Friday, October 28, 2016

Churchnet Elects New Leaders

The following is a News Release from Churchnet which was released last month.  I am incredibility excited about this leadership transition, and I look forward to working with Brian Ford and Brian Kaylor as we complete this transition over the next year. 

Brian Ford
Brian Kaylor

The Churchnet Board of Directors elected new leaders to guide the ministry of the network in the coming years during its Annual Retreat at Windermere on September 10th. The Search Committee recommended Dr. Brian Ford for the position of Executive Director-Elect effective October 1, 2016 and become the new Executive Director upon the retirement of the current Executive Director. The Churchnet Board of Directors also approved the recommendation of the Search Committee to elect Dr. Brian Kaylor as Associate Director.

The Board approved a proposed succession plan presented by the current Executive Director, Jim Hill, at their December 2015 board meeting to allow the diverse roles and responsibilities of the leadership position to be gradually handed off over a period of approximately 9 to 12 months. The Administrative Team served as the Search Committee and worked with the current director to bring recommendations to the Board.

“I could not have been more pleased with the recommendations of the Search Committee, and I am delighted the board has approved them,” Churchnet’s Executive Director Jim Hill said. “Brian Ford and Brian Kaylor both bring very significant gifts to our ministry, and they bring a fresh, younger perspective as well. I look forwarding to working with them as we transition leadership for our ministry during the coming months, and I am confident God will bless their leadership in the years ahead.”

Ford has served as pastor of Little Bonne Femme Baptist Church in Columbia, Mo., since 2003. He is a graduate of William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and completed his M.Div. at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kan., in 2000, where he is currently serving as an adjunct professor.  He completed his D.Min. at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., in 2012 with a focus on “Congregational Mission and Leadership.”

Ford previously served as Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church in Independence, Mo., and Youth Minister at First Baptist Church in Lamar, Mo. He has served on the board of Churchnet, and was elected Churchnet’s Vice President earlier this year. He has served as a board member for the Missouri Baptist Foundation and the Missouri Baptist Historical Society. He previously served as moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri. He is a member of a state-wide advocacy organization, Missouri Faith Voices, as well as Faith Voices of Columbia.  Brian is married to Holly and has two children. He will assume the Executive Director’s role upon the retirement of the current director in 2017.

“I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve Churchnet in this role,” Ford said. “I look forward to working with Brian Kaylor and the other staff. God is actively at work in the world and Churchnet has much to offer to assist churches as they find God and join in God’s mission in their neighborhoods and beyond.”

Kaylor is the longest-tenured member of the Churchnet staff. He was hired by H. K. Neely during the first year of the new convention’s life. He has had a variety of roles during his tenure, but currently serves as the Generational Engagement Team Leader. The new role will allow him to have more time to utilize his gifts and skills and assist in providing leadership for Churchnet’s ministry.

Kaylor is a graduate of Southwest Baptist University and earned an M.A. (in 2005) and a Ph.D. (in 2008) in communication from the University of Missouri. He has been a contributing editor to Ethics Daily since 2005. He was Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at James Madison University from 2008 to 2014. He remained a member of the Churchnet staff even during his tenure with the university. He previously served as pastor of Union Mound Baptist Church in Elkland, Mo., and as a ministry associate with Tri-County Baptist Association.

Kaylor currently serves as Vice Chair of the Communications Advisory Committee of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and as a member of the Commission on Christian Ethics and the Awards Committee of the BWA. He is the author of four books, has written more than 400 news articles and columns, and has been a guest on various radio and television programs. He has been a regular writer for Word&Way and has received more than 20 awards for his writing. Brian is married to Jennifer and has a son.

“I am excited to serve the network in an expanded role,” Kaylor said. “It’s been a blessing to be a part of the ministry of Churchnet for the past 13 years and I remain hopeful about the future. I look forward to working with Brian Ford and the rest of the staff as we serve churches.”

Churchnet, also known as the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, started in 2002. Churchnet’s first executive director, Neely, served from 2002 until 2004. Hill became Churchnet’s second executive director in 2004. Churchnet’s mission is to serve churches by fostering collaboration and hope for engaging new generations and cultures. Learn more at

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Churchnet's 2016 Annual Gathering - Plan to Join Us!

I have been away from my blog for about a year, but I have decided it is time to get back to it.  My last post was about plans for our 2015 Churchnet Annual Gathering.  Appropriately, this post allows me to share about our plans for the 2016 Annual Gathering.

We are excited about this year's Annual Gathering.  The Gathering will be held at First Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit on Friday evening and Saturday morning, April 15-16.  We are particularly delighted to have Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert, Jr. as our guest speaker on Friday evening.  Rev. Tolbert has served as Pastor of the Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Lake Charles, La. for the past 30 years.  He was elected the 15th President of the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc., in June of 2014.  The choir and musicians from Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City will be leading us in worship Friday evening.

