April 2018

Whitten unwavering in support for Greear, denounces attacks

April 30 2018 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Florida pastor Ken Whitten said he is still “firmly convinced” J.D. Greear is the right man for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and he is “grieved” by campaign-style attacks on the former missionary.

Florida Baptist Convention photo by Michael Duncan
Ken Whitten

Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla., announced Jan. 29 that he will nominate Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at this year’s annual meeting.
Greear’s background includes two years of service (1997-‘99) as an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary in a Muslim majority country, and he has recently come under fire for promoting an evangelistic method that allegedly compromises essential tenets of the Christian faith.
When asked if he had second thoughts about nominating Greear in light of recent claims, Whitten told the Biblical Recorder that many of those criticisms were based on “misrepresentation” and that he had “absolutely no regrets” about volunteering to make the nomination.

Having served as an IMB trustee for eight years (2004-‘12), Whitten said he was familiar with different “schools of thought” for sharing the gospel with Muslims, including the one Greear supports in his 2010 book on the topic, Breaking the Islam Code.
The method in question finds common ground on certain doctrines in Islam and uses them as starting points for leading people to faith in Christ. Practitioners sometimes choose to utilize the Arabic term for deity, “Allah.”
Some critics claim the method jeopardizes the historic, Protestant view of salvation “in Christ alone” by promoting a form of universalism that says both Christians and Muslims can receive salvation through their respective religions because they emerge from the same divine source.
Whitten said that view of Greear’s outreach strategy was a “mischaracterization of one of our Southern Baptist missionaries.”
“[Greear] wrote his doctoral dissertation on reaching Muslims for Christ, and the grading professor was Paige Patterson,” said Whitten. “Do you think for a skinny minute that Paige Patterson would give him a passing grade if he believed the god Muslims worship and the God we worship are the same? ... You just cannot get me to believe that [Greear] believes all Muslims are saved and going to heaven because they worship God. That’s the mischaracterization that grieves my spirit.”
He added that Greear’s eagerness to promote evangelism and experience overseas should be a positive indicator of his qualification for SBC president, not an opportunity for fault-finding.
“He’s not going to ask Southern Baptists to do something that he’s not doing himself,” said Whitten, noting recent news that The Summit Church had sent their 1,000th member to participate in church planting.
“Southern Baptists bleed evangelism and missions, and I couldn’t find a better pastor right now demonstrating that in his own church than J.D. Greear.”
Whitten also commented on Greear’s commitment to Southern Baptist missions and ministries, another point on which Greear has been criticized.
“He wants to encourage the younger generation to give to the Cooperative Program,” said Whitten.
He denounced “sky is falling” warnings about Greear’s potential election signaling a generational takeover of the SBC.
“Put this in perspective,” Whitten said, “Dr. Bailey Smith – great Southern Baptist pastor, great Southern Baptist president – was 41 years old when he was elected. J.D. Greear will be 45 years old in June ... only two years younger than Adrian Rogers when he was elected in 1979 at 47.
“This isn’t about a younger generation coming to take over. J.D. Greear is a Southern Baptist missionary and a Southern Baptist equipped and trained pastor. He loves Southern Baptists, he preaches Southern Baptist.
“... If he’s elected, we’ll have a president that is saying to all generations, let’s take the gospel all over the world, and let’s start in our own Jerusalem.”
The SBC annual meeting will take place June 12-13 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. Nominations and voting for SBC president are scheduled for Tuesday, June 12 at 1:50 p.m.
Ken Hemphill, former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and administrator at North Greenville University, has also been announced as a candidate for SBC president.
In response to an interview request, Hemphill told the Biblical Recorder the individual to nominate him at the SBC annual meeting will be announced in May.

4/30/2018 2:38:47 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 4 comments

N.C. disaster relief crews deploy in twister’s wake

April 30 2018 by NCBM/Biblical Recorder

More than 1,000 homes, businesses, churches and schools were damaged or destroyed when tornadoes with winds approaching 135 miles per hour swept through Guilford and Rockingham counties April 15.

NC Baptist Men and Women Disaster Relief Facebook photo
Baptists on Mission Disaster Relief Volunteers David Mainesmith and Elaine Cooper share the Good News that God loves her with a Greensboro homeowner as other volunteers work to clear tornado debris from her property.

