October 2016

Clinton, Trump share plans for Supreme Court

October 21 2016 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

The third and final debate of the 2016 presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump focused on various issues of concern to many evangelical Christians: the U.S. Supreme Court, abortion, immigration, personal character and ongoing turmoil in the Middle East.

Photo credit
Screen capture from Fox News

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, hosted the 90-minute debate between Clinton, the Democratic nominee, and Republican nominee Donald Trump. Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday,” moderated the event.
Wallace opened the evening by asking each candidate about their vision for the Supreme Court and how it should interpret the U.S. Constitution.
Clinton replied that she felt the election’s “central issue” was “What kind of country are we going to be?” She asserted her commitment to “not reverse marriage equality” or the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand. She added that her nominees “would be in the great tradition of standing up to the powerful ... on behalf of our rights as Americans.”
Trump’s reply focused on his intention to nominate candidates who are pro-life, “have a conservative bent” and will protect citizens’ Second Amendment rights to bear arms. His appointees “will interpret the Constitution the way the founders wanted.”
Wallace followed up with a direct question about overturning the Roe v. Wade ruling.
Trump said his appointment of pro-life justices would result in that ruling being overturned and the issue of abortion returning to state jurisdiction. He also noted his disapproval of late-term abortion, saying it allowed a baby to “be ripped out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day” [of a pregnancy].
Clinton said “using that kind of scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate” and called a woman’s decision to abort “heartbreaking and painful.” She said the country “has gone too far to turn back now” on the abortion issue and pledged to defend both the Roe v. Wade decision and funding for Planned Parenthood, America’s leading abortion provider.
On the issue of immigration, Wallace asked the candidates to explain why their position was right and the opponent’s was wrong.
Trump reiterated his call to build a wall on the United States’ border with Mexico and decried providing amnesty to illegal immigrants as “very unfair to all of the people waiting in line for many, many years” to enter legally. Later in the debate, he described Syrian immigration as a “Trojan horse” allowing terrorists aligned with the Islamic State to infiltrate the U.S.
Clinton, for her part, said she supported border security legislation, including a wall “in some limited places where that was appropriate.” She added, however, that she didn’t “want to rip families apart” or see a “massive law enforcement presence ... rounding up people who are undocumented.” She asserted her intention to bring “undocumented immigrants out from the shadows ... into the formal economy” so employers “can’t exploit them and undercut Americans’ wages.”
Wallace’s question about the candidates’ personal character and fitness for office unleashed a barrage of criticisms and rebuttals from Trump and Clinton.
Asked specifically about accusations he had sexually abused women, Trump insisted “those stories are all totally false” and said he believed Clinton’s campaign was behind the allegations. Clinton countered that she believed women had come forward with accusations against him because Trump had made comments that misbehavior with them was “impossible” because they were unattractive.
Clinton was asked directly about recent email disclosures that reveal Clinton Foundation donors received favors from the State Department. She replied, “Everything I did as Secretary of State was in furtherance of our country’s interests and our values.” She said the foundation was “a world-renowned charity” with “the highest ratings from the watchdogs.”
Wallace also asked the candidates to comment on the turmoil in the Middle East.
Clinton said she supports the current military effort in Iraq to drive Islamic State forces from Mosul and wanted to see the war pressed on into Syria to the IS stronghold of Al-Raqqah. She said she did not support American soldiers being used as an occupying force in the event IS is defeated. She reiterated support for a negotiated no-fly zone in Syria that “could save lives and ... hasten the end of the conflict.“
Trump blamed Clinton for Mosul falling into Islamic State hands in the first place, after U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq. He claimed Iran would step into the power vacuum if the city is liberated. He also blamed the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, Syria, on Clinton’s decision to back Syrian rebels and allow the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, to align himself with Russia and Iran.
The presidential election will be held Nov. 8.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mark Kelly is a career Southern Baptist journalist and freelance writer in Marietta, Ga.)

