July 2017

Archaeologists discover Solomon-era linens

July 21 2017 by Julie Borg, WORLD News Service

Archaeologists from Tel Aviv University have unearthed 3,000-year-old dyed wool fabric samples from the time of David and Solomon. The archaeologists discovered the samples at a large, ancient Edomite copper smelting site and nearby temple in the Timna Valley, a desert region in southern Israel. They date the cloth from the 13th to 10th centuries B.C. The fabric was so well dyed that even now the original colors are visible.
The discovery, reported in Plos One, highlights several aspects of cultural life in the Timna Valley at that time. It shows highly skilled weavers made the fabric and that it could not have been produced in the Timna region, an area too arid to grow the plants needed for dyeing or to provide a water source needed for the process. The people of the Timna Valley would have needed a long-distance trade route to obtain the fabric. And the cloth would have been costly, indicating the presence of a socially stratified society led by an elite group.
“It is apparent that there was a dominant elite in this society that took pains to dress according to their ‘class,’ and had the means to engage in long-distance trade to transport these textiles – and other materials and resources – to the desert,” lead researcher Erez Ben-Yosef said in a statement.
The textile makers used a sophisticated process in which they cooked colorful plants in water and then added the fleece and used alum to chemically bond the dye to the fabric, producing a colored textile resistant to fading by washing or sun exposure.
The weavers appeared to have taken great care to create fine, thin threads, which they twisted together to make thicker, stronger strands before weaving the yarn flawlessly into fabric.
The researchers are not certain where the cloth was produced, but much evidence points to somewhere along the Mediterranean coast and nearby regions, such as Judea and Transjordan.
According to the researchers, dyed and finely woven textiles were a desired luxury item that conveyed the owner’s status and wealth. The fact that they found the exquisite linens in the area of a copper mine suggests the metalworkers at the mines enjoyed an elite social status because they were esteemed for their high level of skill.
“Metalworkers played a substantial role in ancient societies, holding knowledge of one of the most sophisticated crafts of the ancient world,” the researchers wrote.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Julie Borg writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville. Used with permission.)

7/21/2017 11:15:00 AM by Julie Borg, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments

Serve Day catches community’s attention

July 21 2017 by Daniel Woodman, Baptist Press

An outreach effort in Topeka, Kan., has utilized local media coverage to publicize the ministry of Kansas Baptists and to share the love of Christ in America’s heartland.

Photo courtesy of Tammy Seimears, Madison News
Volunteers scraped and painted houses as part of Serve Day, an outreach of Baptist churches in Kansas

The one-day ministry, called “Serve Day,” is put on by the local Flint Hills Baptist Association. Each year churches that cooperate with the association join together to repair homes, install smoke alarms and meet other physical needs in the community. Laying a foundation for churches to share the gospel is the ministry’s first priority.
Doyle Pryor, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Topeka, said “free publicity” in The Topeka Capital-Journal helped extend Serve Day’s reach and touched more people for Christ. The local paper published a feature article on the June 24 event, including photos of neon-clad volunteers’ organizing and doing landscaping work.
“We discovered [The Capital-Journal] wanted to know when we had events,” Pryor said. “They are a newspaper; they [have] space to fill. The local papers especially are thankful for stories, and we are thankful for the press. They are very friendly across the board. They report everything very well.”
Sending out press releases may be helpful for churches who struggle to garner media coverage, Pryor said.
“Put a press release out that has all of the dates, facts, issues,” Pryor said. “The best thing you can do, and the friendliest thing you can do, to have a chance of being published is” to ensure local journalists “don’t have to do as much work on their end trying to hunt down stories.”
While press coverage is helpful, impacting the community is the most important goal of Serve Day, said Randy Smith, pastor of another Baptist congregation that participated in the day of service.

Photo courtesy of Tammy Seimears, Madison News
Richard Taylor, director of missions for the Flint Hills Baptist Association in Kansas, along with Gregory Durant, pastor of the True Light Church, and Jonathan Castillo, pastor of Centro Biblico El Camino, thanked volunteers and sent them off for the day with prayer.

