August 2017

Leaders says parents, grandparents primary spiritual trainers

August 22 2017 by BSC Communications

As founder of Visionary Family Ministries, Rob Rienow has a mission to build the church by globally transforming family discipleship.

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Rob Rienow and his wife, Amy, are founders of Visionary Parenting, a ministry that exists to inspire parents and equip churches to pass faith to the next generation. He will be speaking Sept. 12 at Faith at Home’s Fall Conference in Advance, N.C.

Rienow carries out this mission as the pastor of Gospel Fellowship Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. He further shares the biblical message of family discipleship at national and international conferences for parents, couples and church leaders.
On Sept. 12, Rienow will be the keynote speaker at the second event of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Faith at Home Fall Conference Series at Calvary Baptist Church’s West Campus in Advance, N.C.
Rienow recently answered some questions regarding his ministry and the upcoming conference.
Q: Why does God put such an emphasis on parents being the primary disciple-makers of their children?
A: Throughout scripture, God calls parents and grandparents to be the primary spiritual trainers of their children and grandchildren in the home (Deuteronomy 6, Psalm 78, Acts 2, Ephesians 6 and many others). The local church is called to support the Christian family in this mission.

Q: Why did God choose the family as the primary agent of evangelism and discipleship, instead of the school, the church, the company or the state?
A: We can surmise the answer to this question at many levels. The family is the jurisdiction under which God brings children into the world. Parents and grandparents are uniquely responsible for their care and nurture in every area, and they have “round the clock” connection with their children for the purpose of leading their children to know, love and serve Jesus.
Q: From your experience, what do you see as the biblical model for how the church is to equip moms and dads in their disciple-making efforts?
A: Ephesians 4:12 tells us that part of the task of the local church is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” A Christian’s first ministry is in his or her home.
A parent’s first ministry is living out the Great Commission (making disciples) of their kids and grandkids. Therefore, if a local church is serious about the Great Commission, they will have a plan, strategy and culture to equip parents and grandparents for the mission of home discipleship and lovingly keep them accountable to that mission. There are many practical ways that churches live out this biblical pattern, and we will explore those at the conference.
Q: In your book, God’s Grand Vision for the Home, you write, “Success is not helping our kids be what they want to be. Success is helping our kids be what God wants them to be.” How should churches and families work together to accomplish this goal?
A: Your Word is a light unto my feet.” For our children to catch God’s vision and calling for their lives, they need to be fully saturated in God’s Word. The most important practical step in this area is encouraging and equipping families for “family worship” in the home.
Few Christian families have a regular time of family prayer and Bible reading. Few adult Christians grew up in homes that did these things.
So the church has an urgent responsibility to train and equip families how to pray and read the Bible together at home in such as a way as to welcome and engage all ages of children. 
Q: During the upcoming Faith at Home Conference Series, you’ll be discussing why family ministry is a vital part of disciple-making. How can churches make family ministry a priority, where developing faith at home is the focus?
A: First, I believe each local church should have a “theology of family.”
Many churches are struggling in family ministry because they don’t have a compelling biblical theology of family as it relates to the Great Commission.
Second, we can’t lead the church in a direction we are not going in ourselves. Are we praying and reading the Bible with our spouses and children? Are we passionately praying and reaching out to our unsaved family members? 
Third, we will talk about a simple approach to discipleship that encourages everyone in the church, no matter their age, to be growing in their walk with God, their walk with their family, their walk with their church family and their ministry in the community. Those four “spheres” of discipleship can be pressed through all our ministries to build a culture of unifying our churches and families in the gospel.
Q: We’re looking forward to you being with us on Sept. 12. What do you hope that attendees will takeaway from your time together at the event?
A: I can’t wait to be with you! First, I pray that God turns our hearts to the ministry of our own families. For many years, I neglected my wife and children because I was too busy at church.
Second, I pray that we will be challenged from God’s Word that God has created two institutions to advance His gospel – the church and the family – and recognize that in the New Testament the Lord has given us practical ways to unite the church and the home in kingdom ministry.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – For more information or to register for the Faith at Home Network Fall Conference Series, visit

8/22/2017 9:21:14 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Red Springs Mission Camp celebrates 10 years of service