10/21/2016 8:09:35 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

40 Days for Life U.S. tour runs through Nov. 6

October 21 2016 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

As Planned Parenthood marks its centennial, pro-life advocates are participating in the international 40 Days for Life campaign billed as the largest such mobilization in U.S. history.

Submitted photo
More than 200 pro-life advocates rallied at the 40 Days for Life vigil outside Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, Minn., on the 40 Days for Life United bus tour.

A 40 Days for Life United bus tour is a new addition to the 2016 campaign that will include vigils in 367 locations in 270 U.S. cities and more than 20 foreign countries, major campaign sponsor Pro-Life Action Ministries (PLAM) of St. Paul, Minn., said at 40daysforlife.com.
The United tour will make stops in more than 125 cities to hold rallies and prayer vigils that will encourage Christians to stand together for the sanctity of life across the nation, 40 Days for Life president Shawn Carney said in a press release.
“Since 40 Days for Life started in 2007,” Carney said, “we have recognized that although abortion is a national problem, it does not happen in the White House, in Congress or in the Supreme Court. Abortion takes place in hometowns across America – and it will end, and is ending, in hometowns across America, one by one.“
The interdenominational campaigns began nearly 10 years ago with vigils outside abortion clinics in Minneapolis and St. Paul and have grown to include all 50 states. Each city-based 40 Days for Life campaign is distinguished by 40 days of prayer and fasting, community outreach, and a “constant, peaceful vigil in the public right-of-way outside abortion facilities” PLAM said. The group is working with at least five other national ministries and numerous city and state pro-life coalition groups in conducting the bus tour, which began Sept. 28 in Washington D.C, and runs through Nov. 6 in Virginia.
The 2016 tour was scheduled to make four stops Oct. 17 in Colorado, including abortion clinics in Fort Collins, Boulder and Colorado Springs, with the statewide rally in Denver.
Steve Karlen, 40 Days for Life North American campaign director, said the tour is evidence of unity in the fight against abortion.
“People of faith sometimes feel alone in their efforts to end abortion,” Karlen said. “We are all in this together – and with God’s blessings, abortion in this country will come to an end.”
Already in the current campaign, PLAM said it has received reports of 264 babies being saved from abortions their mothers had planned to have.

Submitted photo
Pro-life advocates pray for an end to abortion during the 40 Days for Life vigil held Oct. 14 in St. Paul, Minn. The 40 Days for Life United tour bus is in the background.

Several 40-day campaigns are observed each year, the most recent one held Feb. 10-March 20 in 273 locations including the U.S. and 24 foreign countries. In that campaign which drew 120,000 participants from 4,700 churches, PLAM said at 40daysforlife.com, 631 lives were saved from abortion, six abortion workers left the industry, three abortion facilities closed.
The campaign’s length is based on God’s use of 40-day periods to transform individuals and communities, including the flood of Noah’s era, Moses’ recording of the 10 commandments on Mount Sinai, and the period between Christ’s resurrection and ascension.
Since 2007, more than 700,000 individuals from 18,500 churches have participated in vigils in 636 cities and 36 countries, preventing at least 11,796 babies from being aborted, leading to 133 workers leaving the abortion industry and seeing 73 abortion facilities end their practice, PLAM said.
Other tour sponsors are March for Life, Heartbeat International, Silent No More Awareness, Students for Life and Susan B. Anthony List, along with numerous city and state pro-life coalition groups including many Southern Baptists, PLAM said.
The complete schedule of vigils and participation information are available at 40daysforlife.com.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)


