business as much as possible. And really concentrate… If you’re doing that, concentrate on the locally owned businesses first. Because they’re the ones that are hurting more than the big chains, or the big box stores, and things like that. So what could you do? It could even be grocery stores. And then another one, and I probably I’ve got this created myself for our church, or back-up for any church, but how about creating a free promo piece for the businesses in your area? Advertising is expensive, but it’s expensive to buy. But if you create… You got someone in your church, more than likely, that can create a card. And would they be able to just create a six by nine card and just put six businesses on it. Small businesses just half of the card on one side of the business. And we’ll put those six businesses on that card. And then at the bottom of it, just put a, I think they had a First Baptist Church, or put your church name, and service times, and phone number, whatever you wanna put there, address. And put that on there, but just real small at the bottom. And then in the middle of the card, we put, “Please support your local businesses. They need our support during this time.” Those businesses love, and appreciate that. Listen, I was in the retail world for several years, many years ago, but advertising is huge for somebody. Especially a small mom and pop type business. And you offer to do that, don’t charge them for anything. You do the mail out, or hand deliver, or whatever in your community. And let me tell you, the mailing is gonna be more expensive than producing that card, and getting it. Once you get 500, a thousand is cheaper, two thousand is even cheaper, to do that. So do that, and support those business, or do a tri-fold brochure. You could put 12 in there, maybe put a little snippet about the business in there. Whatever you want to do, but do something to just create a free promotional piece. Ask, please go, and ask the businesses first, if you can put them on there. Say, “It’s not gonna cost you a thing. We want to do this for you, supporting you, show you that we care about your business being in our community.” And so that’s what you can do. It may cost a few dollars, if you’re gonna mail it out, or have it printed, but you can go to Vistaprint or local print house there. It will be better if you have a local print house to support them, but it doesn’t cost a whole lot to do those cards, six by nine cards. I’ve used them for years, perhaps you have as well. So create and distribute promotional pieces for six to 12 businesses. And you may do that on an ongoing basis. Do six this month, three months from now do six more. However you see God is using you, and using that as a ministry, just show that you support. Another thing you can do is, this is the sixth one, is create something to sell. Support local, and I believe it was First Baptist Prattville in Alabama that did this. They created T-shirts that had the state of Alabama on it. And I believe it was the state of Alabama. And it just said, “Support your local businesses.” And they sold those T-shirts all over the area. And they raised $10,000, and gave it all to the local businesses. They’re just divided it up amongst some of the local privately owned businesses there in that area. And so what is it that you could do? It may, or may not be T-shirt, but they sold them, used the proceeds to go there. So it wasn’t in their budget. So how can we support? Well, here’s one thing we can do. We can all buy a $5, or $8… I don’t know what they sold for, $10 T-shirt, and we can then give that money. And that’s one of the things that they did to support the local business. Just share. You don’t have to have the money in your budget. To do that, there’s other things you can do. And then another one, that really doesn’t cost anything, but time is find a need of the unemployed, or underemployed in your community, and then as a church, find out how you can help meet that need. Now this could be resume writing. Some people need help, resume writing. You may have someone in your church can do that, or someone who’s savvy enough can go online, and study, and read a few articles real quick, just to help get some pointers to people about how to write a resume. I wrote a course 30 something years ago, that was used in the Jefferson County Adult Education, here in Kentucky that was Improving Your Job Seeking Skills. So you can do things like a resume writing assistance. Babysitting for people as they go out to look for jobs. You may not commit babysitting five days a week, but you can commit to… “If you have a job opportunity, we wanna help.” Tutoring. Right now, a lot of kids are at home. They’re having to be tutored at home, or virtually, and parents have… I hear a lot from parents, and grandparents who say, “Man, I just don’t understand this stuff myself. I don’t know how I can help him.” And so if you’ve got people in teacher, retired teacher, or somebody in your church who could help tutor students in their homes, or virtually, or maybe in the church, follow the guidelines. CDC and your government guidelines, but you can do something like that. Offer gift cards. Just offer gift cards for those who are unemployed, or underemployed, maybe to a grocery store. Doesn’t have to be a $50 gift card. People are excited about a $10 gift card. It can be other things, or perhaps you have people in the church who would say, “I can drive somebody to job appointments if they need it.” The unemployed, or underemployed appreciate anything like that, that we can do for them. So is there something in your church, that you can do to help meet that need of the unemployed, or underemployed in your community? Note that people are unemployed right now, because of COVID. Because there’s not enough business, there’s not enough drive to keep them full-time employed. The eighth thing that I have here, is what can you provide family financial budgeting training? A lot of people have never had to operate off of a budget, and now they really need that. Is it something that you could do as a church to offer a family financial budgeting training for employees of lowered income situations right now? ‘Cause they’ve had