Montana Baptist E-News

The Montana Baptist E-News | July 2017















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

Montana Southern Baptist Convention

Evangelism: Our First Priority

Barrett Duke, MTSBC Executive Director

Above all else, Gospel ministry should be first and foremost about telling lost people that Jesus died for their sins and that they can have peace with God and eternal life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Today, many things are called Gospel work. That raises concerns for me, because if everything is about the Gospel, then we have no way of discerning if some of those things are more important than others.

The church of our Lord Jesus does many good things, and rightly so. We should care about the whole person and the whole culture. I’m grateful for every ministry our churches have that helps to bring the love and light of God in Christ into this world. While we are engaged in these various important ministries, however, we must never lose sight of the fact that our most important calling from Jesus is to share the good news that people can saved through faith in Him. Of all the things that churches can, and should, do this is the most important thing. More...

In fact, sharing the good news of salvation through Jesus is the one thing that only the church can do. There are government programs and private programs designed to meet human needs. Many businesses give some of their profits to helping meet human needs. Many millions of people with no relationship with God are involved in helping to alleviate human suffering. The thing they don’t do is share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only the church, God’s people, have been given that task.

Jesus gave us that task when he told His disciples, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20a). The first thing you must do in order to make disciples is share the gospel of salvation through Jesus with them and help them place their faith in Him as their Lord and Savior. A lost person is not a disciple. A lost person living a good life is not a disciple.

Evangelism is the unspoken foundation of our Lord’s Great Commission to His church. Sadly, too many churches and Christians seem to be losing sight of this bedrock of disciple-making. Fewer and fewer churches across Southern Baptist life are even training their members in evangelism. It’s as though they’re saying, “We’ve been there and done that,” and they’ve moved on to other things. As a result, much of an entire new generation is growing up in the church without ever being challenged to share their faith or being intentionally equipped to do it.

I’m grateful for the many Southern Baptist churches in Montana and across the country that still prioritize evangelism, but our baptism statistics tell us that too many are not. Too many churches are doing very little of any kind of evangelistic outreach. Others are immersed principally in human needs ministry. We are feeding lost people, counseling lost people, training lost people, clothing lost people, and loving on lost people, but we are seldom winning them to faith in Jesus. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m glad for all these other ministries to people in need. I agree that we must meet the needs people know they have before they will let us talk to them about the needs they don’t know they have. Oftentimes, we must earn the right to tell people about Jesus.

My concern is that too often those who are immersed in these very important, humanitarian ministries are not trained to share their faith in an effective way when the opportunity arises in response to these ministries. I’m concerned that we are making lost people more comfortable and more secure in this life while neglecting to address the greater need of their eternal security.

Let me ask you, when is the last time you held a witness training event in your church? How many members in your church are ready to share the gospel with the lost people you are reaching out to every week with your helping ministries?

I hope you can answer that a high percentage of the members of your church have been trained to effectively share their faith with the lost. If not, I hope you’ll agree that this needs to change. It isn’t only the pastor’s job to win people to faith in Jesus. Jesus gave that task to all His disciples. Pastors, you must multiply yourselves in the work of evangelism.

The MTSBC is committed to assist our churches with that. On our website, you can find numerous tools that you can use to help people in your church learn to effectively share their faith. Go to the Resources tab under the Church Strategies section on our website and you’ll find evangelism resources that you can use to help train people in your church to share their faith. One new resource is called Every Believer a Witness. It offers a couple different ways for you to begin to train people in your church to share their faith effectively. Your MTSBC staff is available to come offer witnessing clinics, too. Ask one of us. We’ll be overjoyed to spend time with your church members to help them become better witnesses for the Lord.

Maybe you’re concerned that there isn’t much interest in your church for such a training opportunity. First, I think you’d be surprised how many people in your church wish they were better equipped to share their faith. Second, it may be that they need you to start talking more about your own witnessing experiences so they can begin to catch a vision for what could be. Third, I encourage you to find someone in your church to take under your wing and let that person join you when you talk to people about faith in Jesus. Fourth, just begin with the folks who are interested. Even if it’s one or two to start with, you will still have more ready witnesses in your church.

