July 2010

Volunteers still meeting human need in Haiti

July 14 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Human need in Haiti continues to overwhelm logistical response, but a steady stream of North Carolina Baptist teams are ministering to the sick and building shelters for internally displaced Haitians.

Gaylon Moss, who coordinates disaster response for North Carolina Baptist Men, said that through July 3, 295 volunteers have seen 23,497 patients at various clinics and hospitals, have served more than 25,000 meals, built 229 temporary shelters and have witnessed 334 persons trusting Christ as savior.

“We’ve been quite pleased with response from folks,” said Moss. N.C. Baptist Men plans to continue relief efforts in Haiti through August of 2011, concentrating on medical teams and construction both of temporary shelters and helping churches rebuild.

Church reconstruction employs local Haitian labor, using materials bought with contributions to N.C. Baptist Men. Volunteers who wish can be involved with church construction.

Moss recognizes the desolation still laying over the country as news reports detail relief efforts stymied by local politics, decimated infrastructure and conflicts over property ownership.

The positive news coming back with North Carolina volunteers focuses on individual victories, as volunteers distribute baby clothes, nurse the sick and injured back to health or build a shelter that a joyful family moves into that had been living under a piece of tin.

“Most volunteers come away impressed with the Haitians’ attitudes and their willingness to help in such a terrible time,” Moss said.

Raw material for the temporary shelters is supplied by Samaritan’s Purse and consists of four poles to form a 15 by 15 foot room, a tin roof and durable tarp to wrap the poles. Inside there are two large shelves that can be used as beds or for storage.

A recent team installed rain gutters on the shelters by which the occupants can collect clean rain water. Moss said the local mayor and church leadership pick the families that are to receive the temporary shelters. North Carolina volunteers are not put in that position.

After six months of sending volunteers a schedule has been established for efficiency. Getting into Port au Prince is still a hassle, but Baptist Men has an onsite coordinator and housing for volunteers to make the logistics as smooth as possible. Scott and Janet Daughtry coordinate volunteer efforts onsite.

Teams leave each week on Sunday and return the following Saturday. Cost is $1,100 per person, which covers airline ticket, accident insurance, food, housing and transportation in country.

Volunteers must fill out an individual profile at www.ncmissions.org. Payment is made to Baptist Men which makes the travel arrangements.

Individuals can join other teams. Moss said ideal team size to accommodate in country logistics is 6-8 each for construction and for medical volunteers. There is flexibility according to need.

Volunteers leave either from Charlotte or Raleigh. They should check with their doctors about necessary immunizations.
7/14/2010 4:28:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Hulls Grove ministers to skaters, bikers

July 14 2010 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

After exiting I-40 the drive to Vale, N.C., is anything but direct. One turn follows another on one country road after another. The scenery, though, is breathtaking.

Mountains in all their splendor loom over every curve of the highway. An occasional country store breaks the color of open pastures and green fields. Vale seems a quaint, peaceful little town; an unlikely candidate to claim a church that hosts ministries for motorcycle riders and skateboarders.

Pastor Marcus Redding and Hulls Grove Baptist Church in Vale have learned they don’t always pick the people they serve. Sometimes God brings opportunities along and it’s up to the church to be faithful and respond, even when the task is unexpected and outside the boundaries of what is familiar and comfortable.

Hulls Grove started The Way Skate Ministry about four years ago. “I thought it was crazy,” Redding said.

“I didn’t realize skateboarding was back. We’re out in the country. I thought, ‘no one is going to skate here.’”

The skate ministry began as a Bible study in Seth B.’s backyard. (Seth has since gone to an international mission field, and asked that his identity be obscurred here) Seth, a skateboarder himself and member of Hulls Grove, started doing a Bible study with a few teenagers who enjoyed skateboarding.

Seth and his dad built a half pipe ramp in the backyard and the group of teenagers at their home started increasing week after week.

Hulls Grove saw how Seth ministered to teenagers and the congregation was ready when asked to help him do even more.

Part of Hulls Grove Baptist Church’s outreach brings young people who love to skateboard together in a safe environment. Many businesses and parks do not allow skateboarding on their property.

The church funded the building of portable skateboard ramps and started The Way Skate Ministry, which now meets in a 5,000 square-foot building.

On Tuesday nights middle school students come out to skate and hear a Bible study. On Thursday nights students high school age and older get to skate.

“The youth are used to being rejected at school,” said Bobby Farmer, pastor of evangelism and missions at Hulls Grove.

Farmer is providing oversight to the skate ministry as Seth is now serving the Lord on the international mission field.