North Carolina Baptists on Mission (NCBM), also known as N.C. Baptist Men, responded quickly to the disaster, setting up two sites April 16 – Greensboro and Reidsville. By April 17, 10 projects had been completed.
“I am grateful for those that give up their time and resources to help others in Jesus’ name,” said Gaylon Moss, NCBM disaster relief coordinator, stressing one of the key characteristics of any volunteer is flexibility and a need to serve with “open hands, open heart.”
Volunteers assist homeowners with cleanup needs, covering roofs, cutting trees and removing debris.
An update April 23 indicated that most of the Reidsville jobs were completed and that Greensboro work was expected to continue for about another week.
“My son just kept praying that God would keep everyone safe,” said Stephanie Pulliam. “After the storm, I remarked to him that he prayed for everyone but himself. He said he knew God was with us so he needed to pray for other people. I am so proud of him.”
Pulliam received a Bible signed by volunteers who worked on her house in Reidsville.
Kathleen Bailey’s husband died two years ago, so having help with cleanup efforts soothed Bailey’s spirit.
“I am so thankful for this help,” she said. “I don’t know what I would have done without it. I just hid in a closet and prayed while the tornado hit.”
An April 27 Facebook post for “NC Baptist Men and Women Disaster Relief Ministry” indicated that work is transitioning from tree work to roofing, so leaders encouraged those with roofing skills to volunteer soon.
Moss said volunteers are still needed in four locations – Black River (Pender County), Goldsboro, Lumberton and Windsor – in response to the devastation of Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
And last year’s Hurricane Irma/Maria combination devastated Puerto Rico, where volunteer teams are mainly roofing houses.
For the latest on the tornado recovery efforts, visit baptistsonmission.org/apr15tornado.
There is a volunteer button to sign up, as well as a donate button to give. Send checks to NCBM, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512. Designate “April 15 Tornado Efforts.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Some of Larry High’s reports to NCBM were used for this article.)

4/30/2018 2:35:54 PM by NCBM/Biblical Recorder | with 0 comments

SBC nominee list lacks diversity, under revision

April 30 2018 by Biblical Recorder staff

The Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) 2018 Committee on Nominations (CN) released a slate of nominees April 25 for each of the national committees and trustee boards, but after receiving pushback online for the list’s lack of ethnic diversity, the CN assured Southern Baptists the report is a work in progress.
The list included 69 new nominees, with an additional 72 proposed for renomination, according to Baptist Press.
SBC This Week, a Southern Baptist news and commentary website, reported on social media that 97 percent of new nominees were Caucasian (67 out of 69) – one was African American, one was Asian American and none were Hispanic.
The news met a wave of disapproval online from a wide range of Southern Baptists citing multiple SBC resolutions and statements from years past, which vowed to diversify the convention’s boards and committees.
A 1989 resolution on racism said, “Be it further RESOLVED, that our agencies and institutions seek diligently to bring about greater racial and ethnic representation at every level of Southern Baptist institutional life.”
In addition, a 2015 report by the SBC Executive Committee recommended that convention presidents, committee chairmen and committee members diligently and intentionally seek to propose nominees each year that represent the ethnic makeup of the SBC and report their results to messengers at the annual meeting.
A Southern Baptist blog site, SBC Voices, later reported that 2018 CN chairman James Freeman said the list of names is not final and the committee is still working to propose a diverse group of nominees, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Messengers will vote on the slate of nominees during this year’s SBC annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, scheduled for June 12 at 4:10 p.m. in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
The CN’s final report will be published in the annual meeting’s daily bulletin, which is made available to messengers on site prior to balloting.

Visit sbcannualmeeting.org.

4/30/2018 2:33:04 PM by Biblical Recorder staff | with 0 comments

LINK Conference: ‘A catalyst toward change’ in multicultural ministry

April 30 2018 by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS

On April 13, the Kingdom Diversity Initiative (KDI) at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) hosted the LINK Conference to discuss how to put multicultural passion into informed practice.

SEBTS photo
Panelists Andy Davis, left, Jerome Gay, center, and Danny Akin, right, discuss their experiences leading multicultural ministries.

