Montana Baptist E-News

The Montana Baptist E-News | January 2017



































Elevate Leadership Training (Glasgow)

Elevate Training (Central Region)

Elevate Training (Missoula)

Elevate Training (Miles City)

Cooperative Program Sunday



Get Real East

Spring Staff Retreat

Memorial Day (Offices Closed)

SBC Annual Meeting

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


Barrett Duke

Looking Forward to Seeing You

By Barrett Duke, MTSBC Executive Director

Our MPact meeting is just around the corner. I hope you are making plans to join us for this important gathering at the Radisson Colonial Hotel on March 2-3 in Helena. This year we are focusing on equipping our churches for success. With Dr. Rob Blackaby coming, you know it will be meaningful and helpful. Rob is not only preaching. He’ll also be leading a breakout session on recruiting and managing volunteers. With church resources stretched thin, all our churches must depend on volunteers to get much of their ministry done. Having this opportunity to interact with Dr. Blackaby should give everyone something to strengthen this crucial area of ministry. More...

In addition, I’m looking forward to preaching on Thursday night. I plan to share with you why Denise and I came to Montana. And no, it wasn’t for the scenery, the hunting, the fishing, or the golfing though those are all perks of ministry here in this beautiful, bountiful state. We came for the church. We know life and ministry is especially challenging here. The spiritual and personal struggles are constant. At some point, many of us ask if it’s worth it. I plan to share why it is.

In addition to Dr. Blackaby’s breakout session, we have many other very helpful sessions planned, like planning and conducting successful meetings, developing a successful youth ministry, developing a successful children’s ministry, and how to use social media successfully. Everyone planning on holding a Vacation Bible School should plan to be there, as well. Linda Criddle will be doing a breakout for VBS training. Other breakouts are also in the planning stages.

The convention is paying for two nights for our pastors to attend this important gathering. That’s how serious we are about equipping your church for success. To get these two free nights, all you have to do is go here and register to attend. You’ll automatically be asked if you want a room. Bring some of your church leadership, as well. I’m confident you’ll be glad you did.

MPact is a great time for us to get together, get equipped, and share in some refreshing fellowship together. I hope you’ll be able to come. Denise and I would love to have the opportunity to meet you and begin to get to know you. Until then, may the Lord richly bless you.




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Register for MPact 2017

MPact 2017 Poster


We’re all busier than ever. You’re probably thinking, “Yeah! Too busy to read this newsletter.”

And that’s exactly why you need to not only read it, but share it with the 20 somethings and graduating seniors in your church.

Winter Blast – Called is a retreat specifically designed to help young adults un-plug from the busyness of life and plug-in to their relationship with Jesus.

This year Gateway Seminary President, Dr. Jeff Iorg, will walk us through how all Christians are “Called” to live for Jesus whether that’s in school, the workforce, or maybe even full time ministry. Scott Brownson will be challenging us to do more than just sing, but passionately, authentically worship the God who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. More...

Winter Blast – Called

When: Friday Feb. 24th – Sunday Feb. 26th

Where: Fairmont Hot Springs (Need I say more?)

Cost: $85/singles, $150/couples. Includes lodging, 2 meals, & pool passes!

Sign-Up Deadline: February 10th

Register Here

But don’t take my word for it:

“I learned when sharing your faith, don’t say “no” for them. Share the gospel and let them make the decision.” – Bryce

“I was reminded of Jesus’ love for me and my love for Him and my salvation is the foundation for everything else I do in life.” - Ashley

This is a great chance to invest in the 20 somethings in your church and if you have graduating seniors headed to Billings, Bozeman, Butte, or Missoula for college they can get a jump start on plugging into campus ministry, Bible study, and church before fall classes start.

Contact Next-Gen Director Adam Burt at or 406-252-7537 for more details.


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Register for Winter Blast 2017


Where do music, training, good food, hot springs, fellowship, and family time together all take place in just two days? The answer is the annual Church Planter Retreat at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in Anaconda, MT.

In January, church planters, interns, future planters, and sponsoring church pastors gathered at Fairmont Hot Springs for the annual Church Planter Retreat. For the third consecutive year, Dr. Bill Agee, Director of Church Planting at First Baptist Church Woodstock, was our guest trainer. Dr. Agee was joined by Chip Riggs who was this year’s main speaker. Chip did an excellent job of conveying the material and challenging our audience with tools they can utilize when returning to their ministry fields. More...




This year’s training topic was FBC Woodstock’s Level 300 Church Planting Class entitled Kingdom Focused Church. Attendees were challenged with subjects such as how to plant your church with reaching the nations in mind. Other subjects included developing long-term partnerships, sending your new church on short-term missions, and multiplying kingdom minded churches. These are only a sample of the relevant material that was taught during the retreat.

