April 2013

‘Relief and Release’ focus of N.C. missions conf.

April 15 2013 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

For Chris Simpson, helping people whose homes were caught in the path of a hurricane or other natural disasters is about far more than removing debris.
“That tree is important to get out of their yard, or that mud is important to get out of their house, but the most important thing is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Simpson, a volunteer for North Carolina Baptist Men’s (NCBM) Disaster Relief Ministry. He and his wife, Lori, have served with Baptist Men for about nine years. 

BR photo by Shawn Hendricks
Chris Simpson, a volunteer with North Carolina Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief ministry, shared his testimony during the N.C. Missions Conference April 5-6 at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. The theme for this year’s event was “Relief & Release: The Hands of Christ.”

Simpson shared his testimony during the 39th annual N.C. Baptist Missions Conference April 5-6 at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. The conference featured a variety of speakers, global ministry reports, breakout sessions and music from Dove Award winning artist Meredith Andrews and her band. The theme for this year’s conference was “Relief & Release: The Hands of Christ.”
“Jesus cared about hurting people and He used both hands,” said Richard Brunson, executive director of NCBM. “Think for a minute the things Jesus did: He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He offered grace and forgiveness to the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery and the dying criminal on the cross. If we’re going to reach people today, we have to really love them and we have to also offer Jesus’ relief and release.”
Meeting physical needs can overcome many barriers, said Taylor Field, pastor and director of Graffiti Church in New York City. The church has helped start about 30 churches and more than half a dozen Graffiti ministries throughout the city. In recent months, Baptist Men has helped Graffiti with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
“North Carolina Baptist Men call and they say, ‘Give us your toughest assignment,’” said Field on the second day of the conference.
“That really touched me. And I said, ‘God in New York City, give me your toughest assignment. Give us the toughest neighborhoods, the most difficult places.’”
Field shared about one woman who began attending Graffiti church after N.C. Baptist Men sent teams to help her and others in need.
“Keep it up,” Field said. “People often can’t hear the gospel until they can see the gospel. … In times of crisis relationships matter.”
 “No one is ever changed by a program,” he added. “It’s from relationship.”
Helen Keller, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther, William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln are people who are extraordinary examples of those who were used by God to help make a difference in the lives of others, said Terry Rae, director of Africa for Christ in Johannesburg, South Africa.

BSC photo by Mike Creswell
Dana Hall received the Layman of the Year Award during the April 5-6 North Carolina Baptist Men's Missions Conference.

Too many Christians don’t take a stand for Christ when they have the opportunity.
“So many of us are chameleon Christians,” he said. “When we’re with ungodly people we change color and blend in. Nobody knows that we stand for the Lord Jesus Christ. … We need to be outstanding for the Lord so that when people see us they see the hands and the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Most Christians, however, keep themselves cocooned away from helping solve society’s messiest issues, said David Nasser, speaker, author and pastor of Christ City Church in Birmingham, Ala.
“I think there are some people in this room … you are so caught up with God [someone has to] … tell you how broken the world around you is,” Nasser said during the final session of the conference.
Nasser shared stories of orphans, poverty and prostitution that are all too common in the world today.
“There are 183 million [around the globe who] don’t have a place to call home,” he said. “Are you aware?”
“You know King James Version of everything, but you don’t know [anything] about what’s going on in your world,” he said. “It’s time … for us to beg God for the ability to say, ‘God let me be rooted in your Word, but let me be aware of what’s going on in my world.’”
“If less than one percent [of Christians] would own that, orphanages would be empty tomorrow,” he said. “[About] 36,000 people today will die of starvation … That ought to matter to the people of God.”
Awareness brings responsibility,” he added. “Awareness brings ownership. It’s not the government’s job. … It’s the people of God’s job. … Wrap that gospel in a sandwich.
“When your heart belongs to God you’re going to go ‘God will you break my heart for what breaks yours.’”
4/15/2013 4:51:33 PM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

FCC may drop ban on TV nudity, expletives

April 15 2013 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – Nudity and expletives normally reserved for cable television would be allowed on broadcast TV under a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In an announcement that received little attention but could have a major impact on America’s families, the FCC April 1 announced it is considering changes to the current broadcast indecency policies that would permit “isolated expletives” and isolated “non-sexual nudity” on broadcast TV, something that currently could draw a fine.

