November 2014

Keith Getty at conf.: ‘Teach theology through story’

November 19 2014 by RuthAnne Irvin, SBTS

Music ministers are responsible to teach their congregations theology through song, according to songwriter Keith Getty at the Doxology and Theology conference, Nov. 13-15, hosted on campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
 
Songs portraying the incredible beauty about God are what the church needs, Getty said. The conference featured well-known musicians and music ministers, including Getty, Matt Papa, Bob Kauflin, Matt Carter, Harold Best, Matt Boswell and many others. Various bands led worship throughout the event, including the seminary’s Norton Hall Band, to Indelible Grace and others.

 
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SBTS photo
Songwriter Keith Getty speaks during the Doxology and Theology conference at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Nov. 13-15.

Getty led both a brief talk and a breakout session during the conference. He discussed songwriting and ways music ministers can use the Christmas season to teach theologically rich hymns. A problem in the church today, Getty said, is that people think hymns, in their original length, are too dense for congregations to sing. If churches think that about music, he said, what does that teach the people about renewing their minds through study?
 
“Teach songs worth learning,” he said, telling attendees that one way he writes is to teach theology through story, which becomes a bridge for his music and ministry. For songwriters, he encouraged them to “aim to write hymns you can carry with you through life.” Hymns that endure time are not only rich with theology but a melody that transcends time.
 
“If we’re going to be critical about our theology we have to be critical about our art, too,” he said, noting the importance of writing good music and lyrics.
 
In his breakout session, Getty discussed ways music ministers can take advantage of the Christmas season in their local congregation. He discussed five things to remember about Christmas music: churches need to sing the gospel through the songs they choose, immerse themselves and build the traditions of the church, target congregational singing, promote art, and reach beyond the walls of the church.
 
Best, emeritus professor of music and dean emeritus of the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and led a session about the labor of a musician. He told attendees the “true labor of a church musician means first of all returning to the basics. There’s a difference between labor and what labor produces. It varies from person to person, talent to talent, parish to parish,” he said.
 
Best, author of Music Through the Eyes of Faith, encouraged music ministers to ask themselves if they are laboring in worship or management.
 
“Examine your labor,” he said.
 
“It’ll always be daunting, but you will find rest, Christ’s rest, if and when you submit your labor to him for instruction, for reproof and correction, so that each of you will be by his actual promise thoroughly furnished into every good labor.”
 
Popular musician Matt Papa led a breakout session about aesthetics and music. “Good art always balances mystery and clarity,” he said. He defined real art and ministry as incarnation, or taking the mysterious and making it accessible.
 
Papa offered 10 criteria for judging a work of art. These criteria included wonder, clarity, complexity, truthfulness, authenticity, excellence, story, suitability, helpfulness and worship. He encouraged artists and ministers to ask themselves how well they feed their congregations, noting, like Getty, the importance of doctrinally sound songs for churches.

11/19/2014 2:52:46 PM by RuthAnne Irvin, SBTS | with 0 comments



Professor, evangelism chair practices Everyday Evangelism

November 19 2014 by Rob Collingsworth, Southern Baptist TEXAN

Matt Queen, assistant professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was installed in the school’s prestigious L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism at the beginning of the fall semester. Queen is the eighth professor to hold the distinguished position but the first among them with an earned doctorate in evangelism.
 
The history of the Scarborough Chair, as well as Southwestern’s legacy of training in evangelism, goes back over a century.
 
The school’s founding president, B.H. Carroll, installed L.R. Scarborough as the first occupant of the “Chair of Fire” in 1908. The nickname stemmed from Carroll’s preferred designation for the newly created chair of evangelism, the first of its kind in the world.
 
In keeping with the wishes of Carroll, the Chair of Fire has been reserved for professors who displayed a particular fervor for evangelism.
 
“That all the work of this chair may not be mere theory and historical delay,” Carroll writes, “the occupant of this chair must himself be a practical field evangelist all the time illustrating, between lecture series, the power of his office in great revival meetings.”
 
Queen’s doctorate is in applied theology with a specialization in evangelism. He received this degree and his master of divinity (pastoral track with biblical languages) from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. The Asheville, N.C., native received his bachelor’s degree in religion with a minor in biblical languages from Mars Hill College. He was licensed (1995) and ordained (1999) at Ridgeway Baptist Church in Candler.

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Southern Baptist TEXAN photo
Matt Queen, right, shares the gospel in neighborhoods around Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He was recently installed as the L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism at Southwestern.

 

He was minister of youth and music at Turkey Creek Baptist Church in Pisgah Forest (1995-1997) and Union Chapel Baptist Church in Zebulon (1997-2002). He then served as pastor of Union Chapel until November 2006 before joining the staff of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro as associate pastor for discipleship and evangelism (2006-2010). He served as a teaching assistant at Mars Hill College and at Southeastern before becoming the Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism Teaching Fellow (1999-2002) at Southeastern. He was an adjunct instructor of evangelism at Southeastern College (2004-2005), adjunct instructor of discipleship (2010) at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va.
 
In his four years at Southwestern, Queen has proved to be just such an evangelist. However, he says he is fully aware of the weight that accompanies the historic Chair of Fire.
 
Referring to his new assignment as the “Holy Grail for evangelism professors,” Queen described the history of the position first held by Scarborough.
 
“Scarborough was the first evangelism professor in the world. He was a preacher of the people who passionately shared the gospel and inspired people with his stories of soul-winning. His successor E.D. Head was evangelistic but is primarily remembered for his passion for scholarship.”
 
According to Queen, James Eaves and Malcolm McDow were both “compassionate men who loved souls.” However, they each held the chair for only a year or two during a brief period when it rotated among the chair of the seminary’s evangelism department.
 
“C.E. Autrey was thoroughly Baptist, but he had a broader base in his evangelistic leadership among evangelicals because of his association with Billy Graham,” Queen explained. “He left Southwestern to lead the evangelism department at the then-Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board).”
 
It was under Roy Fish that the Chair of Fire was officially named for Scarborough. “Roy Fish had a love for studying evangelism historically, and in many ways contributed to an ongoing history of evangelism among Southern Baptists,” Queen said. “If Scarborough’s evangelistic influence in theological education was that he introduced the study of evangelism in seminaries and divinity schools as the first professor of evangelism, Fish’s evangelistic influence is in the students he taught who now serve as professors of evangelism.”
 
Queen pointed out that Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson, his immediate predecessor in the Chair of Fire, has championed evangelism in his role as president at three different schools: Criswell College, Southeastern Seminary and Southwestern.
 
