August 2015

42 IMB missionaries appointed; Platt addresses trustees

August 31 2015 by Laura Fielding, IMB Communications

Growing up in Brazil, Thiago Montanher de Queiroz came to know Christ at 10 years old and early on felt God calling to follow Him into international missions.
As an adult while attending a local seminary, Montanher had a professor of missions and church planting – an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary – who helped confirm and encourage his calling.
“[The missionary’s] love for the nations was contagious, and I have never seen anyone so passionate about the gospel,” Montanher said.
The missionary continually reminded Montanher that not only does Brazil need the gospel, but so do other nations. Montanher recalled conversations where the missionary asked, “Now what are you going to do about the other millions that have no access to the gospel?”
“It has been years since he challenged me last, but those words still resound in my heart with great burden, and I believe with no doubt that my call in this life is to carry the ministry of the gospel to the nations,” Montanher said.


Photo by Paul W. Lee
Breaking down this important phrase, “Follow Me,” Platt discussed who is the “Me” being followed. “This Jesus is clearly and absolutely worthy of far more than nominal adherence or casual association,” he said.

Now, Montanher has become an IMB missionary himself. He was one of the 42 missionaries appointed in a service Aug. 26 at Spotswood Baptist Church of Fredericksburg, Va. Montanher, his wife Liana and two daughters will serve among Sub-Saharan African peoples.

‘Follow me’

IMB President David Platt addressed the packed crowd in the church’s sanctuary, speaking on Matthew 4:18-22, where Jesus is calling His first disciples, and particularly verse 19: “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’” (ESV).
Those two simple words – “Follow Me” – are the essence of what it means to be a Christian, Platt said. Breaking down this phrase, Platt first discussed who is the “Me” being followed. In the first four chapters of Matthew alone, Platt noted, Jesus is described 20 different ways, including the Savior, Center of History, Righteous Judge, Light of the World and Hope for All Nations.
“This Jesus is clearly and absolutely worthy of far more than nominal adherence or casual association,” Platt said. “Let us not patronize Him. He’s infinitely worthy of all glory in all the universe, and He doesn’t need us at all. We need Him. ... He is worthy of supreme adoration and total abandonment.”
Platt then discussed what it means to “follow” Jesus:

  • To live with radical abandonment for His glory. “Leaving behind, laying down, abandoning everything in your life doesn’t make sense until you realize who Jesus is,” Platt said. “But when you realize who He is, when you realize who Christ the King is – laying, leaving, abandoning all these things is the only thing that makes sense.”

  • To live with total dependence on Him. “Who among us wants our lives to be summed up by what we can accomplish on our own?” he asked. “Don’t we want to be used by our King to do things that we could never do on our own?”

  • To live with faithful adherence to His person. “Followers of Jesus are those for whom Christ is their life. Missions is not your life, Christ is your life,” Platt said.

  • To be “fishers of men.” To be a disciple is to be disciple-maker. All Christians are called to tell people how they can know Jesus as Savior. “This is not an extraordinary picture, this is an ordinary Christian picture – to say ‘I’ll go wherever You want me to go,’” Platt said.

With 4.5 billion people in the world without Christ and several billion who have never even heard how they can go to heaven, “we don’t have time to waste living out a nice comfortable, Christian spin on the American dream. It makes no sense whatsoever,” Platt said.
“To follow this King in this world, it means total abandonment, dependence on His grace, adherence to His person and urgent obedience to His mission.”

Trustees’ board meeting

The service marked the conclusion of IMB trustees’ August board meeting, which was held in Richmond, Va. During the plenary session, Platt spoke about the essential role of the local church in missions, as signified by the appointment service at a local church.
“That’s the whole beauty of this convention,” Platt said. “It’s not about churches farming out mission to a mission board. It’s about churches taking responsibility for mission and a mission board helping them do that – because no one church can do this alone.
“I want to be crystal clear: the IMB does not exist to usurp the role of the local church in the accomplishment of the Great Commission. The IMB exists to serve the local church in the accomplishment of the Great Commission.”
In fall 2015, Platt said, IMB will pilot a training event aimed at equipping local churches to become centers for global mission. The event will arm pastors and church leaders to see the unique role God has given them to play in the Great Commission and to develop an intentional strategy for leading their local church to make disciples right where they live and all around the world.
The next appointment service will be Nov. 8 at First Baptist Church of New Orleans, La. The trustees’ next meeting will also be held in New Orleans, Nov. 5-6.
*Names changed.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Laura Fielding is an IMB writer. Anne Harman, a writer and editor for IMB, contributed to this article.)

8/31/2015 12:10:35 PM by Laura Fielding, IMB Communications | with 0 comments

Rubio surges among evangelical insiders

August 31 2015 by J.C. Derrick, World News Service

Strong debate performances catapulted Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina forward by double-digit margins in the second WORLD evangelical insiders survey, while Jeb Bush slumped from second to fourth place.
The findings are from a monthly survey of 103 evangelical leaders and insiders, 88 of whom participated in August. The results are not scientific or representative of all evangelicals, but they offer a snapshot of how a group of well-connected evangelicals are leaning in the 2016 election.
This month, respondents shifted toward Sen. Rubio of Florida, whom 53 percent named as either their first or second choice – up from a combined 39 percent in July.
“Many of the candidates running for the Republican nomination are impressive, but Marco Rubio reminds me more of Jack Kennedy every day,” said survey participant Richard Land, the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, who spent 25 years leading the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “Whatever charisma is, he’s got it.”

