Starting and Strengthening Congregations – Columbia Metro Connection #001

Welcome to the Columbia Metro Connection, a podcast where you can go to get valuable, relevant, and quality resources for you and your congregation.
     The Columbia Metro Connection is sponsored and supported by the Columbia Metro Baptist Association and the almost 100 partner churches that support the ministry of the CMBA.
     This first podcast features George Bullard providing an initial overview of Starting and Strengthening Congregations priority of the CMBA.
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Co-hosts for Podcasts:

Tentative Future Podcasts:

  • January 23rd: John Daugherty of OperationInasmuch.org on a compassion revolution.
  • February 13th: Tommy Hutto of Crooked Run Baptist Church sharing Our Family Stories on a smaller membership church and missional engagement.
  • February 27th: Greg Atkinson of Worship Impressions on the Secrets of a Secret Shopper.

Highlights:

My strong desire is that all congregations will be captured by God’s empowering vision for them and continually journey towards their full Kingdom potential. – George Bullard

At the end of the day, we are just sick people who need the same medicine that we are passing out. – JayWill Wilson

A congregation is a spiritual organism. It is a living, breathing, moving, dynamic, ever-changing organism. And, an association is also a spiritual organism and closest in character and nature to that of congregations. – George Bullard

The synergy of [our association to church relationship] allows for greater Kingdom progress among the fellowship area of the association and throughout our nation and the world. – George Bullard

Too often even associations, like churches, simply try to keep busy doing many good things. But I believe the urgency of the good news of Jesus Christ would have us focus on Gospel essentials. – George Bullard

Empowering congregations to be more vital and vibrant missional communities is what we want to seek to accentuate. – George Bullard

Columbia Metro Baptist Association Focus:

  1. Empowering Congregations – Focus on the vitality and vibrancy of congregations
  2. Multiplying Congregations – Planting new congregations strategically situated for the lost, the unchurched, the de-churched, and the underchurched.
  3. Transforming Congregations – Helping existing congregations soar to new heights.
  4. Developing Leadership – Developing leaders in the Richland County area.
  5. Impacting Communities – Helping more congregations to more often get outside their church buildings and engage in a Compassion Revolution that offers the opportunity to engage in good works in ways that the Good News can be authentically shared.
  6. Collegiate Ministry – Connecting churches with those students of higher education.
  7. Missional Partnership – Resourcing congregations to do ministry beyond the fellowship area of our association.

Vision Tuesdays Beginning in January –

Show Transcript:

Topic: Starting and Strengthening Congregations

Welcome to the Columbia Metro Connection. A podcast where you can go to get valuable, relevant, and quality resources for you and your congregation. The Columbia Metro Connection is sponsored and supported by the Columbia Metro Baptist Association and the almost 100 partner churches that support the ministry of the CMBA. Hosts for this week’s episode are:

George Bullard, the Director of Missions for the Columbia Metro Baptist Association, strategic leadership coach, lead missiologist, and virtuoso of all things church-related.

Jay Will Wilson, teaching pastor at Generation Church, urban missionary, and radio host at Urban City Radio.

And I’m Chris Reinolds, lead pastor at Killian Baptist Church and founder of StrategicShepherding.com.

We want to welcome you to the flagship episode of the Columbia Metro Connection: the place to go to get Kingdom resources for you and your congregation.

(Laughter)

CR: Well, personally, I cannot express how excited I am to be able to sit down with you guys and do this show. I know that’s something we’ve been talking about since somewhere in October. And, George, I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to be a part of it.

GB: Glad to do so.

JW: Yeah, I think this is a great opportunity for not just for us to get together and fellowship but for our fellowships to get together and get to know each other and just talk about different ministries.

CR: Absolutely

JW: So, I think this is a great opportunity.

GB: Well, I think it is too. Of all the people I could’ve gotten together with, you know, you two are one of them.

(Laughter)

CR: Oh, good, thanks.

JW: I don’t know if that’s a compliment or…

GB: Well, I do want to tell you though. My vision for this podcast is that we could provide timely, helpful information for pastors, staff persons and lay leaders in our congregations. My strong desire is that all congregations will be captured by God’s empowering vision for them and continually journey towards their full Kingdom potential.