The key to your church’s growth is evangelism, not transfer membership or humanitarian ministry. The church rises or falls on its determination to share the saving message of Jesus in as many ways as possible, and that includes through the personal witnessing of its members. The MTSBC is committed to redoubling our efforts to assist our churches in this crucial ministry. One way we will do this is by offering a witness training breakout session every time our convention gets together. At the very least, that will be at MPACT in the Spring and at our annual meeting in the Fall. Maybe we’ll only have 3 or 4 people attend. We’ll take that and begin there.

I pray that all Southern Baptist churches will reclaim our first priority. Let’s all get back to our basics and tell everyone in our communities how they can know the God we have come to know and love through faith in Jesus. I applaud those of you who are already prioritizing evangelism. I pray many others will join you. If we will do that, we will see a great outpouring of God’s Spirit all across Montana, and our churches, your church, will find a new energy and excitement for the Lord. I’m looking forward to what God will do as we reclaim our unique purpose of telling the lost about the Savior.

Vision Tour 2017

What kind of trip covers 585 miles in two days, includes meals with several people you’ve never met before, makes stops in small rural towns as well as four of Montana’s largest cities, and includes a stop along the interstate to take pictures of five big horn sheep? This briefly describes one of the two Vision Tours that took place July 11-12.

Nine people from various states spent two days exploring ministry opportunities in a variety of locations in Montana. Michael Liner, West Region Church Starting Missionary, hosted six guests as they traveled from south of Missoula to Kalispell, visiting communities along the way and hearing the needs of church planters, pastors, partnering churches, mission teams, etc. The highlight and most informative part of the trips took place when planters, pastors, and MTSBC staff met with the group to share their stories and the needs of spreading the gospel throughout the state. More...

Vision Tour 2017

Vision Tour 2017

Vision Tour 2017

At the same time, William Johnson, Church Starting Team Leader, hosted three guests as they toured Bozeman, Butte, Helena, Great Falls, and almost every community in between.

The purpose of the tours is to expose people who are interested in ministry opportunities in Montana to a glimpse of the vastness of the state, the cultural diversity between communities, and the need for an impacting gospel presence in each town or city. In the past, we have had participants to move to Montana and start churches after attending the Vision Tour.

We have already received correspondence on how helpful the tours were in affirming what participants have believed is their next step is in following God’s call for their lives. Please pray, “the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” - Luke 10:2.


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MTSBC Church Starting Page

MTSBC Vision Tours

Adam Burt

Next-Gen Parent Workshop in Libby

Adam Burt, MTSBC Next-Gen Ministries

Next Gen Parent Workshop

How much does the Bible really say about parenting? (A lot!)

And does any of it apply in our modern age? (Yes)

Recently, the congregation at Libby Baptist Church got the answer to those questions and many more during the Next-Gen Parent Workshop. We began on Sunday morning with Pastor Zane Officer opening his pulpit to Next-Gen Director Adam Burt to share what biblical parenting looks like. We started in Deuteronomy 6 and moved all the way through Jesus’ teaching in the New Testament, followed by a quick walk through the common idols in teen culture, just as the apostle Paul walked through the idols in Athens (Acts 17:16, 23). More...

Next-Gen Parent Workshop

Some of the most shocking observations included:

  • The average teenager consumes 9 hours of media DAILY!
  • 11 years old is the average age when a student is first exposed to pornography.
  • Teen’s number one complaint about parents is that they, “Just don’t listen.”

  • Pastor Zane closed the morning service by inviting everyone to bring a friend back that evening for a free meal at the church, followed by a more in depth look at the challenges facing parents today and how to overcome them. Parents, grandparents, youth workers, and also Pastor Cam Foote from nearby Troy Community Baptist Church arrived for the meal and training that followed, which looked at practical tips to help adults be a godly influence in the lives of students closest to them. We then looked at how to best help their students navigate the tricky teen years and remain in the world but not of the world (John 17:4).

    The tips ranged from simple to complex such as:

  • No devices (phones, tablets, TV) during meals so family conversation can take place
  • Preparing students to make decisions completely on their own by age 18 (Since that’s exactly what they’ll be doing when they go off to college or the work force)

  • We concluded the evening by answering questions ranging from music and movies to sexuality and social media. All in all, it was an eye opening and equipping experience for everyone in attendance.