“Exactly like Fish’s influence on theological education, Patterson has trained numerous Southern Baptist professors who are evangelistic in their places of service, as well as beyond [Southern Baptist Convention] entities,” Queen said. “On a personal note, Paige Patterson has had the most influential impact on me in my practice of personal evangelism. His example, teaching and expectation for faculty to be soul-winners have made me who I am today.”
 
Known by those on campus for his winsome and approachable personality, Queen has continued in the tradition of the previous occupants of the Chair of Fire by displaying evangelistic passion both inside and outside of the classroom. Queen was instrumental in the seminary’s “Taking the Hill” initiative, a plan conceived in 2009 by Patterson, the then-occupant of the Chair of Fire. Prioritizing the importance of evangelism both far and near, “Taking the Hill” and its follow-up initiative “No Soul Left Behind” proposed to share the gospel with every household within a one-mile radius of the seminary campus – some 6,700 homes. Thanks largely in part to Queen’s leadership and passion, the seminary accomplished this goal by the end of 2012.
 
The seminary’s next evangelism initiative, “Going the Second Mile,” extends that same theme to include every household within a two-mile radius. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Queen leads groups of students to share the gospel at least once every week in the area immediately surrounding the seminary.
 
In his newly published book Everyday Evangelism, Queen lays out how to establish a culture of evangelism within your church. Groups from Southwestern have also been made available to do evangelism outreach and training at churches across the state of Texas.
 
Twice in the last year, Queen has led a group of Southwestern students to Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla. The students trained and led church members to share the gospel personally in the area around the church. Between the two trips, more than 20 individuals expressed faith in Christ for the first time.
 
“We chose Southwestern because we know that Southwestern has a hot heart to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people,” pastor Stephen Rummage said.
 
“We know what they’re doing in their community around Southwestern Seminary to reach people with the gospel, so we wanted a little bit of that spirit here in our community as we seek to reach the people around us with the gospel.
 
“I’ve known Matt Queen for a long time. He was one of my students when I was a seminary professor. I know about his commitment to evangelism and to personal soul-winning, so I really wanted our students here to have an opportunity up close to find out what it’s like to be around people like Matt and like the students who are studying with him at Southwestern, who are sharing the gospel diligently, boldly and through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
 
In writing of Scarborough, Carroll penned these words that also describe the most recent occupant of the Chair of Fire: “His office continues each year from January 1 to December 31. He is now on the field. The Lord is blessing him. ... Like John the Baptist, he is both a burning and a shining light – not light without heat as fungus fox fire, not the aurora borealis, brilliant indeed, but melting no icebergs, but light with heat.”

11/19/2014 2:38:25 PM by Rob Collingsworth, Southern Baptist TEXAN | with 0 comments



Moore at Vatican: Gospel vital in marriage

November 19 2014 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The Southern Baptist Convention’s lead ethicist told international religious leaders Tuesday (Nov. 18) at the Vatican they should defend man-woman marriage for the common good, but Christians also must champion it for the sake of the gospel.
 
Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), provided an evangelical Protestant viewpoint on the complementarity of man and woman during the second day of a Vatican-sponsored colloquium on marriage. About 350 religious, academic and civil society leaders from 23 countries gathered at the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church for the Nov. 17-19 event.
 
Speaking to representatives of at least 15 religions, Moore said he joins them – despite their theological differences – in recognizing that marriage and family constitute “a matter of public importance,” yet he possesses “an even deeper concern” – the gospel of Jesus.

 
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Russell D. Moore addresses those gathered at the Vatican for a colloquium on marriage.

“All of us must stand together on conserving the truth of marriage as a complementary union of man and woman,” Moore said, according to his manuscript, which he reportedly followed closely in his remarks. Marriage, and the “sexual difference on which it is built, is grounded in a natural order bearing rights and responsibilities that was not crafted by any human state and cannot thus be redefined by any human state,” he said.
 
Yet “there is a distinctively Christian urgency for why the Christian churches must bear witness to these things,” Moore told the assembly.
 
Marriage and family are “icons of God’s purpose for the universe,” he continued, adding Christianity teaches that the “one-flesh union points beyond itself to the union of Christ and His church.”
 
“Our neighbors of no religion and of different religions do not recognize a call to gospel mystery,” he said. “Marriage is a common grace, and we should speak, on their own terms, of why jettisoning normative marriage and family is harmful.”
 
But as a Christian, Moore said he also is impelled to speak of “the conviction of the church that what is disrupted when we move beyond the creation design of marriage and family is not only human flourishing, although it is that, but also the picture of the very mystery that defines the existence of the universe itself – the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
 
“With this conviction, we must stand and speak not with clinched fists or with wringing hands, but with the open hearts of those who have a message and a mission,” he said.
 
Moore was one of two American evangelicals to speak at the colloquium. Megachurch pastor and popular author Rick Warren also spoke Nov. 18. Warren is pastor of Saddleback Church, a Southern Baptist church in Southern California.
 
Warren, who spoke on the “What Must We Do?” told the Orange County Register, “It’s great to be with leaders from different streams of Christianity from all over the world.” The paper quoted him as saying, “Although we have some differences, we all love Jesus Christ and we all want marriages and families to be healthy and strong.”
 
Pope Francis spoke Nov. 17 during the opening session of the conference. The pope affirmed the biblical, traditional definition of marriage; the complementarity of the sexes; and the need for children to have a father and a mother. “Complementarity,” which refers to the unique roles of men and women in marriage and a variety of other contexts, is “at the root of marriage and family,” the pope said.
 
In his address, Moore said a husband and a wife exist as “one flesh, cooperation through complementarity.”
 
God created human beings as “male and female identities that correspond to one another and fulfill one another,” he said. “We are not created as ‘spouse A’ and ‘spouse B,’ but as man and as woman, and in marriage as husband and as wife, in parenting as mother and as father. Masculinity and femininity are not aspects of the fallen order to be overcome, but are instead part of what God declared from the beginning to be ‘very good,’” he said in a reference to Genesis 1:31.
 
A man, Moore said, is made “to be other-directed, to pour himself out for his family. Headship in God’s design is not Pharaoh-like tyranny but Christ-like sacrifice.”
 
The sexual revolution celebrated in Western culture has not resulted in freedom, he told the assembly.
 
“The sexual revolution is not liberation at all, but simply the imposition of a different sort of patriarchy,” Moore said. “The sexual revolution empowers men to pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha-male, rooted in the values of power, prestige and personal pleasure.”
 
