Thursday, April 30, 2015

Does Religious Faith Have a Positive or Negative Impact on Life?

Our culture’s views on religion are rapidly changing. There was a time when it was considered socially acceptable to be a person of deep religious faith. In fact, it was considered a bit odd if a person did not have some type of religion to help bring order to his or her life. But that is no longer the case. Now many sectors of our culture see religious faith as a negative thing. Is religion really a negative factor in life? Or is this just an attempt by some to skew public opinion?

Despite all of the rhetoric, science supports the concept that religion is a positive influence in a person’s life. A report on WebMD that said that “people who attend religious services, or who feel they are spiritual, experience lower levels of depression and anxiety; display signs of better health, such as lower blood pressure and fewer strokes; and say they generally feel healthier.”1 That same website revealed that not only are religious people healthier, they also live longer. In a study of over 4000 people, Dr. Harold G. Koenig, of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, reported that “people who attend religious services at least once a week are less likely to die in a given period of time than people who attend services less often.”2 Numerous other studies make the same conclusion; people who are religious are generally healthier and live longer than those who are not.

In addition to living longer and being healthier, religious people are also happier. Andrew Clark, from the Paris School of Economics, and Dr. Orsolya Lelkes, from the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, analyzed a variety of factors among Catholic and Protestant Christians and found that life satisfaction seems to be higher among the religious population. The authors concluded that religion in general, acts as a buffer that protects people from life's disappointments.3 The connection between happiness and faith is not just true for our European friends. The highly respected Pew Research Center discovered that “people who attend religious services weekly or more are happier than those who attend monthly or less; or seldom or never. This correlation between happiness and frequency of church attendance has been a consistent finding for years.”4

People who are deeply religious do not need a survey or study to tell them they are happier than their non-religious counterparts. They already know this because they experience that happiness on a regular basis. That does not mean that religious people do not have bad days or have periods of life in which they feel depressed, but it does mean that as a general rule, they do live happier lives than those who are not religious. This may not be politically correct in today’s pluralistic culture, but it is scientifically accurate. Though some people may not like the idea that religious faith is still a positive factor, there is simply no denying that faith improves a person’s quality of life. We may all be entitled to our own opinion on the subject, but we are not entitled to our own facts. Facts are facts regardless of what our opinion is. And the facts are clear, religious faith makes us healthier, happier and results in us living longer. Perhaps it’s time for more people to get back into church and discover what they are missing!



Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has served as a pastor, church planter, author and denominational leader in New England since 1993. He is the proud father of three adult children, a cancer survivor and the author of numerous books. You can find all of his books at

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ministering to Dying Rural Communities - Guest Post by Rev. J. B. Skaggs

Most of the movie Phantasm was not worth watching but there was one true statement in it that stood out to me:

Like cancer spreading through a healthy body, small towns are dying and vanishing.

When I drive from Highland, KS to Denver, CO on Highway 36 you pass dozens, if not a hundred, rotted, boarded up ghost towns. In some places you can go more than a 100 plus miles and never see a functioning gas station, but pass by a dozen or more closed ones.

America has become a nation of nomads, who travel from one suburb to another chasing jobs and ever new shopping experiences. The small towns that our forefathers sweat, bled, and toiled to build and just 20 years ago were vibrant and filled with the noise of kids and dreams, have become the rest homes of farmers and widow women. Churches that remain open in these towns have become seas of grey hair. Evangelism many times is reduced to Sunday dinners and the funding of distant urban ministries.

Ancestral lands are an alien concept to Americans. Working to build communities is retranslated into a temporary membership - not a lifetime commitment to build and invest in blood and trade for the entire family. We have no concept of land as our inheritance. America has successfully eliminated all cultural and familial traditions, hereditary lands, and commitment to previous or future generations. All commitments now are focused on this generation.

So where as churches planted elsewhere in the world that existed for hundreds sometimes thousands of years, churches in the United States average two or three generations then dry up and die.
So when one comes into these small rural or even small urban churches, one has to come in with eyes wide open to the fact that many of these churches cannot be restored to their former glories, because the area are being depopulated.

In Highland Kansas, we have ten church buildings. Including the first African American church in Kansas. Only two of those buildings are still churches. The one I serve averages 50 to 100 a week (with no teens or college kids whatsoever). The other functioning church in  town has 6 members left. Many of the towns around the nation are just like this.