“They try different things not because they are against God, but to push the envelope, to see if people will really get to know them and love them. They just want to be accepted.”

Most of the youth who come to skate are local. Some are involved in church and others are not. Farmer said some of the students are agnostics or atheists. Regardless of where they come from or where they are now, the skate ministry seeks to share the gospel and the love of Jesus Christ.

Farmer has watched as youth go from questioning God and the Bible to trusting Him as personal Lord and Savior. Hulls Grove uses skateboarding as a way to extend ministry beyond their community.

Church members travel across the state, as well as to South Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana and Canada, with the portable ramps, especially during the summer months, participating in block parties and special events.

“The Lord is letting us have interaction with the lost community,” Redding said.

Although The Way Skate Ministry was totally different from any kind of ministry Hulls Grove had ever done before, Redding said the congregation was onboard and supportive from the get-go.

When another unique opportunity came along more recently the church was ready to get behind it.

Greg Spurling is pastoring Freedom Biker Church in Hickory. Spurling served four years as minister of education at Hulls Grove before taking the lead at Freedom last August. The congregation meets in a warehouse building off I-40.   

Freedom Biker Church began with Spurling and six other people from Hulls Grove. Now as many as 50 have come on a Sunday to worship with Freedom Biker Church. The congregation represents a wide range of ages.

Two years ago Spurling was invited on a mission trip to Canada. He joined others who decided to ride their bikes to Canada. While on that trip teammates asked him to consider starting a biker church.

“I kept telling them no. For about a year I kept telling them no,” Spurling said. “God changed my heart.”

At Freedom, “we try to be as transparent as possible,” Spurling said. “Our focus is building relationships. At some point in their lives they have been to a church and haven’t been received well.”

Not at Freedom Biker Church. All are welcome to come, as they are, to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. For more information about Freedom Biker Church of Hickory visit www.freedombikerchurchhickory.com.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Lilley is a writer and researcher for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.)
7/14/2010 4:24:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

‘Good News Bible’ translator Bob Bratcher dies

July 14 2010 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

CHAPEL HILL — Robert Bratcher, the New Testament translator for the Good News Bible, died July 11 at the Carol Woods retirement community in Chapel Hill. He was 90. Born in Brazil the son of L. M. Bratcher, a Southern Baptist missionary for 35 years, Bob Bratcher taught at Baptist Theological Seminary in Rio de Janeiro from 1949 until 1956, when he resigned from the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board in a dispute over his teaching.

Since he had worked with the American Bible Society in revising a Brazilian Bible, Bratcher asked Eugene Nida, executive secretary of the ABS Translations Department, to recommend him for a teaching position in the United States. Nida invited Bratcher to work with him at the Bible society “in the meantime,” which turned out to be until Bratcher’s retirement in 1995.

In the early 1960s, the secretary of special ministries for the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board asked the Bible society to recommend the best translation for people who speak English as a second language. Looking over the modern translations available at the time, ABS leaders decided that no single version really fit that need, so Nida asked Bratcher to do an English translation “for Southern Baptists.”

Released with the title Good News for Modern Man, the New Testament was first issued in 1966. The complete Bible was published in 1976 as the Good News Bible, also known as Today’s English Version.

For a time the best-selling Bible in America, the Good News Bible touched millions of lives, the vast majority of whom never heard of its chief translator. In a radio interview in 2003, Bratcher said that’s the way it should be.

“A translator — especially a translator of the Scriptures — should not be known, because the important things are the words and the message that come through those books and not the person who did the translation,” he said.

Bratcher’s name did appear in early versions of the translation, prompting a question at one conference of why he was identified contrary to standard policy. The ABS official, Bratcher said, answered frankly, “Well if it didn’t go well, we’d have someone to blame.”

Bratcher caught plenty of blame in 1981, when he made comments at a national seminar in Dallas sponsored by the Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention criticizing fundamentalist views of the Bible

“Only willful ignorance or intellectual dishonesty can account for the claim that the Bible is inerrant and infallible,” Bratcher said. “No truth-loving, God-respecting, Christ-honoring believer should be guilty of such heresy. To invest the Bible with the qualities of inerrancy and infallibility is to idolatrize it, to transform it into a false god.”

Bratcher’s comments made it into the New York Times, setting off a controversy that prompted many conservatives to stop giving to the American Bible Society and led to a financial crisis.

Determining him to be a liability, ABS officials decided Bratcher should be dismissed, but overseas colleagues in the United Bible Societies, the umbrella fellowship of 145 individual Bible societies including ABS, supported him. Eventually Bratcher agreed to resign from the ABS but continued to do the same job as a consultant for the United Bible Societies. After retiring he continued to work with the Brazilian Bible Society.

