March 2017

Moore apologizes for ‘overly broad’ comments

March 21 2017 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), released a joint statement March 20 with the ERLC trustee board’s executive committee in an effort to mend wounds inflicted during the recent U.S. presidential campaign.
The committee, which is responsible for overseeing the organization’s leadership, expressed confidence in Moore.  
Representing the full trustee board, the group said Moore “exercised leadership with integrity and boldness” and “has spoken with clarity and conviction on ethical matters” upheld by the Southern Baptist Convention in its doctrinal statement and resolutions.

“For us not to stand in affirmation of the principles that Dr. Moore has espoused would be unfaithful to the mission entrusted to us by the convention,” they said.
Moore used the joint statement as an opportunity to apologize once again for comments that were “at times overly broad or unnecessarily harsh,” while remaining steadfast in his long-held convictions about gospel clarity, sexual morality and racial justice.
In a 2015 op-ed piece for The New York Times, Moore had denounced then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s alleged misogyny, racially divisive language and general “lack of a moral compass.”
Moore also said in the Times column that evangelical support for Trump was illogical and, for Christians to excuse the candidate’s character flaws, “these voters must repudiate everything they believe.” Those statements came in addition to persistent critiques of the real estate mogul’s candidacy on social media and in other news media outlets.
Backlash against Moore’s position and tone generated controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) for more than a year, instigating some churches to withhold or consider withholding Cooperative Program (CP) money and prompting formal investigations of the fallout by the Louisiana Baptist Convention and the SBC Executive Committee (EC).
Moore apologized for his trenchant language in a blog post Dec. 19, saying he did not intend to rebuke “anyone who voted for Donald Trump,” but only those “who enthusiastically excused immorality.”
The qualified apology wasn’t enough for Moore’s most ardent critics, and efforts to censure him continued.
In yesterday’s statement, Moore said, “I cannot apologize for my underlying convictions. But I can – and do – apologize for failing to distinguish between people who shouldn’t have been in the same category with those who put politics over the gospel. That is a failure on my part.”
Jack Graham, pastor of Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church and the public face of Moore’s detractors, said in a tweet shortly after the statement was released, “This is a gracious and unifying statement from @drmoore.”
Graham’s church became the highest-profile case of opposition to Moore when the congregation decided to escrow $1 million in CP gifts while they evaluated future support of SBC entities. Graham and another church executive pointed to Moore’s alleged “disrespectfulness” among broader issues in the SBC as reasons for Prestonwood’s decision.
In an effort to mediate disagreements, EC President Frank Page requested a meeting with Moore that took place March 13. The two SBC leaders emerged from the private conversation in unity, saying they fully support one another and “look forward to working together on behalf of Southern Baptists in the years to come.”
The joint statement released by Moore and the ERLC executive committee was titled “Seeking Unity in the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Moore referred to early memories of contributing to the CP by “putting quarters in offering envelopes” as a child. He said, “I want to do everything in my power to be an agent of unity, because I still believe in what those offering envelopes represent: the joy of cooperation together to see the world won to faith in Jesus Christ.”
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, said, “I am grateful for the statement from Dr. Moore and ERLC trustees in the spirit of unity. I am also grateful for the quick and gracious reaction from Jack Graham. We truly can do more together than we can do apart, and I am encouraged by the efforts to work together. This has been a challenging discussion for Southern Baptists, but I believe we have found a path for healing so that we can move forward toward what is most important – sharing the Good News of King Jesus with a lost world.”

J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, said, “I believe Dr. Russell Moore is a God-given leader for this cultural moment. He has brought a gospel-shaped perspective to bear on a number of contentious issues, and has demonstrated gospel-faithfulness in the political sphere for a new generation.

“I am grateful for the humility Dr. Moore has shown in acknowledging that there were times he went further in his discourse than someone representing the church perhaps should go, and for acknowledging that at points he could have been more inclusive in his tone. Dr. Moore is right, however, that we cannot be unclear on what the gospel is and what it calls us to. The balance of speaking truth to power and leaving space for disagreement on secondary matters is a difficult one to maintain. We are grateful that Moore is seeking to maintain this balance, and pray for his continued wisdom in doing so.

“The SBC was founded for the purpose of mission and we must fight to prevent any secondary matters from usurping our primary goal. Our gospel is too great and our mission too urgent to let any secondary issues stand in our way.”

Read the ERLC's full statement here.

3/21/2017 1:52:02 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Immigration and the gospel: panelists examine church’s role