“The benefit to the community is to heighten awareness of the local church, and it just generally encourages the people of the community to know that they’re not alone and that there are people who care,” said Smith, pastor of Lakeside Baptist Church in Silver Lake, Kan. “As far as the church’s benefit, it helps you to think outside of the walls of your church. It is always good to serve.”
Richard Taylor, director of missions for the Flint Hills Association, said church plants are an integral part of Serve Day. For instance, Centro Biblico El Camino in Topeka, a Hispanic church plant, partnered with neighboring True Life Baptist Church to host volunteers.
“We usually try to tie [Serve Day] with the church plants,” Taylor said. “It’s not just one church. All the churches in the association are invited to participate. We are all in this together. We are partners, and we are helping each other. That’s what it means to be an association.”
The idea for a one-day outreach blitz originated when a pastor from Arkansas visited a Topeka-area Vacation Bible School and helped the association put on its first Serve Day. Volunteers swarmed a town of 200 people and established a tradition of serving different Kansas communities.
One benefit of Serve Day, Taylor said, is that volunteers don’t have to take off as much vacation time like they would if they participated in longer mission trips.
Serve Day’s success even connected the association with churches in Saskatchewan, Canada, showing them how to begin their own Serve Day, Taylor said.
“If there is an expansion, it is just by word of mouth from our churches about what a great experience it is,” Taylor said. “The way to expand this is sharing it with other associations and seeing the impact it can have for the reputation of Baptist churches.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Daniel Woodman, who will be a senior journalism major at the University of Missouri, is a summer intern with Baptist Press.)

7/21/2017 11:05:08 AM by Daniel Woodman, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Florida fortifies religious freedom in public schools

July 21 2017 by Leigh Jones, WORLD News Service

Florida public school students will have added protection for expressing their faith on campus during the upcoming school year, thanks to a new law that went into effect July 1. Supporters say the bill just reiterates existing constitutional protections for religious liberty by listing specific practices with which educators cannot interfere. Opponents say the bill goes too far and could unleash a rash of lawsuits.
The Religious Expression in Public Schools Act forbids school districts from discriminating against students, parents or staff members for their religious views or expression. It specifies students are free to refer to religion in their schoolwork, pray without interference and wear religious symbols without fear of punishment.
The Florida House passed its version of the bill unanimously, but Republicans in the state Senate insisted on adding a provision that would require schools to allow student-led prayers during the school day and at school-sanctioned events, like sporting events and assemblies. It passed mostly along party lines.
During legislative hearings, advocates offered plenty of evidence that educators don’t always understand or respect religious liberty protections outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
State Rep. Patricia Williams, a freshman Democrat and a former educator, co-sponsored the House version of the bill because of an incident that happened three years ago at a Broward County elementary school, where a teacher told a student he couldn’t read his Bible during free reading time and forced the child to put the book away.
Although the state Education Practices Commission later reprimanded the teacher, Williams said she wanted to make sure something like that never happened again.
“If I never pass another bill … this was why I’m here,” she said. “This was very important, and this was very important for me, so that students coming after me are given an opportunity to use their freedom of religious expression.”
Of course, opposition to anything faith-related is not limited to Florida schools. Coaches aren’t allowed to pray on school property, pro-life groups are barred from starting student clubs on campus and every year at least one graduation speech gets censored for religious content.
Florida-based religious liberty lawyer Mat Staver told the Tampa Bay Times the new law would protect school districts from themselves.
“Having this in the statute will be very beneficial,” he said. “Schools don’t want to be sued. They’ve got better things to do. And people don’t want their religious rights violated.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Leigh Jones writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville. Used with permission.)

7/21/2017 11:03:06 AM by Leigh Jones, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments

Oklahoma AG: Defense of university chapel a top priority

July 21 2017 by Bonnie Pritchett, WORLD News Service

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has stepped into a dispute over the display of Christian emblems on a public university campus, declaring the issue a top religious liberty priority. In a July 5 letter to East Central University’s (ECU) Board of Regents, Hunter said the fight could have repercussions beyond the ECU campus and asked administrators to refer all future responses to his office.
For 60 years, the Kathryn P. Boswell Memorial Chapel on the ECU campus in Ada, Okla., has hosted a variety of religious services, concerts and university club meetings, all while a cross stood atop its steeple, and Bibles rested in its pews. But according to Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU), someone complained that those elements constituted government endorsement of religion. The cross, Bibles and religious icons “do not belong” on the public university campus and must be removed, AU told university administrators in a June letter.
Hunter called the atheist organization’s demands “scare tactics” and promised to defend the university – and the state – from continued legal threats. ECU administrators initially capitulated and began removing religious items from the chapel before public outcry over the demand forced the school to rethink its response.
“We moved too quickly,” said ECU president Katricia Pierson in a June 30 statement. “We regret not taking time to pause and thoughtfully consider the request and the results of our actions on all of the students, faculty and community members who we serve.”
Administrators have not said whether they returned the previously removed items to the chapel. But Pierson said the school would convene a committee representing the university’s diverse viewpoints to address the issue.
In his letter to Mark Stansberry, ECU board chairman, Hunter asked the school to forgo those plans. While lauding the reconciliation efforts, Hunter said AU’s implied legal action against the school requires his office to address the matter. Any action by the committee could have “profound” legal implications for the State of Oklahoma and “similarly situated entities,” he said.
Hunter assured Stansberry that neither the Establishment Clause nor case law require a publicly funded entity to purge itself of features related to religious expression or heritage. He called AU’s tactics “misleading” and noted the group’s “selective” citation of cases decided outside Oklahoma’s jurisdiction.
“The highest priority must be placed on ensuring the defense of Oklahomans’ religious freedom under the law,” Hunter wrote.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bonnie Pritchett writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville. Used with permission.)