Bratcher was a longtime active member and Bible teacher at Binkley Memorial Baptist Church in Chapel Hill. A memorial service for him is scheduled at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 24, in the church sanctuary, with a reception immediately following in the Fellowship Hall.

Dale Osborne, associate minister at Binkley Baptist Church, said Bratcher retired only recently after teaching adult Sunday school classes for more than 25 years. “Anyone who spent time in one of his classes came away with a greater understanding of the scriptures,” Osborne said.

Osborne said most recently Bratcher spearheaded an effort to establish a relationship with a church in his native Brazil. “Even at 90 he was going strong in his attempts to make connections with God’s children,” Osborne said. ”I loved Bob Bratcher. Binkley Baptist church will miss him to no end.”

The Good News Bible used a theory of translation termed “dynamic equivalence,” where the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek are expressed in a translation “thought for thought.” It contrasted with the “formal equivalence” method evident in old standard translations like the King James Version and Revised Standard Version, which resulted in a more wooden word-for-word translation.

“They felt that way that faithfulness was being preserved, but that is not necessarily true,” Bratcher explained in the 2003 interview with Robert Seymour, his former pastor, on WCHL radio in Chapel Hill.

“We’re trying to make the translation match the original, not in form, but in the way the reader will understand and react to it,” he said. “The ideal is that the reader of the translation understands the text as well as the reader of the original and reacts to it in the same way. Of course it’s an impossible goal, but that’s what you try to do.”

The method was never popular with some biblical conservatives, and it became even less so when some of Bratcher’s own views became public. Alleging that Bratcher’s disdain for fundamentalism influenced his translation, critics noted choices like replacing the “blood” of Jesus in passages like Romans 5:9 with references to Christ’s atoning death.

The Good News Bible also passed what had become a litmus test for so-called “liberal” translations — translating Isaiah 7:14 to refer to a pregnant ”young woman” instead of the traditional rendering of “virgin.”

Bratcher said the Hebrew word used by Isaiah means a young woman of marriageable age, though not necessarily a virgin. When the passage is quoted in Matthew 1:23 as prophesying the birth of Jesus, the word is “virgin,” implying the New Testament author used a Greek translation of the Old Testament made 500 years after Isaiah.

The Isaiah verse sparked controversy in the mid-20th century when the Revised Standard Version used “woman,” earning accusations from fundamentalists and some evangelicals of deliberately tampering with the Scripture to deny the doctrine of the Virgin Birth.  
7/14/2010 3:47:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Church mourns loss of worker in Uganda

July 13 2010 by Baptist Press

An American who was among 74 people killed in a Uganda terrorist attack was related to Summit Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Durham. 

Nate Henn, 25, an American who ministered to children in Uganda, was among 74 people killed in Kampala in an attack by Somali terrorists.

Nate Henn was a former college rugby player who used his love of rugby to mobilize assistance for children suffering from warfare in Uganda. He died July 11 on a rugby field in Kampala when he was struck by shrapnel from a terrorist bomb. Three bombs exploded in coordinated attacks on a garden restaurant and the rugby field while hundreds of people had gathered to watch a World Cup soccer game between Spain and the Netherlands, according to news reports. A Somali terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Henn, 25, had gone to Uganda to meet children he had raised money to help through Invisible Children, a San Diego group that helps “forgotten children.” The children called Henn “Oteka” — “the strong one” — and loved “Nate’s wit, strength, character and steadfast friendship,” the group said on its website.
Henn was the son of Bob and Julie Henn, members of Summit’s North Raleigh campus, Summit pastor J.D. Greear reported in a July 13 article on his website. The grief of losing Henn was compounded for the family when a brother, who was flying home to be with his family, was involved in a plane crash, Greear noted. While the brother was not critically injured, a second passenger was critically injured and the pilot died, the Associated Press reported.

The article Greear posted, titled “A Pretty Devastating Day,” also noted that the same day Henn died, Summit Church also lost Helen Young, “a matriarch” of the young congregation, and Chai Atwood, son of Summit’s college pastor, Trevor Atwood and his wife, Keva, who had been born 14 weeks premature.

“Death and pain put the joy of salvation in sharp relief,” Greear wrote to the congregation.

“Our sufferings are real, our cries of pain are real. But we weigh our present pain against the glory that God is working through that pain; a glory that will outweigh (though it is hard to believe sometimes) all the suffering that we endure in the present,” Greear said.