Besides the classroom, there were opportunities for long-time friends, as well as new acquaintances, to spend time getting to know each other and catching up on family activities, and sharing ideas concerning ministry with peers. These times often took place over a delicious meal or while relaxing in the hot springs.

Because there are so many new faces involved in church planting in Montana, a Newly, Not-So-Newlywed Game was invented to introduce some of our newest couples to the audience. This was a lot of fun and the winning couple received a $50 gift card to a local restaurant. This joint lunch time also gave time for new introductions and a time to catch up with long-time friends.

We look forward to future retreats and the takeaways that planters will be able to utilize when returning to their ministry fields.


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MTSBC Church Starting

Ray Willis

Literacy Missions Blessings

Ray Willis, MTSBC Literacy Ministries

Recently I had the privilege to have lunch with Duane and Melissa Giddis and their three children. Duane and Melissa are church planters serving in Miles City, Montana.

They are using Literacy Missions as the vehicle to begin a new church in the north part of Miles City. Through Literacy Missions they have established a positive presence with the school system and many of the teachers, staff and parents of children who attend.

Melissa shared a couple of stories about children with who they have tutored. It is exciting to hear how tutoring children results in changed lives at families are touched by the Gospel. More...

The following are two stories Duane and Melissa shared with me:

"We had a girl who everyone warned us would be trouble. They said she had defiance issues. After working with her for about 3 months, she accepted Christ. The change was instant and very noticeable. Her teachers were talking about how different she was. Her mom wanted to know why. Through this interaction, the student and her mom now go to church and several of the teachers are part of my Bible study.

"One of the young boys being helped by our ministry has a mom who was hurt by churches in the past. Through continued interaction with the student and mom, the whole family (minus dad so far) of mom and three boys now comes to nearly every one of our preview services."

This is just one of the many places across the state that the literacy ministry is having an impact. For more information on the Literacy Ministry or to register for one of our upcoming trainings, please go here or contact Ray Willis at


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Literacy Missions


Five years ago, the MTSBC initiated a partnership with Tom Cox World Ministries to offer MTSBC churches the opportunity to participate in a short term international mission trip to the country of Peru. Pastor Stan and Diane Bricker have been the team leaders for all of these trips. Many Montana pastors and lay folks have taken advantage of this opportunity. One of those pastors was me, Pastor Frank Burns of Central Baptist in Lewistown. A couple of my church members went to Peru in 2014 and came back so blessed and on fire for the Lord it was inspirational. Our church was building in 2014 but in 2016 I went and experienced it firsthand for myself. It was truly one of the best things in ministry I have ever done. I told Stan I had every intention of coming back in 2017, if at all possible. Well, I am going back this summer! Stan and Diane have asked me to lead the 2017 Montana delegation on their behalf. More...

The purpose of this article is to call on all Montana pastors and lay believers to prayerfully consider going with us. You will not be disappointed. There will be ample opportunities to share your faith and lead Peruvians to Christ. We do this through evangelistic mobile medical clinics, eye clinics, sewing clinics, backyard bible clubs, women’s luncheon, and more. This is all done in partnership with local established churches. There are evangelistic services held every night all over the city giving ample opportunity for pastors to share the Word of God and lay folks to share their testimony.

We are housed and fed at the former IMB seminary and a local hotel. All meals are homemade and prepared by the Peruvian Christians. Translators are provided for every outreach activity. Every aspect of this gospel proliferation endeavor is meticulously organized by TCWM and local pastors, one of which is former Montana pastor Parish Hartley. He and his wife were pastoring in Helena when they went on this mission trip a few years back. The Hartley’s were so moved by the opportunity to share the gospel and the tremendous need of the people, they packed up and moved to Trujillo, Peru to plant a church and work with the seminary. I can’t understate the potential positive impact this opportunity will have on your Christian life and ministry.

This year’s trip is scheduled to leave out of Billings July 17th to July 29th. More details and promotional material will be forthcoming. I just want to give all Montana Baptists plenty of time to seriously pray about joining us this year. I promise you will “grow when you go!” I would be happy to talk to anyone and share more details. I can be contacted at or 406-350-0007. I look forward to hearing from you.


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Tom Cox World Ministries

Kids are important. I think kids ministry is one of the most important things a church does. Maybe I'm a little biased because I'm a kid’s pastor, but maybe not. Experts agree that the first 18 years of life are crucial in the direction that a person takes in life and in the development of how they see and interact with the world around them. It makes sense then that this would also be an important time to expose them to the power of the Gospel, to help lay a spiritual foundation that can affect the rest of their lives. The church should jump at the chance to partner with parents in influencing the next generation, to show kids and youth what it looks like to love God and love others every day. More...

