Monday, December 2, 2013

Lottie's Got Competition

Once the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for foreign missions was Southern Baptist primary way to support foreign missions, but today Lottie's got competition ... and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Budget that Inspires Me (and most don't!)

I hate to admit it, but whenever I look at the UBA budget I am uninspired, not because what we do at UBA isn't important and valuable work, but because the line items in our budget don't tell the story of what we do.

For example, a major part of our work is consulting with churches, but there's no line item for consulting.  Instead, we say we need $x,xxx for printing, postage and insurance.  Who gets inspired by that?  Certainly not me, and I'm guessing you don't either.  So this year I've worked to develop a budget that more accurately reflects the way UBA lives out the mission of mobilizing churches to take on lostness.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why Should a Church Support UBA?

Everybody likes a bargain.  Wanting to get the most value for every dollar spent we become savvy consumers using coupons, looking for sales, shopping online for the best prices.   We worked hard to earn our money, so we want to spend it wisely.

When people give their money to their church or donate money to a charity they want to give their money wisely as well.  That's why churches and ministries give such careful attention to their budgets and report regularly how money is spent.

Churches also, when they prepare their budgets, want to want to be discerning in how they give their money away.  Gone are they days when people blindly give to a program or organization just because it is expected by the denomination.  This is good!  We shouldn't just give our money away blindly.

What about UBA?  Why should a church support UBA?  How is the association's ministry funded?  How are those dollars spent?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Giving Credit Where It's Really Due

I started getting emails and text messages telling me I needed to see a picture on Jim Herrington's Facebook page. I'm not the most active Facebook participant, so folks know if there is something I might enjoy they need to tell me about. So I logged in (after looking up my password) and found a picture of Jim and me taken in 1998. What an eventful trip that was.

Jim and I were in Hong Kong helping IMB missionaries prepare for some of the changes they were about to experience. One evening we went out for dinner at a nearby restaurant overlooking Hong Kong harbor (if memory serves me correctly). That's when Jim surprised me by telling me that upon our return he was resigning as executive director of UBA to start Mission Houston, that he assumed I would be asked to be the interim and that he wouldn't be surprised if I was asked to become the executive director. That was one of the more significant turning-point moments in my life.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Hardest Work There Is

When I served as a pastor the summer was always a time of intense activity around the church. There were summer youth camps, Vacation Bible School, mission trips and a myriad of other activities to keep me busy and engaged.

Summers are a little different for me now in my role as the executive director of UBA. Churches are busy, so the pace slows down around the associational office. This gives us time to review, to reflect, to think and to plan.   (Lest you wonder, yes, also to pray and try to hear from God.)  That's what we are doing these days in UBA. While our consultants are all working on a variety of projects, three things occupy my attention.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Loving Houston -- A Review

We did it. During June 1-8 the church showed the love of Christ to the city of Houston in real and demonstrable ways. Loving Houston Week is behind us ... but we're not through!

Loving Houston began with an official launching ceremony in which Houston Mayor Annise Parker declared June 1-8, 2013 Loving Houston Week. The ceremony was held at Olivewood Cemetery, "an historic resting place for many freed slaves and some of Houston’s earliest black residents" and a site where significant work was done by Loving Houston participants.

Who participated?  What did we do?  More significantly, what's the long term impact?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Loving Houston is almost upon us!

Loving Houston is less than a month away and momentum continues to build as churches and individuals volunteer to serve daily.

To date over 30 churches and ministires, representing hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, will spread across our city demonstrating the love of Christ through acts of kindness -- repairing roofs, building wheelchair access ramps, refurbishing homes and schools, installing windows, replacing siding, cleaning parks and cemeteries … the list goes on and on.  To read Reagan O'Hare's informative story on scope of Loving Houston, click here

Churches of all sizes are responding.  Some of our larger churches--like Sagemont, Champion Forest and Church Without Walls--are sending hundreds of volunteers.  Our smaller churches can't marshall hundreds of volunteers and do lots of projects, but they are doing things in a big way nonetheless.  Memorial Drive Baptist Church, for example, will working with a children's academy to do general clean up, provide mulch and gravel for the playground, and upgrade the academy's computers and playground equipment.  Sometimes churches are partnering to work on projects.  Three churches--Woodridge, Kingwood First, and Humble Area's First--are working together on several projects in the Denver Harbor area.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Is the church full of hypocrites?