“Paul says that we now ‘groan in anguish’ like a woman in childbirth. Our groaning is real, but it is not a groan of despair.”

Greear pointed out that in Romans 8, the Apostle Paul likens the pain people experience in this life to the pain of childbirth. “Yes, we genuinely hurt, but the glory God is bringing forth in us and through us, for the age to come, makes ours a light and momentary affliction,” Greear said. “Summit, let us not forget that it is in our pain that we have one of the clearest opportunities to put the glory of God on display. It is in our pain that we are able to show that God is better to us than even life itself, and that our inheritance in God is something not even death can take away.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.)
7/13/2010 2:41:00 PM by Baptist Press | with 1 comments

North Carolina baptisms surge 20% in 2009

July 12 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Baptisms in Southern Baptist churches increased two percent in 2009 after four years of decline. Among North Carolina Baptist churches, baptisms leaped 20 percent to 26,584 and surpassed 26,000 for the first time in seven years.

Don McCutcheon, Baptist State Convention executive leader for evangelization since July 2006, credits the increase to God’s moving people toward the harvest.

As the staff member who keeps closest tabs on evidence of North Carolina Baptists evangelizing and discipling, McCutcheon says the increase is due to “the blessing of our God upon His people evidenced by a heightened awareness and concern by pastors, churches and associational missionaries for those in our state who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

“Pastors are praying toward the Kingdom,” said McCutcheon, 60. “They are praying for the lost. They have a heart for the Great Commission, and are leading their churches to be the same.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Don McCutcheon, Baptist State Convention executive leader for evangelization, talks about the increase in baptisms in North Carolina.

“People are becoming aware of the great harvest God is bringing to us. There are people all over the world coming to North Carolina to study in our institutions and also who choose to live here. And we have a great opportunity to witness and share and help them come to know Christ.”

McCutcheon, who held a similar position with Florida Baptists, also credits the “driving vision” of BSC Executive Director-treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr., with elevating evangelism in the consciousness of North Carolina churches.

Baptisms matter in an evaluation of evangelical effectiveness, he said, because they indicate obedience.

“Baptism is the first opportunity after conversion for a new believer to be obedient to the Lordship of Christ,” McCutcheon said. “They also are an indicator that churches are truly about the Great Commission.”

McCutcheon called baptisms “the only quantifiable parameter in the Great Commission.”

McCutcheon does not separate evangelism and disciple making, but says they are two sides of the same coin and “one cannot exist without the other.”

“Making disciples is the most joyful hard work in the Christian life,” he said, expressing regret at the difficulty of getting modern Christians to share their faith. “You can actually get Christians to tithe before you can get them to go witness.”

As fervently as he’s worked and prayed to help North Carolina churches turn their baptisms upward, McCutcheon admits he did not expect the change in direction to “come this quickly.”  
The numbers
In 2009 those churches that reported their statistics on the ACP noted 26,584 baptisms. That number includes the 1,932 baptized by Elevation Church in Mathews, and the 1,519 churches that reported no baptisms at all. Eighteen churches reported 100 or more baptisms, and 44 churches reported 50-99. Two hundred sixty-two reported one baptism. McCutcheon said 1,242 churches reported 1-5 baptisms and 2,761 reported 0-5 baptisms. On average, North Carolina Baptist churches baptized six persons each.  

IECS Strategy
Beyond simply tracking what North Carolina Baptist churches are doing evangelistically, McCutcheon is actively trying to infect them with an evangelism virus.  Through his own research and experience, and that of others, he has developed the Intentionally Evangelistic Church Strategy (IECS) and has been leading churches in that system for several years.

McCutcheon defines IECS as “an attempt to assist pastors and churches in their own context and personalities to obey the Great Commission and faithfully evangelize their communities in a way that is effective for them.”

During three 8-hour days of instruction, participants basically learn to find the evangelistic possibilities in every aspect of their church’s life. It incorporates five components from Acts 2:41-47 that are the anchors for teaching: evangelistic leadership, evangelistic prayer, event evangelism, assimilation and personal evangelism.

“If evangelism is not in the pastor’s heart, it won’t go,” McCutcheon said.

His assimilation emphasis often surprises people, he said. But attention to assimilating can close the revolving door and lead to stronger discipleship.

Event evangelism includes weekly worship. “You don’t have to change what you’re doing, just change the priority of evangelization,” McCutcheon said. “If you’re worshiping God and a person doesn’t know God, you’re having a wonderful experience but leaving them out. We use words they don’t understand. We use forms they’re completely unaccustomed to. Make your worship understandable and inviting.”

