Montana Baptist E-News

The Montana Baptist E-News | June 2017











Independence Day (Office Closed)

State Literacy Training

Montana Missions Offering Emphasis

Labor Day (Office Closed)

State Literacy Training

MTSBC Executive Board Meeting

Refresh Montana

Get Real West







Thanksgiving Day (Office Closed)

International Missions Emphasis

Winter Staff Retreat

Office Closed


(406) 252-7537

Montana Southern Baptist Convention

1130 Cerise Rd

Billings, MT 59101

In the early years of my church planting experience, I was very frustrated by the many Christians I encountered who wouldn’t consider coming to our church plant because we didn’t have the kinds of programs they were looking for. There was a fledgling youth program, a small choir, occasional community outreach initiatives, and the like, but nothing like many of them were familiar with in the South, where they had come from. It was difficult to get many of these “churched” people to be a part of our new work. Most of those who did join joined because they let me or someone else from the church spend some time with them and get acquainted. Eventually, they would catch our vision for the great work God was beginning in this new Denver suburb. In other words, most of the Christians who joined our new, small work did so because we developed a relationship with them. More...

We reached lost people the same way. But they weren’t looking for churches or programs. These people never asked me what programs or ministries we had at church. It didn’t matter one bit because they weren’t planning on coming to church anyway. These people were looking for something much more foundational, something we had in full measure despite our lack of bricks and mortar and programs. They were looking for someone to help them find peace. Sometimes, it was peace with their past; other times it was peace with their present; other times it peace with their futures. Most of them believed there was a God, but they were very unsure about how to know Him. They knew nothing about walking with Jesus, or sanctification, or which songs to sing, or which programs the church should have. They did know a lot about the emptiness in their lives, though.

These people may have first responded to us because we held some event or activity they were interested in, like seminars on marriage or VBS, but in the end, we reached them the same way we reached the Christians who joined us. We developed relationships with them. We went to them, spent time with them, genuinely loved them, cared for them, took time to answer their questions, and waited for God to move in their lives. We pretty much got lost people to consider the claims of Christ in the same way we got Christians to join our church—we listened to them, talked to them, and shared our life with them.

In my six months since coming to Montana, I have come to the conclusion that my experience in Denver was not unique. It doesn’t matter where you are. If you love lost people and spend time with them, you will see some of them come to faith in Jesus. Those pastors and church members who are befriending lost people and taking time to be with them are seeing some of them trust Jesus, be baptized, and join their churches.

Now, it’s true that if it’s just the pastor doing this, it is not likely going to produce any substantial upswing in the church membership numbers. It just takes too much time to lead the average lost person to faith in Jesus, and the pastor only has so much of that available. However, the only way to get others in the church to do this with the lost people around them is for the pastor and the church leaders to model it.

Some other things I know—there are plenty of lost people in Montana and God wants to save them. He is calling to them even now and revealing Himself to them in ways they cannot deny. And that’s not just my opinion. Scripture declares this to be true. Psalm 24:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Certainly, in a place as beautiful as Montana, God is revealing His presence. But most people will never know how they are supposed to respond without one of us who knows telling them. That’s Scriptural, too. Paul asks, “How will they hear without a preacher” (Romans 10:14). Even then, it is likely going to be a long, slow process. But we will never see the end result if we don’t start.

There is an added benefit to starting this in your church. The people you win to faith in Jesus will join you in your soul-winning efforts. Do you want some enthusiastic witnesses in your church? There are very few Christians who are more enthusiastic about Jesus than new Christians. They will tell their lost family members and friends. And they won’t need a lot of programs to keep them around or witnessing. You may not have all the programs many Christians want you to have before they’ll consider your church, but you do have all you need for lost people to consider your claims about Jesus. They are just looking for God. Most don’t know that’s what they’re looking for, but that’s why God has you here. You can tell them if you’ll take the time to love them and earn the right to share with them.

Let me encourage you to stop worrying about what you don’t have and start sharing what you do have. I believe you’ll find that God will honor your efforts and you’ll start seeing new people added to your church. Maybe you just need some ideas about how to get started. Give me or someone else on the MTSBC team a call. We’ll be glad to talk over ideas with you and connect you to others who can get you started brainstorming about how to begin developing relationships with lost people. You can bring new people into your church—new Christians.

William Johnson

MTSBC Recruits at the 2017 SBC Annual Meeting

William Johnson, MTSBC Church Starting Team Leader

The Art of Marriage

For the second year in a row, MTSBC has hosted an information booth at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. This years’ meeting was held at the Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The theme for the meeting was “Pray for Such a Time as This.” Over 5,000 messengers attended the convention.