This sexual revolution “cannot keep its promises,” he said. “People are looking for a cosmic mystery, for a love that is stronger than death. They cannot articulate it and perhaps would be horrified to know it, but they are looking for God. The sexual revolution leads to the burned-over boredom of sex shorn of mystery, of relationship shorn of covenant.”
 
Christians must reject the call by many to speak in “more generic spiritual terms” on these issues, Moore said.
 
“To jettison or to minimize a Christian sexual ethic is to abandon the message Jesus handed to us, and we have no authority to do this. Moreover, to do so is to abandon our love for our neighbors.”
 
Christians, he said, will speak “with the confidence of those who know that on the other side of our culture wars, there’s a sexual counter-revolution waiting to be born, again.”
 
The colloquium came at a time when marriage as a permanent union of only a man and a woman is threatened, especially in the United States: Recent judicial rulings have set the stage for same-sex marriage to be legal in 35 states; the percentage of American adults who have never married is at an all-time high; and cohabitation and divorce are problems in the culture and the church. In addition, the religious freedom of Americans who decline to provide their services for same-sex weddings based on their convictions increasingly is threatened.
 
Other speakers during the colloquium included:

  • N.T. Wright, popular Christian author and professor at the University of St. Andrews.

  • Charles Chaput, Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia.

  • Jonathan Sacks, professor at both New York University and Yeshiva University and former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the United Kingdom.

Among the speakers were representatives of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism and the Sikh religion.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)

11/19/2014 2:24:35 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Study: pastors support immigration reform

November 19 2014 by Bob Smietana, Baptist Press

Many of the nation’s Protestant senior pastors want the U.S. government to mix justice with mercy when it comes to immigration reform, a LifeWay Research survey shows.
 
Most say it’s the government’s job to stop people from entering the country illegally. They also support reform that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country.
 
And they believe Christians should help immigrants, no matter what their legal status.
 
Those are among the findings of a new survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors. The survey was conducted prior to the mid-term elections.
 
Scott McConnell, vice president of Nashville-based LifeWay Research, said pastors don’t approve of illegal immigration. But they want to help illegal immigrants make things right.
 
“This is one of many cases in which Christians can look at those around them and say, ‘I don’t agree with what got you to this place in life, but I will love you while you are here,’” McConnell said.

 
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Nearly 6 in 10 Protestant senior pastors (58 percent) agree with the statement: “I am in favor of immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for those who are currently in the country illegally.” About a third (34 percent) disagrees. Seven percent are not sure.
 
Most African-American pastors (80 percent) agree, as do a majority of white pastors (59 percent). Two-thirds (68 percent) of mainline pastors and more than half (54 percent) of evangelical pastors also favor a path to citizenship.
 
Pastors of mid-sized churches are more likely to agree than those from small churches. Two-thirds (66 percent) of pastors of churches with between 100 and 249 attenders agree. About half (54 percent) of pastors with less than 50 people in their congregation agree.
 
Two-thirds (63 percent) of pastors under age 45 favor a pathway, as do a little over half (55 percent) of those ages 45-54.
 

Churches want to lend a hand

LifeWay Research also found pastors want to help their immigrant neighbors, no matter what their legal status.
 
Caring for immigrants can be “an opportunity to show people who Jesus is,” McConnell said.
 
About half (47 percent) of Protestant senior pastors say their church currently helps immigrants.
 
And most (79 percent) agree with the statement: “Christians have a responsibility to assist immigrants, even if they are in the country illegally.” One in 6 (17 percent) disagree.
 
More than three quarters of evangelical pastors (77 percent) and most mainline pastors (86 percent) agree. Most pastors under 45 (83 percent) and those in churches with 100 or more attenders (82 percent) agree.
 
The new study parallels the findings of a 2013 LifeWay Research survey,
 
In that poll, 58 percent of pastors supported immigration reform. And about half (51 percent) said reform would help their church or denomination reach Hispanic Americans.
 
Other recent polling found that people in the pews have similar views to their pastors on the issue of immigration reform.
 
A 2014 Pew Research poll found that about two-third of Protestants (69 percent) support reform that would allow undocumented immigrant to stay in the country if they meet certain conditions. Three-quarters of Catholics (77 percent) also support reform.
 
Pew also found that less than half of Protestants (46 percent) say it is important that reform happens this year.
 

Pastors want the government to do its job

Protestant pastors of all kinds want the government to do a better job preventing people from entering the country illegally.
 
Almost 9 in 10 (87 percent) agree with the statement: “The U.S. government has the responsibility to stop illegal immigration.”
 
Most evangelical (91 percent) and mainline pastors (82 percent) agree. Pastors in the Midwest (38 percent) are less likely to agree than pastors in the South (89 percent) and West (90 percent). Pastors under age 45 are less likely to agree (82 percent).
 
“Justice, love, and mercy are all intrinsic to the Christian faith,” McConnell said. “It appears pastors see the need to end illegal immigration as an issue of justice. They also want to show love and mercy while the legal problem is addressed.”
 
Methodology: The phone survey of Protestant pastors was conducted Sept. 11-18, 2014. The calling list was a stratified random sample drawn from a list of all Protestant churches. Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus 3.1 percent. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bob Smietana is senior writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.)

11/19/2014 2:14:47 PM by Bob Smietana, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



From addict to urban missionary

November 19 2014 by Rick Houston, Special to the Recorder

The numbers are staggering.
 
According to The Dream Center of Gaston County’s website (dreamcentergastoncounty.com), more than 95 percent of students at Rhyne and Woodhill Elementary schools in the Highlands community receive free or reduced lunches. Only about half of those are able to function at an appropriate grade level. Thirty percent of Highlands households live in poverty.
 
Those are the cold and hard numbers, and the stories of life in Highlands are even more heartbreaking. Young toddlers are left untended.
 
Drugs and crime seem to be everywhere, and multiple shootings have happened in the last few months.  
It’s into this kind of environment that urban missionary Jaron Moss and his teams willingly venture as often as possible.

 
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Contributed photo
Jaron Moss uses his past to open doors into the Highlands community in Gaston County. It started with walking and praying for the community. Moss works with The Dream Center in Gaston County in its efforts to reach its community.

They are there through The Dream Center, a nonprofit effort organized by Bethlehem Baptist Church in Gastonia.
 
“We started walking in the community, praying for the community, seeing the needs,” said Moss, who is 26 and a full-time student at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont.
 
“As we’d walk around, you’d see people in the streets and on their porch. We’d just go up and talk to them.
“We weren’t trying to tell people about the church. We were trying to love the people, and share the hope they can have in God. We just started loving the people, and through a few months, God started building relationships with people.”
 