Sen. Marco Rubio

Many pundits panned Bush’s performance in the first GOP debate, and it showed in the survey results. The former Florida governor’s support was down 8 percent combined, even though 30 percent of respondents said he is the most prepared to be president – easily the highest-rated candidate in the field.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas jumped over Bush (24 percent) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (21 percent) to take second place overall: 29 percent selected Cruz as their first or second choice, up 4 percent from last month.
Carly Fiorina, on the heels of her widely acclaimed debate performance, surged into third place with a combined 25 percent. Only 10 percent of respondents – down from 15 percent last month – said they would not consider voting for her, a number only beaten by Rubio (5 percent) and Walker (8 percent).
Although Fiorina is rising in recent national polls, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO still may not have the long-term average to make the main stage when CNN hosts the second GOP debate on Sept. 16. Survey participant Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest women’s public policy organization, said any debate formula that leaves Fiorina off the main stage would be wrong.
“Carly Fiorina’s debate performance and subsequent ability to articulate a cogent message on economic and foreign policy has earned her the attention of voters,” Nance said.
Donald Trump, who leads the GOP field in national polls, continues to be a non-starter for evangelical insiders. For the second straight month, only 5 percent said Trump is their first or second choice, and 81 percent said they “absolutely” would not consider voting for him – topped only by Democratic candidates Martin O’Malley (83 percent), Hillary Clinton (85 percent), and Bernie Sanders (86 percent).
Former evangelical favorites Mike Huckabee (5 percent), Rick Perry (2 percent), and Rick Santorum (zero votes) all saw their waning support erode even further. Ben Carson, who sits third in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, only garnered 3 percent of combined support, but significantly more respondents indicated they would now consider him.
Domestic religious liberty again topped the list of most important election issues among respondents, up slightly to 71 percent. Another 64 percent named abortion as a top-three concern, an 8 percent gain, which was a larger increase than for any other issue.
“The increased attention to Planned Parenthood will continue to raise the importance of the abortion issue in the minds of voters,” Nance said. “This past weekend’s rallies across the country are further proof of the breadth of this scandal.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – J.C. Derrick is a reporter in WORLD's Washington Bureau.)