Those who helped “man” the booth included Ken Bell (Outdoor Life Ministries, Bonner), Lee and Christie Merck (Church of the Rockies, Red Lodge), Michael Liner (Church Starting Missionary, Western Region), Dr. Barrett Duke (Executive Director), and William Johnson (Church Starting Team Leader). More...

The purpose of the MTSBC booth in the exhibit hall is to raise awareness for ministry opportunities in Montana and invite people to join in the work of churches and church plants throughout the state. As visitors stopped by the booth, they were engaged in conversation about their own ministries and then asked if they were interested in hearing about opportunities that existed in Montana. Visitors were given “Montana Cards” that provided the MTSBC website and a short statement of our desire to reach Montana with the gospel, refrigerator magnets that would be a constant reminder to pray for Montana, and other material about church plants, Vision Tours, etc.

Visitors expressed interests about such possibilities as pastoring, planting, sending mission teams, and partnering with MTSBC churches. We pray that we have results much like 2016, when follow up with these contacts resulted in relationships being built with other churches across the nation.

MTSBC has already secured a booth for the 2018 Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas. This should be a well-attended convention and we look forward to seeing more relationships and partnerships developed through these recruiting events.


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MTSBC Church Starting Page

MTSBC Vision Tours

Adam Burt

Summer Missionary Spotlight

Adam Burt, MTSBC Next-Gen Ministries

The Art of Marriage

This summer, students from around the nation will be serving in a Montana church near you as a Student Missionary. Fifteen students in 7 churches, to be exact.

Recently, I visited with Pastor Stan Bricker of Valley Baptist Church in Huntley and his Student Missionary Brian Cordle to hear about their experience in the Student Missionary program.

Here are some highlights:

Adam: Pastor, how has your Student Missionary helped your ministry?

Pastor Stan: Brian has done anything and everything that we’ve asked of him. If I could get more students like him, I’d take every single one of them. More...

Student Missions

Student Missions

Adam: Hey Brian, what exactly does Pastor Stan have you doing?

Brian: I do whatever needs to get done around the church. But I’m more than just a handyman or gardener. I get to teach the youth, help plan sermons, and be a part of meetings just like I’m on staff at the church.

Adam: How does the church benefit from your service in MT this summer?

Brian: I want to serve the pastor and church so they can have more time to accomplish what God has called them to do in preaching, shepherding, or outreach.

Adam: What are you learning from your time at Valley Baptist Church?

Brian: I’m growing spiritually myself, expanding my understanding of what the kingdom of God is, and helping future churches.

Adam: What’s next for you at the end of your service in the Student Missionary program?

Brian: I just graduated from North Greenville University with a BA in youth ministry and I’m applying to be a Journeyman Missionary. If I didn’t already have an apartment lined up back home, I’d probably just stay here in Montana.

Wow! What an awesome experience for both the host church and the Student Missionary. To learn more about how your church could host a Student Missionary in 2018 contact Next-Gen Director Adam Burt or visit the Student Missions page.


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Next Gen Ministries

Student Missions

Valley Baptist Church

Churches Helping Churches

It is great when a church comes up from the south to help one of our Montana churches with VBS, Outreach, or a building project, but it is also great to see one of our own churches here in Montana helping another Montana church. That’s exactly what is happening all over Montana. A couple of weeks ago, a group from Missoula’s Outdoor Life Ministry went on a mission trip to help the Big Sky Fellowship in Helena with the construction of their new building.

There were 10 in all who spent the day working on the new building project, three men and seven boys. They did a number of tasks, including installing fire blocking and nailing trusses, along with building a fence around the water wellhead. More...

Churches Helping Churches

Churches helping Churches

The team enjoyed helping out another Montana church, while at the same time serving the Lord. Ken Bell, pastor of Outdoor Life Ministries stated, “I wanted our church plant from the very beginning to be a mission minded church and this was a way we could start building it into our DNA from a young age as a church. It was also a great time for us to get know each other and learn from each other. It was a way for us to do mission work right here in our state that was low cost and easy to get to. We were truly blessed!”

This cooperative effort on the part of one of our churches helping another church in our state is what we as Southern Baptist are all about. Helping each other to share and impact our communities with the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is what true cooperation is, supporting and helping each one as we work together to share Jesus with every man, woman and child in Montana and around the world. It is good to be a part of a group of churches that truly are helping each other.