August 22 2017 by Emily Rojas, BSC Communications

Located in the small town of Red Springs in Robeson County, the Red Springs Mission Camp is a place where volunteers go to be used by God to make an impact for His name in the local community.
Every year, hundreds of volunteers come to the camp to help with missions projects and to experience God’s hand at work.
This year, the mission camp celebrates 10 years of serving its community through volunteer work, touching lives and glorifying God’s name in the process.
Operated by N.C. Baptist Men/ Baptists on Mission (NCBM), the Red Springs Mission Camp primarily partners with local churches, local government and others to carry out projects to help serve its community. The 52,000 square-foot facility can accommodate more than 200 mission volunteers.
“Every day … we see opportunities the Lord has given us to share His love and His grace to people that are hurting in the community,” said Larry Osborne, the camp’s director.
“We are here to serve, and we serve … through whatever door God opens up for us, whether it’s through materials, personal hygiene, construction, yard work or just praying.”
Typically, projects coordinated through the camp include construction work, building wheelchair ramps, yard work and Vacation Bible Schools.
In recent months, however, the destruction left by Hurricane Matthew last fall led volunteers to focus on some projects related specifically to home rebuilding and reconstruction.
One of the projects that Osborne felt led to take on was repairing the house of an area resident named Tammy. Her home had been severely damaged by Hurricane Matthew, flooded with six inches of water, and mold had begun to grow.
Tammy’s home is currently under construction, and Osborne said that soon, Tammy will be living in what she calls a “brand new home.”
“(The mission projects) make such a difference in people’s lives and help them to understand that there is hope, and there is joy in Jesus Christ,” Osborne said.
“That’s the big thing –  it’s not so much about the construction, but about actually making a difference in their individual lives.”
The Red Springs Mission Camp receives the majority of its funding through the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO). Each year, 15 percent of the NCMO is designated to the Red Springs Mission Camp and a similar one located in Shelby.
In 2016, more than $300,000 in proceeds from the NCMO went to the mission camps. These funds help make a difference in the lives of many in North Carolina, allowing volunteers to represent Jesus and share His love with many.
“All we offer is love, we pray with them,” Osborne said. “We see how we can all work together to help one another.”

NCMO emphasis begins in September

Although contributions are accepted year round, September is the month when the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) is typically received. The NCMO is the special offering supporting a number of different ministries including Baptists on Mission, disaster relief, church planting, mission camps, associational projects and missions mobilization efforts.
More information about the NCMO is available at The website also includes a variety of free resources and promotional materials for churches to use in their NCMO emphasis. Resources include videos, bulletin inserts, posters, coordinator guides and more.
Additionally, Aug. 27-Sept. 3 has been designated as a week of prayer for NCMO. Daily prayer prompts for NCMO and ministries it supports are available at

(EDITOR’S NOTE – To learn more about the North Carolina Missions Offering, visit

8/22/2017 8:57:11 AM by Emily Rojas, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Katie Orr plans to anchor her time in God’s Word

August 22 2017 by BSC Communications

Determined and ambitious, Katie Orr equips busy women to experience God. While she holds a bachelor of science degree in medical technology from Auburn University, she’s discovered a passion to teach women how to study scripture, equipping them to walk with God for a lifetime.

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“As a Bible study teacher, I want to work myself out of a job,” Katie Orr said. Orr will be the main speaker at “Anchored,” a women’s retreat in October.

Orr is a prolific author and blogger, and she developed the FOCUSed15 Bible study method. She will be the featured speaker at this year’s N.C. Baptist Women’s Retreat, scheduled for Oct. 27-28 at Caraway Conference Center in Sophia. This year’s retreat theme is “Anchored,” based on Psalm 1:3. She recently took some time to answer some questions about her ministry and the upcoming women’s conference.
Q: Why do you feel it is important to be grounded, or anchored, in God’s Word?
A: What we believe about God is the most significant belief we hold. So much of the deep hopelessness, crippling anxiety and wayward choices stem back to a faulty view of God. 
If we see Him as distant and disinterested, the stresses of life will cause our emotions to spiral out of control. When we realize He is near, caring and mighty to save, we can peacefully rest in His presence and provision. If we see Him as angry and disappointed, our tendency will be to run away in fear instead of draw near to grace. The primary way we shape our view of God is through His Word. The Bible teaches us who God is and how we can know Him in our everyday moments. Being anchored in the truth tethers our mind and heart to who God is, and this knowledge shapes our actions, our attitudes, as well as our affections. 
Q: Who first taught you to study God’s Word?
A: I learned many Bible study tools through the ministry of Cru [formerly Campus Crusade for Christ], while at Auburn University. Kay Arthur’s inductive Bible study, Teach Me Your Ways, also profoundly shaped the way I study.
Q: Can you explain your method of Bible study?
A: The FOCUSed15 method of study is a simple yet effective way to study the Bible that allows you to go deep into scripture in as little as 15 minutes a day.
By looking at the same passage over five days – each time looking at them through a different lens – you don’t have to sacrifice depth if you don’t have an hour a day to study. The goal is quality over quantity. 

