May 2009

Trustees affirm NAMB’s ‘crucial’ role

May 26 2009 by Baptist Press

JACKSON, Miss. — Trustees of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) unanimously approved a resolution describing the entity as “crucial to the weaving together of Southern Baptist partners to fulfill the Great Commission.” Trustees took the action during their regularly scheduled May 19-20 meeting in Jackson, Miss.

The trustees said they believe “that the North American Mission Board is an efficient and effective Southern Baptist entity that takes seriously the good stewardship of the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering dollars entrusted to us by Southern Baptists.” (See the full trustee statement below).

The statement of affirmation came three weeks after board chairman Tim Patterson, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., was quoted in the Florida Baptist Witness as supporting a “singular world missions agency” for Southern Baptists. Before the trustees’ May 20 sessions, Patterson said he did not intend to speak on the board’s behalf and he apologized for the way the information was shared.

Confirming his full support for the resolution, Patterson introduced NAMB’s president, Geoff Hammond, stating: “I affirm the leadership of Dr. Hammond who for the past two years has led NAMB with a steady, efficient and effective hand. He has consistently sounded the clarion call that North America is a mission field. And he has done all this with a Christ-like attitude that I have had the privilege to witness firsthand.”

The meeting took place as the denomination-wide conversation about SBC President Johnny Hunt’s Great Commission Resurgence declaration continued to unfold. Hammond, in his president’s address to the trustees, called for a North American Great Commission Task Force. Hammond told trustees the task force would seriously study the actions and activities that will impact this continent for Christ in more effective ways.

“I believe we are in greater need of a missions force in North America today than at any time in our history,” Hammond told trustees. “We need a Great Commission Refocus that will bring a great emphasis to this mission field.”
“This board is absolutely vital to the weaving together of Southern Baptists in the cooperative missions effort. This cooperative effort is not just about funding. It’s about doing missions together and it’s not about one church saying, ‘I can do it without any partners.’“

In addition to adopting the resolution of support, trustees unanimously re-elected Patterson for a second year as chairman of the board, as well as Tim Dowdy, pastor of Eagles Landing Baptist Church in McDonough, Ga., as first vice chairman, and Mike Palmer, pastor of Salmon Valley Baptist Church in Salmon, Idaho, as second vice chairman.

Carlos Ferrer, NAMB’s chief financial officer, reported that Cooperative Program dollars received by the entity are down 3.7 percent compared to budget. In light of the difficult financial times many Southern Baptists are experiencing, “that is a big praise the Lord,” Ferrer said. NAMB is continuing to hold to a 10 percent reduction in spending enacted by Hammond at the beginning of the year.

Also during the meeting:
  • Trustees heard that NAMB’s number of endorsed chaplains now totals 3,078. In the first quarter of 2009, Southern Baptist chaplains reported 8,615 gospel presentations and 1,972 professions of faith.
  • The evangelization subcommittee reported that 315,000 households were touched with the gospel during the recent GPS (God’s Plan for Sharing) pilots that took place in Philadelphia, Stone Mountain, Ga., Lubbock, Texas, and Riverside, Calif. “Can you imagine what is going to happen when GPS launches continent-wide in 2010,” Stan Gilcash, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Watertown, N.Y., and chairman of the evangelization committee asked trustees.
  • The trustees’ financial services committee reported that NAMB’s outside auditors gave the entity high marks in its annual audit.
  • The board recognized 10 trustees whose service ends in June.
Hammond ended the meeting with a tribute to Southern Baptists who serve as chaplains in the military. About 100 currently are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trustees previewed a video that will be shown at the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, Ky., spotlighting the ministry of Chaplain Major Daniel Middlebrooks, who ministers in the hospital emergency room at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq.

“Chaplain Middlebrooks says in this video that the only way he can lead soldiers is to lead them to the cross,” Hammond said. “Everything we do in North America that is about the Great Commission must lead people to the cross.”

Text of trustee statement
“Trustees of the North American Mission Board are committed to fulfilling the task entrusted to us to assist Southern Baptists in reaching North America and its people groups with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“We believe that the North American Mission Board is crucial to the weaving together of Southern Baptist partners to fulfill the Great Commission.

“As trustees, we are unified in support of our president, Dr. Geoff Hammond, who is providing exemplary, unique leadership and vision as Southern Baptists embrace the challenges of the ever changing and diverse mission field of North America.

“With prayer and thanksgiving, trustees fully support the Great Commission focus of God’s Plan for Sharing with the goal of every believer sharing, every person hearing by the year 2020.

“We believe that together with the staff of the North American Mission Board, more than 5600 missionaries, 3077 endorsed chaplains, and the volunteer missionary force of more than a quarter of a million Southern Baptists, we are poised to make the greatest impact for the Great Commission.

“And trustees believe that the North American Mission Board is an efficient and effective Southern Baptist entity that takes seriously the good stewardship of the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering dollars entrusted to us by Southern Baptists.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Reported by North American Mission Board’s communications office.)

5/26/2009 3:46:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Akin offers specifics for GCR

May 22 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

A document declaring the Southern Baptist Convention at all levels needs a drastic overhaul naturally begs for specifics and the “Great Commission Resurgence” author is happy to provide some.

Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, is the primary author of a declaration calling for a “Great Commission resurgence” in Southern Baptist life. While signatories to the document are making a personal commitment in 10 areas such as gospel centeredness, biblical inerrancy and methodological diversity, it is the commitment to “a more effective Convention structure” that has some denominational executives steaming.

Yet Akin said during a May 21 interview in his office, that if Baptists would commit to the first article, “Christ’s Lordship” in their lives that would make all the difference necessary.

“If we get that one right, everything else will fall into place,” said Akin, who delivered the sermon from which he and SBC President Johnny Hunt crafted the Great Commission Resurgence document. “It is the key to everything. If we will recapture our passion for His lordship in all things, we will reorient the way we conduct our personal lives, which will reorient our churches which means we’ll reorient our Convention.”