Moss’ is another in a long line of out-of-the-box ministries at Bethlehem, which hosts five weekend services at three campuses in the area. The Dream Center partners with local businesses every year to provide free services for weddings and proms.
 
There are support groups for single parents, sports programs, job fairs – name it, and there’s a pretty good chance it can be found at Bethlehem, The Dream Center or both.
 
The key to it all is this: None of the church’s efforts are necessarily designed to simply increase numbers, but instead to meet those in the community where they’re at, no matter what their circumstances might be. It’s about outreach in its simplest, purest form.
 
“We’re just focused on relationships with the people and connecting them with the Word of God, not just in church but in their home,” Moss continued.
 
“My whole life growing up, it was all about you invite people to church and tell the pastor to preach to them and teach them about God. I want these people to realize that God has equipped them to do that, to share God with their neighbors, friends and family.”
 
A native of nearby Kings Mountain, Moss’ backstory is not unlike those that play out every day in Highlands. At 17, he began smoking weed. It wasn’t long before he was not only popping pills, but selling drugs as well.
 
By 19, he was in rehab and charged with armed robbery.
 
Six months after getting out of rehab, he’d fallen right back into the trap. Life was one long, slippery spiral downward. At one point, he placed a pistol in his mouth ready to pull the trigger.
 
He didn’t and the next day his mother called and invited him to church.
 
“At the end of the service, this lady stood up and said, ‘God told me that there’s a man in here …’ and she began to say every thought that was running through my head,” Moss remembered. “She said, ‘You’re thinking life’s too long.’ She kept sharing things about me that she didn’t know.”
 
Moss made his way to the front of the church, and his life hasn’t been the same since.
 
“I wanted to sit in that seat, but I couldn’t,” Moss said. “I was up in the front before I even knew it, just lifting my hands to God, not saying any complicated prayer, but just saying, ‘Help me.’ I began to cry, tears [were] running down my face for fifteen minutes.
 
“I’ve never experienced the power of God like I did that day, ever. I walked back to my pew shivering. I left that day knowing something was different and changed. I felt as if someone had taken thousand-pound weights off of my shoulders.”
 
In the years since, Moss’ life has made a dramatic turnaround from addict to urban missionary, from living solely for that next fix to proposing to girlfriend Anna in a video that’s sure to go viral if it hasn’t already.
 
Drugs no longer matter to him. Even golf, a sport he loves, no longer holds quite the same attraction. What his old life does do, however, is give him an opening to serve the people in Highlands.
 
“People welcome me so easily in this community,” Moss concluded. “(His story) opens doors for me, because a lot of these guys struggle with drugs, addiction and depression.
 
“The life that I lived introduced me to all of those things, so when I go and start talking to them, I’m able to connect with them. God’s using my past mistakes for His good now.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Rick Houston is a freelance writer living in Yadkinville. He has written books on NASCAR and the Space Shuttle program.)

11/19/2014 2:02:11 PM by Rick Houston, Special to the Recorder | with 0 comments



Breakout sessions train attendees for greater ministry

November 18 2014 by BR staff

On Nov. 11 during the annual meeting, 22 breakout sessions were offered for N.C. Baptists to learn from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) staff. These sessions helped attendees use ordinary things and everyday experiences to build relationships with lost people to point them to Christ.
 

Knowing Your Mission Field

During one session, Michael Sowers, BSC strategy coordinator for the Triad area, shared five questions with church leaders to help them begin identifying the lost people in their communities and develop a strategy to engage them.
 
The questions were:

  • Who are the people?

  • What motivates people?

  • When are they available?

  • Where are people available?

  • How am I going to engage them?

Sowers suggested drawing a map of the community as one works through these questions, writing down people’s names and marking the places where people live, work and play. Answering the questions should naturally lead to the formulation of a strategy for reaching the lost.
 
“Jesus said His mission was to seek and to save the lost,” Sowers said. “That’s what this is all about.”
 

Step-by-Step Disciple-Making

Brian Upshaw, disciple-making team leader with the BSC, shared a step-by-step process with pastors and church leaders to help them lead people from salvation to Christian maturity.
 
There’s no one-size-fits-all method of making disciples, but Christ’s life reveals several examples that are applicable to local church ministry when it comes to fulfilling the Great Commission.
 
The process is based on patterns of Christ’s life and ministry found in Mark 9-13 where we see Jesus relating with the masses, the 12 disciples and a small group of three in Peter, James and John.

 
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BR photo by Michael McEwen
Michael Sowers, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) strategy coordinator for the Triad area led two breakout sessions Nov. 11 during the BSC annual meeting.

“The smaller the circle, the more intimate the relationship,” Upshaw said.
 
Jesus’ approach can be applied to local churches, using ministry structures already in place, Upshaw said. 

 

Preaching is like Jesus’ ministry to the masses, while Sunday School and small group Bible studies are akin to Jesus’ time spent with the disciples.
 
Most churches fall short in taking the next step of making discipleship personal, intentional and relational, Upshaw said. He encouraged church leaders to invite two or three other people to commit to spending a season of time studying the Bible together as a way to get started in relational discipleship.
 
“If we are following Christ, being changed by Christ on mission for Christ in every relationship we have, that’s how you build a disciple-making culture,” Upshaw said. “And that’s how a process of discipleship emerges.”
 

The Church’s Mission Heart

Patrick Fuller, the strategy coordinator for the Metro Charlotte area, said the first step for a church to put together a missions game plan is to refocus its relationship with Christ.
 
“All of our churches are in a different place, but I’m convinced that almost all of our churches break the heart of God,” Fuller said.
 
“Hardly any of us are where we need to be. What we have discovered is God’s plan for a church to have a missions-driven heart is not what we’ve done. If we are going to be the church God wants us to be, we must refocus.”
 
He strongly encouraged churches to select a specific people group in the community to target for ministry. After reaching out locally, opportunities would expand by region, state, national and global.
 
“We can’t turn outward until we first come inward to the Holy Spirit and realize who we are and what God wants for us,” Fuller continued. “When each of us falls in love with that group of people and grabs a mission heart for that group, the mission opportunities are endless.”
 

The Church Renewal Journey

Bob Foy is a church renewal consultant for the BSC and North American Mission Board missionary, but there was a time in his life when church work was a responsibility and not a passion.
 
“Really, honestly, I think I was doing church as hard as I could do church,” Foy admitted. “I was awakened to a totally new Christian life, awakened to the fact I love God. How do I show that? I’m not a singer. I’m not a teacher. I was an electrician.”
 