8/31/2015 12:03:09 PM by J.C. Derrick, World News Service | with 0 comments

Ross Douthat on Christianity, GOP

August 31 2015 by Warren Cole Smith, World News Service

Ross Douthat is a columnist for The New York Times whose opinions run counter to the liberal and anti-Christian voices at that paper. He writes about Christians and in favor of many Christian causes, including life, marriage and religious liberty. I had this conversation with Douthat at a recent convention sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
Q: We’re here at the ERLC event in Nashville, Tenn. Tell me what you’re going to tell the audience in a few minutes.
A: I guess we’re talking about the future of Christianity, and the society that a lot of people think is becoming more secular or post-Christian. When people have those debates, I usually end up making a couple points. The first is that it’s important for conservative Christians especially to recognize the extent to which American society at large is still very religious or very religiously interested and engaged, even as it has clearly drifted away from institutional Christianity in its traditional forms. I think it tends to be a mistake around hot-button issues like same-sex marriage and so on to look at current trends and say what we’re seeing is a clash between the secular and the Christian worldview. I think it’s more reasonable to look at America as divided into roughly three parts: a traditionally religious cluster, a highly secularized cluster, and then a vast mushy middle that ranges from lukewarmly religious to the spiritual category.
What happens on particular issues – same sex marriage, for instance – is that middle can swing one way or another, and it’s swung into alignment with the secular vision on the marriage issue. It hasn’t swung in the same way on the abortion issue, but overall, that middle remains a defining feature of American life. I think it’s a mistake for Christian believers, even when they’re feeling an understandable state of possibly siege, possibly ongoing marginalization, to just think of it in terms of pure secularization. In fact, it’s a very diverse and complicated religious landscape in which Christianity, in particular, has lost some ground.
Q: Your book a few years ago, Bad Religion, explored some of these issues. Is the bad religion of your book the religion of the mushy middle?
A: It’s mostly the religion of the mushy middle, but it bleeds in both directions. I think it’s visible in the secular part of America because I don’t think true secularism is actually necessarily possible. I think even secular worldviews have religious concepts, often, at bottom. So to the extent that I’m critiquing a debased or spoiled Christianity, I think it’s visible among people who don’t consider themselves religious believers, too.
But I also think it leaks the other way into what are in culture-war terms defined as the conservative Christian camp. It’s more likely to do that around issues of money and finance and wealth than it is around issues of sexual morality. But I think that part of what’s happened to the church as an American life is just an acculturation in a society that has a basic civic religion that overlaps with Christianity, is in certain ways a heresy of Christianity, but isn’t necessarily Christianity itself. The civic religion of the United States is a religion well-designed for an inquisitive, commercial republic with a libertarian spirit, and those attitudes on the personal level, on the financial level, necessarily influence how people of every form of religious belief end up making their decisions and thinking about what God wants for their life.
Q: As you and I are having this conversation, the campaign is heating up. Do you think evangelicals and religious conservatives will align early behind a single candidate?
A: I think the history of Republican politics since the rise of the Religious Right suggests that evangelical voters never unite around a single candidate early. In every cycle, evangelical leaders say, “We’ve got to find someone to get behind.” That never works out. … I do think, though, you’re seeing with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and, to some extent, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, that the candidates who are seen as most electable and possibly closest to the so-called Republican establishment in this cycle are more so than in the past also … genuine social and religious conservatives themselves, and that’s different from the Bob Dole model. It’s different for different reasons from the Mitt Romney model, where he was religious but a Mormon, which unsettled some evangelicals, and he had a record of social liberalism as governor of Massachusetts. I think [Bush] and Rubio and Walker are closer to the George W. Bush model, where they’re people who are acceptable to … moderate Republicans, but are also people who could reasonably be considered trustworthy by a lot of religious conservative voters.
Q: Is that a victory for the Religious Right or for religious social conservatives in this country? Have they shifted the conversation so the frontrunners are acceptable to them?
A: It’s a partial victory within the context of Republican politics in the sense that the Republican Party has changed to the point now where the socially liberal, hostile-to-religious-conservatives candidate is just a non-starter in a Republican primary. That is a victory. That victory co-exists, though, with a couple of losses. One loss is the fact that as religious conservatives have become concentrated in the Republican Party, the Democratic Party has become more strictly secularized, and, therefore, more straightforwardly hostile to religious conservatives and their concerns. So you’ve had the benefit of consolidating power in one party, [but] you end up, when the other party is in power, in more trouble. There’s less willingness to compromise and make deals.
The other downside is that on ... certain specific issues, same-sex marriage above all and some of the religious liberty issues related to it, the Republican leadership class clearly regard religious conservatives as a problem for the party. … The apparatus of the party thinks that on those issues in particular, the religious base of the party needs to essentially be quiet and not be involved in national politics. They think that those issues end up being a vote loser, which, depending on the issue itself, sometimes they have a point. … The danger for religious conservatives is that they end up in a position where they feel that they have to vote for Republicans because only the Republican Party will protect them, but the Republican Party itself at its elite level takes their votes for granted and disdains their concerns. That problem isn’t going away just because Bush and Rubio and whomever are seen as religious conservatives themselves. It’s a structural problem.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Warren Cole Smith is vice president of WORLD News Group.)

8/31/2015 11:48:06 AM by Warren Cole Smith, World News Service | with 0 comments

‘Post-worship war’ counsel offered by Page & Gray

August 31 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Breaking the paradigm of age-segregated services, navigating a “post-worship war culture” and fostering multicultural praise gatherings are among the topics addressed in a book by Frank S. Page and Lavon Gray on worship challenges for 21st-century churches.
Worship “has become a big claim in the twenty-first century church; but, based on the reality of people’s lives, the worship that we claim to be experiencing is not truly affecting the quality of our lives, our families, and our witness,” Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, writes in the introduction of Hungry for Worship: Challenges and Solutions for Today’s Church.
The book, published by the Woman’s Missionary Union’s New Hope imprint, is intended as “a challenge to all of us,” Page writes. “It is a challenge to our churches, to our entities and to our educational institutions. It is a challenge to every believer to look seriously at how he or she worships.”


Gray, minister of music and worship at First Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss., writes of “the enormous challenges for churches in the area of worship.”
“Decades of ‘worship wars’ have left many congregations shell-shocked and uncertain of their core identities,” Gray writes. “Church music and worship education continues to lag years behind actual church practice, leaving many worship pastors with minimal theological training. These with other factors including church consumerism, performance-driven worship, and the changing demographic landscape of our communities raise important issues for church leaders that must be addressed.”
The book’s recommendations to church leaders include:

  • Replace “age-segregated worship” with a “multigenerational worship approach.”

For decades, some churches have separated youth, college students and adults into separate worship services, Page and Gray write. Based on Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and other scripture passages, they recommend involving multiple generations of believers in the same worship service as a means of passing down the Christian faith.
“Creatively presented hymns” and avoiding labels like “contemporary,” “traditional” and “blended” can help congregations begin “worshipping together, learning from and teaching one another,” Page and Gray write.

  • Don’t be satisfied with the present “truce” in worship wars between proponents of traditional and contemporary music; work to achieve God-focused unity.

Weariness from fighting, a natural affinity between the boomer and millennial generations and a proliferation of contemporary songs that reflect solid theology all have contributed to a lull in worship wars, Page and Gray write. Worship leaders must “rise to the occasion and lead people in authentic worship of the King of kings and Lord of lords ... something that never should have divided us in the first place.”

  • Build a multicultural worship experience by diversifying leadership, planting new churches and breaking down walls of racial prejudice.

