Cherokee Baptist Association - Centre, Alabama
Cherokee Baptist Association
Saturday, August 13, 2022

From The Director's Heart

            Wendell Dutton - Association Missionary

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

August 1, 2022

        As I sit here and write the words for this column,
            I am thinking about three important dates...

   In just a few days school will start, September 1st will mark the beginning of a new church year, and September 7th is the date for our churches to return their ACPs (Annual Church Profiles) or Church Letter (as often referred to) to the Associational Office. I want to address each of these and perhaps point out why they are of importance.                                               
   First, the start of a new school year. This will be the tenth consecutive year that our churches will have organized and mobilized to prayer walk at each of our school campuses the weekend before students arrive on August 8th. We are thankful for the superintendents and principals who across the years have welcomed this event and given us open access to the schools. Our prayers for these schools should never be confined to just this time when we prayer walk. Each church should adopt one of our schools and pray for them regularly. It should be our pledge to check with the administration and staff in order to receive prayer request and stay up to date on how to best pray for them.              
   Next, the beginning of a new church year on September 1st. Each year it becomes more difficult to fill the offices and positions of service in our churches. Somehow, we need to understand that one’s service to their church is not just an act of duty. Serving in one’s church is a privilege, a joy and a demonstration of love. I cannot think of a higher honor than to use our gifts, talents, and resources to serve in the Lord’s church. There is always a place to serve in your church.  Psalm 100:2 states that we are to “serve the Lord with gladness.” That tells us that in serving we find joy, fulfillment, and purpose. So, in this new church year, find your place of service and faithfully fill that role.   
   Lastly, I want to say a few words about the completing and returning of your ACP to the Associational Office by Sept 7th. 
The completing and returning of the ACP is not a means for us or our denomination to meddle in the local church’s affairs. However, it is a means of cooperation and it helps your local association and our convention along with its entities to track the growth and decline of churches. It provides me with an understanding numerically of where we are as churches. It is a tool that provides insight to develop strategies and methods for   reaching people and starting new ministries.         
   As we look toward the future, may we be found faithful in all God has given us to do.   

                            Bro. Wendell             
                            Nehemiah 2:18

May 26, 2022

Another school year has ended, and another group of graduates are now facing their future. As churches, we should do all we can to encourage them and equip them to face what can be an intimidating future. How can we best support and empower them as they enter this new phase of their lives?         
*Prayer - nothing is more vital to help move these young adults to make the right decisions and to get pointed in the right direction than to pray fervently for them.         
*Come alongside them - befriend them and show them love, kindness, concern, and care.     Surveys tell us this generation is looking for two things in the lives of adults:  Love - someone who will love them unconditionally. As His followers, that is exactly what Jesus taught us to do (John 15:12).  Secondly, they are looking for authenticity. They are tired of all the false pretenses, broken promises, and artificial fronts that unfortunately have surrounded them. 
*Model - what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus. This should involve teaching or training in the scriptures. How to pray and practice other spiritual disciplines. It will help them develop a biblical worldview to stand firm in their faith as our nation continues on a downward moral and spiritual decline. Most importantly, it will equip them to be a fruitful disciple of Christ who in turn will make other disciples.

This summer holds great promise and potential for our churches as they have planned mission trips, youth retreats, and Vacation Bible Schools. One of my greatest joys in serving as your associational missionary is getting to visit VBS in our churches. This is always a fun time that allows me to have interaction with the children and the many workers who are serving in VBS. So, let me encourage you to pray, serve, and help in any possible way in your church VBS. 

Please remember a few simple tips to make VBS a wonderful experience in your church this year:
1.   Pray. This can never be underestimated as we seek the Lord to
      do what only He can do. 
2.   Teach the Bible. This must be fundamental. After all, it is Bible
3.   Love on the children and build relationships with them.
4.   Share the Gospel. This is our primary objective to let children
      know that Jesus loves them
       and wants to be in a personal relationship with them.
5.   Follow-up. Your VBS is not complete until you follow-up with
       every prospect, need, and decision that is discovered or made
      during your VBS.

