September 28, 2007
On Thursday of this week I spoke and participated in a conference designed to encourage and equip pastors of small churches. In America the average church has an attendance of less than 100. Numerical growth is not always a sign of health or death in a church. Many small churches are vibrantly alive, making a big impact for the Kingdom. Others are stagnant and in need of revival and break through. When it comes to numbers the 200 barrier is one of the toughest for churches to exceed.
Why do many churches remain small? And what can larger churches learn from these issues? In the conference this week the facilitator mentioned several marks of small churches. These churches are very strong and resilient and have a firm sense of belonging. I believe that every church should be aware of these characteristics.
However, certain mindsets can hinder us and cause the church at any level to struggle:
1. A church will remain small when they base their identity on the past. When a church is consistently looking back at what used to be rather than having a vision for the future there will be little progress in reaching the world with the Gospel.
2. A church will remain small when they find their identity through their buildings. These churches are known primarily as a place rather than as a people on mission. Resistance to change will often be found in the DNA of these churches. They slowly if ever change methods or facilitate major changes to their buildings.
For over 113 years Olive has been a church blessed of God. Our past has been glorious but that must not dominate our future thought. Buildings come and go. Few people realize some of our first buildings were across Olive Road where Walgreens is now located. In the future we will need to build more buildings and redesign and/or remove others. We must maintain an attitude and structure that allows Olive to have a strong sense of belonging. Olive is no small church.
BIG dreams from people with BIG ideas ready to make BIG sacrifices will be required to make a BIG impact for the Gospel.
Pastor Ted Traylor
September 25, 2007
On Monday Liz and I had lunch with the new president of the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes Ministry. Dr. Jerry Hagg and his delightful wife, Christi, were in town for a meeting with our local leadership. We were glad to have the time to get to know these two new leaders in Florida Baptist life.
Jerry has been on the job less than three months. The Haggs moved to the Lakeland office from similar work in south Texas. Florida Baptists have residential-care children’s facilities in Miami, Ft Myers, Lakeland, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Pensacola. Other campuses are planned for Gainesville, New Smyrna Beach and Sarasota. This marvelous ministry provides hope to children coming out of difficult situations. You can learn more about the work at www.fbchomes.org.
Our local campus for children is located on Chemstrand Road just south of the Solutia plant. Olive has a great relationship with the children and their directors and house parents. I encourage you to pray for and support the work of this ministry.
Last weekend our Bass Club had the second annual fishing tournament with all proceeds going to the children’s home here in Pensacola. The initial report is that the group raised $7,000 for that ministry work. Making money for a great cause and fishing while doing it. Now that is a great weekend!
Pastor Ted Traylor
September 21, 2007
While in Arkansas earlier this week, I heard a layman from Iowa give a great presentation. Jerry Foster told his story of running a financial planning firm. As his business grew he made some life changes and business changes to accomplish his personal life mission. “My business is my ministry” is his life theme. WOW!
Jerry answered the call of God to be on mission in the marketplace. He did not leave his business to go to seminary and then work for the church in a vocational setting. Rather, he prepared his heart as a great student and then adjusted his life and business so as to allow him to fulfill his destiny and call. Is he still successful in business? Yes, he is and in a big way! He is an on-mission Christian in the workplace. He was an encourager to this pastor.
You might enjoy Jerry’s book, Life Focus: Achieving a Life of Purpose and Influence.
He is not from the South, so he talks funny. However, he speaks my language. Jerry writes about vectors needed in our lives, an illustration taken from air traffic control. Rather than encouraging big steps he calls for small changes which over time lead to big benefits. How Jerry Foster lives is an example for all of us.
This Sunday we begin a three-week Mission Emphasis at Olive. Join me Sunday as we kickoff an exciting time of learning and ministry training.
Pastor Ted Traylor
September 18, 2007
I am in Arkansas today for a leadership conference. This is a great place for an Alabama fan to be this week! I am with ten other men who are pastors of churches the size of Olive. We are meeting, praying and evaluating ministry and church leadership. Those leading this conference consists of some of the best. They are making us look at our strengths and weaknesses. Thank you for allowing me time to get away. This is very helpful and will pay major dividends in days and years to come.
I will have much more to share on Friday. So check back in with me. Have a wonderful week living for Jesus.
Pastor Ted Traylor
September 14, 2007
Recently I was reading a book sent to me by a friend. In it the author spoke of a book that had greatly influenced his life. So I ordered the recommended book. Author Joey Reiman penned Thinking for a Living: Creating Ideas That Revitalize Your Business, Career and Life
. It was a delightful and thought-provoking book. One would hope it would pique your curiosity after just reading the title!
Mr. Reiman introduced a new word to me. My guess is he made it up. However, I like it. He spoke briefly about being a “famillionaire.” This is a person who finds their fortune in their family by being true to himself. He quotes others who say that 50% of marriages end in divorce when couples do not balance their lives at home with the demands of work. Famillionaires put family first. We often hear of people retiring early because of trouble at work and then announce they want to spend more time with the kids or spouse. That is not the idea Reiman has in mind. Those who are family-rich place family as a priority in order to keep trouble from coming onto the home front.