Due to racism’s damaging effects, speakers at the conference gave multiple perspectives for how a church can begin breaking down barriers within congregations.
Walter Strickland, associate vice president for diversity and instructor of theology at SEBTS, began the conference by speaking about the layers of racism and why it presents a challenge for church leaders to overcome. He acknowledged the many layers of racism that exist that cause difficulty for leaders in creating multicultural environments within the church.
“What we’re trying to do today is have this moment as being a catalyst toward change,” said Strickland.

Strickland noted that it is significant for churches to have structures that support a diverse community, allowing for a multiplicity of perspectives to establish and examine new and existing programs and procedures.
The last two sessions of the day included panel discussions moderated by Strickland.
The first panel featured a conversation about how church leaders can strive toward organizational structures that support diversity. Panelists were Danny Akin, president of SEBTS; Andy Davis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, N.C.; and Jerome Gay, lead pastor of preaching and vision at Vision Church in Raleigh, N.C. When panelists were asked how their church or organization has supported minorities while pursuing diversity, Davis noted his conviction over Strickland’s opening session and how he recognized his church’s great need to make changes toward diversity.
“My passion and my desire for that has been necessary, but insufficient,” said Davis.
Gay discussed the importance of pursuing diversity and supporting minority leaders by creating a culture of “eclecticity” at Vision Church, noting cultural differences within racial groups and commenting that no race is “monolithic.”
Gay also emphasized that feedback from other minorities is key.
“That feedback is sometimes painful, but it’s necessary,” said Gay.
Akin said that at SEBTS, intentionality has been essential as he has built trust with a variety of people who can speak honestly to blind spots he may not see in the institution.
“It’s one thing to say we want to be an ethnically diverse community; it’s another thing to actively work to make it happen,” said Akin, who has seen SEBTS grow significantly in its diversity in his 14 years as president.
The second panel focused on the relational outworking of unifying churches in the midst of cultural differences.
The panelists were Matthew Hodges, lay leader at Christ Our King Community Church in Raleigh; Jesse Parker, elder at Vision Church; and Aaron Anderson, pastor of Vintage Church in Durham.
As a white elder at a predominantly black church, Parker addressed how he navigates conversations with others when it comes to racial and cultural differences. He acknowledged that he wrestles with what he perceives as a “normative experience” based on his context as a white male.  
“I have to have the awareness of how I’ve been shaped by my own experience to actually engage and interact with that,” said Parker. “Otherwise, I’m just going to retreat or I’m just going to attack instead of actually engaging.”
Anderson emphasized the importance of humility in relationships and not allowing a spirit of entitlement, even when the lack of understanding from brothers and sisters in Christ is painful.
“If your identity is tied to some type of entitlement you’ll always be shaky. There will always be some type of discontentment,” said Anderson.
Ultimately, said Anderson, God brings reconciliation and healing. “I can still love you and walk with you through this and trust God to do the healing that only he can do through his Spirit,” he said.
Overcoming multicultural barriers and leading people to think this way is non-negotiable for Hodges.
“If you’re in leadership, this has to be a gospel conviction, “ said Hodges. “This cannot be a gospel elective.”
The KDI, launched in 2013, promotes diversity by hosting campus events and discussions centered on topics regarding underrepresented populations and how the gospel intersects with these issues in culture. For more information, visit kingdomdiversity.sebts.edu.

4/30/2018 2:27:13 PM by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS | with 0 comments

‘Second chances’ urged for re-entering prisoners

April 30 2018 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

A broad and diverse coalition that includes the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics entity is pushing reforms in America’s justice system to foster the rehabilitation and societal re-entry of prisoners.
Prison Fellowship, the well-known Christian ministry to prisoners and their families, has spearheaded the effort in April through its Second Chance Month initiative. President Donald Trump issued a proclamation declaring April as Second Chance Month, and the U.S. Senate approved a resolution to the same effect.
The Prison Fellowship-led effort – with the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) one of the more than 150 partners – seeks to reform policies and programs to help prisoners become rehabilitated, restored and prepared for re-entry into society, while assuring public safety. Many of the partners are not religious, but many are motivated by their Christian worldview.
“There is no doubt that crime is a moral issue,” ERLC President Russell Moore told Baptist Press in written comments. “Our response to crime, however, is no less a moral issue.
“It is precisely because the church cares about justice that followers of Jesus should work toward a criminal justice system that metes out judgment for the purpose of restoration and rehabilitation,” he said.
Advocates for justice reform point to statistics they say demonstrate the need for change in what is described as the world’s most incarcerated country. According to Prison Fellowship:

  • About 65 million Americans, or one-fourth of the adult population, have a criminal record.
  • 2.2 million men and women are incarcerated in the United States.
  • Nearly 700,000 prisoners return to their communities each year.
  • Two-thirds of prisoners who are released are arrested again.
  • 2.7 million children have a parent in prison.
  • More than 48,000 legal barriers confront former prisoners seeking “second chances.”