    If you’d like to bring the Next-Gen Parent Workshop to your church, contact Next-Gen Director Adam Burt at 406-672-5532 or


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    Student Missions

    Set Free Montana

    Jesus instructs us in the book of Matthew to “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” – Matthew 4:19. That is exactly what the Set Free Churches of Montana are putting into practice.

    Set Free Church was established to “love those who think they are unlovable.” They minister to those who need it most: the homeless, drug addicts, and alcoholics, just to name a few. Because Set Free consists of people from all walks of life, it is easy to feel welcome there.

    Volunteers from six Set Free Churches across the state traveled to the Beartooth Rally and Iron Horse Rodeo in Red Lodge this month. The sole purpose for being there was to serve and to show the love of Jesus. This included everything from praying over motorcycles to cleaning and monitoring the restrooms. More...

    Set Free Montana

    Set Free Montana

    Coffee was served all weekend by Stan Rains from Racers/Set Free Church in Billings. Stan gave away 40 gallons of coffee and 54 Bibles. According to Pastor JT from Set Free Church in Great Falls, one man who came for a coffee left with a Bible. “We were able to visit and talk with him all weekend,” said Pastor JT.

    Many lives were impacted throughout the weekend. People were encouraged, served, and some were even baptized. Grace NOW, led by Pastor Paul Harris of Texas, partnered with Set Free to provide a powerful message of redemption at the Sunday morning church service. A free pancake breakfast was also provided as a team effort by both groups.

    Set Free Church members consider themselves “Servants of Christ,” and live that out by example. The next big event will be the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, where they will be handing out Bibles and water while sharing the gospel. Please be in prayer for them as they minister throughout the state and beyond.


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    Set Free Montana


    Sharing The Gospel Through Literacy

    Ray Willis, MTSBC Literacy Missions

    Sharing the Gospel with whomever will listen is the mandate our Lord Jesus Christ assigned to all believers before He ascended to Heaven. He simply stated that as we are going on our life’s journey, we are to be His hands, feet and voice to reach out to whomever He brings across our path.

    In Mathew 25, Jesus spoke of the separation of the sheep from the goats and how people could know which they are when He returns. Jesus said how we treat those in need is a clear indicator of the genuineness of our faith. It is true that not every sheep will participate in every evangelism ministry, but our Lord has left us here to be actively participating somehow.

    Our Montana Southern Baptist Churches are located in very diverse ethnic, social, spiritual, and economic settings. However, regardless of location, we share a common opportunity for touching the lives of those for whom our Lord gave His life. That opportunity is based on the critical importance of literacy. People who are not literate cannot read Scripture for themselves. Therefore, they will not and do not read a Bible and struggle in all areas where literacy proficiency is needed. More...

    Three specific groups can be identified, each with their own unique opportunity for literacy ministry.

  • One group is comprised of those who have immigrated to the United States from countries that do not have an English-based vocabulary. They need to be taught English as a Second Language.
  • Another group is made up of those who have an English-based background, but because of various circumstances do not read well enough to have adequate employment or opportunities for advancement. At present, they are destined to struggle in minimum wage employment at best. This group will be helped with Adult Reading and Writing.
  • The third group is made up of K-12 students who are struggling in their grade level. These students also have trouble with mathematics because they have trouble reading instructions in their mathematics book. The curriculum, Tutoring Children and Youth Literacy Missions, addresses these needs.

  • Literacy missions also provides an open door for evangelism. This past school year, two precious young people prayed to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives as a direct result of literacy missions. Their mother and grandmother both received the plan of salvation. Fellowship Baptist Church in Billings was blessed to touch seven families with the Gospel through Literacy Missions.

    Literacy Missions also promotes core growth in every church that participates. How many of our churches have an abundance of members who are able to teach or witness with confidence? Working one on one with a student in any of the three areas is a non-threatening way to gain maturity in both teaching and witnessing. As one gives of one’s self to help another, skills are gained both in teaching and sharing the Gospel. What could be possible if your church members, regardless of age, are given opportunity to participate in Great Commission opportunities in your community? Every literacy student is someone the instructor will have taught and shared his faith with. Salvation and Christian maturity are bound to follow such a ministry.

