Missional Monday: The Wisdom of Considering Your Community’s Calendar

mmCalendars reflect priorities. They reflect what an individual or an organization chooses to do with its time – a precious commodity. Most churches have a master calendar that contains all ministry events, facility reservations, service times, and ongoing ministries to its membership and others. Churches have leadership groups whose responsibility it is to coordinate these activities. An important task in planning is to ensure as little overlap as possible. The last thing a church needs is to schedule multiple ministry opportunities on the same day that cause the people to have to choose. There is another calendar, a calendar often overlooked by churches – the community calendar. Local communities have a calendar that lists events, news, festivals, and other functions unique to them. Town and city councils publish these calendars far enough ahead to the ensure the residents can participate.

Why does this matter? For far too long the church and its community have been content to exist and function as if they have no need for each other. This is simply not true. If a church believes their community matters, the two should work together as often as possible. The church needs the community. The community is the place and the people into which God has planted the church as agents of light and ministers of grace. God has called His people to their community to flavor and influence it positively with the good news of the gospel. The community needs the church. Whether they acknowledge it or not does not negate the truth. The community needs the influence and care the local church offers. The community needs the church to serve it and make a difference.

Please hear me closely. I am not advocating allowing the secular community to determine the actions and direction of the church. I do not believe that would be wise. I am certain the community would not allow the church to determine its activities and direction. Does the church have a responsibility to be involved in the life of their local community? Absolutely. Can both parties benefit when this happens? No doubt.

I have given a great deal of thought to this and the what I have found has shaped my ministry philosophy. When planning ministry opportunities, the church should consider what is happening in the community at that time. The purpose is to determine the possibility of the church’s involvement. When there are special events in the community, the church would do well to seek ways to involve itself. As the church involves itself in the everyday life of the community, trust is built and relationships are formed.

The goal for the church as it relates to the community is to be an agent of change and hope through the message of the gospel of Christ. When the community sees the church cares about the people and their future with no strings attached, credibility is earned. Must the community acknowledge the church for the church to be credible? Of course not. Jesus Christ established the New Testament Church and needs no secular approval. However, the old saying is true here, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Credibility is a bridge by which the gospel travels. Consistent involvement is necessary if we hope to make a difference and a lasting mark on the community where the church has been planted. Why compete when we can cooperate?


The Driving Force Behind Ministry: Part #3

In part one of this series I spoke about the available ministry options for churches, limitations, and the need to focus precious resources on what matters the most. In part two I highlighted the first of two common ministry models: event-driven ministry. Today, community-driven ministry. I’ll place my proverbial “ministry cards” on the table here. I believe the overall ministry of a church should be driven by a concern and care for the community in which the church is planted. This concern should serve as the basis for all the church does for God’s glory.

The prophet Jeremiah ministered during a dark and difficult time in Israel’s history. His message of hope and confidence must have been hard to hear considering their captivity. His centuries-old words to Israel are worthy of the church’s attention today. He wrote, “Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7). He spoke of the Lord’s placement of His people and their proper response to that placement. Essentially, God told them to be concerned about the welfare of the city that was holding them captive. A revolutionary thought for sure.

In the community-driven ministry model, churches perform an exegesis of the community. Simply, the church performs a thorough analysis of its community. from this analysis, a community’s history, needs, hurts, goals, strengths, and weaknesses are discovered so ministries can be tailored to make the most impact. The church reads out of the community asking, “How can we help you?” instead of reading into the community saying, “This is how we are going to help you.” Why is this important? Not all communities are the same. Different communities require different strategies and methodologies to be reached. The ministry that flow from the traditional downtown First Baptist Church will look different from the inner-city church plant in Detroit or the Cowboy Church in Cheyenne. The ministry that flows from the rural county church will look different from the suburban church plant that meets in an elementary school. Why go to all this trouble? When a church studies the community and takes the time to understand it, the message received by the community is they matter. The message to the community is their uniqueness matters. The church cannot seek the peace of the city until they know how their community is conflicted.

In part two, I shared some of the challenges the event-driven ministry model churches may experience. The community-driven ministry model has its own challenges.

1. Community-driven churches will need to have the “we are not doing as much as other churches” discussion. It easy to allow another church’s activity and busyness to become our standard. Activity does not equal life change. It is here the church must choose deep over wide. Allowing someone else to chart a church’s ministry course is harmful. A community-driven church may not appear as busy as an event-driven church. That’s okay. It is more important to be fruitful than busy.