Like any good preacher, McCutcheon has an outline featuring “P” words for teaching evangelism. He said you need passion, and if you don’t have it, pray for it, asking God to help you love the world as He does.

Prepare by learning scripture and praying. Participate in witnessing and while practice doesn’t make perfect, it “makes permanent,” he said. Persevere and praise God for whatever He does.

Because some people are discouraged from witnessing if their experience doesn’t result in someone praying to receive Christ, McCutcheon loves the phrase he learned from retired Florida pastor Bobby Welch, to “Teach your people to fall in love with fishing, not just in catching fish.”

For churches that don’t like “cold calling” on prospects, McCutcheon advises that “ministry in an area opens doors like you wouldn’t believe.” One of the blessings of disaster relief ministry is how it opens doors for evangelism among those who have been served.  

Difficult days
Just six months after McCutcheon came to North Carolina, his wife Kathy was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. No sooner was that conquered than cancer was discovered. While these have been some of his most difficult personal years, they have been among the most fruitful in terms of ministry, he said.

He and Kathy treat each day as a gift and “live in the present” he said. He has cancelled virtually all outside engagements, and Marty Dupree will lead the IECS training the rest of the year.

The first IECS training in Spanish was conducted this year, with two scheduled in Vietnamese. As equippers are trained, IECS will be offered in local associations by request, and eventually for an individual church.  

IECS training
IECS training will be offered at the following times and places: Sign up for any at www.ncbaptist.org or call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5557.  

August 31-Sept. 2
Carolina Association
Ebenezer Baptist Church
Hendersonville, NC  

September 21-23
New River Association
New River Baptist Church
Jacksonville, NC  

October 5-7
Three Forks Association
Mount Vernon Baptist Church
Boone, NC  

October 26-28
South Yadkin Association
First Baptist Church
Mooresville, NC

Related stories
Baptisms rise when strategies implemented
Research reveals value of event evangelism
7/12/2010 9:37:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 1 comments

Baptisms rise when strategies implemented

July 12 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

North Carolina Baptist churches committed to more effective evangelistic efforts in their communities are finding help through the Intentionally Evangelistic Churches Strategy (IECS) created by Don McCutcheon, executive leader for evangelization at the Baptist State Convention.

Pastors and church staff who have participated in IECS conferences recommend the experience to others. Universally, they say two of the strategy’s strengths are that it forces participants to evaluate their church’s current efforts and it offers a wealth of ideas from which to draw, without presenting cookie cutter solutions.

Aaron Wallace, administrator and interim pastor at Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, was an early adapter and participated in one of the first strategy conferences.

“It was fantastic,” he said. Leaders exposed participants to many ideas from other churches, and “made you spend time at the end applying what you heard and coming up with a strategy for your church. “They asked, ‘What is your intention for what you learned?’”

Wallace, chairman of the Baptist State Convention’s board of directors evangelization committee, said the most helpful element of the strategy for his church was assimilation. Staff realized they had “gobs of people” who were under watch care but who had not been moved along the path to full membership.

Hephzibah restructured its process and found more effective ways to utilize Sunday School leaders and deacons in assimilation. “That was huge,” he said. “We’re much more streamlined now.”

IECS also covers evangelistic outreach events and Hephzibah is both doing more of them, and making sure each is “truly evangelistic,” Wallace said. The church serves a holiday meal to the community and is preparing back-to-school backpacks laden with classroom essentials.

Several came to Christ through a “free yard sale” the church sponsored, which drew 800 to the campus. Clients were given $100 in “funny money” to shop a gymnasium filled with clothes and practical goods donated by church and community members. Seventy church members circulated among the clients during the day, gathering contact information and sharing Christ.

Earlier, the church likely would not have been so diligent about securing information for follow up, Wallace said.

When McCutcheon asked participants what their baptism record was the previous two years, Wallace said Hephzibah staff was “shocked” to realize they had baptized just eight and 12.

From the moment they finished the strategy sessions, they began to implement changes that have resulted in increases to 24 baptisms the following year, then 31 and 39 so far in 2010.

“I recommend IECS without question,” Wallace said. “I think every church should go through it, if for no other reason than to evaluate the effectiveness of what they’re presently doing.”  

First Baptist Church, Hendersonville experienced an even more dramatic increase following their staff participation in IECS. Pastor Ryan Pack said IECS is a good strategy because he left every session with practical ideas to implement at his church that emphasize baptisms and prioritize evangelism.

Baptisms at First Baptist increased from 16 in 2008 to 78 in 2009, Pack said. They included outdoor baptisms at a lake and in a horse trough in front of the church’s new student center where community people driving around the church saw the activity.  (See videos at www.fbchncorg/videos.)