March 21 2017 by Liz Tablazon, BR Staff Writer

Students, faculty and guests gathered at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) Feb. 28 for a forum on gaining a biblical understanding of immigration. Walter Strickland, special advisor to the president for diversity, moderated the discussion. Speakers unpacked migration references in scripture; God’s mission and the local church’s mission in relation to immigrants; and the church’s political witness.
The Hebrew word gare, which can be translated as “immigrant,” is mentioned about 92 times in the Old Testament, said Miguel Echevarria, director of Hispanic leadership development at SEBTS. Echevarria pointed to Deuteronomy 24 and Exodus 22, in which God commanded the Israelites to show love to the immigrant, remembering their own experience as slaves in Egypt.
“The idea of loving your neighbor applies for both the old covenant and the new covenant,” Echevarria said. “What if we became indignant the way God is indignant when the immigrant is treated disrespectfully, without equity, without the love and respect that’s supposed to be ascribed to them as an image bearer of God?”
He also referred to Jesus’ command in Luke 6 to love your enemies, saying, “If you consider an immigrant your enemy because he’s taking your job, hurting your welfare, putting you at danger – he is your enemy, if you so view him that way. You are called to love your enemy.” Echevarria challenged participants to think about immigration from a larger perspective of scripture and argued that Christians in the United States have more in common with a believer coming into the country from Mexico, than an “unbelieving, secular Republican or Democrat down the street.”
“We tend to identify with [political] party leanings or ideological leanings … we should reorient our minds to consider the sojourner or alien trying to come into this country, who’s actually a fellow member of the household of God – an alien or stranger along with us – sojourning, looking forward to a better place.
“When you think canonically, we’re all exiled from the garden. We’re all looking for reentry into a new garden. If you think of the whole Bible and you’re not just pulling out scriptures here and there, it gives us a better grip on immigration.”
Addressing a common concern about submission to governing authorities, Echevarria encouraged attendees to examine laws in light of scripture, just as Christians have done with other topics like Jim Crow laws, same-sex marriage and abortion. “When we submit, we’re willing to say these things are OK,” he said. “I’m not calling for civil disobedience. I’m calling for us to stop and think before we begin to talk about our stance on immigration, before we take a party line.”

Engaging with the immigrant

Bruce Ashford, SEBTS provost and dean of faculty, and Todd Unzicker, pastor of missions at The Summit Church in Durham, elaborated on the church’s role regarding immigration and offered practical ways for local churches to serve immigrants.
Social action is not a church’s primary function when it gathers for corporate worship, but it would be an important function when the church scatters throughout the week, Ashford said. He added that the local church is not called to make public policy decisions but should consider if it can make a direct line from scripture to the issue. Unzicker recalled conversations he had with missionaries regarding the political climate in the U.S. Missionaries were primarily concerned about how the discourse would influence their gospel witness overseas. “The reality is in many of the countries that we’re talking about, if you come from America, regardless of who you are, you are a Christian,” Unzicker said.
“So when the headlines say they’re going to stop the entry of any refugees or stop the entry of any immigrants, whether it’s right or wrong, there is a perception that Christians do not care for their people group.”
Unzicker offered several suggestions for serving immigrant communities, such as partnering with agencies that specifically work with immigrants or refugees, teaching English as a Second Language classes and volunteering at cultural festivals to get to know people with different backgrounds.
Jimmy Roh, a theology student at SEBTS, encouraged Christians to reach out to second-generation immigrants, who share more of American culture, but whose parents may find it more challenging to develop cross-cultural relationships.
Alan Cross, missional strategist for Montgomery Baptist Association, reiterated the importance of building relationships with immigrants and their families.
“There’s a wide open door with immigrants right now because they’re very afraid. They don’t know where to look,” he said.
Cross has been working with Hispanic pastors and immigration lawyers to host immigration advisory meetings, where people can come with their concerns and legal questions.
“We’re trying to get [immigrants] accurate information. [Pastors] come around them and then form Bible studies out of this and form ways to penetrate the gospel through the issues that they’re concerned about,” Cross said.
Cross warned against partisan politics – choosing one party over another – but said the church should be more “political.” “Politics” comes from the Greek word polis, he explained, meaning “the people.”
He said it simply means “that’s how we arrange life, how we live and decisions that we make. The church should be involved with that, right? We want to speak into the larger society. We want to say there’s right and wrong.”
Christians have an opportune moment to do just that, said Cross, who received calls from The Washington Post, CNN and The New York Times just days before the forum.
“People that aren’t necessarily asking the church or interested in what the church thinks of these things, are suddenly saying, ‘Where is the church on this?’”
Cross described immigration as an intersectional issue with roads leading into economics, culture, politics, arts and religion.
“If we put the cross at the intersection, say there’s a biblical way to look at this, people will actually listen. You’re able to have this discussion.” 

3/21/2017 1:51:32 PM by Liz Tablazon, BR Staff Writer | with 2 comments

Griggs, Hannah nominations announced for pastor’s event

March 21 2017 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Two pastors will be nominated to be president of the 2019 North Carolina Pastor’s Conference during the Nov. 5-6 event. The president is elected two years in advance to allow flexibility in scheduling speakers.
In a press release to the Biblical Recorder, J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, announced his intention to nominate Chris Griggs, pastor of Denver Baptist Church (DBC) in Denver for the office of president.
Josh Phillips, pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in Norwood and 2014 president of the conference, told the Recorder he will nominate Chip Hannah, pastor of Peace Baptist Church in Whiteville, in November.
Greear noted Griggs’ passion for and commitment to equipping pastors, particularly those serving rural and smaller churches.
Griggs runs a weekly podcast for pastors and is involved in a number of training programs to prepare them for effective gospel ministry.
Griggs has served as the lead pastor at DBC since October 2005. He holds degrees from Wake Forest University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) and has served churches in North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia.
He was elected last year to serve as vice president of the 2018 pastor’s conference.
He and his wife, Tiffany, have three children.
The statement from Summit said Griggs’ passion is “to glorify God by making disciples who advance the gospel. He is a faithful, careful exegete who loves leading the staff and congregation at DBC to engage the nations.”
“I have known Chris for a long time and am honored to nominate him to be the president of the 2019 N.C. Baptist Pastor’s Conference,” Greear said.
“Chris has faithfully shepherded Denver Baptist Church for 12 years, served as a trustee at SEBTS and served as the moderator of the South Fork Baptist Association.
“I have no doubt that Chris will organize a pastor’s conference that is both encouraging and challenging for the pastors in our state.”
Hannah, has also announced his willingness to be nominated as president of the Pastor’s Conference.  
“Without a doubt Chip Hannah has the heart of a pastor,” Phillips said. “He loves to be a pastor to other pastors as well as the people that God has called him to serve.  As one spends a little time with Chip, they will soon see his love for the Lord and his passion to see others discover the hope and the foundation for the joy and passion that he has.”
Hannah has served at Peace for 12 years. He and his wife of 30 years, Joann, have two daughters and two grandchildren.
He graduated from The College at Southeastern and SEBTS.
Hannah has served on the steering committee for the Coastal Evangelism Conference for the past five years. The conference is held annually at Langston Baptist Church in Conway, S.C.
Hannah served on the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Committee on Convention Meetings for the past three years and has participated in mission trips to Mexico, Russia, Argentina, Costa Rica and Mexico.
This year’s Pastor’s Conference will be at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, Nov. 5-6.
Timmy Blair, pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier is the president, and Hannah is serving as this year’s vice president.