BR file photo

Danny Akin, above, along with Johnny Hunt, are taking some heat for their "Great Commission Resurgence" efforts.

Akin and Hunt believe the Convention, beginning with its churches and continuing with associations, state and national conventions and the entities of each layer, need to reorient themselves around Great Commission priorities of “pioneer missions, church planting, theological education and good, quality ministries of mercy.”

Akin said an earthquake already has erupted in Southern Baptist life and only a reorientation toward ministry and away from what he originally called “a bloated bureaucracy” will keep it from launching a tsunami, which washes away any support from the next generation of pastors.

“This is where state executives didn’t understand” his original comments, which have been toned down in subsequent editions of the document, Akin said. “I’m their friend, not their enemy. I don’t want to hurt them.”

Instead, Akin denominational executives to understand that the “under 40” wave of church leadership has no “blind loyalty” to anything and will fund “only what they believe in.”

“They don’t believe in the bureaucracies of the SBC,” Akin said. “They’re walking and now beginning to run away from the SBC.”

He said when churches run into bureaucratic roadblocks that hinder their desire to fund missions in a creative or unique way, they simply loop around the roadblock. When told funds spent outside the system will not receive credit as Cooperative Program gifts, which could limit their representation in decision making venues, their response is, “I don’t care.”

The seminary Akin leads is in North Carolina and he believes the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is “doing better than other states,” in large part because of its commitment to increase the percentage of Cooperative Program funds going from the state to the national convention. That has risen two percentage points in the past four years, to 34 percent.

Akin said state convention executives are going to have to make a “persuasive argument” to younger pastors as to why they should “buy into” the state convention. “If you make that argument they’re going to give,” he said. “If you don’t they’re going to bypass you.”

“You have to show it’s not a bureaucracy you’re feeding,” he said.

NAMB grabs momentum
The Great Commission Resurgence document, posted online, has garnered nearly 3,000 signatures. Akin, who said he would have been happy with 500, said the total already is enough to reach the tipping point for effectiveness.

Expect a motion to come forward at the SBC in June for Hunt to name a Great Commission Resurgence study committee.

On May 20, North American Mission Board President Geoff Hammond anticipated the work of such a committee by initiating a North American Great Commission Task Force. He has already named a facilitator from his staff and enlisted SBC stats and trends guru Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, to co-facilitate.

Hammond's move has the appearance of a strategic coup. Although he has not signed the Great Commission Resurgence document as of May 22, by grabbing the guidon he suddenly has positioned the North American Mission Board at the front of the pack.

No agenda
The Great Commission Resurgence is simply a declaration by two men seeking agreement from others. It lays out no specifics, and Akins said, “I don’t have an agenda.”

While some have asked him for specifics, such as if he wants to abolish the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, he said, “not at all.” Is it to merge the mission boards? “I have no opinion on that,” he said.

“But business as usual in terms of North American church planting and evangelism cannot continue as it is being addressed at the associational, state and national levels,” he said. “That I do know.”

Church planting is rising to the top of nearly every agenda and Akin sees the redundancies at structural levels as a hindrance to effective use of funds. For instance, many associations, all state conventions and the national convention have systems to find, assess and train church planters.

One of the ill effects of this redundancy Akin would say is that it reduces money available to fund church planters on the field.

A church planter sponsored by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is eligible to receive a maximum $14,400 annually for two years. The BSC strategy requires the church planter to cast his vision to secure other support, thus broadening his base and network.

Akin referred to Hunt’s church, First Baptist of Woodstock, Ga., which funded a church plant in Las Vegas with a half million dollars and that church now runs 1,500. Those dollars are not counted as Cooperative Program gifts because they bypassed the system.

Akin referred to a recent Southeastern graduate who is planting a church in Washington, D.C. He had to “jump through the hoops” of all three levels of Convention structure and finally put together a package of support that totals $36,000 the first year and drops by $12,000 each year. And because the North American Mission Board provides some of those funds, the hours he can work in a tent-making role to support himself are limited.

This in a city where his apartment rent will be $30,000.

“Who should really be in the business of planting churches?” Akin asked. “Other churches. Various Baptist agencies should be helping in that; they shouldn’t really be driving it.”

Akin will meet June 8 with Hunt and state convention executives to try to alleviate their fears and assure them they have no agenda, other than to find a way to relieve the “stagnation” they feel in the Convention.

Since the “conservative resurgence” that traces its beginnings to 1979 positioned Southern Baptists as a convention of churches that ascribe to biblical inerrancy, leadership anticipated a “move to pursue the Great Commission at home and abroad” and a “great revival in expository preaching across the Convention,” Akin said. “We haven’t seen that either. The two go hand in hand…for whatever reason it hasn’t happened.”
Promise unrealized
“The promise of the Conservative Resurgence was that eventually we would find enough common biblical and theological ground that we could focus on the Great Commission,” the declaration states in Article 5. 

The same article urges an “attempt to discern the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary issues” which lie “at the heart of many of our present tensions.” That could look like an attempt to restrict bedrock Baptist principals of soul competency and priesthood of the believer.

Akin affirmed those principals and said the proposed attempt to define first tier issues — those issues that define “Christian” — from other tiers that define issues necessary for cooperation and from others that are simply matters of interpretation will lower tensions and increase cooperation.

“We’re simply recognizing your right to believe what you want to believe, but it does affect our ability to cooperate,” Akin said. He used as example that anyone can believe women have the right to be pastors, but “it will be problematic” for churches that do not believe the same way to work together.

Because there is some reference in the document to the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM) as a “sound confession for building theological consensus for Great Commission cooperation,” Akin was asked about the International Mission Board’s adoption of two policies — on baptism and private prayer language — that go beyond the BFM to restrict eligibility of certain missionary candidates. Adoption of the policies caused considerable disruption in IMB trustee meetings and consternation among North Carolina IMB and missionary supporters in 2008.