Hendersonville elevated the importance of baptism in church life, said Pack, pastor since June 2008. “We made baptism public. People in the community … saw it happening. Students not connected with our church were able to see baptism for the first time and see it in a different setting.”

Their weekly outreach strategy has become “Splash Night” and members see it as a great opportunity to share the gospel and to connect with other people in the community.

They’ve become “really intentional in follow up after events,” Pack said. Like Hephzibah, they’ve also become very intentional in their assimilation process with prospects and new members.

Hendersonville’s “Discover First” orientation starts with dinner and includes a complete gospel presentation, reinforcing the conviction “that those who consider joining have accepted Christ,” Pack said.

Their orientation includes a workbook and teaching on evangelism, to equip new members to share the gospel.

Attending IECS requires a three-day commitment, a length of time that may keep some from considering it. But Pack said, “There is no commitment too big for us to do a better job with the Great Commission.”

“The way they teach it, the time flies,” he said. “You’d never know you’re  sitting in a workshop. It’s so practical and they give you time with your staff and the people you bring from your church to come up with ideas you can apply in your ministry setting.

“Every single session you walked out of you carried ideas you can apply immediately.” 

City of Hope
Hendersonville is a large church, but Pack said IECS is taught in a way that “any church from 10 to 10,000” would benefit.

Michael Moore, pastor of both City of Hope in Shelby, and Webb First Baptist in Ellenboro, said strategies he learned at IECS have helped increase baptisms at both churches.

“We absolutely enjoyed” the training event, Moore said. He and the three church members who accompanied him learned to make baptism a big event in their church, and to have those who are being baptized invite friends and family to the event. Attendance doubles on days where there is a baptism, he said.

City of Hope is a three-year-old church with 60-80 attending and it baptized 39 people last year. Webb First Baptist baptized a similar number.

“We make baptism something people will always remember,” Moore said, including decorating with streamers and special lighting.

Church members visit both prospects and new members on Monday and Wednesday.

Moore is a church planter and said the IECS strategy “really did help us.”

He thinks “everybody ought to go to that workshop” and said the three men he took with him from his church “absolutely loved it.”

Related stories
North Carolina baptisms surge 20% in 2009
Research reveals value of event evangelism
7/12/2010 9:32:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Research reveals value of event evangelism

July 12 2010 by NAMB Communications

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Block parties, festivals and other evangelistic events are essential ingredients for effective churches, according to a study by the Scarborough Center for Baptist Church Planting at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in conjunction with the North American Mission Board.

“Our findings suggest that many of our nation’s most effective evangelistic churches are utilizing attractional evangelistic events,” said Jerry Pipes, team leader for mass evangelism at NAMB.

NAMB photo by John Swain

Highly effective churches are utilizing attractional evangelistic events such as block parties to draw lost people so they can hear the gospel.

Researchers started by polling 3,200 Southern Baptist churches last year as part of the Evangelistic Event Research Project.  

What the study revealed
Several common denominators emerged among highly effective churches:
  • They sponsor attractional evangelistic events, do several of them annually, do them especially well and get excellent results.
  • Two-thirds of highly effective churches sponsor both evangelistic events and an active personal evangelism program.
  • Significantly more highly effective churches sponsor evangelistic events than lesser effective churches.
  • They sponsor significantly more evangelistic events and do significantly better preparation and follow-up for evangelistic events than lesser effective churches.
  • They sponsor more holiday-related, revival-like and sports and recreation evangelistic events than any other types (in that order). More than half sponsor revival-like evangelistic events.
“We define evangelistic events as special events, which intentionally draw lost people through relationships and attraction, clearly present the gospel and provide an invitation to respond,” Pipes said.

The report comes at a time when, in some quarters, the value of attractional methods has been questioned for reaching communities with the gospel.

“A lot of churches have pursued a missional approach to evangelism and church growth to the neglect of attractional evangelistic events that will draw people in,” Pipes said.

“It’s like asking a pilot flying over the Pacific Ocean whether he wants his right wing or his left wing. The answer is you need both wings — both missional methodologies and an attractional model.”

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, said when churches are committed to conducting evangelistic events, it creates a more evangelistically motivated congregation.

“Events help get people mobilized, and mobilized people reach out to their friends,” Stetzer said. “In research we conducted for our book Comeback Churches, we found that doing evangelistic outreach events was a key part of many churches’ revitalization.”