7/21/2017 10:59:18 AM by Bonnie Pritchett, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments

CP connects pastor, church to ‘True Grit Americans’

July 21 2017 by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press

Only Way Baptist Church has been rotating its “3 R’s 4 Him” outreach emphasis for the last 18 months.

Submitted photo
The congregation of Only Way Baptist Church in Cushing, Okla., poses for a photograph to include in a thank-you note sent to the East Cullman (Ala.) Baptist Association, which sent a team to help Only Way complete a new building in 2014.

It’s a concept developed by Tim Morlan, pastor since 2010 of the rural, historically Native American church that is more than an hour’s drive outside the Oklahoma City area. Today, the pastor describes the congregation as “more cowboy than Indian.”
The first of the “3 R’s” refers to those who are absent from among the membership roll of the church. They get the church’s focus in the first month. The roads – or community – around the church are targeted in month two and relationships that members have with friends, family and coworkers are gleaned for gospel opportunities in month three. Then the cycle repeats.
But the church’s giving to Southern Baptist mission and ministry efforts through the Cooperative Program (CP) hasn’t changed at all since at least 2001 – and probably years before that. A full 15 percent is directed toward CP each month out of the tithes and offerings of the 35 people who participate in Sunday morning worship.
“It’s just been part of the culture of the church to always be supportive of the Cooperative Program,” Morlan told Baptist Press (BP). “One of the Indian pastors taught a lot on giving, and it became ingrained in the people to give.
“They wanted to do more than just 10 percent,” the pastor noted. “They wanted to give a good percentage of what they have.”
Only Way Baptist Church has seen many of its members find ways to serve beyond their financial gifts.

Submitted photo
Only Way Baptist was founded in 1912 as a Native American mission to Sac and Fox Nation members living on their reservation northeast of Oklahoma City.

“Sometimes I used to be discouraged with small congregations,” Harold Heiney, a Native American and 60-year missionary to Native Americans, wrote in his 2015 autobiography, Come, Walk With Us. “It doesn’t seem like you can get anybody to go to church; but every time this comes to mind, I think back on the Only Way Baptist Church. ... It’s never had over 30 to 35 people in church, but out of that one little church have come at least 25 full-time Christian service people.”
Only Way Baptist started in 1912 as a Native American mission to Sac and Fox Nation members living on their reservation northeast of Oklahoma City.
“They got the name because [the Native Americans who started the church] said, ‘We have tried all the old Indian ways, and we have come to believe Jesus is the only way,’” Morlan recounted from what he had been told by long-time members.
Located on a five-acre corner of Sac and Fox land that was donated to be a Baptist church, the struggle over the years has come from tribal members who see Christianity as “the white man’s religion” and as such to be rejected, the pastor told BP.
“The native religion is still really strong,” Morlan said. “There’s a lot of family persecution for those who want to follow Christ, because others see it as forsaking their heritage.
“I notice that especially with funerals,” the pastor said. “There’s a lot of animosity toward the white man and white man’s religion because [some tribal members] see it as having attacked their community. Their community has changed a lot because of the white man.”
Though known as “the little Indian church,” the 30 square miles around the church – with a total population of 392 – is mostly Anglo. “The Native American sentiment is that white people have taken over land and church, and the stats show this to be true,” Morlan said. The church is a close family but needs to be more integrated with people who live in the community around the church.

Submitted photo
As well as being available full-time to Only Way Baptist Church, pastor Tim Morlan is self-employed as a contractor who specializes in laying tile and marble. He lives in Oklahoma City with his wife, Lori, and their 11 children between the ages of 18 months and 24 years.