While noting numerous challenges associated with diversifying local congregations, Page and Gray write, “There should be no confusion concerning God’s mandate to reach our communities with the message of Christ: the requirement is clear. When churches acknowledge the changing identities of their communities, reaching across cultural barriers becomes a question of obedience.”
Other topics addressed in the book include using technology effectively, educating worship pastors based on the needs of modern churches, affirming the lifelong calling of worship pastors and ensuring that songs used in worship have robust theological content.
Mike Harlan, director of LifeWay Worship, labeled Hungry for Worship “not just another worship book.”
“It is an important answer to the questions about worship on the hearts and minds of the modern church,” Harland writes in a foreword. “And it’s not just a book with another set of opinions on the subject. It is a serious attempt to gain a biblical perspective on these issues from two students of the Word and servants of the church.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

8/31/2015 11:42:30 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

‘Golden Gate embarking on historic year,’ says Iorg

August 31 2015 by Kathie Chute, GGBTS Communications

An academic year “like no other in the history of American seminaries” awaits faculty, staff and students of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, President Jeff Iorg said in a convocation address Aug. 27.
“We are currently moving the primary campus of one of the 10 largest seminaries in the United States 400 miles to Southern California, while at the same time building a secondary campus in the Bay Area – all while remaining fully operational,” Iorg said in an address titled “A Great Adventure.”
“We haven’t curtailed any academic programs, canceled campus activities or closed campus facilities,” Iorg noted while expressing thanks for the support received by the seminary and voicing optimism for the future.
In addition to the new Southern California campus in Ontario and the Bay Area campus in Fremont, Golden Gate also is changing its name to Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. The first of two affirmative votes for the name change occurred during the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, in June; a second SBC vote is required, slated for the 2016 annual meeting in St. Louis.


GGBTS photo
Golden Gate President Jeff Iorg predicts in convocation message that the coming academic year will be “like no other” as the seminary moves to two new campuses in California.

Iorg, focusing on the progress of the moves to Ontario and Fremont in his convocation address, reported that the seminary has about 2,000 students enrolled this year across all its programs, with virtually no decrease, in spite of the move.
“While enrollment has declined at this campus,” as expected, he said of the seminary’s current Bay Area location in Mill Valley, “the students haven’t gone to other seminaries. They have either enrolled in our online program or at regional campuses – many planning to transfer to Ontario next year.”
Iorg called students who have come to Golden Gate Seminary in the past two years “special heroes.”
“They accepted the risk of coming to a school in major transition,” he said. “Some of them have told me they chose Golden Gate because of the transition. As one student said, ‘I could have gone to school anywhere. I can only watch history being made once.’ That’s the spirit that makes Golden Gate students such amazing people.”
Construction on both the Ontario and Fremont campuses has begun and is on schedule, Iorg said, reminding the chapel audience of God’s providence in providing facilities.
The building in Ontario, constructed in 2009 and never occupied, allows the seminary to complete the interior to its own specifications, at a cost of 30 percent below the price to construct the facility today, Iorg said. At more than 150,000 square feet, it will provide 20 percent more academic and administrative space than Mill Valley.
The Fremont campus is being built on property given to Golden Gate by a church and is located on a major thoroughfare, close to major freeways and public transportation in the Bay Area. An appraisal set the property value at $2.9 million.
Iorg reported that a special $500,000 gift has enabled the seminary to purchase a missionary-in-residence house near the Ontario campus, completely furnish it and provide a vehicle. In addition, an $850,000 cash gift by first-time donors has allowed establishment of a special scholarship fund for church planters. Other gifts have been designated for special parts of the building projects.
Thus far, the seminary has received nearly $5 million in special gifts in the past 16 months, Iorg said.
Recounting the steps the seminary has taken to prepare for the transition, he noted, “First, we have communicated openly through the Transition Update newsletter. Second, we have provided timely information about aspects of the change. Third, we have involved many people in designing the new facilities. Fourth, we have planned alumni events to help people crystallize their closure with this location. Finally, we have been dealt individually with every person who was employed on the day the change was announced. All our employees continue working hard, choosing a positive attitude and accepting the decision to relocate as part of God’s plan for the seminary and for them.”
The new locations will help the seminary “to better accomplish our mission,” Iorg said.
“The primary reason for selecting the Fremont location is its centrality to the transportation patterns of Bay Area commuter students,” he said. “There are several reasons why Ontario is the best primary campus location.”
The Ontario location will allow the seminary to employ more faculty and senior staff because they will be able to afford housing in the area, Iorg said. In addition, Riverside and San Bernardino counties will have an estimated 3 million new residents by 2050, putting the Ontario campus in an area with a population of more than 7 million people in the next 35 years.
“This population growth will come from the nations of the world, creating a wonderfully diverse mosaic perfect for us as we train leaders for global ministry,” Iorg said. “We have chosen to place our primary campus in a corporate office park, next to an airport, at the junction of two major freeways, and within a mile of a huge mall that claims to have more daily shoppers than people who go to Disneyland.
“We made this decision intentionally,” Iorg said. “We want Gateway Seminary to be where the action is – where churches are growing, where new churches are being started and where ministries to meet human needs will proliferate. We believe a seminary is a training facility – not a retreat center. We have put ourselves at the economic, political and social crossroads of the fastest-growing region of the West.”
Iorg reported that the seminary is embracing a student housing model for students to live in surrounding communities, with the seminary aiding them in finding housing.
“We want students to live in communities – real communities, not artificial Christian communities,” he said. “If you are a student, we want to you train for ministry while living in the kind of community you will live in for the rest of your life.”
Iorg quoted his own words when the move was announced 16 months ago: “You are part of one of the boldest moves by any seminary in the past century. We are selling a campus, not closing our doors. We are relocating and repositioning for future success, not abandoning our vision. We are sacrificing short-term comfort for long-term fulfillment of our mission. We are positioning ourselves strategically, geographically and financially to impact the Western United States and the world like never before.”
Using Luke 8:22-25 as a text, Iorg said that when one of Jesus’ disciples awakened Him in the boat to calm the storm, they failed to trust His direction in His initial invitation to cross over to the other side of the lake.
“The principle parallels our situation,” Iorg said. “God has directed us, and confirmed His direction to us, to relocate to two new campuses in California. We are in the boat with Him. It’s already a little windy, and it’s likely to get stormy in the next few months. Our challenge is resting in the direction we have been given and staying steady in the storm.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kathie Chute is director of communications for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, with campuses currently in Mill Valley and Brea, Calif., and in Denver, Phoenix and the Pacific Northwest.)