“I think the IMB policy on private prayer languages is wrong,” Akin said. “I’m with Jerry Rankin on that.” Rankin is president of the IMB. The IMB board’s adoption of a policy prohibiting election of a missionary candidate who confesses to a private prayer language would make Rankin ineligible to serve as a missionary in the organization of which he is president.

At the same time, Akin supports the clear IMB policy that would recall a missionary who promotes charismatic practices on the field.

5/22/2009 7:08:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 8 comments

Hunt, Rankin urge Baptists to reprioritize

May 22 2009 by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press

DENVER — After a vote by International Mission Board (IMB) trustees to suspend some short-term appointments and limit the number of new missionaries, Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt told trustees it’s time “to take the gloves off.”

“We need to take the gloves off in Jesus’ name and tell the truth so the people will know,” Hunt said as he spoke at the IMB’s trustee meeting May 20.

Lack of funds is forcing the IMB to limit the number of missionaries it can send to the field.

“I think Southern Baptists are going to say there are some things we can cut, but sending missionaries is not one of them,” said Hunt, pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church in Woodstock. “That is not an option.

“I personally believe that with all my heart that the people of God will rise to the occasion.”

IMB President Jerry Rankin, in his report to trustees, gave unequivocal endorsement to the concept of a Great Commission Resurgence as advocated by Hunt. Rankin described the health and vitality of Southern Baptist churches and the future effectiveness of the denomination as dependent on reclaiming the focus for which the Southern Baptist Convention was formed.

Rankin also challenged Southern Baptists to retool “outdated” denominational formulas to reach a lost world for Christ.

“God has blessed Southern Baptists in numbers and resources, and we will stand accountable before God for whether we use those resources to serve our own needs, church programs and denominational entities or fulfill our mission task to reach a lost world,” Rankin said.

IMB photo by Bill Bangham

In light of a scale-back in missionary appointments, SBC President Johnny Hunt tells International Mission Board trustees, “I think Southern Baptists are going to say there are some things we can cut, but sending missionaries is not one of them.” 

With 95 percent of the world’s population living outside the borders of the United States, Rankin said the percentage of Cooperative Program funds being channeled toward overseas missions is not enough. In order for Southern Baptists to adjust to a changing world, he said the percentage needs to be increased.

In 2007-2008, Southern Baptists gave $11.1 billion in offerings with $9 billion undesignated. Out of the undesignated gifts, churches forwarded $548,205,099 through the Cooperative Program, with $343,819,507 for state missions and $204,385,592 for SBC national causes. Of the amount forwarded for SBC national causes, the IMB received 50 percent, or about $102 million, which amounts to just over 1.13 percent of undesignated funds contributed to local congregations.

The IMB receives 100 percent of Lottie Moon Christmas Offering gifts which amounted to $150 million for 2007-2008. Combined with the IMB’s CP allocation, the $252 million in contributions to cooperative international missions were less than 2.3 percent of total gifts to SBC churches.

“The number of missionaries we can support is totally contingent on the voluntary giving of Southern Baptists and determined by the allocation of Cooperative Program resources as determined by state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention,” Rankin said.

“Although we are driven by a vision to reach a lost world ... we must operate within available resources.”

Rankin acknowledged that the problem begins with personal stewardship; the number of Southern Baptists who tithe regularly is diminishing.

Yet the opportunity to reach a lost world has never been greater, Rankin said.

Last year’s IMB Annual Statistical Report showed that 565,967 people had been baptized and 26,970 churches started overseas through IMB missionaries working with Baptist nationals.

“God is using global events to provide unprecedented opportunities for global advance,” Rankin said. “The harvest is accelerating, unreached people groups are being engaged as never before, but we are on the verge of forfeiting the opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission.”

If the IMB doesn’t send those who have a passion for missions, Rankin said many of them will find other channels for service; many of them will be forced to raise their own support and churches will begin diverting resources to support those called from their congregations.

“They will be forced to be obedient to God’s call by going independently,” Rankin said. “The Cooperative Program will suffer as a result.

“We need to recognize that we must get on board with God’s agenda of going into all the world and making disciples of all nations.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Hendricks is a writer with the International Mission Board.)

Hunt’s letter to the Southern Baptist Convention calling for a renewed commitment to the Great Commission is available at To see a chart on how Cooperative Program funds are channeled, go to

5/22/2009 5:47:00 AM by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press | with 1 comments

IMB scales back missionary appointments

May 22 2009 by Shawn Hendricks & Erich Bridges, Baptist Press

DENVER — In response to reduced giving during the current economic downturn, International Mission Board (IMB) trustees approved suspending new appointments to the International Service Corps and Masters programs during their May 19-20 meeting in Denver.

The IMB also will reduce the number of new appointments to its career, apprentice and associate programs. New appointments will continue on a more selective basis, involving the most strategic assignments.

Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt, who spoke at the meeting, said, “It is not acceptable in my heart that we can have missionaries in the pipeline and need to tell them we can’t send them.

“I believe that the people of God will rise to the occasion,” said Hunt, pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church in Woodstock.

But Hunt also noted: “We will have a significant reduction (of missionary appointments) in 2010 ... unless Southern Baptists respond.”

This comes after a year when Southern Baptists sent out 1,088 new missionaries in all categories combined through the IMB. This year, long-term appointments will be capped at 300. With 220 already appointed to date, only 80 more appointments will be made for the fiscal year.

IMB photo by Bill Bangham

International Mission Board trustees gather around IMB President Jerry Rankin and Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt, left and right center respectively, to pray for them as they lead Southern Baptists toward a recommitment to the Great Commission. 

In any given year, the IMB typically appoints 700 missionaries in all categories to replace attrition through end of term, retirement, resignation and other reasons. In 2008, 5,495 personnel were serving in the field, and 4,286 of these were long-term missionaries.

