Ministry Story – First Baptist Church, Osage, Iowa
Transformed by the Spirit – Ministry Story Opportunity
Let me introduce myself, I am Karen Hahn-Brown. I tell folks that the hyphenated last name is not born out of pride but from necessity. The “cornfield was a little crowded” as there were already 27 Karen Browns in Iowa, and 2 of them lived within 15 miles of Osage when I married my husband. I came to the First Baptist Church in Osage, Iowa as the wife of Pastor Paul Brown. I brought with me the gift of Gospel music and my calling to be a Biblical Counselor. Paul and I are newlyweds, and our first anniversary is in May. Just before God led Paul to contact me, I prayed that the Holy Spirit would place me where I could do the most good for His Kingdom… that prayer of total surrender to God’s will that we Christians are often afraid to pray. So I feel the Holy Spirit leading me in this endeavor. The church body is tiny, with more expenses than income, but we are determined to keep the church alive and help it to grow.
The first thing Paul and I did together was begin a Cowboy Church Ministry. The Holy Spirit blessed me with musical talent and a love of Gospel Music. In spite of being painfully shy, God has used me, and helped me to grow as a singer and musician, since I was 7 years old. Somewhere along the line, I lost the shyness and began to speak and lead services too. Paul and I have supplied the music equipment with a little help from free will offerings at Cowboy Church programs held in other places. We hold a monthly service on Sunday evening which consists of a 90 minute program with a variety of Gospel music and a 10 minute message using Cowboy and Farming related themes to preach the Gospel. In April, “Dusty the Cowboy” made an appearance for a short skit. Since Dusty was such a hit we plan to include him as a regular visitor. Cowboy church is a relaxed, informal worship service and is more likely to appeal to folks who don’t attend church regularly. Video links are available on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/osagefirstbaptistchurch if you are interested in Cowboy Church.
Our Cowboy Church ministry is evolving into an outreach with a team of musicians who travel to other churches and venues and work with the local musicians to hold Cowboy Church in their community. We decided to call this Midwest Cowboy Ministries. Paul and I plan to continue to fund this outreach ministry.
The second thing our church has done was to re-establish a Sunday School program. This was carefully researched and planned by the Church Clerk, Staci Moen. Staci found the Answers in Genesis materials, brought it to the Church Board, ordered the materials, and organized the classes. Then we worked together to promote the new program and bring children into the church. I’m sharing all of this with you so you understand that we are committed to outreach.
The third venture is the one for which funding is vitally needed. God called me into Biblical Counseling more than a year before I met Paul. I know that counseling is a tool that can be used to draw a new people into the church. But church growth is not the reason for establishing the ministry. I’m simply obeying God’s call to establish the ministry as an outreach service to the community and trusting Him to provide the means to do so.
One of the obstacles that we face is the lack of adequate space for counseling. The church is a beautiful building that was built in the 1870’s and beautifully maintained. But the one-room office does not offer the privacy necessary for counseling. Paul and I will use our home for counseling initially, but we are exploring other options too. One potential option is to establish an office in a local Seminary building which sits on Osage school property. The building is a historic landmark and our church helped build and maintain for many years. It was used as a school building for children in the Osage area. The school board had decided to tear it down, but there is quite a movement to save the building with established funds and a plan for doing so. The building is sound and the asbestos materials have been removed, so the building can be moved off of the school property and used as a community resource.
The biggest obstacle to counseling is the lack of initial funding, and later we will need to create a source of sustainable funding. Most biblical counselors do not charge for their services. If they do charge a fee, they keep the cost much lower than secular counselors. The business must be set up as a non-profit organization. Health Insurance companies do not reimburse biblical counselors, nor are the counselors licensed by the state. So I will seek certification from a national organization. I just returned from the American Academy of Biblical Counselors 2015 Annual Conference on “Starting a Counseling Ministry in Your Church.” This conference provided a wealth of valuable information that will help me establish this ministry. To the best of my knowledge, the closest Biblical Counseling Center is 120 miles South of Osage. Statistics show that there is a tremendous need for counseling in Northern Iowa.
Since the goal of counseling is to show counselees how to find answers to their challenges in life in the Bible, the counselees do not need ongoing counseling. The average length of counseling for each counselee is 8 to 10 weeks, during which they are equipped, encouraged, and empowered with new skills and knowledge. So even the non-profit receives a small income from each counselee, these individuals do not remain in counseling, and thus do not create sustainable funding for the non-profit organization.
We trust that God will provide for and sustain this ministry as long as it honors Him and ministers to people in need. Even by beginning to do the counseling in our home, this ministry will need funds for publicity and promotion, office supplies, counseling materials, a small library of counseling books, secure storage for records, legal services to establishing a non-profit organization, insurance, ongoing education, and certification for biblical counseling.
Thank you for your time and consideration. May God grant you wisdom and bless all who are involved in each of these wonderful ministries! Praise the Lord!
Paul and Karen Hahn-Brown. First Baptist Church, Osage, Iowa.