The mixed, though leaning Anglo, congregation “has its limitations but they love each other, and they love their church,” the pastor said. “This is a Bible-believing, Christ-loving church.”
As a whole, the area’s residents are “True Grit Americans,” the pastor said, people of limited education and limited financial resources, and “Only Way Baptist is a low population church in a low population area, but that does not mean low possibilities,” Morlan wrote in an essay last year, after he examined the region’s demographics for a class in Cross Cultural Ministry at Oklahoma Baptist University.
As is typical of many reservation areas, the people are generous, caring and giving, the pastor said.
“When people need a helping hand, [Only Way members] give it,” Morlan said. “There’s not much ‘community’ here. With only 13 people per square mile, they’re pretty spread out, but we do what we can.”
That’s another proof of the value of the Cooperative Program, the pastor said.
“Being a small church with limited resources you can’t always be part of a big thing, but with the Cooperative Program, we can couple up with everybody else and take part in what our denomination is doing as a whole,” Morlan said.
Only Way Baptist experienced the benefit of cooperating when in 2014, 40 people from East Cullman Baptist Association in Alabama arrived to frame and roof a new facility. The previous structure, built in 1914, with a couple of additions since, had outlived its usefulness.
Other churches in Cimarron Baptist Association helped with lodging and meals for the Alabama mission team, and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma sent its shower trailer.
“It was a communal effort that showed the benefit of being Southern Baptist,” Morlan said. “We would not have been able to do it without the cooperative action of our sister churches and the Alabama association.”
Only Way members had been saving for years for a new building, and Morlan said he was called in 2010 as much for his construction expertise as for his preaching. “They figured I could teach the Bible on Sunday and help build the building on Monday.”
It’s his first pastorate, though he has more than 20 years’ experience in prison ministry and serving in a mission church. As well as being available full time to his congregation, Morlan is self-employed as a contractor who specializes in laying tile and marble. He lives in Oklahoma City with his wife, Lori, and their 11 children between the ages of 18 months and 24 years.
The church is about an 80-mile drive northeast of the city. “We drive a lot,” the pastor said, including traveling to his children’s various activities.
“The biggest challenge is time management. I listen to the iBible while I’m working and to Christian radio when I’m driving. It keeps me marinating in the Word. I try to prepare in my mind during the week and Saturdays, so I can put finishing touches on my messages for Sunday.
“We do stay very busy but the Lord has supplied,” Morlan said. “It’s a lot of work but it’s good work. ... It is very challenging. We multiply being blessed and stressed.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

7/21/2017 10:53:11 AM by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Black church conference: nurture, fellowship & praise

July 20 2017 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Southern Baptist African-American pastor Ryan Rice, founder and leader of Life Church in New Orleans, is experiencing the first Black Church Leadership and Family Conference of his 30-some years.

Photo by Diana Chandler
Niya Cotton, at podium, leads the “Who-So-Ever-Will” choir in praise and worship during the 2017 Black Church Leadership and Family Conference underway at Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C.

“To see other pastors who look like me ... and have flourished in their families and their ministries – that’s been a huge blessing and an encouragement,” Rice told Baptist Press (BP) July 18 on the second day of the conference scheduled through July 21 at Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C.
Rice connected with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) when looking for a partner to help him plant Life Church in the Algiers community of New Orleans three years ago and said he is becoming increasingly involved in Southern Baptist life. At Ridgecrest, he has already established connections he considers valuable to the life of his ministry.
“It’s been the relationships that I’ve been able to develop, even in a short 24 hours’ span of time, and just the real nuggets of wisdom that I’ve gleaned from other pastors who’ve been doing ministry longer than me, and who’ve given their heart, their soul,” Rice said in reflecting on the most valuable aspects of the conference.
“It’s been a huge blessing to be a part of the SBC,” he said. “It’s been a great thing to see how God is moving among the SBC, seeing the generations now, kind of touch every generation from my generation, millennials, all the way on, and then the multi-cultural aspect as well. I’ve been definitely blessed.“
Ken Weathersby, SBC Executive Committee vice president for convention advancement, likened the worth of the SBC to an African proverb that suggests if you want to simply run fast, run alone, but if you want to run farther, run with others.

Photo by Diana Chandler
New Orleans pastor Ryan Rice, right, networked and learned valuable insights from other pastors at the 2017 Black Church Leadership and Family Conference.