3/21/2017 1:47:47 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

How do I lead my church through change?

March 21 2017 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor & Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Many Southern Baptist churches across the nation face a harsh reality, said Thom Rainer, CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, “We either change or die.”

BR photo by K. Allan Blume
Thom Rainer, CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources shares with Leading Change participants March 7.

Rainer headlined a conference March 7 to help pastors and church leaders guide their congregations through transitions in missions and ministry strategies, so that gospel-proclaiming churches will thrive for years to come.
Calvary Baptist Church’s west campus in Advance, N.C., hosted the event called “Leading Change in the Church.”
In addition to Rainer’s two plenary talks, which were based on his book, Who Moved My Pulpit?, the conference featured many breakout sessions on specific ministry topics, alongside a Q&A luncheon on church staffing with William Vanderbloemen, the founder and CEO of The Vanderbloemen Search Group, a church staffing and consulting firm based in Houston, Texas.
Opposition and uncertainty face any church desiring to change ministry strategies and processes, said Rainer.
In his first talk, he listed five types of people resistant to change:

  1. Deniers – people who refuse to accept negative realities;
  2. Entitled – people who view the church as a country club, paying their dues to ensure their preferences;
  3. Blamers – people who never accept responsibility;
  4. Critics – people who are never satisfied;
  5. Confused – people who don’t understand why change is needed.

Rainer emphasized the “confused” category describes most church members that oppose ministry adjustments: “One of reasons change is met with resistance in many of our churches is that we aren’t answering the question, “Why?” in a way that members can fully absorb.”
Rainer provided a roadmap for implementing change in his second address. “Stop and pray,” he said, highlighting patience as an important virtue for church leaders.  “Change does not happen overnight in most of our churches – that’s an understatement,” Rainer continued.
However, urgency is a key factor in the change process too, he said. “When you have a sense of urgency, you never have ‘the good ol’ days’ or ‘the way it used to be’ … because you’re always looking forward in God’s power to what will happen.”
Pastors must build “eager coalitions” in their congregations to effect change and promote “a voice and a vision of hope.”
Although church leaders are normally painfully aware of the problems in their congregations, Rainer said, “What’s missing in many churches in leading change is a sense of hope.”
There will be inevitable “people issues” to deal with, he continued, but moving the church from “an inward focus to an outward focus” is critical.
Outreach and evangelism help promote change, Rainer said, because “as new people come in, it forces the church to look at things differently.”
It’s also important to “pick low-hanging fruit,” and celebrate the small changes to cultivate momentum. In the end, Rainer said, church leaders can implement and consolidate larger changes, but the work is never finished.
“It does not end. Change is continuous,” insisted Rainer, highlighting that healthy churches always search for better and more biblical ways to do ministry.

N.C. pastor encourages churches to ‘refocus’

Rob Peters says helping revitalize three churches has been one of the most challenging things he’s done in ministry. He also says it’s also been one of the most fruitful.
Peters, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, said walking churches through the revitalization process has given him “a front row seat to watching God work every single day, and it’s a beautiful thing.”

Photo by K. Allan Blume
Daniel Im, bivocational teaching pastor of The Fellowship in Nashville, Tenn., and director of, leads a breakout session at the Leading Change in the Church Conference.