My point to the whole long diatribe: a good pastor sometimes has the tough job of being chaplain to a town. His ministry may be to serve as an end of life counselor to the town and the church. Such pastors have to come to grips with the fact that the town is dying and so are the churches in it and it is not his fault. It is simply what American culture has created, a nation of disposable cities, churches, and families. The Norman Rockwell myth we tell ourselves about Mayberry just is not true. So we must gird up our minds and hearts like Abraham, Moses, and Joshua. We must either accept the reality that we will serve small churches in dying towns or we must be willing to follow the masses to minister to where the people have moved to.

Rev. J.B. Skaggs is the pastor of Highland Christian Church, Highland, Kansas. He has a heart for small towns, evens ones that have rapidly aged and seen better days.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Spiritual Realm - Guest Post by Chris Beltrami

Pat and I have logged the many spiritual experiences and miracles that we have witnessed during our walk with God.  The following story is one of them.  
Pat was putting a portrait in a frame when the front door to our studio opened.  She responded to the ‘chime’ and raced to the front of the studio.   The customer purchased a roll of film.  Pat gave her ‘change’ for the purchase and hurried back to finish the framing.  Halfway there, the Lord spoke to her and said to go back and speak with the shopper. 
Pat returned and struck up conversation.   The woman said that she was from the state of Washington and was vacationing New England in order to see the famous Vermont foliage.   She, oddly and quickly, shifted her conversation to share a story of how her son and his girlfriend were both killed in a small airplane crash in South America.   She became visibly saddened and said that the South American government was not helpful in providing information for an acceptable and proper ‘closure’. 
Pat prayed with her and asked her to visit church the next morning. 
As the woman prepared to leave, Pat reached into the middle of a box of 50 “Voice” magazines and handed one to the woman.  (“Voice” was published once a month.  Each magazine contained 3 or 4 individual ‘testimonies’ of  persons who had made a decision to ask God to be a part of their life.)  Pat asked the woman to take some time to read through it and hopefully find some Godly comfort.
The woman left.   Pat finished her framing and headed out to lunch.
I was there for only 5 minutes when the woman stormed through the door waving a “Voice” magazine.   She repeatedly shouted, “Where’s the lady?   Where’s the lady?”
I explained that Pat had left for lunch and asked if I could help her.
She was crying as she explained that, when she returned to the car, she opened the magazine and read one of the testimonies.   It was written by a young man who lost his best friend and his best friend’s girlfriend due to a plane crash … somewhere in South America.   This pain and sorrow caused him to evaluate his life and to invite Christ to become his Lord & Savior.
Her crying increased as she said this was her son’s best friend and that he, in these 5 pages of testimony, revealed information that she did not know about her son and the crash itself.  She sighed, as she realized she could now contact this young man and find more closure for herself.
She went to church the next morning.  A guest preacher stopped his sermon, surprisingly, 3 times and pointed to her.  He declared to her, “God is touching you and your life will never be the same.”
Mark 8:18  Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?...”
Time and again, I wonder how much more often these type of stories could (or should) be happening.  
I regularly ask, “How often has God wanted to speak, but I have been so busy with ‘things’ that my ears failed to hear?”
Think about it!!!   We were made body, soul & … spirit!!! 
I need to keep my antennae up and to stay tuned.   I want to remain anxious to hear and to see in a different realm … by reaching out, caring for people, praying for them, believing for miracles, and offering myself as a vessel for His creativity.   
I am simply an earthen pot that needs to be filled with His Spirit.  

2 Corinthians 4:18  “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Three Reasons Bivocational Ministry is Becoming More Common

Bivocational ministry is a growing reality many churches and pastors are having to consider.When a pastor is referred to as “bivocational” it means that he works a second job in addition to his service to the church. This does not mean he is a part-time pastor, as all pastors are in full-time service to the Lord. Only a few pastors are bivocational by choice. Most have been pushed into to it due to the low wages that small churches are able to pay. In many situations, both the pastor and the church wish the pastor did not have to work the second job, but both realize it is just the reality of the situation.

Regardless of the preferences of both pastors and churches, bivocational ministry is a growing practice across North America. There are a number of reasons that bivocational ministry is growing, but the three that are the most obvious are: the lack of stewardship training, the rise in the cost of living, and the current economic climate of the nation.

A number of studies have demonstrated that older generations were more generous in their giving to churches than young generations. Part of this is that older generations generally carried as little debt as possible, while younger generations have taken on a lot of debt to get an education and are not always able to find as good a job as they had anticipated. Once those student loan payments come due, they have less money to donate to the church than their parents or grandparents might have had.

