We aren't good at this. Really not good at this.

Before I was in vocational ministry, I was an involved volunteer in a local church that celebrated a significant homecoming anniversary with it's congregation, and invited back many of the attendees and members from year's past. While I was new to the church, and didn't recognize the old faces, it was pretty exciting to see the building full that weekend and humming with activity.

Then, one of the people designated by the members as the church historian, stood up and read the key points in the timeline of the church, begining of course with it's birth and reason for existence. It wasn't very complicated. This church had split from the one down the street, and hadn't interacted with them much since!

What a poor representation of the body of Christ. I am a firm believer that if the Apostle Paul were alive and were to send a letter to us today, he would do it very much like we see in Scripture. He would send it to a region of churches, rather than to a specific mailing address. He would send it addressed to a city rather than to an apartment building or duplex.

We can do better. We must do better.

What if the big 'C' Church in a region was comprised of like-minded churches who supported one another and leaned on one another for leadership, fellowship, and accountability?

1. We would see more genuine relationships developed.
2. We would see more city leaders interested in Gospel-centered causes.
3. We would see more conflict resolved and spiritually healthier congregations.
4. We would see more people drawn to the one we represent: Christ.

Here in Buffalo, we have seen churches unite in ways that make it peculiar to the rest of the country; in a good way! Let me tell you about two of them.

On September 23, 1957, five churches and two chapels organized and constituted as the Frontier Baptist Association. The Niagara Frontier historically refers to the land bordering the southern shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and these men and women came together for one aim; seeing God's Kingdom advanced in this vast frontier to accomplish Christ's Great Commission & Great Commandment. Join us, Friday May 19, 2017 at 6:30pm at Randall Church, as we come together for a Missions Banquet including nearly forty caucasian and international churches thriving in the WNY region.

On March 29, 2013, the Church of Western New York gathered together in downtown Buffalo to celebrate Good Friday Together. In the years that have followed, God has continued to bring unity and partnership to His church in this region, breaking down barriers and strengthening relationships. Join us, Friday June 9, 2017 at 7pm at the KeyBank Center as we come together as one church in this region to celebrate Pentecost Together.

I hope that you will celebrate with us. I hope that you engage culture with our brothers and sisters in Christ from all different walks of life. I hope that you are as excited as I am to spend eternity worshipping and praising God together!

Pastor Milo

The Dilemma 
The Gospel of Mark opens with a strong character and personality that many of us think of when we think of an evangelist. John the Baptist is portrayed eating wild locust and honey, covered in camel hair shouting "repent!" to people passing by. While mirroring this approach today (minus the camel hair and locusts) may certainly be effective, it requires an extrovert evangelist who isn't afraid to talk to strangers and generally loves being around people. What if that just isn't your personality type?

Here are 3 ways introverts can engage the world with the Gospel.

1. Build Intentional Daily Patterns - The introvert is uncomfortable in situations where they are confronted with new people, and new conversations. However, by stopping and walking in at the same gas station each week, walking in the same coffee house each morning, or getting haircut at the same barbershop / salon each time, people and places begin to have a familiarity about them that make it much easier for an introvert to engage others in conversation over time.

2. Serve Missionally Through Prayer - The introvert is uncomfortable going and knocking on doors and asking people to fill out surveys. However, by prayer walking out a neighborhood, and looking for physical clues in the community like children's equipment strewn about the yard, or an unusually high number of handicap accessible ramps in an area, neighborhoods start to take personality and shape that make it much easier for an introvert to team up with others to impact the area for Christ.

3. Recognize Own Dependence On God - The introvert is uncomfortable walking up to a complete stranger and sharing the Four Spiritual Laws or some other evangelism strategy. However, an extrovert can be keenly un-aware of the uncomfortable posture of the person they are speaking with. Perhaps an acute awareness and sensitivity to other's emotional state of being, along with a desperate reliance on God for strength in communicating His truth is the introvert's greatest advantage. 

The Bottom Line
God has promised to draw people unto Himself. Your job is to simply lift God up for the world to see. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, whether you are energized by being around people or recharged by being alone, the most important role of any Christian is to carry the Message of Jesus Christ.  

Pastor Milo

A quick google search including the words "Pastor" and "Tenure" will produce countless articles with titles like "How long is too long?" and "When should a Pastor leave a church?" and "What do you do when it's time to go?"

Today, I thought I would take the opposite approach. How does one prepare to stay for the long haul? Any study of the church landscape reveals that the vast majority of extremely strong, and often large churches, have or had a pastoral tenure of more than fifteen years. How can a pastor and church prepare for that?

1. Purchase A Home In The Community - The process of searching for a home, and walking through a vast number of properties teaches a person so much about the community. And, nothing says I'm invested in being here like a 30 year mortgage.
- When Bryan and Molly Long came to Randall Church, they committed to commuting here for 3 months before closing on a house in our area rather than finding a transitional rental property. Prepared for the long haul. 

2. Change To Local Phone Numbers - We live in a global world we all use cellphones, and local numbers are a thing of the past. However, each time an out of state area code is punched into a phone, a subliminal message is communicated: he's not from around here. Why would you want to say that?
- When Mario and Denise Delgado came to Randall Church, they had been global travelers serving in the US Military, with friends all over the world that knew their phone numbers. However, when they arrived in this community, they changed their phone over to a local number in order to establish themselves here. Prepared for the long haul.

3. Enroll Children In Local Public / Private Schools - While we have many options by which to raise our children in unique ways, what we have in common with everyone else is that our kids need an education. Why not leverage this common ground as an opportunity to expand the Gospel?
- When my wife Erin and I came to Randall Church, we realized that our phase of life, accompanied with the spacing of our children meant that we would have 13 consecutive years at the public elementary school. What a perfect way to build relationships with people! Prepared for the long haul.
4. Lead As If You Will Be There Forever - A pastor can't grow a great church with his eye always out for greener pastures.  When you commit to the long haul your lay people are more likely to do the same. 
- In the year 2026, Randall Church will have a huge celebration for it's 200th birthday. In many ways, I could either have the privilege of standing at the helm while the church look forward to God's Kingdom work in the next 100 years, or I could be a small name on a long list in a document. Prepared for the long haul.

5. Treat People Like Family - Family dynamics vary, but the values of honesty, transparency, and consistency are essential in all of them.  People will cope with a pastor's mistakes, and you will make mistakes if you stay long term, if they sense you own up to them and share what you learned because of the mistakes.
- Every Sunday morning in the 9am hour at Randall Church, a booming voice can be heard resonating down the halls. Pastor Jack Will has been serving this congregation for more than 60 yrs, and has every intention of leading and communicating the Truth of God's Word until he is at home with Jesus. Prepared for the long haul, and faithful in the journey!

May God sustain us as we prepare for the long haul. May we be faithful in the journey. The best is yet to come!

Pastor Milo