On the heels of the SBC’s passage of a resolution denouncing alt-right white supremacy at the group’s 2017 annual meeting, Weathersby encouraged conference attendees during the event’s opening evening worship in Spilman Auditorium.
“There will be no racism in the Southern Baptist Convention. We will not tolerate racism,” Weathersby said, though not referencing the resolution. “As Dr. (Frank S.) Page said when he greeted you here last year, there will be no partiality in the SBC.” Page is president of the SBC Executive Committee and has made intentional strides in including the voices of Southern Baptists of all ethnicities in policy initiatives and priorities.
Byron Day, president of the SBC’s National African American Fellowship (NAAF) of 4,000 churches, described the conference sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the SBC as “one of the most exciting, encouraging and empowering events for black Southern Baptists.”
Among the 200 or so pastors, ministers and others who attended the welcoming reception NAAF hosted on the conference’s opening night, about 25 were first-time attendees of the event held annually for nearly 25 years. Preliminary LifeWay figures show a total conference attendance of about 950.
“The annual conference is important because it offers African-American Southern Baptists the opportunity to worship and fellowship with brothers and sisters from all over the country in a familiar cultural context not available to them at similar conferences,” said Day, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Laurel, Md. “The numerous training classes and activities for the entire family provide a time of rest and renewal for our pastors, church leaders and their families.”
Day, like others, pointed to the networking and information-sharing as beneficial. “I am very grateful to LifeWay and its partners for their commitment to this event that equips, encourages and edifies the saints,” he said.
Conference convener Mark Croston, LifeWay’s national director for black church partnerships, voiced excitement at the opportunity to offer the event.
“Having all the SBC entities and other partners represented allows us to offer classes and experiences for all aspects of church life and something for all age groups,” Croston told BP. “What really makes this event unique is that we really do have something for the entire family.”
With its origins in ministry to African-American Southern Baptists, the conference has multicultural value, Croston said.
“We are (titled) black church but not just for black church,” he said. “We have many who are not black but want to share with or learn how to share with African Americans in their communities. One white family from Vermont is here. They adopted a black child and want to give him time and experiences with other black children, but it turns out they have been having as great an experience as their child.”
Trillia Newbell, who addressed racial unity in her 2014 book United: Captured By God’s Vision for Diversity, told BP the conference is an opportunity for churches to gather, support, encourage and equip each other for the glory of God. She believes the SBC has made strides in racial reconciliation and has hope that Southern Baptists will continue to see progress.
“I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t need to grow,” Newbell said, moments before teaching a conference class July 19 encouraging women to love the unborn, unloved and neglected. “The truth is that we will not see complete restoration until Jesus comes.”
The previous day at 6:45 p.m., conference attendees gathered in Spilman Auditorium for worship.
Eric Geiger, vice president of LifeWay’s resources division, preached on sanctification from Galatians 3:1-13. The grace of Jesus saves, sustains and sanctifies His followers, Geiger preached. Praise leader and vocalist Niya Cotton, wife of conference worship leader Roy Cotton II, sang a closing hymn, “How He Loves Us,” before the benediction.
For most churches, the benediction signals the end of worship, but Cotton kept singing, “He is jealous for me. Love’s like a hurricane. I am the tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.” The “Who-So-Ever-Will Choir,” a volunteer impromptu group drawn each year from conference attendees, remained on stage, praising God, singing background at times.
More than 100 of the 700 or so adults gathered for worship remained in the auditorium, singing along, raising hands, swaying, undaunted by the close of service. After 20 minutes of soulful love ballads to and about God, Cotton’s father-in-law Roy Cotton Sr. joined in singing “Oh How I love Jesus.”
Someone shouted “hallelujah,” even as the crowd dispersed and fellowshipped with conference attendees in Ridgecrest coffee shops, courtyards and other venues. The next day would begin with 6:15 early morning worship.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

7/20/2017 10:30:09 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Pastor compensation studied by financial planner