Lifeway commissioned a survey in 2007.  One of the key questions folks where asked was about what they thought of the church.  

Their answer?  They said the church was full of hypocrites.  They said we care more about organized religion than loving God and loving people.

We might not like their answer, but consider it from their perspective.  

We do often get caught up in the finer points of organized religion.  We fuss about theology and doctrine.  We argue about music or debate whether to tithe on gross or net income.  We get into sometimes heated discussions over whether tongues are valid today, what it means to be filled with the Spirit, and whether salvation is predestined by God or the result of our free will choice to follow Jesus.  

I wonder what Jesus would think of all this.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Loving Houston: Lucky 13

The number 13 is the Rodney Dangerfield of numbers.  It gets no respect.  Adding insult to injury, 13 comes right after 12 which seems to get all the breaks.

Consider, there are 12 months in a year, 12 items in a dozen, Jacob had 12 sons, Israel had 12 tribes, Jesus had 12 disciples.  Mathematicians consider 12 is a “sublime number,” a number that has a perfect number of divisors, and the sum of its divisors is also a perfect number.  Nobody considers 13 a sublime number.

Twelve seems to get all the breaks.  Poor 13.  What does it get?  It gets saddled with lots of superstition and a bad reputation.  Friday the 13th is an unluckiest day on the calendar.  Companies and manufacturers use ways of labeling that avoid the number 13.  Hotels and tall buildings skip 13 when numbering floors.  (Do folks on the 14th floor know they are really on the 13th?  Does it bother them?)  It’s considered unlucky to have 13 guests at a table.  It’s said a hangman’s noose had 13 turns … anything less would not snap a neck.  The fear of 13 is so bad it even has it’s own clinically recognized phobia (Triskaidekaphobia).  Now how bad is that?  Poor 13.

(The Aggies like the number 12, too!  I wonder if Johnny "Football" Manziel would have won the Heisman Trophy if he'd worn number 13.)

So you might think I’m despairing about turning the page on the calendar that ends 2012 and begins 2013.  Just the opposite is true!  As I look ahead to 2013 I’m excited!  I think it may well be looked back upon in the years ahead as one of the greatest years in UBA history.  

Why am I so excited about 2013?  Loving Houston.  What is Loving Houston?  Loving Houston is about doing good deeds while sharing the good news of the gospel.  It is built upon the idea that while Jesus went about sharing the good news, he also went about doing good.  In UBA, we want to mobilize churches to follow Jesus example.  Working with Houston Mayor Annise Parker and some of her senior leadership team, we have identified four areas of the city and specific projects where the church can serve and bless our city.  Working with such groups as Baptist Men, Disaster Relief, Habitat for Humanity, community development groups like Agape and  Generation One, area churches and folks coming in for the Southern Baptist Convention, we hope to mobilize thousands of folks to make a demonstrable difference for eight days in four communities across our city (June 1-8).  

 The kick off to Loving Houston will be a city-wide worship service Sunday night, February 24th, at the Woodway Campus of Second Baptist Church.  The following day we will host a day long training conference to help us prepare for Loving Houston.  Mark it down on your calendar and plan to come.   You’ll be so glad you did!  

 Information about Loving Houston will soon be available on a dedicated website.  There you will be able to find about the project, the locations, and the volunteers needed.  You will also be able to take a virtual prayer walk of the areas in the city where we will be working.  You will find a downloadable thirty-day prayer guide which you, your Bible study class, your mission group or your church can use to pray for the city.

Undertaking a project of this size and scope won't be easy.  In all likelihood, it will be the most significant project we've ever undertaken as an association.  What it will do is glorify God, serve people in need and provide a wonderful opportunity to make the love of Christ real and tangible to people who need Him.

Please, set aside Sunday and Monday, February 24-25 for the Loving Houston Launch and some time during the week of June 1-8 to serve the Lord by working in the city.