The Gathering begins on Friday evening with our Annual Missions Banquet at 5:30 p.m. followed by worship where Rev. Tolbert will be speaking.  Carol Bercian, Founder and Director of the Tabitha Ministry in Guatemala City, will be speaking at our Annual Missions Banquet.  There is no charge for the Banquet, but we encourage you to register on our website at  The Gathering concludes following worship at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.  The Saturday morning schedule includes a light breakfast, a brief business session and a variety of workshops.  Our theme this year is Engage the Future through Missional Collaboration.

Our speaker for our Saturday closing worship will be Rev. Otto Echeverria.  Rev. Echeverria is completing a 4-year term as President of the Guatemala Baptist Convention, and he serves a congregation in the city of Coatepeque.  Churchnet is celebrating 10 years of partnership with the Guatemala Baptist Convention this year.  Mrs. Donna Potts, President of Churchnet, will also be sharing remarks during our Saturday morning worship.  Donna is a member of Fee Fee Baptist Church and is completing her third year as our President.  The choir and musicians from First Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit will be leading us in worship Saturday morning.

Following the Saturday morning breakfast and our Business Session the Annual Gathering will feature a series of 45-minute workshops.  The workshops will begin at 8:45 a.m., and they will be repeated at 10:00 a.m.  The workshops will focus on our theme, Engage the Future through Missional Collaboration, as we explore ways to work together as seek to share the gospel in our communities.  Several of institutional partners will be leading workshops.  Click HERE for a list of this year's workshops.  We hope you will join us for the Annual Missions Banquet on Friday evening and entire Annual Gathering for a wonderful time of fellowship, worship and learning together.  Click HERE for a downloadable flier.  Click HERE to register now.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Our Annual Gathering: Building Community

Our Churchnet Annual Gathering is only about a month away, and I am looking forward to a great time fellowship and worship.  We will be meeting at First Baptist Church in Jefferson City where I have been a member for more than 17 years.  Our gathering begins on Friday evening, April 24, at 5:30 p.m. with our Annual Missions Banquet.  We will hear reports on our partnership efforts in Guatemala, the Ukraine, and Cuba. 

Following the banquet we will have our Share Hope Worship.  Our theme this year continues our Share Hope emphasis as we focus on Building a Community of Peace & Reconciliation.  Dr. Brian Kaylor who serves as our Communications and Engagement Leader will be speaking on Friday evening.  Brian is an award-winning author and journalist and a sought after speaker.  I know you will want to be present to hear his message.  First Baptist Church will be leading our worship Friday evening.

Saturday morning, April 25, we will begin with a light breakfast and business session.  Following the business session we will have our Share Hope Workshops at 8:45 and 10:00 a.m.  The workshops will focus on our Share Hope theme.  The gathering will conclude with another Share Hope Worship Service at 11:00 a.m.  Rev. Cornell Sudduth, Sr., Pastor of Second Baptist Church in Jefferson City, will be speaking, and Second Baptist Church will also be leading our Saturday worship.  Second Baptist Church was established by slaves who were formally members of First Baptist Church in the period prior to the Civil War.  What a wonderful opportunity for us to think together about what it means to build a community of peace and reconciliation as we gather with these two great congregations.

The tragic events this past year in Ferguson, Missouri, and in other communities across our nation have made it clear that we have a long way to go if we would live out the ideals upon which our nation was founded, and even further if we would build a community based upon the justice and compassion found in the covenant relationships in the scripture.

The Annual Gathering will also be the time when our Board of Directors recommends approval our Vision 2020: Engaging the Future with Hope strategic plan for 2015 through 2020.  The revised mission statement is: Churchnet serves churches by fostering collaboration and hope for engaging new generations and cultures.  This mission grew directly out of our conversations with congregations and leaders across our state. 

The plan establishes four areas of strategic initiative which will guide our ministry as we seek to serve churches:
  • Facilitate Missional Collaboration
  • Develop Hope-Filled Strategies
  • Engage New Generations & Cultures
  • Expand Community Involvement
I hope you will come to the Annual Gathering and learn more about the Vision 2020 plan as we consider God’s will for the future of our ministry together.

This article was originally written for our Churchnet page in Word&Way.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Palm Sunday & Holy Week

I recently began an interim pastorate at Kirkwood Baptist Church in the St. Louis area.  During the Lenten season we have been Celebrating the Covenant as we have explored God’s covenant relationship with his people.  This Sunday we conclude the series as we begin our celebration of Holy Week and Easter.  A few years ago I preached a series of messages on the Lessons from the Last Week.  The series was a study of the last week in the life of Christ beginning with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday ending with his resurrection on the first Easter morning.

During my study I learned how central the ‘last week’ was in the scripture. Jesus lived approximately thirty-three years.  That is more that 1700 weeks.  The writers of the four gospels dedicated a great deal of their accounts to only one of those weeks.  It was the last one.  By the present chapter and verse divisions the four gospels include 3779 verses comprising 89 chapters.  The first thirty years of his life are recorded for us in only 208 verses.  The background, announcements, and record of his birth are parts of only five chapters including John's unique approach to the beginning of his gospel.