July 20 2017 by Michael Foust, Southern Baptist TEXAN

It happens often in Southern Baptist life: A church offers a prospective pastor a salary it thinks is reasonable, and the pastor – not wanting to appear greedy – begrudgingly accepts.
But down the road, when tax season arrives or when retirement approaches, the pastor realizes he should have spoken up.
It is a financial disconnect that Christian Messemer, a certified financial planner and a doctor of philosophy candidate at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, hopes to help solve.
Messemer has penned a white paper that details some of the common misperceptions about pastors’ salaries and how both sides – the pastor and the church – can work together to prevent personal financial crises in the future.
For some congregations, this could mean offering a larger financial package, but for other churches it might mean giving the minister freedom to get a second job. GuideStone Financial Resources is offering the paper, titled “A Shift Toward Total Compensation,” as a free: resource on its website, guidestone.org.
The biggest misunderstanding, Messemer writes in the paper, is the difference between gross wages and total compensation, and how pastors are at a disadvantage when compared to employees in other professions.
“In private and public sector jobs there is a substantial dollar difference between an employee’s gross wage and an employee’s total compensation,” he writes.
Gross wage is the amount an employee is paid prior to personal deductions for taxes, insurance and retirement. Total compensation includes gross wages but also benefits from the employer such as health insurance, life insurance and retirement contributions.
Often, churches use a gross wage model of payment, whereby a pastor is given a salary and is responsible for his own insurance and retirement. This means if a pastor’s gross wage is $35,000, he would be left with far less than his total compensation counterpart after paying for his taxes and his benefits. By contrast, an employer in the public or private sector might have a $35,000 gross salary but also $15,000 in employer-paid benefits for a total compensation package of $50,000.
Messemer became interested in the subject through conversations with seminary friends who knew of his financial background. Also, Messemer’s wife works as an executive in human resources.
“I became a go-to for friends who were working through the financial implications of taking a church position,” Messemer told the Southern Baptist TEXAN. “Over time I noticed important similarities: First, my friends were all taking church positions where they were the only pastor on staff. Second, the churches used a gross wage method, whereby the church agrees to a set salary, but the pastor chooses how it is divided. Third, the churches assumed the pastors they hired knew how to best advocate for themselves and how to best allocate their funds, so churches opted for a hands-off approach.”
Too often, Messemer said, pastors are not knowledgeable in personal finances.
He also acknowledged that some churches won’t be able to pay their pastors more than they already do.
“In those cases, I hope that these churches realize the need for reclassifying their pastors as bivocational and allow them to pursue additional employment opportunities that would provide much-needed financial benefits,” Messemer said.
The 30-plus-page paper includes financial worksheets to assist pastors and churches in determining a salary.
Messemer notes that about 1,800 retired Southern Baptist ministers, workers and their widows are assisted financially through GuideStone’s Mission:Dignity ministry, which helps retired ministers and their widows meet basic needs.
“Let’s make this a headline event in SBC life and demonstrate the generosity of the gospel to those who spent their life proclaiming it,” he said.
Timothy E. Head, executive officer for denominational and public relations at GuideStone, called Messemer’s paper a “good resource for churches and pastors as they seek assistance in structuring pay and benefits.”
“We see Christian and his work as a great complement to the work we do at GuideStone,” Head told the TEXAN. “Our vision at GuideStone is to honor the Lord by being a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security.”
GuideStone has other free resources at GuideStone.org/CompensationPlanning that churches can use “as they seek to honor the Lord by providing for their pastors,” Head said. Among those resources are the Compensation Planning Guide workbook, the Ministers Tax Guide and the biannual compensation survey that is undertaken jointly by GuideStone and LifeWay Christian Resources.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is a writer, editor and podcast host for Heirloom Audio, HeirloomAudio.com, as well as a freelance writer. This article first appeared in the Southern Baptist TEXAN, texanonline.net, news journal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

7/20/2017 10:26:09 AM by Michael Foust, Southern Baptist TEXAN | with 0 comments

Rural church’s student ministry called ‘a God thing’

July 20 2017 by Dan Steinbeck, Missouri Pathway

The numbers don’t add up, humanly speaking. Rock Springs Baptist Church averages 120 in Sunday services. Yet they run about 180 in student ministry on Wednesdays.

Contributed photo
Members of Rock Springs Baptist Church serve dinner to 180 youth who come to the rural church for Bible study on Wednesday nights during the school year.

“It’s a God thing. It has nothing to do with me,” pastor John Jordan said. “I’m just blessed to come in at the onset of this.”
Indeed, the student ministry began two years before Jordan arrived at Rock Springs in Licking, Mo., nearly five years ago.
“There was the regular prayer and Bible study, and a few kids came,” Jordan recounted. “They decided to put their effort into student ministry based on Psalms 78:4, which says, ‘We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders (NLT).’ They started pouring into Wednesday nights and started with 30-40 students.
“The Lord impressed on them to borrow for an addition,” the pastor continued. “They didn’t want to borrow but they stepped out in faith after praying. We’re a rural country church. To hear the folks tell the story is amazing. You hear their passion.”
Wednesday nights during the school year, they feed the kids and share Bible stories. There is no entertainment. The Lord continues to bring the students in. There are now eight age- and gender-separated classes led by teachers of the same gender. Seven students came to a saving faith in Jesus last semester.
In addition to a dozen teachers, a comparable number prepare the weekly full meals for the students.
“They love on the kids, tell them Jesus loves them and ask how their week is going. They fix the meal as if they were doing it unto the Lord. This group of folks has a mind to work and they see the impact they are having on their community,” Jordan said.
Overall, the pastor noted, “We used to say, ‘If we win the father, we’ll win the whole family.’ Some don’t have families so they decided to reach the children.
“A lot of times in church we don’t invest in children and students, but that’s when many come to faith in Christ,” Jordan said.
In the process, some of the mothers expressed interest in a Bible study.
“My wife began telling them the Easter story. We now have two ladies’ Bible study classes. About a year ago, some men said the women came home telling Bible stories and they wanted one too, so we have a men’s Bible study.”
Fellow pastors have asked Jordan how Rock Springs pays for the outreach. “The Lord provides. We make the student ministry meal and literature costs part of the budget,” he said.
The building has been paid off.
“The initial cost was $100,000. They had a vision to do something big for the Lord, and they have an amazing kitchen. But that doubled the cost,” Jordan said.
The church had an overall debt of $135,000 when he came as pastor. “They paid off something like $11,000 my first year, then set a goal to pay off $20,000 in year two and surpassed that by some $8,000,” he said. “Last year they were able to completely pay off the debt.”
Rock Spring’s student ministry, like the area schools, is now on summer vacation. When they prepare for the fall, Jordan said members always talk about how God has blessed them when they stepped out in faith.
“We just try to be faithful and work hard,” Jordan said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Dan Steinbeck writes for The Pathway, mbcpathway.com, news journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.)

