You Are My Joy

I am very thankful for the wonderful annual meeting we had last Sunday evening at First Baptist Church of Platte City.  It was a time of warm fellowship as we shared a meal together and followed by Christ honoring worship and a time to be encouraged by seeing all the amazing things God is doing in our association of churches.  Pastor Rusty Savage and his team did an outstanding job hosting us and allowing us to use their brand-new beautiful facilities.  I am also grateful for the unanimous support of our vision and adoption of the budget to see it accomplished.  With your generosity, prayers, and engagement we can truly work synergistically and do more together and leverage the strength of partnering together for the gospel to reach the northland and the nations.  It is a delight to serve as your Director of Mission.  I am honored to work with tremendous leaders and faithful pastors who love and shepherd their congregation well and lead them to love their communities and proclaim the gospel of Jesus.  My heart is full and I can relate to Paul’s words to the church at Philippi, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!”  You are my joy. – Dr. Gary Mathes

CPBA Annual Meeting

I am looking forward to this coming Sunday evening on October 10th at 5:30 pm where we will gather at FBC Platte City for the 83rd Clay Platte Baptist Association annual meeting. There we will share a meal together and spend time celebrating what God is doing in our association of churches and looking ahead for what we can accomplish together in the coming year.  God has been doing some amazing things in our churches despite the many challenges we are all facing, and we want to hear and be encouraged by His faithfulness.   We also have a sizable task in our call to make disciples of Jesus in our counties, our country and the throughout the globe. Yet we have a great God who empowers us and unifies us in the work.  I am so thankful for the wonderful network of 40 churches who are partnering for the gospel with the mission of reaching the northland and the nations for Christ. I hope you join us for a great evening together. – Dr. Gary Mathes

Healthy Churches Reproduce

Not long ago I was having a conversation where someone made the statement, “Healthy churches are growing churches.”  That is correct but there is another factor in defining what it means to be healthy.  While it is true that most things in life that are healthy grow – it is usually only up to the point of its design.  I think of myself as relatively healthy, but I quit growing a long time ago.  If I am growing at my age it is probably because I am eating more than I should.  Another sign of health is reproduction.  When someone reaches maturity they then have the capacity to reproduce.  This is applicable for churches as well.  Many churches focus on addition rather than multiplication.  We should be concerned about adding to the number of those who come to faith in Jesus and become a part of our local church.  We should also be concerned about reproducing as well.  As I look at my heritage, my mom and dad had four children.  Each of us married adding four more, who then had children and added twelve more to our family. They married which added twelve more, who then added twenty-four more children – so far. Now for our Christmas gathering we need a place that can hold 58 people.   This has implication for churches.  One of our objectives as an association is to help strategize and support church planting.  As we look at our growing counties the latest census revealed that our population grew by 10.2 percent or 31,937 people from 2010 to 2020. If we hope to simply keep up with the population growth it will be necessary to think reproduction of churches as well as growing through addition.  Both are positive and both are needed.  I look forward to seeing how the Lord will continue to use our current church plants and ones yet to come.  What will be your part in this effort of multiplication? – Dr. Gary Mathes

Motivation Matters

When it comes to ministry – motivation matters.  When I felt the call to ministry years ago my motivation was rooted in my love for the Lord and the desire to please Him by serving his people well.  After preparing for ministry and being called as pastor in my first church, I continued to be motivated by the same reasons.  I soon learned that it wasn’t enough.  I tried my best to help the congregation God appointed me to serve – to fulfill the Great Commission.  They were good people, but my ministry had some difficult moments and I struggled to lead well.  I was frustrated and they were too.  A turning point was when I revisited the Great Commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important commandment.  The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matt. 22:37-39). Trying to accomplish the Great Commission without fulfilling the Great Commandment is exhausting.  I loved the Lord and wanted my church to faithfully make disciples, but I had to come to the place of realizing that I didn’t love the congregation like I should. They became problems rather than people needing a loving shepherd committed to knowing, loving, feeding and protecting them.  I had to repent of my pride of loving myself and learn to love my neighbor (in this case my parishioners) better.  Doing so changed the trajectory of my ministry and my level of fulfillment.  While serving God’s people can still be frustrating, leading out of a motivation of love makes all the difference.  Our motivation truly does matter. – Dr. Gary Mathes