Churches also share the blame because many churches are less comfortable teaching about stewardship issues than in the past. Since churches have failed to teach on this subject, even church members who are committed to their church may not be as generous as they would be if they had been taught better. As older generations have either exhausted their resources in retirement, or passed away, the younger generations that have replaced them give less money to the church. Therefore, churches that may be relatively the same size as they have always been may have fewer resources than in the past. This often results in the pastor’s salary and/or benefits being reduced. This frequently leads to the pastor having to seek additional income from a second job.

Another factor impacting churches is that the cost of living for a pastor has simply become more expensive. In the past, small churches often had a parsonage for the pastor to live in. Many people in the church were farmers and they kept the pastor supplied with vegetables from their gardens and meat from their livestock. The pastor only needed a small amount of cash to live. Therefore, small churches could often afford a pastor even though they could not pay a lot. Fewer churches now have parsonages, so pastors must either rent or purchase a home of their own. This adds a significant amount to what the pastor requires financially. Even in rural areas, fewer people in America are farmers, and therefore fewer bags of garden vegetables show up on the pastor’s doorstep from church members. All of these factors add up to the pastor needing a much higher salary than what ministers  needed in the past. Many churches are simply unable to pay a pastor enough to support his family.

Finally, the current economic situation has put a lot of people out of work and caused many retired people to lose income due to investment losses. Therefore, even people who are faithful and committed to the church and who love their pastor dearly, simply make less money, and therefore must donate less. Many churches have seen a significant drop in giving, especially in areas of the country most affected by the ongoing economic situation. This has caused many churches that were already struggling to maintain a full salary and benefit package for their pastor to be unable to keep it up. Many pastors have been forced to seek a second job. Though many churches anticipate that when the economic situation begins to turn around, they may be able to fully fund their pastor again, there is no way to know how long that may be. And with the other two factors mentioned above putting additional pressure on small churches, many small churches will never be able to go back to a fully funded pastoral position.

For these reasons, bivocationalism is a growing reality in America. Pastors who find themselves serving such small churches are going to have to think differently about how they do their ministry so they do not burn out trying to serve the church as well as work a second job. One of the best things pastors can do is develop a leadership team in the church so that they do not have to do the entire ministry alone. Pastors who are unwilling to invest the time in developing a leadership team will find themselves under increasing levels of stress, which they may be unable to endure. Therefore, the development of a leadership team in a small church is essential for the long term health of both the pastor and the church. For pastors who may not know how to start building a leadership team, consider these articles:

Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church

Dealing with Pastoral Burn Out in Bivocational Ministry

Bivocational Ministry is NOT Negative

Bivocational Ministry is Normal

Bivocational Ministry is Becoming More Common

Bivocational Pastors Burn Out if they Do not Delegate

Importance of Bivocational Pastors Sharing Leadership in the Church

The Bivocational Life

Healthy Bivocational Churches are led by Teams

Lay People in Bivocational Churches Will Help if Trained

The Local Church is the Best Place for Training Lay People to Help Bivocational Pastors in Ministry

Formal Theological Education is Helpful But Not Required in Bivocational Ministry

Real Life Challenges of Bivocational Ministry

Real Life Advantages of Bivocational Ministry

How Important are Lay Preachers in Bivocational

Helping Bivocational Pastors Avoid Burn Out

Helping Pastors in Small Churches Learn to Delegate

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England since 1993. He is the author of eight books, including Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What is Truth? - Guest Post by Bill Davis

A conservative, a liberal, a conservative liberal and a liberal conservative went in search of the truth. On the way they met a religious right, a religious left and a religious ambidextrous that were arguing. The conservative, the liberal, the conservative liberal and the liberal conservative asked the religious right, the religious left and the religious ambidextrous what they were arguing about. To which they replied; “We don’t really remember, but we know we are right.”

The conservative, the liberal, the conservative liberal and the liberal conservative asked the religious right, the religious left and the religious ambidextrous to accompany them in search of the truth. The religious right, the religious left and the religious ambidextrous asked the conservative, the liberal, the conservative liberal and the liberal conservative what the truth looked like. To which they replied; “We don’t really remember.”

Then the religious right, the religious left and the religious ambidextrous asked where was the last place you saw it. To which they replied; “We don’t remember, it was so long ago.”

The moral of the story: How do you know what the truth is if you do not remember what it looks like or where it lives? Jesus said:

John 8:32 (NIV); “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 14:6a (NIV); “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

Bill Davis lives in Anderson County, SC, where he speaks at churches and encourages evangelism and discipleship efforts across the region. He is the author of “The Revelation of Jesus.”