There are many important pieces to the kid’s ministry puzzle. I think one of the most important is that of strategy. When I first started here at Emmanuel I had no kid’s ministry experience. I was excited and had all kinds of programs and events to do. Most of it was good and had good attendance, but there wasn’t any coherent or unifying strategy. It seemed that we were all over the map. A couple of years ago, God began to open my eyes to this and I began thinking through 1) what we wanted to accomplish in a kid’s life and 2) what are the steps we must take to get there? Since then we have begun to evaluate every event, every program in the light of our strategy. It has required that we make some changes, some of which were painful. But it is beginning to bear fruit in our kid’s lives and our volunteers are beginning to understand and verbalize where we are headed and why we do what we do. We are still in the process but it has helped bring unity to our team.

I recently read a book, A New Kind of Leader by Reggie Joiner, and he put it this way, “You aren’t really leading kids anywhere if you don’t have a plan.”1 Having a strategy really does matter. I want to encourage you to think about what that looks like for your kid’s ministry.

There are many books, blogs, podcasts and conferences that will help you, not only to develop strategy, but with all areas of kid’s ministry. I would like to invite you to a kidmin training conference that might be helpful. The conference is April 7-8 here at Emmanuel in Billings. Our speaker is Jonathan Cliff. Jonathan has over 20 years of experience in children and student ministry. He is currently serving as Executive Pastor at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, TN. Topics will include partnering with parents, your spiritual health as a leader or volunteer and being a life-long learner. Registration is free. For more information please feel free to contact me at or go to our website, Registration will be on the website soon.

Joiner, Reggie. A New Kind of Leader (Cumming, GA: Orange, a division of the reThink Group. 2016) 36.

Lee Merck

Student Missions Yield Fruit in Montana

Lee Merck, Pastor, Church of The Rockies (Red Lodge/Roberts)


Haley Hoven, from Monroeville, Alabama, first came to Montana to serve as a student missionary in Red Lodge in 2014.

Little did she know how those first 8 weeks of summer missions would forever change the direction of her life. Lee Merck, Church Planting Pastor in Red Lodge said, “Over the last 3 summers, Christie and I have had the privilege of making disciples of some outstanding young ladies while leading them to do missions right here in Montana. Haley is one great example of God transforming a young heart and calling her to a deeper level of service for Him.” Haley has spent her last 3 summers in Red Lodge learning from God while leading in the areas of outreach and missions. She’s also demonstrated a heart for God by loving the communities we’ve served. More...




This experience, once afforded by NAMB, and now by MTSBC, is a valuable tool for recruiting and training leaders for the state of Montana. How has student missions yielded fruit in Montana? Haley said, “Student missions has given me a new vision for lost people. It has also challenged me to grow in my own spiritual walk with the Lord.” One word that comes to mind when she thinks about Red Lodge is “family.”

Haley now lives in Red Lodge and works with Church of the Rockies, a multi-site church that is quickly expanding its reach throughout Carbon County and into other towns and cities. She serves on staff as the Children’s Director and is overseeing a new ministry called 212KIDS. She is also working as a Ministry Assistant to the pastor. This summer she will continue being a part of the Student Missionary Program while leading the students who will serve in Red Lodge. On Wednesday, January 18, Haley took her first class at MSUB in Billings and is studying Health Administration.


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MTSBC Student Missions

Church of the Rockies


Annual Church Profile Reports Due

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention


If you have not yet completed your ACP, please take a moment to do so. Although this seems like a mundane and even unnecessary detail in your mission to advance the kingdom of God, here are some reasons why it is important:

• Numbers can help us strategize, plan, and know where God is working.

• They can also show us where more work is needed.

• Numbers across the state show us here at MTSBC where more help can be given.

• Lifeway supplies even greater financial resources in response to growth in MTSBC ACP statistics.

LifeWay has made it quick and easy to report your statistics with their new reporting site. Just go to If you have any trouble at all, please contact Jeannie Hayes at or 406-252-7537. There are also detailed instructions on the church resources page here.


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Church Resources


  • February 4 | Glasgow – Calvary Baptist Church, 100 Highland Avenue
  • February 9 | Central Region – Location to Be Determined
  • February 10 | Missoula – Outdoorsmen Church, 12208 Pulpmill Road
  • February 10 | Great Falls - Crossroads Memorial Church, 1700 Marketplace Drive
  • February 11 | Miles City – Valley Community Church, 1004 N. Sewell Ave


  • April 1 | Glasgow – Calvary Baptist Church, 100 Highland Avenue
  • April 6 | Central Region – Location to Be Determined
  • April 7 | Missoula – Outdoorsmen Church, 12208 Pulpmill Road
  • April 7 | Great Falls - Crossroads Memorial Church, 1700 Marketplace Drive
  • April 8 | Miles City – Valley Community Church, 1004 N. Sewell Ave
  • Mark your calendars for future Elevate dates!