Here is the method at a glance:

• F – Foundation: Enjoy Every Word – Many of us are conditioned to read through scripture quickly and are often left having no idea what we just read. So, to kick off our studies, we write out the passage.
• O – Observation: Look at the Details – We spend the next day looking for truths in God’s Word.
Observation is simply noting what we see by asking ourselves good questions like, “What does this passage say is true about God?”
• C – Clarification: Uncover the Original Meaning – Here we take a peek at the original language of the verses. There are many websites and apps that, once you know how to use them, make this as easy as looking up a word in the dictionary.
• U – Utilization: Discover the Connections – Ever notice the little numbers inserted in your study Bible? These are cross references and important tools for study.
For this day, we follow a few of the cross references to see how this passage is connected to the common themes throughout all of the Bible.
• S – Summation: Respond to God’s Word – This is when we begin to answer the question, “How should this passage affect me?”

To understand this, we will take three actions:

  • Identify – Find the main idea of the passage. 
  • Modify – Evaluate my beliefs in light of the main idea.
  • Glorify – Align my life to reflect the truth of God’s Word.

Q: Why do you believe this is a beneficial method of studying scripture?
A: I recently received a comment from someone who has completed all of my studies, and then went on to study the book Ephesians on her own, using the FOCUSed15 method. This made my day!
As a Bible study teacher, I want to work myself out of a job. I want YOU to know how to open your Bible and dig up the treasures awaiting within. 

Q: We’re excited to have you at this year’s N.C. Baptist women’s retreat. What do you hope attendees take away from your time together?

A: I’m asking God to grant us a more accurate view of Him, in order to stir up a deeper desire for His presence.
When we see God for who He truly is, and we understand all He’s done in order to redeem us from our sin, it will naturally cause His people to draw nearer and nearer to Him.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – More information about the N.C. Baptist Women’s Retreat is available at Early-bird registration is available through Sept. 8.)

8/22/2017 8:48:13 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Pastor’s Conference to focus on God’s power

August 21 2017 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

The theme of the 2017 North Carolina Pastor’s Conference Nov. 5-6 is “I Need His Power,” according to conference president Timmy Blair. The supporting scripture text is Ephesians 6:10, “... be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

“I want the pastors across North Carolina to come and be encouraged and challenged,” Blair said in an interview with the Biblical Recorder. “When you are in the trenches of ministry, sometimes you feel secluded and alone. I want pastors to know that no matter where you are or what the situation may be, you are not alone. God is with you.”

Blair is pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier and a recent two-term president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

“And in order to carry out the task that we’ve been called to do, we’ve got to have God’s power. We’ve got to have it in multiple areas of life and ministry,” he added.

Each speaker has an assigned topic relating to the theme. The first speaker for the Sunday night service will be Jerry Chaddick, pastor of Tri-City Baptist Church in Conover, preaching on “I need His power in my prayer life.”

Phil Ortego, pastor of Scotts Hill Baptist Church in Wilmington, follows with a message on “I need His power in personal relationships.” The closing preacher for the evening is Greg Mathis, pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, with the assigned subject, “I need His power in witnessing and evangelism.”

The Monday morning session features James I. Walker, pastor of Lake Hills Church in Candler, who will preach on, “I need His power in my personal life.”  Mike Whitson, pastor of First Baptist Church of Indian Trail, will deliver a message on “I need His power in my home life and family.”

Timmy Blair’s youngest son will close the morning session on the subject “I need His power in youth ministry.” Brandon Blair, is the student pastor Fairview Baptist Church in Corryton, Tenn., and is the only program speaker who is serving a church outside North Carolina.

The Monday afternoon session will include the election of officers and a closing sermon by Mark Harris, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, on the subject, “I need His power in my preaching.”

Conference music will be led by Matthew Slemp, minister of music at First Baptist Church, Indian Trail. Blair said he wanted to fill the conference program primarily with pastors who serve in North Carolina and who represent all geographical regions of the state. “These guys are respected pastors here in our state,” he said. “They know the pastors in North Carolina and they are making an impact in our state. They have great wisdom and have been in ministry for many years. These preachers understand what a pastor goes through.”

Blair said he is very excited about the conference and all of the speakers on the program.

“Some have pastored every size church in one church because they began serving that church when it was small and saw it grow. With the theme and the topics given to each man, I feel like they can offer some great challenge and insight on each subject.”