But, make no mistake, Peters warned: “Leading change is not for the faint of heart.”
During a breakout session for pastors at the recent “Leading Change in the Church” event held March 7, Peters walked attendees through the revitalization efforts he’s led at Calvary since becoming pastor in 2013. Calvary’s west campus served as the host location for the event.
Peters shared a process he calls “Refocus” with those in attendance, which involves assessing the church’s ministries, creating a culture of evangelism and discipleship, developing leaders among the staff and congregation and more.
Two critical components of leading change in the church include having a congregation that’s ready and willing to accept change and knowing the pace at which change should take place, Peters said.
Having guided three different churches through the revitalization process, Peters has developed a passion to help other churches that might also be in need of change. Peters said he desires to work with 20-30 churches over the course of 10 months to meet regularly and walk with them through the various aspects of revitalization.
“We’ve learned some things, and we want to share some things,” Peters said. “We believe this will be a great place where we can learn together.”
Peters said he’s been praying for 1 million people to be reached for Jesus Christ through the ministries of local churches across North Carolina.
“If that’s going to happen, we’re going to have to be churches (that are) alive in every community across this state,” Peters said.
Peters’ presentation was one of more than 20 breakout sessions held for attendees at the “Leading Change” event that focused on virtually every aspect of local church ministry. Sessions were led by pastors and ministry leaders from LifeWay Christian Resources, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
Daniel Im, who serves as a teaching pastor in Nashville, Tenn., and director of church multiplication for LifeWay, led breakout sessions focused on discipleship and church multiplication. In his session on discipleship, Im helped pastors and church leaders understand that discipleship isn’t a destination that someone arrives at, but it’s a direction that believers move in.
Im also shared the results of some LifeWay research related to discipleship and spiritual growth, which outlined eight characteristics of a mature disciple. The characteristics were: Bible engagement; obedience; service; sharing Christ; exercising faith; building relationships; and being open and transparent. Of these eight markers, Im said the research showed that Bible intake, or reading God’s Word on a consistent basis, had a dramatic impact in an individual’s growth in each of the other areas.
Im concluded by challenging pastors and church leaders to encourage their congregations to read the Bible on a regular basis.
Keith Whitfield, assistant professor of theology at Southeastern, led a session on cultural engagement.
During his presentation, Whitfield dispelled several myths about what modern-day cultural engagement is and what it isn’t, as well as what it looks like. At its core, Whitfield said, cultural engagement is about loving people and sharing the gospel.
“Every generation is called to engage its culture with the gospel,” Whitfield said.
Whitfield said that while many people view culture as “expressions of things we don’t like,” he encouraged attendees to think of culture as “an integrative way of seeing the world.” So to adequately engage culture, Whitfield said Christians must be clear in their biblical understanding of the gospel, God’s Kingdom, God’s mission and the church.
Whitfield encouraged pastors and church leaders to look for ways to equip and mobilize their members to engage culture with a missional approach and mindset.
“If we’re going to engage culture, we need to be equipped and mobilized to do so,” Whitfield said. “Cultural engagement is a missional engagement.”

Find videos of the event and other resources at

3/21/2017 1:47:28 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor & Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Cameron McGill: small churches can do ‘great things’

March 21 2017 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Serving as the pastor of a small town Baptist church provides Cameron McGill with both the perspective and the vision for encouraging other small churches across the state. In his new role as president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), McGill said he wants to “help small churches in small places realize they can accomplish big things.”

Photo by Steve Cooke
At the 2016 BSC annual meeting, Cameron McGill (center), pastor of Dublin First Baptist Church was elected as president. Joel Stephens (left), pastor of Westfield Baptist Church, was elected first vice-president. J.D. Grant (right), pastor of Scotts Creek Baptist Church in Sylva, was elected second vice-president.

Dublin First Baptist Church called McGill to be their pastor almost 17 years ago. The town of Dublin claims 250 residents. He wondered if the church could grow in that environment.
“I never was convinced that because I was in a small place that we couldn’t do big things,” he said. “Very seldom did Jesus take a large number of people to accomplish things. He took small groups of people that were faithful and willing, and He inspired them to do great things.”
In the context of a culture that continues to experience seismic shifts, McGill said his focus in ministry has also change dramatically. “I find myself more and more compelled to be in the environment where lost people are. I’m less impressed with sitting in meetings and dealing with the bureaucracy of the church.”
There was a time when the emphasis of his ministry was to offer “the best product possible to attract as many people to our place as we could.”
Now he believes the calling of the church is not about getting people into the church building.
“It’s about getting people out of the building,” he said. “If we’re going to make a difference in the Kingdom, it’s not about coming together and singing about how good the God is that we own. It’s about showing the world we don’t own Him. He owns us. We are His hands and feet.”
In the last 10 years, Dublin has become more focused on missions as they connected with BSC’s Office of Great Commission Partnerships (GCP). Church planting and revitalization also became core values of the church’s vision. Much of that adjustment in the church’s direction originated when McGill heard Milton Hollifield explain BSC’s “Seven Pillars.”
As Hollifield, executive director-treasurer of BSC, explained the seven pillars, two caught McGill’s attention. Pillar three reads, “Strengthen Existing Churches,” and number four is, “Plant New Multiplication Churches.”
McGill was torn with some hard decisions as he pondered those specific parts of the vision. “I would stay awake at night thinking, ‘Lord do you want me to strengthen the church I’m in, or do You want me to step out in faith to plant a new church?’ God said to me, ‘It’s not either-or, it’s both-and.’ It’s a rare thing for a traditional, rural church to plant another church. But it worked, and it has strengthened our existing church.”
On April 20, 2014, the church launched a second campus at White Lake, called The Lake Church. White Lake is a resort community 17 miles from Dublin. The 750 year-round residents swell to 10,000 people in the summer.
“We looked at an area in our community that needed a gospel presence,” McGill said. “Our strategy was to share the gospel with people who are in-and-out on the weekends, or those who vacation at White Lake. We also wanted to provide a church home for people who have retired and settled in that community.”
An attractive waterfront facility was rented for Sunday services. At one time, the building was an amusement park, then a night club. It was re-purposed as an assembly and wedding hall, and named “The Venue.”
A group began meeting at 8:32 every Sunday morning in The Venue. McGill said the time represents John 8:32, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
“We want people to know that we’re all about the truth of God’s Word,” he explained.
Attendance ranges from 125 in the winter to as many as 450 in the summer. Fifty baptisms have been celebrated at the church.
“This church plant has also strengthened the host church at Dublin FBC,” McGill said.” It’s helped us to think out of the box. We’re able to reach teenagers, adults – even senior adults who searched for something all their life and retired – they’re getting saved and beginning to serve the Lord in their retirement years. That’s so cool! The Lake Church appeals to a very wide range of people.”
Dublin First Baptist has expanded their vision with the addition of two church mission partnerships – Moldova and New York.
“We are active with these partnerships day to day,” said McGill. “We communicate with them, we financially support them, we send teams to work with them. Every Sunday we get reports from our two partner churches. My goal is that what we do as a church goes far beyond what we do in our building.”
The first partnership in New York was born through the ministry of BSC. McGill said Dublin wanted to have a Hispanic ministry for 10 years. “We tried many ways to force a door open in Bladen County, and it just wasn’t to be. Through the convention, God showed us that our Hispanic ministry was to be 550 miles away in Woodside Queens, New York.”
More than 150 church members from Dublin First Baptist and The Lake Church have ministered in New York through the partnership.
A second partnership began in 2012 when a speaker talked about BSC’s Moldova partnership in a Wednesday night service.
McGill’s wife, Tiffany, was captivated by what she heard. She learned that BSC’s Embrace women’s ministry planned a vision tour. In a few months, she traveled to Moldova with the team of women. Soon thereafter, the couple returned to the Eastern European country with a GCP vision tour.
“Our hearts were knit with theirs,” McGill said. “We found a specific village that reminded us of our community at Dublin – a small community where the church was a big part of the activities of the community. We partnered with the church in the village of Vadul Lui Isac in 2013, sending four teams each year. I’ve been five times. Through the partnership we’ve added a ‘second daughter,’ Tabitha Mesina.”
The Biblical Recorder reported Mesina’s story in August 2014.
McGill “loves” BSC’s focus on impacting lostness. “This is my heart,” he said. “If you look at what’s going on at Dublin, much of what you see is tied so closely to the vision and strategy of our convention at this time. It works! Churches don’t have to reinvent the wheel. They can get plugged in to what is happening in the convention.”