Monday, April 13, 2015

Nine Aspects of Praise and Worship

So many churches worship in different ways. What is biblical worship? Is there a "right" way to worship? This slide show reveals 9 aspects of praise and worship that will help our worship be biblical. These 9 aspects can relate to either corporate or private worship.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Discerning the Specific Call of God

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be “called” by God. In a general sense, God calls all Christians to serve Him. No Christian is saved so they can just sit in the pew and soak up the music and the sermon. Instead of being called to sit and soak, Christians are called to serve. I think most Christians understand this, even if they struggle to live it out.

But I also believe that some Christians are called to deeper service. Some Christians have an inescapable sense from the Lord that they should serve as a pastor, a missionary or in some other vocational ministry role. For some Christians, such as myself, that calling comes at a specific moment of time. I still vividly recall the moment in which God called me to ministry. I was sitting on a porch in front of the “Lobster Trap” cabin at Treasure Island Camp in Lynchburg, VA. The Spirit spoke to me and told me that I was to devote my life to Christian ministry. That has been the focus of my life since that moment. For others, the calling of God to special service comes over a period of time and is less easy to identify, but the pull to ministry in those situations is no less compelling. Though many Christians many not understand this call to deeper service, those who have experienced such a call understand exactly what I am talking about.

The calling of God to ministry is very real, both in a general sense for all Christians and in deeper sense to those Christians called to some kind of special vocational ministry. That part is easy to understand. The more challenging part of answering the call of God is to know the WHERE and the WHEN of one’s calling. Should a lay person who wants to serve teach Sunday School, or be a deacon, or join the choir? He or she may not be able to do all three. How do they know which one? And how do they know when it is time to end one’s involvement in one kind of lay ministry so more time can be devoted to a different type of lay ministry. For those called to vocational ministry, how do they know if they should become the pastor of church A or church B? How does the missionary know if they are to go to Africa, Asia or post-Christian Europe? These life altering questions can be hard to answer.

In my efforts to recruit church planters and pastors to New England, I attempt to help people determine the answers to those very questions. It is not always easy. God often uses a verse of scripture or some unique experience to speak to people in very specific ways. For example, a young man I worked with a couple of years ago realized God wanted him to be involved in church planting through his study of scripture. But a chance encounter with a childhood friend in a restaurant led to a conversation that convinced him that New England was the place he was to plant that church. Then he sought out opportunities in New England until God opened a door to just the right place at just the right time. Though not always easy to ascertain, God does call us to a specific place at a specific time and when we find that sweet spot, service to the Lord is rich and meaningful.

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader, and author in New England since 1993. He is a happy husband, proud father of three adult children, and a cancer survivor. You can find all of his books at this link:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Discerning a Call to Vocational Ministry

In my ministry I get to interact with a lot of young people. Some of them are wrestling with what God wants them to do with their lives. As they begin to search for direction from the Lord for the future, some of them ask how they can know if they are called to vocational ministry. Over the years I have put together some thoughts to help them begin to work through that issue. I have listed those thoughts below:

1. God gives a special calling to vocational ministry.
God calls every Christian to minister using the spiritual gifts He has given them. Therefore every Christian ought to be involved in some type of ministry in whatever church they attend. But God has also called some people to the special role of serving in ministry as their profession. That is what it means when we talk about "vocational ministry." A vocation refers to the job that allows a person to make a living. While every Christian ought to serve the Lord in some way, some Christians will feel led to completely immerse themselves in service to the Lord by serving as a pastor, missionary, music minister, chaplain, Christian school teacher, youth worker, seminary professor, church planter, or some other vocational ministry role. The first step in determining if a person has a vocational call to ministry is to pray and seek confirmation from the Lord if this is what the person should pursue as their vocation.

2. Seek wisdom on what type of call God may be issuing.
As mentioned above, there are a variety of different ways a person can serve the Lord in vocational ministry. Often the Lord calls a person to serve in a particular role because of their personality or talents. Sometimes that calling even shifts some as a person moves through life. They may start as a youth worker in a church but eventually become the pastor. Or they may start as a teacher in a Christian school and later sense led to become a missionary. There are many ways in which to serve and a person must ask God to show them which one is right for them at that particular stage in their life. Then they must be willing to obey whatever God leads them to do, even if it was not what the person had in mind when they first felt called to vocational ministry.