He cited an alarming statistic that 800-1,000 churches close their doors every year. A primary reason for that, Foy continued, might very well be that lay people don’t fully recognize or understand their own gifts for ministry. In short, ministry is not just the pastor’s job.
 
“My favorite verse in the Bible is 1 Peter 4:10 and 11,” Foy said. “It says God has given us a vast variety of gifts to build up and edify the body, and then it says, ‘Are you called to speak?’
 
“I thought for years and years that meant pastors. No. If you have the hope of Jesus Christ in your heart, you’re called to give testimony. The scripture says, ‘Speak as though God is speaking through you.’ Can the layperson do that? Yes.”
 
Foy then outlined a free Church Renewal Program that is funded by the Cooperative Program, which he’s seen have truly amazing success. The program includes five weekends for lay renewal; lay ministry; marketplace evangelism; prayer; and an Acts 1:8 challenge.
 

No campus left

Jonathan Yarboro, interim team leader and consultant for collegiate partnerships of the BSC, addressed how churches can mobilize missionaries on every campus in the state until there is “no campus left” without a gospel presence.
 
Yarboro said, “I hear a lot of churches ask, ‘How do you keep college students from walking out the doors and leaving churches?’ I think when we have a defensive posture like that, … I think we begin losing the battle when we ask that question.
 
“I think you have to get in front of that and begin asking, ‘How do we reach more college students?’”
A few attendees asked questions about different models of ministry concerning residential university settings versus non-residential community college settings.
 
Yarboro said, “There are 1.2 million college students in North Carolina. 840,000 of those are in community colleges. We’ve put all our energy historically into a group that is 240,000 strong. … So, how you go about reaching community college students is very different from how you go about reaching the others.”
 
Community college students are primarily commuters, said Yarboro. If churches want to build relationships and share the gospel with these students, they first have to create a social life on a campus full of commuters.
 
He said, “You have two years maximum to be able to develop a social construct and to be able to share the gospel with them, and also to be able to connect them to a local church.”
 
For churches that struggle with low-attendance in their college ministries, Yarboro said, “Cast a vision for what you want these students to be: that they are going to be on mission, and that you’re going to take campuses in the name of Jesus.”

 
North America Mission Opportunities

Chuck Register, BSC executive leader for church planting and missions partnerships, led the North America Mission Opportunities breakout session.
 
Encouraging churches to commit for three years instead of just one is “best for them,” Register said. The first year churches require a lot of the church planter; the second year, a lot less but still need help. By the third year, churches are able to be fairly independent because they have learned the area and have familiarized themselves with the church’s needs. Participants heard from representatives from Send Boston, Send New York and Send Toronto, along with a representative from Metropolitan New York Baptist Association.
 
There are many needs in each of the cities, and mission trips can be planned to fit each of the church’s groups.
 
Contact Chuck Register at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5532, or cregister@ncbaptist.org.
 

Passion, Purity and Porn

“Your sexual purity is essential to your walk with God,” said Eddie Thompson, BSC consultant for family evangelism and discipleship.
 
Immorality is the “plague of our day,” he said to participants in the session on Passion, Purity and Porn.
 
“Sexual purity begins in the mind and not the body,” Thompson said.
 
He shared statistics of porn use and growth as well as tips to help church leaders and members with temptations.
 
Helping people know their identity in Christ helps them stay focused on God’s purpose. Thompson’s slides and statistics are available for people to use or he can come to the church or association.
 
Contact (800) 395-5102, ext. 5644, or ethompson@ncbaptist.org.

11/18/2014 10:34:47 AM by BR staff | with 0 comments



Missionaries sacrifice to give to annual offering

November 18 2014 by Tess Rivers, International Mission Board,

Fueled by the same passion that led them to invest their lives cross-culturally, a group of International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries far exceeded a challenge to give $100,000 to international missions.
 
More than a quarter of a million dollars – $277,217.92 – was collected at a summer gathering of 240 IMB families serving among American people groups around the world. Of the total, $125,000 came from outside donations while $152,217.92 came from IMB missionaries.
 
The amount, given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, is unprecedented, said David Steverson, IMB vice president for finance. He described it as the largest offering ever received from a single gathering of IMB missionaries in the organization’s 169-year history.

 

The gift far exceeded the “God-sized” goal of $100,000 set by Terry Lassiter, strategy leader for IMB’s American peoples affinity group.
 
Understanding that discretionary income for missionaries is limited, Lassiter knew such a lofty goal might generate some doubt. Reaching the $100,000 goal meant each family would need to give an average of $416, nearly 20 percent of one month’s base salary for an IMB career couple.
 
“That way,” Lassiter said, “if (the goal) was met, people would know God moved.”
 
Although Lassiter expected skepticism, he became concerned the goal would not be met when he received little response to his monthly podcast announcing the goal.
 

IMB11-18-14.jpg

IMB photo by Wilson Hunter
International Mission Board (IMB) missionary Nancy Shirey passes offering baskets during a July 2014 gathering of IMB missionaries serving American people groups. Visit http://www.imb.org/main/lottie-moon/default.asp.

“I started doubting a bit,” Lassiter admitted.
 
Some of the missionaries under Lassiter’s leadership did, too.
 
“How can a group of ordinary missionaries collect this much money in a time of budget cuts?” some asked.
 
Others applauded Lassiter’s vision and believed $100,000 to be an attainable goal.
 
A few weeks before the meeting, missionaries began donating, but amounts were small. Elliott Baze,* IMB director of finance for the Americas, described the giving as “an initial flurry of donations followed by a slow but steady march upward.” Lassiter was getting worried.
 
Then came the conference – and daily messages by David Platt, who, according to Baze, shared story after story from the Bible of how God accomplished His purposes through ordinary people without much to offer.

 

“You could feel the energy of the group build on itself,” Baze recalled. “The offering gained momentum as the meeting unfolded.”
 
That momentum only continued to grow when the group learned that an anonymous donor was willing to match the goal with a $100,000 gift, if it was reached. Another outside donor committed an additional $25,000.
 
Then, Baze said, the group “blew past the goal,” and excitement grew.
 
To fuel the missionaries’ enthusiasm, John Brady, IMB vice president for global strategy, offered to shave his head if the offering reached $225,000. Steverson followed suit, also offering to shave his head if the offering reached $250,000.
 
“I figure my hair is worth a quarter of a million dollars,” Steverson said with a grin.
 
The missionaries said while the head-shaving stunts were fun and increased excitement, the offering was really about getting the gospel to every language, people, tribe and nation.
 