McGill’s story

Born in Danville, Va., McGill grew up in Winston-Salem. Attending a Christian school and regular church attendance was the lifestyle he knew as a child.
“I remember clearly at age five a teacher shared the gospel out of a brown Gideon New Testament,” he recalled. “When I was eight a different teacher with a similar brown Gideon NT showed me the Roman Road plan of salvation. I accepted Christ that day. My salvation is one thing I have never doubted.”
At 15, he committed his life to full time ministry. After high school, he attended Wingate University for two years and transferred to Emmanuel Christian College, a small Bible college in Connelly Springs.
McGill served on the staff of three churches as a youth pastor and associate pastor. In 2000, he became the senior pastor at Dublin First Baptist.
Cameron and Tiffany married in 1995. Their three sons are 20, 17 and 15, and their daughter is 9.
“They are all saved and love the Lord,” said McGill. “If you ask any of them if they would rather go to Disney World or to a mission trip, they would choose a mission trip every time. Even though we live in a town of a few hundred, they feel very at home in New York, a city of 8 million, doing homeless ministry. When I see them kneeling down on the streets of New York, giving a bottle of water to a homeless person, that’s when I realized how much I appreciate their heart.”
Being elected to the office of president of BSC at the 2016 annual meeting, “was the most humbling experience,” he said.
“I drive by many of our Baptist churches and I think, ‘God, why me? Why would You allow me such an honor?’”
In his new role, he wants to “encourage small churches to do big things well, and encourage big churches to remember to do the small things well.”
“I realize that a lot of churches are looking at their limitations,” McGill said. “There was once a little boy who looked down into his lunch basket and said, ‘All I have is a couple loaves and these few fish. I don’t think I have much to offer.’ But, Jesus did some pretty amazing things with that small basket of food. You may be in a church where you say, ‘Our resources are so limited, we’re in such a remote place – what can we accomplish for the kingdom?’ The answer is, great things.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Zac Lyons and the GCP office invites pastors to join the Moldova Vision Tour, Oct. 3-14, 2017. For more information, contact Lauren McCall at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5536, or 


3/21/2017 1:35:29 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Gardner-Webb divinity alum brings hope to Sudan

March 21 2017 by Gardner-Webb Communications

The people of South Sudan flee their war-torn country looking for refuge in Uganda. Mostly women and children, they experience the trauma of losing husbands, fathers, siblings and their own self-worth. Jamie Elizabeth Efird, a 2016 graduate of Gardner-Webb University’s School of Divinity, has worked with mission groups to bring them a message of hope.

Contributed photo
Jamie Efird is pictured with children in South Sudan where she ministered with the International Mission Board before she enrolled at Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity.