The FCC is asking for public feedback on the proposed policy. The deadline is the end of April.

Dan Isett, direct of public policy for the Parents Television Council, said the proposal – if passed by the FCC’s five commissioners – would lead to dramatic changes on TV.

“Broadcast television would look like HBO – more nudity, more language, more everything,” Isett told Baptist Press.

In its three-page public notice April 1, the FCC said it is seeking public comment on whether the commission should treat “isolated expletives” as it did in a 1987 case – in which an expletive had to be “deliberate” and “repetitive” to be considered a violation – or as it did in a 2004 case in which the use of an expletive, even if isolated, could draw a fine.

On nudity, the FCC asked, “Should the Commission treat isolated (non-sexual) nudity the same as or differently than isolated expletives?”

Families have reason to be concerned. The FCC is considering the change at a time when the commission is lacking enforcement of broadcast standards, Isett said. 

“There was enforcement under the last administration,” he said of the Bush administration. “There has been zero under this one.” 

The outgoing FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, did not enforce indecency standards, Isett said. (Genachowski announced in March he was resigning.) The FCC commissioners are appointed by the president. No more than three can be of the same political party, meaning that under President Obama, three are Democrats and two are Republicans.

“It’s going to be incumbent upon the president to nominate an FCC chairman that will prioritize this, that will enforce the law and will not ignore it just because they don’t like the law – which essentially is what the outgoing chairman has done,” Isett said.

The U.S. Supreme Court considered a major indecency case last year and allowed the current policy to stand, although it did toss out the FCC’s penalties against ABC and Fox – but only because the court said the FCC had not given the networks proper notice of what was and was not allowed. At issue were broadcasts on Fox from 2002 and 2003 in which the “f-word” and “s-word” were said on live television and a scripted ABC broadcast from 2003 that included partial female nudity. 

“The Commission failed to give Fox or ABC fair notice prior to the broadcasts in question that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionably indecent,” the court’s majority opinion stated. 

The networks had wanted the court to overturn the policy, something it did not do. 

In its April 1 public notice, the FCC said Genachowski had told the FCC’s enforcement bureau to focus its “indecency enforcement resources on egregious cases” involving complaints against broadcast indecency, thus cleaning out a “backlog” of complaints. That could be a preview of what is to come.

“If the American people think that standards of decency mean something,” Isett said, “that it’s important to protect children at certain times of day on the airwaves that we own, then they must file a public comment, and it’s really easy to do so on the FCC’s website.”

The public can comment on the proposal through the FCC’s website, http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs//. (Click on “submit a filing.”) The case is GN Docket No. 13-86.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)
4/15/2013 4:43:57 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

‘Not Today’ an ‘eye-opener’ to modern-day slavery

April 15 2013 by Dwayne Hastings, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – The numbers are staggering. There are more people in slavery today in the world than there were in the days of the transatlantic slave trade. An estimated 27 million people – men, women, boys and girls – are enslaved, held against their will, in brothels, factories and fields around the world at this very moment.
Not Today is the first feature-length, faith-based film to tackle the issue of human trafficking. It opened in about 40 theaters April 12 and will move to other cities in the following weeks. 

‘Not Today’ photo
Caden Welles, who is played by Cody Longo, expects a never-ending party when he travels to India with a friend in “Not Today,” which opened April 12. Instead his eyes are opened to the human trafficking trade. See movie trailer.

In the movie, Caden Welles, the film’s lead character, is unexpectedly introduced to a world few Americans know still exists: a thriving human-trafficking trade that often involves children. Welles, who is played by Cody Longo, travels to India and meets his opposite. Welles has access to material abundance and lives a carefree life; his counterpart has no resources, no voice and struggles to survive.

The film, which was shot on location in Hyderabad, India, highlights the startling dehumanization of the Dalit people, who are considered “untouchables” within India’s caste system.

The International Mission Board is one of 13 global partners in the movie’s promotion, highlighting ministry in the region through its South Asia Peoples group website (http://southasianpeoples.imb.org/NotToday). An IMB representative in South Asia called the movie an “eye-opener to the depth of the issues related to trafficking and modern-day slavery. The film “should motivate Christians to act,” the representative said.

Baptist Press recently spoke with Brent Martz, the film’s producer.