    The sessions at all locations are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you have questions specific to a location, you can contact the following facilitator:

    Central Region - William Johnson, 406-579-1304

    Missoula - Michael Liner, 406-830-0884

    Miles City & Glasgow - Eddie Smith, 406-853-9890

    Great Falls - Mike Ammons, 406-750-1335


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    Elevate Montana Page


    Christian persecution increases; North Korea still Number 1

    Tom Strode, Baptist Press

    WASHINGTON (BP) -- North Korea ranks as the most dangerous country for Christians for the 16th consecutive time after a year in which the persecution of followers of Jesus continued to rise, according to a new report.

    Release of the annual World Watch List from Open Doors USA came as religious freedom advocates call for President-elect Trump to act in the first 100 days of his administration to protect Christians and other people of faith overseas.

    About 215 million Christians underwent "high, very high or extreme persecution" last year in the 50 countries on its watch list, Open Doors reported Wednesday (Jan. 11). Open Doors -- which has served the persecuted church overseas for more than 60 years -- defines persecution as hostility endured by a person because of his identification with Christ. It can include loss of property, imprisonment, torture, rape and death. More...

    According to Open Doors, the top 10 countries where Christians face the most severe persecution and their totals on a 100-point system are: (1) North Korea, 92 points; (2) Somalia, 91; (3) Afghanistan, 89; (4) Pakistan, 88; (5) Sudan, 87; (6) Syria, 86; (7) Iraq, 86; (8) Iran, 85; (9) Yemen, 85; (10) Eritrea, 82.

    Open Doors' list "is a crucial and sobering source of information to help Christians know how to pray and advocate for their persecuted brothers and sisters," said Travis Wussow, vice president for public policy, as well as general counsel, of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "This advocacy makes a real difference in shaping U.S. policy, which can in turn play a crucial role in protecting the persecuted church around the world."

    In written remarks for Baptist Press, Wussow encouraged "all believers to review the report and select one or two countries and pray for the church there by name."

    David Curry, president of Open Doors, said in a written statement the list clearly shows Christians in the West "need to advocate on behalf of those who do not have the same religious freedom privileges we do."

    Curry and others have urged Trump, who will be inaugurated Jan. 20, to take steps in the opening days of his administration to protect international religious liberty. The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative has drafted -- and solicited signers to -- a letter urging the president-elect to retain or nominate in his first 100 days an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom and a special advisor for religious minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia.

    Both those positions in the U.S. State Department could be vacant by the end of January.

    David Saperstein, whose work as ambassador-at-large the last two years has been commended by conservatives and liberals, apparently will have to leave his post by the inauguration, according to a Trump transition memo first reported by The New York Times, World magazine said in a Jan. 9 article.

    Knox Thames, also highly regarded across the board for his service the last 16 months as the first special advisor for religious minorities, will lose his job Jan. 31 unless the Trump administration retains him, World reported.

    Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. -- a Southern Baptist -- told World, "During this unconventional transition, I encourage the Trump administration to make religious freedom positions a priority and maintain key offices within the State Department."

    Though North Korea is a communist country that enforces worship of its leader, Muslim extremism remained the primary force driving persecution last year, with Islamic forces instigating it in 35 of the 50 countries, according to Open Doors.

    Persecution increased especially in South and Southeast Asia, reaching levels of violence experienced in such areas as the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, Open Doors reported. In Asia, the persecution was "fueled by dramatic religious nationalism and government insecurity," according to Open Doors. Commonly, teetering governments scapegoated Christians.

    Pakistan, which moved from No. 6 to No. 4 this year, was the most violent country, surpassing the violence in northern Nigeria by Muslims against Christians. India reached its highest ranking ever at No. 15 because of Hindu violence toward Christians.

    In its research to compile the World Watch List, Open Doors measures the freedom of Christians in five areas of life -- private, family, community, national and church. Its researchers also gauge the degree of violence.

    Release of the latest Open Doors list followed a Dec. 30 report of a study by the Italian-based Center for Studies on New Religions, which found Christians are the world's most persecuted faith group. Using an admittedly broader definition of dying for religious reasons, the study reported nearly 90,000 Christians died for their faith in 2016, according to the International Business Times.

    The full report of the 2017 Open Doors World Watch List is available at

    Last year, the State Department designated 10 "countries of particular concern," a category reserved for especially severe violators of religious liberty. They were Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.