Disaster Relief: Help, Hope and Healing

“Help, Hope and Healing” is the motto for the SBC Disaster Relief ministry.  Under the leadership of Artie Horn, Joe Dayringer, David Davis, Doug Hager and others, our associational Disaster Relief team is made up of a great group of volunteers with a servant’s heart who have faithfully gone out to show and share the love of Jesus both locally and nationally.  This Saturday, September 18, a chainsaw team will be headed south to Mandeville, Louisiana to help property owners affected by Hurricane Ida. Please join me in prayer as they travel and work in difficult circumstances to help these people, and that God would use their service to make the gospel known in this area.  Other ways you can help is by donating to the cause, and you can do so online at:  

https://mobaptist.org/disaster-relief-donation/  

Also, you can be trained in Disaster Relief in order to be prepared to go and serve yourself.  There is a DR training coming soon in our area you can take advantage of.  It is October 8-9 at FBC Blue Springs, MO.  It is a Friday evening and Saturday training event.  The cost is $40 for first time trainees.  There are several types of teams to train for (chainsaw, mass feeding, childcare, mud out, etc.) and you can get more information and register online at: 

https://mobaptist.org/dr/dr-training/  

 I am so thankful for our volunteers and the work they have done and will do.  May the Lord truly provide help, hope and healing as they go and serve people in need. – Dr. Gary Mathes

Your Work is Important

With Labor Day coming up I thought I would say a word about how important your work as a pastor is.  While our government leaders have been slow to consider churches “essential business” we know that our work is not only essential, it is eternal as well.  I am so thankful for our pastors and staff who faithfully fulfil their charge to look after God’s flock.  Week after week and day by day they are studying, interpreting and preaching God’s Word and teaching sound doctrine.  They are pouring out their energy and time to care for their people, counsel the broken and hurting, oversee and lead teams of people to carry out the mission of the church, and communicate the gospel to their congregation and community.  They work hard at building relationships, discerning and casting vision, developing leaders, and keeping the church focused on the Great Commission. They work as under shepherds charged to watch over the souls they have been entrusted with and will give an account for to the Chief Shepherd (Heb. 13:17).  While their reward on earth may be humble, they are promised the unfading crown of glory from Jesus who called them into this essential and eternal work (1 Pet. 5:1-4).  Your hard work and faithful labor are of utmost importance.  Thank you for what you do!
– Dr. Gary Mathes

What is on Your Scoreboard?

It is that time of year where football at all levels – high school, college, and professional – is ramping up and the games will soon begin.  I have always enjoyed the game and spent plenty of time watching them in person or on the television.  One of the things sports fans are watching is the scoreboard, especially as the game is winding down, and they’re looking at the score, number of time outs and the time left on the clock.  A good question that we as church leaders often need to ask is, what is on our scoreboard?  How do we know if we are being victorious or not?  Typically, we look at attendance, baptisms and giving.  These are important measures, but they don’t tell the whole story. Some other things we may want to measure are things such as, “Are more people being reached for Christ?”  “Are more in our congregation being transformed by the gospel and becoming more like Jesus?”  “Is the love, unity, and mutual service growing in our fellowship?” “Are the ministries we offer meeting real needs with gospel solutions?” “Is everything we do done for the glory of God?”  It is important to look beyond the numbers and go a little deeper in our evaluation.  I heard it said often, what gets done in our congregation is what gets celebrated.  So, what is on your scoreboard? – Dr. Gary Mathes

