Montana Baptist E-News

The Montana Baptist E-News | June 2015

MTSBC Calendar

DATE

6.1-3

6.15-17

7.4

7.27-31

8.1-8

8.28

8.29

EVENT

Summer Missionary Orientation

SBC Annual Meeting

Independence Day

Peru Mission Trip

Peru Mission Trip

ELEVATE Training (Bozeman/Missoula)

ELEVATE Training (Miles City/Great Falls)

SHOW MORE EVENTS

9.6-27

9.15-16

10.6

10.6-7

11.6-7

12.4

12.5

12.30-1.7

2016

1.14-16

1.26-28

2.2

2.19

2.20

3.6-13

3.2-3

3.3-4

3.4

3.4

4.10

4.15-16

4.8

4.9

4.22-23

6.6-8

6.14-15

7.25-31

8.1-6

8.26

8.27

9.1-31

9.13-14

10.4

10.4

10.4-5

11.11-12

12.2

12.3

12.4-11

Montana Missions Offering Emphasis

Executive Board Meeting

Pastor's Conference

MTSBC Annual Meeting (Bozeman)

Get Real West (Missoula)

ELEVATE Training (Bozeman/Missoula)

ELEVATE Training (Miles City/Great Falls)

International Missions Emphasis

-

Church Planter/Wives Retreat (Fairmont)

Church Starting Team Retreat

Winter Blast

Elevate Training (Belgrade/Missoula)

Elevate Training (Great Falls/Miles City)

North American Missions Emphasis

Executive Board Meeting

MPact Montana 2016 (Billings)

VBS State-Wide Training

Legacy Youth Worker Training

Cooperative Program Sunday

Get Real East (Billings)

Elevate Training (Manhattan/Missoula)

Elevate Training (Miles City/Great Falls)

Celebration for Women

Summer Missionary Orientation (Bozeman)

SBC Annual Meeting (St. Louis, MO)

Peru Mission Trip

Peru Mission Trip

Elevate Training (Manhattan/Missoula)

Elevate Training (Great Falls/Miles City)

Montana Missions Offering Emphasis

MTSBC Exec. Board Meeting

Pastors' Conference (Great Falls)

Pastors' Wives Luncheon (Great Falls)

MTSBC Annual Meeting (Great Falls)

Get Real West (Missoula)

Elevate Training (Manhattan/Missoula)

Elevate Training (Great Falls/Miles City

International Missions Emphasis

Montana Southern Baptist Convention

One Church, One Love, One Lifetime

Jeannie Ferriss

Pat and Leila Taylor, Clarks Fork Baptist Church in Bridger

Pat and Leila Taylor radiate that special warmth and humor that only develops between two people devoted to each other for five decades. Sitting outside at Clarks Fork Baptist Church in Bridger, Montana; they shared their thoughts on life, having a successful marriage and pastoring the same church for 51 years.


While both were born in Billings, Leila’s childhood reads like a map of Montana. She lived in Absaorkee, Silesia, Rockvale, and Bridger. She attended the Rockvale School until it closed then finished high school in Joliet. Pat’s family moved to Basin, Wyoming in 1939 and he graduated from Manderson High School right down the road. In 1955 Pat moved to Pryor to take up cattle ranching, then worked in farm equipment. It was during this time he met Leila and started a whirlwind romance. [MORE]

Pat and Leila Taylor, Clarks Fork Baptist Church in Bridger

Pat and Leila Taylor, Clarks Fork Baptist Church in Bridger

“We had a rather risqué beginning,” laughs Leila. “We met at the old Midway night club in Billings when he asked me to dance. I had been to a wedding shower and everyone wanted to go dancing afterward. Pat and his uncle had been in town running errands and stopped in. That night he asked me to dance and then to go out on our first date. Of course I said yes.”

Leila lived in a hotel for women at the time. Gentlemen who came calling had to go through the front desk, who then notified the young woman her date was here. When Pat arrived to pick her up, he couldn’t remember her name. “It’s a good thing she was waiting in the lobby or I don’t know what I would have done.” They met in April and were married on October 7, 1956.