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Big Sky Community Fellowship

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'Prayervival' at Emmanuel Baptist Church

Julie Lortz, Emmanuel Baptist Church


Emmanuel Baptist Church recently underwent a 14-day “Prayervival”. On April 30, a challenge was issued to the congregation to join together in committing to an hour of prayer a day for 14 days. They were asked to fill out a commitment card and bring it to the altar. The goal was three-fold: first, to get our people to join together in unity to pray for one another, our church, our community and our world; second, for them to experience the life-changing power of prayer; and third, at the end of 14 days, for them to continue in significant prayer due to a lifestyle change.

We began May 1 with the entire staff going to Red Lodge for a day of prayer. The power experienced as a staff is difficult to explain. But for those who were there, the Holy Spirit was palpable, unity was unmatched and the hearts and minds of the staff were joined together in a way we have not previously experienced. More...

For most Christians, an hour a day is overwhelming. Many in our congregation told us they had never really prayed outside of mealtime or when they were in distress. To address this challenge, they were advised to break it up into 15 minute increments in the morning, over lunch, in mid-to-late afternoon and before they went to bed. For most, it made the goal attainable.

Here’s what we didn’t want: we did not want this to be a legalistic ritual of checking off the box or doing their spiritual duty. As we wanted it to change the rest of their lives, we provided daily tips on our website and social media, including ideas on who they could pray for or Scriptures to pray back to God. We helped them understand if they missed a day or prayed less than an hour, start fresh the next morning and try again. All of these were avenues to move them to a real commitment to pray.

Additionally, we held a prayer meeting on the National Day of Prayer and we concluded the 14 days with a conference on spiritual warfare on Friday night and Saturday morning. It was no surprise to us that many saw an increase in spiritual attacks and distraction as they made every effort to increase their time in prayer. Teaching them what to do and how to respond to these attacks was a crucial conclusion as they strive to continue in their strengthened faith. To leave them without the tools for victory would have been short-sighted.

The results we’ve seen have been staggering. The testimonies that have come out of that focused prayer time have increased the faith and spiritual growth of hundreds in the congregation. Each week, we collect response cards at the end of the service and often times a prayer request is followed up the next week, or in subsequent weeks, by God’s answer to that prayer. People have come to Christ, others have been baptized and still others have committed to serve in ministries throughout the church. Hope has been restored. Hearts have been mended. One of our life groups began praying for the financial provision of a member with significant medical debt. God provided for that need in a dramatic and complete way. Another life group began praying earnestly for the marriage of someone connected to their group. The situation seemed hopeless and beyond repair. They continued praying after the 14 days ended. Recently they saw God move in that relationship with a complete change of heart in the couple.

There is no doubt this intentional prayer focus changed the lives of the people of Emmanuel, which inevitably changed the church as a whole. We’ve seen the power of God unleashed in one situation after another. This is not the end of the story of our “Prayervival”—it is the beginning. Emmanuel will continue to focus on individual and corporate prayer.

Martin Luther once said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” We wholeheartedly agree!


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Emmanuel Baptist Church, Billings


Small Town Church, God Sized Ministry

Jessica Crusch, The Montana Southern Baptist Convention

Lat 45

Mark Leverington was saved as a young man. He was mentored and discipled through the college ministry, Campus Crusade for Christ. God has continually placed people in his life who have mentored him and encouraged him to grow. In 1995, Mark and his family moved to Paynesville, Minnesota, where he served as an elder in his church for 15 years. There, he began filling the pulpit occasionally. Mark and his wife, Debbie, eventually moved to Belle Fourche, South Dakota, to start a funeral home. He continued to fill pulpits in several of the area churches.

While in South Dakota, Mark did a funeral for a family member of an elder from Rangeland Ministries in Alzada, Montana. They became good friends, and when the need for a pastor came up at Rangeland, Mark immediately came to mind. He filled the pulpit there for a couple of months and was eventually asked to step into the position of pastor. More...

Lat 45

Lat 45

Lat 45

God truly worked through the elders, the church, and the circumstances to allow Mark to transition into the role of pastor of the small church. This role did come with a few challenges, though, the main one being travelling distance for everyone. Most of the congregation live on area ranches and are 20 or more miles from town.

Rangeland has recently been seeing their youth ministry grow, with several new teenagers attending the church. The ministry has not just been growing by numbers, but in the faith and obedience of those involved. They have seen victories within the school district, with some of the teens even leading some of their friends to the Lord. The church sees the youth as a vital ministry and prays each Sunday that these teenagers would be strong in their faith and outreach.