“My heart breaks for the people of South Sudan,” Efird asserted. “They have experienced more years of war than peace since their independence from (Northern) Sudan in 2011. There are more than one million South Sudanese citizens displaced internally and more than one million South Sudanese refugees living outside of their country.”
Before enrolling in the School of Divinity, Efird lived and ministered in South Sudan for two years through the International Mission Board (IMB). Affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, the IMB partners with churches to train and send mission teams to unreached people and places. When Efird came home to Cherryville, N.C., she took her time to discern the call on her life. She decided a master of divinity in intercultural studies could prepare her for ministry.
“I chose to attend Gardner-Webb after speaking with admissions director Kheresa Harmon,” she reflected. “She was my first clue that Gardner-Webb Divinity School has a more personal atmosphere, and the faculty and staff really care about students. Gardner-Webb also offered a lot of scholarship opportunities.”
Efird’s classes gave her practical experience, and her professors offered additional opportunities for academic growth.
The most memorable was professor of missiology Terry Casiño, who taught students the questions to ask and ideas to consider when seeking to understand a culture, society or worldview.
“I valued the investment that professors made in my education and their genuine concern for me as a person,” she observed.
“Many of them encouraged me and shared with me in ministry opportunities outside of required class time. In my field of study, we were required to take a practicum travel course and travelled to five different countries in Asia. We met with local church leaders and missionaries in each country and learned about their work and unique challenges. We had cultural immersion tasks, which involved us not being able to have a local guide or translator with us.”
On a recent mission trip to refugee camps in Northern Uganda, Efird helped lead a conference for South Sudanese church leaders, who were all female. She assisted with presentations on trauma counseling and biblical teaching. “The majority of South Sudanese women are illiterate, so we focused on equipping them for oral storytelling of major biblical narratives,” described Efird, who now lives in Kings Mountain, N.C.
“I want to see a change from the cycle of violence that has been repeating itself in Sudan. I dare to dream that perhaps a need for revenge can be replaced by forgiveness, that blessing could be extended to those who have spewed curses, that a view of equality and brotherhood could overcome deep animosity and embedded thoughts of tribal superiority. I dare to dream that hate could be replaced by love. This is the message of hope we proclaim through the gospel of Jesus Christ, a message of transformation, not just for individuals but for communities and societies.”
Other members of the team were three Cherryville, N.C., natives: Rosemary Curran, Krista Gantt and Lacey Spangler. The group ministered through the support of Calvary Road Ministries. Churches in Cherryville and Dallas, N.C., donated items for the trip.
Donations can be made toward future work with South Sudanese refugees at Calvary Road Ministries, c/o Deloris and Blane Anderson, 4100 Fulton Road, Corryton, Tenn., 37721.
Donations are tax-deductible and checks can be made out to Calvary Road Ministry with the note “For work in Central and East Africa.”

3/21/2017 1:34:25 PM by Gardner-Webb Communications | with 0 comments

Staff reassignments among reports to Executive Committee

March 20 2017 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Following its annual team building retreat, the Executive Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) met to receive several reports, which included some reassignments of convention staff.
The primary personnel update focused on the reassignments in the Evangelism and Discipleship Group. This group structure has been reduced from three teams to two teams. The new group structure maintains the Church Strengthening Team and Disciple-making Team, but brings the assignments of the Church Health and Revitalization Team under the Disciple-making Team.
These and other staff changes were announced to the Executive Committee on March 3 at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro.
Brian Upshaw will serve as team leader of the Disciple-making Team, after initiating the newest BSC efforts in the areas of church health and revitalization. Over the past 15 months, Upshaw served as team leader for the Church Health and Revitalization Team, which was formed in November 2015. Upshaw had previously served as the Disciple-making Team leader from that team’s inception in April 2013 to November 2015.
The Church Health and Revitalization Team, comprised of Upshaw, an administrative assistant and numerous contractors, will all move under the umbrella of the Disciple-making Team with Upshaw serving as team leader.
Upshaw will continue to provide leadership to church health and revitalization efforts, and he will be joined by a new senior consultant for church health and revitalization as a member of the Disciple-making Team.
Lynn Sasser, executive leader for the Evangelism and Discipleship Group, and BSC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. both said the BSC would continue to focus ministry efforts on the need for church revitalization across the state and would begin the search for a new senior consultant immediately.
Additionally, two other BSC consultants are moving into new roles. Sammy Joo will move from the Collegiate Partnerships Team to become the senior consultant for Asian ministries on the Church Strengthening Team. Guillermo Soriano will also move to the Church Strengthening Team as the senior consultant for Hispanic ministries.
The staff changes took effect on Monday, March 6.
Board President Marc Francis also announced several committee appointments.
Francis made the following announcements related to the Articles and Bylaws Special Committee, which comprises individuals serving on the board as well as members who are non-board members.
Rob Roberts, pastor of Brookdale Baptist Church in Siler City, will fill the 2019 unexpired term of Jeff Broadwell, a non-board member.
Ashley Reffit, layperson at Turner Memorial Baptist Church in Garner, will fill the 2020 term for a non-board member.
John Compton, pastor of Mountain View Baptist Church in Hickory, will serve as the 2017 committee chair.
The committee also has one vacancy for a 2020 term for a board member.
Francis also made the following announcements related to the Budget Special Committee.
Much like the Articles and Bylaws Special Committee, the Budget Special Committee comprises both board members and non-board members.
Bob Garbett, pastor of Scotts Hill Baptist Church in Wilmington, will fill the 2017 unexpired term of Harry Thetford, a non-board member.
Melanie Wallace, a layperson at Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, will fill the 2019 unexpired term of Tony Honeycutt, who is ineligible to serve.
Reggie Bakr, a layperson at St. Paul Baptist Church in Greensboro, will fill the 2020 term for a non-board member.
Donnie Parks, a layperson at Biltmore Baptist Church in Asheville, will fill the 2020 term for a board member.
Jeff Isenhour, pastor of Arran Lake Baptist Church in Fayetteville, will serve as the 2017 committee chair.
The Executive Committee also approved the recommendation of Jennifer Thoppil of Salem Baptist Church in Dobson to serve on the BSC’s Committee on Nominations. BSC President Cameron McGill announced that Charles Brust, pastor of Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Lumberton, will serve as this year’s chair of the Nominating Committee.
In other business, the Executive Committee also voted to authorize the convention to transfer $250,000 to support the Luther H. Butler Scholarship for N.C. Baptists, which is managed by the N.C. Baptist Foundation.
The funds would come from a BSC reserve fund that receives payment from church loans previously extended by the BSC. The church loan program moved to the foundation in 2009 with the creation of N.C. Baptist Financial Services, a ministry of the foundation.
In 2015, the Board of Directors voted to discontinue the N.C. Baptist scholarship program concurrently with the establishment of the Luther H. Butler Scholarship for N.C. Baptists by the foundation.
As part of that decision, the board agreed to provide funds as available from existing reserves to help build the endowment that funds the scholarships. The convention no longer provides scholarship funds through the Cooperative Program budget.
The endowment provides merit and need-based scholarships to students of N.C. Baptist churches attending one of the five universities historically affiliated with the convention.
Beverly Volz, director of accounting services, shared a budget update with the committee. As of Feb. 10, the convention had received more than $3.8 million in 2017 Cooperative Program receipts, which is nearly 9 percent ahead of budget to date and slightly more than 6 percent higher than the same time period in 2016.
Associate Executive Director-Treasurer Brian Davis reported that nearly $167,000 had been received so far for the 2017 N.C. Missions Offering (NCMO), which is generally emphasized in September. This year’s NCMO theme is “Eyes to See” and is based on John 4:35.