CR: Mmhmm

GB: You know, time is the most precious commodity of the 21st century. All of us would like to have more money. But, the reality is that time is more precious than money. So, these approximately 20 – 22-minute podcasts are intended to help leaders learn something positive that will enhance their ministry by investing just a few minutes. The medium of podcasts means that they can learn wherever they are if their schedule doesn’t allow them time with others in a face to face setting.

CR: I agree wholeheartedly. One of the.. one of the most discouraging realities that I think that pastors face is the isolation that comes whenever you’re sitting in the Senior chair and, so, having some kind of resource, um, that speaks directly to pastors and be able to help them, um, as they are seeking to do ministry out in the field. Um, I think, I think it is incredibly beneficial.

JW: Yeah, and it will give us a chance to reveal the fact that we aren’t perfect. Sometimes we are looked at as the people to give all of the answers.

CR: Right

JW: All the solutions. And at the end of the day, we are just sick people who need the same medicine that we are passing out.

CR: Absolutely. That is exactly the case. Which is why I’m excited and thrilled to be partnered up with what you’re doing George within the Columbia Metro area. Now, for our listeners who may be new to the Columbia Metro area, George is our newly elected… now, I’m gonna make sure I get this right because it is a long one… Associational Director of Missions for the Columbia Metro Baptist Association.

JW: Now, I bet you can’t say that five times fast.

CR: Yeah, I don’t think I can say that.

JW: So, George, when did you come on?

GB: Well, you know, guys, time flies when you’re having fun or when you’re in the center of God’s will for your life and you generally love what you do. I actually started way back on July the 1st of last year. So, I’ve been in this role for more than six months as we are sitting now together taping this podcast.

CR: Now, your role as far as your perception of the role of Director of Missions is a little bit of a different take. And, when you were elected, one of the things you did was you delivered a speech that really highlighted each one of those differences. So, for this first episode, we’d like to take some time to interview you so that people can hear the different approach to your methodology.

GB: I must admit, guys, that I think I do have a different perspective on the role of the Baptist association. For one thing, I grew up in the home of an Associational Director of Missions. My father, three times in his life, served as an Associational Director of Missions. But, along the way, one of my mentors was a really funny guy named Russell Bennett who was also a person who understood deeply associationalism and would carry the title of Missiologist. Someone who knows about missions and the kind of things we need to be doing. He had a statement that went something like this: You know, there are churches and there are associations. Then, the ungodly are not so and those are our state conventions and Southern Baptist national agencies. But, here’s what he meant: A congregation is a spiritual organism. It is a living, breathing, moving, dynamic, ever-changing organism. And, an association is also a spiritual organism and closest in character and nature to that of congregations. But, a state convention and national agencies are organizations. Their role is an important one of programs, projects, and events but they do not have a primary family or solution or wisdom relationship with congregations. Their relationship is more of “acquaintance.” I know a few churches are friends. I have a few churches I know pretty well and they’re more into the broad scale, deep scope and they are more about providing information and knowledge and not really getting to the point of full wisdom that you get when you sense, you know, smell, taste or hear congregations.

JW: So, now, George, some people may interpret that in a way that you’re not meaning. Uh, you’re not saying that there’s something wrong with the state and national convention, right?

GB: Well, not in theory. Now, I know some state conventions and national agencies that are a little weird from time to time..

(Laughter)

GB: But, no, state conventions and national agencies are very important as a part of an integrated strategy to fulfill The Great Commission and the spirit of The Great Commandment. No part of our three-dimensional denominational structure is better than the other. Each, at their best, and that’s a very important phrase, at their best, has a unique and distinct role that contributes to the work of God’s Kingdom.

CR: Yeah, I think that that’s an accurate assessment and one of the things that you mentioned, in your speech that you gave, is that associations are really the foundation for the primary missional and fellowship relationship of churches with one another in the fulfillment of The Great Commission and the spirit of The Great Commandment. Now, if you could explain a little bit about what that means whenever you talk about that associations are the foundation for primary missional and fellowship relationships of churches in their desire to be obedient to Jesus’s command.