BAPTIST PRESS: This movie is really a story of redemption. Let’s talk about the story itself and how you begin in a high-end neighborhood in Southern California with a Lamborghini and you end up in the slums of India. 
MARTZ: It was important for us to show the stark contrast between the blessings that we enjoy here in the United States and the total poverty that the Dalits live in in India. The Dalits are the untouchables of India, some 250 to 300 million people, roughly the population of the U.S., that live in virtual slavery every day. It is the worst poverty I have ever seen in my life. So in the film we take this affluent college student from Southern California, and we have him go to India to party with his friends – to have the experience of a lifetime. Well, he has the experience of a lifetime but it’s not at all what he had planned. 

BAPTIST PRESS: Tell us about the Dalit people that are featured in “Not Today.”

MARTZ: The Dalits aren’t even considered worthy to be in the caste system. They have never even heard the word “dream,” because for them to dream means nothing because there is nothing that they can do in their culture to better their lives. It is a tragic, tragic situation, especially when you consider 90 percent of the people trafficked in India, which truly is the epicenter of human trafficking, are Dalits. 

BAPTIST PRESS: You mentioned that the Dalit people are India’s most trafficked people group. I’ve read that more than 1.2 million children in India across that nation are trapped in human trafficking as prostitutes. This is as many children as people who live in Dallas, Texas. This is a massive issue, isn’t it?

MARTZ: You know, it is a huge issue. I have three kids: two daughters and a son. To put myself in an Indian father’s place, to be forced to choose between feeding my children, if I could only afford to feed two, what do I do with the third? I can’t even imagine that situation. So when I think of people selling their children, I used to be judgmental, but now I realize it is truly a life and death issue. To a great deal, the issue of human trafficking is motivated by poverty.

BAPTIST PRESS: What types of slavery are you talking about? 

MARTZ: Human trafficking can mean many things. The first thing that pops into our minds is the idea of sex slavery, but in reality, most people that are trafficked today are in bonded labor. They are forced to work 12- to 16-hour days in inhumane conditions, sweat shops, you might say, and it is not just in India, it is around the globe. Bonded labor and sex trafficking are the two most prominent forms of human trafficking today. 

BAPTIST PRESS: Now tell us about the little girl who plays the character “Annika” in the film. She is the one, not to give it away, who is trafficked. 

MARTZ: She is actually a 7-year-old girl who attends one of the schools our church (Friends Church in Yorba Linda, Calif.) built in Hyderabad, India. Her real name is Persis Karen. I flew to India and auditioned 10 to 15 young girls from that school who had never acted before. Our director chose her to be Annika in the film. Her family had never traveled outside of their village, they had never been in a plane, never been to a hotel, so it was incredible to watch this young Dalit girl and her family travel across the country of India with us as we were filming. She does a fantastic job and her eyes definitely capture you and draw you into the story. 

BAPTIST PRESS: You mentioned the film was shot in India. I wonder how much more powerful did that make it as contrasted with shooting the film on a back lot in Hollywood?

MARTZ: You know it was important to us that we filmed on location for many, many reasons. Just getting to India was an incredible challenge because we were told it would take three weeks to get our permit to shoot in India and it ended up taking nine months. That should have been an indication of what we were getting ourselves into. India is an incredibly beautiful country but it is also a very challenging country. The people are so amazing but it is a totally different culture. Every day was an opportunity for God to do another miracle. 

BAPTIST PRESS: Now the issue of human trafficking is not just an international issue; it is an issue in the United States. Let’s talk about that for a few minutes. 

MARTZ: Unfortunately human trafficking affects probably every major city in the U.S. I wish we could say that it didn’t exist here. It is easy maybe to put our head in the sand and say, that’s a problem that is halfway around the world, but it is happening here. We are hearing stories of human trafficking – bonded labor and sex slavery – right here in the U.S. nearly every week.

BAPTIST PRESS: Without even knowing it perhaps, to some degree most of us are already enmeshed in the trafficking issue, aren’t we?

MARTZ: We all deal with human trafficking every day. I said that one time and someone said they thought it was an overstatement. It is true because every day we are out there buying clothes, buying cell phones and other items. Yet in many cases these things are being sewn and put together by 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, women, men, around the world in inhumane conditions in factories. They are selling the products to us at a cheap price so we can go to our favorite stores and buy them. There is a price to be paid for that, and whether it is clothes, chocolates, diamonds or the components of your cell phone, we may not be actively involved in sex slavery but we are involved in supporting things like human trafficking. Most of the time we are completely unaware of it. 

