Lets Go, Montana

Barrett DukeAll Enews

I’m looking forward to Refresh 2018 in Helena. Next week, we will come together to celebrate God’s work among us. It’s hard to believe that I’m already about to complete my second year as Executive Director of our Convention. It has been fantastic serving the Lord with you and serving you and your churches. I feel like I have gotten to know you, our churches, and our state pretty well. If you’ve been keeping up with me on Facebook, you know that Denise and I have been all over the state. There are still plenty of things I need to learn and understand, but I think the introductory period is over.

As I’ve met with you and been in many of our churches, I’ve seen your successes and your ongoing challenges as you seek to fulfill the Lord’s calling. Some of those are reflected in the results of our efforts to advance through Vision 2020. This ambitious plan adopted by our churches in 2011 helped propel us to where we are today. But our record of success is mixed. You can see it in the statistics below.

As you can see, we hit our high point in many measurable areas a few years ago. Furthermore, when we adopted Vision 2020, we set a goal to plant 134 churches by 2020, essentially doubling our MTSBC churches. Unfortunately, we will not come near to achieving that. In 2010, the year before we adopted our ambitious goals for Vision 2020, we had 132 churches. Today, we have 136 churches, and that’s despite planting 39 churches during that time. Our long-term trend is very positive, but data from the last few years tells us we are losing some of our momentum.

As we near the end of Vision 2020, I think we should celebrate our achievements and move immediately into a new initiative. I’m calling this new initiative Go Montana. Built around three emphases—Going, Telling, Serving, Go Montana is all about church mobilization. I’ll be asking you to approve this new initiative when we meet in Helena next week.

I shared this plan with our Executive Board last month and they voted unanimously to recommend that we adopt it. If you approve this new initiative, the MTSBC will come alongside our churches with the goal in the next three years of seeing every church go somewhere new, every member tell someone about Jesus, and every church start something new. We won’t be telling our churches how to do these things or what to do. That will be between you and the Lord, as it should be.

First, through Go Montana our churches will be challenged and resourced to go somewhere new in the next three years. Where each church goes is up to them. You could go across the street and tell your neighbors about Jesus. You could go across the state and assist one of our other churches to do outreach or VBS. You could go to another country and share the gospel. Where you go is between you and the Lord. We just need to get going.

Second, we will challenge every member of our churches to share their faith in an effective, non-confrontational way with at least one person in the next three years. The Lord Jesus has given His church the task of sharing His message of salvation. Not just once, but until He returns. No one comes to faith without someone telling them about Jesus. In fact, it usually takes many times before everything comes together for a person to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. We must renew our commitment to do that. The future of our churches, communities, and families depends on us telling others about Jesus. More importantly, the eternal destiny of our family, friends, and neighbors is at stake.

Third, through Go Montana, our churches will be challenged to start something new to serve others in the next three years. Again, what a church starts is entirely between them and God. A church might start a Bible study in a new community. It might start a literacy ministry in a local school, a hunger ministry, a community renovation project, or a new church. What we need to be about is serving others. The opportunities are only limited by our imagination. The MTSBC will come alongside our churches to connect them with others who are already doing what they want to do. We will also do all we can to help them find resources to do these new things.

We’ve done well. The statistics don’t lie, but we can do much more if we will just start looking around us and calling our people to be the Spirit’s instruments of blessing in the lives of others. I pray you’ll find new ways to unleash the creativity, the passion, and the energy of the members of your churches to propel us to win Montana and beyond to faith in Christ. In order to achieve that, we must go.

I would like for us to kick off this new initiative in January 2019. I hope you’ll join me in Helena next week so I can share more about Go Montana with you and we can vote to continue to find ways to do more so that more people will come to know Jesus and become His faithful, fearless followers. See you in Helena!

About the Author

Barrett Duke

Barrett Duke is the Executive Director and Treasurer for the Montana Southern Baptist Convention.