10/21/2016 8:06:03 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

France prepares to dismantle port-city migrant camp

October 21 2016 by Anna K. Poole, WORLD News Service

In October, the British government announced it will accept hundreds of refugee children from a squalid camp on the French side of the English Channel. The decision came in response to international pressure to “fulfill its moral obligation” to find homes for migrant minors with documented family links in Britain.
Pressure on the United Kingdom (U.K.) mounted in recent weeks as France advanced plans to flatten the port city camp, moving as many as 9,000 adult migrants to 164 area villages. As France and Britain work to rehouse thousands of migrants doubly displaced by the camp closure, human rights activists fear hundreds of children could be lost in the shuffle.
The camp, commonly called “The Jungle,” is a slummy network of shelters in Calais, home to an estimated 10,000 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Overcrowded, unsanitary and unsafe, The Jungle has been described as an embarrassment to Europe.
While France does not have an official tally, experts estimate up to 1,000 unaccompanied minors live at the Calais camp. In an open letter to British Prime Minister Teresa May, charity officials urged measures for proactive protection, citing the 129 children who disappeared the last time French officials dismantled a refugee camp.
But the warnings already are too late for some children. Aid officials say they’ve lost track of 50 of the 178 children identified as having links to Britain.
“We know of one [refugee child] for sure that’s definitely disappeared,” Charlotte Morris of Safe Passage UK told The Washington Post. “It just goes to show you what kind of danger these kids are in.”
On the French side, plans to resettle refugees continue to create controversy. In the country’s southeast, local authorities have proposed to settle up to 60 migrants in the empty wing of a psychiatric hospital in Pierrefeu. But residents have voiced security concerns and fear clashes between migrants and patients.
“Even if we can understand the dismantling of Calais … our small towns are not the solution,” said Pierrefeu Mayor Patrick Martinelli.
Experts say most migrants stuck in The Jungle want to cross to Britain, not settle in France. Calais is popular with migrants because it’s a primary transit point for trade and travel between the two countries, and its roads and waterways have proved deadly for desperate migrants. On Oct. 9, French authorities reported the death of the 14th migrant killed in the Calais area this year – an Eritrean man hit by a car on a busy highway connecting France to Britain.
According to local reports, the accident occurred when the driver swerved to avoid a group of about 50 migrants stacking obstacles into a makeshift blockade. Such impromptu attempts to block the road have become common in recent months: Refugees slow vehicles, then hop into trucks heading to Britain. Sunday’s incident comes weeks after a 14-year old Afghan boy died when he fell from a truck bound for the Channel Tunnel.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Anna K. Poole writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville. Used with permission.)

10/21/2016 8:02:44 AM by Anna K. Poole, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments

Moore contrasts ‘world’s form of power’ to God’s

October 21 2016 by Marilyn Stewart, Baptist Press

Russell Moore, in chapel at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, urged listeners not to depend on the wrong power for ministry and service.

Photo by Joe Fontenot
During chapel service Oct. 11, Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, encouraged New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary students to rely on God’s sufficiency in ministry.

