June 2010

Update: Messengers embrace GCR report

June 15 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

At 5 p.m. June 15 the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) embraced a future uncertain but focused on the Great Commission when a solid majority of messengers adopted the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.

“We are a Great Commission people,” Task Force Chairman Ronnie Floyd thundered when the final hand vote showed a 75 to 80 percent majority favoring the seven recommendations of the report, which messengers considered as a whole.

A year after SBC President Johnny Hunt appointed the task force to bring recommendations about how Southern Baptists could work together more efficiently, nearly 11,000 messengers ended months of debate with two and a quarter hours of discussion that remained cordial throughout.

Just as in the months of debate earlier, deliberation focused mostly over the recommendation that would change giving terminology to make the Cooperative Program the primary element of a new category of “Great Commission Giving,” rather than be the sole recognized avenue of general mission support.

In the only amendment of several to pass muster, messengers affirmed a motion by Jim Waters of First Baptist Church in Statesboro, Ga., to add language that says Southern Baptists will “continue to honor and affirm the Cooperative Program as the most effective means of mobilizing our churches and extending our outreach. We affirm that designated giving to special causes is to be given as a supplement to the Cooperative Program and not as a substitute for Cooperative Program giving.”

Later task force member Al Mohler said the amended language was a welcome addition that expressed the task force’s heart.

Reaction to a preliminary report the task force released in February was so vociferous members made themselves available across the nation to speak to groups, answer questions and listen.

Input from various groups of Baptist state convention employees, missionaries, associational leaders and pastors found its way into the final report.

Task force Chairman Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., and of The Church at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers, said he was surprised by the diversity of task force members in their first meeting and wondered how it would be possible to unify the group.

“We needed to understand lostness,” he eventually concluded. “If lostness cannot bring us together, my soul, we are dead, dead, dead.”

Consequently, the overriding theme of the report became “Penetrating the Lostness,” and its final six recommendations sprang from the first — establish a missional vision “to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all nations.”

The other recommendations approved by messengers include:
  • Core values of Christ-likeness, truth, unity, relationships, trust, future, local church and kingdom;
  • Great Commission Giving, which includes gifts to SBC-related entities to “count” along with Cooperative Program giving as support for Southern Baptist causes;
  • “Reinvent” and “unleash” the North American Mission Board to implement a missional strategy to reach high population centers in the United States and Canada. This will involve ending the cooperative agreements that have governed NAMB’s work with states over the next seven years, and possibly decentralizing NAMB’s strategic personnel;
  • Remove geographic limitations from International Mission Board personnel to enable missionaries to serve in the United States pockets of the people group they serve overseas;
  • Give primary responsibility for Cooperative Program and stewardship promotion to the state conventions, and;
  • Move 1 percent of the national Cooperative Program allocation from the SBC Executive Committee to the International Mission Board. This one percent represents about $2 million, one-third of the Executive Committee’s budget.
The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report was approved despite significant opposition by SBC Executive Committee President Morris Chapman, who said only moments before debate began over the report began that, “Under God, I do not want to go in the wrong direction, on the wrong road in the wrong time in our history.”

The task force countered, without reference to Chapman, with a detailed presentation focused on “penetrating lostness” and “pushing back darkness.”

Task force member Ken Whitten of Lutz, Fla., pointed out that 10 years earlier, also in Orlando, messengers adopted the doctrinal statement of a revised Baptist Faith & Message. This vote was about “not what we believe, but how we behave,” he said.

Task force members continually emphasized only a change of heart will bring about the changes envisioned by their recommendations. Before debate began on the recommendations Floyd reminded messengers the task force responsibility was to establish a vision, but, “It is the responsibility of various boards and trustees to implement these recommendations.”

Ultimately, the five substantive recommendations all are directed to the Executive Committee to consider. If considered positively, the recommendations will be passed to the boards of the affected entities to consider implementation.

In a press conference following the vote, Mohler said “It is the incumbent duty of the various boards” to respond to the Convention’s expressed will. Messengers rejected a move by Bill Sutton of First Baptist Church in McAllen, Texas, to postpone the report indefinitely because it has been “divisive.”

They similarly turned back a motion by David Tolliver, executive director for the Missouri Baptist Convention, that messengers simply receive the report as information to give affected entities a chance to evaluate its potential impact.

“It’s not a bad report, just premature,” Tolliver said.

“Jesus urged us to count the cost” before undertaking a journey, said Tolliver, who said Baptists don’t know the costs of implementing the GCR report.

After a show of hands vote, Floyd urged messengers to remember that every person in the room supports the Great Commission.

He urged that the differences between those who support the task force report and those who do not “should not be exaggerated.”

“We are still brothers and sisters in Christ,” he said, who “differ on no article of faith,” and are guided by commitment to the gospel.

“The Southern Baptist Convention is a convention of churches that is committed to a missional vision of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world.

“We are a Great Commission people.”
6/15/2010 2:54:00 PM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Update: Messengers embrace GCR report

June 15 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

At 5 p.m. June 15 the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) embraced a future uncertain but focused on the Great Commission when a solid majority of messengers adopted the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.

“We are a Great Commission people,” Task Force Chairman Ronnie Floyd thundered when the final hand vote showed a 75 to 80 percent majority favoring the seven recommendations of the report, which messengers considered as a whole.

A year after SBC President Johnny Hunt appointed the task force to bring recommendations about how Southern Baptists could work together more efficiently, nearly 11,000 messengers ended months of debate with two and a quarter hours of discussion that remained cordial throughout.

Just as in the months of debate earlier, deliberation focused mostly over the recommendation that would change giving terminology to make the Cooperative Program the primary element of a new category of “Great Commission Giving,” rather than be the sole recognized avenue of general mission support.

In the only amendment of several to pass muster, messengers affirmed a motion by Jim Waters of First Baptist Church in Statesboro, Ga., to add language that says Southern Baptists will “continue to honor and affirm the Cooperative Program as the most effective means of mobilizing our churches and extending our outreach. We affirm that designated giving to special causes is to be given as a supplement to the Cooperative Program and not as a substitute for Cooperative Program giving.”

Later task force member Al Mohler said the amended language was a welcome addition that expressed the task force’s heart.

Reaction to a preliminary report the task force released in February was so vociferous members made themselves available across the nation to speak to groups, answer questions and listen.

Input from various groups of Baptist state convention employees, missionaries, associational leaders and pastors found its way into the final report.

Task force Chairman Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., and of The Church at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers, said he was surprised by the diversity of task force members in their first meeting and wondered how it would be possible to unify the group.