A family member passed the postal exam and told Pat they still had openings. He took the test and began as a mail carrier in Billings in 1957. His career lasted until 1990 when he retired as the Bridger Postmaster. The job enabled him to support his growing family of three girls and later on to become a bi-vocational pastor.


“We had Vicki, Paulette, and Patti. Grandma promptly dubbed them Vic, Pauli, and Pat and of course it stuck,” Leila explains. “My own name came from a book my mother read. People tell me it’s Hawaiian but who knows.”


Besides their daughters, the Taylors have four grandsons and one granddaughter (who was born on Pat’s birthday). They also have two great grandsons. Pat took time out to become one of what is now Yellowstone Christian College’s first students. He attended classes when the group met in the basement of Emmanuel Baptist Church. John Thomason, who later became the president of the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention, was one of his classmates.


Life seemed to be perfect when in 1967 Pat and Leila asked to be involved in a Vacation Bible School work in Bridger. By the last Sunday in August the budding congregation had its first church service in a rented building in Memorial Park which cost them $3 a week. The Taylors were living in Billings at the time and saw this as a short-term mission opportunity. He was a deacon in their church when the pastor approached him with an idea.


“He said they just needed someone to fill in for a couple of weeks until they could call a pastor for Bridger. It would just be a little while,” he said with his eyes twinkling. “Just a little while turned into 51 years this August.”


As the congregation grew Dr. Ellis suggested they take the mobile chapel from Emmanuel to use; the church later purchased the double-wide. In 2007 construction began on the new building with most of the work being done by volunteers and local community members. On Palm Sunday of 2008 the congregation held its first service in the new church and 67 people came.


“The ceiling wasn’t done and there were other little things to finish,” Pat remembers. “We just told people it was a building in progress. Nobody seemed to mind at all. A church in South Carolina made us the recipient of their Annie Armstrong offering which helped. We had to borrow $20,000 to finish the ceiling and carpeting but the church paid it off in four months.”


When asked what is unique about their ministry, the obvious answer is longevity. Not many churches can claim their pastor stayed for 51 years. “Longevity is what more churches need, especially small towns. Pastors need to get to know at least two generations,” Pat states.


”Sometimes it is easier to give up than it is to stay and work things out. Staying and making it work applies to churches, marriages, friends; everything in life”, adds Leila.


Pat and Leila both became active members of the Bridger Community. Pat served on the school board, bowled on a local league, and joined the Lions Club. Now he enjoys having coffee down at the local gathering place to catch up on the news and chat with friends. Leila became the neighborhood playground hostess when Pat put a volleyball court in their yard.


“All the kids came to play at our house. Even when we weren’t home they would come over and play volleyball. All I asked was that the equipment was put away when they were done,” Leila said with a smile.


Life in small towns has many challenges and many joys. Pat remembers their greatest moment in ministry came one Sunday when 7 people came forward at one time to accept Christ. Three of them were members of the same family: a father, daughter and grandson. Personally his greatest times were having the privilege of marrying his three daughters.


Humor also helps over the years. When Leila broke her thumb, she couldn’t get dressed and Pat had to help dress her every morning. Some of the clothing was a real challenge for Pat to fasten. After Pat had cancer surgery, he told his congregation that he had spent his whole life without a tattoo and now he has two!


Pat advises young pastors to “love your people and meet their needs before you start to convert them. You will always win more people to the Lord by being a Good Samaritan first.”


Leila understands the challenges for pastor’s wives in small towns. “Never give up! You have to have a desired goal in mind and keep working for it. Listen to others and don’t get discouraged. In a small town you can get to know everyone, Pat still goes to all of the sports games he can. It gets tiring having to go to a bigger town to shop so invest in your local businesses. We have a great grocery and hardware store in Bridger.”


Being a small congregation doesn’t mean a church can’t have big dreams. Vacation Bible School started this week at Clarks Fork Baptist Church with a first day enrollment of 46. The church has also joined with others to take over the summer lunch program including members of the Church of the Rockies in Red Lodge. The program supplies the food and the churches united to prepare lunch for the children of the community who might not have any meal otherwise. The congregation gives regularly to other ministries including the Disaster Relief trailer refitting, sending their VBS supplies to a church on the south side of Billings, and starting a work in Belfry. They have also helped out in North Park and other areas.