    There will be two opportunities to become certified in Literacy Training this summer. The first is August 25-26 at Central Baptist Church in Lewistown. The second is September 8-9 at Easthaven Baptist Church in Kalispell. The entire training must be attended for certification. We will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Friday. Dinner will be served that evening at the church. Saturday’s sessions will be from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Lunch will be provided. Each group will be responsible for their own lodging.

    This is an inexpensive way for your church to become involved in this valuable ministry! Your church can register on the MTSBC Literacy page at any time. If you have any questions or for more information, please contact Ray Willis at 406 855-4265.


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    Literacy Missions Page

    Montana Southern Baptist Convention

    Pastors and Leaders Retreat

    The Montana Southern Baptist Convention

    Baptist Press

    ACP: Churches Up in 2016; Baptisms, Membership Decline

    Carol Pipes, Baptist Press


    NASHVILLE (BP) -- Southern Baptists experienced growth in the number of churches that cooperate with the SBC in 2016, according to the latest Annual Church Profile report (ACP).

    However, other key measures declined in 2016, including membership, baptisms, average worship attendance and total giving, according to the ACP compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources in cooperation with Baptist state conventions.

    The number of churches cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention grew by 479 to 47,272, a 1 percent increase over 2015. The number of Southern Baptist churches has increased the last 18 years. Southern Baptist churches also reported 4,492 church-type missions last year.

    Although the number of cooperating Southern Baptist congregations grew, reported membership of those churches declined by 77,786, down 0.51 percent to 15.2 million members. Average weekly worship attendance declined 6.75 percent to 5.2 million worshippers. More...

    Southern Baptist churches baptized 280,773 people in 2016, a 4.89 percent decline from the 295,212 reported in 2015. The ratio of baptisms to total members was one baptism for every 54 members.

    "We would be remiss in not giving thanks for every baptism and every new follower of Christ," said LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer.

    Southern Baptists have seen a decline in the number of baptisms for several years, he said. "It's clear that evangelism and discipleship are waning. I don't believe it is due to the lack of opportunities, though. Instead, there is a lack of engagement."

    Rainer said while most churchgoers believe it's their personal responsibility to share their faith, most never do.

    "We should follow Christ's example and pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers," Rainer said. "Let us pray that God will send out the workers in our pews to engage those who don't yet know Him."

    Rainer said he is thankful for SBC President Steve Gaines' emphasis on prayer for spiritual awakening at this year's annual meeting.

    Frank S. Page, SBC Executive Committee president and CEO, noted "virtually everyone who sees these figures will react negatively and lament the poor state of our churches, our lack of evangelistic fervor, and our increasingly irrelevant programs. Indeed, we all should.

    "However, the stark reality of these numbers should cause each of us to look inwardly," he said. "Am I sharing the Gospel as I should? Am I developing relationships with family, friends, coworkers and others with whom I can gain an opportunity to share the good news? Am I burdened for the lost and praying for their salvation?"

    Giving & missions expenditures

    Giving among Southern Baptists was down slightly in 2016. Undesignated church receipts increased 0.67 percent to $9.2 billion. However, total church receipts reported through the ACP decreased 0.73 percent to 11.5 billion.

    Total missions expenditures also decreased 1.3 percent to $1.19 billion.

    Giving through Southern Baptists' Cooperative Program (CP) mission initiative is not broken out in the ACP annual report. Instead, CP totals are reported by the SBC Executive Committee, which facilitates the mission gifts to the SBC's national and international missions and ministries.

    With the release of the total number of churches through the ACP report, the Executive Committee has calculated the average CP percentage from the convention's cooperating churches for 2015–2016 as 5.16 percent, down 0.02 percent from last year's 5.18 percent, according to Page. The states reported receiving a total of $475,212,293 in CP gifts in 2015–2016, of which $190,468,781, or 40.08 percent, was forwarded to the Executive Committee for distribution through the SBC Cooperative Program allocation budget.

    The ACP is an annual statistical report churches voluntarily provide to their local Baptist associations and/or their state conventions. National totals are compiled and released after all cooperating state conventions have reported.


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