“Thus, it is smart on crime for us to implement a restorative approach to criminal justice with an eye towards [people] returning to our communities who are healthier and more productive than they were when they went to prison in the first place,” said Prison Fellowship President James Ackerman in a March 19 forum at the Museum of the Bible in Washington.
Prisoners need “a second chance” to step into a purpose and a plan God has for their lives, he said.
Mark Holden, senior vice president and general counsel of Koch Industries, told the audience during the forum’s panel discussion, “Ideally, our justice system should be less about punishment and incapacitation and much more about reformation, rehabilitation and redemption. Our criminal justice system, unfortunately, fails to provide opportunities for redemption for many of those who have paid their debt in full to society and are hungry for and have earned and deserve a second chance.”
Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., said during the discussion, “[We] have swung the pendulum way too far, assuming that people don’t deserve second chances.
“The bar has been set very, very low in this country about what’s right and what’s wrong about whether we are going to be a restorative country or we’re going to be punitive,” he said.
Much of the panel discussion focused on proportional sentences and barriers that prevent former prisoners from flourishing in their communities.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a former prosecutor, questioned the effectiveness of long sentences for drug and economic offenses.
“Do we really think there’s a correlation between the length of incarceration and the change in your behavior?,” Gowdy asked during the discussion. “What you do with economic and non-violent crimes, the longer you incarcerate someone the more you guarantee they’re not going to have a successful re-entry back into society. I don’t know what you’re supposed to learn the 20th year in prison for drugs that you couldn’t learn the second year.
“How is it a second chance if no one will ever forgive and forget the original action? So you’ve got to view second chances within the context of what’s a proportional consequence for that underlying act,” he said.
Jerry Blassingame, senior pastor of Soteria Christian Fellowship in Greenville, S.C., told the audience a “level playing field [is] still not there for me” nearly 20 years after serving a sentence for a drug crime.
Though he said he would still have a difficult time getting a job, Blassingame has helped about 5,000 men in their re-entry after incarceration through a program he developed while in prison. Converted to Christ while in a Greenville jail, Blassingame started a nonprofit organization after prison that includes a “robust mentoring program” and has started a string of businesses to help former prisoners.
“[I] would just love for America to see that people who have served their time shouldn’t do a life sentence,” he said.
Panelists at a breakout session during the MLK50 conference April 3-4 in Memphis also called for justice reform. The ERLC and The Gospel Coalition co-sponsored the conference that honored the late Martin Luther King Jr.
James Kirkwood, a Memphis pastor and longtime police officer, said the church must call for reform but it is not speaking with a unified voice on the issue.
“Criminal justice reform is really a much needed reform in America,” he said. “[R]eform must take place.”
Julie Warren, state director of Tennessee and Kentucky for the conservative organization Right on Crime, said in the breakout session, “We need to start talking about restoration, because that’s where public safety and communities really are healed.”
Brent Leatherwood, the ERLC’s director of strategic partnerships, said of the entity’s work on the issue, “As the ERLC engages the full spectrum of human dignity, justice reform issues are a major part of that. It was natural for [the ERLC and Prison Fellowship] to come together to help bring more attention to reform efforts that are taking place in Congress and in state capitals across the country.”
In its partnership with Prison Fellowship, the ERLC has participated in meetings with state legislators, helped identify people who will be advocates for Prison Fellowship nationally, invited its staff to provide expert analysis on panels at ERLC-sponsored events and will help it engage with some Baptist state conventions later this year, Leatherwood said.
Among the other partners in Prison Fellowship’s Second Chance initiative are the National Association of Evangelicals, American Civil Liberties Union, Christian Legal Society, National Hispanic Leadership Conference, The American Conservative Union and Center for American Progress.
Prison Fellowship and other justice reform advocates expressed disappointment April 25 when the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee postponed a vote on the Prison Reform and Redemption Act, H.R. 3356, which is designed to reward prisoners who complete a program to reduce rearrests. The committee may vote on the legislation the week of May 7-11.
Prison Fellowship, founded by the late Charles Colson, is the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners and their families. It also is a leading advocate for criminal justice reform.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/30/2018 10:23:40 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Korea summit: historic, but human rights talk ‘absent’

