Note: This is the second of a 3-part series on my reflections of the past five years of ministry in the Pike Association of Southern Baptists. Yesterday, we covered the past accomplishments in Part 1. Today, we will cover the current challenges facing the association.
There is much to be thankful for in the Pike Association. We have accomplished much together, as evidenced by the lengthy post yesterday. However, there are still several challenges that we face as an association of churches at the present time. Thankfully, this list is much shorter than yesterday’s list of accomplishments. However, just because this list is much shorter does not mean that these challenges aren’t significant.
Challenge #1: High Pastor Turnover
As I alluded to in yesterday’s post, 70% of our churches have experienced a pastoral transition during the past 5 years (several have experienced this transition more than once during that time). In fact, as I write this post, our association has 7 churches currently without pastors. That accounts for nearly 30% of all the churches in the association, and is the highest number of pastor-less churches in the association in decades.
When there are so many churches without pastors at the same time, the level of participation in associational events and ministries suffers. When new pastors are called, they may have had a negative previous experience with associations and may be hesitant to partner together.
Therefore, please pray for all of the churches without pastors. Pray that God would lead them to the man who will in turn lead their church for years to come. Pray that each of these new pastors will have a kingdom mindset and will understand the value of partnering with like-minded churches to accomplish together what no church or individual could accomplish on their own.
Challenge #2: Diminishing Associational Finances
In 2015, the association was forced to drastically reduce the budget. Staffing adjustments were made at that time and the association’s finances stabilized. However, the association’s financial challenges have resurfaced. The association’s receipts from member churches has declined 13% in the past two years, and we are currently receiving only 80% of our budget needs.
If the association’s receipts do not increase within the next year, some difficult decisions will have to be made. Much of the momentum and accomplishments discussed in the previous post will not be able to continue without adequate funding.
Therefore, please pray that God would provide the funds necessary to continue strengthening churches, mobilizing churches, and planting new churches. Pray and discuss with your church leaders if your church can possibly do more to financially support the good work of the association. Pray that we are able to invest more resources into efforts to partner together to reach eastern Kentucky and the world for Christ.
Challenge #3: Vast Amounts of Lostness
While the churches of the association have made significant strides in pushing back the spiritual darkness, the reality is Pike County is still 92% unchurched. At the same time, the average worship attendance and baptism totals in our association have been on a slow, but steady decline. Our existing churches still need to be strengthened. Our churches still need to be mobilized. And new churches still need to be planted. In other words, the cooperative spirit among our churches needs to continue in order to reach eastern Kentucky and the world for Christ.
Therefore, please pray that the Lord of the harvest would send out laborers into His harvest and that many people would come to faith in Christ in our region.
While there have been significant accomplishments over the past five years, the association still faces significant challenges. Pray that the Lord would raise up the workers and the finances so that the churches of the Pike Association can continue to accomplish our shared mission.
So far, we’ve looked at our past accomplishments and our present challenges. Tomorrow, we will complete this short series by examining some future ministry opportunities for the association. See you then!