At the conference, missionaries had the opportunity to give their money with the same “heartfelt passion” which compelled them to invest their very lives in missions, Baze said.
 
For Marty Childers, who serves in Mexico, an experience three weeks before the gathering cemented his desire to give 20 percent beyond the amount he initially planned to give.
 
“I had the privilege of being among a people group of about 100,000 people with less than 75 Christ-followers,” Childers said.
 
“I met with a group of five of them, and we talked about sharing their faith.”
 
With tears in his eyes, one of the leaders of the small house group said to Childers, “We want to reach our people, but we don’t know how. Can you teach us?”
 
As Childers gave his offering, he remembered this conversation, realizing his gifts could help send teachers and trainers to the 3,000-plus unengaged, unreached people groups around the world. This firsthand awareness prompted him to give more.

 

Reachable goal

Missionaries also saw their opportunity to give as a model of sacrificial giving for another reachable goal: this year’s international missions offering.
 
“If field workers do not give sacrificially, how can we expect our [Southern Baptist Convention] constituency to do the same?” asked Tim Kunkel, who serves in Paraguay.
 
IMB’s 2014 goal for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is $175 million. In 2013, Southern Baptists gave an unprecedented $154 million, breaking the record for the largest total in the offering’s 125-year history. While this was good news for the more than 4,800 IMB missionaries worldwide who depend on the offering to fund their work, an additional $21 million will still be needed to reach this year’s goal.
 
If the 16 million people purported to make up the Southern Baptist Convention will give just $10.93 each, the $175 million goal can easily be reached, Kunkel said. While American families spend about $750 on Christmas, most Southern Baptist churches base their missions giving goal on an average gift of $10 per person.
 
“If we can show that missionaries are leading the way in sacrificial giving, might this not spark a change?” Kunkel asked. “This is what we are hoping for.”
 
In the final tally, IMB missionaries in the Americas gave $152,217.92 and anonymous donors gave $125,000. On average, each IMB family gave more than $630 – nearly 30 percent of one month’s base salary. The total ($277,219.92) will support five missionaries for a year.
 
“This tells other pastors, deacons and lay members that we believe in what God has called us to do: It’s about taking the Gospel to the lost,” said Eric Reese, who serves in Brazil. “We put our money to the task to demonstrate that we don’t just talk, we believe!”
 
*Name changed.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tess Rivers is an IMB writer. Kevin Gill and Erich Bridges contributed to this article.)

11/18/2014 10:10:02 AM by Tess Rivers, International Mission Board, | with 0 comments



Green’s Bible museum construction nears

November 18 2014 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Construction on the Museum of the Bible (museumofthebible.org) will begin by Dec. 1 as the final tenants leave the Washington D.C. site that will house the building just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol, museum board Chairman Steve Green said.
 
Presenting the archeological evidence of the people, places and events of the Bible in a non-evangelistic way will hopefully prove the truth of the book, but leave people to decide for themselves whether to accept Jesus as Lord, Green told Baptist Press.
 
“Evangelism would not be a direct result. The museum would be nonsectarian,” Green said. “Our role is just to present the information. But I think that, and our hope is that, it would change peoples’ lives, that they would realize that this book is something for them to consider and would embrace its principles and live accordingly.”
 
General contractor Clark Construction is already demolishing the interior of the former Washington Design Center that will house the museum, but will begin construction in earnest as the final tenants’ leases expire. The eight-story, 430,000-square-foot museum is slated to open in 2017 with $800 million in assets.

 
BibleMuseum11-18-14.jpg

BRC Imagination Arts photo
A rendering of “Abraham’s Tent,” an immersive storytelling space slated for the Museum of the Bible's fourth floor, dedicated to biblical narratives. Oscar-nominated firm BRC Imagination Arts of Burbank, Calif., is designing the space.

“We want to invite all people to engage with this book,” Green said. “We think education is the first goal, for people to realize how this book has impacted their lives, and then consider the principles and apply them to their own lives because of the benefits that it brings.”
 
The museum will house the Green Collection, the world’s largest private collection of rare biblical texts and artifacts, but will also feature additional exhibits designed to immerse visitors of all ages into interactive, biblically-based settings. The Green family, owners of the Hobby Lobby retail chain, amassed the collection over the past five years and has presented it to the public in a travelling exhibit that Green said has changed the lives of its viewers.
 
“We’ve had many that have indicated – and they’ve gone through our travelling exhibit – it has strengthened their faith for example,” Green said of his collection. “They are encouraged by the fact that they can actually see the evidence that shows that what they have been taught is accurate. We believe that many will be encouraged and their faith will be strengthened because of the evidence that is presented.”
 
“There have been many atheists, for example, when they are willing to just let the evidence lead to its natural conclusion” Green said, “I think it leads them to realize that this book is accurate in what it claims to be.”
 
The Bible’s history, impact and narrative will comprise the main focus of the museum, Green said, showing the reliability of scripture as a historical document.
 
“I think the evidence shows that the Bible is accurate,” Green said. “But we won’t say it’s accurate; we just present the information and we will let the visitor make their own decision.”
 
The museum will present the history of the Bible’s narrative and show its impact on society, Green said.
 
“The evidence will show that when we’ve applied [the biblical narrative] to principles, it has been good for society and again, that judgment we leave up to the visitor,” he said. “[People] just need to know the story of the Bible. What is the narrative from Genesis to Revelation? [We aim] for the person that has never read it, that knows nothing, to have a basic understanding of what the Bible’s message is, what its narrative is.”
 
The museum will allow visitors to explore the Bible’s impact on world culture and modern civilization, including literature, fine arts, architecture, education, science, film, music, family, government, law, human rights and social justice. Archaeological and historic treasures, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient Torah scrolls, early New Testament texts, rare biblical manuscripts and first-edition Bibles will be included, said Cary Summers, the museum’s chief operating officer.
 
“We’ve assembled,” Summers said in a press release, “the best in architectural, interior and environmental design to provide Museum of the Bible guests with an experience that is unique, innovative, customizable to each visitor’s level of interest and, most of all, memorable.”
 
Exhibits will allow visitors to walk through a replica of first-century Nazareth; witness the preservation, translation and transmission of the Bible over time, from clay tablets revealing the earliest writings to today’s digital Bible. Visitors will take a high-definition, sensory ride through history, offering dynamic encounters with historical people, places and events that changed the world.
 
A state-of-the-art 1,000-seat lecture hall, a lobby with a floor-to-ceiling interactive media wall, a performing arts theater, a children’s area, restaurants seating 500, and a rooftop garden with panoramic views of Washington are also planned. A real-time social media hub will allow visitors to download their own memories of the Bible.
 
