More Than Ideas
Idea Day Looks toward the Future
Luke 10:2 The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
John 4:35 Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
Idea Day is a day to share ideas. When Josh Irmler, Steve Miller, and I started tossing around the concept of a roundtable for pastors that could serve as a collaborative brainstorming session – we had a pretty simple motto. No agendas, just ideas. Over the last 4 years we’ve held 10 Idea Days in various locations benefiting from the collective experience of hundreds of pastors, missionaries, and evangelists. At each one of these events we’ve watched as God would pour out a gracious spirit of unity, bind the hearts of men and women in deep ministry friendships, and bless the day with abundant ideas to be utilized in practical ministry.
Idea Day will always be about discussion and development of fresh ideas. However, I feel as if God is wanting us to do more.
For how many years will we be satisfied with sitting around talking about assimilation tactics, evangelism methods, and leadership pipelines? Isn’t there more? Yes, the ideas we discover certainly improve our individual assemblies! But when will be start thinking of the broader family of God? When will we utilize these important moments of fellowship and gleaning to advance Christ’s global kingdom, and not simply our own local work? When will Idea Day take its’ next step big step?
At this year’s Idea Day Summit we will be hosting a prototype event called The Church Planter Fundraiser. This 2-hour Luncheon will have a dual purpose. First, we will introduce 10 church planters who have recently started or will soon start a new local church. Our goal will be to catch their vision and give financially toward their efforts. Second, there will be a strategic time of prayer where we gather around these brave souls and help launch their ministries with communal prayer and 12-month prayer pledges.
Why call it a prototype? Because I see the possibility of this little luncheon becoming an avenue to do even greater things in the realm of Gospel advancement in the years to come.
Three areas we must consider:
National Church Planting
I thank God for the nearly one dozen churches that chose to financially support our church plant! 15 year ago my father and I were in the trenches of fundraising for the new church we felt God was leading us to start. Heather and I would lead this new work and we would be primarily supported by our sending church, Liberty Baptist. However, there were several churches who felt led of God to come alongside our fledgling church and financially give to this risky venture. Franklin Road Baptist Church, Lancaster Baptist Church, Campus Church in Pensacola among others generously sacrificed so that we could reach the lost of Southwest Las Vegas with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
A new wave of young leaders are now emerging from within our ranks. They too are being led to new locations in order to plant new local churches! They too will need the moral support, financial backing, and prayer that we were afforded.
Not every one of these church planters will be planting identical, cookie-cutter churches. They will be uniquely contextualized to their specific mission field. However, they will all have agreed to a very specific statement of faith that includes their understanding of the Godhead, the Scripture, Salvation, Eternal Security, Creation, and the Second Coming. We are committed to finding leaders who are theologically conservative but may differ in philosophy of ministry or practical methodology.
It breaks my heart to see young and gifted independent Baptists plant with very little financial and prayer support simply because they will choose to lower their lights during worship, sing newer songs, and not wear a businessman’s suit into the pulpit. We can change this.
There are three choices currently presented to young Independent Baptist church planters who may slightly differ on philosophy or methodology. First, pretend to agree with everyone’s personal preference, stay away from social media, and be careful not to reveal what you actually think. Second, use methods that are not yet denominationally approved but expect zero to little support. Third, find another denomination or network that won’t micromanage your decisions but will in turn ask for a percentage of your offerings in perpetuity. Only the first option is immoral while the other two are certainly not ideal. We’d like to offer a fourth option.
National Church Revitalization Projects
In the coming years we will see hundreds of Baptist churches being handed over to new leadership. As Baby-Boomers draw closer to retirement we are seeing young Gen-Xers and Millennials taking pastoral leadership. Most of these church have seen better days. Most of these churches are not thriving as they once were. Common is the story of a church that once maintained 300 members but is now lucky to have 30 show up on a given Sunday. They need to be revitalized!