Rangeland has not only seen several salvations in the past few years, but also spiritual growth in those who are already saved. Although the area population is sparse, they are continuing to see God move. The desire of Rangeland Ministries is to be a lighthouse within the community and that the community would be drawn to the true Light. Mark says he feels called to preach God’s Word and continue to provide spiritual food for those in attendance. He is excited about the growth that has been happening.

Mark and Debbie look forward to what God will do in the upcoming years as they continue to reach their community in Southeastern Montana for Christ.


Ascend Worship Conference

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention

The Art of Marriage

Music Ministers and Leaders, you are invited to join us this summer, as we aim to “ascend God’s holy hill” together. Come learn from a couple of our nation’s top worship leaders and engage with fellow worshippers. It is our prayer that the Lord will use this unique conference to renew your own “heart of worship,” refine your knowledge of worship and refresh your spirit to lead others in worship!

Ascend – “to move, climb or go upward…to rise to a higher point…to go toward The Source, to rise into Heaven” More...

Psalm 24:3-6 NKJV

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face.



  • Led by Mike Harland (Director of Lifeway Worship) and Matt & Kamille Bayless (Head Worship Leaders at SouthEast Christian Church, Louisville, KY)
  • For churches and ministries of all sizes, with a special emphasis for small churches
  • Registration begins at noon on Friday, July 14 and the conference ends at noon on Saturday, July 15
  • Held at Crosspoint Church, Missoula, MT
  • Fee is $50.00 (Earlybird Special) or $75.00 after April 30 per person, $10.00 discount per person for groups of 3 or more

  • Schedule:


    1:00 – 1:30 | Intro/Welcome Session

    1:30 – 2:30 | Session 1

    2:30 – 3:00 | Break

    3:00 – 4:00 | Session 2

    4:00 – 4:30 | Break

    4:30 – 5:30 | Session 3

    5:30 – 7:00 | CookOut

    7:00 – 9:00 | Worship & Teaching


    9:00 – 10:00 | Session 4

    10:00 – 10:15 | Break

    10:15 – 11:00 | Session 5

    11:00 – 12:00 | Closing Session & Worship


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    Crosspoint Church Homepage

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    Baptist Press

    Pastors' wives urged to be 'brave,' engage culture

    Shannon Baker, Baptist Press

    Kelly Minter Kelly Minter speaks at the Pastors' Wives Conference June 11 at the Phoenix Convention Center on "Bravely Answering Gods Call." Photo by Jeremy Scott.

    PHOENIX (BP) -- Be "brave" in sharing God's truth to those outside and inside the church, especially in the face of today's increasing intolerance toward Christianity, said several speakers during the 2017 Pastors' Wives Conference.

    Based on Proverbs 31:25, "Brave" was the theme of this year's conference. It was held June 12 in the North Ballroom of the Phoenix Convention Center prior to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    Kelly Minter

    Kelly Minter, a Christian recording artist and Bible study author, acknowledged, "We are past the time when God's Word is standard," pointing to how Jesus shared truth with the Samaritan woman in John 4, drawing much needed parallels for ways Christians can engage unbelievers in today's post-Christian environment. More...

    First, Jesus did not affirm or accommodate the Samaritan woman's "truth." Jesus plainly said she had five husbands (4:18), not "five husbands is the new one husband" or "living with your boyfriend is the new marriage," Minter said. In fact, Jesus doesn't make her feel better about her situation at all. Instead, He draws her to His truth.

    Secondly, Jesus did not avoid her in her "truth." Minter explained that Jesus could have gone around Samaria to avoid the Samaritans, with whom the Jews at that time had "utter disdain" and "unbelievable division." But Jesus "does not avoid people in uncomfortable, detrimental truths," she said. "We can't avoid the mess. We have got to cut right through it, pursue it."

    Finally, Jesus pursued the Samaritan woman in her "truth" so He could save her from it.

    "We're not going to compromise God's truth but we're also not going to use it as an excuse to fight the world or avoid the world," Minter said, noting how "staggering" it was that the Samaritan woman ran into her town telling about how Jesus exposed all her sins (4:28-29). "Somehow she knew in the all-I-ever-did, there was forgiveness, hope, unbelievable love."

    Minter concluded, "What could happen if we confronted people with this kind of love? What would happen if people could come to us and confess their sin and their struggles, and we can ... have open, honest conversations -- not because we are affirmers ... but because we could introduce Jesus Christ the Messiah, the Savior of the world?"

