This month I spent a beautiful week in Black Forest Colorado with our daughter Krista and her family. She has a hobby farm with several varieties of animals. I did some fence mending for her, trying to keep a sneaky goat in the pen. I also shoveled some stuff daily, helping clean up the barn. I watched a baby goat come into the world and was amazed at how quickly he stood up and jumped around!
I also attended a President’s Council this month. All of the Presidents from the Southern Union get together and we are led by our Union President, Dr. Ron Smith. The devotionals each day were led by the Union Officers and all were on the topic of leadership. The discussions were really deep and extremely interesting. An example of our conversation one morning was the question: “Is Christian leadership the same thing as secular leadership?” As we approached this question we understood that some principles cross over, but being a Christian leader stands head and shoulders above a secular leader in guidance, integrity, openness, transparency, and forgiveness. We reviewed our “call” to leadership and it was a true heart experience for me. We agreed that leaders must lead. I really feel the Holy Spirit touching my life when I have these moments with the Presidents. I'm so grateful to be part of the Southern Union. One other thing we did was listen to a podcast each day. What Mark Finley is doing up east is worth listening to. I encourage you to give all of them a listen as you finish up your day or are traveling. You can find the podcasts here: https://www.theleadpodcast.com/podcast
2019 will be devoted to evangelism followed by 2020 being committed to raising up plateaued churches and declining attendance. 2021 will be dedicated to finding our missing members and encouraging them to come back home. Lofty goals for a Union, but I believe in the effort it will take to accomplish each one.
We discussed tithe and our use of it. I am happy to report that across our Southern Union we have a gain of 6.75%. I want to thank you for your faithfulness in returning tithe. There is so much to do, and your faithfulness enables us to do that and much more each quarter here in Gulf States Conference.
Florida Conference has a new President. Some of the things that he shared were disconcerting. One was that he is responsible for 311 churches in the state of Florida. For comparison we have 91 churches in Gulf States. He reported that 70 of those 311 churches have not had a baptism in the last five years. Startling!!! I don’t know how we can read our Bible and Spirit of Prophecy and not come to the conclusion that churches must continually reach out to the lost among us. Church cannot resort to an event once in a while, but must constantly be looking outside itself to influence this godless society we live in.
I found this conversation the new Florida President had with one of his pastors most interesting. It went like this: Pastor: “So as a new President what are your plans for the conference?” President: “What is your plan for your district?” Pastor hung his head and said: “I don’t have any plans.” President: “Then we have a problem because my plan is to support your plan.”
After hearing this I was so thankful for our approach we began in January of this year. When August arrives we will once again, for the third time this year, sit down with all of our pastors and go over their plans and seek ways we can support and encourage them. Our Administrative team relishes this time with our pastors. I know we are on the right road to our Conference being more successful in the areas of necessity.
After listening to Pastor Hernandez’s podcast from the Ministerial Department of our Union, he says when trying to reach millennials (anyone born between 1981-1996, and according to Pew Research Center, people between the age of 22-36) the truth must be relevant, bible-based and helpful. He said they don’t like long series of any kind. When presenting difficult topics such as the Mark of the Beast they must be presented with sensitivity. They want their friends treated well by their church and they want church to be like a family. So many of them have grown up with fractured families they are hungry to belong to a caring, forgiving and holy family.
Until next month,