7/20/2017 10:12:04 AM by Dan Steinbeck, Missouri Pathway | with 0 comments

Physical therapist doubles as bivocational pastor

July 20 2017 by Katie Coleman, SWBTS

Francis Calimbahin’s schedule reflects the numerous responsibilities of life, ministry and a career as a licensed physical therapist. Managing his schedule is often complicated but his calling is simple: serve the Lord and make disciples.

Photo by Kathleen Murray
Francis Calimbahin’s life is marked by a love for his work as a physical therapist and as bivocational pastor of a church plant committed to diversity and starting more churches.

Calimbahin embraces life as a bivocational pastor of Caprock Church in Arlington, Texas. Like many pastors, his non-ministry job is a second source of income, and it relieves a financial burden for a small church. However, Calimbahin says being bivocational is a choice rather than a last resort and affords him numerous opportunities to model a “missional” life in a job he loves.
Originally from the Philippines, Calimbahin moved to the United States and began work as a physical therapist in 1991. Contract work took him to Colorado, Texas and Iowa before he settled back in Texas with his wife, Aireen, in 1992.
His line of work stems from a passion for helping people. “I get to see people go from not being able to get out of bed to being able to walk,” he said.
Calimbahin accepted Christ in 1984 as a high school junior but later became rebellious against God, which continued until he heard a life-changing sermon at a Promise Keepers men’s conference in 1997. He rededicated his life to the Lord, and in the following year, began to study scripture more and devoted Sunday afternoons to evangelism, often driving to the outermost parts of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex to share his faith among his friends.
“For the next several months, I was just enamored by the Word,” Calimbahin said. “But I was also convicted that I needed to tell my friends about my faith.”
Taking notice of Calimbahin’s evangelistic fervor, his pastor suggested that God might be calling him to ministry. After consideration and prayer, Calimbahin enrolled in Dallas Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in 1998 and later transferred to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he completed his master of divinity degree in 2003.
When he started classes, Calimbahin did not know what God had in store for him, but he knew he needed to be ready. He was eventually introduced to the concept of church planting by a Seattle pastor who visited one of his classes. The pastor recommended that Calimbahin consider church planting in the Northwest, so he signed up for a “vision trip” to Washington state. While he did not discern a call to Washington during the trip, he was certain God was leading him to plant a church somewhere.

Photo by Kathleen Murray
Physical therapist Francis Calimbahin leads a prayer time as bivocational pastor of Caprock Church in Arlington, Texas.

From that moment on, the remainder of his seminary training at Southwestern was devoted to taking advantage of as many church planting classes as he could, talking with professors and attending church planting conferences. Calimbahin eventually partnered with the North American Mission Board in a program that connected church planters with academic preparation and practical experience on Southern Baptist seminary campuses.
In planting Caprock Church in 2005, he was already familiar with the area, and Arlington’s diverse population was a perfect context for starting a church. Through already-established relationships in his physical therapy career, many of Caprock’s members have been members of the medical field.
Since its inception, Caprock’s vision has been one of diversity, disciple-making and church planting. Calimbahin says his goal is to make all ethnicities and cultures feel welcome at Caprock because it is difficult to reach people and make disciples if they feel unwelcome or uncomfortable. Through intentional execution of their vision, Caprock has come to reflect the diverse area in which they live and has gone on to assist five new church plants. “Even though we are small, we are committed to making disciples of all nations and starting churches,” Calimbahin said.
With the amount of time he spends with patients in physical therapy, he has opportunities to talk about various topics including culture, politics, family and sports. As he develops relationships and trust, spiritual conversations often arise and lead to gospel presentations and even salvations. However, he realized last December that there was one overlooked opportunity to share with a colleague whom he knew needed Christ.
“As we are doing this discipleship training in my church, I am also getting convicted,” Calimbahin recalled. “I am the pastor. I need to set the example here.”
Extending an invitation for lunch, Calimbahin used the time to share his testimony with his colleague. His story prompted further discussion and a gospel presentation. Before their lunchtime ended, the colleague prayed to receive Christ.
Seizing every opportunity, Calimbahin says, is one of the primary lessons he has learned as a bivocational pastor. With the demands of church, work, family and now his pursuit of a doctor of ministry degree at SWBTS, time is a commodity he must steward well.
Structure and organization are vital to success in bivocational ministry, particularly with his sermon preparations. One of the most significant lessons he learned about one’s use of time was from a SWBTS preaching professor who warned him about the dangers of waiting until the last minute or not giving sermon preparation the time and attention it deserves.
“He told us to not waste our time or the people’s time,” Calimbahin said. “Pastors must go into Sunday mornings prepared. People are hungry for the Word.”
Calimbahin has learned to “steal time” wherever he can, whether that be through a conversation with a patient, an opportunity to minister to the needs of church members or just using any extra time for study.
“The truth is that when you are a pastor, there is no such thing as part-time,” he said. “You are a full-time pastor even though you are bivocational.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Katie Coleman writes for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article first appeared in the seminary’s Southwestern News magazine.)