The 2017 Pastor’s Conference begins Sunday, Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. and concludes at 3 pm on Nov. 6. All sessions will be held in the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. Visit

8/21/2017 1:54:16 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Timmy Blair to nominate Lee Pigg for BSC president

August 21 2017 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Timmy Blair said he will nominate Lee Pigg, pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe, for the office of president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) at the annual meeting in November. Blair is pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church, Angier, N.C., and a former two-term president of the BSC. He also serves as president of the 2017 Pastor’s Conference.

Lee Pigg

“I have known Lee for about 35 years,” Blair said. “He is a man who loves God. He loves the lost, he loves his church and he loves his family. He is a man who is Spirit-filled and a visionary.”

Early in his ministry, Blair said he preached a revival meeting in Pigg’s home church, Southside Baptist Church in Wadesboro. “Lee was just a teenager, and I’ve watched him grow through the years.”

Pigg is a graduate of Fruitland Baptist Bible College in Hendersonville, N.C. He has a bachelor’s degree in biblical counseling and a master’s degree in church administration from Master’s International University of Divinity, along with a doctor of ministry degree from Covington Theological Seminary.

His involvement in the BSC includes past service on the Committee on Committees, the board of directors, the Executive Committee, Fruitland’s board of directors, president of Fruitland’s board, president of the N.C. Pastor’s Conference and the Biblical Recorder’s board of directors. He currently serves as the president of the Recorder’s board, with his term ending this year.

Pigg became the associate pastor of Hopewell in 2000. Two years later the church called him to become the senior pastor.

“Under his leadership Hopewell has experienced phenomenal growth,” Blair said. “He has been able to pastor churches of all sizes at the same place, which is a very rare experience. It was a small church when he became pastor, growing to the mega-church it is now.

“I believe he will be a great president for our convention and continue our focus of being people of the Bible, disciple-making, church revitalization, new church planting and a strong commitment to our continued efforts in the Cooperative Program.”

“I have been approached three times about running for president,” Pigg told the Recorder. “I’ve felt that I had too much going on with the fast growth at Hopewell and did not feel that I had the time to serve. The church is in a different place now; our staff is great, so I feel like the timing is great for our church.”

He said after praying, talking with his wife, Michelle, and Hopewell’s deacons, he believes God is leading him to run for president of the convention in November.

Hopewell has planted five churches in the last 10 years, Pigg said.

In partnership with Euto Baptist Church in Marshville, they planted Freedom Biker Church in Monroe.

“For four years now, we have been the largest financial partner with SouthCoast Church in Dartmouth, Mass., supporting church planters Chad and Jodi Hartis,” Pigg said. “We purchased the majority of their start up equipment, paid to rent their space for the first two years, and we have also been sending teams twice a year to help them with outreach, block parties and other projects.”

Hopewell launched a satellite campus in August 2016 in Wadesboro. The plan is for the church to become
autonomous by the end of this year.

Two additional church plants were in Bolivia. Hopewell partnered with Lamar and Betsy Tribble, whose health forced them to retire after 27 years with the International Mission Board (IMB). The Tribble’s vision was to plant 25 churches in Bolivia along a major highway. They planted 23.

Since IMB did not replace the couple, Hopewell decided to finish the veteran missionaries’ vision.

“We partnered with the churches in that area and sent multiple teams to build those last two churches,” Pigg explained. “In that process we partnered with an orphanage in Bolivia that wanted to build a school. Hopewell built the school, and I was able to go on the final trip with Lamar to dedicate the school and the last two churches. About two years after that, Lamar passed away.”

Pigg said if he is elected, he wants to serve pastors. “When I talk with other pastors, no matter where they are in their journey or whatever the size of their church, I feel like I can relate to them in their struggles. I can honestly say, ‘I’ve been there.’ I know what it’s like to pastor a smaller church and a larger church.

“I’ve seen Hopewell go from 160 people to almost 1,800 in worship today, I feel like I’ve pastored almost every size church – all at the same location. I remember the transitions so well as the church has grown from 200-300, then 500-600, then 800-1,000, then to 1,500 and more.

“I feel like I can relate to pastors wherever they are on that spectrum of growth. I’ve really developed a heart for other pastors. That’s the role I want to have as president. I want to somehow connect with and minister to pastors and help them in whatever way I can.”

Pigg said he believes the direction and vision of the BSC comes from Executive Director-treasurer Milton Hollifield and the staff.

“I will support that, but as president I feel like I will be able to minister more to the pastors.”