“We needed to understand lostness,” he eventually concluded. “If lostness cannot bring us together, my soul, we are dead, dead, dead.”

Consequently, the overriding theme of the report became “Penetrating the Lostness,” and its final six recommendations sprang from the first — establish a missional vision “to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all nations.”

The other recommendations approved by messengers include:
  • Core values of Christ-likeness, truth, unity, relationships, trust, future, local church and kingdom;
  • Great Commission Giving, which includes gifts to SBC-related entities to “count” along with Cooperative Program giving as support for Southern Baptist causes;
  • “Reinvent” and “unleash” the North American Mission Board to implement a missional strategy to reach high population centers in the United States and Canada. This will involve ending the cooperative agreements that have governed NAMB’s work with states over the next seven years, and possibly decentralizing NAMB’s strategic personnel;
  • Remove geographic limitations from International Mission Board personnel to enable missionaries to serve in the United States pockets of the people group they serve overseas;
  • Give primary responsibility for Cooperative Program and stewardship promotion to the state conventions, and;
  • Move 1 percent of the national Cooperative Program allocation from the SBC Executive Committee to the International Mission Board. This one percent represents about $2 million, one-third of the Executive Committee’s budget.
The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report was approved despite significant opposition by SBC Executive Committee President Morris Chapman, who said only moments before debate began over the report began that, “Under God, I do not want to go in the wrong direction, on the wrong road in the wrong time in our history.”

The task force countered, without reference to Chapman, with a detailed presentation focused on “penetrating lostness” and “pushing back darkness.”

Task force member Ken Whitten of Lutz, Fla., pointed out that 10 years earlier, also in Orlando, messengers adopted the doctrinal statement of a revised Baptist Faith & Message. This vote was about “not what we believe, but how we behave,” he said.

Task force members continually emphasized only a change of heart will bring about the changes envisioned by their recommendations. Before debate began on the recommendations Floyd reminded messengers the task force responsibility was to establish a vision, but, “It is the responsibility of various boards and trustees to implement these recommendations.”

Ultimately, the five substantive recommendations all are directed to the Executive Committee to consider. If considered positively, the recommendations will be passed to the boards of the affected entities to consider implementation.

In a press conference following the vote, Mohler said “It is the incumbent duty of the various boards” to respond to the Convention’s expressed will. Messengers rejected a move by Bill Sutton of First Baptist Church in McAllen, Texas, to postpone the report indefinitely because it has been “divisive.”

They similarly turned back a motion by David Tolliver, executive director for the Missouri Baptist Convention, that messengers simply receive the report as information to give affected entities a chance to evaluate its potential impact.

“It’s not a bad report, just premature,” Tolliver said.

“Jesus urged us to count the cost” before undertaking a journey, said Tolliver, who said Baptists don’t know the costs of implementing the GCR report.

After a show of hands vote, Floyd urged messengers to remember that every person in the room supports the Great Commission.

He urged that the differences between those who support the task force report and those who do not “should not be exaggerated.”

“We are still brothers and sisters in Christ,” he said, who “differ on no article of faith,” and are guided by commitment to the gospel.

“The Southern Baptist Convention is a convention of churches that is committed to a missional vision of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world.

“We are a Great Commission people.”
6/15/2010 2:54:00 PM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Chapman: GCR report could harm cooperation

June 15 2010 by Lonnie Wilkey, Baptist and Reflector

ORLANDO, Fla.—Adopting the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force could have negative repercussions, Morris Chapman warned Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) messengers during their annual meeting June 15.

In his final report as president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee, Chapman extolled the virtues of the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified giving plan.

While acknowledging the Cooperative Program has never given every entity all it wanted or needed, he insisted it has given every entity some funds to do the work God called them to do.

“The Cooperative Program has survived many years of tough times. It has brought us through every time,” said Chapman, who will retire from his position Sept. 30.

If the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force is approved, he warned, the Cooperative Program will not retain the unique place it has held.

“It will be one of several offerings, not one of a kind.” Chapman, who served as president of the convention two years before being elected president of the Executive Committee in 1992, recalled the “conservative resurgence” of the 1970s and 1980s as a “return to Southern Baptists’ roots theologically.”

Chapman said that he fears that the Great Commission Resurgence task force report, if approved, would lead Southern Baptists’ from its funding methodology.

“If we abandon our methodology of cooperation, we will become independent Baptists, not autonomous, cooperating Baptists,” he warned. “If you want to be independent tomorrow, you can declare it so. … You can walk away as an independent Baptist body of people.”

“Failure to fulfill the Great Commission is not a structural problem and that it cannot be accomplished with a structural solution,” he stressed.

Failure to fulfill the Great Commission is a “heart problem, a spiritual problem, a stewardship problem,” Chapman said.

He also told messengers: “We can’t manufacture a resurgence of God’s power because someone declares it to be so.”

In referencing the task force report, Chapman spoke specifically against the last five recommendations of the report:
  • Request the Executive Committee of the SBC to consider recommending to the SBC the adoption of the language and structure of Great Commission Giving as described in this report in order to enhance and celebrate the Cooperative Program and the generous support of Southern Baptists channeled through their churches …
  • Request the Executive Committee to consider any revision to the ministry of the North American Mission Board that may be necessary in order to accomplish the redirection of NAMB as outlined in this report …
  • Request that the Executive Committee and the International Mission Board of the SBC consider a revised ministry assignment for the IMB that would remove any geographical limitation on its mission to reach unreached and underserved people groups wherever they are found.
  • Request the Executive Committee to consider working with the leadership of state conventions in developing a comprehensive program of Cooperative Program promotion and stewardship education in alignment with this report.
  • Request the Executive Committee to consider recommending an SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget that will increase the percentage allocated to the IMB to 51 percent by decreasing the Executive Committee’s percentage of the SBC Allocation Budget by 1 percent.
“The last five recommendations will never bring resurgence to the Southern Baptist Convention,” Chapman told messengers. Instead, he continued, those recommendations “will bring more confusion and chaos” to the convention. They need more thought, study and prayer, he asserted.

However, he did not dismiss the entire report. There is great truth in the “urgency” pointed out by the task force, Chapman said. “We must be urgent in penetrating the darkness.”

Chapman also called for the adoption of the challenges listed at the end of the task force report.

“The challenges will inspire us to a higher calling, a greater vision,” he said. “These two sections can form the foundation of where God wants us to go together.”      
6/15/2010 12:26:00 PM by Lonnie Wilkey, Baptist and Reflector | with 3 comments



Chapman: GCR report could harm cooperation

June 15 2010 by Lonnie Wilkey, Baptist and Reflector

ORLANDO, Fla.—Adopting the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force could have negative repercussions, Morris Chapman warned Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) messengers during their annual meeting June 15.