Personal friends who have attempted to revitalize a church have told me that the struggle is real and the mission not easy. However, the trends tell us that many of our brethren will be called to do precisely this. Yes, I see church revitalization as a noble effort, a difficult effort, but not an effort without its perks. Often there will be a core group of people who are ready for change! Often there will be savings account with utilizable funds! Often there will be church property that has long been without a mortgage! In these cases we find incredible potential to do big things in a relatively short span of time.
Yet, this calling is not without its drawbacks. Those who answer this call will need a guide who has expertise in the area of Church Revitalization. This is why Idea Day is excited to be partnering with Thom Rainer. The books he has written, the podcasts he has produced, the data he has collected, and the Revitalize Network he is establishing show that Dr. Rainer is uniquely qualified to address the issues facing Church Revitalizers. This is why we have selected Thom Rainer to be the first ever Keynote Speaker at an Idea Day event. We believe that church revitalization will be one of the most important aspects of ministry for Independent Baptist leaders as we enter the next decade.
The 2019 Rainer keynote will set us up perfectly for our 2020 fundraising luncheon where we plan on presenting 10-15 key revitalization projects that have great potential for numerical growth, spiritual growth, and kingdom advancement. During this event we will meet bi-vocational pastors who, if given the opportunity, would be able to accomplish even greater things in a faster way. We will be able to provide moral and prayer support to those of us who are facing the most difficult battles associated with church revitalization. We can help keep thousands of churches from closing their doors, encourage tens-of-thousands of elderly saints who have faithfully held on through the lean years, and retain millions of dollars in assets that will vanish if these churches don’t experience the power of revival, renewal, and revitalization.
International Missionary Projects
The day is coming where missionaries will be asked more about their passion of their field than their preferences with dress. Too many missionaries are under a self-imposed gag order due to the rise of hyper-separatism among our Baptist brethren. Good missionaries who know very well the dangers of syncretism are afraid to properly contextualize their ministry due to the threat of “being dropped” by churches in the United States. So then, many are stuck with a binary choice between increasing their secrecy or limiting their ministry. Don’t believe me? Call a missionary. Calm his fears by assuring him that you are calling for research purposes and will not consider dropping them based upon their answers. Ask them if they feel limited in methodology by the preferences of American ministers. Perhaps I’m mistaken.
There is much to celebrate in the way we as Independent Baptists send missionaries around the world. Limited financial overhead, limited bureaucracy, and intimate relationships between local churches and international missionaries are all praiseworthy aspects of our structure. But there is also much that needs to change. When a missionary is asked what his wife wears to bed. When a missionary is asked what books he reads and conferences he attends. When a missionary is asked if he will be using the “old hymns” in the jungles of PNG. It’s getting silly, right? This kind of demanding of global conformity needs to end.
In the years to come, Idea Day Network needs to be a place that Independent Baptist missionaries can come to express their divine calling to a people group, their passion for a specific nation, their plan for reaching their targeted field, and an alignment of ACTUAL fundamental doctrine.
Is all of this possible in 2019? No.
Some of these things will take us our entire lifetimes to see come into fruition. But this doesn’t discourage me. Personally, I’ve got another 40 years of ministry ahead of me – and I (for one) am committed to seeing us return to the Biblical principles that made the Independent Baptist Movement such a powerhouse so many years ago. I’m excited to see us return to the Baptist distinctives of Individual Soul Liberty, Priesthood of the Believer, and Autonomy of the Local Church.
Is all of this possible in 2019? No.
But we can start with a little Church Planter’s Fundraiser. We can gather for these presentations, pray over these brave couples, and commit to support them financially. We may not arrive at all of our goals immediately. We may not see all of our dreams become reality in a few short years. But we can take simple steps forward.
Idea Day will always be a day to share ideas. But, perhaps it’s time we consider doing more.
The Church Planter Fundraising Luncheon is only ONE of the many events planned for the January 28, 2019 Idea Day Summit! For a full Schedule of the 2019 Idea Day Summit – http://ideaday.net/events/schedule
To register for this incredible event – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/idea-day-summit-tickets-46172172210?aff=erelexpmlt
We have had a record number of registrations for this event already! If you are planning on attending – please consider registering as soon as possible to secure your spots at each of the scheduled events.
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