The BSC annual meeting will be Nov. 6-7 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. Visit for more information.

8/21/2017 1:50:34 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

McGill will not run for re-election

August 21 2017 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Cameron McGill, president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), told the Biblical Recorder he will not run for a second term when the convention meets in November.

BSC file photo
Cameron McGill, center, Joel Stephens, left, and J.D. Grant, right, have announced their plans for this year’s officer elections for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

“This convention has been very, very good to me. I love what we are doing in this state,” he said. “But there is a time to run and a time to go home. It’s time to go home. This is what I must do.”

The president, as well as other convention officers, are elected each year for a one-year term, but are eligible to serve one additional year, if elected by the messengers at the annual meeting.

McGill, who served one year as second vice president and two years as first vice president, said, “I love being the president of this convention. I love the convention’s leadership and direction. It is an honor to preach in churches and associations.

“Everything within me wants to finish what I started [with a second term], but I feel I have finished,” he said. “I was elected for one term.”

Emphasizing there is “nothing wrong” and no problems that led to this decision, McGill said the priority of his family and the demands of serving two churches led him to decline serving another year as president.

“Two of my four children are rising seniors – one in high school, one in college – and there is so much I would miss,” he added.

He said a lot of prayer, as well as the counsel of his wife and close friends, confirmed his decision to not serve a second term.

For 17 years McGill has served as pastor of Dublin First Baptist Church. On April 20, 2014, the church launched a second campus at White Lake, called The Lake Church.

White Lake is a resort community 17 miles from Dublin. After meeting in temporary facilities for three years, the church is in the process of building a permanent worship facility. He preaches in both locations each Sunday.

McGill and his wife, Tiffany, want to remain actively involved with North Carolina Baptists. He previously served two terms on the BSC’s board of directors. Tiffany is currently serving on the board of directors and serves on many BSC mission partnership teams including New York and Moldova.

Stephens seeks second term in office

Joel Stephens, first vice president of BSC, told the Biblical Recorder he will not seek the office of president, but will continue to serve in his current role, if elected.

In 2017 Stephens was called to serve as pastor of Wakefield Central Baptist Church in Zebulon. He previously served as pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in Westfield for 15 years.

Rick Speas, pastor of Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, will place Stephens before the convention again this year. Speas said he was “very honored” to nominate Stephens last year and honored to do it again this November.

“Joel has served North Carolina Baptists with excellence and distinction as the second vice president for two years and as our first vice president over the past year,” Speas said.

“Joel is a man who is deeply committed to the Lord Jesus, to the Word of God and to prayer. He is a servant leader with a Kingdom vision.”

Stephens served on BSC’s board of directors from 2007-2010. He is a founding faculty member of the Roma Bible Institute, a school established by N.C. pastors to train Roma pastors in Hungary, Romania and Ukraine. His previous church, Westfield, gives 11 percent of their budget to missions through the Cooperative Program (CP). The church where he now serves, Wakefield Central, gave more than 10 percent through CP last year.

Stephens received his master of divinity and a doctor of ministry degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

He served a term on the BSC Board of Directors, the executive committee and chaired the Committee on Convention Meetings.

When asked if he plans to run for president in the future, Stephens said, “My desire is to continue to serve the convention for another year as vice president, but at this time and at this season in my life and ministry, with the responsibilities of a new church and my commitment to my wife and four children, I do not feel I can give the presidency the adequate time and commitment it deserves.

“I am absolutely committed to helping the convention in any way I can. I am 100 percent in support of the leadership of the convention, the vision of the convention, the direction of the convention. I want to lend whatever aid I can supply, and whatever is most beneficial for the convention and ultimately for the Kingdom.”

Grant will seek second term

James Dillard “J.D.” Grant was elected second vice president of BSC at last November’s annual meeting after an unannounced nomination from the floor. He told the Biblical Recorder he plans to seek a second term this year.

Grant is pastor of Scotts Creek Baptist Church in Sylva. The church designates 10 percent of its annual budget to missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program.

He is a graduate of Fruitland Baptist Bible College and Western Carolina University. He holds a master of divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor of education from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Grant served in a variety of roles at Fruitland including professor, vice president of academic affairs and vice president of development before retiring in 2014. He continues to serve as a part-time professor.