April 30 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A historic meeting April 27 between the leaders of North and South Korea left religious liberty advocates optimistic about peace on the Korean Peninsula but pessimistic about the advance of human rights in the North.
Paul Kim, Asian American advisor to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee, said the prospect of peace between the two Koreas is “like a dream” and what many South Koreans have prayed for daily through several decades – though human rights violations in North Korea continue to be a major concern, including Christians in North Korean prison camps who “are treated like animals.”

Screen capture from The Washington Post
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met April 27 on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone.

Olivia Enos, an Asia analyst with the conservative Heritage Foundation, said human rights issues were “noticeably absent” from the agenda when South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Meeting in the South Korean border village of Panmunjom, Kim and Moon promised to end the Korean War and repeated their countries’ previous vow to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons. But, according to media reports, they did not announce specific steps toward that goal. Yet the meeting was notable as a precursor to U.S. President Donald Trump’s anticipated meeting with Kim and because Kim became the first North Korean leader to enter South Korea since the Korean War.
Paul Kim, pastor emeritus of Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass., told Baptist Press (BP) hundreds of thousands of Christians in South Korea have for decades gathered daily at 5 a.m. to pray. Their petitions have included reunification of the Koreas and peace.
Though the Korean War stopped in 1953, the peninsula technically remains in a state of war.
“This meeting” between Kim and Moon “is very [historic],” said Paul Kim, a South Korea native. “To me, it’s like a dream, where God’s people have prayed and God has answered in His time. It’s just awesome.”
Still, Paul Kim remains cautious about the future because he said North Korea has not always spoken truthfully during talks with the South. Any reunification, he said, must include improvement of human rights in the North and cannot occur solely on North Korea’s terms.
“We want to be ... one nation under God,” Paul Kim said of Korea. “Christ should be the center.”
North Korea – named by persecution watchdog Open Doors as the world’s worst persecutor of Christians for the past 17 years – has sent thousands of Christians to its political prison camps, estimated at 50,000-70,000 by Open Doors. A 2015 SBC resolution on “religious persecution and human rights violations in North Korea” notes that “an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 Christians in North Korea remain at grave risk of persecution.”
Enos told BP denuclearization, peace and economic engagement were the priorities when Moon met with Kim Jong Un. South Korea’s foreign minister announced “that human rights issues would not be raised at the summit,” Enos said, “and as far as I’ve seen, it doesn’t look like they were raised at all.”
The “one bright spot,” Enos said, is that there appears to be “a higher likelihood that the Trump administration might raise” issues of human rights and religious liberty if Trump meets with Kim in the coming weeks.
Enos recommended the Trump administration call for the dismantling of all North Korean prison camps and ask for access to one or two prison camps to deliver humanitarian aid. The administration, she said, should have conditioned any meeting with Kim on the release of the three American citizens in North Korean custody: agriculture researcher Kim Hak-song, accountant Tony Kim and businessman Kim Dong-chul.
Though the three American prisoners share a common surname, they are not related.
Kim Jong Un “is violating the image of God in man through the prison camp system,” “public executions” and in other ways, Enos said.
“It’s time for the church to call on the Trump administration” to “move the needle” on human rights, including religious liberty, in North Korea, Enos said.
The SBC’s 2015 resolution “appeal[ed] to Kim Jong Un and the government of North Korea to respect and ensure human rights for all individuals,” urged then-President Obama “and both houses of the US Congress to do all they can to pressure the government of North Korea to respect the dignity and religious freedom of all its citizens” and renewed a call for prayer “that God will turn the heart of Kim Jong Un to Himself and that President Kim might grant to all the people of North Korea the respect they deserve as God’s creation.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/30/2018 10:12:40 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Q&A: Steve Gaines reflects on SBC

April 27 2018 by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press

Leading up to this year’s Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Dallas, SBC president Steve Gaines answered questions from Baptist Press (BP) regarding this year’s gathering and lessons and rewarding moments he’s encountered during the past two years.