In his final report as president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee, Chapman extolled the virtues of the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified giving plan.

While acknowledging the Cooperative Program has never given every entity all it wanted or needed, he insisted it has given every entity some funds to do the work God called them to do.

“The Cooperative Program has survived many years of tough times. It has brought us through every time,” said Chapman, who will retire from his position Sept. 30.

If the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force is approved, he warned, the Cooperative Program will not retain the unique place it has held.

“It will be one of several offerings, not one of a kind.” Chapman, who served as president of the convention two years before being elected president of the Executive Committee in 1992, recalled the “conservative resurgence” of the 1970s and 1980s as a “return to Southern Baptists’ roots theologically.”

Chapman said that he fears that the Great Commission Resurgence task force report, if approved, would lead Southern Baptists’ from its funding methodology.

“If we abandon our methodology of cooperation, we will become independent Baptists, not autonomous, cooperating Baptists,” he warned. “If you want to be independent tomorrow, you can declare it so. … You can walk away as an independent Baptist body of people.”

“Failure to fulfill the Great Commission is not a structural problem and that it cannot be accomplished with a structural solution,” he stressed.

Failure to fulfill the Great Commission is a “heart problem, a spiritual problem, a stewardship problem,” Chapman said.

He also told messengers: “We can’t manufacture a resurgence of God’s power because someone declares it to be so.”

In referencing the task force report, Chapman spoke specifically against the last five recommendations of the report:
  • Request the Executive Committee of the SBC to consider recommending to the SBC the adoption of the language and structure of Great Commission Giving as described in this report in order to enhance and celebrate the Cooperative Program and the generous support of Southern Baptists channeled through their churches …
  • Request the Executive Committee to consider any revision to the ministry of the North American Mission Board that may be necessary in order to accomplish the redirection of NAMB as outlined in this report …
  • Request that the Executive Committee and the International Mission Board of the SBC consider a revised ministry assignment for the IMB that would remove any geographical limitation on its mission to reach unreached and underserved people groups wherever they are found.
  • Request the Executive Committee to consider working with the leadership of state conventions in developing a comprehensive program of Cooperative Program promotion and stewardship education in alignment with this report.
  • Request the Executive Committee to consider recommending an SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget that will increase the percentage allocated to the IMB to 51 percent by decreasing the Executive Committee’s percentage of the SBC Allocation Budget by 1 percent.
“The last five recommendations will never bring resurgence to the Southern Baptist Convention,” Chapman told messengers. Instead, he continued, those recommendations “will bring more confusion and chaos” to the convention. They need more thought, study and prayer, he asserted.

However, he did not dismiss the entire report. There is great truth in the “urgency” pointed out by the task force, Chapman said. “We must be urgent in penetrating the darkness.”

Chapman also called for the adoption of the challenges listed at the end of the task force report.

“The challenges will inspire us to a higher calling, a greater vision,” he said. “These two sections can form the foundation of where God wants us to go together.”      
6/15/2010 12:26:00 PM by Lonnie Wilkey, Baptist and Reflector | with 3 comments



Leaders urge B21 group to stay in the SBC hall

June 15 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

ORLANDO, Fla. — Supporters of the Great Commission Resurgence task force took a final opportunity to garner votes for their report when they encouraged 1,300 primarily younger pastors attending the B21 conference Tuesday to leave the luncheon and become fixtures in the meeting hall.

“Please get into that hall, sit in a chair and do not leave until somebody prays and we go eat,” said Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler.

Mohler was one of eight panelists who answered questions presented them by Jon Akin and Jed Coppenger, two leaders of B21, a movement intended to help participants discern what it is to be Baptist in the 21st century.

The Great Commission Resurgence task force report was the primary topic of conversation, along with frank discussions about reasons to continue being involved with the Southern Baptist Convention or to support its Cooperative Program missions channel.

Because changes suggested in the task force report would require painful adjustments in some entities’ budgets where priorities would change, David Platt was asked to explain how he made such changes in his church, Brook Hills Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.

Platt’s church determined to shift $1.5 million from its budget that was spent on comfort and convenience for members “to go to urgent spiritual and physical needs.”

“In the end, it’s not really a sacrifice,” Platt said. “We still have much more than our brothers and sisters around the world. … The reality of what we do as a convention is a product of what we do in our churches. When we do that as churches, it informs what we need to do as a convention of churches.”

Mohler called the decades of the 1950s through the 1980s “fat” years in Southern Baptist life when they could put money into good ideas.

Today, “everything’s got to be provisional” and open for reconsideration in the light of gospel scrutiny, Mohler said, because “I don’t think we’re ever going to be there again.”

SBC President Johnny Hunt said the urgency voiced by young pastors has inspired him and his wife to examine how they will commit more of their personal resources to missions.

To all preachers, Hunt said, “There’s got to be more emulation to go with our exhortation.”

He is encouraged that no matter the result of the task force vote, “The greatest change that will probably happen has already come and that is that God will change our heart.”

Jimmy Scoggins, pastor of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., said he resents that “to be considered a good soldier” in Baptist ranks, he has to “cooperate in too many things I don’t believe in” and support departments in his state convention he sees no reason to have, “money spent on good things by good people that should be given to the inner city.”

“Our convention agencies are going to have to compete for mission dollars,” Scroggins said. People seeking missions funds come to his office weekly.

“It is a competitive environment,” he said and he is going to lead his church to give to “networks that are doing the best job.”

He said the task force report gives him hope that such a network “will be the Cooperative Program.”

Matt Chandler, who affiliates with the SBC and serves on the Acts 29 network board, said the SBC will not be fixed overnight, but the key to his continued support is to discern that it is “headed in a direction.”

By the same token, Chandler said of Acts 29, “Anybody who thinks that’s a pretty house just hasn’t been inside the house.”

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay research said, “Southern Baptists are not now evidencing a serious commitment to planting churches.”

Southern Baptists plant a lot of churches only because they have a lot of churches already, he said.

But per capita, Southern Baptists are low. Mohler called the Cooperative Program a “great economizer” and “great exercise in stewardship,” when it was created in 1925.

But it is “toxic for a denomination” to “focus on the vehicle rather than on the trip.”

He said Baptists have made the Cooperative Program “worse than a golden calf” — not because they worship the unified budget, but “we simply think we have to defend it.”

“Who wants to sell a product you can only sell if there’s no other option?” he said.

“The CP is worthy of support, but only as a means to get somewhere we need to go,” he said.