The balance of the gospels is dedicated to the three years of his ministry.  This is more than 3500 verses to record the significant events in the life and ministry of the Son of God.  The amazing thing is that 1258 of these verses are dedicated to only one week—the last week.  More than one-third of the verses in the four gospels are committed to the last week which we call Holy Week.  What an impact the week made upon their lives.  What vivid and penetrating memories they must have had of the events of the last week.  

Have you ever thought about how important that week was in the lives of the disciples?  Sometime after the death and resurrection of our Savior they began to write.  It was after the emotional highs and lows.  It was after they had had the opportunity to reflect upon everything that had happened. Sometime later the gospel writers were led by the Spirit of God to begin to record the events of his life.  There was so much to be written.  How do you capture his life on paper?  What do you include?  Everything seemed so important now. 

I believe that God led them in their writing and in their choosing.  I also believe that God led them in a personal way.  Each writer reflected from his own perspective as he recorded life changing words.  Maybe God led them like he leads us.  Maybe they wrote what they remembered most.  Maybe they wrote about the things that impacted their lives most.  Whatever the method of inspiration they wrote about the last week. 

This Sunday we will have our Palm Sunday Worship.  The children of Kirkwood Baptist church will lead us in our processional.  We will explore one of the most intriguing and challenges days in the life of Jesus.  As you prepare to celebrate Palm Sunday and Holy Week let me suggest that you spend some time during the coming week reflecting on Jesus’ life and ministry.  Let me suggest that you spend some time reading about that last week.  Maybe it will impact you like it did his disciples!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Strategy Planning Survey

Churchnet is currently in the fifth year of a five-year strategic plan called First Priority 2015.  The plan was focused on helping the network more effectively serve churches.  The Churchnet Board of Directors has approved a strategic planning process designed to allow Churchnet leadership to take a fresh look at our ministry.  We are seeking God's direction for the future of our collaborative ministry, and we are exploring God's will for our work for the next five years.   

During the past several weeks a Strategy Planning Leadership Team has been conducting a series of Congregational Leadership Sessions with staff members and church leaders in congregations across our state.  Bob Dale, author of To Dream Again and a congregational health consultant, is serving as a consultant and resource person for the strategy planning process.

We would appreciate your help.  You may click the link below to complete a brief online Strategy Planning Survey.  The survey is only five questions regarding your church's priorities and ministry, and it will only take a few minutes to complete.  Your input will help our Strategy Planning Leadership Team to have a better understanding of the needs and current reality in the congregations in our state.

Our goal is to discern how we can most effectively serve congregations as they seek to carry out their mission and ministry.  If you have other suggestions or questions you may send them to or call us at (888) 420-2426.  We welcome your insights and suggestions.  Please click the link below and complete this brief survey.  Feel free to share this invitation with others who might be interested in sharing about their church.  We are grateful for your help.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Scholarships Offered for the Willow Creek Leadership Summit - August 14-15, 2014

One of the outstanding leadership development opportunities available to church leaders each year is the annual live teleconference of the Leadership Summit offered by the Willow Creek Association.  The dates for this year’s Leadership Summit are Thursday and Friday, August 14-15, 2014, from 9:00am till 5:30pm.  Churchnet is a member of the Willow Creek Association, and we provide our member discount to our congregations.

Missouri sites for the event are: 
  • Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty
  • Salem in Ladue United Methodist Church in St. Louis
  • Bonhomme Presbyterian Church in Chesterfield
  • St. John’s Lutheran Church in Arnold
  • La Croix Church in Cape Girardeau
  • Remingtons’s (Ridgecrest Baptist Church) in Springfield
  • Parkade Baptist Church in Columbia
  • First United Methodist Church in Jefferson City
  • First Baptist Church in Warrensburg

Discounts for First Time Attenders
For several years, Churchnet has offered scholarship assistance for persons wishing to attend, especially targeted toward those who are experiencing the event for the first time.  Again this year these discounted registrations will be offered to Missouri church leaders.  The regular cost for this event is $265.00, but we are prepared to scholarship ministers as first-time attendees of this Willow Creek-sponsored event for a price of ONLY $60.00 if you register by June 24th.  This special price is for those who have not previously attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.  There is a limit of two discounted registrations per church, and after June 24th the discounted rate goes up to $90.00. 

Special Location Discounts
Due to a special partnership with the Parkade Baptist Church site in Columbia and the First United Methodist in Jefferson City Churchnet can offer a price of $99 per registration, and first time attendees (two persons per church) may attend in Columbia or Jefferson City for only $20.00.

General Discounts
For those who have previously attended a Willow Creek Summit, but wish to take advantage of the Churchnet Willow Creek membership and early bird discount, we can register you for the reduced price of $149.00, if you register by June 24th.  After this date the discounted rate goes up to $179.00.  To register for a seat at the Summit, send your name, your address, church name, phone number and email address to:  Or you can call Bob Perry at:  888-420-2426, ext. 706, and provide the above information, along with the site which you wish to attend.