to cut back, or they don’t know how to cut back. They don’t know how, and they’re maybe going further, and further in debt. How can you help them not to go further, and further in debt? Anything that you can think of. I’m just trying to give you some 10 that I thought of, you can take that. Okay, maybe it’s not financial planning. It may be something else in your community, that you could offer that your church has gifted people that they could offer. The ninth one, is something to help with employees’ children’s extra time. I know my church, the children’s director has been very good at doing some of these, not on a weekly basis, but she’ll do something. Well, she’ll just put together project bags, and she puts them in a big tote. She’ll have these lunch bags, and they’ll have a day, or two project. Two, or three projects. And she puts them out there, and she lets the community know, that they’re there under our drafter. All you have to do is drive them. You just pick it up. It’s in a tilt right there. Pick one up for each of your children, and have craft for them. It could be science projects, or science crafts, or educational crafts, just any kind of project, for the kids to do something a little bit. Help them a little bit with a little bit of their time, and do that. So you’re showing the community that you care, no matter what you do in these projects. Or you may offer, again, if you have drivers say, “We’ll, do you call us or email the church office. Give us your address, and how many children you have. And we have someone who will deliver them to your front door. We’ll call you and tell you there’ll be there between nine, and 10 o’clock. You can find it on your front doorstep.” And so things that you can do for people that was not necessarily for a business that’s for the residents there. And then another one, I wrote about this one in my blog post last week, is something that’s simple as handing out $10 bills to unsuspecting community members. I was talking with Daniel Wilson earlier last week, and it slipped out. So I’ll go ahead, and slip it out here too. The two men in the story are me, and my brother. We were together last week. I had a plumbing issue, and he’s a plumber. So I called him, he came, we lived about 60 miles apart, and we were sitting at the kitchen table talking, and we got talking about serving others and ways to serve others. And I said, “You know, one of the things I did for Christmas was I just went to the bank, got a bunch of $10 bills, and I would go someplace. Like I went to one small cafe in our town has just been in business barely a year. So they’d barely been open when all this hit. And I went in, and ordered a sandwich. My sandwich was like $6.83, or something. And when I went over to the counter to pick it up, the same gentleman that rang me up, and took my order is the same gentleman that handed me my sandwich. And I knew the two owners were behind in there preparing all the meals. And I said, “How many employees do you have here total.” And he said, “Mm, four.” I said, “No, everybody, including the two owners. How many total people work here?” He said, “Four.” I said, “Okay.” And so I just counted out four $10 bills, and hand them to him. I said, “I want you to make sure every person gets one of these. I really appreciate you all being here. Merry Christmas. Jesus loves you.” And I turned, and headed out the door. Now, as I got to the door, I turned around to the back and I could see him. His back was turned to me, but I could see what he was doing, talking to the two owners. They stopped what they were doing. You could just see the expression on their faces of appreciation for that. Others I’ve done, was just at a grocery store at the end of when the checker, and the bagger have finished bagging my groceries, I just said, “Here, this is for you, not for the store. This is for you. God loves you and I love you.” And handed one to each one of them the $10 bill, to each one of them. So just handing them out like that. My brother was doing $20. He had to beat me, was doing $20 bills instead of 10s. But he put them in… And we hadn’t talked about this. This is just something that I thought of, God get laid on my heart, God laid on his heart to do. And he was just handing out in Christmas cards at random. And he went to one gas station. He was pumping gas, he was leaning around the other side of the pump, and he handed the card to a lady, and he said, she was kind of abrupt. She said, “Who are you? And what is that?” And she didn’t want to take it. She didn’t want. And he said, “No. It’s just a gift for you. It’s just something for you.” And she really still wasn’t really wanting it, till her daughter who was standing on his side of the car, said, “Mom, just take it.” So she took it. When he shared that with me, I thought, imagine the look on those two faces when they got back into the car, open that card, and a $20 bill fell out from a stranger. And so, it doesn’t have to require money. You could do other things, but just those are things that you can do. Just a few things to engage with the people and the culture around you, to help you in those things. Now some of those can be transferred. Some of them are for individuals, and churches, but I just wanted to try to give you a few things. There my website, I mean, my email address is on the chat box. If you look there, if you wanna get ahold of me for that list, I can send you that list, or we can just brainstorm some other ideas, and things that you may have some. But that’s why Mike Williams is here. He’s the real brain behind all of these. Now Mike Williams is a friend of mine, all three of these guys, by the way, are certified coaches through Alsbam. They’ve gone through three levels of coach training with me, and been certified, and some of them have actually had other coach training as well. So appreciate them being part of this with me. And they’re willing to listen, and talk with you, and help you out in any way that you can as well in the future. But Mike, share with us a little bit about what Golden Springs has done in 2020, and what the plans are for you all considering leading your church in 2021, and other ideas that you have to share.
