First Baptist, Cassville pastor brings heart for missions to convention sermon
By Allen Palmeri
November 4, 2003
CASSVILLE – John Duncan, 19-year pastor of First Baptist Church , Cassville, plans to talk to the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) about missions at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 4. The sermon for the 169th annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention will serve as a reminder to Missouri Baptists that God has a call on our state.
“A missions focus over the last several years has changed our church," Duncan said.
Located in the “seat" of Barry County , Duncan ’s church has grown from 180 in worship to 750. It also has grown in faithfulness to the point where 10-year goals of 1,000 people involved in short-term mission trips, 100 in full-time missions, 250 trained as evangelists and 10 new church starts are now attainable, Duncan said.
“We really feel like the Great Commission is our church’s responsibility, so we’re trying to strategically reach the world from Cassville," he said. “We take that very seriously.
“So many of our people want to share their faith. They just don’t know how. We haven’t taught them. It’s leadership’s fault. It’s been my fault. That’s why we do it a semester at a time, a 12-week program, teams of three. It’s on-the-job training. That’s the way Jesus did it, and that’s where I missed it for so many years."
First Cassville has sent six of its church families to the mission field. Duncan recently spent six weeks in Bahrain , a Persian Gulf country, and Togo , a West African nation. He spent four weeks in Bahrain , where he filled in for a missionary pastor on leave. In Togo he caught malaria.
“We had hoped to go to church there, but I was sick as a dog and couldn’t get out of bed," Duncan said. “With our windows open, I could hear two or three Christian churches in various areas. Their music is just so lively—lots of drums. It was fascinating to hear the worship from my bed."
The richness of missionary life permeates everything First Cassville does. Duncan said he greatly admires missionaries who sacrifice their lives overseas. Of the seven full-time staffers at the church, one carries the title of missions director. That is one way that First Cassville is obeying Acts 1:8, Duncan said. Another key component is an annual global celebration where 20-25 missionaries come to Cassville to share their stories.
Besides being committed to overseas missions work, the church has a strategy to reach its city. The Family Life Center generates prospects through “the ministry of recreation." Those names are then given to the trained army of lay evangelists that hits the streets for Monday night visitation. Ideally, Duncan would like to see 10 teams of three evangelists each deployed every Monday night for every semester; so many people have expressed an interest in being trained that there is now a waiting list.
“We are taking seriously our Jerusalem ," Duncan said, referring to Acts 1:8.
First Cassville is empowering kingdom growth through the longevity of Duncan, who has known no other pastorate. The Mountain View native came out of the funeral home business and was seminary-trained in his 30s. The church to which God has led him has been evangelism-minded to the point where 74 people were baptized in 2002. It is also mission-minded to the tune of giving 12 percent of its budget to the Cooperative Program.
“We’re trying to deliberately train people to share their faith," Duncan said.