8/31/2015 11:36:21 AM by Kathie Chute, GGBTS Communications | with 0 comments

Charlotte pastor Phillip Davis dies while cleaning gun

August 30 2015 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

Nations Ford Community Church lost its founder Aug. 29 in an accidental shooting in his Weddington home.
Phillip M. Davis, founder and senior pastor of Nations Ford, was cleaning his pistol at the time of the incident. The pistol fired, hitting his chest, according to news reports. The Union County sheriff’s office said there was no sign of foul play.
“Bishop Phillip Davis was a friend and a man blessed with great vision and strong determination,” said Milton A. Hollifield Jr., Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) executive director-treasurer. “Not only was he a popular and respected pastor in North Carolina, but he and Cynthia (his wife) are loved and respected by many people across the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Nations Ford Community Church photo
Phillip M. Davis, founding pastor of Nations Ford Community Church in Charlotte, died Aug. 29.

Nations Ford was in the midst of a founder’s celebration. Special services Aug. 26-28 were to be followed by two different speakers today. The church was celebrating 36 years of ministry under Davis’ leadership. Davis, and his wife, were celebrating 42 years together, and Davis would have been 63 today (Aug. 30).
A Charlotte Observer story today noted that worshippers were greeted with ushers handing out facial tissue.
“Today is a very sad day for us here at Nations Ford Community Church,” said church spokeswoman Jacinda Garabito to reporters. “It’s a shock to us. This morning was supposed to be a huge day of celebration for us.”
The usual live broadcast was suspended today.  Members were invited to grieve and pray, and the preaching that had been scheduled was cancelled.
Davis planted several churches throughout the United States. He founded the Male Leadership Academy of Charlotte and Envision Life School of Leadership and Ministry. 

He had a business degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, and received his master of ministry and doctor of divinity degrees from the Carolina School of Theology. Davis wrote The Vision Casting Congregation and Father Force. His book, The Untapped Power of a Man, was scheduled for release soon.
He also was on the board for North Carolina Division of Social Services. Davis’s radio broadcast, EnVision Life has aired for many years on WordNet Radio. 
A statement from the church said “Bishop Davis was a prolific, focused man of vision as well as an effective leader who served God selflessly and touched countless lives. His teachings were profound and transformative. His passion was to help people reach their fullest potential in Christ and to ‘Occupy Their Destiny.’”
Davis served the BSC as first vice president in 1996-1997.
“Through his wisdom from God and unique gift of leadership, he was most instrumental in leading … Nations Ford … to become a strong and influential church that greatly impacted numerous communities in Charlotte and beyond,” Hollifield said  “I always respected Brother Phil and admired how he led his parishioners to give God their best efforts and always in everything pursue excellence. We will miss his influence in the Christian movement and his magnetic personality, but the investment of his life in others, for God’s glory, will never be forgotten.”
Nations Ford was part of the Metrolina Baptist Association, where Bob Lowman serves as the executive director.
Lowman posted on the association’s Facebook page about Davis’ death and sent an email out to remind people how “temporary life can be, and how true it is for the Christ-follower that this world is not our home.”
In a statement to the Biblical Recorder (BR), Lowman said, “He was an active part of Metrolina Baptist Association for many years, from serving on the staff of the association years ago, to being a leader in missions and church planting, to being a significant and respected voice in the African American community in our region.”
Lowman said Davis’ leadership will be missed.
“Phillip was a partner and a friend to me and to many pastors,” Lowman said. “He and his leadership will most definitely be missed. Our prayers are focused on lifting his wife, Cynthia, their children and grandchildren, and the Nations Ford Church family to the Lord for grace and peace during this time of loss and grief.”
A 2012 BR story about the election of Fred Luter as Southern Baptist Convention president, quoted Davis, who took his full contingent of messengers to that historic meeting.
“I hope … whether you are African American, whether you’re Anglo, Hispanic, whatever the case may be, people will see that leadership is leadership, and Fred Luter is a good leader,” he said.