2. Community-driven churches will need to have the “this is not very glamorous” discussion. When a church thoroughly analyzes their community and discovers hurts, needs, and obstacles, the corresponding ministry may be messy and long-term. It’s not easy. The church must have the understanding that nice, neat, and uncomplicated ministry to community is not the normal.

3. Community-driven churches will need to have the “we are not seeing any physical results” discussion. We live in an on-demand, results-based society. When it comes to properly caring for its community, the church would be well served to view their ministry efforts as a long-term investment rather than a short-term fix. A community-driven church must understand the results of its labor, sweat, and love may not be seen this side of eternity.

Let’s go back to Jeremiah for a moment. Churches whose ministries are driven by the community where they are planted understand two critical realities.

The church does not get to choose where they minister. Jeremiah told Israel to pray for the peace of Babylon, even though they did not want to be there. Part of the church’s ineffectiveness is a desire to be somewhere else. God reminded Jeremiah how Israel found themselves in Babylon, “where I have caused you to be carried away.” Churches should grow where planted instead of always wishing to be transplanted somewhere else.

The church does not get to choose who they minister to. Israel had been carried away to an oppressive, hostile, and aggressive people who did not genuinely care for them. Healthy churches should reflect their given demographic. Churches are to love who they are given and never forget the community is its responsibility.

The Driving Force Behind Ministry: Part #2

In my last post, I spoke about the options churches have in fulfilling their individual missions. As I mentioned before, I believe the focus of a church must drive its ministry – not the other way around. I suggested two types of ministry models that drive churches today: event-driven and community-driven. Today we will examine event-driven ministry. When I speak of events, I am referring to special activities and productions that require time, planning, promotion, manpower, and finances beyond day-to-day ministry. Examples include concerts, illusionists, car shows, strength teams, sports camps, fishing tournaments, and monster truck shows (Yes, that’s what I said). I know what you may be thinking right now. Are these not good things? The answer is yes. Is a church wrong for utilizing them? Absolutely not. Can lost people be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ through events like these? Yes, and they have been.

My intent is not to degrade, minimize, or lessen the importance of events in the church. The churches I have pastored have utilized events in ministry. I am not opposed to them. My intent is to examine them their effectiveness as the driving force behind a church’s ministry. Events such as those above have an attractional element t them. They can draw a crowd. The underlying desire is to bring the community to the church campus, have them interact with the church membership, introduce them to ministries of the church, and make meaningful connections that will lead to further involvement. Churches use these types of “come see” events to ensure the community knows where they are.

I will concede that events can produce positive results within the church. Anytime you can connect those who are far from God to believers, it’s a win. However, there are certain negatives that must be considered. Three traps are possible.

  1. The “one size fits all” trap. The danger here is assuming that an event will minister to everyone equally. The larger and more diverse a community is the less effective this ministry model becomes.
  2. The “everyone else is doing it” trap. It would be very easy for a church to see the apparent success of another church due to an event and think, “if it worked for them, it will work for us.” This can lead to frustration when the same success is not experienced. Churches cannot be carbon copies of each other. Each one is unique and uniquely fitted for ministry.
  3. The “where do we go from here” trap. Event-driven ministries face two pressure points. First, there is pressure to grow the event bigger and better. This includes additional funding, manpower, and time. When the community has taken part in an event, the natural tendency is to want more and more. Second, there is pressure to add something new and unique. The thought is something like, “Okay, I’ve seen that, what’s next?” The world we live in changes by the minute. People are fickle and easily bored with what they have already experienced. If the church is not careful here it can become nothing more than an entertainment company for the community.

Every church must determine for itself what it allow to drive ministry. As far as event-driven ministry, there question that must be answered is this one, “Is the church using the event as a means to an end or is the event itself the end?”

The Driving Force Behind Ministry: Part #1

Churches today have many options when it comes to the way they will carry out their individual mission. Every day there is a new model or idea that claims to be a “can’t miss.” Churches may choose to be involved in ministry that deals with addiction recovery such as Celebrate Recovery. Churches can choose to be involved in ministries that speak to the competitive nature of children such as AWANA and Upward. Churches may invest in compassion ministries such as Samaritan’s Purse, Disaster Relief, and Habitat for Humanity who seek the meet the most basic human needs. Churches may sponsor medical ministries such as Doctors Without Borders and Nurses on Mission. Churches may even invest in ministries with very specific goals such as promoting clean drinking water through Blood Water Mission, shoes for children through Soles 4 Souls, defeating human trafficking through Abolition International and End It, and child sponsorship ministries such as Compassion International and Clubhouse Guatemala.