    Marshelle Wilburn

    Marshelle Wilburn, volunteer services manager for the Bay Area Rescue Mission in the San Francisco Bay area, shared how to bravely raise kids in a sexually-charged culture. Wilburn is the wife of Port Wilburn, church planter and pastor of Rock Harbor Christian Fellowship in San Pablo, Calif., and mother of five children, whom the Wilburns are training up in righteousness to "strengthen the culture around them."

    In her message, Wilburn used the acronym, BRAVE, to encourage Christian parents to consider how to equip their children to engage today's culture.

    First, Christian parents must be "bold believers," willing to share the Good News of what Jesus offers in a culture of "do's" instead of "do not's." She and her husband constantly teach their children what they can do, "Pursue the Lord with your gifts, be a light, share the love of God with your friends."

    Second, Christian parents must be "radically relevant," understanding what is going on in the culture to address it. "We can't put hierarchies on things if we are going to be truly relevant in and being able to be able to share truth," she said.

    Third, Christian parents must be "audaciously adept," so brave and so bold that they are not afraid to step out into culture. "We may be nervous about it, but not afraid," she said, sharing her experience of attending a "queer" Christian support group for those questioning their sexuality to better understand how homosexuals reconciled their lifestyle with their spirituality. She did not approach them with condemnation but with love.

    Fourth, Christian parents must be "vitally voracious" and willing to give life-giving truth without holding back.

    And finally, Christian parents must be "equipped to be empathically engaging." They should put themselves in the shoes of Christ to address these issues with the ones He enables to be in their spheres of influence "so that their futures might be changed in the presence of Jesus Christ."

    Keeping our children in "protected environments falls short of fulfilling the call of being His presence in this world," she said.

    Kay Warren

    Kay Warren, who is married to Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., spoke practically to the pastors' wives about taking care of themselves spiritually, emotionally and physically.

    "You and I must learn to control the controllables, and leave the uncontrollables to God" so that "we can be stronger in the broken places," said Warren, author of the recently released "Sacred Privilege: Your Life and Ministry as a Pastor's Wife."

    "To be spiritually mature women, you are going to have to take responsibility for your own growth," she said, pointing to daily being in God's Word, praying and surrendering oneself. "I could only live in surrender to Jesus Christ on April 5, 2013 [the date of her son Matthew's suicide], because I spent the 50 previous years saying yes to God," she said.

    Warren also urged the women to do the work necessary for emotional healing and to focus on physical health.

    "What a travesty it would be to mistreat the one body we've been given," she said. "Being a pastor's wife is already hard. Don't make it harder than it needs to be."

    Pastors' wives also heard two interviews from the stage.

    Jeana Floyd, wife of Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Ark., interviewed Charlotte Akin, who is married to Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Akin shared her testimony of growing up with alcoholic parents, who later divorced and placed her and her siblings in the Georgia Baptist Children's Home.

    "I've always been able to not blame my parents," said Akin, who became a Christian at the children's home. "They just didn't know Christ and didn't know any better."

    Akin credited other women in her life for helping her grow in Christ. Those women included "Aunt Linda" who introduced her to Danny, and Danny's sister Joy and mother Emma Lou, who helped her "feel confident in Christ." Akin urged her listeners to "find those incredible women" and "to be one for others."

    Donna Gaines, wife of SBC President Steve Gaines, interviewed Mary Margaret Gibson, ministry director for EvanTell's Save the Mother, Save her Child evangelism training and equipping ministry. Presently, her organization, which serves over 700 faith-based pregnancy centers in the U.S. and 40 overseas partners, is piloting a partnership with WMU's Christian Women's Job Corps (CWJC) and Christian Men's Job Corps (CMJC) to provide job readiness for clients.

    Gibson said she doesn't view crisis pregnancies as "unplanned" pregnancies, but as "unexpected" ones.

    "God knows every baby. Every family is precious to God," she said, adding, "Sharing the Gospel comes very naturally when we realize how much the Lord loves them."

    Explaining EvanTell, Gibson said the training program teaches volunteers how to move from secular conversations, such as baby development, into spiritual discussions and ultimately a Gospel presentation. This conversational and contextual evangelism approach is used well beyond pregnancy crisis centers.

    Closing, Gibson stood and thanked the pastors' wives for being brave "even when they were afraid." She urged them to remember that they are "after people" because God has already gone before them and prepared the way.

    She also noted that negative emotions come from God and are cues for when one is not staying close enough to Him. Stay close, she urged.


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