Davis described Luter as having “tremendous zeal for winning souls, starting churches and preaching the gospel and reaching people,” he said. “The bedrock of evangelism runs through his blood and that’s critical in this day and time.”

Lowman said Davis’ contributions to bringing the community together has made a difference in Charlotte.
“His work in recent months in the Reconciled Church Summit effort, bringing churches together across racial and denominational divides for times of discussion, networking and prayer was a very important part of the healing needed in the Charlotte area in these times,” Lowman said.
He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Cynthia; three children; and three grandchildren.
After a vigil Aug. 31, the church plans to have two more prayer services at the church: Sept. 1 from noon until 3 p.m. and Sept. 2 from 6 to 9 p.m.
A public visitation is scheduled at the church Sept. 4 from 4 p.m. until 6:30 with a memorial service afterwards until 8 p.m.
Visitation is planned Sept. 5 from 10 a.m. until 11 at Calvary Church, 5801 Pineville – Matthews Rd., Charlotte, NC 28226. The funeral service Sept. 5 starts at 11 a.m. at Calvary.
Memorials to: Male Leadership Academy of Charlotte, 5901 Nations Ford Road, Charlotte, NC 28217.  

(EDITOR’S NOTE – K. Allan Blume, Biblical Recorder editor, contributed to this article.)

8/30/2015 12:02:42 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 1 comments

Platt: No gospel drawdown despite personnel cuts

August 28 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A reduction of 600-800 International Mission Board (IMB) staff and field personnel should not decrease the board’s gospel impact worldwide, IMB President David Platt told members of the media during an Aug. 27 conference call.
“Even if our income from churches were to double over the next year ... we would still have a cap on our ability to send a certain number of full-time, fully supported church planters,” Platt said. IMB leaders “want to take that cap off” and “consider all of the different avenues that God created in His sovereign grace for multitudes more people to go” – including business professionals funded by their secular employers, students funded by scholarships to international universities and retirees funded by their savings.
Platt’s press conference, which also included the IMB’s executive vice president, Sebastian Traeger, occurred following a town hall meeting with missionaries and staff at which IMB leaders announced a plan to balance the organization’s budget by the end of 2017. Phase one of the plan will involve offering a voluntary retirement incentive to eligible employees. Phase two will include an opportunity for other employees to “voluntarily transition into work outside the IMB,” Platt said. The issue of potential layoffs will be addressed “when necessary.”
IMB leaders will consider the ramifications of full-time missionary reduction for work among specific people groups around the globe based on the outcome of voluntary retirements and resignations, Platt said.
Personnel reduction is a “difficult” issue “to communicate with our IMB family,” Platt said. “These aren’t just figures. These are faces. These are brothers and sisters who have spent and are spending their lives in various capacities to spread the gospel among those who have never heard it.”
Traeger said no option other than personnel reduction represented a viable method to bring expenses in line with revenue. Suspending or reducing missionary appointments as well as employing alternative funding models are not “feasible” courses of action, he said. Platt noted that personnel expenses account for about 80 percent of the IMB’s budget.
For some departing employees, Platt mentioned the possibility of transitioning to work with the North American Mission Board, but he said leaders of the two mission entities have not discussed it.
“It is encouraging to us as leadership as we think through the difficulties with a step like this, but also the opportunities that are going to open up [for] work among unreached peoples in North America and work in churches in North America,” Platt said. “I trust in all kinds of ways that God will creatively and sovereignly lead and direct 600-800 people in the days to come.
“And because of our ongoing and growing partnership with NAMB, I’m certain there are possibilities that may unfold along those lines, [but] we don’t have a formal plan for integrating certain people into certain positions with NAMB,” Platt said.
Though IMB expenditures have exceeded revenue by $210 million over the past six years, the anticipated spending adjustment “is not in any way a reflection of a lack of accountability or responsibility” among past IMB leaders, Platt said. “Previous leadership put in place a plan to draw down the number of missionaries on the field over time in a way that we have now realized is not getting us to where we need to be as quickly as maybe once thought.”
Traeger said budget shortfalls have been the result of revenue projections that exceeded actual income, including projections related to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Data reported in Baptist Press and Southern Baptist Convention Annuals indicates IMB budgets projected Lottie Moon revenue equivalent to the goal even when the previous year’s Lottie Moon revenue was millions less.
For example, the projected 2015 Lottie Moon income is $180 million despite a 2014 Lottie Moon offering of $153 million. The projected 2014 Lottie Moon revenue was $175 million despite a 2013 offering of $154 million. Since 2007, projected Lottie Moon revenue in IMB budgets has exceeded Lottie Moon receipts by more than $170 million.
Traeger said Lottie Moon receipts have increased by an average of 0.6 percent annually over the past four years.
Until now, the shortfall has been overcome by using reserve funds and selling property, but that plan is no longer feasible, Platt said.
The IMB’s unrestricted net assets, which include contingency reserve funds, went from more than $256 million in 2007 to $98 million in 2014, with a low of $56 million in 2011, according to SBC Annuals.
Platt said he wants to keep disclosure of IMB financial data “as simple as possible but also as transparent as possible.”
In related news, North American Mission Board President Keven Ezell applauded the IMB’s leadership team in a statement to BP.
“David [Platt] and his leadership team are taking steps that will put IMB and Southern Baptists on a strong footing for our missions efforts,” Ezell said. “The right decisions are not always the easy ones but the next generations of missionaries and those they reach will be grateful. It’s time to look forward and move into the future which I believe, with David’s leadership, will be bright and full of God’s blessings.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)