Grant has served on the Southern Baptist Convention’s Committee on Committees and as a trustee for LifeWay Christian Resources. He and his wife, Judy, have two adult children and three grandchildren.
Perry Brindley, director of missions for Buncombe Baptist Association, nominated Grant last year and plans to nominate him again in November.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – What are you looking for in a BSC president? What qualifications do you think are important to consider? Let us know. Email

8/21/2017 1:19:13 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Distant churches keep close partnership

August 21 2017 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

A volunteer team from Corinth Baptist Church in Elizabeth City, N.C., recently took a short-term mission trip to Thailand as part of a long running partnership with Calvary Baptist Church in Bangkok.

Contributed photo
Members from Corinth Baptist Church, Elizabeth City, N.C., are pictured with Calvary Baptist Church leaders in Bangkok, Thailand: from left, Aimee Beard, Lee Johnson, Tara Johnson, Tilly Antone, Jasmyn Crank, Jared Johnson, Kim Crank, Perry Dawson, Kristina Iacono, Angie Dawson, Carrie Chappell, Martin Chappell.

Lee Johnson, Corinth’s director of outreach and discipleship, said, “We go to support whatever they’re doing.”

The 10-person team aided Calvary’s refugee ministry as they visited and distributed food bags to asylum seekers, provided tutoring for school-age refugees and organized a Vacation Bible School.

Calvary’s senior pastor, Martin Chappell, is a former International Mission Board (IMB) missionary and former associate pastor at Corinth.

He and his wife, Carrie, along with their three sons, moved to Myanmar (formerly called Burma) in 1999. After two years they felt God calling them to ministry in Bangkok.

Calvary was started by IMB missionaries nearly 60 years ago.

Worship services are conducted in English, drawing a diverse congregation from around the city.

The church also hosts five non-English speaking ministries, which use the facilities for corporate worship and other activities. Chappell became senior pastor in 2001.

Shortly after Johnson began attending Corinth in 2008, he discovered that five families connected to the congregation were serving in Southeast Asia.

Johnson recalled a well-known line by Henry Blackaby from the popular Bible study, Experiencing God: “Find out where God is at work and join Him there.”

“I think we had a neon sign saying, ‘Join me in Southeast Asia,’” he said.

Johnson prayed about the potential partnership for years before a “turning point” in 2010 when the Chappells visited Corinth while on stateside assignment.

He approached Carrie about the idea of bringing short-term teams to Thailand after she spoke in one of Corinth’s worship services.

“You’re serious about this, aren’t you?” she said.

Less than six months later Johnson led a team from Corinth on their first trip to Bangkok. The church has since sent five more teams to support Calvary’s ministry efforts.

“We feel like they’re out-of-town family,” said Johnson’s wife, Tara.

The partnership not only supports Calvary’s ministry, Johnson said. The cooperation has an effect on the North Carolina congregation.

“In little ways, I think they feel more connected to the foreign mission field,” said Johnson. “We are trying to help our young people view themselves as global Christians … to see a bigger world and its implications for their faith.”

The refugee ministry challenges the do-it-yourself attitude Johnson sees among American Christians, which he considers to be a sign of hubris.

“We believe if you throw enough money at a problem, we can solve it,” he said. “You go there, and you have to admit you’re up against a problem that you can’t solve.

“In that [admission] is not despair, but rest in God, letting Him work through you. And then you do what you can.”

Johnson encourages other churches in North Carolina to consider ways of partnering long-term with global churches.

“To be able to take people from here to there, year after year,” he said, “you get to see the ups and downs of their life.

“It’s really not that hard to do … if you can take your family to Disney World, you can take a mission trip.”

Related stories:
Baptists serve Bangkok's 'Little Lahore'
Refugee ministry: Finding God in grief
Pakistani refugees lost everything but Jesus

8/21/2017 1:12:26 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Eclipse displays ‘God’s glory,’ astronomers say

August 21 2017 by David Roach, Baptist Press

When millions gather Aug. 21 to view the first total solar eclipse the continental U.S. has seen in 38 years, they won’t just get an astronomy lesson. If they’re observant, they’ll also get a theology lesson.
That’s the conclusion of three Christian university professors who told Baptist Press (BP) a total eclipse points to God’s existence, sovereignty, love, immutability and faithfulness.
“Eclipses are demonstrations of God’s glory” and serve as “yet another example of creation pointing back to our Creator,” said California Baptist University astronomer Kyle Stewart.
Though eclipses do not reveal all humans need to know about God in order to be saved – scripture is required for that – theological truths affirmed by a total eclipse include:

God’s existence

Earth is both “the one place [in the solar system] there are eclipses” and “the one place there are observers to enjoy eclipses,” said Jay Richards, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that plays a leading role in the Intelligent Design movement, which argues the universe is the product of intelligence rather than blind chance.
The fact that humans exist in the only environment where eclipses are visible suggests “the universe [was] designed for discovery” by humans, said Richards.
Eclipses occur on earth because the moon is both 400 times closer and 400 times smaller than the sun, said Richards, an assistant research professor at The Catholic University of America and coauthor of The Privileged Planet. That ratio allows the moon to completely block the sun on rare occasions.
That ratio also places Earth in the small portion of the solar system where complex life is possible. If the sun were farther or closer, Earth’s temperature would not be conducive to life, Richards said. A moon positioned differently or of a different size would cause Earth “to wobble on its axis erratically and be very hostile to complex life.”
The “very rare places where observers can exist are also the best places overall for observing,” Richards said, adding “it doesn’t make sense if you just think the universe is the result of blind processes.”

God’s sovereignty

In an age where “vast scientific knowledge and technological innovations” give some the illusion that humans control the universe, said Stewart, associate professor of physics at Cal Baptist, “the eclipse reminds us that we are not in control of creation. God is.”
“The sun is an amazing and awe-inspiring aspect of creation – producing steady, continuous, dependable and abundant energy that allows life to thrive on our planet,” Stewart said in written comments.
“And on Aug. 21, the sun will be blocked and darkened in the middle of the day via the solar eclipse,” Stewart said. “And there’s nothing we (mankind) could possibly do to change these types of celestial events even in the slightest; they are completely under the dominion of God’s control alone.”

God’s love

Like Richards, Stewart noted Earth is fine-tuned to allow human life and that an eclipse occurs only because of that fine-tuning.
Therefore, an eclipse “serves as a reminder” of “the love and care God demonstrates through the aspects of design we see in creation,” Stewart said in written comments.

God’s immutability

Bill Nettles, University Professor of Physics at Union University, said eclipses remind him God is unchanging, an attribute theologians refer to as immutability.
“What strikes me about eclipses is that they are precisely predictable even though they don’t happen at regular time intervals,” Nettles said in written comments. “Just as our Creator has given us models in which to understand Him and the gospel ([for example,] the Hebrew Tabernacle and systems of sacrifice, the Davidic line of kings, marriage, the imagery of the prophets all the way through The Revelation), He allows us humans, created in His image, to build models to understand Creation. The reliability of these calculations points me to the immutability ... of God.”

God’s faithfulness

“If God keeps His covenant with the physical creation” by maintaining its order, “think how much more faithful He will be to preserve a people He has given to His Son, the Christ, Jesus,” Nettles said. “Ancients viewed eclipses with dread, fearing they had offended some capricious deity. I’m quite the opposite. I will rejoice in God’s faithfulness.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

8/21/2017 9:15:28 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Endure trials in church revitalization, pastors say

August 21 2017 by Andrew J.W. Smith, SBTS

Pastors should endure amidst ministry challenges, said leading voices in church revitalization at the summer Alumni Academy at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS).

SBTS photo
When revitalizing a church, pastors need to focus on God’s plan instead of being discouraged when people scowl at biblical preaching, said Andy Davis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Durham, N.C., and author of Revitalize: Biblical Keys to Helping Your Church Come Alive Again.

Despite challenges and trials involved in church revitalization, ministers who are turning around congregations should maintain their vision for a healthy, biblically sound local church. They need to focus on God’s plan instead of being discouraged when people scowl at biblical preaching, said Andy Davis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Durham, N.C., and author of Revitalize: Biblical Keys to Helping Your Church Come Alive Again.
“The greatest thing I can do is help you lift your eyes off the immediate circumstances you’re facing, and see with the eyes of faith what it is you’re doing and where you are heading and just how glorious the church will appear on that final day,” Davis, who earned a doctorate in church history at SEBTS, told attendees Aug. 3-4. His church in Durham underwent its own process of recovery in the wake of the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Wherever the Word of God is preached, the church will always see two things: genuine salvation and opposition, Davis said. However, when opposition comes from those who should be supporting the pastor and the church’s mission, it becomes a difficult trial for the local church to overcome.
“The Word of God is going to lead you to places that are going to be unpopular and controversial,” he said.
The ongoing preaching of the Bible is essential to the growth of the church and her ultimate salvation, Davis said. He noted that Satan will do everything he can to oppose any Bible-preaching church. Faithful preachers expect to undergo stiff trials and resistance from the enemy, but have the eyes of faith to see what God is doing through every situation, he said.
“We have to see beyond the outward unimpressiveness and sin and warfare and struggle, and we have to see the glory that is beyond,” he said.