It is hard to imagine the Taylors have any free time but developing hobbies is part of relaxing when a couple is committed to a community. Leila enjoys quilting and writing while Pat is a woodworker. He created the carving which hangs above the altar and makes gifts for the families in their congregation. These talents are also now being enjoyed by their daughters.


When asked what the future holds, Pat replied,” I don’t know. I haven’t got that far yet.” Maybe that is their secret to such joy in ministry, concentrating on the present and not worrying about the future.


The roads that we travel on our journey thru life are like the many roads of our nation.

There are scenes of beauty and scenes unadorned.

As in looking in a rear view mirror, we realized what has passed before us and is now behind us,

is a reflection of all we are and do.

May we ever be in tune with the God

Who knows all and sees all and is ever present to guide us on our way.


Leila Taylor

August '85

MTSBC

Shepherding The Shepherd

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention



A Message from Neil Franks

Kendra and I are extremely excited about coming to Montana in August. She loves traveling, especially in the mountains! After my first visit to the state back in March of 2014, I have come to love the people of your great state, especially pastors and your families. This time around I will get to share my family with yours. Both of my sons (Nathan who is 16, and Travis, 12) will travel with Kendra and me as we explore the beautiful state right before joining you.


Talk about risky - I am traveling with family in tight quarters, exploring places we have never been with each of us desiring to see different things, complete with four very strong personalities. You will understand why it’s so risky when you learn the topic from which I will be sharing.

You see, as we made our travel plans earlier this year we elected to travel on United Airlines. I got to thinking about that name. I just love it . . . united. It is more than a name; it is a way of living. If we, as believers, are ever going to have the impact God calls us to have, then you and I must be united in our denomination, in our churches, our families and most especially our marriages.


I’m looking forward to sharing with and learning from you as we really are united in the work of advancing His kingdom. I’ll see you in August!


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A Message from Joey Staples

We, Joey and Jeanie Staples, are looking forward to our first visit to Montana and the opportunity to get to know you. As the Family Life Pastor at First Baptist Church Branson and as a Licensed Professional Counselor, I know well the pressures and responsibilities of ministry. Sometimes the weight can be so heavy.


I look forward to being a resource for you during the conference. I will be available for personal counseling with every conference attender to help provide insight, support, encouragement and prayer. I am excited to see what God is going to do.


See you in August!


Register for Shepherding the Shepherd

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MTSBC

Students Come to Montana to Be Summer Missionaries

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention

2015 MTSBC Student Missionaries

BOZEMAN—Twenty – two students flew, drove or hitched a ride to take part in the Montana Southern Baptist Convention’s annual Summer Missionary Orientation, June 1 through June 3, 2015.


The retreat was held at Mountain Top Retreat Center just minutes outside of Bozeman in the Gallatin Mountain range. Beautiful views greeted the students as they arrived from Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. Montana students came from Billings, Missoula, Red Lodge and Whitefish.


This year’s emphasis was centered on a beneficial, innovative, new assessment tool entitled ‘The Motivational Gift Mix’ by Life Outfitter in Loveland, Colorado. [MORE]

Alex Bricker, standing, from Life Outfitter, helps Alex Robinson complete the Motivational Gift Mix.

Cassidy Normandy from Billings makes her name tag.

Caroline Merck, Red Lodge enjoys her indoor s'mores.

Worship Band

Andrew Baker, Whitefish, MT

Michael Tyson, Church Planter, Bedrock Church, Bozeman, leads a session.

Alex Bricker, Authorized Advisor for the MGM, assessed and debriefed the students during the two days of training. Each student was given the link to take the core assessment before coming to the retreat. For those who weren’t able to complete the MGM, they were given an opportunity to take it before Tuesday morning’s first session began.


The seven motivational gifts based on Romans chapter 12 for the MGM are:

Bold Proclaimer

Relentless Server

Researching Teacher

Enthusiastic Encourager

Cautious Contributor

Organized Leader

Cheerful Heart


“The MGM gives you a better understanding on how to better relate to others and how to make important decisions based on spiritual wisdom.”, stated Alex Bricker. By being able to have the completed assessments for each student, Bricker was able to do a group debrief and training on how each person is unique in how God gifted them. How to better use those gifts in unity and the body of Christ was taught in different three sessions.