“Today, we have more candidates knocking on our door and downloading our applications than ever before,” said Paul Chitwood, IMB trustee chairman.

“Yet on this day when God has answered our prayers for workers for His harvest, lack of funding has forced us to temporarily suspend categories for service.”

A number of trustees had tears in their eyes as they approved the recommendations to suspend and reduce missionary sending.

Suspension details

The suspension of new assignments to the International Service Corps (ISC) and Masters programs will take effect immediately and continue until further review in early 2010.

The ISC program is designed for Southern Baptists age 21 and over who wish to serve two- or three-year terms abroad; the Masters program is for people age 50 and over.

More than 800 ISC and Masters missionaries currently working overseas will continue their service.

Other short-term programs — the Journeyman program and “2-plus-2” — will continue, but new appointments will be limited to the most strategic assignments.

The Journeyman program sends 20-something, single college graduates overseas for two years. The “2-plus-2” program involves two years of seminary study and two years of missionary service abroad.

These adjustments are vital since 70 percent of the organization’s budget and financial resources go toward the support of missionary personnel, IMB officials said.

This past fall, IMB trustees adopted a $319.8 million budget for 2009 — $10 million of which was earmarked to offset the rising cost of support for the missionaries already on the field. The 2009 budget made no provision for an increase in the number of missionaries.

Suspensions in short-term appointments could bode poorly for future long-term appointments. In 2007, the IMB appointed 845 new missionaries, including 504 short-term personnel. Of the 341 long-term appointments, 30 percent had previously served two years or longer with the IMB through one of the short-term programs.

Falling short
The results for the 2008 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions still are being collected and will be released in a few weeks. However, early projections show that the offering is expected to fall short of the $150 million received in 2007. So far, from Oct. 31 through April 30, giving is nearly $8 million below the $121.5 million contributed through state conventions during the same time frame a year ago. The IMB also receives LMCO contributions directly.

Investment losses, a slight downturn in Southern Baptist Cooperative Program giving and harsh economic conditions also have taken a toll on IMB funding.

“The economic recession has had an impact on every facet of our nation, including Southern Baptists and our churches, and our overall income is not unaffected,” IMB treasurer David Steverson told the trustees. “The overall economy contributed to a decrease in nearly every income category.”

Though significant adjustments will be necessary to meet future needs, Steverson said he remains optimistic.

“The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Cooperative Program have held up dramatically well when you consider everything happening in our economy,” he said.

“We must be about our Father’s business,” Steverson added. “(God) has given us a task, a mission and we must remain faithful to what He has called us to do.”

Honoring regional leaders

Trustees recognized 11 regional leaders who have guided the work of the organization across the globe in recent years. Most will move into new roles under a reorganization taking effect in July.

“These field leaders have been a major factor in getting us to where we are today,” IMB President Jerry Rankin said.

“Their vision and passion for the peoples of their region, their strategic thinking, influence and relationship skills ... enabled them to serve the IMB and Southern Baptists effectively and advance God’s Kingdom.”

In other business, trustees:
  • voted to cancel their July 10-11 meeting in light of the economic situation. An official decision will be made in the coming days. The July 12 appointment service still will be held in Lebanon, Ohio.
  • appointed 101 new missionaries at Riverside Baptist Church in Denver.
  • received a report that $2,110,310.96 in Hunger and General Relief Funds had been used for 82 projects. A total of $1,673,163.10 was released to support world hunger needs, $381,726.86 to support general relief needs and $55,421 to support four 2004 tsunami relief projects. Of these 82 projects, 50 supported community development ministries and 32 supported disaster relief efforts.
  • elected officers for 2009-10: Chairman, Paul Chitwood, Mount Washington, Ky.; first vice chairman, Simon Tsoi, Phoenix; second vice chairman, Steve Swofford, Rockwall, Texas; and secretary, Debbie Brunson, Jacksonville, Fla.
The next board meeting is planned for Sept. 15-16 in Jacksonville, Fla., where an appointment service is scheduled at First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Sept. 16.

  • (EDITOR’S NOTE — Hendricks and Bridges are writers with the International Mission Board.)

5/22/2009 2:45:00 AM by Shawn Hendricks & Erich Bridges, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

NAMB adds 89 to missions service

May 22 2009 by Mike Ebert, Baptist Press

JACKSON, Miss. — You can’t help but be drawn in by Sarah Ferguson’s big smile and friendly personality. She easily starts a conversation with whoever is close by and it doesn’t take long before she’s talking about her ministry to New Jersey commuters whose long hours en route to and from work in New York City take a toll on family life.

“I’m helping train parents to be the spiritual leaders of their children,” she said while finishing a dinner of chicken parmesan, new potatoes and cooked carrots while waiting to join 88 others to become the newest commissioned missionaries and chaplains of the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

“I’m sharing the gospel and helping families find ways of focusing on Christ in their everyday lives.”

NAMB photo by John Swain

Sarah Ferguson shares about her ministry to families in New Jersey. She first became passionate about the urban outreach during a missions trip with her home church, McGregor Baptist in Fort Myers, Fla.

Ferguson, who couldn’t help making a joking reference to her royal namesake, the Duchess of York, is convinced that families are the most important link in passing a Christian legacy to the next generation. She serves as a US/C2 missionary through NAMB and the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania-South Jersey.

Ferguson’s passion for missions started at her home church, McGregor Baptist in Fort Myers, Fla., when she went with other members a few years ago on a missions trip to New Jersey. She always has a ready story at hand about the latest family in which she has seen God work. One father recently rededicated his life to Christ and returned his family to the practice of attending church.

“They were having a lot of problems with their oldest daughter. She and another sibling didn’t want to have anything to do with church. Through our ministry, the dad decided he was going to start leading his family and bring them back to church even if the children disagreed. Now the daughter is in our leadership program and is leading other kids.”