– Thank you, George. And I just appreciate the opportunity to be with you all. I think like most church leaders on the ground, when 2020 happened, it felt like a rug was taken out from under us. And I remember the day it was March 13th, it was Friday the 13th, when Alabama became a state of emergency, and my pastor Rollin and I, we were in the middle of the road. We’re neighbors, we’re friends. So we met in the middle of the road, hearing this news. We knew that we were gonna go online. So it was literally March 13th, and we decided we’re gonna continue to be the church, but not on campus. And it was a decision that we made with great peace. But we knew that things were gonna be different. A lot of the plans that we had, like so many churches we had to put on hold, and it was hard. So if you’re out there, and you’re thinking, “Man, it’s hard to be a church leader right now.” I just wanna encourage you, it is. It’s difficult. But it didn’t stop us in seminary. They didn’t teach me how to deal with a global pandemic. And we’ve had to learn a lot of things from the ground up. So I hope you hear me today that we’re still on the journey. We don’t have any magic thing that we’re swallowing, and realize this is we’ve arrived. We kind of have this mentality of deep, and wide. And what I mean by that is, we think a lot of diversity in our ministry, or depth in our message. Diversity in our methods, depth in our message. A lot of churches in our area decided they were gonna use a lot of energy to get back on campus, as soon as possible. We decided that we were gonna give all of our energy to the gospel, and making sure that Jesus was known. So instead of making it scrambling for plans to get back to normal, whatever that was gonna be, we decided just to put that on the back burner, and go, “You know what? This could be four weeks. This could be four years. Let’s just make much of Jesus right now.” And that was just the decision that we had to make as a team. And it was hard. It did not come with high fives coming off the platform. It came with great criticism. It came with great complaint. It came with, “Mike y’all are just afraid. Y’all don’t have enough faith in Jesus. Y’all are just got to get back on campus.” And we’ve just wanted to be faithful. But God has shown up. He has shown off. And it’s been in ways that we can’t describe, or explain in a lot of ways. And any kind of vision has two poles. One side has obedience, and one side has faith. And so this was our faith arm, when 2020 hit. The pandemic has taught us at Golden Springs, what this faith side of vision looks like along with the obedience side of vision. So I just wanted to share some very practical things, just briefly guys, about how we go deep, and wide and how we went diverse, but also just being ourselves, and our context. Because every church is different. You got to know yourself, and you got to know your community. And that takes a lot of work. I’ll be honest with you, you have to slow down, to be aware of who your community is, who you are, how Christ has created you. But we decided right away, that if we’re going to be online, we’re going to start an online campus. I think that was the thing. We’re gonna launch a campus, but it’s gonna be on the website. So almost immediately that week, starting March 17th Tuesday, I was on a phone with a church in Ohio who had made the same kind of conversion to online about a year before. And just trying to learn how that would look for us. So we tried the online church experience. We had already been recording services online. We already had online giving. We already had some of our small groups connect through online. So it wasn’t a new idea. The new idea was, we were gonna create a new campus, and it was gonna be an online campus. And we knew pretty quickly that this was not working. We weren’t connecting people. Some of the words we heard is, “It’s not really us.” “We’re not cool enough.” Is another statement I heard. We’re not cool enough to compete with other churches that had performance-oriented services, and things. And so we just don’t own that. We just realized that we’re gonna evaluate this, and back out of that a little bit, and really look at, “Then how can we be ourselves, and connecting the dots?” So we really began to diversify. We leaned into our city officials, we got to know them really early on decision-making. And we decided instead of competing with them on how to make decisions for the church, we would align with them in making decisions for our church. And what that did, is it brought a lot of trust in our city. It brought congruence to our community, and all the criticism that we had for the first two months of being slow, and steady, and conservative has now turned out to me, “Man, Golden Springs is a church you can trust, they love you. They’re gonna take care of you. They will make hard decisions, but they’re gonna do their best to love us, and to keep us safe.” What we’ve learned is, that’s become two core values of our church. So through this experience, we’ve learned our values. Now, if we can tell somebody, “You’re