In a room of competing voices, the church must focus. The church must tune out everything that does not support and fulfill its mission and purpose. The church must be good stewards of its resources. There are some areas in which every church is limited. Let’s begin on the other side and look at how the church is not limited. The New Testament church does not lack power. “And I also say to you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The church is empowered for ministry. The New Testament church does not lack purpose. Jesus told His disciples to go and “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). The church is commissioned to minister. The New Testament church does not lack a presence. Again, Jesus told His disciples, “I am with you always, event to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). The church is accompanied in its ministry.

On the human side, all churches are limited by finances, time, and energy. Ministry requires funding – no way around it. Churches rely on the monetary gifts of its membership and must choose how to utilize it best. Time and energy work together. Families juggle multiple calendars daily (family, work, church, etc.) There are a limited number of hours in a day to accomplish what needs to get done. When it comes to ministry opportunities, the decision to invest precious money, time, and energy is one the church must take very seriously. There needs to a central driving force behind the decisions made. This is what author Simon Sinek referred to as, ‘knowing your why.” For example, the driving force behind private business is to make money. The driving force behind schools and universities is to impart knowledge. The driving force behind the military is to ensure the nation’s safety and freedom. Whatever the identified driving force is, an institution/organization commits the limited resources to its fulfillment. Schools and universities do not invest their resources in national defense. The military does not invest its resources in making money. Private businesses do not invest their resources in imparting knowledge. If you miss the why, you miss everything.

For years I have read about the successes and struggles of churches through denominational publications, ministry blogs, and church health books. Two types of ministry models emerged: event-driven ministry and community-driven ministry. Over the course of the net two days I will examine these models and offer my preference. Let’s discuss this.

Speaking Church May Be Hurting Us

Within every profession, service industry, and organization, there are secret languages understood only by its members. If you don’t believe me, just walk into a Starbucks and listen to the patrons order their favorite drink. You are likely to hear a combination of words and phrases that would lead you to believe aliens have landed from the far side of the moon. For example, my usual order at Starbucks sounds like this, “I’ll have a Venti bold with no room”. What I am saying to the barista is this, “I will have your largest and strongest coffee, and by the way, I do not need room for cream.” Businesses such as these have created an environment that requires the consumer to learn a language that is specific to the product they wish to consume. This may or may not be intentional. What they are saying is this “If you want to be part of our ‘group’ then you need to learn our language.” Sound unfair? Hold on. What about the church?

Before we blame the businesses for requiring us to learn a foreign language, let’s take a look at how the Christian church may be guilty. I believe many would agree that Christians have a specific lingo that we are comfortable with. We use phrases and words that we are comfortable with that may leave the first-time guest in our services scratching their head and asking “what are they talking about?” We use words such as advent, apostle, disciple, rapture, righteous, sanctification, elect, trinity, covenant, redemption, and salvation much like we would car, home, cheeseburger, chair, or grass. Phrases such as washed in the blood, give your heart to Jesus, profession of faith, and walk down the aisle roll off our church-influenced tongues the same way turn off the light, answer the phone, and wash the car do. Think of the questions that must run through the mind of the person who has never been in church before. Inside they may be asking, “Is that going to hurt?” “You’re asking me to do what?” “Is that legal?” I may be exaggerating a bit, but I think you get my point.

As a pastor, I believe the church has a responsibility to remove barriers that may keep individuals who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ from coming to know Him. Barriers such as personal preferences, fear, and past hurts are hard enough to overcome without imposing a new language for which Rosetta Stone hasn’t even written software. I am becoming increasingly aware, and fearful, that the guests in our worship services have no idea what we are talking about. What should we do? First, it is important to acknowledge the fact that we are guilty of speaking “church”. Second, I believe that every ministry leader, when writing announcements, newsletters, and ministry promotions, should filter everything through this question; “Will the words that I have written and spoken be clearly understood by someone who has never been in church before?” We owe it to the first-time guest, the seeker, and the Christian desperately desiring to serve the Lord our commitment to remove the barriers that would hinder them, including our “church” talk.

Missional Monday : Church Leaders – Are You Serving Your Community While Secretly Desiring Reimbursement?