Ferguson’s story was one of dozens that missionaries in the room could tell as they walked down the aisle of Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, Miss., to be commissioned. The group represented multiple ethnic backgrounds and will join more than 5,600 NAMB missionaries serving throughout the United States, Canada and their territories.

NAMB President Geoff Hammond, who was commissioned as a NAMB missionary at nearby First Baptist Church Jackson in 2000, cited the Apostle Paul’s visit to Thessalonica in chapter 17 of Acts in telling the new missionaries to be bold as they go into the mission field.

“There is a trend in ministry today that says you have to first go to a community and fit in and be a part of things,” Hammond said. “Too often we fit in so much nobody can tell the difference. You need to go be a part of the community, but let them know what you believe. Jesus said it well — don’t hide your light under a bushel.

“We say to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ: Be bold,” Hammond told the missionaries. He pointed to verse 6 of Acts 17 in which the Jews took Paul and Silas to the city authorities and said, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.” To the applause of the audience, Hammond told the missionaries, “If you are run out of town for the sake of the gospel, the North American Mission Board will stand beside you and find you a new place of service.”

Hammond also challenged others in attendance to be a presence for the gospel in their communities.

“Do you know what’s wrong with North America? We have Christians in every community, but nobody knows they are there. We have to let people know we are there and that we are Christians,” Hammond said.

NAMB photo by John Swain

Geoff Hammond, president of the North American Mission Board, told 89 newly commissioned missionaries and chaplains: “We say to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ: Be bold.”

Reflecting a diversity of backgrounds and ministry areas, the missionaries took a brief turn on stage introducing themselves and sharing a prayer request.

Among them:
  • Greg and Mia Pendarvis, Mission Service Corps (MSC) missionaries serving through NAMB and the South Carolina Baptist Convention who share Christ through sports outreach programs in Fort Mill, S.C. Greg, a 20-year veteran schoolteacher veteran who coached football and baseball, recently quit his job to give ministry his full-time attention. Their sports evangelism ministry started five years ago with a sports camp for 80 community kids. Today, their year-round ministry shares the gospel with 500 kids annually. New players each season receive a copy of the Bible, paid for by Cooperative Program offering dollars.
“The gospel is part of everything we do,” said Greg, whose four children, age 9 to 15, help out with the ministry. “Even our baseballs and soccer balls reflect the same colors we use to explain the gospel to the kids in the program. They wear our shirts to school and more kids want to become involved.”
  • Doug and Joli Cullen, MSC missionaries who partner with NAMB and the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Although based in Kentucky, they don’t really have a home. They travel the nation speaking in churches, schools, homeless shelters and to whoever else will listen about the sanctity of human life at all stages — pre-birth through death — and how Christians can be a voice for life even in a hostile culture. Along the way they stay in unused parsonages, missionary homes, in the homes of host church members and often in their tent.
“You would be surprised how many Southern Baptists say abortion should be left to individuals to decide,” Doug said. Still, they’ve seen God work in the hearts of many people as they hold up the gospel and share the message of life.

“A few months back we were scheduled to speak at a church and the pastor e-mailed and said, ‘I don’t know if you want to come or not. One of our members strongly believes abortion should be legal and I’m afraid she will make things very tough on you.’ But we came anyway and after the service, that 75-year-old woman came forward with tears in her eyes and said she had been wrong about the issue.”

Wanda Lee, the executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union, greeted the missionaries and led in a time of prayer.

“Our partnership with these missionaries does not end tonight,” Lee told the commissioning service audience. “Out of a heart of love we are called to pray for these missionaries and to learn about their needs so you can pray more than just ‘God bless our missionaries.’“

David Michel, associate executive director for missions strategy with the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, reminded the missionaries of their “priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God” as Paul outlined in Romans 15:16. “This is the work to which you are called and in which we join you in prayerful support,” Michel said.

Hammond ended the service with a call to each person in attendance: “I believe God is calling some of you to step out of your comfort zone and to cross barriers and reach people for Christ as a missionary. I don’t believe you are here tonight by chance. I signed up to follow the Great Commission when I signed up to follow Jesus, and so did you.”

The North American Mission Board commissions missionaries and chaplains together, but the missionary count of 5,600 includes only missionaries. NAMB has endorsed an additional 3,048 chaplains in behalf of Southern Baptists. Some missionaries are fully funded by NAMB, but most receive a blend of funding from NAMB and state convention partners. Mission Service Corps missionaries raise their own salary support, but receive training, resources and logistical support through Southern Baptist missions offerings. NAMB missionaries are supported through the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Ebert is publications and media relations coordinator for the North American Mission Board.)

5/22/2009 2:39:00 AM by Mike Ebert, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Former rising star pleads guilty to molestation

May 22 2009 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An African-American preacher once popular in preaching circuits of the Southern Baptist Convention pleaded guilty May 21 to molesting a 15-year-old girl and sending lewd text messages to another at his former church.

Darrell Gilyard, former pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., faces three years in prison in a plea bargain. His official sentencing is June 11. After he is released from prison, he will serve three years probation and be required to register as a sex offender.

Gilyard, 47, was arrested Jan. 14, 2008, on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct after a church member told police she found inappropriate text messages from Gilyard on her daughter’s cell phone. Another girl recorded alleged sexual conduct with Gilyard in her diary.

Gilyard resigned the large, predominantly African-American congregation after 15 years. Before that Gilyard was mentored by a number of high-profile leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention who promoted him as America’s next great black preacher.

Gilyard rose to fame in the 1980s with support of future SBC presidents Jerry Vines and Paige Patterson. His testimony about growing up homeless and sleeping under a bridge in Palatka was distributed in video form by Jerry Falwell’s “Old Time Gospel Hour” before unraveling when a newspaper reported that he actually grew up in the comfortable home of a woman who took him in as an infant and raised him as a son.