Photo by Adam Covington
Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, gives the president’s address during the first day of the SBC annual meeting June 13 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Nearing the end of his second and final one-year term as SBC president, the pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., specifically addressed this year’s SBC election and some of the challenges the convention faces in the months ahead. See related story.
Below are Gaines’ written responses to BP’s questions.
Q: Share your thoughts on this year’s SBC meeting, the theme, and why it was chosen.
A: I’m looking forward to gathering with thousands of Southern Baptists in Dallas in June. Our theme for the 2018 annual meeting is: Testify! Go. Stand. Speak. This theme is based on Acts 5:20: “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” The artwork has a definite Texas flare.
I want to challenge all Southern Baptists to boldly testify of the saving work that Jesus Christ has accomplished for all of us. I challenge all Southern Baptists to be willing to go wherever God tells you to go, stand for the truth of the [g]ospel of Christ, regardless of how counter-cultural it becomes, and to open your mouths and speak the words of the [g]ospel with lost people in a persuasive manner for the purpose of winning them to faith in Jesus. A real gospel conversation must include a gospel presentation and a gospel invitation.
As my former evangelism professor, Roy Fish, always said, “You can’t serve Jesus with a zipped lip.” Southern Baptists must verbally share the [g]ospel with lost people and win them to Christ.
Q: How can Southern Baptists pray for this year’s meeting and the SBC? And share what you’d like to see happen during the meeting.
A: Pray for the Lord’s manifest presence to envelop all of us, from the first prayer on Tuesday morning to the closing prayer on Wednesday afternoon.
Pray that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts will be acceptable in God’s sight (Psalm 19:14). Pray that God will set a guard over our mouths and keep watch over the door of our lips (Psalm 141:3).
Pray that Jesus alone will be glorified and exalted.
Pray for everyone who preaches and for everyone who presents a report to be anointed with the Holy Spirit.
Pray that every messenger will be considerate and Christlike in all interactions with others.
Pray that all of us will be [g]odly examples to a lost world that will be watching and listening.
Pray that we will conduct the Lord’s business “properly and in an orderly manner” (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Pray that during our meetings we will discuss issues in a united, civil, Spirit-filled way.
Pray that when we leave Dallas, we will do so with a genuine unity of spirit and purpose – to reach lost people throughout the world with the saving [g]ospel of Jesus Christ.
Q: Approaching this year’s SBC presidential election, is there anything you’d like Southern Baptists to keep in perspective or to pray for?
A: So far, we know of two godly men who will be nominated for President of the Southern Baptist Convention. J.D. Greear and Ken Hemphill are both Christ-like men who have led wonderful, evangelistic churches. Both have earned [doctor of philosophy degrees], and both love the Lord and the Southern Baptist Convention.
As the current president of the SBC, I want to go on record that I have not, do not and will not officially endorse or support either of these men over the other. I know and love them both. Whoever the messengers elect as president in Dallas, I will support 100 percent.
To clarify, at the SBC meeting in St. Louis (2016), after J.D. and I met, I said that I would “be willing” to nominate him this year. However, as J.D. and I thought more and prayed about that, we both concluded that it would not be good for any existing president of the SBC to ever nominate anyone to be his immediate successor. That would give too much power and influence to the existing president. Thus, with J.D.’s agreement and approval, I have declined from doing that. Again, I love both of these men and will support either of them that is elected in Dallas.
I urge all Southern Baptists to pray to our sovereign God and to ask Him to have His way regarding the election for all the officers in Dallas including who will lead us as our next president.
Q: What are some lessons you’ve learned during your time as SBC president?
A: I’ve learned that God loves Southern Baptists and He is using many of us in unique ways to fulfill the Great Commission. I admire every pastor of every Southern Baptist church that leads his congregation week in and week out, preaching the word, evangelizing the lost and equipping the saints to carry out various ministries.
I love the directors of missions in our associations that rally the local churches to share the [g]ospel with lost people and disciple those who become believers in Christ. I also thank God for the state convention executives. I believe our state conventions are the backbone of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The state [executives] are the champions when it comes to supporting the Cooperative Program and missions, as well as local evangelism. I am also grateful for the amazing work by our national entities and their leaders.
I anticipate good things to come in the years ahead, especially as the pastors, the local churches, the associations, the state conventions and the national entities genuinely unite to reach the world with the [g]ospel of Jesus Christ.
Q: Share some challenges and rewarding moments during your time as president?
A: Obviously, we face the challenge of seeking new leaders to fill two of our most important leadership roles – the president of the International Mission Board (IMB) and the CEO of the SBC Executive Committee. We must have godly, spirit-filled leaders in those positions. We all know that everything rises and falls on leadership. We need to pray that the Lord will place the exact people He wants in these two vital positions.
As far as rewarding moments during my time as president, there are too many to count. I committed to Bellevue that I would not miss a Sunday for the Southern Baptist Convention except for the annual meetings, and I have kept that commitment. As a result, our church has actually grown during the last two years. However, I have traveled a lot during the week. I have enjoyed preaching in all but one of our six seminaries.
I have attended the board meetings of the IMB, [North American Mission Board] and GuideStone. I have also preached at multiple state convention gatherings, and other SBC meetings. I am amazed at the strength of the Lord’s work among Southern Baptists. What is happening among us is a “God-thing.” We are planting and watering, but He is the One giving the increase.
I am praying and believing that in the days to come the Lord will pour out His Spirit in a fresh way on Southern Baptists, and we will see more people saved and baptized than ever before. I pray that God will open the heavens and come down afresh on all of our pastors, churches and entities, and that the latter glory of the SBC will be greater than the former. I pray that we will be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and that we will be the salt of the earth and the light of the world as we penetrate the culture with the [g]ospel and proclaim it to the ends of the earth.
Let’s show up in Dallas, and let’s ask God to show up there as well!
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shawn Hendricks is editor of Baptist Press.)