Joining Clark Construction in the museum project are The PRD Group, C&G Partners, and BRC Imagination Arts, while scholars, writers and museum experts are assembling artifacts and developing content for the museum’s primary exhibits.
 
The Green family purchased the museum site in 2012 for $50 million. The museum plans to charge a modest admission, Green said, though pricing has not been determined.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is general assignment writer/editor for Baptist Press.)

11/18/2014 10:03:19 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Brothers go from homeless to hopeful

November 18 2014 by J. Blake Ragsdale, Baptist Children’s Homes

Thomas points his toes toward the sky as he swings. The eight-year-old laughs soaring higher and higher into the autumn air.
 
Inside the cottage that sits just a few yards away, twelve-year-old Jonathan practices on the living room piano. Jonathan, who has just begun lessons, carefully plays the familiar notes of “Happy Birthday.”
 
The two brothers live at Mills Home in Thomasville, and for them, today is a normal day. “Normal” would be the last word used to describe their lives before coming to Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) oldest campus.

 
BCH11-18-14.jpg

BCH photo by J. Blake Ragsdale
Jonathan, left, and Thomas are brothers who have been given hope through the ministry of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina.

Thomas and Jonathan’s parents separated, and their mother moved out of state. The boys were left solely in the care of their father who struggled to provide for his children. Eventually, the trio were homeless.
“For awhile we slept in a church,” Jonathan recalls.
 
They moved around staying in a variety of indigent shelters. In their most desperate times, the small family was forced to make do.
 
“My dad didn’t have a lot of money,” Thomas confides. “Sometimes we slept under a bridge and stuff.”
 
Eventually, the Department of Social Services became involved and contacted the brothers’ grandparents, Craig and Kathy. The couple gladly took their grandsons into their home, but they knew their health and age would make it impossible for them to care for the boys long-term.
 
“My husband and I are on a fixed income, and we both have a lot of medical issues,” Kathy explains. “The boys wanted to be involved in sports and a lot of different activities that we could not afford to give them. It hurt us to have to tell them ‘no.’”
 
Craig and Kathy are members of Long Shoals Baptist Church in Lincolnton, a church that has long supported BCH. With the assistance of their pastor, Kenneth Gibson, the couple reached out to BCH for help.
 
In June 2014, Thomas and Jonathan moved to Mills Home and lived in Bright-Brown Cottage. Bright-Brown is an emergency care cottage and provides immediate care for children.
 
“Their coming to BCH has been a blessing to me and my husband,” Kathy says. “They’re my boys now, and I’m going to do what’s best for them even though I can’t have them with us all the time.”
 
Two weeks after arriving, the boys moved from Bright-Brown to Alumni Cottage, a cottage for boys with more long-term needs.
 
“I didn’t know what to expect when we came here,” Jonathan admits. “I didn’t think I’d like it, but I came and started having fun. I’m still having fun.”
 
At Alumni, Thomas and Jonathan sleep in their own bedrooms and are provided with the comforts of a family home. “My houseparents do things for us,” Thomas says. “They like being kind.”
 
The houseparents, Shawn and Samantha Snipes and John and Glenda Mercer, take care of the brothers and the other boys living in the cottage. “They’re like regular parents. They are there for us all the time,” Jonathan says.
 
Since coming to Mills Home, Thomas and Jonathan have also learned that they can count on the kindness of churches and other BCH friends.
 
“It’s special when people bring us things,” Thomas says. “I feel happy because I get things I need like clothes.”
 
Jonathan agrees. “It makes me feel a little better inside. It shows that they have that much love for us.”
While the boys have settled into their new home, their relationship with their grandparents has grown and is as strong as ever. They see Craig and Kathy regularly and recently went on a weekend visit to celebrate Jonathan’s birthday as well as his “Paw Paw’s.”
 
“Jonathan has matured since coming to BCH. I can tell that,” Kathy observes. “And Thomas is so full of himself. He’s so happy and giggly.”
 
The times weren’t always happy for Thomas, Jonathan and their grandparents, but the smiles have since returned to everyone’s faces. As Kathy says, BCH has provided them “hope.”
 
“There is always something going on for them at Mills Home, and they are with other children just like them,” Kathy says. “They feel like they are in the right place – the place where God wants them to be.”
 
Visit bchfamily.org.

11/18/2014 9:53:19 AM by J. Blake Ragsdale, Baptist Children’s Homes | with 0 comments



‘Greater things’ for N.C. Baptists’ future

November 17 2014 by BR staff

At the 2014 Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) annual meeting, over 1,800 attendees heard reports and took decisive action Nov. 10-11 to make greater things happen in North Carolina and abroad.
 
Based on John 14:12, “Greater Things” was this year’s theme that encouraged North Carolina Baptists to embrace the truth that God, through the power of His Holy Spirit, wishes to accomplish greater things through His people.
 
The Credentials Subcommittee of the Committee on Convention Meetings reported the totals for those who registered for the convention: 568 pastors; 236 spouses; 240 church staff; 598 laity. These account for the 1,642 messengers. With 243 visitors, the final, yet unofficial number totaled 1,885. 1,648 messengers were reported in 2013 with 1,899 overall gathered at that annual meeting.
 

Budget

In mid-October, the BSC Board of Directors (BOD) approved a reduced Cooperative Program (CP) budget for 2015. This CP budget of $29 million is $1 million less than 2014.

The budget increases the percentage going to the Southern Baptist Convention to 37 percent, up from 36.5 percent in 2014.
 
Larry Burns, messenger of Mulberry Baptist Church in Charlotte, requested an amendment to the budget.
 
Burns said budgets are about priorities, and Christians have a biblical mandate to care for orphans as well as be an informed people.
 
He requested an amendment to reduce dollars for scholarships and increase financial support to both the Baptist Children’s Homes and the Biblical Recorder.

 
BSC11-17-14.jpg

Photo by K. Brown
On Tuesday, Nov. 11, Jonathan Falwell, senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., delivered the final message of the BSC annual meeting.

The amendment failed to receive a majority vote. With no other amendments presented, the original budget was approved by the messengers.
 

Articles and Bylaws

Six amendments to the convention’s bylaws were presented to messengers, which include: changing the procedures and requirements for submitting resolutions for consideration at annual meetings; setting procedures for meetings of the BOD when weather or other factors cause meetings to be cancelled; clarifying qualifications and limits on who can serve on the BOD; updating wording related to the Christian Life & Public Affairs Committee; updating names for Fruitland Baptist Bible College (from Institute) in BSC documents; clarifying inconsistencies on the description of trustees for North Carolina Baptist Hospital. Messengers approved all six amendments.
 

