Cherokee Baptist Association - Centre, Alabama
Cherokee Baptist Association
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

From The Director's Heart

            Wendell Dutton - Associational Missionary

                              Partnership Principle:  
              "We work best when we work together
                and we do best what we do together."


December 1, 2017

     One of the most popular and loved Christmas songs is, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”  Certainly, it is not a Christian based song nor does it make any reference to the biblical account of the birth of Jesus.  However, it’s title says so much about Christmas — it is a wonderful time of the year!  It is a time when we give gifts, have family gatherings, decorate our homes, sing Christmas carols, send out greeting cards, have special church services, enjoy delicious food, and, so many other things.  But, how often do we stop and think about the purpose of Christmas and why it is so wonderful?                                
I want to focus on three reasons why Christmas is so wonderful:      
   1.  It is a time of Celebration. It is the time when we celebrate the birth of the Christ-child, Jesus.  Though we understand that Jesus probably wasn’t born on December 25th, — or even during this time of the year —  it is still the time we celebrate God giving us the greatest Gift ever.   On the night of Jesus’ birth, the angelic choir sang, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  Luke 2:10, 14.   What a reason to celebrate! Yes, Christmas is a time of   celebration!  
   2. It is a time of Salvation.  Luke 2:11 states the birth of Jesus in the simplest of terms:  “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”    Jesus saves us from something:  our sin and the condemnation it brings.   Jesus saves us for something:  to give us purpose and meaning in life in Him.    Jesus saves us by something:  His grace.  Yes, Christmas is a time of salvation!
It is a time of Reconciliation.  Again, Luke 2:14 reminds us of this:  “On earth peace, good will toward men.”  Only in Jesus is reconciliation possible.  Through His death on the cross some 33 years after His birth, He made it possible for sinful men to be reconciled to a Holy, Loving God.  Because of this reconciliation with God, we can also be reconciled with others and experience the peace of God.  Yes, Christmas is a time of reconciliation!            
Indeed, this is the most wonderful time of the year!  From our family to yours, may you enjoy the many blessings of Christmas.

Merry Christmas,
Bro. Wendell

Luke 2:1-20

From The Director’s Heart    
November 1, 2017           

“Disciple:  Be One, Make One,”
  is the message Bro. Daniel Edmonds preached in the    Evening Session of our recent Annual Meeting.  This speaks to the basic need of our churches as we continue the focus of “church revitalization.”  All the numerical and spiritual declines we are experiencing will never properly be changed until we take our responsibility of being a disciple seriously.  The challenge before us is to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.  That is, to take His teachings and the example of His life, learn them, apply them, and pass them on to another.  When this occurs in our life, we are fulfilling the true meaning of a disciple, “being one and making one.”          
In November, there are three very important dates we observe:         
   First, November 11, is Veterans Day.  This is the day we have traditionally set aside to honor those who have served in the military.  We are privileged to live in a great country and enjoy freedoms that the rest of the world envies.  This is only possible because of those who serve our country to protect our values and freedoms.  So, on Veterans Day find a veteran and tell them thank you.       
   Next, November 13-16 & 19, will be our time of collecting shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  Last year we collected 2,675. Hopefully we will surpass that amount this year.  This is a wonderful ministry that so many people in our churches get excited about and participate in.  Through this gift of a shoe box, a child’s life is  forever changed as they receive perhaps their first-ever Christmas gift.   More importantly, that child has the opportunity to hear the good news of the Gospel and place their faith in Jesus.   
   Finally, on November 23rd, we will observe Thanksgiving.        
   Giving thanks and being thankful should never be confined to one day or even a season, it should be the lifestyle of every believer.  The Bible tells us in I Thess. 5:18, “In every thing give thanks:  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 
   I pray that you will take advantage of these three significant dates to give and offer thanks.
I am so thankful for the privilege of serving as your associational missionary.              
                        Bro. Wendell  
                       Habakkuk 1:5                                     




October 2, 2017     
From The Director's Heart

     Fall has arrived and it is welcomed by many.     It is a beautiful time of the year as the leaves change color, the mums are blooming in their variety of different colors, and the farmers are gathering their crops.  Many enjoy the cooler temperatures and for others it is simply football season.  Whatever your favorite thing about Fall is, it is a busy time.          
     We are busy planning the 184th Annual Meeting of the Cherokee Baptist Association,  October 16, hosted by Centre First BC.  The focus for this year’s meeting will continue to   emphasize Church Revitalization.  Based on the information provided by our churches on your Annual Church Profile, we continue seeing a decline.  Church Revitalization is best defined as halting the decline of the church and getting it back on track with God’s mission.  Quite      honestly, it pains me to think about where we will be in the next five years or so if we don’t experience a touch of God on our lives and churches.  Until we personally and congregationally get serious about our present situation, nothing will ever change.
     My prayer and desire is that when we gather for our Annual Meeting it will be a time of refreshment and renewal that will lead to revival and the revitalization so desperately needed.  The evening session will be a time of worship as we will spend some time singing together some great hymns of our faith.  We are excited to have one of our state missionaries, Daniel Edmonds, Director of the Office Sunday School and Discipleship, preaching the evening     message.  So, I encourage you to make plans to attend this year’s Annual Meeting, especially if you are a messenger representing your church.  As we come together , may we seek God to do something special and unusual in our midst.
     Also, please remember that October is Minister Appreciation Month.  This is a great time to honor and recognize our pastors and staff ministers for their selfless sacrifice and service to the church. 
     It is a sacred honor to serve as your associational missionary.  May God continue giving us His grace and showing us His favor.      
  Bro. Wendell
                                                        Habakkuk 1:5 