Gilyard’s relationship with SBC leaders soured in 1991 when he resigned under pressure after admitting to several adulterous affairs with women he was counseling while pastor of a multi-racial SBC church in Richardson, Texas. Paige Patterson, at the time president of Criswell College in Dallas, counseled Gilyard to stay out of the ministry two years, but he ignored the advice and started a new church two weeks later with 125 former members of his previous congregation.

Dallas Morning News articles in 1991 reported allegations of sexual misconduct by Gilyard not only at Victory Baptist Church, but also at three previous churches in Oklahoma and Texas.

The articles included claims by one woman that she told Patterson in 1985 that Gilyard tried to rape her, and Patterson told her and other women with similar complaints to refrain from speaking about it without substantial proof.

Those clippings resurfaced in 2008 when a support group for victims of clergy sex abuse accused Patterson of turning a blind eye to Gilyard’s behavior, thereby enabling him to hurt others. Patterson denied mishandling the situation, saying he severed ties with Gilyard as soon as he had evidence that the allegations against him were true.

A woman who claimed she resisted sexual advances by Gilyard when she was 18 and a youth leader at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville in 1991, started a blog in 2008 urging others with similar stories to come forward.

Tiffany Thigpen Croft said in a recent posting she was not rejoicing about Gilyard’s downfall, but she labeled him a sexual predator and said he should suffer consequences for his actions. Croft said if Gilyard had not been sentenced “I am confident that there would be more victims.”

In April Gilyard settled a lawsuit with a woman who claimed he sexually assaulted and got her pregnant, but a paternity suit against him continues. According to the Florida Times-Union, an earlier sexual misconduct case against him was settled quietly by his church for $300,000.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)

5/22/2009 2:34:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Book discusses multi-site churches pros, cons

May 21 2009 by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Multi-site churches have grown in number from about 10 in 1990 to more than 2,000 in the United States last year, according to Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research.

It’s a trend many congregations find rewarding and/or overwhelming as they seek new ways to reach their communities, states and throughout the country, McConnell notes.

“Adding a site does not simply add an address to your church,” McConnell writes in a new book, Multi-Site Churches: Guidance for the Movement’s Next Generation.

“It adds complexity” — which can cause “irreparable damage” to a church or, conversely, impact a community for Christ in a way that one church campus cannot do, according to McConnell.

Detailed advice and information for churches in the process of starting a new site or considering starting one is relayed by McConnell in Multi-Site Churches, published by B&H Publishing Group of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

BP photo

Part of the cover of Multi-Site Churches.

Research for the book included in-depth interviews with leaders at more than 40 first- and second-generation multi-site churches from Aug. 1-Sept. 30, 2007, as well as contributions from nine multi-site experts. McConnell and his research team outlined what they learned about how to do everything from deciding whether to become a multi-site church to choosing the right leader and location.

“This became more than simply a new set of research findings,” McConnell writes. “It became a story of God’s movement that needed to be told and guidance for which many churches have asked.”

In taking a look at what seemed to be working for multi-site churches and what wasn’t working, McConnell writes, “We specifically asked (churches) to share the challenges they faced, so that the next generation of multi-site churches could be better prepared.”

Churches should try to avoid any new approach that shifts them from their “God-given evangelistic focus,” McConnell counsels from their research. “The focus of the church should be nothing less than sharing the message in both words and actions that God loves the world so much that He sent Jesus to die for us.”

Even as a church examines practical aspects of its readiness to add a site, leaders and planners should see evidence of God’s activity in the new site through milestones such as securing a campus leader, a core group and finances.

Though the campuses have a connection, each one can quickly take on a life of its own with a unique personality.

The Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, La., is one such example. In 2004 the church launched its first two additional locations, adding seven more within the next four years.

“On the surface, no two sites look alike,” lead pastor Dino Rizzo said. “Some of our campus pastors wear goatees ... some tuck their shirts in, others go tails out and others might even wear a tie once in a while.”

One campus is Spanish-speaking, two are on the other side of the world in communities hit hard by AIDS, another is in a poor neighborhood and yet another is in a relatively affluent community.

But even with all their differences, Rizzo noted, “There is a God-given vision and core DNA that guides Healing Place Church. We are a healing place for a hurting world.”

“The advantages of being a multi-site far outweigh the challenges,” said Barry Galloway, a campus pastor at the Tehachapi Mountain Vineyard campus of Desert Vineyard in Lancaster, Calif.

For a time, the original church often provides “central services” to its sites, from preparing bulletins to writing new employee policies, McConnell writes. But in the end, the multi-site approach is simply a tool to accomplishing God’s work, McConnell contends, describing it as “one small piece of God’s movement through His church to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the entire world.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Hendricks is a writer in Richmond, Va. An Inside LifeWay podcast with Scott McConnell and Lizette Beard, a member of the research team and project manager for LifeWay Research, is available at

5/21/2009 9:31:00 AM by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Sanctuary for challenged children, parents

May 21 2009 by Ken Camp, Associated Baptist Press

DALLAS -— Parents of squirming children who cannot stay focused and who often end up labeled as “troublemakers” sometimes feel isolated — and maybe even unwelcome in church. Author Maren Angellotti believes they are in good company. The parents of John the Baptist and the Apostle Peter might have felt the same way.

It’s obvious from God’s word that he has no problem working with people who are different. … In fact, he seems to prefer it,” Angelloti writes in her book, Of Different Minds: Seeing Your AD/HD Child Through the Eyes of God.

Angelotti — who earned a master’s degree from Dallas Baptist University in teaching for the learning-different student — understands learning disabilities such as attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, dyslexia and perceptual dysfunctions.

As a reading therapist who specializes in remediation programs for dyslexic students, she recognizes the neurological differences between the brain activity of the general population and children with learning disabilities.