Committee on Nominations Report

The Committee on Nominations is responsible for receiving, reviewing and presenting recommendations provided by North Carolina Baptists for service on the BOD and committees of the convention as well as the boards of the institutions and agencies of the convention. The committee’s report was approved with no additional nominations from the floor. These are available online at www.brnow.org/News/October-2014/Committee-on-Nominations-report.
 

Committee on Resolutions and Memorials

Two resolutions were brought before messengers Nov. 11: the Resolution of Continued Support and the Resolution in Support of Religious Liberty. Submitted by David Gasperson, pastor of Warsaw Baptist Church in Warsaw, the Resolution of Continued Support asked N.C. Baptists to continue to prayerfully encourage BSC leadership as they equip and support churches and associations to engage areas of lostness outside of the identified eight population areas.
 
Also, the Religious Liberty resolution requested messengers to join and support pastors in Houston, Texas, and the freedom of all pastors to speak and obey God rather than man.

Messengers passed both resolutions. These resolutions are available online at BRnow.org.
 

Officers

Three officers were elected during the annual meeting: Timmy Blair, president; Cameron McGill, first vice president; and Joel Stephens, second vice president.
 
Blair, senior pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier, was nominated by Mark Harris, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte.
 
“Timmy Blair is a leader, a leader of character and consistency but also courage,” Harris said of the candidate in his nomination speech.
 
Blair has been married to Wendy for 35 years and has two children and two grandchildren. Blair’s church has led Little River Baptist Association in baptisms the last few years along with growing in membership and expanding mission giving.
 
“As a North Carolina Baptist, Timmy was a conservative when conservative wasn’t cool and I’m grateful for that,” Harris said.
 
Aaron Wallace, lead pastor Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, nominated McGill, senior pastor of Dublin First Baptist Church. “He believes that North Carolina Baptists must cooperate together to strengthen and revitalize our existing churches as well as equipping and supporting our new church plants and our global mission partnerships,” Wallace said.
 
“Since becoming pastor … his church has seen an increase of 400 percent in missions giving,” Wallace said.
 
McGill and his wife, Tiffany, have four children. He has led his church to participate in missions in their community as well as to working with church planters in New York and Moldova.
 
“He’s a man of God with integrity and character,” Wallace said.
 
Rick Speas, senior pastor of Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, nominated Joel Stephens, senior pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in Westfield.
 
“He is a servant leader with a Kingdom vision and a man of deep integrity,” Speas said of Stephens, who is married to Lisa and is raising four children. “Joel wholeheartedly supports the new strategy and the leadership of this convention.”
 

Miscellaneous Business

During a miscellaneous business session, Garland Honeycutt, a messenger from Big Rock Creek Baptist Church in Bakersville, asked for a suspension of the rules to allow messengers to consider a resolution on marriage. Messengers allowed Honeycutt, who is also director of missions for Avery Baptist Association, to read the resolution.
 
The resolution – “Resolution affirming God’s institution of marriage in North Carolina” – was proposed after the September filing deadline and was created in response to a U.S. District Court ruling in October that overturned the state amendment approved by voters in 2012 affirming marriage as between one man and one woman.
 
The resolution calls on messengers to pray for the Supreme Court as it will likely hear conflicting cases on the matter.
 
“Be it further resolved that the messengers encourage and pray for those individuals who are persecuted as they refuse to violate their deeply help biblical convictions on the issue of same-sex marriage,” the resolution states. “… and Be it finally resolved that the messengers affirm the biblical teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
 
Jeff Broadwell, pastor of Long Branch Baptist Church in Lumberton and chair of Memorials and Resolutions Committee, said the committee and BSC leaders had reviewed the resolution prior to its proposal at the annual meeting.
 
Messengers approved the resolution.
 

Speakers

On Tuesday, Nov. 11, Jonathan Falwell, senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., delivered the final message of the BSC annual meeting.
 
Falwell is the son of the late Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church.
 
Speaking from Philippians, Falwell challenged churches to make a recommitment to advancing the gospel.
 
“The only book that’s living and powerful is this book that was breathed out from the heart of God – the infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God,” Falwell said. “Until the church of Jesus Christ begins take that seriously once again, we’re not going to knock down the gates of hell.”
 
Disunity isn’t just a problem for church members, it’s a problem for pastors as well, Falwell said. He encouraged pastors to strive for unity with fellow pastors by keeping the big picture of ministry in mind.
 
“When we preach Jesus crucified, buried and risen again, light will come into a dark world, and the gates of hell will be knocked down,” Falwell said. “The church today better get back to doing this now because time is short.
 
“Let’s be the church that knocks down the gates of hell.”
 

NCBM Report

Groups from North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) are involved in no less than 18 different missions ranging from agriculture to aviation to disaster relief.
 
The group currently has five large feeding units, the largest three of which are capable of providing up to 80,000 meals a day. They were used several times in the past year both in North Carolina and around the country.
 
“God’s able to do greater things than we can think or even imagine,” said Richard Brunson, NCBM’s executive director. “I imagine a lot. I imagine every Christian seeing themselves as missionaries in their neighborhoods and in their workplace.
 
“I imagine North Carolina Baptist churches sharing Christ’s love in word and in deed. I imagine North Carolina volunteers being God’s hands and feet in their community and across our state and nation. God can do much more than we can imagine.”
 

Theme Interpretation

The Greater Things theme of the 2014 Baptist State Convention of North Carolina was not simply a call to do more. Instead, pastors Rob Peters and Noah Crowe encouraged messengers to remember the focus of Christian ministry.
 
Greater vision, Peters began, must come before greater things. “No ministry will ever remain intentional about its mission, no agency will remain faithful to its purpose and no denomination can remain passionate about its ministry if it does not have a high and holy view of God,” said Peters, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist in Winston-Salem.
 
Speaking from John 14:12 – the verse for this year’s theme – Crowe said Christ revealed a pattern of servanthood a greater picture of Himself as Savior and the greater power available to all believers.
 
“We have great preaching in Baptist churches,” Crowe said.
 
“We’ve got great singing in Baptist churches, great testifying in Baptist churches, but where’s the power? It comes from the Spirit of God. Greater power is not in personalities and styles. It’s not in good names and the venues. It’s not in our good offerings and our big financial pledges. It’s found in the Spirit of God, who glorifies the Savior.”

11/17/2014 3:16:34 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments



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