Michael Tyson, Lead Church Planter of Bedrock Church in Bozeman, led an informative session, Tuesday afternoon on God’s calling in your life. He told the students about his call to ministry. His call was in different stages to where God has him and his family now. The book ‘Is God Calling You’ by Dr. Jeff Iorg was given to the summer missionaries.


Stan and Diana Bricker, Student Summer Missionary Coordinators led sessions on the nuts and bolts of being MTSBC missionaries. Stan taught sessions on how to give your own personal three minute testimony and how to use the SOAP method of daily devotional and journaling time. Each student was given the LIFE journal. Diana spoke about the culture of Montana and the living exceptations while on assignment to their respective churches in the MTSBC.


Students and facilitators alike enjoyed the worship times. A group of musicians from the group led the crowd with their talents in using their voices, the piano, guitars and viola. Comments that were in the evaluations cards ranged from likes to dislikes:


“I loved the worship time and the MGM gift mix”


“I wish Michael Tyson could have stayed and talked longer.”


“ I really liked the location, great sleeping quarters and informative sessions.”


“The entire event was well organized, the speakers were amazing and the food was awesome.”


“I enjoyed getting to know the other missionaries and the time we spent getting to know each other. I also loved learning how to best use the gifts I have been given.”


“I wish the orientation could be a day longer.”


“I liked the MGM talks. I found them insightful and helpful in understanding myself and those I will be working with.”


“Michael Tyson’s talk was really interesting and affirming points on God’s calling.”


“The food was delicious every time!”


“I like how this group really bonded.”


“I liked the relaxed but productive environment.”


The annual Tuesday night campfire was unable to be held because of the rain. One student wrote “ I disliked the uncooperative moisture.”


For more information on how to become a student missionary, go to namb.net.


If interested in church planting or Bedrock Church in Bozeman contact Michael Tyson at michael@bedrockchurchbozeman.com


If the Motivational Gift Mix is something your church, leadership team or students would like to take part in, contact Alex Bricker at 720-253-3792 or go to the Life Outfitter website at LifeOutfitter.com for more information.


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Bedrock Church in Bozeman

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MSBW

Spirituality and Sports: Yellowstone Christian College Putting Faith in Athletics

Jeff Bersch, Billings Gazette, May 30 2015

(LARRY MAYER/Gazette Staff) Leonard Epps is the basketball coach and athletic director at Yellowstone Christian College.

As Leonard Epps wanders around a town he hardly knows trying to drum up support for his athletics program, he’s met by a simple question with a constant theme.


“Just where is Yellowstone Christian College?”


To their surprise, Epps will tell them it is indeed in Billings. It’s a conversation starter, for sure. But more than anything it illustrates the biggest problem Epps and the tiny Christian school face as they embrace this major undertaking. Almost no one knows it exists.


Yellowstone Christian College does exist. On the west end of Billings. Tucked away on the east side of South Shiloh Road. With only a small sign near a gravel entrance letting passersby know what it is.

“We are invisible,” said Bruce Cannon, the school’s president. “It’s not that we try to be invisible … but what we do we do quietly. We’re trying to change that so people know we’re here. We’re doing things to get us noticed in the right ways.”


Among those things is adding athletics, which technically started last fall with a single runner who competed in cross country. Men’s and women’s basketball will be added this fall. A sport a year is the plan after that. It’ll start small in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) and it could grow from there. [MORE]

(LARRY MAYER/Gazette Staff) Yellowstone Christian College will expand to include more students and an athletic program in the fall. The small school on Shiloh Road plans to add a sport per year — starting with men’s and women’s basketball.

(LARRY MAYER/Gazette Staff) Yellowstone Christian College board members meet at the school on Friday, May 22, 2015.

(LARRY MAYER/Gazette Staff) The gymnasium at Yellowstone Christian College will be remodeled into a practice facility.

(LARRY MAYER/Gazette Staff) The chapel at Yellowstone Christian College.

Epps, a native of Louisville, Ky., has been charged with putting this together. From scratch. He’s been on the jobs — he’s the men’s basketball coach and athletics director — since September and understandably has had plenty to keep him busy.