So, I started thinking. What makes one a famillionaire? Here are a few of my thoughts:
1. He loves God with all of his being.
2. She loves her spouse unconditionally.
3. He spends quantity time with the children.
4. She does not allow the job to run her family life.
5. He takes the vacation time allotted to him and uses it with family.
6. She creates a family-friendly environment at work if she is the boss.
There are many ways to do it. THINK!
Pastor Ted Traylor
September 11, 2007
In the September issue of Christianity Today,
Tim Stafford writes about evangelism. He says that for the past 50 years when a person thought of evangelism two things came to mind. One was going door to door and sharing the Gospel with people who allow you in for a visit. Second, was a crusade and most thought of Billy Graham as the example. He goes on to say that things are changing. Stafford says that the cutting edge method of evangelism today is planting churches. In Southern Baptist life it is the vision of church planting leaders to see SBC churches grow from 45,000 to 100,000 by 2025. Statistically the claim is made that new churches reach more people with the Gospel than older established churches.
While crusades and knocking doors is old school we dare not give up on these methods. They still work when done properly. However, you will find week-long revival/crusades are as scarce as hen’s teeth. Most are Sunday through Wednesday efforts or one-day events. I rarely go in a home these days without an appointment. It does happen on visitation nights but not often. People seem to like to know you are coming. Gated communities have made visitation more difficult just to get in the door.
Church planting is indeed a great way to do evangelism. And America needs more Bible-believing churches. Our large cities and sprawling suburban areas are often a wasteland when it comes to Gospel-proclaiming churches. Olive is seeking to be a part of this church planting movement. We are involved in a church plant in Cleveland, Ohio. And in a few days a recommendation will come to the church that we join the effort to plant a church in San Diego. There are three mains action points in this involvement.
3. People involved in the ministry on the ground
Every member of the church is to do the work of evangelism. Let me ask you
1. Do you know the names of the people who live around you?
2. Do you know the spiritual condition of those neighbors?
3. Do those neighbors know that you are a follower of Jesus?
Evangelism begins next door.
Pastor Ted Traylor
September 7, 2007
As we enter the weekend I want to ask you to do something for me and with me. If you are a praying person, I ask that you place in your prayer book or on your prayer schedule a regular time to pray for a revival of baptisms among 15-25 year olds. Pray for Eric Miracle and Jeremy Lloyd as they lead Olive’s high school and middle school ministries. These are vital areas for evangelism and discipleship.
You do not have to read reports to know that college-age church members are dropping away from the church in alarming rates. We must do a better job of grounding students in the Word and reaching them in a relevant ministry atmosphere after they turn 20.
One of the keys to all of this is DADS. Fathers make a difference in the lives of young people when it comes to faith building. Earlier this morning I listened to a man share his testimony at our Friday morning Men’s Bible Study. It was a powerful word regarding the impact of a father. Jack O ‘Brian, a military leader during the Vietnam War and community leader, told us the story of the negative impact of his dad for years in his life. He lived to please his father but could not. He needed the blessing of his dad but did not receive it.
Dads, I encourage you to affirm your children often. Pray for them daily. Have fun with them regularly. Work with others in the youth ministry at your church. Here at Olive we need dads that actively support Eric and Jeremy in the work. View the church ministry as a supplement to your own home life of faith. Olive can never supply the front line of faith for your kids. It can, however, be a huge help to you in raising great Christian champions that will live a strong faith walk forever.
My parents are visiting with us for the weekend. They plan to be with us Sunday at Olive. These are my heroes. They taught me and lived the faith in front of me. I am a blessed and grateful man.
Pastor Ted Traylor
September 4, 2007
The first weekend of the new high school and college football season finished last night with the FSU-Clemson game. No one is happier with the outcome than the long snapper for the Tigers. I have always paid close attention to the snapper. If he ever gets press he has done something in a negative fashion. This position became of utmost importance to me when my son played in that spot. He and I texted each other several times during last night’s game talking about the unknown young man who snapped for Clemson. On two occasions he was a highlight on instant reply. First, he made a nice snap and then watched the FSU man lined up in front of him rush right by and block a punt. Then he snapped a ball over the head of the punter and that play resulted in a 2 point safety for FSU. Had the Seminoles scored one more time those points would have been the difference in the game. Trust me, he is one relieved young man. I do not know his name. I am sure some Clemson fan will e-mail it to me. He is some mother and father’s son. And as a player at a D-I school he is certainly a fine student athlete.
Why do I write about a young man I do not know, who plays at a school I do not cheer for? Here is the message. Every job is important – even when no one knows your name. Today you will carry out some duty that will go unnoticed by many others. I encourage you to be found faithful. If you fail to carry out your assignment someone and maybe a whole team of people counting on you will be disappointed. The Clemson snapper did many things without blemish last night. However, his missed assignments were noticed by many. Someone is counting on you today. Do your job with excellence.
Remember, football is a game. Certainly many others had missed assignments on other plays during that game. Indeed, no one person wins or loses a game in a team sport. The next time you watch a football game notice the kid who snaps on kicks. Like many, he is most often an unknown. Those are the people who make the world go around day by day. Be faithful.
Pastor Ted Traylor