But she also understands learning differences experientially. Three of her four children have learning disabilities — two diagnosed with ADD, dyslexia and related disorders, and one with ADD and auditory processing disorder. And she realizes the children inherited those traits — she is dyslexic, and her husband, Bob, has ADD.

One big challenge parents of children with learning differences face is floundering in what Angelotti calls “the sea of denial” and failing to come to terms with the special needs their children have.

“Pride is really the bottom line. They have a tendency to say, ‘Nobody needs to help me,’” she said in an interview.

But if churches seriously want to minister to all families — including parents of the more than 2 million children in the United States with learning differences — they must approach parents in ways that break down those walls of prideful self-sufficiency, Angelotti insisted. And the churches themselves must move out of denial that a need exists, she added.

“The faith community has to realize there is a problem. It’s not so much that the church has dropped the ball, but it hasn’t really picked up the ball, either,” she said.

Matthew Stanford, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, has noted AD/HD, in particular, is a controversial topic among some evangelicals.

“Within Christian circles, some have gone as far as to suggest that AD/HD is nothing more than rebellion, resulting from bad parenting, or society’s attempt to turn sin into sickness,” Stanford writes in Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinicial and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness.

While he acknowledges AD/HD has been misdiagnosed, and probably overdiagnosed, that does not negate its reality or churches’ responsibility to respond. AD/HD is “a real disorder that affects the lives of real children and their families,” he writes.

“These children wrestle daily with debilitating physical, psychological and spiritual issues. Although mistakes may have been made in relation to diagnoses in the past, this does not change the fact that children who do struggle with this disorder can be effectively treated. And the church has a significant role to play in their healing.”

An important first step churches can take is to educate members — particularly Sunday school teachers and children’s workers — about learning differences and learning styles.

“One of the greatest services churches can provide is to give families a place where they feel safe,” Angelotti said. “Churches are at their best when they help children to become what God intended them to be.”

Churches become more welcoming places for families of children with learning disabilities when adults who work with the children understand them, several children’s ministers noted.

First Baptist Church in Port Neches, Texas, seeks to be the kind of place where parents feel their children are affirmed and loved — not rejected, said Jeanette Harvey, minister to children and preteens.

“We try to build trust with these parents who probably already have their defenses up. Some of them have been told by teachers and other authorities, ‘Your child is a problem,’” she said.

“We want to love on them and let them know we want them here.”

A key way teachers and workers can help children with learning differences is by making accommodations to their special needs in ways that don’t single them out.

“They get enough of that at school and everywhere else they go,” noted Amy Owens, children’s minister at First Baptist Church in Garland, Texas.

In the Sunday school classroom, the accommodation may be as simple as encouraging teachers to vary their teaching styles to appeal to a variety of learning styles. By incorporating different styles that reach visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic learners — children who learn best by seeing, hearing, touching or moving — the needs of children who process information differently are met, she noted.

“When a teacher uses more than one approach frequently, that helps every child in the class, because the more senses they use, the more they absorb and learn,” Owens said.

Bible Drill competition — a contest based on children’s ability to find selected Scripture passages quickly, as well as memorizing key verses and the books of the Bible — presented a special challenge, but First Baptist Church in Garland worked to level the playing field for children with dyslexia.

“We advocated at the associational and state levels for an easy accommodation for them,” said Owens, who has a daughter with dyslexia.

They changed the procedure of the competition slightly. When a monitor would call out verbally a Scripture passage or book in the Bible, he or she would hold up a visual cue at the same time. The accommodation not only helped the dyslexic children, but also was beneficial to competitors who were more visual learners rather than auditory.

Children with learning differences may require special attention, such as having a worker assigned specifically to that child to make sure he or she gets what is needed in order to learn, she noted.

While it generally can be done discretely, sometimes other children will notice the extra attention one child receives. When dealing with older children — particularly preteens who already may have made a commitment to follow Christ — teachers may want to gently explain the special needs of one of their classmates.

“Children are all about being fair. If we explain to the older kids that someone is getting extra attention because they need a little special help in order to be even with everybody else, in their minds, that’s fair treatment,” she said.

“Our kids are more compassionate than we give them credit for. Particularly if they already have become Christians, they have the Holy Spirit working in them. They are looking for opportunities to express that relationship they have with Christ.”

Churches also can minister to families of children with learning differences by offering programs that directly benefit the parents. Since most learning disabilities are inherited, oftentimes at least one parent has learning difficulty — including many that went undiagnosed as children, Angelotti noted.

“Adults typically don’t seek help for themselves, but churches can provide assistance by offering literacy and reading training,” she noted.

Churches also can provide marriage enrichment ministries or even subsidized counseling that help couples directly address issues that put strains on their marriage. Among families affected by learning disabilities, most often one spouse has AD/HD, dyslexia or some other dysfunction, and the other learns to compensate, Angelotti observed.

“That can lead to a martyr syndrome, where one spouse feels he or she has to take care of everything,” she said. “Finances particularly can be a point of tension that destroys a marriage. There is a high divorce rate among this group.

“When marriages are healthy, children are healthy — mentally, spiritually and physically.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Camp is managing editor of the Baptist Standard.)

5/21/2009 9:29:00 AM by Ken Camp, Associated Baptist Press | with 1 comments

Board elects Horton to Fruitland post

May 20 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

David Horton was elected president of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute by the Baptist State Convention (BSC) board of directors May 19 during their meeting at Caraway Conference Center.

Horton’s unanimous election came as no surprise as he was the announced candidate of the Fruitland presidential search committee. He came to Caraway with his wife, Lisa, early in the day to mingle with board members.

The strategy almost backfired as board chairman Allan Blume read the motion for consideration.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

David and Lisa Horton

He intentionally nominated Lisa Horton, to rousing affirmation and laughter, before he “corrected” himself and nominated David.

Horton spoke briefly before the vote saying that those who appreciate the ministry of Fruitland will “respect the past, protect the purpose and embrace the future” of North Carolina’s mountain school that prepares people for practical ministry.