“It’s been 100 miles per hour,” Epps said. “Building a program is something totally different than taking a program over. There’s nothing there, no history.”


u u u


Max Soft and Robert Workman, former college athletes themselves, took the idea of adding athletics to Cannon almost three years ago.


“He laughed,” Soft said. “We just kept at him, tried to get him to understand the value in athletics.”


It worked … eventually. Cannon admits he wasn’t as receptive to the idea as he perhaps should have been.


“My response was that we are an academic institution, that we’re not for sports,” Cannon said. “It took a while to convince me, about six to eight months. Now I’m all in.”


And it’s full speed ahead now as the school gets this rolling.


First came adopting a mascot for its athletic teams — the Centurions. A centurion was an officer in the army of ancient Rome and got the name because they commanded 100 men.


YCC also has applied to play as a member of the NCCAA, and there will be a site visit June 8 to determine that decision. If accepted, the Centurions will compete in the West Region with teams from Washington, Oregon and California.


They will start the men’s and women’s basketball programs in the fall. Recruiting and scheduling are under way. So is fundraising.


There are bigger plans. There’s talk of other sports — volleyball and soccer, perhaps softball and track and field. There’s talk of facilities on campus. Perhaps even a move to NAIA, the same association as Rocky Mountain College. YCC envisions itself to be a player in attracting athletes to its campus, whether local from Billings, surrounding states and even internationally.


Workman, the chief financial officer at YCC, said the school hasn’t been able to place an exact dollar amount on the startup. Among the requirements are salaries for coaches, a recruiting budget, association fees, scholarship money, practice clothing, jerseys and equipment.


Essentially, they need everything down to the whistles. And it will get done.


“There’s tons of potential,” said Soft, the school’s dean of enrollment and also a professor. “It’s very exciting. We’re all having a blast.”


u u u


Yellowstone Christian College has been around since 1974. It was Yellowstone Baptist College until the name was changed nearly two years ago.


That was the first step in gaining exposure. Adding athletics falls in that category, as does adding majors and gaining accreditation. Work also has been and will be done around the campus.


A new chapel and library, both million-dollar buildings, can be seen at the front of campus. But a drive through will take you down gravel roads and into gravel parking lots where older and worn-down buildings with overgrown landscaping sit looking untouched in recent years.


“We’re putting in a great amount of effort and money fixing up the campus this summer,” Cannon said. “We want to look like a fully functioning campus. We want things to match and we want to be what people expect to find when they come to a college campus.”


Cannon said those gravel roads and parking lots will be paved. Lights will be added. Dorms will get a refresher. The campus, he said, will be ready to hold the number of students it anticipates having in the fall.


Enrollment for the 2014-15 school year was 35. Almost immediately, athletics will double that number. And by 2020, Soft said, the school hopes to have 220 students.


Those students, of course, must have a Christian background. They must fall in line with the school’s mission that reads: “YCC exists to instruct and coach men and women to shape the church and culture by reflecting Christ’s character.”


YCC is in candidate status with accreditation from the Association of Biblical Higher Education. Until it receives full accreditation, the school cannot add four-year degrees. The only bachelor’s program it currently offers is in Christian leadership, with an emphasis in ministry, music or business.


In addition, there are associate degrees with an emphasis in education, physical education, intercultural studies, theology/Biblical studies, church ministry, music or business.


“We are a faith-based school and institution and we’re looking for good Christian kids that fit that,” Epps said. “A lot of kids we can rule out right away; they know it’s not for them. If it fits, we move forward to the next step and try to get them here.”


Cannon took that a step further, admitting too that he worried about the stigma of adding athletes to the campus.


“We’re not looking for the athlete who wants to play basketball and put up with a Christian atmosphere,” he said. “We’re looking for a Christian kid who wants to play basketball in addition to his studies. There’s a big difference there.


“The culture on the campus will change, but it won’t change how we sculpt and mentor these kids. We don’t want athletes to change the culture of how we teach.”


u u u


Epps seemed the perfect choice to lead Yellowstone Christian College in this endeavor. And if you ask him the story, he’ll tell you this is exactly where he’s supposed to be.


YCC went through a national search to fill the men’s basketball and athletic director opening. It landed on Epps, who after his playing career, was back home living in Louisville.