Mohler reminded the audience: “We are not in that room as people who love the Great Commission and people who don’t love the Great Commission. … Let’s pray this becomes a model for how Southern Baptists can reason together, and do the right thing and go home and lead our churches to reason together.”
6/15/2010 10:43:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Leaders urge B21 group to stay in the SBC hall

June 15 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

ORLANDO, Fla. — Supporters of the Great Commission Resurgence task force took a final opportunity to garner votes for their report when they encouraged 1,300 primarily younger pastors attending the B21 conference Tuesday to leave the luncheon and become fixtures in the meeting hall.

“Please get into that hall, sit in a chair and do not leave until somebody prays and we go eat,” said Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler.

Mohler was one of eight panelists who answered questions presented them by Jon Akin and Jed Coppenger, two leaders of B21, a movement intended to help participants discern what it is to be Baptist in the 21st century.

The Great Commission Resurgence task force report was the primary topic of conversation, along with frank discussions about reasons to continue being involved with the Southern Baptist Convention or to support its Cooperative Program missions channel.

Because changes suggested in the task force report would require painful adjustments in some entities’ budgets where priorities would change, David Platt was asked to explain how he made such changes in his church, Brook Hills Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.

Platt’s church determined to shift $1.5 million from its budget that was spent on comfort and convenience for members “to go to urgent spiritual and physical needs.”

“In the end, it’s not really a sacrifice,” Platt said. “We still have much more than our brothers and sisters around the world. … The reality of what we do as a convention is a product of what we do in our churches. When we do that as churches, it informs what we need to do as a convention of churches.”

Mohler called the decades of the 1950s through the 1980s “fat” years in Southern Baptist life when they could put money into good ideas.

Today, “everything’s got to be provisional” and open for reconsideration in the light of gospel scrutiny, Mohler said, because “I don’t think we’re ever going to be there again.”

SBC President Johnny Hunt said the urgency voiced by young pastors has inspired him and his wife to examine how they will commit more of their personal resources to missions.

To all preachers, Hunt said, “There’s got to be more emulation to go with our exhortation.”

He is encouraged that no matter the result of the task force vote, “The greatest change that will probably happen has already come and that is that God will change our heart.”

Jimmy Scoggins, pastor of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., said he resents that “to be considered a good soldier” in Baptist ranks, he has to “cooperate in too many things I don’t believe in” and support departments in his state convention he sees no reason to have, “money spent on good things by good people that should be given to the inner city.”

“Our convention agencies are going to have to compete for mission dollars,” Scroggins said. People seeking missions funds come to his office weekly.

“It is a competitive environment,” he said and he is going to lead his church to give to “networks that are doing the best job.”

He said the task force report gives him hope that such a network “will be the Cooperative Program.”

Matt Chandler, who affiliates with the SBC and serves on the Acts 29 network board, said the SBC will not be fixed overnight, but the key to his continued support is to discern that it is “headed in a direction.”

By the same token, Chandler said of Acts 29, “Anybody who thinks that’s a pretty house just hasn’t been inside the house.”

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay research said, “Southern Baptists are not now evidencing a serious commitment to planting churches.”

Southern Baptists plant a lot of churches only because they have a lot of churches already, he said.

But per capita, Southern Baptists are low. Mohler called the Cooperative Program a “great economizer” and “great exercise in stewardship,” when it was created in 1925.

But it is “toxic for a denomination” to “focus on the vehicle rather than on the trip.”

He said Baptists have made the Cooperative Program “worse than a golden calf” — not because they worship the unified budget, but “we simply think we have to defend it.”

“Who wants to sell a product you can only sell if there’s no other option?” he said.

“The CP is worthy of support, but only as a means to get somewhere we need to go,” he said.

Mohler reminded the audience: “We are not in that room as people who love the Great Commission and people who don’t love the Great Commission. … Let’s pray this becomes a model for how Southern Baptists can reason together, and do the right thing and go home and lead our churches to reason together.”
6/15/2010 10:43:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Charles, Andy Stanley address pastors

June 15 2010 by Norm Miller, Baptist Press

ORLANDO — Charles Stanley — long-time pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta — and his son, Andy Stanley — pastor of the Atlanta-area North Point Community Church — appeared together on the platform of the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference June 14.

Charles Stanley was honored on the 25th anniversary of his election to a second, one-year term as SBC president; Andy Stanley, who was introduced by his father, delivered a sermon titled “Some things I’ve been thinking about recently regarding local church leadership.”

In a video montage that included several Southern Baptist leaders and pastors, Charles Stanley reflected on the 1985 Southern Baptist convention in Dallas, saying, “It was a very tumultuous time. In fact, it was just warfare. A time of great strife, disagreement, hardship in everybody’s life.”

Reluctant to allow his name for nomination as president in 1984, Stanley recalled that he had prayed, fasted and enumerated the reasons he couldn’t do it — and cited the others who’d do a better job. But after encountering God in a way “that scared me to death,” Stanley relented.

“When there’s so much at stake, you don’t count the cost,” Stanley told the Pastors’ Conference audience regarding the Conservative Resurgence.

BP photo by Bill Bangham

Charles Stanley, left, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Ga., and founder of In Touch Ministries was honored June 14 during the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference evening session at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Kevin Ezell, president of the Pastors’ Conference welcomed Stanley, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.


“You just decide you’re going to obey God and leave all the consequences to Him. And one thing is for certain: you cannot fail obeying God; there’s no way.” Stanley told the crowd he believes America “is in the most critical condition it has ever been, even including the Second World War.”

“We’re at the fork of the road,” he said. “And if there’s one group of people in America that can make a difference that’s lasting, it is God’s men, who stand in the pulpit, week after week.”

Shifting his attention to his son, Charles noted that the three campuses of North Point Community Church where Andy Stanley is pastor have a combined membership of 20,000 people, and that the church has started 20 congregations in other parts of the United States.

“As I look back through the years, and what’s happening in (Andy’s) life today,” Charles said, “I could not be more grateful than to say: I want to ask you to welcome my son, Andy Stanley.”

Andy called it “a real treat” to be with his father at the Pastors’ Conference before turning to the subject of church leadership.

Andy recalled when, in the early 1990s, the Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A restaurant was facing stiff competition from the upstart Boston Market restaurant. Chick-fil-A leaders were trying to figure out how Chick-fil-A could get bigger, faster. Company founder Truett Cathy pounded on the table and said, “I am sick and tired of listening to you talk about how we can get bigger. If we get better, our customers will demand we get bigger.”