(EDITOR’S NOTE – “Not Today” has no language or sexuality and is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material. Dwayne Hastings is a vice president for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. See review hereSee movie trailer.)
4/15/2013 4:00:30 PM by Dwayne Hastings, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Southwestern looks to end tenure

April 15 2013 by Keith Collier, Baptist Press

FORT WORTH, Texas – Trustees agreed in principle to cease the tenure program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) during their April 3 meeting at the Fort Worth campus.

The trustee board also approved a fully online master of theological studies degree.

President Paige Patterson made the recommendation to the board to end tenure at Southwestern, one of six seminaries affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Following Patterson’s recommendation, Charles E. (Eddie) Miller, a trustee from Nevada and director of missions for the Sierra Baptist Association in Reno, made a motion stating, “Believing that the majority of trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary agree in principle with the cessation of tenure for this institution, I move that the Bylaws and Policies Committee bring revisions to cease future extension of tenure to the fall 2013 trustee meeting.”

Trustees unanimously approved the motion.

Seven faculty promotions were approved by trustees, effective Aug. 1:
  • Gerardo Alfaro, promoted from associate professor to professor of systematic theology.
  • Berry Driver, from associate professor to professor of systematic theology.
  • Tony Maalouf, from associate professor to professor of missions.
  • Steven Ortiz, was promoted from associate professor to professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds.
  • Miles Mullin, from assistant professor to associate professor of church history.
  • Ben Phillips, from assistant professor to associate professor of systematic theology.
  • Greg Smith, from assistant professor to associate professor of Bible.
Trustees approved a budget of $32.9 million for the coming fiscal year (2013-14), a decrease from the previous year from staff reductions and programs that no longer exist such as the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition. No increases in tuition or fees for educational programs were made.

New trustee officers were elected for the coming year: chairman, Steven M. James, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, La.; vice chairman, Miles F. (Mike) Boyd, pastor of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn.; and secretary, John S. Brunson, at-large trustee from Houston.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Keith Collier is director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.)

Related story

Southwestern launches shortest fully online master’s degree
4/15/2013 3:43:29 PM by Keith Collier, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Southwestern launches shortest fully online master’s degree

April 15 2013 by Keith Collier, SWBTS

FORT WORTH, Texas – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) will launch the shortest fully online master’s degree among Southern Baptist seminaries this summer with its brand new Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Trustees approved the 36-hour degree at their spring meeting, April 3.

“This finally makes it possible for people who are in their churches and preparing for ministry to go ahead and get their degree completely without having to leave the church to which they feel called and to which they’re committed,” said Mark Leeds, registrar at the seminary. “It makes access more possible for our local churches.”

Seminary administrators and trustees said the fully accredited degree combines the rigorous academic content that Southwestern is known for with the accessibility and affordability those in ministry often need. Leeds noted one unique aspect of the degree is that the courses are predominately taught by full-time faculty members.

“Most of our online courses are taught by our own faculty,” said Leeds. “There are other institutions where you have a whole cadre of adjuncts that are a part of teaching the courses. One of the strong points of our courses is that we haven’t farmed them out to 100 different adjuncts. They’re primarily taught by our own elected faculty members.”

Of the courses in the Master of Theological Studies, 92 percent of the online courses are taught by elected faculty and former full-time faculty members.

Leeds said the degree could also be beneficial for church members looking to strengthen their understanding of the Bible and to maximize their ministry in the local church.

“In Southern Baptist life, we have a strong laity—people who are not on staff but are committed to serving in different ways such as deacons and Sunday school teachers,” Leeds said. He added that the MTS makes it possible to get “solid, foundational knowledge in the basic disciplines you would want to have to be a better servant in the church.”

Twelve three-hour courses make up the MTS, including classes in hermeneutics, Old Testament, New Testament, church history, Baptist heritage, systematic theology, apologetics, and ethics. As an academic degree, the program is not meant to replace the comprehensive Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Education degrees, which provide further ministry training and still require a portion of credit hours to be completed on campus. These programs provide additional coursework in biblical languages, preaching, pastoral ministry, evangelism, missions, and electives.