gonna be safe here, you’re gonna belong. And we love you.” That’s exactly the values of our city. And we learned that just by connecting with our city officials, and loving on them, and then aligning with them, and not competing with their interests, even as a place of faith. So that’s our… We’re already seeing some of the dividends of that work working out. And that may be something if you haven’t done yet is to connect to your officials. This is a good idea to do in that we’ve we partnered with right now media for our small groups, that was something new that we did. And so what happened with that is, we had a lot of Sunday school teachers not know, how to connect with their folks. And we just needed an outlet that was online, that they could do something like a Zoom chat with. And right now, media can do that with. You can get folks online, and have a conversation with. And so that was a media way to connect, and what would happen was that those folks, that we’re hearing going, “We’re not part of a small group.” Our church isn’t meeting right now. As we would start at least connecting, and we’ve even got other churches connecting through our right now media, that they can minister to their congregations and their churches. So even just partnering through our small group ministry, to help and facilitate other churches, and their ministry was a big deal. The other thing was finances. We were very fortunate. The more we gave, the more we got. I don’t know how to explain that, but the more we gave to our community, the more we received, and we just became a bridge and a conduit. It’s just like George was talking about. We became a conduit of giving away a lot of money to street, to struggling churches, to pastors who need assistance. And if you’re listening to this and you need assistance, call me, reach out to me I’ll put my email there. We want to be a bridge. We want to be a bridge, and if we can support your ministry, and what God’s doing in your local context, we’ll do our best to do that. And we’ve done that in Calhoun County. And we can do that for families. But just to wrap up, so I know we don’t have much time, and I want Daniel to be able to speak. I guess one of the most different things has happened, that we didn’t plan on our top 10 strategy list, for ways to connect to our community is funerals. In our area, we have a lot of funerals. And I think we did over 65 in six months between June and December. We’re on pace right now to hit 20, in the next couple of weeks. People are just passing away. There’s a lot of hurt. A lot of folks that are struggling, that aren’t gonna join us online. They probably won’t join us on campus, but they’re gonna show up at a funeral. Our number one evangelism strategy right now, gang, is just being faithful, loving our families, connecting with our funeral homes here, and saying, “We’re available to love any family that needs help.” We’ve helped offset funeral expenses. We’ve seen dividends. We’ve seen baptisms even last year. We had over 20 baptisms last year, and through social distancing, it was challenging. So we try to train parents and families, how to baptize children and other adults and things. But in that the funerals became our tipping point. I don’t know about you, but I was sitting down thinking about, how the pandemic was gonna help us as a church launch into it. I went straight to the tech and the online and the relationships, and funerals became our number one evangelism strategy. And the last thing I’d mentioned with that, is we decided to grow smaller not larger. And what I mean by that is we decided to emphasize these small personal relationships, over any kind of event. Now we had events online. We had events through… George mentioned these, little care packages or family team, but the dividend was just check on your neighbor, check on your… How’s your heart in your home? How’s your home life going? And out of all these, we’re starting a caring conversation center at our church, that’s focusing on emotional relational care. We have trained pastoral, certified pastoral counselors in our area. So we’re blessed for that. And basically, we’re trying to pour into our local culture, how to make lay caregivers because of the things that we’re doing in funerals, because of these more intimate relational evangelism strategies. And then from all the way back to March 13th, 2020, that I’d be scratching our heads, wondering what God’s going to do. And here He is showing up. So my encouragement to you is number one, don’t give up. Don’t give up no matter where you’re starting at a local church level, deal with the hurt, because if you’re still grieving what was, let God but use that as a catalyst for His kingdom. And then don’t be afraid to evaluate and make it better. And one of the things we’ve done is experiment 10,000 different things, out of 10,000 different ideas two work. And the three that actually worked best for us, we’re not even on our whiteboard, and let God be God. And so I just thank you for the time to have to share, George. And I appreciate you guys. Let me with you today.