Applying Cathy’s prescription to church growth, Stanley said that getting better, and ultimately bigger, requires evaluation and clarification.

“I think the local church should be the best-run organization in your town,” he said, because the church is “the vehicle through which the gospel is fed to and communicated to the whole world.”

Stanley cited the Intel Corporation, whose ever-escalating battle with Japanese companies in manufacturing computer chips ultimately caused the company to diversify and stop making the component. Intel leaders realized they needed to abandon their emotional attachment to what they’d always done and if they didn’t, they’d soon be out of the computer chip business.

Stanley lamented that “we fall in love with the way we do ministry.”

“Are you going to continue to be in love with a model of ministry, and simply flirt with the Great Commission,” he asked.

“Or are you willing to fall in love with the Great Commission and abandon a model of ministry that you know in your heart is not making a difference in your city?”

Too many churches are making it difficult for unchurched and unsaved people to attend church, Stanley said. “We’ve created church for church people,” he said. “And that reflects a desire more focused on keeping people in the church that reaching those outside of it.”

For North Point, Stanley said that if any program or project isn’t about “bringing people to faith ... we don’t do it. ... We want an organization that reflects the Great Commission.”

“Identify and remove unnecessary obstacles,” Stanley advised the pastors. Being careful not to discount the gospel, he said it is offensive, but that neither the parking lot nor the children’s ministry should be offensive.

“It’s OK to offend people with the gospel, but, good grief, let’s don’t offend them with something else.” Andy expressed his gratitude for his Christian heritage that “happened in Sunday School rooms with little tiny wooden chairs and little tiny wooden tables in Southern Baptist churches.”

“You are the last, best hope for a group of churches in this country. I hope you know that,” he said. “You’ve got to get this right.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Miller is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Va.)
6/15/2010 9:56:00 AM by Norm Miller, Baptist Press | with 1 comments



Charles, Andy Stanley address pastors

June 15 2010 by Norm Miller, Baptist Press

ORLANDO — Charles Stanley — long-time pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta — and his son, Andy Stanley — pastor of the Atlanta-area North Point Community Church — appeared together on the platform of the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference June 14.

Charles Stanley was honored on the 25th anniversary of his election to a second, one-year term as SBC president; Andy Stanley, who was introduced by his father, delivered a sermon titled “Some things I’ve been thinking about recently regarding local church leadership.”

In a video montage that included several Southern Baptist leaders and pastors, Charles Stanley reflected on the 1985 Southern Baptist convention in Dallas, saying, “It was a very tumultuous time. In fact, it was just warfare. A time of great strife, disagreement, hardship in everybody’s life.”

Reluctant to allow his name for nomination as president in 1984, Stanley recalled that he had prayed, fasted and enumerated the reasons he couldn’t do it — and cited the others who’d do a better job. But after encountering God in a way “that scared me to death,” Stanley relented.

“When there’s so much at stake, you don’t count the cost,” Stanley told the Pastors’ Conference audience regarding the Conservative Resurgence.

BP photo by Bill Bangham

Charles Stanley, left, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Ga., and founder of In Touch Ministries was honored June 14 during the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference evening session at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Kevin Ezell, president of the Pastors’ Conference welcomed Stanley, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.


“You just decide you’re going to obey God and leave all the consequences to Him. And one thing is for certain: you cannot fail obeying God; there’s no way.” Stanley told the crowd he believes America “is in the most critical condition it has ever been, even including the Second World War.”

“We’re at the fork of the road,” he said. “And if there’s one group of people in America that can make a difference that’s lasting, it is God’s men, who stand in the pulpit, week after week.”

Shifting his attention to his son, Charles noted that the three campuses of North Point Community Church where Andy Stanley is pastor have a combined membership of 20,000 people, and that the church has started 20 congregations in other parts of the United States.

“As I look back through the years, and what’s happening in (Andy’s) life today,” Charles said, “I could not be more grateful than to say: I want to ask you to welcome my son, Andy Stanley.”

Andy called it “a real treat” to be with his father at the Pastors’ Conference before turning to the subject of church leadership.

Andy recalled when, in the early 1990s, the Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A restaurant was facing stiff competition from the upstart Boston Market restaurant. Chick-fil-A leaders were trying to figure out how Chick-fil-A could get bigger, faster. Company founder Truett Cathy pounded on the table and said, “I am sick and tired of listening to you talk about how we can get bigger. If we get better, our customers will demand we get bigger.”

Applying Cathy’s prescription to church growth, Stanley said that getting better, and ultimately bigger, requires evaluation and clarification.

“I think the local church should be the best-run organization in your town,” he said, because the church is “the vehicle through which the gospel is fed to and communicated to the whole world.”

Stanley cited the Intel Corporation, whose ever-escalating battle with Japanese companies in manufacturing computer chips ultimately caused the company to diversify and stop making the component. Intel leaders realized they needed to abandon their emotional attachment to what they’d always done and if they didn’t, they’d soon be out of the computer chip business.

Stanley lamented that “we fall in love with the way we do ministry.”

“Are you going to continue to be in love with a model of ministry, and simply flirt with the Great Commission,” he asked.

“Or are you willing to fall in love with the Great Commission and abandon a model of ministry that you know in your heart is not making a difference in your city?”

Too many churches are making it difficult for unchurched and unsaved people to attend church, Stanley said. “We’ve created church for church people,” he said. “And that reflects a desire more focused on keeping people in the church that reaching those outside of it.”

For North Point, Stanley said that if any program or project isn’t about “bringing people to faith ... we don’t do it. ... We want an organization that reflects the Great Commission.”

“Identify and remove unnecessary obstacles,” Stanley advised the pastors. Being careful not to discount the gospel, he said it is offensive, but that neither the parking lot nor the children’s ministry should be offensive.

“It’s OK to offend people with the gospel, but, good grief, let’s don’t offend them with something else.” Andy expressed his gratitude for his Christian heritage that “happened in Sunday School rooms with little tiny wooden chairs and little tiny wooden tables in Southern Baptist churches.”

“You are the last, best hope for a group of churches in this country. I hope you know that,” he said. “You’ve got to get this right.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Miller is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Va.)
6/15/2010 9:56:00 AM by Norm Miller, Baptist Press | with 1 comments



Rally around cry for God, pastors urged

June 15 2010 by Baptist Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — Churches and pastors must rally around the cry for God — not themselves — to accomplish great things across the country and around the world, speakers said during the 2010 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Pastors’ Conference, June 13-14 in Orlando, Fla.

Under the conference banner of “Greater Things,” speakers during the Sunday evening and Monday morning sessions challenged pastors to honestly evaluate themselves, their churches and the denomination with humility and repentance.