3/20/2017 3:35:49 PM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Equipping families to make disciples

March 20 2017 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Many parents know instinctively that scripture calls them to be the primary disciple-makers of the home, but they tremble at the idea of playing the role of spiritual leader.

“Parents today are very busy, and their plates are always full,” says Mark Smith, senior consultant for the new Faith at Home N.C. ministry of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). “They often view church as a place where they can come and drop off their children to receive the spiritual education and training that they need.
“But God’s Word is very clear in saying that it’s the parents’ responsibility to be the primary disciplers of their children.”
Smith’s vision for the convention’s Faith at Home N.C. ministry is to work with pastors and church leaders to develop a family disciple-making strategy whereby the church equips parents and grandparents to fulfill their God-given roles as disciple-makers in the home.
“As churches refocus their ministries to come alongside families and equip them, parents and grandparents will discover how they can point their children and grandchildren to Christ and then help them grow in their faith,” Smith said.
For Smith, equipping families to make disciples in the home is not only biblical, it’s also personal.
Smith joined the convention staff last fall after serving for more than two decades in local church ministry as a student and family pastor. He was in his 20th year as a student pastor, when Smith said God graciously revealed to him a missing component of his ministry efforts.
“I was enjoying what many would consider ‘success’ in ministry, but God began to show me that something was horribly missing,” Smith said. “For some time, I could not understand what I was overlooking. Then the Lord revealed a key component of real success in youth ministry – discipling parents.
“I was proficient at discipling students at church, but my best efforts were not enough. I needed help, and the Lord showed me a more comprehensive plan found in Deuteronomy 6.”
In Deuteronomy 6:4-7, Smith found both a biblical admonition and practical instructions that transformed the focus of his ministry.
“In this passage, Moses calls on the nation of Israel, and by implication all believers, to love God with all of their being and to allow His Word to saturate their lives,” Smith said.
“This passage instructs and challenges us to impress the Lord’s commandments upon our children by talking about His Word when we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up. The home is either mentioned or implied in each of these scenarios.
“Simply put, being intentional to talk about the Lord and the things of God in daily conversations is an easy habit to start that will pay eternal dividends.”
To help churches begin developing a comprehensive disciple-making strategy that involves equipping families, Smith is planning a series of events across the state this spring.
From Mon., April 24 to Sun., April 30, Smith is sponsoring the Faith at Home network pre-conference tour in various locations across the state.
The events will feature author, speaker and former pastor Mark Holmen, who will lead a discussion for pastors, staff and church leaders on how the church and the home work together in family discipleship. Visit to learn more about event locations in your area.
April’s pre-conference tour will serve as a springboard for a series of Faith at Home conferences being planned for this fall.
“When it comes to family discipleship, God has designed the church and the home to come together as a team,” Smith said.
“When both institutions are focused on God’s vision for the family, we can accomplish extraordinary things for His Kingdom in home, in the church and in the community.”

3/20/2017 3:34:51 PM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Campbell medical team provides local health screenings

March 20 2017 by Campbell University

A team of 10 medical students and two faculty members from Campbell Medicine partnered with the North Carolina Baptists on Mission to provide health screenings and osteopathic manipulative medicine in Kennebec, N.C., in February.

Campbell University photo
Charlotte Paolini, associate professor of family medicine at Campbell University, with Aakash Patel, Sheena Coffey and a North Carolina Baptist volunteer at the Kennebec Baptist Church mobile clinic day.