Those interested in applying for the fully online Master of Theological Studies can complete the online application at www.swbts.edu/applynow or contact Southwestern’s office of admissions at 1-800-SWBTS-01. For a list of Frequently Asked Questions, visit www.swbts.edu/MTS.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Keith Collier is director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.)

Related story

Southwestern looks to end tenure
4/15/2013 2:25:26 PM by Keith Collier, SWBTS | with 0 comments

Church planting, strengthening churches forefront of restructuring plan

April 12 2013 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) Executive Committee approved a plan April 11 to “tear down silos,” streamline the organization and better assist churches in making disciples, evangelism and church planting among people groups of every ethnicity and cultural context.

The plan includes equipping churches to take ownership of collegiate ministries, and also sending strategy coordinators to work with churches and associations to penetrate “concentrated areas of lostness” through eight “population centers” around the state.
The new structure would eliminate 16 positions – 10 of which would come from campus ministries. But the convention also would add 11 positions, which would leave a net loss of five positions. While Cooperative Program giving in N.C. is off to a slow start – nearly 20 percent below budget – Hollifield noted that the restructuring plan was not a result of economic challenges, but a genuine desire “to stop the bleeding of the loss of people [who are] being led to the Lord, but they’re not being discipled.”
“There’s been a disconnect between evangelism and discipleship,” said Milton Hollifield, BSC executive director-treasurer, in an interview.
“[Discipleship] is the mandate for every church member. … In the large degree, we’ve missed it.”
“We’ve been satisfied with some programs and some efforts” added Brian Davis, BSC executive leader, “but there’s a philosophy of disciple making that’s got to pervade what we’re doing.”
The Executive Committee’s approval will go before the Board of Directors during their meeting in May. If approved by the Board, the strategy will be presented to N.C. Baptist messengers during their annual meeting in November. The new structure wouldn’t go into effect until January of 2014.
 What’s different?
The following is summary of recommended changes in the proposal.
– Brian Davis, BSC’s executive leader, would become associate executive director-treasurer. 
– Russ Conley, who is senior consultant for Leadership Ministries, would become team leader for eight strategy coordinators who will work with churches and associations through the “population centers.” These areas that have a high concentration of “lostness” include Asheville, Hickory, Charlotte, the Triad and Triangle areas, Fayetteville, Wilmington and Greenville.
– Michael Sowers, senior consultant for the Office of Great Commission Partnerships (GCP), would serve as a strategy coordinator for the Triad area. The senior consultant position for GCP will remain open and could be filled in the future.
– Frank White, senior consultant for Anglo/African American Church Planting, would be a strategy coordinator for the Charlotte area. His current position will be eliminated.
– Rick Trexler, team leader for Campus Ministry, would become team leader of Collegiate Partnerships. The Campus Ministry team would no longer exist under the new structure, and a newly designed team would work more closely in partnership with churches. In addition to Trexler, the team would include: Sammy Joo, who would work with international students in the Triangle area; and Tom Knight would work among international students in Charlotte. Two positions remain open for the western and eastern parts of the state.
 – Lynn Sasser, executive leader of Congregational Services group, would become the executive leader of a new group called Evangelism and Discipleship. The Congregational Services group and Evangelization group will no longer exist under the new structure. The new group would be divided into a Disciple-making Team and Church Strengthening Team.

– Brian Upshaw, team leader of the Church Ministry Team, would lead the Disciple-making Team. His team would include: Ashley Allen, Embrace and Women’s Evangelism and Discipleship; Merrie Johnson, Youth Evangelism and Discipleship; Marty Dupree, Adult Evangelism and Discipleship; Rick Hughes, Adult Evangelism and Discipleship; Guillermo Soriano, Hispanic Evangelism and Discipleship; Cheryl Markland, Childhood Evangelism and Discipleship; Eddie Thompson, Family Evangelism and Discipleship.
– Antonio Santos, senior consultant for Hispanic Church Development, would become the team leader for the Church Strengthening Team. His team would include: Neal Eller, senior consultant for Stewardship; David Moore, senior consultant for Pastoral Ministries; Ken Tan, senior consultant for Leadership Development; Bob Foy, senior consultant for Church Renewal; Donnie Wiltshire, senior consultant for Special Ministries; Kenny Lamm, senior consultant for Worship and Music.