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8/28/2015 12:54:47 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 1 comments

‘A long journey’: Josh Duggar enters rehab

August 28 2015 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Former family values advocate and reality television star Josh Duggar entered a long-term treatment center days after he confessed marital infidelity as a customer of the Ashley Madison adultery service.
Duggar checked himself into an undisclosed treatment center Aug. 25 for an unspecified amount of time, his mother Michelle Duggar blogged Aug. 26 at
“For him it will be a long journey toward wholeness and recovery,” she wrote. “We pray that in this he comes to complete repentance and sincere change. In the meantime, we will be offering our love, care and devoted support to [Josh’s wife] Anna and our grandchildren as she also receives counsel and help for her own heart and future.”
Josh Duggar has insulted Christianity, his mother wrote.
“As parents we are so deeply grieved by our son’s decisions and actions. His wrong choices have deeply hurt his precious wife and children and have negatively affected so many others. He has also brought great insult to the values and faith we hold dear.”


It is the 27-year-old Duggar’s second time entering a treatment center for sex-related failures. In 2003, His parents checked him into a private home operated as an unlicensed, Christian treatment facility after he admitted to improperly touching five underage girls as a teenager. Four of his sisters were among those molested, it was revealed in May.
Josh Duggar’s actions have led to the cancellation of the once-popular “19 Kids and Counting” reality show on TLC and his resignation as a lobbyist for the Family Research Council family values group.
His parents continue to voice their faith and their gratitude for public support.
“During this time we continue to look to God. He is our rock and comfort. We ask for your continued prayers for our entire family,” his mother said in the latest blogpost. “We are so thankful for the outpouring of love, care and prayers for our family during this most difficult situation with Josh.”
Josh Duggar admitted to marital infidelity in an Aug. 20 post on the family website after a massive Internet hack revealed he was among some 37 million Ashley Madison subscribers. The original blogpost perhaps hours earlier also included a confession to a pornography addiction, it was widely reported, but the mention of porn was removed from the admission the same day.
“I have been the biggest hypocrite ever,” the revised post reads. “While espousing faith and family values, I have been unfaithful to my wife. I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him.”
In May, he admitted to news reports he molested five girls when he was 14 and 15 years old.
“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably, for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” he said. “I confessed this to my parents, who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities, where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”
Anna Duggar, his wife of seven years and the mother of their four children, the youngest only five weeks old, supported her husband in her last public statement about the ordeal.
Concurrent with Duggar’s May confession, his wife said on the family blog that she knows “who Josh really is – someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. [He is] someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right.”
In June, his sisters Jill (Duggar) Dillard and Jessa (Duggar) Seewald identified themselves publicly as two of the girls their brother molested.
His parents are slated to participate in an upcoming TLC documentary on child sexual abuse produced in partnership with RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. “Breaking the Silence” is set to air Aug. 30 at 9 p.m. Central on TLC.
(EDITORS’ NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

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8/28/2015 12:44:06 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

‘War Room’ resources now available

August 28 2015 by Aaron Earls, LifeWay Christian Resources

LifeWay Christian Resources has partnered with filmmakers Stephen and Alex Kendrick to provide churches with resources to accompany their latest film, “War Room,” which spotlights prayer, its power and purpose.
The movie, releasing in theaters Aug. 28, tells the story of a prayer warrior grandmother (played by Karen Abercrombie) who mentors a young mom (Priscilla Shirer) facing a troubled relationship with her husband (T.C. Stallings).
The impetus for the movie goes back to 2012, when Alex Kendrick, director and co-writer, said he and his brother felt led by God to “make a movie where we call the body of believers to pray” and to “fight in prayer.”
“If there ever was a time God’s people needed to plead with God for direction and intervention, it’s now,” Alex said. “We must make sure we are right with Him and seeking His involvement in our culture, government, churches and families. We’re eroding too fast on too many levels.”


The film "War Room" is accompanied by several resources from B&H Publishing Group and LifeWay Christian Resources.