Leaving a legacy
“If we as Southern Baptists don’t know where we are, then we sure don’t know where we’re going,” said David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, during the conference’s opening session. Knowing where we’re going is crucial in leaving the next generation “a convention that is committed to the Great Commission,” Uth added.

Using the Apostle Paul’s farewell to the Ephesians in Acts 20:19, Uth said humility, brokenness and suffering are the ingredients required in leaving a legacy.

BP photo by Bill Bangham

Vance Pitman, right, pastor of Hope Baptist Church in Las Vegas, was elected president of the 2011 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference in Phoenix, which will be held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting there. Mike Holcomb, center, senior pastor of Iron City Baptist Church in Aniston, Ala., was elected treasurer, and Dean Fulks, left, pastor of Lifepoint Church in Columbus, Ohio, was elected vice president.

“One of the things that breaks my heart is when I hear a church talking about their ministries and all they’ve done,” Uth said. “Let me tell you something, if you’ve done anything worthwhile, you didn’t do it. Your Father granted it from heaven. Give Him the glory. God gives grace to the humble.”

In addition to recognizing that God is the source of great accomplishments in churches, Uth exhorted pastors to be broken for and weep over those who do not know Christ, as well as prove themselves faithful amid trials.

‘Portrait of a dying church’
Preaching from Revelation 3:1-6, Steve Gaines, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., presented a “Portrait of a Dying Church.”

Gaines told the story of a grandfather who caught a snapping turtle while fishing. He had to cut its head off to get it off the fishing line. Tossing the shell aside, his grandson saw it begin to move. He asked his grandfather if the turtle was still alive even though it did not have a head. The grandfather replied, “No, it is dead. It just doesn’t know it.”

“That’s funny if you are talking about a turtle,” Gaines said. “It is not funny if a Christian or a church is dying and doesn’t know it. It is not funny if a denomination is dying and doesn’t know it.”

Churches are not excited about their ministry like they once were and members “dabble instead of do,” Gaines observed. It is time for churches and the Southern Baptist Convention to wake up, Gaines said. “There are still people who need to hear the gospel.”

Gaines mentioned that while he supports the proposals of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, what is really needed is “a red-hot, Holy Ghost revival from God.”

Faith that endures
Ravi Zacharias, known for his work in comparative religions, cults and philosophy, brought a message from Genesis using examples from the life of Joseph to encourage pastors to be men of all seasons.

The India-born scholar mixed personal anecdotes and humor as he urged attendees to avoid temptation, endure through difficult times, refrain from abusing the power of their position and display a testimony of character.

“If you violate God’s law, you will end up in disillusionment, disfigurement and destruction because the seduction of the lie is that it distorts reality while it is disfiguring the soul,” Zacharias said. “What is the grounding of your belief in your resistance to temptation? Is it the fear of other things, or is it because of the deep conviction that you know only in serving God is your ultimate fulfillment as you’re one of His in thought, in word, and in deed.”

The biblical character Joseph showed the testimony of his character while living in a contradictory culture, Zacharias noted. He added that unless others see the gospel in believers, it will not be heard.

“The testimony you and I carry is a testimony that reflects from the very character of God,” Zacharias said. “I plead with you, as we look at opportunities around us, it is the endurance of faith that triumphs over the day.”

‘Become kingdom people’
Like a team of referees in a football game, the church of Jesus Christ on earth is not here to take sides between earthly teams but to represent the interests of heaven, Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, reminded pastors in the closing message June 13.

Instead, with few exceptions, churches have been “drawn in to take sides” and “missed the kingdom,” Evans said, thereby perpetuating divisions caused by such things as race and politics.

For example, most Southern Baptists would vote Republican based on rightly placed concerns about certain moral issues, Evans said, but most of those at the National Baptist Convention, a historically African American group, would lean to the Democrat Party because they perceive that it values social justice issues.

Depending on the issue, sometimes Christians will necessarily come down on one political side or another, but the Kingdom’s agenda must always dictate one’s loyalties, Evans said.

Noting that “the church of Jesus Christ is supposed to be a little bit of heaven, a long way from home” in the same way an American embassy represents the United States abroad, Evans said the church’s influence has been nullified because it has misunderstood its calling.

Citing Matthew 16, where Jesus told Peter that he would build His church on Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, Evans said the best exegesis of the text connotes a collection of stones “hewn together.” In the same way, the church must be hewn together around “a common cause, a common impact.” If that were to a happen, Evans contended, there wouldn’t be both Southern Baptist and National Baptist conventions. Communities would be transformed, he said.

Christian convictions, not culture, must define God’s people, he said. “It is high time we become kingdom people,” representing the “King’s kids on the field of play.”

Change of perspective
Speakers Monday morning charged pastors with keeping their focus on Christ and the gospel as they humbly serve their congregations. In the opening session, David Landrith challenged pastors not to “lose sight of greater things.”

Landrith, senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist in Hendersonville, Tenn., noted it is easy to lose sight of greater things when one’s perspective is not where it needs to be.

Basing his message on Psalm 73, Landrith noted the psalmist was going through a difficult time in his life because he had an earthly perspective. When the psalmist went “into the sanctuary,” he gained a heavenly perspective. God did not change the psalmist’s situation; the psalmist’s perspective changed, Landrith said.

Landrith challenged pastors to keep in mind that the world is lost and that “our assignment is to get out the word that Jesus saves.” He encouraged pastors to meet God at a place of worship and to exchange “your earthly perspective for a heavenly perspective.”

‘No small churches’
Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla., cited King David’s unrealized dream of building a temple for God to encourage pastors when they feel discouraged.

As a member of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, Whitten said he and other members are often asked, “What are you doing for the smaller church?” He assured the pastors no one on the task force “looks at smaller or larger.”

“There are no small churches in God’s kingdom,” Whitten said. “Compared to the lostness of America, every single pastor of the GCRTF pastors a small church, and none of us have the right to swagger or stick our noses in the air.”

Citing 2 Samuel 7, Whitten said people err in judging a man or ministry by “using the wrong measuring stick.” Questions about the number baptized, the amount given to the Cooperative Program, church attendance and staff size invites comparison and then covetousness and criticism, he said.

“Leadership is not just what is done with the hands, but also what is done with the heart,” he said, citing 2 Samuel 7:4. “God is the only master I know who pays as much for the ambitions of your heart as the achievements of your hands. God keeps the books and the hours.”

‘Grace-driven effort’
Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church in Highland Village, Texas, centered his message on the Gospel as presented in 1 Corinthians 15. Noting that many churches are “primarily evangelism-oriented and not depth-oriented,” Chandler said the gospel affects not only one’s justification but sanctification as well.

