Friday, March 27, 2015

Changes in Ministry Happen, But Reaching People Must Remain the Focus

In yesterday’s post I wrote about living in a small rural village in Vermont and how the Lord used some unusual circumstances in our lives to bring a friend named Barbara to faith in Christ. Read that post herebefore reading the rest of this post.

Though we loved our time in that rural mountain village, eventually the Lord moved us to Hartford, CT, a much more urban area. We don’t see many cows where we live now, like we did in Vermont, and all our roads are paved, unlike Vermont’s many dirt roads. Now we deal with far more traffic in one day than we did in months of rural Vermont life. But despite all those differences, we find that the people are pretty much the same. The people seem to drift through life without much direction, without much purpose, without much hope, because they have nothing worthwhile to be fully devoted to. We see “Barbaras” everywhere we go. Broken people who need to be transformed by the power of the Gospel and become whole hearted followers of Jesus.

As my wife and I share our faith with those around us, we hope they will see something in us that moves them. We want them to see that there is more to life than just getting through each day with the same old problems, difficulties and challenges. We want people to hear about Jesus and have the chance to become whole hearted followers of Him.

This past year God was gracious and allowed my wife and I to be part of planting seven new churches around Connecticut. This was the most successful church planting year we have ever had and much of that success has to do with the reorganization of the North American Mission Board and its more clear focus on church planting. Those seven churches include five that speak English, as well as one that is Haitian and one that is Ethiopian. Though we try not to play favorites, if we were honest, we would have to admit that we are partial to the church where we are members. Faith Fellowship started as a Bible study in our home and now meets on the University of Hartford campus. Almost the entire congregation is made up of college students and young adults. My wife and I are 23 years older than the next oldest couple in the church. The work is exciting, but it can also be hard. Since so many people in the church are college students, there are many weeks our tithe check is the only one in the offering. We are the only family in the church that has a garage, so all the sound equipment and other stuff is stored in our garage and sometimes one of us has to park outside, which is a pretty big deal during a harsh New England winter. Each of these things challenges our level of devotion to God, but the Spirit always sends us encouragement at just the right time.
I fondly recall the Sunday that Kayla, a post-graduate student working on her doctor’s degree, said, “Before I came to this church I only knew a little bit about God and hardly anything about the Bible. But one Sunday while you were preaching something changed in my heart and in that moment I fell in love with Jesus. Now I want to serve Him with all of my life.” Kayla, and many students like her, is learning how to be whole heartedly devoted to Christ.

It is because of your praying, your giving and your encouragement to missionaries like us that both a former drunk in Vermont and a doctoral student in Connecticut are now whole heartedly devoted to Jesus.

Now, after two and half years of planting churches in Connecticut, my wife and I are about to enter a new phase in our missionary journey. On April 1 we will complete our time of service with the North American Mission Board. I will assume the role of Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. Though my employer will be changing, that does not mean I will stop being a missionary. Our missionary calling comes from God and is far larger than who writes our paycheck. In this new role I will serve the 330 Southern Baptist churches scattered across the six New England states as they worship in 16 different languages each week and strive to transform their communities into whole hearted followers of Jesus Christ.

Please keep praying, giving and volunteering. New England needs ministry partners now more than ever!

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England since 1993. He is the author of numerous books including Breaking Free from the Spirit of Offense. Find all of his resources at:

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