Though many of the roles mentioned will remain similar, for some they will change significantly. Of the five main groups within the convention – Administration & Convention Relations, Business Services, Congregational Services, Church Planting & Missions Development, and Evangelization – the plan would trim them to four, which would include the new team led by Sasser. Of the 22 ministry teams, the new plan would drop those to 18.
“It’s a significant streamlining of the organization,” said Davis, who chaired the strategy committee that developed the strategy upon which Hollifield has built the new structure.
Campus ministry

One of the most visible changes would involve equipping churches to help make more disciples on N.C. college campuses, while reducing the Baptist State Convention’s presence on campuses.
Under the new structure, Trexler would lead Collegiate Partnerships to build a “network of churches working together” and empower them to build a presence on more campuses.
“We believe this is the best way to increase ministry on campuses,” Hollifield said. “There are churches I know [that] will take the lead on this. I want … students to be in those churches … that are surrounding the campus.”
 “Our job is going to be to provide training, leadership … still doing some of the summer things where we offer them the missions opportunities and that type of thing,” added John Butler, executive leader of Business Services and a member of the strategy committee.
With more than a 100 campuses in North Carolina, there are many churches with a strong desire to get involved in campus ministry, said Davis.
“We’ve had calls from churches where they’ve said, ‘We have a college in our town. How can you help us? How can you train us? How can you resource us?” he said. “And the response has been ‘Sorry, we don’t have a position that we can fund there.’ That’s the wrong response.
“We exist to serve the churches, to help resource, to help train them, to help prepare them. And this … arrangement of structure allows us to do that.” 
Population Centers
The other more visible change will involve sending out strategy coordinators through eight “population centers” to help develop strategies to get the gospel to unreached people groups.
“North Carolina has changed,” Hollifield said, according to his written report for the Executive Committee. “Over 230 languages are spoken in our public schools; but there is not a gospel witness in each of these languages.
“The convention, and I mean the convention in its fullness – churches, associations, convention staff, auxiliary, institutions, and agencies – must recognize that simply serving the white English speaking residents of our state is a dying proposition.”
Davis contended some may view the new strategy as a smaller version of NAMB’s Send North America campaign that focuses on reaching cities. But it’s not the same.
“A major distinction between what we’re doing and what NAMB is doing … [is] they’re focusing primarily on church planting,” Davis said. “We’re focusing on strengthening existing churches in those areas and planting new churches."
In recent years, Davis said there have been some who have contacted the BSC looking for assistance in planting a church and needing advice on the best location.
“Our response has been, ‘We’re not telling you. ... You need to discern where God would have you to go,’” Davis said. “Now we’re gong to say we have eight areas where we are concentrating some of these efforts.”
And the plan will involve churches of all sizes in all areas of the state.
“I think about these eight concentrated areas of population in North Carolina [and] how much it would impact spiritually the rest of the state if we could be more effective in evangelizing and discipling those people in those areas,” said Hollifield.
 “We want to help strengthen churches across the entirety of the state,” added Davis. “But we [also] can’t ignore where we have these concentrations. It’s not either or; it’s a both and approach.”

Read the Impacting Lostness Through Disciple-making strategy.
View the proposed group structure chart within BSC 
View the proposed staff organizational chart 
4/12/2013 10:54:12 PM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor | with 15 comments

Land selected as president of N.C. seminary

April 12 2013 by Baptist Press Staff

NASHVILLE  – Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, confirmed to Baptist Press Thursday (April 11) that he has been selected as president of Southern Evangelical Seminary.
The seminary, based in Charlotte, N.C., was co-founded in 1992 by Norman Geisler, longtime seminary professor and apologist, and Ross Rhoads, former evangelist and then-pastor of Calvary Church in Charlotte.
According to the seminary’s website, the launch of the seminary stemmed from “Geisler’s concern to defend the historic Christian faith” and “Rhoads’ burden for evangelism."
Geisler was the seminary’s first president and dean.
Land’s selection was tweeted by Geisler Thursday morning: “I wish to commend the Board of Southern Evangelical Seminary for its excellent choice of a new president Dr. Richard Land.”
In a statement, Land said he would begin his new position July 1. He also will teach, he said.
“We share a mutual vision,” he said of the seminary. “For most of my ministry, like SES, I have labored to reach the lost, to strengthen the local church, and to defend the faith. Over the years, it has become increasingly clear to me that the way you spell evangelism, discipleship, missions, and Christian education in the 21st century is ‘apologetics.’
“For over 20 years, SES has admirably maintained a dual commitment to evangelism and apologetics. I look forward to strengthening that commitment in the years to come and to making SES THE place to go for the apologetics training needed to fulfill God’s calling, to equip the saints, to reach the lost, and to edify the saved.”
Land, 66, announced his retirement from the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission July 31 of last year. At the time, he scheduled his retirement to be effective Oct. 23, 2013 – 25 years from the date he assumed the ERLC’s presidency in 1988.
ERLC trustees, on March 26, elected Russell Moore as the SBC entity’s new president, to be effective June 1. Moore, 41, currently is dean of the school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach and editor Art Toalston.)
4/12/2013 2:11:44 PM by Baptist Press Staff | with 1 comments