Many churches and Christians have fallen into “moralistic deism,” which at its basic level points to behaviors that must be performed and/or avoided in order to receive the love of Christ, rather than to the atoning work of Christ on the cross, Chandler said.

Using D.A. Carson’s concept of “grace-driven effort,” Chandler explained there are two weapons found in God’s word that grace provides: the blood of Christ, specifically described in Ephesians 2:13, and the promise of the New Covenant, found in Hebrews 9:13.

Grace-driven effort attacks the roots of sin in one’s life and not the branches, Chandler noted.

“The heart is the issue, not the external actions,” he said.

Chandler also said the mark of maturity in a Christian is shown when a person runs to Christ — and not away from Him — when sin is revealed in his or her life.

After Chandler’s message, SBC Pastors’ Conference President Kevin Ezell asked Chandler to share about his recent experience of being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Originally given a prognosis of two to three years, Chandler said he believes God has already healed him.

Presently, no evidence of new cancer cells can be found and rigorous chemotherapy is doing much to destroy the current cancer, Chandler said.

Likening his faith to that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Chandler conceded: “If He can, He will, and if He doesn’t, I still win.”

Ezell ended in a time of prayer for Chandler and for others at the conference who were facing life-threatening illnesses.

‘Pay attention to your soul’
C.J. Mahaney, former pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., cautioned pastors about losing the wonder and joy of pastoral ministry.

Pointing to 1 Peter 5, Mahaney, who now leads Sovereign Grace Ministries, cited the Apostle Peter’s exhortation to early church elders to serve one’s church willingly, rather than “under compulsion.”

“The weekly repetitive activity can wear down the once-willing preacher,” Mahaney said. He listed factors like minimal response to sermon after sermon, the lack of discernible difference in people’s lives, hospital visits and funerals and close friends who burn out and leave the ministry.

“You lose the wonder and joy of pastoral ministry,” Mahaney said. “You find yourself serving under compulsion, not willingly serving. You wonder what it would be like to do something different.”

Mahaney urged: “When there is diminished gladness, eagerness and willingness, I plead with you to pay particular attention to your soul.”

To maintain the joy, pastors “should purpose to please God in private” and “purpose to build a culture of joy in their church.” As the Scripture points to an “unfailing crown of glory,” pastors should live their lives in anticipation of their reward in heaven.

“What a day that will be!” Mahaney exclaimed.

Mahaney, who is not a Southern Baptist, also expressed his gratitude to Southern Baptists for being a people committed to the gospel through their churches and seminaries. He noted the profound influence the denomination has had on him, including the faithful witness of a Southern Baptist friend that led him to Christ.

During the Sunday evening and Monday morning sessions, Pastors’ Conference attendees also heard brief challenges from SBC President Johnny Hunt and North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear, both representatives of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Keith Collier, with reporting by David Ettinger, Lonnie Wilkey, T. Patrick Hudson, Jerry Pierce, Carolyn Nichols and Shannon Baker.)
6/15/2010 7:10:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Rally around cry for God, pastors urged

June 15 2010 by Baptist Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — Churches and pastors must rally around the cry for God — not themselves — to accomplish great things across the country and around the world, speakers said during the 2010 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Pastors’ Conference, June 13-14 in Orlando, Fla.

Under the conference banner of “Greater Things,” speakers during the Sunday evening and Monday morning sessions challenged pastors to honestly evaluate themselves, their churches and the denomination with humility and repentance.

Leaving a legacy
“If we as Southern Baptists don’t know where we are, then we sure don’t know where we’re going,” said David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, during the conference’s opening session. Knowing where we’re going is crucial in leaving the next generation “a convention that is committed to the Great Commission,” Uth added.

Using the Apostle Paul’s farewell to the Ephesians in Acts 20:19, Uth said humility, brokenness and suffering are the ingredients required in leaving a legacy.

BP photo by Bill Bangham

Vance Pitman, right, pastor of Hope Baptist Church in Las Vegas, was elected president of the 2011 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference in Phoenix, which will be held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting there. Mike Holcomb, center, senior pastor of Iron City Baptist Church in Aniston, Ala., was elected treasurer, and Dean Fulks, left, pastor of Lifepoint Church in Columbus, Ohio, was elected vice president.

“One of the things that breaks my heart is when I hear a church talking about their ministries and all they’ve done,” Uth said. “Let me tell you something, if you’ve done anything worthwhile, you didn’t do it. Your Father granted it from heaven. Give Him the glory. God gives grace to the humble.”

In addition to recognizing that God is the source of great accomplishments in churches, Uth exhorted pastors to be broken for and weep over those who do not know Christ, as well as prove themselves faithful amid trials.

‘Portrait of a dying church’
Preaching from Revelation 3:1-6, Steve Gaines, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., presented a “Portrait of a Dying Church.”

Gaines told the story of a grandfather who caught a snapping turtle while fishing. He had to cut its head off to get it off the fishing line. Tossing the shell aside, his grandson saw it begin to move. He asked his grandfather if the turtle was still alive even though it did not have a head. The grandfather replied, “No, it is dead. It just doesn’t know it.”

“That’s funny if you are talking about a turtle,” Gaines said. “It is not funny if a Christian or a church is dying and doesn’t know it. It is not funny if a denomination is dying and doesn’t know it.”

Churches are not excited about their ministry like they once were and members “dabble instead of do,” Gaines observed. It is time for churches and the Southern Baptist Convention to wake up, Gaines said. “There are still people who need to hear the gospel.”

Gaines mentioned that while he supports the proposals of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, what is really needed is “a red-hot, Holy Ghost revival from God.”

Faith that endures
Ravi Zacharias, known for his work in comparative religions, cults and philosophy, brought a message from Genesis using examples from the life of Joseph to encourage pastors to be men of all seasons.

The India-born scholar mixed personal anecdotes and humor as he urged attendees to avoid temptation, endure through difficult times, refrain from abusing the power of their position and display a testimony of character.

“If you violate God’s law, you will end up in disillusionment, disfigurement and destruction because the seduction of the lie is that it distorts reality while it is disfiguring the soul,” Zacharias said. “What is the grounding of your belief in your resistance to temptation? Is it the fear of other things, or is it because of the deep conviction that you know only in serving God is your ultimate fulfillment as you’re one of His in thought, in word, and in deed.”

The biblical character Joseph showed the testimony of his character while living in a contradictory culture, Zacharias noted. He added that unless others see the gospel in believers, it will not be heard.