Please know I am praying for you and stand ready to assist you in any way possible.       

                            Bro. Wendell
                            Ephesians 2:10


March 2022

Spring time is here, and with it comes the pollen and allergies. But more than that, this is the season of the year when new life burst forth after a long dormant winter. The trees begin to bud, the flowers blossom forth in their colorful beauty, and the grass turns green and begins to grow. It is as if creation has come back to life and decorates the earth with its splendor!                 
   It also stands, as a reminder to me, of the renewed hope and possibilities for our churches. I have documented time and again the great decline that our churches are suffering. But as we look around at all the newness and beauty of Spring, I believe that God is desiring to do a new work and breathe new life into our churches. The key to experiencing a fresh new touch is found in the principle that Henry Blackaby taught several years ago, “Find where God is working and join Him there.”
   Spring is also a wonderful reminder of God’s work of grace in giving us new life through salvation. In John, chapter 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus three times, “Ye must be born again.” Paul writes for us in II Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold all things are become new.” Together, these verses teach us that in Jesus it is possible to have a new life brought out of the deadness and dormancy of our old life of sin. This new life confesses and expresses the beauty of Christ and exceeds the mere beauty that we see in this season of the year.
   Most significantly, Spring symbolizes the Resurrection of Jesus! On Friday, He died the death of all deaths so that we could enjoy the life of all lives. He was buried in a dark tomb, but on Sunday morning God raised His Son up from that state of being dormant for a short while. Jesus came forth from the tomb with the keys of hell and death (Rev 1:18). Jesus’ resurrection was victorious, triumphant, eternal, and fulfills His great promise in John 14:19, “Because I live ye shall live also.”
   As we celebrate Easter, let us take hope in what our Lord wants to do in His church. As we commemorate His death, burial, and resurrection, may we rejoice and be thankful for the new creation we are in Him. Lastly, let us praise and worship our risen Savior and soon coming King!
   May you have a blessed Easter.   
Bro. Wendell     
                      Matthew 28:6


February 2022

   As we are already a month into 2022, we still find our churches dealing with many of the same challenges, obstacles, and problems of the past. There are a number of challenges   facing our churches now that if not properly addressed, will lead to even more difficult    situations in the future. While there are a number of issues we are confronted with, I want to focus on what I believe to be the three most critical.               
  First, the ongoing Covid saga.  For the past two years, we have witnessed the terrible effects of this virus. In its wake, it has brought death, disability, and great physical suffering to countless individuals and families. It is also responsible, in large part, to an accelerated decline in our churches. At the risk of sounding harsh, it has opened a door for many to leave the church with little or no intention of ever returning. Without a doubt, it has created     irreparable harm. Whether we agree, like it or not, it has changed in many ways the way we gather to worship and how we do ministry. We find ourselves having to restart and rebuild the ministries of our churches.              
  Next, the absence of young families, children, and youth attending or involved in the life of the church. This is not a new problem as it has been a trend for several years now. The lack of, or inability to reach the younger generation will inevitably lead to the closing of many churches in the next few years. In order to reach the younger generation, we must be intentional in seeking to understand them and make necessary changes in the way we do church. The message always remains unchanged, but often times our methods need to be changed.         
  The third and final critical issue I want to address is the lack of Christlikeness that is now present in the church. Dr. Chuck Kelley, retired President of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, has stated, “A life in Christ ought to be different than a life outside of Christ.” He goes on to say, “As Christians, we are to live distinguishably different than non-believers.” 
   As believers, we are not offensive to unbelievers as we humbly, yet boldly, live out our faith before them. As a matter of fact, I believe this is the greatest testimony to a lost person. It definitely reinforces our verbal witness about Jesus. While much of what I have said may sound dim and discouraging, I am still optimistic and hopeful for the church. Why? Because Jesus is the founder and builder of the church. So, may we be faithful to the One who owns the Church.                
                                       Bro. Wendell   
                                       Nehemiah 2:18