Skateboarder finds ‘harmony’ with faith, sport, music

April 11 2013 by Roman Gabriel, Sports Q & A

For years professional skateboarder Josh Harmony has made a name for himself showing off his talent in some of the industry’s biggest skateboarding videos. Harmony, 29, also has graced the covers of many skateboarding magazines. Learning difficult tricks and pushing the envelope, Harmony quickly became a member of elite skateboarding companies Toy Machine Skateboards, Fallen Footwear, and RVCA Clothing.
As his skateboarding career progressed, his desire to create music did as well. Harmony is now on his fourth album using a unique combination of gospel, bluegrass and blues music with a faith message. Harmony’s simple and poetic lyrics express a longing for heaven, physical healing – having gone through several hip and knee surgeries due to skate-related injuries – and a desire for a deeper understanding of God’s plan for his life. Harmony shared about his skateboarding, music roots, his Christian faith, and the platform of sports and music he uses to minister to younger generations. Harmony lives in Long Beach, Calif., with his wife Jenna and their two young sons, Harrison and Henry. He continues to ride for Toy Machine.

Contributed photos
Josh Harmony uses skateboarding and his music as a platform to share about his relationship with Christ.

Below are excerpts from the interview, which was edited for clarity, brevity and length.
Q: How did you get into making music, especially bluegrass?
I’ve been … playing since I was a kid. I really started writing songs [in] 2009. … Some of my favorites [include]: The Beatles, Elliott Smith, the Bluesman, and The Rev. Gary Davis. I’ve always had a love for bluegrass music …this amazing untapped world of music that most people don’t know about …going back learning about guys like Doc Watson. 
I started playing the banjo and was just inspired by it. I watched this documentary called “High Lonesome” about Belmont Row and that whole region and the music there (in North Carolina). It’s amazing. It’s been great getting some shows done and the opportunity to hit the road.
Q: How did skateboarding become such a big deal in your life?
I really wasn’t into team sports when I was a kid, but I did play some soccer and basketball and other stuff when I was really really young. … One day I saw some neighbor kids go by skateboarding. …. One was a really good skater and he did this incredible trick. I saw it and said, “What is that?” … I couldn’t believe that you could do what they were doing on a skateboard. … When my dad asked me what I wanted for Christmas I said I wanted a skateboard.
Then he took me to a skate shop and we kind of started discovering what this is all about together. I remember watching [a] skateboard video on their TV, and I was just blown away by what you could do. I had no idea … it was this incredible culture or subculture. It was just amazing to discover.
Q: How has your relationship with God impacted your professional music and skateboarding careers?
My inspiration for my music and skateboarding comes from the Holy Spirit. … He’s really the one that has turned me on to everything that God is … and inspired me to really write my music.  He’s a giver of every perfect gift. … Really it’s all been Him. … I started skating, … I was born again when I was about 19.  He flipped my world upside down. … He’s everything to me. … He’s given these platforms, and my only hope is that people would see Christ through my life in the way that He’s [allowed] me to express myself.
Q: What would you say to a parent who might be concerned about their child getting into skateboarding and the culture that comes with that sport?
I think that’s kind of a justified concern, considering a good deal of the subculture of skateboarding is pretty dark. But there’s also some great people involved in skateboarding as well. It’s almost like if you’re not praying for your kids and rais[ing] them right … it doesn’t matter what they get into. … Whatever your kids get into they are going to have to face the jagged rocks of life. ... The depravity of man is such an evil thing. We have to pray for the best for our kids all the time no matter what they’re into. ... I think it’s important to encourage the things your kids are passionate about, if not we can drive a wedge between parents and kids.
Q: How have you and your fellow Christian skateboarders had a positive impact on the rest of the sport?
Skateboarding has always reflected the counterculture, rebellious kind of activity and culture. … Even now there are skateboarders that have 666 and Satan tattoos and stuff. You can count on one hand those pro skateboarders who are in the magazines (high profile) and doing it for Christ and living for Jesus. ... Those [who] do have [an] impact, it is pretty strong. … As for me personally, I’m trying to stay as influential for Christ as I can. ... You do feel like sometimes that you’re on your own.
Learn more about Harmony’s skateboarding, music and latest album “Benefit of the Doubt” by going to joshharmonymusic.com and on Facebook at Josh Harmony.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel III hosts Sold Out Sports Saturday nights at 8 p.m. EST on American Family Radio. He is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Contact him at (910) 431-6483 or email soldoutrg3@gmail.com. His website is www.soldouttv.com.)
4/11/2013 2:46:30 PM by Roman Gabriel, Sports Q & A | with 1 comments