Related articles
Q&A: Greear responds to Baptist editors’ questions
Q&A: Hemphill responds to Baptist editors’ questions

4/27/2018 11:50:58 AM by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

DOM title change, credentialing tops SBCAL agenda

April 27 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Recommended changes to the title, roles and credentialing of Southern Baptist directors of missions (DOMs) will be considered at the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders’ (SBCAL) 2018 annual meeting June 10-11 at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas.

Ray Gentry

Based on the findings of an ad hoc study team the SBCAL appointed in 2017, the recommendations will be published in the May 15 issue of the SBCAL newsletter “The Encourager” before the vote at the June 10th business session, SBCAL Executive Director Ray Gentry told Baptist Press (BP).
Any changes the SBCAL adopts will be available to but not mandated for use by Southern Baptist state conventions across the country that currently use various titles and credentials for DOMs.
“Our officers and executive team will communicate its acceptance to our members in the June edition of The Encourager newsletter,” Gentry said, “as well as notify the leadership of Southern Baptist Convention entities and state conventions of the new descriptor for directors of missions and the other recommendations included in the report.”
Richard Wheeler, lead missional strategist for the Jacksonville Baptist Association in Jacksonville, Fla., chairs the 12-member study group composed of associational, denominational and congregational leaders.
In other business, the SBCAL will elect a new chairman of its executive team. Vice chairman David Stokes, executive director of the Central Kentucky Network of Baptists in Lexington, Ky., is in line to become chairman, replacing Tim Pruitt, director of missions of the Gila Valley Association in Casa Grande, Ariz., who completes his one-year term.
Held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 12-13 at the K. Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, the SBCAL confab will include workshops focused on strategic missional leadership with concurrent workshop options for wives.
“The SBCAL Annual Conference is planned by DOMs for DOMs,” Gentry told BP, “to encourage, equip, motivate and educate us to be the most effective mission strategists we can be.”
Tom Billings, who retired this year as the executive director of the Union Baptist Association of Houston, will speak during the first plenary session June 10 at 1:05 p.m., followed by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson at the 6 p.m. banquet. Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., will speak during the closing plenary session June 11 at 10:20 a.m.
Workshops will focus on a variety of topics pertinent to associational leaders, including associational mergers and partnerships, planting ethnic churches, embracing pastors of multi-lingual congregations, maximizing giving, leadership strategies including bivocational leadership and associational trends. Associational leaders from across the U.S. will lead workshops. A pre-conference session tailored for DOMs who have two years’ experience or less is set for June 9 from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Adolphus Hotel.
Wives may attend the general workshops or sessions especially designed for wives, which will focus on strengthening marriages and life’s priorities, as well as a wives’ roundtable on “The Kaleidoscope of Ministry.”
Registration is available at sbcassociations.org.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

4/27/2018 11:44:46 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

LifeWay to discuss SBC future at breakfast in Dallas

April 27 2018 by Carol Pipes, LifeWay Christian Resources

LifeWay Christian Resources will provide a free breakfast and screen two new movies at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Dallas this summer.