Related stories
North Carolina baptisms surge 20% in 2009
Baptisms rise when strategies implemented
7/12/2010 9:29:00 AM by NAMB Communications | with 0 comments

Church ventures to ‘unseen’ settlements

July 12 2010 by Evelyn Adamson, Baptist Press

Thick mud clings to the shoes of pastor Xolani (Ko-lan-ee) Klaas and his church members as they walk through an informal settlement far from the World Cup venues in South Africa.

There are few visitors to the informal settlements, and the residents are wary of strangers. Most are members of the Zulu people group, and a large percentage are hiding from their families in the villages. Originally they came to the city to find a job or go to school but were forced into the shantytowns when their money ran out.

“They do not want to be found,” one of the church members says in visiting the Durban-area Newlands East settlement with Klaas. The residents refuse to return to their families empty-handed, and the only place they can live is in the informal settlements.

The needs are overwhelming in these settlements, but Klaas and other Zulu Christians are seeking to make a difference in the lives of the people in these “unseen” areas.

In the mud, Klaas and his team slip as they walk up and down the hills past tiny shacks constructed of scrap metal, tarps and cloth inadequately providing shelter for entire families from the cool, wet weather.

Yet amid the struggle of everyday life, the smiling faces of residents conversing with one another reveal a measure of joy and happiness in their community.

BP photo by Martha Richards

South African pastor Xolani Klaas gives a blanket to a 92-year-old woman in an impoverished Durban-area settlement. Klaas is leading Hope Restoration Baptist Church to help ease pain and hunger in order to share the gospel.

Efforts in evangelism in the informal settlements can be compared to how Jesus did ministry, Klaas ntoes, because the needs of the people are so immediate.

“People, if they are hungry, will not listen because their primary needs have not been met,” the pastor says.

Some of the people know there is a God, Klaas says, but “they (do not) know that one can make a decision to follow Christ, to commit your life to Christ.”

The residents in Newlands East struggle to find food, water and other necessities. Klaas’ church, Hope Restoration Baptist Church, has started taking food and blanket packets to individuals in the settlement and talking with them about coming to church.

A 92-year-old woman receives a blanket, and her eyes shine with gratitude and amazement as she unwraps it and rubs the soft, thick material between her fingers.

After giving her the blanket, Klaas prays for her, that she would have strength, healing and wisdom. He emphasizes that all providence and glory go to God and encourages her and her family to attend the Hope Restoration’s service on Sunday morning.

Leaving the house, the team notices tiny wires strewn across the ground and suspended in the surrounding bushes, looking much like spider webs. A closer examination reveals the wires carry electricity to several shacks, but they pose a danger because children who have no shoes can be electrocuted if they step on the exposed wires.

In the settlement, the smells of decomposing trash, outhouses and sludge thicken the air, making it difficult to breathe at times.

Plastic bags, bottles and rotten food litter the ground.

Residents dodge in and out of their shacks, curious about the visitors but also hesitant, knowing that it is easier for many people walking past to ignore the poverty in the settlements.

But Klaas is confident in the task he has undertaken, saying, “This is right. I have to follow God’s plan for my life.”

He’s also confident God is at work. “The same thing that happened in the Book of Acts, that is happening in South Africa right now,” he declares.

“There’s so much of a revival. You go everywhere, Christians are standing up. They are ... evangelizing. They can’t keep quiet, talking about Christ.”
7/12/2010 9:26:00 AM by Evelyn Adamson, Baptist Press | with 1 comments

Hugs help kids understand they’re no mistake

July 12 2010 by Evelyn Adamson, Baptist Press

When people think of a mistake, it’s usually a regrettable decision or action. Few people, however, think of a child as a mistake.

At a Holiday Bible Club while school was out of session in South Africa during the World Cup games, youth pastor Tyronne Eilenberg of Pinetown Baptist Church in Durban realized that some of the children had never been told the words “I love you.” Some had even been told by their parents they were a mistake from birth.

BP photo by Evelyn Adamson

At Pinetown Baptist Church in the Durban area, a child participates in a Holiday Club that helped children experience the love of God during their World Cup holiday month in South Africa.

As the club was coming to an end, the children played harder and the sound of their laughter grew louder, as their troubled homes had left them responsive to the love of God as they struggled to understand why they were ever born.

At the close of the final day, Eilenberg offered the simplest demonstration of love — a hug. He affirmed the children by telling them how much God loves them.

At first many of the children were shy when asked if they wanted a hug, but when Eilenberg asked them to bow their heads and close their eyes, child after child came to the front to receive the love entailed in a simple hug. The difference a hug can make was seen on the beaming faces of the children as they walked away from the encounter.

Eilenberg then pointed the children to Jesus and His endless love for them.

