Allowing the Spirit to Take Off and Put On
Paul presented to the Ephesians (and Mobilians) an important lesson in Ephesians 4:22-24, “to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth” (CSV).
The need to set aside the old things, also called the old nature or even the old man, is necessary for every believer. Setting aside old worship styles often is necessary for churches to grow and survive.
Eight Characteristics of a Church in Need of Revitalization
An article in the July 26, 2018 edition of The Alabama Baptist shared some information applicable to MBA churches. Churches willing to honestly evaluate will find one or more of these characteristics that need to be changed for growth to occur.
- Plateaued or declining attendance
- Lack of evangelistic fruit
- Church does not reflect the community
- Missing generations in attendance or leadership
- An idealized vision of the past
- Preoccupation with other churches
- Competing agendas within the church
- Allowing a person or group to exercise control
It is of utmost concern the number of church members who refuse to be inconvenienced in order for their church to grow. They will call a preacher to save the church and then complain because he is trying to reverse the decline. The church is in decline because it is not reaching the community. It is unreasonable to think the church can grow without changing the causes of the decline. Current research indicates 75 percent of SBC churches are plateaued or declining.
Constitution and Bylaws (C&BL) Updates
Please do not wait until there is a problem to discover the church C&BL is outdated and weak.
The updated document should include clear guidelines for membership, business meetings and for the facilities to relate to SBC/MBA. Smaller membership congregations are being targeted by unethical independent and other denominations to lose their facilities. The C&BL is the legal document for the church. It should include a statement defining members in good standing. When conflict occurs, it is too late to think about updating. Visit alsbom.org/safe for some helpful resources.
Disaster Relief Response and Preparation
Once again, SBC Disaster Relief teams are responding in NC, SC, FL and AL. The best response is to give through the SBC and state convention where the disaster has occurred. The MBA always is happy to accept financial gifts and resources to send with teams. We also help coordinate churches seeking help and teams seeking places to help.
Partnering with a specific church allows for meeting specific needs. Their list of specific resources needed also ensures timely and correct collection of resources needed. The BEST gift is a gift card so impacted families can purchase the clothes that fit, cleaning supplies they prefer and tools or furnishings needed to recover.
The infrastructure for DR is possible because of your faithful missions tithe to the Cooperative Program and Associational Missions. MBA staff continues to coordinate an extensive response from MBA churches. Those efforts are ongoing for many more weeks. Please check in with the closest DR Command Center when your teams go. Please help the families and churches where you work to complete the DR request. Coordination of needs and teams is very difficult. Of course, untrained people can be helpful. Trained people are safer and locals are much more comfortable working with trained volunteers. Please take this opportunity to encourage your people to attend SBCDR.org training.
Please accept this reminder to be prepared for the next event in Mobile. Please visit dr.mobilebaptists.org to remind yourself about the resources available to be prepared and involved. Remember our strategy is to get churches open promptly so they can serve as evangelistic ministry centers in the communities.
Intercession for the MBA Staff on your Prayer Lists
Jesus gave the example of praying for other believers in John 17. Your associational staff face challenges every day as we consult with church leaders and members. We need wisdom and direction as we consult in church conflict, staff changes, growth options, building needs, disaster relief and every other component of church life. Please add us to your Wednesday night prayer list. Please pray for provision of financial needs.
In the next two to five years, we also will see the retirement of Bobby, Ronnie, Chuck, and Thomas.
Future Focus Committee Update
Please pray for the FFC, the needed gift of property and the timely sale of the two current facilities. Our summary:
- The FFC has a unanimously approved assignment from the October 2014 Annual Session to sell and combine the IMC and MBA office buildings. Expenses must stay within the amount received from the sales.
- We are negotiating several options and offers for the IMC facility. We no longer have any chaplains living on site. The efficiency at the Port of Mobile now allows ships to unload and load in as little as 12 hours. Additional security measures also reduce the number of seafarers who can get off the ships. In a recent week we had two seafarers the entire week and seven seafarers another week. The decreased use of the facility makes us realize selling the facility is the best stewardship for the $36,000+ a year in insurance and utility overhead expenses to maintain and operate that facility.
- We are awaiting the Lord to provide a donation of the 3.5 to 5 developed acres, or an existing 8-10,000 sf facility. The current anticipated income from the sale of both buildings is not adequate to build on undeveloped property.
- The best-case scenario still is to know the new location so we can finalize building size, time frame for temporary location(s) and better negotiate the price of both MBA buildings.
- It is unnecessary to hinder ministry effectiveness with long term or multiple temporary locations.
- We cannot divert the limited proceeds from the buildings’ sales to rent temporary facilities for an indefinite amount of time.
- Multiple MBA congregations have been contacted about temporary housing. Churches with adequate space wisely will require rent and cannot commit for more than a year. Availability depends on when we start/end.
- Committee members have approached, and need to continue to approach, individuals, MBA and other congregations to donate 3.5 to 5 acres or existing 8-10,000 sf building. Options so far have not been viable due to location or refurbishing needed.
- Please continue praying, looking and talking to find the person who will be the answer to the prayers for a new location.
CWP Plan for Financial Self-Sufficiency
We already see significant progress from the April 2018 approval to move CWP toward financial self-sufficiency. The new dorm is in place, the new meeting space is underway and the finance committee was able to recommend a balanced 2019 MBA budget. Each CWP director for the last 14 years has helped us move toward financial self-sufficiency. Steady progress over those years has allowed us, with confidence, to anticipate complete financial self-sufficiency by 2023.
CWP will continue as a ministry of the MBA. Financial self-sufficiency promotes excellent stewardship of MBA missions dollars.
2019 Budget Update
The 2018 annual session approved a balanced 2019 MBA budget. We need your help to communicate with finance committees the continued need to tithe to missions.
We have reduced MBA budgets $159,256 since 2008. As you recall we lost $54,000 in subsidies from NAMB for IMC and CDD positions. Health insurance costs have increased $26,000. We have reduced insurance costs by having a part time director of International Ministries and a retired Interim Director of CWP. We have not been able to provide raises for the last seven years. We have reduced office days to four. We are praying and working to sell both facilities and combine them into a more efficient facility with lower overhead expenses.
We would be severely challenged if so many churches had not faithfully increased their missions giving to the MBA. We need additional churches to consider redistributing their missions tithe to the MBA. We average .91 percent of church missions’ gifts coming to the MBA. Please discuss with the finance committee increasing the MBA percentage of your church’s missions’ tithe.
Churches Seeking Pastors and New Pastors
Churches seeking a pastor: Higher Ground, FBC Chickasaw, FBC Tillman’s Corner, Gulfcrest, Kushla-Bethany (Tim Morgan-Interim), Riverside (Billy Burtt-interim), Vietnamese Obedience (Tien Van Tran-Interim).