3. Seek advice from a trusted minister.
A great help in determining both the calling to vocational ministry and which type of ministry a person might be called to is talking to a person who is already serving in vocational ministry. Ask what it is like to serve in that particular ministry as a profession. Discuss the many different types of ministry careers that are available. Discuss what type of training might be required for different types of ministry. Ask the minister to pray with you and help you walk through this exciting time of decision in life.

4. Develop personal spirituality.
If a person wants to be in successful in ministry, they are going to have to be a spiritual person and live a righteous life. Reading the Bible, having a strong prayer life, and eliminating unholy habits are important. No one is perfect, but it is important to start living a holy life as soon as a person thinks he or she may be called to ministry. God can use anyone, no matter what their background, but obviously it is more difficult for people who lacked personal holiness in the past and are carrying a lot of baggage around with them to serve as effectively in ministry as a person who has been focused on a living a holy life for a long time. Begin focusing on being a spiritual person, a righteous person, a holy person. Even aspiring ministers will make mistakes, but if personal spirituality remains the focus, it is possible to avoid making any mistakes that would significantly hamper future ministry.

5. Prepare for ministry through training.
Don't just read the Bible, start studying the Bible intently. Invest in some good commentaries and other Bible study aids that will aid in explaining the Bible in order to teach others. Attend programs, classes or conferences aimed at improving ministry skills. If possible, enroll in a Bible college or seminary for professional training. God does use people who have not been to Bible college or seminary, but most ministers affirm that what they learned in Bible college or seminary was a significant help to them in ministry. Therefore it is good for a person who feels called to ministry to plan to attend an accredited school for ministry training if at all possible.

6. Ask the local church to examine your calling.
Every church has different methods of helping a person confirm their calling to ministry. Find out how your church does it and then start the process. If a person is really called by God to ministry, then the church will recognize that calling and affirm it. If the church is unwilling to affirm that calling, it is important to examine your heart and make sure you have heard from God correctly about your calling. In some ministry roles a person needs to be licensed or ordained. There is normally a process that needs to be worked through in order to receive those credentials. Take the time to work through that process as the church requires. It will be worth it in the end.

7. Begin looking for ways to serve now while preparing for the future.
When a person first begins to feel a call to vocational ministry, they should look for ways to serve in volunteer ministry. It may be several years before the person has received enough training and been through whatever processes are required to actually serve in a vocational way. But that person should immediately look for smaller ways to serve. If a person cannot teach Sunday School faithfully, how will they ever be able to preach regularly? If a person cannot serve on the worship team once a month in church, how will they ever become a music minister? If a person cannot teach for one week in the summer Vacation Bible School, how will they ever be able to teach daily in a Christian school? The reality is that the quality of service a person does for the Lord right now is a reflection on the quality of ministry they will do in the future. And if a person is not serving the Lord right now as a volunteer, it is unlikely that person will be able to serve Him in the future in any vocational way.

Like any other profession, ministry has its challenges. But serving the Lord is very fulfilling. Helping people find peace, hope and joy in their lives is a wonderful thing. Helping people find faith in Christ and security for eternal life is the most rewarding of all. If you feel called to vocational ministry, be prepared for a challenging but extremely rewarding life.

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader, and author in New England since 1993. He is a happy husband, proud father of three adult children, and a cancer survivor. You can find all of his books at this link:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Being Disappointed With God – Guest Post by Brian Robinson

Life is full of ups and down. At times we experience joy because of the events that happen in our lives. Other times we are discouraged and hurting...also because of the events in our lives.
We have often been told that God doesn't disappoint. But I'd respectfully disagree.
In John 11, Mary and Martha send word to Jesus that Lazarus is sick. And Jesus says the sickness won't end in death. And then stays right where he is as Lazarus dies. The scriptures literally say, "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days." The messengers return to Mary and Martha and give the report: "It's not going to end in death." And Lazarus promptly dies.
Mary and Martha are disappointed. They were hurt, grieving, and feeling abandoned by their friend, Jesus.
When Jesus finally showed up, Martha says, "If you'd been here, Lazarus would not have died." And she's right. Jesus could have come and healed. Or he even could have healed from a distance. Instead, he let Lazarus die. Yes, he had a greater plan. the meantime...they were disappointed.
Which gets to the point: We have a right to expect THAT God will love us. The scriptures say that he does. But...we have no right to dictate HOW his love must be shown. Jesus knows how it all turns out. But I'm pretty sure we don't.
We can become disappointed and disillusioned- not just with our calling and ministry, but even with God...when we place upon God actions consistent with our expectations of how His love must be shown in our lives. In other words, I will be disappointed when, as Keller puts it, I judge God's love by my circumstances rather than judging my circumstances by His love. And sometimes, the greater thing is for God to grow me through the trials and cause me to lean more heavily on him.
In the end, both life and ministry are hard. Victories will come and go. So will disappointments. Don't anchor yourself to circumstances or situations. Or you'll become enslaved to them and your happiness will become dependent on circumstances outside your control.
Your God loves you. Jesus died for you. And that's enough.