Cannon is a candidate for a doctoral degree in education from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. While on a trip there, he met with Epps. The two hit it off and Epps was hired.


“I give all the glory to God,” Epps said. “I mean, what are the odds? We just go where the good Lord calls us. Once you get signs like that, you go with it. You go with your faith.”


Epps knew nothing of Montana but got in his car and made the drive to Billings, questioning it at points along the way.


“I got around Wyoming and started to think, ‘Where is anything?’” he recalled. “My phone didn’t have service, and I just hoped I didn’t run out of gas. But lo and behold, I went up this hill and came down and Billings opens up. It’s been a great place.”


Epps started his college basketball career at Eastern Kentucky but got injured. His grades took a hit and eventually he was kicked out of school. At that point he decided to go a different direction and transferred to York College in Nebraska.


York is a tiny Christian school of about 500 students just west of Lincoln and about 100 miles from the big city of Omaha. It was at York where Epps said he found Christ. He was baptized there. And it led him on the path that eventually ended in Billings.


In between, he played and coached overseas for News Release Basketball, which “travels mainly throughout Europe to run basketball camps and to play against professional and club teams all while sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.”


Epps also ran basketball camps and coached AAU teams in his native Louisville and spent a season as an assistant at York. His cousin is Anthony Epps, a former player at Kentucky who won a national title with the Wildcats in 1996.


“I know he’s been real excited about the opportunity to make something that’s never been before,” said York men’s basketball coach Delton Deal, whose team will come to Billings for YCC’s inaugural season. “If you meet him he’s really charismatic. People love him. He’s a great leader, a great person and I know he’ll handle it all very well.”


Deal said Epps was “rough around the edges” when he arrived at York. That quickly changed.


“He turned his life around,” Deal said. “I think he’s the perfect fit for what they want to do there. He’s proved that the system works, that if you put yourself out there, the Lord can change you. He’s the perfect example of that.”


u u u


In the back of campus sits an old storage shed, tan in color and very much in need of paint and plenty of TLC. They call it the “Tin Can.”


“You have to use your imagination,” Soft said.


Those at YCC have and have made plans for the building, which as of now still holds plenty of dust and junk accumulated over the years.


By the time students arrive on campus this fall, the building will have been transformed. It will be turned into an area for athletes, especially basketball players. It will include a regulation halfcourt on which players can shoot in their free time and coaches can hold individual workouts.


The building also will serve as the weight room and workout area. There will be a lounge for players. Coaches’ offices will be in two rooms on the second level overlooking what will be the brand-new court.


“We do have huge plans for that building,” Epps said. “It’s kind of hard to see now, but I think it’s going to turn out to be a great thing for us.”


In the meantime, the basketball teams will practice at New Life Church, located immediately next to campus. It offers a high school size, 84-foot court. Practices also could be held at Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch.


Games will be played at Shrine Auditorium and scheduling, Epps said, is nearly complete. The Centurions will play a 30-game schedule, facing four- and two-year colleges in the area. YCC will fill out its schedule playing teams from the Montana Dakota Tribal League.


Epps said he hopes to bring around 20 players to campus in the fall. Recruiting, like scheduling, is nearly complete. Players for the inaugural team will come from all over the country and will include a few international students.


Players are eligible for scholarship money and, as with all students, can receive academic scholarships and earn money through work study on campus. YCC as a school, Cannon said, makes an effort to ensure no student leaves with debt. At this time, that number is around 90 percent.


“It’s been a huge blessing that people want to partake in a startup program,” Epps said. “We haven’t been around and I can’t tell them what we did last year. But there’s an interest in it because it’s the first year. It’s history.”


Jawaun Lanouette said that was a draw to come play for Epps and the Centurions. A 6-foot-1 guard from Phoenix, Lanouette signed without seeing the campus or Billings.


“Coach Epps reached out to me and recruited me pretty heavily. He wants me to be a leader and be a big part of the team,” he said. “I jumped at the chance. It’s a chance to start something, to make my own mark and for us to do the same.”


u u u


Back to the initial idea some three years ago, it’s hard for Soft and Workman to believe this time has arrived. Athletics at Yellowstone Christian College was their dream.


Soft, a 1987 graduate of Billings Senior High School, played basketball at Seattle Pacific and then Indiana Wesleyan.