A semesterly tradition, students and faculty look forward serving members of the Harnett County community in partnership with Baptists on Mission, also known as N.C. Baptist Men (NCBM).
“It was a wonderful experience for all in attendance,” said Chip Smutney, assistant professor of osteopathic manipulative medicine at Campbell. “What we witnessed was a community of people willing and able to serve all those who came to the best of our abilities – this was an opportunity for each and every one of us to share of the gifts we were given, our time, talents and treasure to help others in need.”
As part of the NCBM Mobile Fleet, the mission of the medical bus is to provide a facility for volunteers to meet the basic healthcare needs of patients targeted through this ministry including people without insurance, the financially challenged, ethnic groups, migrant workers, fair workers, the homeless, the elderly and more.
The basic health assessments provided by Campbell Medicine volunteers included screenings for diabetes and heart disease, cholesterol checks, depression assessments and hands-on osteopathic manipulative treatment.
“These experiences help students connect what they learn in the classroom to application in a clinical setting with real patients and real problems – they shift from academic understanding to successful usage in real time,” Smutney said. “Positive experiences in the delivery of real health care allow them to trust in their education, develop their verbal skills in interview, practice good non-verbal communication in the administration of [Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment] between patients’ bodies and their hands and trust in the ‘information’ they were receiving. They are truly well-prepared, and they worked together like a real interprofessional team is supposed to work. All I had to do was get them started; they did the rest. It truly was a beautiful day.”
For the students, the experience is meaningful and educational.
“Every time I volunteer with the … medical bus I know that I am making a meaningful impact on our community,” said second-year medical student Aakash Patel. “Under the guidance of an attending physician, we provide advice and guidance on how to improve patients’ health outcomes. We were able to make a tangible difference in patients’ lives with osteopathic treatments. Outreach activities are great for medical students because it gives us insight into the needs of the community and provides us an opportunity to address those needs.”

3/20/2017 3:34:25 PM by Campbell University | with 0 comments

Paul Baloche offers his music as prayers to God

March 20 2017 by BSC Communications

Award-winning worship artist Paul Baloche – who has written well known worship songs such as “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” “Your Name,” “Hosanna” and “Above All” – is partnering with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina to bring his Leadworship Workshop to Winston-Salem on Friday and Saturday, March 31-April 1 at Calvary Baptist Church.

Baloche and his team of musicians have held similar workshops around the world for the past 20 years as a way to equip and encourage the local church. Baloche recently took some time to answer some questions in advance of the upcoming workshop in Winston-Salem.
The event kicks off with a worship night on Friday evening followed by a full day of training and breakout sessions on Saturday. The workshop is geared toward pastors, worship leaders, musicians and audio technicians. Registration is $69 per person or $59 per person for groups of four or more. More information and registration are available at
Q: Some of the songs that you’ve written – such as “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” “Your Name,” “Hosanna” and “Above All” – have become some of the most familiar worship songs of current times. Why do you think these songs resonate with so many believers?
A: It’s a mystery to me. You never know what will resonate with others. The songs you mention are all prayer-like songs, sung directly to the Lord. Perhaps the personal, prayer-like lyric set to a sing-able melody helps people connect with God easier. 
Q: You’ve said that worship songs are essentially prayers set to music. What do you mean by that statement?
A: So often in our prayers to God, we are thanking Him for His blessings in our life. His provision, faithfulness, mercy, etc. We also ask for strength to face difficult situations, overcome temptations, etc. “Singing our prayers” is what often happens in worship as we sing prayerful lyrics to God from the depths of our souls. There is a powerful dynamic when we sing these songs to Him as prayers – engaging our hearts and minds. Praying the Psalms is also an effective way to increase our “worship vocabulary.” 
Q: Throughout your ministry as a worship leader and songwriter, you have focused on training and equipping other worship leaders all around the world. Why is this such a passion and heartbeat of yours?
A: In 2 Timothy 2:2, The apostle Paul says to Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” The dynamic of passing on to others the things that we have learned from God, and often through others in the faith, seems to be God’s way of strengthening His church. As a local worship pastor, it seemed like a natural part of raising up and building a healthy team to serve from week to week. As I traveled to other churches, I could see there was a need for instruction, training and equipping. Making disciples is a mandate from Jesus. Today, we’re able to do that in so many ways through technology, videos, etc. 
Q: What are some of the challenges that you’ve observed related to worship in today’s churches, and how can churches work through them?
A: I think our biggest challenge is keeping our own hearts alive toward the Lord. If we aren’t intentional about seeking inspiration through whatever means necessary, we can’t hope to inspire those we lead in our congregations. If you feel called to help others worship, then you must find ways to refresh your heart toward the Lord. One of the primary ways for me is to “minister to the Lord,” as described in 1 Chronicles 16. It’s one of many topics I discuss at length on “Leading Worship: Pastoring People and Developing Skill.”   
Q: We’re looking forward to having you in North Carolina for the Leadworship Workshop March 31-April 1 in Winston-Salem. What are some of the key takeaways that you hope attendees will glean from this event?
A: My prayer is for God to affirm, encourage, equip and inspire those who attend. We’ll have extended times of worship to draw near to Him, worship Him and listen for Him.

The morning will focus on our heart relationship with Jesus and how to stay inspired as we continue to serve others in our congregation. The afternoon is filled with practical, up close and personal interaction with some of the most spiritually mature and music ministry-experienced people I know. The testimonies of teams who have attended these workshops over the years are crazy. Hearing how God reignited a passion and a purpose in their team after just 24 hours together is astounding. Experiencing God together, as a team, seems to change everything. 

3/20/2017 3:34:04 PM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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