“The testimony you and I carry is a testimony that reflects from the very character of God,” Zacharias said. “I plead with you, as we look at opportunities around us, it is the endurance of faith that triumphs over the day.”

‘Become kingdom people’
Like a team of referees in a football game, the church of Jesus Christ on earth is not here to take sides between earthly teams but to represent the interests of heaven, Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, reminded pastors in the closing message June 13.

Instead, with few exceptions, churches have been “drawn in to take sides” and “missed the kingdom,” Evans said, thereby perpetuating divisions caused by such things as race and politics.

For example, most Southern Baptists would vote Republican based on rightly placed concerns about certain moral issues, Evans said, but most of those at the National Baptist Convention, a historically African American group, would lean to the Democrat Party because they perceive that it values social justice issues.

Depending on the issue, sometimes Christians will necessarily come down on one political side or another, but the Kingdom’s agenda must always dictate one’s loyalties, Evans said.

Noting that “the church of Jesus Christ is supposed to be a little bit of heaven, a long way from home” in the same way an American embassy represents the United States abroad, Evans said the church’s influence has been nullified because it has misunderstood its calling.

Citing Matthew 16, where Jesus told Peter that he would build His church on Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, Evans said the best exegesis of the text connotes a collection of stones “hewn together.” In the same way, the church must be hewn together around “a common cause, a common impact.” If that were to a happen, Evans contended, there wouldn’t be both Southern Baptist and National Baptist conventions. Communities would be transformed, he said.

Christian convictions, not culture, must define God’s people, he said. “It is high time we become kingdom people,” representing the “King’s kids on the field of play.”

Change of perspective
Speakers Monday morning charged pastors with keeping their focus on Christ and the gospel as they humbly serve their congregations. In the opening session, David Landrith challenged pastors not to “lose sight of greater things.”

Landrith, senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist in Hendersonville, Tenn., noted it is easy to lose sight of greater things when one’s perspective is not where it needs to be.

Basing his message on Psalm 73, Landrith noted the psalmist was going through a difficult time in his life because he had an earthly perspective. When the psalmist went “into the sanctuary,” he gained a heavenly perspective. God did not change the psalmist’s situation; the psalmist’s perspective changed, Landrith said.

Landrith challenged pastors to keep in mind that the world is lost and that “our assignment is to get out the word that Jesus saves.” He encouraged pastors to meet God at a place of worship and to exchange “your earthly perspective for a heavenly perspective.”

‘No small churches’
Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla., cited King David’s unrealized dream of building a temple for God to encourage pastors when they feel discouraged.

As a member of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, Whitten said he and other members are often asked, “What are you doing for the smaller church?” He assured the pastors no one on the task force “looks at smaller or larger.”

“There are no small churches in God’s kingdom,” Whitten said. “Compared to the lostness of America, every single pastor of the GCRTF pastors a small church, and none of us have the right to swagger or stick our noses in the air.”

Citing 2 Samuel 7, Whitten said people err in judging a man or ministry by “using the wrong measuring stick.” Questions about the number baptized, the amount given to the Cooperative Program, church attendance and staff size invites comparison and then covetousness and criticism, he said.

“Leadership is not just what is done with the hands, but also what is done with the heart,” he said, citing 2 Samuel 7:4. “God is the only master I know who pays as much for the ambitions of your heart as the achievements of your hands. God keeps the books and the hours.”

‘Grace-driven effort’
Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church in Highland Village, Texas, centered his message on the Gospel as presented in 1 Corinthians 15. Noting that many churches are “primarily evangelism-oriented and not depth-oriented,” Chandler said the gospel affects not only one’s justification but sanctification as well.

Many churches and Christians have fallen into “moralistic deism,” which at its basic level points to behaviors that must be performed and/or avoided in order to receive the love of Christ, rather than to the atoning work of Christ on the cross, Chandler said.

Using D.A. Carson’s concept of “grace-driven effort,” Chandler explained there are two weapons found in God’s word that grace provides: the blood of Christ, specifically described in Ephesians 2:13, and the promise of the New Covenant, found in Hebrews 9:13.

Grace-driven effort attacks the roots of sin in one’s life and not the branches, Chandler noted.

“The heart is the issue, not the external actions,” he said.

Chandler also said the mark of maturity in a Christian is shown when a person runs to Christ — and not away from Him — when sin is revealed in his or her life.

After Chandler’s message, SBC Pastors’ Conference President Kevin Ezell asked Chandler to share about his recent experience of being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Originally given a prognosis of two to three years, Chandler said he believes God has already healed him.

Presently, no evidence of new cancer cells can be found and rigorous chemotherapy is doing much to destroy the current cancer, Chandler said.

Likening his faith to that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Chandler conceded: “If He can, He will, and if He doesn’t, I still win.”

Ezell ended in a time of prayer for Chandler and for others at the conference who were facing life-threatening illnesses.

‘Pay attention to your soul’
C.J. Mahaney, former pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., cautioned pastors about losing the wonder and joy of pastoral ministry.

Pointing to 1 Peter 5, Mahaney, who now leads Sovereign Grace Ministries, cited the Apostle Peter’s exhortation to early church elders to serve one’s church willingly, rather than “under compulsion.”

“The weekly repetitive activity can wear down the once-willing preacher,” Mahaney said. He listed factors like minimal response to sermon after sermon, the lack of discernible difference in people’s lives, hospital visits and funerals and close friends who burn out and leave the ministry.

“You lose the wonder and joy of pastoral ministry,” Mahaney said. “You find yourself serving under compulsion, not willingly serving. You wonder what it would be like to do something different.”

Mahaney urged: “When there is diminished gladness, eagerness and willingness, I plead with you to pay particular attention to your soul.”

To maintain the joy, pastors “should purpose to please God in private” and “purpose to build a culture of joy in their church.” As the Scripture points to an “unfailing crown of glory,” pastors should live their lives in anticipation of their reward in heaven.

“What a day that will be!” Mahaney exclaimed.

Mahaney, who is not a Southern Baptist, also expressed his gratitude to Southern Baptists for being a people committed to the gospel through their churches and seminaries. He noted the profound influence the denomination has had on him, including the faithful witness of a Southern Baptist friend that led him to Christ.

During the Sunday evening and Monday morning sessions, Pastors’ Conference attendees also heard brief challenges from SBC President Johnny Hunt and North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear, both representatives of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Keith Collier, with reporting by David Ettinger, Lonnie Wilkey, T. Patrick Hudson, Jerry Pierce, Carolyn Nichols and Shannon Baker.)
6/15/2010 7:10:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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