SBTS photo
Brian Croft, senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., and senior fellow of Southern Seminary’s Mathena Center for Church Revitalization, said church structure is important for the life of the congregation, and is built on proper authority and leadership.

Brian Croft, senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., and senior fellow of SBTS’s Mathena Center for Church Revitalization, said church structure is important for the life of the congregation, and is built on proper authority and leadership.
That leadership is not determined by a church’s bylaws, but by who is the church’s greatest influencer, Croft said. New pastors undertaking a revitalization project have to figure out who is making many of the practical decisions in their congregation and compare it to the paradigm of the New Testament.
“Just because the pastor is paid full-time salary and preaches every week doesn’t mean he is in charge,” he said. “The first mistake I see a lot of guys make going into their first pastorate is that they think a salary and a title is going to give them [leadership]. But they are usually not in charge when they first start.”
Teaching from 1 Peter 5, Croft pointed out that Jesus Christ is identified as the chief shepherd of the church, but the pastors and elders are called to exercise oversight on behalf of the chief shepherd. Pastors represent the authority of Christ by preaching his Word to the church, he noted.
“Pastors are biblically qualified leaders appointed by God to be under-shepherds of behalf of the chief shepherd,” Croft said. “We [as pastors] minister God’s Word to ourselves and to others, and we protect the flock. And we do so with the knowledge that we will give an account for those under our care.”
Undertaking this care of the flock is a difficult task, Croft said, and it becomes more difficult when the authority structure given by God breaks down. God also designed the church to have authority imparted to an autonomous, local church, rendering church membership essential. When a church is healthy, congregationalism is beautiful and life-giving, but a “train wreck” when it goes wrong, he said.
When a pastor undertakes a revitalizing project, structure is often the last thing to get addressed, but it is critical to the church’s growth. There are a lot of church workers who have practical authority that is not biblical, and pastors need to make a priority out of the biblical reordering of a church’s authority structures.
“How important is church structure in the church? I hope we would say ‘really important,’” Croft said. “But in regards to trying to turn the ship of a church that has been set in patterns for decades, that almost feels like a constant losing battle.”
Timothy K. Beougher, professor of evangelism and church growth and associate dean of the Billy Graham School for Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at SBTS, said pastors should help their congregations recognize their need for change. Beougher also has undertaken two church revitalizations, including most recently as senior pastor at West Broadway Baptist Church.
Just as Moses had to lead the people of Israel into the wilderness before they entered the Promised Land, so pastors need to lead their dead or dying churches through a difficult period before they can begin to flourish.
“When you begin the process of church revitalization, you are moving people from Egypt to the wilderness. And the temptations when you are in the wilderness are to want to go back to Egypt. You have to continually set before them the Promised Land, what awaits them and the vision at the end of the day.”
Also speaking at the event was Mark Clifton, director of replanting at the North American Mission Board of the SBC. SBTS offers a doctorate of ministry and a doctorate of educational ministry in church revitalization, which is designed to equip pastors and church leaders with the training needed to revitalize established churches.
Alumni Academy provides free ongoing instruction for alumni and prospective students of Southern Seminary. To find out more about the program, visit
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Andrew J.W. Smith writes for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

8/21/2017 8:55:42 AM by Andrew J.W. Smith, SBTS | with 0 comments

At least 13 killed, 50 injured in terror attack

August 18 2017 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

At least 13 people were killed and 50 others injured when a driver plowed a van into pedestrians in Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 17 in what police classified as terror, according to media reports.

Screen capture from CBS News
At least 13 people were killed and 50 others injured when a driver plowed a van into pedestrians in Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 17 in what police classified as terror, according to media reports.

In the quickly developing story, Spanish police arrested two men hours later, but neither of them was believed to have driven the van. One, identified as Driss Oukabir, is said to have rented the vehicle, a white Fiat, according to various news reports. Catalonia’s interior minister Joaquim Forn confirmed the number of casualties and injuries, the Guardian said.
In the attack in the busy Las Ramblas district usually crowded with people, the driver drove into the crowd along the 1.2 mile boulevard, only stopping when he ran into a newspaper kiosk, the Guardian reported. With victims scattered on the ground, hundreds of people fled for safety, many of them sheltering in a nearby church, shops and restaurants, witnesses said.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered support to Spanish authorities investigating the incident, according to World News, and said “terrorists around the world should know that the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice.”
The incident is reminiscent of Saturday’s U.S. attack during a protest march in Charlottesville, Va., when a driver ran into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others, some critically.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

8/18/2017 10:37:25 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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