Butch Strickland – Associational Missionary

The Spring 2014 Report from Gary Bearce

on May 1, 2014

The Spring 2014 Report from Gary Bearce

Associational Missionary / Church Planting Catalyst

To Hatcher Pass Baptist Association Alaska State Convention Board

 I am writing my Spring Report to my association and to the State Convention Board following the Alaska Pastors and Wives Retreat held in Soldotna, Alaska.  I deeply appreciate Randy McWhorter’s focus on “influence development.”  I was reminded and convicted once again that if we are going to lead we have to be a fervent prayer, a continual learner, a “people person” and a team player.  May is Associational Emphasis Month in Southern Baptist life and in Hatcher Pass Baptist Association!  I trust that means we are focused on teamwork and the shared ministry of co-laborers, at least during the month of May!

After eight years of serving in Alaska I am convinced that one of the greatest needs of our churches and church related ministries is a strong application of teamwork.  Most Alaskans want it “My Way!”  Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit we must empower churches and mission efforts to live and breathe “collective IQ.”  Leadership in Alaska does not mean running things!  My prayer is that pastors and directors will realize that “all of us are smarter than any of us.” All of us should be in a position to determine and initiate God’s best in the life of the church, under the influence of Spirit-filled leaders (influencers) and not directors.

It seems, at times, as though both in Hatcher Pass Baptist Association and the ministry entities around us that we continue to focus on building our own power structure rather than focusing on servant leadership and influencing others to join us in a cooperative adventure directed by God.  If cooperative ministries such as our July 4 Mayor’s Picnic, the State Fair outreach and the work of our summer missionaries and OMCs make an impact on our community we must embrace shared ministries with local churches and our ministry partners.

I realize that when we come together for our Associational Leadership Team (ALT) meeting each month we bring together a powerful group of decision-makers and yet often the agenda is set and there’s very little opportunity for significant collective IQ as we seek God’s best together.  In my defense, I will admit to some significant “meetings before the meeting” in order to get the thoughts and Spirit-filled impressions of others but we must do better if we are to influence or impact the way our churches and our pastors makes decisions.  Some of you are aware that I have lunch with someone almost every day of the week.  Yes, it is one of the most enjoyable parts of my ministry but it is also my consistent effort to maintain good teamwork with church leaders. In the local church we must find ways to help our people “dream dreams” as well as catch the “shared vision” of the pastor.

Church planting seems to be the one place where pastors might be able to direct an effort with little or no collective IQ or team effort yet it is honestly a bright spots for me as both Associational Missionary and Church Planting Catalyst!  Our planting leaders are, in fact, seeking input from their small core group, from their missionaries and from other planters. It has been easy for me to catch their vision and want to join in their efforts because of that desire for Spirit-led teamwork.  Note that we now have six church planters and I have been in close communication with two more couples who will begin the church planting process soon.  My daily prayer for these guys is that God will send them laborers (co-laborers serving alongside them) and that they will excel in Spirit-filled teamwork and thus continually experience numerical growth!  During the Pastors and Wives Retreat we were reminded about the need for WIGs (Wildly Important Goals).  The goal is for HPBA and our churches to plant six new churches in 2014, so we definitely need church planting teamwork!  As I have said before, HPBA churches have done a great job of coming alongside the associational missionaries effort of become an effective Church Planting Catalyst.  I cannot do this job without your help!  Remember, with all of our mission offerings, whether we refer to Lottie, Annie, or Valaria; the primary purpose now is to support church planting.  We still do missions in a lot of ways, but as Southern Baptists, church planting has become our primary way to extend our efforts to reach and disciple a lost world.  Thanks for your partnership in planting!

Hatcher Pass Baptist Association is in need of teamwork as we approach a very, very busy summer!  We have six summer missionaries who need to be empowered to do mission work.  Churches, please give them a task, and assist them in doing it enthusiastically!  You can help shape their ministry for years to come.  May this summer in our association be one of the strongest influences in their lives as a lifelong missionary! May they experience teamwork!

We also have two Camper-on-Mission Couples (which I am referring to as On Mission Co-laborers or OMCs for short) coming to our association of churches this summer!  These are strong mission-minded Southern Baptists who will give sacrificially to be with us for ten weeks.  Please invite them to your church to speak and for fellowship with your people.  Please join these incoming missionaries, as co-laborers, in doing Kingdom work together.  These two couples will be living in RVs but come to encourage us as we labor alongside them.

We are also seeking to mobilize mission teams that will work primarily with our church planters.  This is critical mission work whether they are in a public park or at a soccer field or at a community block party seeking to encourage prospects to attend a church plant.  With your teamwork we can provide these mission teams will a good understanding of what it takes to reach people in the Valley and across Alaska. With your help we can honor these missionaries and help them to experience God as they experience Alaska’s challenges and marvelous opportunities for evangelism.  I look forward to the arrival of these teams.  Mission teams certainly teach teamwork and I trust they will sense that they are a part of a team seeking to reach Alaska with the good news of Christ.

Lord, please help me to be a better team player throughout the remainder of 2014!  Thank you Randy McWhorter for challenging us!

Serving with you,   Gary