Horton said he feels Fruitland is “on the right track and moving at a high rate of speed.” As president, he said, he will find a way to “add some cars” to the train with additional academic offerings.

He emphasized Fruitland’s motto “Where preaching is our passion.”

“And we all know it’s not just any kind of preaching,” Horton said. “It’s expository preaching.”

Horton said he wants Fruitland to have a greater role in training church planters. He foresees the school offering more classes to help students utilize technology in their churches, and for more training in areas like family ministry and in leading worship.

Horton graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a degree in psychology in 1987. He had attended Gardner-Webb, but moved closer to home when his father died in 1980 to help his mother and two siblings. It was “five years and three children later” before he was able to return to school.

He earned his master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1992.

Horton is a native of Hillsville, Va., and was a member of Pine Grove Baptist Church there when called into ministry during the pastorate of Greg Mathis, who is pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, and who has been interim president at Fruitland since Jan. 1. Horton served in Hillsville as Mathis’ associate.

Horton also has been pastor of Three Forks Baptist in Taylorsville; Welcome Baptist in Mt. Airy; and Reed Island Springs Baptist in Meadows of Dan, Va.

Fruitland has been a ministry of the BSC since 1946. It is an agency of the BSC and its board is accountable to the BSC Board of Directors. It provides practical ministry training, especially for men called into ministry later in life.

Horton said at Fruitland, students can put into practice in their churches at night what they learned in the classroom that day.

Horton, 48, assumes his new office June 1. He and Lisa have been married for 29 years and have three children.

He said during an earlier interview that 2 Tim. 2:2 has been a Bible verse “that God has really kept in front of me for last several months.”

“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:2)

“Nothing would please me more than to spend the next 20-25 years of ministry living out that verse at Fruitland,” Horton said.  

5/20/2009 10:30:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Four announce for BSC offices

May 20 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Four men announced separately May 19 that they are candidates for elected office in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).

BR file photo by Norman Jameson

Ed Yount

Ed Yount, current first vice president, will be nominated for president. Current president Rick Speas has served the maximum two one-year terms. Yount is pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church in Conover, and he chaired the Giving Plans Study Committee in 2008 that recommended a return to a single Cooperative Program giving plan among North Carolina Baptist churches.

Mark Harris, second vice president for the past year, will be nominated as first vice president. Harris is pastor of First Baptist Church, Charlotte.

Ray Davis, pastor of Forbush Baptist Church north of Winston-Salem, will be a candidate for second vice president, as will CJ Bordeaux, pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham.

Like all the candidates, Yount said he was asked by several others to make himself available. “If I can help, I just want to help,” he said. “I love North Carolina Baptists.

BR file photo by Norman Jameson

Mark Harris at the close of the 2008 annual  session.

Yount, with an extensive background of service in the state and nationally, said, “It is an exciting time for North Carolina Baptists, an opportunistic time. I’m really convinced that (BSC Executive Director-treasurer) Milton Hollifield’s vision to reach North Carolina and the rest of the world for Christ is solid. I’m excited to be a part of that.”

Asked what role he sees for a BSC president Yount said, “I would hope the president would be both ears and voice for North Carolina Baptists and try to serve as a catalyst for evangelism and missions.”

Yount is a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He earned a doctor of ministry degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Yount has been on the BSC board of directors executive committee, the Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute board and the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) International Mission Board.

Harris, who just completed two terms on the board of Southeastern Seminary, is a graduate of Appalachian State University and Southeastern Seminary. He has been pastor of FBC Charlotte four years.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Ray Davis has been on several BSC committees.

Asked about the coming self-examination sure to be prompted by SBC President Johnny Hunt’s call for a “Great Commission resurgence” that includes the work of Baptist State conventions, Harris said, “efficiency and effectiveness have been brought to the forefront our vocabulary.”

“I applaud Johnny Hunt for taking the leadership role as president,” Harris said, adding that “the next two years will be important in state convention and SBC life.”

Harris almost accidentally shouldered the burden of office himself when he predicted the “dawning of a new day” in his 2007 Baptist State Convention sermon.

When hundreds came forward at the end of his message to commit themselves to “work for a new day” and Harris saw Hollifield on his knees beneath the praying hands of officers, he said,
“I realized I had a certain responsibility to help facilitate that new day.”

Davis, 73, retired early from pharmaceutical sales after 32 years to devote full time to a pastorate. He had been a bivocational pastor during the last 18 years of his business career and is currently on the board of directors.

“Bivocational pastors need someone to identify with who is in a place of leadership,” Davis said. He is a 1958 graduate of Appalachian State University where he played football.

BR file photo by Norman Jameson

CJ Bordeaux speaking in November 2008 for the Giving Plans Study Committee proposal.

He served Green Meadows and Cranberry Baptist churches, was director of missions at Brier Creek Association where 17 of the 19 pastors are bivocational, and May 10 was called to Forbush Baptist Church after serving as its interim for six months. The past two years he was senior adult minister at Old Town Baptist Church, where Speas is pastor.

CJ Bordeaux, pastor for the past year of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham, said that after he spoke on behalf of the Giving Plans Study Committee proposal in November 2008 — a committee on which he served — several people asked him to consider office.

He said after once being “very critical of the Baptist State Convention,” he earned an education during his 1999-2003 tenure on the BSC general board, now board of directors.

“We’re doing a lot of good things as North Carolina Baptists,” he said. “We’ve got a good state, and I enjoy being involved.”

Bordeaux has been a pastor 30 years, including stints at West Monroe, Antioch in Lumberton, White Lake, and New Salem in Pittsboro. Before going to Gorman he was church administrator two years at Village Baptist Church in Fayetteville.

He is a graduate of Campbell University and Bethany Seminary in Dothan, Ala., where he earned a master’s in theology and a doctor of ministry degree.

5/20/2009 9:56:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 1 comments

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