Hulls Grove Bapt. offers skateboarding ministry

April 11 2013 by BR staff

Would Annie Armstrong use a skateboard to share the gospel if she was alive today? Marcus Redding, pastor of Hulls Grove Baptist Church in Vale, N.C., said he believes she would.
Redding recently shared about how the church uses their skateboard ministry to share the gospel with young people who normally would not come to church.

For those who may not consider skateboarding to be a legitimate outreach tool, don’t tell Redding.
“My heavens, I don’t care what it takes,” Redding said. “If I have to catch them on a skateboard or take them on a ... hunting trip, it really doesn’t matter to me [as long as] we get to tell them about Jesus.”
Each week Hulls Grove’s The Way Skate ministry attracts about 25-30 skaters on Tuesdays and Thursdays to a rented facility to ride their boards. During that time they work on their skateboarding skills and hear the gospel, said Bobby Farmer, site pastor for the ministry.
“Last night I had a conversation with [a skateboarder],” said Farmer, who described the young man as once being “a total atheist.”
“He’s really on the verge of giving his life to the Lord. ... God’s showing him that he needs a relationship with Him.”
Farmer mentioned another skateboarder, Cody, who turned his life over to Christ and is now leading groups each week.
“He was one of those [who] had been on the fringe  ... kind of turned away from God ... Got into drugs and alcohol. We kept inviting him. He kept coming to the skate ministry.
“About a year and a half ago .. he gave his life to the Lord. I pretty well turn the study and testimony time over to him,” Farmer added. “Part of our goal is ... to train these kids up to be the leaders.”
For more information about this ministry and how your church can become involved, contact Hulls Grove Baptist at (704) 276-1181 or go to hullsgrove.org.
4/11/2013 2:34:03 PM by BR staff | with 1 comments

By 84-0, Okla. House backs traditional marriage

April 11 2013 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

OKLAHOMA CITY – Much of the nation might be embracing gay marriage, but the Oklahoma legislature isn’t going along – and it wants the U.S. Supreme Court to notice.
By a vote of 84-0, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a resolution Monday (April 8) supporting traditional marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which is before the court.
The vote highlights the geographical divide over gay marriage. The South and the nation’s heartland tend to have more conservative positions on the issue, while the Northeast and West Coast states have more liberal beliefs.
“The Oklahoma Legislature reaffirms its commitment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman and urges the United States Supreme Court to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and the right of states to regulate marriage,” the resolution reads.
Although there were no votes opposing the resolution, about half of the Democrats – including Minority Leader Scott Inman – walked out prior to the vote, according to the Associated Press. But the other half of the Democratic caucus stayed and supported it. Republicans control the chamber.
The eight-paragraph resolution says marriage is the building block upon which our society is based. It asserts that marriage “is a power reserved to the states that lies within the domain of state legislatures and not with the judicial branch of government."
It also notes that “Oklahoma voters expressed their collective intent to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman by approving” a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man, one woman. Oklahoma passed it in 2004 and is one of 30 states with such an amendment.
The resolution, which now goes to the Oklahoma Senate, asks that a copy be given to President Obama, Vice President Biden and the Oklahoma congressional delegation.
The Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of California Proposition 8 and a section of the Defense of Marriage Act. If both are overturned, gay marriage could be legalized in all 50 states.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)
4/11/2013 2:28:57 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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