September 1, 2017

From The Director’s Heart  

     What an outstanding Church Reset Conference we had!  The response to it by our churches exceeded our expectations as 278 attended the afternoon Sunday School training and Church Revitalization track, and more than 325 attended the evening Evangelism Rally.  A special thank you is due to Pine Grove for the exceptional job they did in preparing and hosting this great event.  Bro. Zac, the staff, and the large number of volunteers went the extra mile to make sure everything went as planned.  I also want to thank the many unnamed people who worked to put this meeting together and make it a success.  The evening service was a real highlight as the Pine Grove choir did a tremendous job and Dr. Chuck Kelley preached a heart-felt, inspired, and challenging message from Luke 15.  
     With this meeting still fresh on our minds, I want to share a few personal observations that I take away from it:  

   >Providing  quality training for areas of service in the church is still a necessity and can be well received.    However, it must be approached with much prayer, good planning, thorough preparation, and personal promotion.    
   >Dr. Kelley was right on target when he pin-pointed the essential need for our churches today:  “Christ-likeness.”      It is what drove the  expansion of Christianity from the  1st Century to  the  present day  (Acts 4:13).      Christ-likeness of the members of our churches is now the mos  significant  issue facing our churches (II Cor. 3:18). 

   >Also,  Dr. Kelley shared with us the missing ingredient in our approach to the lostness of people that we are surrounded by:  
An Unresolved Tension.”    This simply means that there is little to no brokenness in our churches over lost people. We have lost sight of the fact that people who have no relationship with Jesus are doomed to hell.   
     It is my prayer that in this new church year we will experience a genuine move of the Holy Spirit in our churches bringing real revival and revitalization.  When this occurs, we will see a return to Christ-likeness among our church members and it will result in an unresolved tension for those that are lost.     
    -- Bro. Wendell        
       Habakkuk 1:5  

August 1, 2017

From The Director’s Heart                                                  
     It’s hard to believe that summer will soon be over and school is about to start.  I trust you have had an outstanding summer.      
     As we turn our attention to the days ahead, I want to share with you about a great opportunity for training and motivation.  On August 27, our churches will come together to participate in a “Church Reset Conference.” (see insert)  For quite some time, you have heard me talk about the     decline of our Southern Baptist churches nationally. Unfortunately, the churches in our association are also experiencing a steady decline as well.  In order to stop this disturbing trend and turn our churches around so that they are healthy and growing again, we must experience genuine revival and revitalization.  Church revitalization is defined as:  moving the church from its state of decline and lifelessness to once again being a supernatural force for God, on track with His mission.
     To help illustrate the decline of our churches both nationally and locally, we must look at the   statistics showing where we are now as compared to where we were just a few years ago.
   As Southern Baptist nationally:  
   *We have the fewest members since 1992, in spite
      of having several thousand more churches.  
   *We have the fewest reported baptisms since 1948,
      while our nation’s population has doubled. 
   *In 2014 alone, we lost more than 236,000 members.
     That is equivalent to the population of Birmingham, Ala.

   In the Cherokee Baptist Association, we have
   seen the following major declines since 2007:

                                                   2007     2016
   Baptisms                                  169       119   down 50
   Sunday School Enrollment 3,917    2,916   down 1,001
   Worship Attendance            2,986    2,645   down 341
   Discipleship Enrollment      1,252       766   down 486
   VBS Enrollment                    3,133    2,315   down 818

As you can see, this is extremely alarming!  Unless we do something to change this rapid downward spiral, we will see some of our churches close in the days ahead.
     This “Church Reset Conference” is targeting three basic areas in order to “reset” our churches anew to fulfill their God-given mission.
1. Age Graded Sunday School Training   Sunday School must be our primary means of reaching   people, caring for people, and involving them in the ministries of the church.
2. Church Revitalization Conference (with Dr. Chuck Kelley)   This is for pastors and key church leaders to help us catch a vision and hear about practical ways to lead our churches out of decline.
3. Associational Evangelism Rally   This will be a time of motivation and encouragement to help us reach people for Christ.  Dr. Kelley is a real Christian statesman and a tremendous preacher who has a heart for the local church and is deeply broken over the current decline of the church.
     I pray that all of our churches and pastors will take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity for Sunday School and church revitalization training that will culminate in a time of worship and   motivation.                      
  --  Bro. Wendell
                                              Habakkuk 1:5


Church Reset Conference
Sunday, August 27, Pine Grove BC

Sunday School Training 4:30-6:00
Pre School    Children    Youth    Adults
Church Revitalization Track for Pastors with Dr. Chuck Kelley

Meal 6:00-7:00
(for Registered Trainees)

    Evangelism Rally 7:00
    Dr. Chuck  Kelley, President of
    New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

    Special Music by Pine Grove BC Choir