– Thank you, Mike. Man, great encouraging words. He’s always encouraging to me. Mike, by the way has his doctorate degree, and his wife also has a doctorate degree. And so I like to refer to them as a paradox. Some of you will get that later tonight, but Daniel, share with us a little bit about evangelism office. What you’ve got coming in the next webinar, and other resources that you’ve thought of, that you have available as we’ve talked today.
– Hey, great. Thanks George. And glad to join you brothers on this webinar today. And Mike, I would gladly have donated my time, to hear you speak longer. Just a blessing to hear the plethora of ideas, that you all have mentioned today. Josh, as you were talking, I wrote this statement down, and it came to me as you were talking, Josh. And then George followed up with it, and Mike followed up with it. But I wrote down everybody at town hall, at the chamber of commerce, at the local school board, ought to feel like they have a friend in your church.
– We’ve been talking about here today is just, the old-fashioned word, neighborliness. Just being good neighbors, and using relationships as an avenue to share the gospel. In two weeks, our evangelism office staff will be on this webinar. And so two weeks from today, myself, Matt Burford, Terry Long, George Yates. The four of us we’ll be doing another webinar on evangelism. So join us for that. We’re still traveling the state doing crucial one trainings. So I encourage you to go to our website evangelizeal.org, and see those upcoming events, and trainings that we have available later in the winter, and on into the spring as well. And I want to just give you one thoughts. Matthew chapter 9:36. You know this text, so beautiful. Jesus says. It says about Jesus, “And seeing the multitudes, He was moved with compassion and He said to His disciples, ‘Harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, pray to the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into his harvest fields.'” And you’ve heard the older preaching outline from that, right? Visualize. It says that Jesus saw the multitudes. We got to see people in their common humanity. We gotta see people in their problems, and in their needs, and in their issues and their doubts, and their fears and their worries. We got to visualize. And then we’ve got to agonize, says He was moved with compassion, and we got to hurt with those who hurt. And we got to show that we care in tangible, and practical ways. And after we visualize, after we agonize, then we have earned the right to evangelize, but we have to earn the right to evangelize. And it all goes back to the old-fashioned prayer, care and share. That we earn the right to share by praying, and by caring for those that were seeking to share Christ with. So I look forward to being one here again. Later on, George and Mike and Josh. Thank you, good brothers for the good word you shared. I’m not gonna shoot any of my bullets today. I’m gonna save my bullets for two weeks, ’cause you’ve already shot enough for all of us.
– Amen. Thank you, Daniel. Appreciate that. Thank all of you. Don’t see any questions, you might have any questions that you want to put in the Q&A box. You can do that real quick here, as we wrap up. Any comments you wanna make, you make that in the Chat box for us. We’ll follow up on any of those that we need to follow up on, or hopefully it’s been worth your while, and your time today. And I just appreciate Josh and Mike. What you all brought to the table today is exactly what I was envisioning, and I knew what God had laid you all on my heart for that reason. And I knew you would bring that. I appreciate so much everyone who is on here today. If you want more information about the Pathways to Connect you can look at all. You can view all of the past webinars by going to alsbam.org, and looking right at the top of the… Near the top of the pages there’s a logo there, there’s Pinnacle, and you can click on Pinnacle, and it will take you to a list of everyone that we’ve already done. You can watch those at your convenience, or share them with others. And you’ll also see a list of the ones upcoming. And so we appreciate the communications offices, putting that together for us, and having that on there available all the time. Matt Burford, who is listed as Doug Rogers on your screen. Matt Burford, thank you so much for filling in for Doug today. Doug’s got one or two others going right now at the same time. So he just decided it was too much for one person. And he asked Matt to take this one for us. And we appreciate Matt filling in, and taking the hosting role there for us as well. But thank you guys so much, Josh and Mike and Daniel for being here, for your input. I look forward to being with you again, Daniel in two weeks, as you get to take the lead, and I’ll share with us about evangelism, and whatever you need me for I’ll help with on that one, as you know. But thank you so much all. Everyone that was participants here that joined in, God bless you all have a great day, and a great weekend. Jesus Christ, watch for where He’s already at work around you, in your community, in your culture, that’s where He wants you to join Him. Have a great blessed day, and we’ll see you either in person or on another webinar soon. God bless.