The film is accompanied by several resources from B&H Publishing Group and LifeWay including a book by the Kendrick brothers titled The Battle Plan for Prayer, and a book titled Fervent by Shirer, a New York Times best-selling author who plays the lead character in the film.
Prayer Works: Prayer Training and Strategy for Kids and Peter’s Perfect Prayer Place are two children’s books written by the Kendricks.
For churches that want to go deeper in their understanding of prayer, LifeWay is releasing a War Room Bible Study and Church Campaign Kit, which includes the 5-week small group study, sermon outlines and promotional items.
“When I talk to other believers, almost all of them have something of a strategy for their finances, for their health, for their children’s education, for their retirement,” Alex said. “But if you ask them ‘What’s your strategy for prayer?’ they look at you funny. What’s your strategy for praying for your spouse, for your children, for your children’s future spouse, for your church, for the leaders of our country? The Lord, in scripture, tells us to pray for these things.”
The Battle Plan for Prayer will give readers “applications of biblical prayer with a focus on praying strategically in various areas of life,” Alex said.
“You can’t hit what you’re not aiming at,” Stephen, producer and co-writer, added. “When we pray biblically, strategically and specifically, we position ourselves to maximize the impact of our praying and to more readily see God glorified through the answers. Writing The Battle Plan for Prayer has caused me to pray with greater freedom and confidence in the Lord.”
For the Kendricks, prayer is a lifeline to the Father in their spiritual lives.
“Both Stephen and myself have increased our time with the Lord in prayer,” Alex said. “We’re also helping our families to do the same thing. We want to be warriors ready for His orders, not lukewarm believers that spend most of our time on the bench.”
“War Room” is the fifth film for the brother team, who have released a string of box office hits beginning with “Facing the Giants” in 2006.
Their last two movies opened in the Top 5, with “Courageous” hitting No. 1 on the first weekend in per-theater average.
While the Kendricks say they would love for “War Room” to be successful at the box office like their other films, that’s not their most important goal.
“Our hope and desire,” Stephen said, “is God will call our generation back to prayer for our marriages, families, nation, and our world.”
Alex said next up for him and his brother are “a little rest and a lot of prayer. God has another tour of duty for us soon, so we want to be ready.”
For more information about “War Room” resources, visit
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Earls is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

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8/28/2015 12:36:31 PM by Aaron Earls, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments

Rainer: LifeWay, at ‘hinge moments,’ moving forward

August 28 2015 by Carol Pipes, LifeWay Christian Resources

LifeWay Christian Resources is facing “hinge moments” and decisions that will propel the organization in one direction or another, President Thom S. Rainer told trustees during the board’s Aug. 24-25 meeting.
“We are about to walk through some open doors as these hinge moments are now before us,” Rainer said. “And I think we are about to see some incredible days at LifeWay.”
The hinge moments, Rainer explained, revolve around the sale and relocation of its downtown Nashville headquarters.
Executive Vice President Brad Waggoner gave trustees a comprehensive report on the sale of LifeWay’s current campus and the move to a new location. “The decisions we are making will impact LifeWay for decades to come,” Waggoner said. “Good stewardship is driving these decisions.”


LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer reflects on 'hinge moments' during the Aug. 24-25 trustee meeting in Ridgecrest, N.C.

The sale of the 14-acre campus in downtown Nashville will be the largest real estate transaction in the history of downtown Nashville, Jerry Rhyne, LifeWay’s CFO and vice president of finance, said. Rhyne expects to close the sale in September.
After sale of the building, LifeWay employees will lease back two of the current buildings from the buyer and move all employees into those facilities while a new building is under construction, Waggoner said.
The trustee executive committee, in its June 15 meeting, approved purchase of 1.5 acres at the southwest corner of 1st Avenue South and Korean Veteran’s Boulevard in downtown Nashville for the new headquarters building. At the August meeting, the full board voted to approve the basic concept design and construction of the new office and parking facility. LifeWay expects to close on the new property this fall and move into the new facility in the fall of 2017.
Rainer asked trustees to pray for the Southern Baptist entity during this time of transition. He told trustees he is proud of LifeWay employees and how they are responding to change.
“I’m amazed at the breadth and depth of the work of those who are associated with LifeWay,” Rainer said. “It’s amazing to realize we all have a part in sharing the gospel around the world.”
Rhyne also presented a proposed 2016 LifeWay budget for $482.5 million. Trustees approved the budget, which will begin in October.
Trustees also heard reports from the vice presidents of resources, technology, finance, insights and organizational development divisions during their two-day sessions at the LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina.
In other business, the board elected Madeline Harris and José L. Ruiz to fill two trustee vacancies created by the resignations of Sandra Peoples from the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey and Jay Swope from the Missouri Baptist Convention. Harris is a member of Ezekiel Baptist Church in Philadelphia; Ruiz is a member of Fellowship Church in Greenwood, Mo.
Rainer introduced and welcomed eight new trustees to the board: Marie Clark, Overland Park, Kan.; Cheri Dempsay, Peoria, Ariz.; Bill Langley, Elizabethtown, Ky.; Tony McAlexander, Las Vegas; Rebecca McCoy, Hersey, Mich.; Amy Mielock, Cary, N.C.; Katherine Pope, Martinsburg, W.Va.; and Terenda Wyant, Belleville, Ill.
“This is an historic moment,” Rainer said, concluding the meeting. “Let’s not let this moment pass without understanding the magnitude of what has taken place. You have set LifeWay on a path to a great future.
“In this hinge moment, it seems God has given us an open door and it’s time to move through with courage, faith and fortitude.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Carol Pipes is editorial manager for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

8/28/2015 12:30:35 PM by Carol Pipes, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments

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