MMlogoIt is important for church leaders to know why they engage in community ministry. This means churches must understand what drives them outside the church walls and into the neighborhoods, businesses, and schools of the community. When you combine the command to pray for the welfare and peace of the city (Jeremiah 29:7) and the commission to be witnesses for the gospel wherever we are (Acts 1:8), an important truth emerges: the church has a responsibility to those who are not a part of it. With that being said, ministry in our communities is difficult. Ministry in our communities can be messy. Ministry in our communities can be time-consuming. Ministry in our communities has a financial component to it as well. As a result, members of the church wonder, if only to themselves, “What are we getting out of this deal?” This question, at the basement level, is one of reimbursement.

There is a danger associated with the church expecting reimbursement from the community for ministry on their behalf. To reimburse means to “make repayment for expenses or loss incurred.” If the church sees community ministry as a loss from the very beginning then certainly there will be cries for reimbursement. If the church sees community ministry as a means to gain materially from the people then certainly there will be demands for repayment and compensation. How might a church seek reimbursement from the community?

  1. Filling a seat in the sanctuary. Churches may take an intentional or unintentional stance such as “we went to them now they need to come to us” stance. A common question asked by congregants is “Where are the people we have been ministering to?” The easiest measurement of ministry success is people filling a seat in the sanctuary. Although the easiest measurement, it is not always the correct measurement. Ministry is an investment. It may require multiple engagements before the gospel is understood and embraced. Churches must be comfortable with the fact that beneficiaries of their ministry may never connect to their church body. This is not easy to accept.

  1. Filling the offering plate. Churches may also take an intentional or unintentional stance such as “we gave to them financially now they need to give back to us”. Our world has conditioned us to expect something in return for services rendered. The old saying goes, “there is no such thing as a free ride”. This would be true if you viewed your community exclusively from the business standpoint, seeing them as consumers only. Is it true that your community may take a consumer approach to the church? Absolutely. The church has to resist the temptation to “even the books” and fully embrace the teachings of Jesus Christ where we’re reminded that to whom much is given, much is required.

Ministry in which the gospel is communicated and delivered, regardless of the acceptance of it, can never be viewed as a “loss incurred”. If there is no loss incurred then there is no need of reimbursement. Church leaders, the economic laws of supply and demand and return on investment are measured much differently in the church. Be generous. Give what you have.

Missional Monday : 80 Days of Summer – A Family Ministry Challenge

mmSummer is coming to an end. Vacations have been taken, school shopping is in full swing, and family schedules are getting back to normal. Summer can be a double-edged sword. On one hand you have students who are excited to be free and are thinking only of having fun. On the other hand you have parents stressing over how to keep their kids occupied for three months. It can be tricky for families to juggle the summer. Summer can be a tricky time around the church as well. Family schedules are different. Attendance patterns shift.  For this reason churches operate under an unpublished principle during the summer: don’t start anything new. Well, we violated that principle this year.

With the reality of families scattering during the summer, we asked ourselves a question, “Why does it have to be this way?” So, we decided to give our families an opportunity to spend some of their free time together in kingdom work.  On June 3rd we began 80 Days of Summer;  a family ministry challenge that would continue through August 22nd. The concept is simple. 80 Days centers around a very specific goal: to see families serving their community together.  Over the course of 80 days, 17 ministry opportunities in 9 different community locations were scheduled. We challenged our families to choose a ministry event and work together. It pleases me to be able to say that we have accomplished our goal. We have seen families, some for the first time, give up their free time and serve the kingdom through their local church.

Getting all caught up in numbers is not a good thing. With that being said, numbers do reflect a certain reality. As of this past Friday, 15 ministry opportunities have taken place with two remaining. Over the course of these opportunities, 48 different people have been involved and have contributed 902 volunteer hours to our community. My heart has been blessed this summer to know that we were committed both to our families and to our community.

Missional Monday : Love Gave 2015

mmSeveral months ago I was sitting with Shane Olsen, lead pastor of Decibel Church and Mike Green, lead pastor of the The Link at lunch. I do not remember the purpose of that meeting. Perhaps we were debriefing a past event or planning a future event. I simply can’t remember. I do remember that out conversation turned toward our city. As the discussion went on, one question seemed to emerge: How can our churches work together in order to show God’s love toward our city? We had already been serving our community in our own individual contexts. Collectively we were all part of large community-wide, non-denominational Thanksgiving event that fed hundreds and hundreds of families. Several questions helped to frame the above question.