Workman played football at Montana State in the late 1960s, graduated in 1970 and left the state for Arizona for a while before returning about eight years ago.


The two weren’t certain just what they were getting into and asked colleges around the area to clue them in. Soft said he talked with officials at Gillette College, a two-year school in Wyoming that started athletics about six years ago.


“It’s an interesting challenge and I wouldn’t want to do it again,” said Shawn Neary, the men’s basketball coach at Gillette. “There has to be patience; it’s always a work in progress. You start with nothing and there’s no history.”


Neary is a Butte native who coached at Miles Community College for 13 years before leaving for the startup program at Gillette. He and Soft have been friends since high school.


“There’s recruiting and funding and facilities. All that needs to be taken care of,” Neary said. “You’re going to have student-athletes on campus for the first time and that can be a different challenge than regular students. The biggest thing is to get the culture right from the start.”


Soft also reached out to officials at the University of Great Falls, which dropped athletics in 1984 and restored them in 2000. UGF plays in the Frontier Conference with Rocky Mountain.


“Our school has been out here for 40 years and been flying under the radar,” Workman said. “It’s amazing the number of people in Billings who aren’t aware we even exist. We have a lot of good things going on out here and we see athletics as trying to take advantage of the momentum we have.”


The increase in students will mean an increase in money the school sees. It also will increase visibility and help attract and retain students in coming years.


While all that is important to the bottom line, adding athletics truly comes back to the mission statement of Yellowstone Christian College.


“Sports played such a critical role in my life. I wouldn’t have gone to college if not for basketball,” Soft said. “Sports teach camaraderie. You develop friendships. To me, it teaches you so many things about life. I really believe sports parallel nicely with what we are trying to teach kids here.”


Read more


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Yellowstone Christian College

Billings Gazette

Across Montana there are many precious souls who are deficient in reading, writing and speaking the English language. Children are struggling in school. Adults have trouble completing job applications and getting drivers licenses because they cannot read instructions. Those of different ethnic backgrounds are restricted in their ability to relate and achieve their dreams because of the inability to read, speak and write English.


Montana Southern Baptist Convention is hosting a Literacy Missions Training Workshop the week of August 21-22. August 21-22 the workshop will take place at Lakeview Baptist Church in Polson. August 24-25 the workshop will be conducted at Fellowship Baptist Church in Billings. [MORE]

Three areas of training will take place: Tutoring Children and Youth, Adult Reading and Writing, and English as a Second Language. Certification in each of these areas will require 11 hours of classroom work. Refresher training will be provided for Tutoring Children and Youth and English as a Second Language for those who have been active in either track in the past, but have not worked with students in the past 3 years. (Training manuals and skills have been updated)


Check in for each workshop will convene at 1:00 PM on the first day. Lodging and meal information will be forth coming by August 1. For more information contact Ray Willis at 406-855-4265 or at raywillis@bresnan.net.


Please register now so we will be able to provide a manual for you. Register online HERE.


We who serve the Lord can be used to impact the lives of those with these needs through a one on one relationship as we show the love Christ through investing in the life of someone to meet their need. Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.”


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Register for Literacy Missions Training

Vision 20/20
Vision 20/20

MTSBC Farm System


As a kid and as a young adult, my friends and I often traveled to a nearby town to watch a minor league “A” team play baseball. The team was the Asheville Tourists and they were affiliated with the Colorado Rockies Major League baseball club. Just this past week I watched a pitcher debut with the Seattle Mariners after being called up from the “AAA” farm club team. That’s what baseball spring training is all about—young players from a team’s farm system showing what they can do against major league talent. The farm system plays a critical part in building a winning team.


In Montana, we have greatly utilized the North American Mission Board farm system of training up missionaries. Dr. Kevin Ezell says, “We also believe in the important role a farm system plays in fulfilling our mission to help Southern Baptists start evangelistic churches. That’s why we’ve designed a developmental pathway—centered around the local church—for the church planters of tomorrow. And here’s the good news—just a few years into this effort we are already seeing great fruit.”