Traits – Joyful Enthusiastic Encourager

As I conclude this series of sharing traits of an effective leader, this week I focus on how leaders are to be joyful enthusiastic encouragers.  I had a friend who is a pilot tell me that one of the instruments planes have is an “attitude indicator.”  It simply lets the pilot know if the nose of the plane is above or below the horizon, if it is climbing in altitude or diving.  I thought of how this is a great illustration for leadership.  Our attitude determines our altitude. One of the attitudes we as Christians are called to demonstrate is joy.  Paul gives the imperative, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice” (Phil 4:4).  In John 15, Jesus commanded us to remain in his love and keep his commands, he explained, “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (v.11).  The source of our joy is in our relationship with Jesus.  He is the fountainhead that springs forth living water that produces joy within our hearts. It is also one of the characteristics named as the fruit of the Spirit.  As leaders it is important for us to express this kind of joy.  Our churches need joyful pastors.  But let’s face it, this is not easy.  Ministry is often difficult, demanding, and can deplete the joy we need to demonstrate. However, we need to battle for joy. Jesus says we have an enemy who want to steal, kill and destroy, but he has come that we might have life and have it in abundance (Jn. 10:10). Our Good shepherd protects and provides for us and has laid down his life so we could have and enjoy this abundant life.  That is something worth rejoicing over.  As leaders and proclaimers of this life, Jesus is not calling us to be cheerleaders trying to rally a crowd rooting for a losing team, rather he wants us to live in the joy of knowing that our names are written in heaven as one on the winning team, and that in Him we are more than conquerors.  The joy of the Lord is our strength, and it is one that we can spread to others.  Solomon wrote, “A cheerful heart has a continual feast” (Prov. 15:15). Therefore, let us passionately pursue and find our joy in Jesus, and then let us “leak” that joy to those we serve and lead.  – Dr. Gary Mathes

Traits – Develops Leaders and Builds Teams

As I continue sharing traits of an effective leader, this week I focus on how leaders are proactive in developing leaders and building teams.   The truth is that no one person can accomplish the mission Jesus gave us alone.  Jesus modeled how important it is to multiply yourself.  The people he picked to advance his gospel and build his kingdom were not superstars but undrafted underdogs, yet he turned them into world-changers.  He also made it clear in Luke 10:2 that the harvest is abundant, but the workers are few, therefore we should pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out more.  Paul pointed out that one of the major tasks of a “pastor and teacher” is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13).  The challenge I have seen for some leaders is that they do a decent job raising up workers but not other leaders.  Raising up other leaders can make a major impact on the growth and effectiveness of a church or ministry team.  The difficulty some leaders have is overcoming a scarcity mindset that believes only a few people on their team are competent.  Therefore, they themselves have to do the majority of leadership load.  However, those who have an abundance mindset believes that with the right training, coaching, and resources most people can rise up to the task of becoming a leader.  It has been shown that those who hold to a scarcity mindset underutilize the talent latent within their team, create tense environments and get only half the potential of those they lead.  Conversely, those with an abundant mindset believe in their team members, provide both the environment and opportunity for growth and get twice the potential of their members.  May we aspire to not just recruit workers but build leaders. – Dr. Gary Mathes

Traits – Loves People

This week as I continue sharing traits of an effective leader, I focus on the need for leaders to work hard at building relationships with the people they lead. As a task-oriented person, I have had to learn how important it is to be people oriented as well. I remember a pastor I served under would often tell his staff, “The most important thing in leading people is relationship, relationship, relationship. As a leader you will sometimes need to spend relational capital so make sure you have capital to spend.” The work of creating and sharing a vision, planning programs, leading teams, administrating the work of the church, and facilitating organizational change is important work. But none of these things happen without healthy, trusting and loving relationships with those you serve the Lord with. An oft spoken piece of wisdom is that people don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care for them. As a leader it is important to build trust and good will by demonstrating humility, integrity, kindness, patience, gratitude, and genuine concern for those you are called to serve and lead. The last night that Jesus would spend with his disciples before his crucifixion, he shared an important admonition, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). The greatest attribute we can aspire to as followers of Jesus and leaders in His church is how we love others. It is worth our best effort. – Dr. Gary Mathes