7/20/2017 9:55:55 AM by Katie Coleman, SWBTS | with 0 comments

‘Bag ladies’ crochet & pray for the homeless

July 20 2017 by Emily Howsden, Oklahoma Baptist Messenger

It started with a magazine article that Eileen Atkins read about church members making mats out of plastic bags and giving them to the homeless.

Contributed photo
Eileen Atkins holds a completed mat for the homeless made by the “bag ladies” of First Baptist Church in Bethany, Okla.

It sounded like something the women in her church would enjoy doing, so Atkins told them about it, thinking someone else would take charge. To her surprise, the women asked Atkins when she was going to start the ministry.
“I didn’t want to do it because my husband had just had cancer surgery, and I thought, ‘I don’t think I can do this now,’” Atkins siad. “But God didn’t let me go, so we started making mats a few weeks later.”
Now, more than five years and 170 mats later, the “bag ladies” of First Baptist Church in Bethany, Okla., are going strong with their ministry to the homeless in Oklahoma City.
Every Monday from 10 a.m. to noon, anywhere from five to 15 women get to work sorting, cutting, looping and making what look like yarn balls, all out of recycled plastic bags.

These balls of plastic bags are then crocheted into washable, moisture-resistant 3-by-6-foot mats. Each mat takes an estimated 65 hours to create and consists of 600-700 plastic bags.
“It’s a labor of love,” volunteer Nelda Schneider said. “I am a ‘bag lady’ and proud of it because I can’t do much for the Lord now because physically I can’t do things like I used to do, but I can do this.”

Contributed photo
The “bag ladies” who crochet mats for the homeless from recycled plastic bags send along a message to each recipient of their labors: “God loves you – And so do we! John 3:16.”

Charlotte Boyle, who is fairly new to both the group and First Baptist, said she’s “very blessed that there is a way that I can help.”
“I can’t see well, and I have a lot of arthritis and limited mobility,” Boyle said, “but I can help here by pressing bags for the other ladies.”

What Boyle means by “pressing bags” is taking each plastic bag and folding it neatly in a way that allows the next person to cut the bag to make 2.5-inch loops that are used to roll into a ball.
Pattsy Littlefield, who has been with the ministry since the beginning, said she enjoys the fellowship “and that I can do something for somebody else. Every week when we get together to make mats is just a blessing to me.”
At 94, Duretta Drake is a master crocheter for the bag ladies, saying, “I’m a senior-senior citizen,” with a laugh.
Like many of the volunteers, Drake does most of her crocheting at home. Some who offer their time to make the plastic bag mats are homebound, so women from the church take the needed materials to them to make the mats at their convenience.
The mats are distributed to the homeless through another ministry at First Baptist that takes sandwiches, soup and clothing items to three different shelters in downtown Oklahoma City.

Contributed photo
Pattsy Littlefield, left, sorts plastic bag clippings into piles alongside 94-year-old Duretta Drake, who is crocheting.

Each Monday as the ladies begin mat production, have a devotional time with the Lord. “It hits us between the eyes every week,” Schneider said.
The women involved in the ministry make sure each mat made has a special design so that each one is unique. The women divide bags into such categories as store, texture and size. They have even used old plastic table cloths, showing there is no limit to their resourceful ways.
After a mat is completed, all of the women pray over the mat and the future owner of the mat. “One of our prayers is that people that get these mats will know that we love them, somebody loves them. Because sometimes I think they feel unloved. But we love them,” Atkins said.
Atkins said it isn’t just the bag ladies that are responsible for the production of the mats, but that each person who has touched the bags from the beginning of the process when they are donated, to the end of the process when the mat is handed out, “everybody has had a hand in it. It is a team effort.”
The “bag ladies” of Bethany always accept donations of plastic bags. They also love new volunteers, especially ones who can crochet, as some volunteers can’t crochet anymore due to health issues.
“It’s just amazing that the Lord has done this, and I say that on purpose,” Schneider said. “The Lord has done this, not just us.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Emily Howsden is a staff writer for the Baptist Messenger, baptistmessenger.com, news journal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.)

7/20/2017 9:37:44 AM by Emily Howsden, Oklahoma Baptist Messenger | with 0 comments

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