One area that has helped many in our state to start grooming missionaries is student missionaries. Many students who are already attending one of our SBC churches and are sensing a call to ministry are engaging as student missionaries under the supervision of a local pastor – oftentimes, their own pastor. These students are given ministry responsibilities and being utilized in our churches and church plants. [READ MORE]

In the last two years, the farm system has been advantageous in our church plants by allowing others to be involved, be trained, and learn aspects of ministry in Montana while discovering what God has next in store for them in ministry. Interns are required to give 25 hours per week in a ministry where they are exposed to different aspects of church planting. Some of our interns have remained with the church plant after their internship has been completed. Others have clarified their calling to pastoral ministry. Yet others have taken the next step and moved to the next “division” and have become apprentices.


We currently have two apprentices in our state. An apprentice knows they are going to plant, live in the area in which they believe they will plant, and within 6-8 months of their apprenticeship, they will be doing church planting activities with the intention of launching a church. Both of our apprentices have already begun weekly worship among other ministries in their communities.


Then there are church planters. These are men who have clarified their call to a specific ministry and are diligently ministering in their communities, sharing the gospel, and praying that a local congregation will result as the fruit of the harvest. We still have many communities that need a church to be started and to minister in those areas.


Please check out our website at www.mtsbc.org and go to the Starting page to see how you can become involved in the farm system and in a church start.


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MTSBC Church Starting Team

Montana Southern Baptist Convention

Creating A Culture of Change

Bobby Gruenewald, LifeChurch.tv

When we see churches stuck in a long-gone decade, it’s because they stopped changing somewhere along the way. They might have launched with an innovative vision or made a change to reach a particular demographic, but at some point, they settled in to a comfortable routine.


Leaders in these churches might struggle to see how change is possible. They’re asking questions like:


  • What changes will we need to make so the environment is appealing to new people?
  • How do we accomplish that without offending the people who currently attend?
  • How do we do it without jeopardizing the giving that helps our church run?

  • In my discussions with pastors facing these challenges, I’ve seen these four patterns emerge with churches that have changed successfully. [READ MORE]

    1. Put vision in front of it.

    Most of the time, people don’t like change because the purpose is missing or unclear to them. They don’t want to give up what they know and like. As leaders, our task is to move people’s focus from themselves to people and things they love.


    For example, transitioning music styles can cause conflict. Instead of leading with the fact that the music is changing, get people thinking about their grandkids. “We know many of you would like to see your grandchildren in church. We’re going to make some intentional changes to reach them.”


    Making that personal connection helps them understand you’re not getting rid of the old just because it’s old or because you like the new better. When the purpose is something they believe in, people are more willing to try something new.


    This also applies to your team. Some of the most important vision casting you can do is to help your leaders internalize the purpose behind the change. You might also create opportunities for new leaders to emerge who already embrace the vision.


    2. Make it incremental.

    Sometimes it’s appropriate to accelerate gradually. Small, incremental changes allow you to help people embrace the change as you progress toward your larger vision.


    Returning to our example of transitioning music styles, you might start by modernizing hymns, varying the flow of worship, and introducing some new songs with the old ones. You could begin to incrementally add members to your worship team that more closely resemble the people you’re trying to reach.


    3. Look for it.

    Pinpointing when churches stop changing can be hard, especially when a congregation is growing older together. Usually it’s not one moment, but a series of small decisions that resist the new. Eventually these decisions leave a church struggling to connect with today’s culture.


    Leaders committed to continual growth and change must be self-aware. Time for reflection and seeking feedback can highlight opportunities for change:

  • Is the average age of the people attending our church increasing or decreasing?
  • What percentage of our church is new over the last few years?
  • How much life change do we see taking place and among new followers of Christ vs. people who’ve been here many years?

  • 4. Keep it going.

    Regardless of where we sit on the spectrum of relevancy today, we will be stuck there unless we build in a culture of change. See change as a verb, not a noun: It’s not a change, but a process. As church leaders, our challenge is to keep things moving.


    We don’t want to change merely for the sake of change. Instead, we can adopt an action bias and work toward a consistent, ongoing approach of meaningful change. There’s no question that our culture is changing at an increasingly rapid rate. If we’re passionate about sharing the unchanging message of the Gospel with the more than 7 billion people on our planet, we must embrace change.


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    Bobby Gruenewald at Lifechurch.tv