What more could we do together?

Is once a year enough to make a real and lasting impact?

What resources could we pool and leverage to make a difference?

What is the best option for long-term and lasting impact?

It was out of this discussion that Love Gave was born.

So, what is Love Gave? Well, there is no formal mission and purpose statement. I guess you could call it an emphasis, a focus, or perhaps collaboration. My prayer is that it becomes a movement. We decided that over a 40 period (October 11th – November 22nd) that we would make it a priority to serve our city in a visible display of God’s love. During this 40 day period, each church will choose their individual emphasis. Port Royal Baptist will see 40 Days of Community. Collectively we will come together for two main community events in under-served areas; one in Beaufort (October 24th) and one in Port Royal (November 7th).  I believe a fundamental principle in community ministry is to ask agencies and city leaders how the church can help them in order to cut down on duplication and focus resources. We met with the mayor of Beaufort and Port Royal’s town manager to share our vision and seek guidance. Both recognized the need and welcomed the help. There are at least three goals we hope to attain through these events. First, it is our desire to show the cities of Beaufort and Port Royal a visible witness of God’s love through sacrifice and service. Second, it is our desire to show the community how beautiful and how strong the Body of Christ is. Lastly, it is our desire to give at least 1000 volunteer hours to our cities on each of the two city ministry days.  Although the details of each city ministry day are still coming together, we do know a few things for sure. The Beaufort ministry day will consist of park clean-up and painting, renovation work for a needy homeowner, and a carnival/block party in the Greene Street area. The Port Royal ministry day will consist of skate park repair/painting and other work in Veterans Memorial Park.

I would ask that you pray. Pray that our cities will see God’s love lived out in practical ways and that hearts will be softened to the gospel as a result. Pray for the approximately 10-12 churches that will be involved in Love Gave. Pray that their congregations will be strengthened as a result of serving their community. Please pray that this truly would be a movement that would be embraced as we partner with our cities to love the people who make them up. I would also ask that you volunteer. I would pray that you might embrace this opportunity to “be” the church.

Monday is For Missions : What Are You Doing For Others This Year?

mmThe Christmas season is upon us. Our city has begun putting up lights and decorations on the light poles that line the streets. Families have begun putting up their trees and are well into their Christmas shopping. Our church calendar is filling up quickly. Between class and ministry parties, choir celebrations, and Christmas-themed sermons, we are reminded at every turn that we have entered into a very special time in the life of the church; the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It would be very easy for us to get lost in all of the fun and fellowship side of the holiday. There is certainly a place for all of these. I often tell our people that the priority in all that we do is life-changing ministry that leads others to worship the One True God and His Son Jesus. Don’t get me wrong here, I enjoy Christmas parties. I enjoy spending time with our various ministries/classes in times of fellowship. I enjoy the fun of the Christmas season. I am thankful that in the midst of all this, we prioritize ministry opportunities that intentionally introduce people to the love of the Savior. What does this look like for us?

1. Angel Tree Christmas Party

Angel Tree is a ministry program of Prison Fellowship which reaches out to the children of inmates who are incarcerated in our state prisons and their families with the love of Christ. Angel Tree gives us the opportunity to share the Savior’s love by helping to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the prisoner’s family. Angel Tree works to connect the gift requests/desires of the inmate for his/her family and the need for the children to remain connected to their parent during an especially emotional time of year. All of this happens while maintaining the dignity of both the inmate and the family. We help to provide toy and clothing gifts to the children as well as hand-written letters and family pictures to the inmates.

2. Christmas Party at Local Multi-Housing Complex

Across the street from our church is a multi-housing complex that have been volunteering and ministering in for many years. We take time on a Saturday and provide a simple party for the residents and children. There is food, games, a small gift, and a gospel presentation through the telling of the Christmas story. The greatest present we give here is our presence. This party is a simple way for us to communicate that each one is important and that we care about them. We have found that this event, along with other seasonal events (Easter, back-to-school, etc.), are critical to building lasting and meaningful relationships.

3. Operation Christmas Child – Charlotte Distribution Center

We have some of our people heading to Charlotte to work at the Operation Christmas Child Distribution Center this year. Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse which delivers shoeboxes filled with toys, hygiene items, candy, etc. to children around the world who may not have any gifts this Christmas season. Once the shoeboxes leave local collection centers, they make their way to Charlotte to be prepared for their final trip to over one hundred countries around the world.