GB: Alright, using that phrase I introduced just a minute ago because associations are at their best closest in character and nature to congregations and closest geographically, they have a 24/7, 365, that means every day of the week, every week of the year, they have a close relationship with congregations. They can experience a full and deep relationship. Did you know that churches actually join and are members of a local Baptist association but churches only affiliate with their state convention and the Southern Baptist Convention. The relationship is totally different. That is why we call associations a family, solutions, and wisdom relationship.

CR: Now, if I could, I have a little bit of a follow up from what you just said there. A couple months ago, I was able to attend a conference you’ve been doing for, I guess, several years now. It’s called the Congregational Champions Retreat and, in that retreat, you talk about some of these things. And, specifically, you mention the importance of building a familial style or atmosphere among the churches where we begin to rely on one another for strength and encouragement, support and even some ideas. Now, this is really counterintuitive from my experiences in associations. Is this sort of the direction that you desire to see our local association to go towards?

GB: It certainly is, Chris. Churches and associations, again, I may be overusing this phrase but I think it is important to say–at their best and we are striving to be at our best in the Columbia Metro Baptist Association, have an interdependent relationship with one another. The synergy of such a relationship allows for greater Kingdom progress among the fellowship area of the association and throughout our nation and the world.

JW: Now, in your speech when you were elected last summer, one of the last statements you made was “We can stay busy or we can stay focused on Gospel essentials.” Can you please explain that statement?

GB: Sure. Yeah, you know it is very easy for us, as Baptists, to stay busy. In fact, the humorist Will Rogers used to say that he was tired of his taxes paying for roads to be built for Baptists to tear down going to meetings.

(Laughter)

GB: So, ugh, too often even associations, like churches, simply try to keep busy doing many good things. But I believe the urgency of the good news of Jesus Christ would have us focus on Gospel essentials. You know, what’s the main thing and keeping the main thing the main thing. Additionally, from a human and business perspective, did you know that, over the years, the North American society has taken a word that, for 300 or 400 years, was a singular word, the word “priority,” and turned it into a plural word, priorities. When they made it a plural word, that diluted our focus.

CR: Absolutely.

GB: And, I’m trying to lead our association to have what I call “Our One Priority.” The way I start it is “Starting and strengthening congregations to serve as vital and vibrant missional communities.” Things that we’ve been doing that do not fit that priority we’re, quite frankly, going to try to eliminate unless there’s some key reason to keep doing them. Empowering congregations to be more vital and vibrant missional communities is what we want to seek to accentuate.

JW: Now, that sounds like a great idea. What are our strategies to fill our one priority?

GB: We’re trying to play out and roll out some strategies. And, right now, we are saying that there are seven that we are going to focus on. Um, so, it is a little bit of a long list but let me start moving into to it here. First is what we call “Empowering Congregations.” This is sort of foundational for us where we are focusing on the vitality and vibrancy of our congregations. We consider this our key, beginning strategy. Second, is Multiplying Congregations. Again, my family was involved a lot in planting new congregations and new congregations strategically situated for the lost, the unchurched, the de-churched, and the under-churched are one of the best methods of evangelism and new member recruitment. So, our associational fellowship area is expected to increase in population by 200,000 people in less than 25 years. Many new congregational expressions and evangelism efforts are gonna be needed in our context. A third one, we call “Transforming Congregations.” It’s a what I’ve spent most of my last 40 years devoting myself to under a rubric I call “Faith Soaring Congregations.” So, many of our congregations in our association need from just staying busy to where they are soaring with faith. Fourth is “Developing Leadership.” We have a particularly unique situation in the Columbia Metro Baptist Association in that, when you consider the population in our primary core county, Richland County, we are a majority minority demographically.

JW: Yes.

GB: So, we need mature, motivated, and insightful leadership that is multicultural and helps create an intercultural leadership base for our diverse setting.

CR: Now, all of this information is a lot to chew on. Especially for our listeners who are just hearing this information for the first time. Um, and, I know you’ve given many talks and had many conversations so we want to make sure that they know that, um, all of this information will be available in the show notes also with links so they can check out that information as well. But, those are just four of them, I think you said, seven of the strategies—

GB: I did.

CR: Now, that’s more than what most associations are doing—

JW: Yes.

CR: or will do in probably their lifetime. How can we accomplish that and how can there still be more things?