Brian Robinson is the pastor of Layman Church in Roanoke, Virginia. His favorite verse is, “you will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you. Because he trusts in you.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

How Mission Volunteers Can Impact Lives

Since moving to New England in 1993 my wife and I have used mission volunteers to help us impact the lives of the communities we have served in. Since many of those volunteers come from other parts of the country, it can sometimes create interesting conversations. I remember one conversation with a young mom whose children had been to our Vacation Bible School. The team that helped us with the Vacation Bible School had come from Ninety Six, SC and the mom could not believe a town really existed that had that name. I assured her Ninety Six was a real town and that I had been there and spoken in a church there. She went on and on about how her children really enjoyed the VBS program and how happy all the people on the mission team were. She wanted to know how much we were paying them to make them so happy while working with all those rowdy kids all week in VBS. When I told her that everyone on the team were volunteers and that not only had we not paid them, but that they had paid all of their own expenses to come up and volunteer for the week, the mother was even more amazed. “Why would they do that?” she asked and I was able to explain that it was because the people on the mission team loved Jesus. The love of Jesus deeply touched that mother’s heart and in time she and her children all started coming to church. They eventually came to faith in Christ and were baptized. Years later she told me, if those people from that town in SC with an odd sounding name had not come and showed them the love of Jesus, they would have never known the happiness they found in Christ.

Though most volunteers only stay a few days, some stay longer. I remember getting a phone call from Dwain and Sarah, a retired couple from Texas. They were in New England on vacation and had visited one of our Southern Baptist churches for a worship service. They had told the pastor they might be interested in becoming long term volunteers if there was a need but since neither were public speakers, they knew they were not called to be traditional church planting missionaries. The pastor put them in contact with me and the next night I had dinner with them and learned that Dwain could fix anything and that Sarah had been an executive secretary in a big corporation. At the time the Baptist association in that area could not afford to pay a secretary, but really needed one badly, and there was backlog of maintenance projects in half a dozen churches in the area. I told them they could come to New England and be missionaries using the very skills God had given them and that they did not need to be preachers in order to be missionaries. They agreed to come for six months and moved into a small parsonage owned by one of the churches. Six months later they extended their time to two years. Nearly five years later they are still serving in that same spot as mission volunteers. Not everyone can volunteer for five years, but a retired couple in good health and with a modest retirement income can make a real difference if they are willing to stay a few months.
Then there is Jane and Greg, a young college educated professional couple. Both grew up in Christian homes near Clemson SC. They wanted to do something for the Lord but were not sure what. Jane spent one summer in our home as a summer missionary and caught the mission bug. After she finished grad school she married Greg and they moved to New England. They found a small little Baptist church that need a young energetic couple and got involved. Greg polished up his guitar playing skills and Jane took over most of the children’s ministry programs. Though you will not find their names anywhere on an official list of missionaries, there is no question that they are called by God to serve faithfully as lay leaders in a small New England church. Missionaries come in all shapes and sizes and not all of them have an official titles or job descriptions, but they have been called by the Holy Spirit to help complete the task of evangelizing their area and the church is stronger because of them.

I could one story after another about mission volunteers who have come to New England to help us complete the task. They are heroes in my eyes and will be rewarded by the Lord when they complete the race that has been set before them. We are thankful for all those who have already come to New England to help us complete the task. But though many have come, there is still a need for more. Every village in New England needs an army of prayer walkers. Every college campus in New England needs some sweet southern grandmothers to pass out cookies and talk about Jesus. So many church buildings need work that it is almost overwhelming. So many families with children need a sports camp, a craft camp, a music camp, a Backyard Bible Cub or a Vacation Bible School led by someone who is happy in Jesus.

We may not all be able handle a room full of rowdy kids for a VBS or move to New England to volunteer for years at a time, but we can all do something. Will you come to New England and help us complete the task? If you cannot come to New England, will you somewhere and do something as a mission volunteer? You can change a life as a volunteer.