With their heads still bowed and eyes closed, Eilenberg asked children who wanted prayer to raise their hands where they were seated. Hand after hand was raised in testimony to how many of them had lived unloved.

During a sermon the Sunday morning after the Holiday Bible Club, Eilenberg told of one young boy who was kicking a ball and it bounced over a wall.

Eilenberg jokingly told the child to go get the ball, and the boy’s response was to look at his feet and say, “Please don’t hurt me.”

Eilenberg’s passion is to have hurting children continue to come to Pinetown Baptist where they can begin to know how beautiful and cherished they are to God and to the people of the church. He has a vision of going into local primary schools to minister to the children while encouraging them to come to church.

Describing this vision as in the beginning stages, Eilenberg hopes to continue training youth leaders at Pinetown to extend the love of Christ to the children throughout its Durban-area community.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Adamson is an intern writer for the International Mission Board’s global communication team on assignment in South Africa covering the events, matches and ministries related to the World Cup.)
7/12/2010 9:23:00 AM by Evelyn Adamson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

N.C. couple manages N.Y. mission house

July 9 2010 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

When Lynette Lawrence got a text message from her husband during a vision trip in New York City she thought his excitement would translate into leading mission teams to the city. She wasn’t expecting her family to be that team.

In March Barry Lawrence joined a group of North Carolina pastors and Baptist State Convention (BSC) staff on a two-day visit to New York City to further develop the BSC partnership with Metropolitan New York Baptist Association (MNYBA).

Barry had not been to New York before, although after a trip to Philadelphia last year he felt the lostness of cities and wanted to lead a mission team from Antioch Baptist Church in Goldston back to the northeast.

“Missions has always been a thread in our life,” Barry said.

After 15 years in textiles Barry quit his job in Sanford and moved the family to Wake Forest to attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, then became pastor of Antioch.

But during those two days in New York “God stirred that fire within me even more to reach out to the nations,” Barry said.

The Lawrence family, above, recently made the move to New York to manage The David Dean House where mission teams can stay while serving there.

When he learned the couple managing the David Dean House in Brooklyn would soon be leaving, “Something in my heart just lept,” Barry said. “The Holy Spirit was just pounding on me.”

The David Dean House houses up to 50 short-term volunteers who come to serve in New York City.

Throughout the vision trip God was at work in Barry’s heart. A “defining moment” came when Barry and the group met a pastor from Ghana serving in the Bronx. The pastor recently purchased a three-story building, a former casket factory built in 1926, to use as a means to reach out to immigrants from Africa.

Can’t you see it? 
“Can’t you see it?” the pastor kept asking the group. Standing there on the first floor, with water seeping in from all the rain that day, all Barry saw was a building in desperate need of repair.

The pastor described where the congregation would sit and how a choir would look standing up there and praising God.

“Through his faithfulness and passion, I could then see it,” Barry said.

In the pouring rain, the team joined the pastor on the roof and prayed for the congregation and the city. As Barry looked out over the city and saw all the apartments “just a shout” from where he stood, he thought about all the nonbelievers represented in those homes.

God was working in the hearts of his family and in just two weeks he returned with Lynette and their two daughters, ages 9 and 14. Lynette saw there would be challenges in New York, such as learning the subway system and how to make routine errands. She worried about failure and not being able to guide her children through the transition. Unlike Barry, who grew up in a military family and moved often, Lynette was not used to the city life.

Yet, even in New York, “the Lord spoke to me about not settling,” Lynette said. Staying in North Carolina would be the easy thing. But she knew the Lord was calling them to New York and she was ready. Barry began working in New York May 27, just two months after the vision trip.

His family joined him June 17, all except Micah, who is living this summer with family in North Carolina before starting at Barton College in August.

Their house is still on the market, but they have sold most of their furniture and car and are now working to make their new 900-square-foot apartment feel like home.

Barry and Lynette are M.O.S.T. (missions on short-term) missionaries with the North American Mission Board (NAMB). They receive some funding from NAMB but will also be responsible for raising missions support. 

The Lawrences have already hosted five mission teams at the David Dean House.

They build relationships with the teams and work alongside them.

They are also working to build relationships with New York business owners and to take advantage of opportunities God gives to share the gospel.

Their passion is to grow the kingdom of God, and their excitement for seeing the Lord’s work accomplished is the driving force behind their new journey in New York City. 

For more information about missions in New York City and the David Dean House, e-mail daviddeanhouse@gmail.com or visit www.mnyba.org.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Lilley is a researcher and writer for the Baptist State Convention.)
7/9/2010 6:29:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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