Allow me to leave you with a question today. What are you doing this Christmas season for someone who will in no way be able to return the favor?

Monday is for Missions : VBS, Pastorally Speaking

AgencyAgencyD3_Badge-4color D3 is in the books. The investigation of the evidence surrounding the person of Jesus Christ has been completed. As I walked around the church building this past Sunday morning, I could not help but think that it looked as if Vacation Bible School had never happened. No more colorful decorations and screaming children. Vacation Bible School makes for a very long week around the church. If you take into account the weeks leading up to the actual teaching week, many long, long hours have been logged over the past three weeks. I heard one of our workers say this past week, “There is tired and then there is Vacation Bible School tired.” This is absolutely true. Although it is physically and emotionally draining, it is worth it. When it comes to Vacation Bible School, I’m all in. I’m sold on its ministry value. I fully understand how important this week is in the life and overall ministry of the church. Now that Vacation Bible School 2014 is over, allow me to make a few observations.

1. Attendance: For better or worse, this is often the marker by which Vacation Bible School is judged as a success or a failure. I am not completely sold on this. I am not exactly sure what our average attendance was for the week. I do know that is was down from last year. Although lower, I was encouraged by our attendance. I know that may sound odd. My reason for being encouraged is not so much about how many, but who was here. It is obvious that our people were active in inviting others this week. I know this because as the kids passed through the Missions Rotation that I was leading, they wanted me to meet their friends they had brought with them. Again this year our students met the same week as our children. I was encouraged to see the largest number in Youth VBS than I had seen in years, about 16 each night. This does not count the high school students who were assisting in other areas. We had the children who were members of other churches. That is perfectly fine. We are happy to have them for a week. We also had students who were unchurched and not affiliated with a local church. This is one of the markers by which I judge success. If I can answer the question “Were we able to have children with no church affiliation on campus with us for a week and be exposed to the gospel?” positively, then we were successful. Our Adult VBS was not only made up of our own church members. One of goals in Adult Vacation Bible School is to give parents who are not involved in a local church a place to go instead of dropping their children off and going home. We accomplished our goal here. Parents had the opportunity to interact and meet other people in a non-threatening manner and be exposed to the gospel message. I believe this was a success as well.

2. Volunteers: I am thankful to all of the volunteers who worked this week. As I mentioned earlier, it was a long week. It was also very hot. I am especially thankful and grateful to all of our teachers who worked full-time jobs who left work and came straight to church for five straight days. I want to especially mention and thank those who worked in the kitchen all week. During our Vacation Bible School, we skip the Snack Rotation. Instead, we choose to provide a meal for parents, children, and workers every night. Our kitchen workers came out early, set everything up, served the kids, and stayed until all was cleaned up. This year we had many new faces working in Vacation Bible School. This is always a good thing. I say to all of our 30 plus workers, thank you. I also want to thank the summer student missionaries who are a part of the Savannah River Baptist Association Low Country Ministries who came out and helped with our big kick-off event. To all those who worked so hard, your pastor wants you to know that you are appreciated.

3. Ministry: Any time you have kids on campus you have an opportunity to be engaged in real, one-on-one, life-changing ministry. It was good to be able to spend some time with these kids one on one. During our Worship Rally, our students take up an offering each night. There is anticipated and spirit-filled battle between boys and girls to see who can raise the most money for our designate ministry cause. This gives us an opportunity to further educate our students on the importance of missions. I am excited to report that this year we raised almost $300 for M28 Church in Atlanta, a North American Mission Board church plant that we have the pleasure to partner with. To the best of my knowledge we did not have any public professions of faith. I can’t explain it in human reasoning. For many who read this, you might say we failed as a church in Vacation Bible School. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are here to share a message and plant a seed, understanding that it is God who gives the increase. We trust God’s Word knowing that it will not return unto Him void. Real ministry takes place when you take time to listen, talk to, and show love toward a child in the name of Christ. This is what we did this week. If down the road a year or two or five, in God’s timing, a gospel presentation is given and a child responds because of something that was planted in their heart this week, then we were faithful to have done our part.

Overall, we had a great week and look forward to what comes out of the efforts of this week. Again I want to thank every teacher, worker, and parent who allowed their child to be a part of our Vacation Bible School. We are eagerly looking forward to Lifeway’s VBS 2015; “Journey Off the Map” in only eleven short months.