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Serving Christ Through Montgomery Area Churches KEN MAY, DIRECTOR OF MISSIONS THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2012

A Personal Word
A few weeks ago I began this column briefly telling the story of my fathers illness and death. He was diagnosed the week after Thanksgiving and died the second week of January the following year. The time he spent in our home and the hospital came to just over six weeks. I have often wondered what might have been had we been able to diagnose his cancer earlier. He began complaining of Ken May lower back pain in September, saw an orthopedic doctor in September and another physician in October while visiting my brother. Only later did I learn that he had mentioned something about his symptoms to a cousin in late July. If the cancer had been caught before it metastasized, things might have been different. Rather than dwell on these what ifs, I want to utilize this personal example as an illustration about church health. If we can identify the symptoms and their causes early enough in the life of a church, the potential for healing and restoration are much greater. However, if we wait until most of the life has drained out of a church before we begin the process, we are more like hospice, seeking to make the patient comfortable in the final days. If we wait until the critical numbers are so small after people have left, then our ability to bring transformation and wholeness are almost impossible. I realize that with God all things are possible, but usually in this last stage of church illness, the focus is so strong on maintaining the things the members cherish that no energy can be directed toward outreach and growth. When our focus is on keeping the doors open and the lights on, there is no attention given to reaching those in the community. Also, when the diagnosis is delayed, often the people with vision and the energy to reach out have already departed for a more wholesome church experience, leaving only the most recalcitrant and a few struggling pilgrims. Across the past four to five decades, Montgomery has seen tremendous demographic transitions. Churches, particularly those that were once neighborhood churches, have struggled because their neighborhood has undergone radical change. In most cases but not all, during the time of transition, these churches also have had significant internal struggles. Sometimes the conflict had to do with church staff. Other times, the problems were simply internal conflict. Regardless, these issues took priority over the mission of the church. One wonders if we had been able to constructively address these issues, would the church be in the condition it is in today? If the church had rallied around her mission instead of around personal matters, would they have remained strong enough to reach this changing community. Churches that are struggling will often acknowledge the need to reach younger people and will sometimes think calling a young pastor to this senior adult church is the answer. One DOM asked a church comprised mainly or totally of senior adults, How many of you have young friends? Of course the answer was zero. He told them, If you want to reach young people, you have to make and become genuine friends with them. This of course requires a significant investment of

time and energy and a gracious willingness to learn about a different generations ways without being condemning. It requires learning, patience and a strong commitment to make it work. I remember seeing the frustration in the doctors eyes when he realized the knot on my fathers chest was a tumor. I imaging he was asking in his mind why wasnt this noticed and diagnosed earlier? Let me encourage you to pray about your churchs health. Pray for MBA churches that are struggling and need to re-dream the dream and rediscover the vision God has for them. Pray that those churches in a hospice situation will be Kingdom stewards of their legacy. Pray that we can start new churches required to reach Montgomerys lost and unchurched. I am counting on your prayers!

Community of Hope NEEDS YOU!!!

Volunteers are needed on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to help serve families who come through for food, clothing and furniture. You can work all day OR divide your day into one of two shifts, morning or afternoon. The benefits are extremely rewarding! Contact Lou Ann Raughton at 235-2634 or email her at lraughton@knology.net. Check out their website at: www.community-of-hope.org.

ASSOCIATIONAL BIBLE DRILL Bivocational Pastors Breakfast

April 14, 2012 (Please note the date change.) 7:30 - 9:00 a.m. MBA Office Contact the MBA office at 271-6227 to make reservations. First Baptist April 15, 2012 Registration 1:30 p.m.

Ministers Conference Catoma

April 16, 2012 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Make reservations at the MBA office by Friday, April 13 at 271-6227.


Pinedale Baptist Church April 26, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.
Meeting Focus: Project Help Human Exploitation Questions: Call Tammy Rolling at 201-2488

Lakeview Baptist Church is seeking a part-time Student Minister. Must have a personal experience with Christ and a willingness to teach and lead teenagers and older children. Salary based on experience and willingness to become a vital part of our staff. Send resume to Pastor, Lakeview Baptist Church P.O. Box 241738, Montgomery, AL 36124.

The Montgomery Baptist Association 20 Interstate Park Montgomery, Alabama 36109 334-271-6227 www.mgmbaptist.org This publication is made possible by your churches contributions to Associational Missions.