GB: The good news about that, and maybe the unfortunate news about that is that our association is a five talent association. God has given us a lot of resources and abilities and availability so to do any less than three more beyond the first four, uh, it is kind of like turning our back on God. And, we can’t do that. So, I really do need to add three of what I call “Supporting Strategies.” And, so, if I could, the fifth one is what I call “Impacting Communities.” We must help more congregations to more often get outside their church buildings and engage in a Compassion Revolution that offers the opportunity to engage in good works in ways that the Good News can be authentically shared.

CR: I like that Compassion Revolution. That’s good.

JW: Yeah, I like that.

GB: Well, we have a guy coming in January, that we will talk about in a minute, that will talk about the Compassion Revolution.

CR: Oh, okay.

GB: Ah, sixth, is “Collegiate Ministry.” If you think about it, including the residential and commuter students, our associational area has close to 50,000 people enrolled in higher education. That’s actually an increase from around 35,000 people just about 15 years ago. Already one-fourth of our congregations are involved with these students and their campuses. We must continue to focus on this strategy. So, there is a final one and that’s the seventh and we call it “Missional Partnerships.” This involves what our congregations do beyond the fellowship area of our association. We are a resourcing association. We need to do our part to impact the nation and our world with the unconditional love of God through Jesus Christ.

JW: That’s awesome. When do we get started with this? I mean, I want my congregation to be part of this. How can we get plugged into it?

CR: Well, I have to say, Jay Will, our congregation here at Killian, we’ve already begun benefitting from this transforming congregations strategy because we are doing a church revitalization here so I suspect that I’m probably not the only one already started benefitting from it and I’m sure there are others as well.

GB: Right you are, Chris. You know, you already are benefitting and we’ve had some time to be together at conferences and individually to help you move forward at Killian and you’re doing a great job. We appreciate it.

CR: Thank you.

GB: And it honors our Lord. But, what you’ve experienced this far, I hope, is only the beginning. The best really is yet to come. We’ll be introducing new parts of these seven strategies every month during 2018. One avenue to do this is what we’re going to be calling “Vision Tuesdays.” These will take place eight times per year, generally on the third Tuesday of the month. And, if you want more information about it, I urge people to already go to our website at ColumbiaMetro.org to see about these Vision Tuesdays and what we will be offering.

JW: This is a lot of information and my head is kind of spinning by now. I really hope that more churches get involved. That my church will get involved. I hope God will really use this for such a big challenge, um, it’s going to be great!

GB: Jay Will and Chris, it is certainly my hope that we will follow God’s lead into the mission field all around us.

CR: I hope to curb you guys’ enthusiasm as we seek to progress forward and discuss all those various ways in which we can engage the mission field that is around us but, at this point, we’ve run out of time for this initial episode of our podcast.

JW: Now, one last thing. George, do you have anything—Do you know anything about our future podcasts?

GB: Well, I kind of alluded to it a little while ago. When we have our first Vision Tuesday, on January the 16th, our guest speaker will be John Daugherty of Operation In As Much that can be found online at OperationInAsMuch.org. He’ll be speaking about how we go about creating a Compassion Revolution through ministry engagements in our diverse communities and neighborhoods throughout our association. And, we will be piloting some of the things he’ll be suggesting to us in the Fall of 2018 and hopefully having a full-blown Compassion Revolution experience in the Spring of 2019.  By the way, a little trivia here, reservations are going to be required for that Vision Tuesday because we are going to be having a free lunch provided by the Southern Mutual Church Insurance Company.

JW: So, don’t show up if you haven’t reserved… (laughter)

GB: That’s right. But, see our website for more information or connect with our Facebook page would be the thing to do.

CR: Alright, well, our time really is up but if you’re interested in connecting with any of us through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, be sure to check out the show notes from today’s episode and all the applicable links will be there. Also, if you’ve found this podcast helpful to you or your ministry, could you please go over to iTunes and leave a review and a rating so that we can get the word out about what God is doing in the Columbia Metro area. Until next time, from all of us at the Columbia Metro Connection, we thank you for listening and urge you to share this podcast with everyone you know. It’s the good news about the Good News in the Columbia Metro Baptist Association.

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