BP file photo by Adam Covington
Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, presents the LifeWay report to messengers at the 2017 SBC Annual Meeting in Phoenix.

The focus of the LifeWay breakfast will be “Is Our Denomination Dying?” LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer will lead a discussion and question-and-answer session about the future of the SBC in a season of tremendous change and how churches can realize a bright future of evangelistic growth. The format will mirror Rainer’s podcast “Rainer on Leadership” hosted by Jonathan Howe, LifeWay’s director of strategic initiatives.
The free breakfast will be held Tuesday, June 12, at 7 a.m. in Ballrooms C1-4 (Level 2) of the convention center. Doors open at 6:30 a.m. Attendees will receive free resources, including Becoming a Welcoming Church, a CSB 3 Circles Evangelism New Testament and a LifeWay gift card. Because seating is limited, advance reservations can be made at LifeWay.com/sbcbreakfast.
LifeWay Films will screen two new feature films Monday and Tuesday evenings in Ballrooms C2-3 (Level 2) following the SBC evening session. The films selected will be announced closer to the meeting. Reservations are not necessary for either movie screening, but seating will be limited.
During LifeWay’s report and presentation Wednesday afternoon, Southern Baptists will learn how LifeWay is serving churches and providing biblical solutions for life around the globe.
Throughout the week, messengers and guests can visit the SBC exhibit hall to learn about LifeWay’s ministry areas. The LifeWay Christian Store will offer a wide selection of books, Bibles, small group study resources and other Christian products. Book signings by bestselling authors will be held in the store throughout the convention.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Carol Pipes is director of communications for LifeWay Christian Resources.)

4/27/2018 11:40:39 AM by Carol Pipes, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments

Yeats to be re-nominated as SBC recording secretary

April 27 2018 by Baptist Press staff

Missouri Baptist Convention executive director John L. Yeats will be nominated for a 22nd term as the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) recording secretary, Texas pastor Bart Barber announced April 23.

John L. Yeats

Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, said in a news release, “Our annual meetings are the largest exercise of inter-congregational polity in the world. The experience spans the gamut from boilerplate actions of formality to moments of breathtaking near-chaos. For it all to matter, we need someone to whom we can entrust the task of recording and publishing the fruit of our actions on the convention floor.
“For more than two decades, John Yeats has been that man,” Barber noted, “and our cooperative work will be best served by his continuing in this role.”
The SBC recording secretary is responsible for the record of the proceedings of the Southern Baptist Convention, training volunteers for convention business sessions and the final edit of the SBC Book of Reports and the SBC Annual.
Yeats designed the process currently used for the flow of information from the convention floor to the platform and distribution to the Committee on Order of Business, a process that has enhanced the accuracy of the official record.
As recording secretary, Yeats also is an ex officio member of the SBC Executive Committee, where he has served as vice chairman and Administrative Committee chairman.
During a three-year span in Missouri, Yeats led the state convention to increase its Cooperative Program (CP) giving to SBC causes by 3.5 percentage points of its $14 million budget, to the current 60-40 percentage allocation of CP funds between Missouri and SBC missions and ministries.
Deer Creek Baptist Church in Cuba, Mo., where Yeats is a member, reported giving 10 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program last year, a total confirmed by the Missouri Baptist Convention and data from the SBC’s Annual Church Profile (ACP).
Deer Creek baptized four people in 2017 and had an average worship attendance of 107, according to ACP.
Prior to his work with the Missouri convention, Yeats was director of communications/public policy for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, editor of state Baptist papers in Oklahoma and Indiana and pastor of churches in six states during 40-plus years of pastoral ministry. He was at South Park Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas, from 1991-95 and Shawnee Heights Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., from 1978-91.
Yeats holds a doctor of ministry degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and an undergraduate degree from Dallas Baptist University.
Yeats, a native of Caddo, Okla., and his wife Sharon, who serves beside him on the convention platform, have three sons and nine grandchildren.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by David Roach, chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/27/2018 11:40:23 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments

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