“When we buy into the premises of the world, the world’s form of power, the world’s form of strength, and the world’s form of influence, we buy into something that not only is a lie, it also ultimately harms us,” said Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Moore noted that the Mark 5:1-20 account of Jesus’ encounter with the Gerasene demoniac paints a picture of a man “as far gone as possible” who was unclean, living in a graveyard, isolated, alone, and yet with a physical strength no chains could hold. Moore then connected the man’s lostness with every believer’s former state.
“That’s our story,” Moore said in his Oct. 10 message. “That’s where we come from.”
The church’s true strength, he noted, is found in believers’ common identity of brokenness.
“One of the most powerful things we have as the church of Jesus Christ is the ability to say to those who are considering the claim of the gospel what it means to belong, what it means to have a new household, what it means to have a new family and what it means to have brothers and sisters who bear one another’s burdens,” Moore said.
Moore told of an experience as a pastor years ago when a visitor misinterpreted the abbreviation “D.T.” in the church bulletin to refer to a “detox” meeting rather than Discipleship Training. At first he was embarrassed that the woman thought core church leaders attended the “detox” meeting. Moore was further embarrassed when he realized how hard he had worked to convince the woman that the congregation was “a good church.”
Every believer is “in detox” from something, Moore said, whether it is idolatry, pride, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, quarrelsomeness or another issue.
“In reality, the power that we have in that congregation is not our togetherness, but our brokenness and woundedness in need of the gospel and grace of Jesus Christ,” Moore said, noting that believers may give in to fear or discouragement because they have forgotten where they’ve come from and have forgotten that strength lies in God’s grace.
Pointing to the passage, Moore said a witness on the scene might have thought the demoniac “held all the power” because people feared him, his formidable strength, and even the graveyard where he lived.
Jesus, on the other hand, simply spoke, Moore said.
“Jesus had no fear of the power of death … of the unclean spirits … of contamination by the graveyard … of being seen with the demonized man,” he said.
Jesus’ response to the demoniac was the same response God gave Adam in the Garden of Eden, Moore said. Each was a personal encounter rather than a display of power, with Jesus asking the demoniac, “What is your name?”
The solution to sin, he said, is grace through Christ, not power as the world defines it.
“One of the crucial aspects of our ministry, whatever sort of ministry God has put you in, is to be separate from sin, but not separate from sinners,” Moore said.
“One of the messages we have to give to the outside world is what it looks like for the church of Jesus Christ to be in an actual community that knows one another and loves one another and forgives one another and carries one another’s burdens and crosses.”
Freed from his demons, the man wanted to go with Jesus rather than stay with people who knew his past, a reaction Moore said he understood. But the new start afforded to believers is a call “to bear witness to the power of the gospel,” he said.
Although some might prefer to forget past shame and failures, Moore said past struggles will be the very point at which God’s power to a needy world will be demonstrated.
“Your ministry will probably enable you to show that God’s power is sufficient even in your point of greatest weakness, what you wish and hope that no one would know about,” Moore said. “[T]he message that we have for the outside world is not our displays of power … [or] how together we appear to be.
“The message we have for the outside world is that we are crucified with Jesus Christ and therefore we no longer live, but He lives in us, that Christ in us is the hope of glory and we are crucified sinners who stand only by God’s grace.“
Moore concluded, “That’s grace. That’s mercy. You might even call it ‘detox.’”
Visit nobts.edu to hear the sermon in its entirety.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marilyn Stewart is assistant director of public relations for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)

10/21/2016 7:54:54 AM by Marilyn Stewart, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

P&G refuses to join fight against religious liberty

October 21 2016 by Evan Wilt, WORLD News Service

Procter & Gamble shareholders shot down a proposal recently to join the surge of corporate backlash against religious freedom and restroom laws.
NorthStar Asset Management, which owns $2,000 worth of P&G stock, proposed at an investor meeting the company should join Apple, PayPal, Disney and others in the political fight against religious freedom laws in Mississippi and Tennessee and should take a stand against North Carolina’s transgender restroom policy. The consumer goods giant overtly rejected the idea, with 94 percent of shareholders voting against it.
“It’s one less major corporation fighting against religious freedom,” said Justin Danhof, director of the free enterprise project at the National Center for Public Policy Research. “This is a great victory for freedom and for common sense.”
Danhof told me well-funded lobbyists and activists are increasingly attending shareholder meetings to lure companies into taking sides on political fights. He travels around the country attending corporate investor meetings to help educate shareholders about troubling proposals from left-wing activists.
“When I go to shareholder meetings, I often feel like the lone voice in the wilderness trying to speak out for sanity,” Danhof said.
NorthStar’s proposal asked for P&G to prepare a report by April detailing the risks and costs of state policies “supporting discrimination against LGBT people.” In addition, it asked P&G to develop strategies to protect LGBT employees from proposed and enacted state legislation.
The proposal highlighted House Bill 2 (HB2) in North Carolina and court-blocked legislation in Mississippi that was intended to protect persons with religious objections from participating in same-sex weddings. NorthStar also noted a Tennessee law to protect freedom of conscience, which prevents counselors and therapists from being forced to counsel in a manner that conflicts with their religious beliefs, as long as they refer the patient to someone else.
Many of these laws, particularly HB2, have prompted corporations to make a public stance against them. When N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, signed HB2 into law in March, the Human Right Campaign wrote him a letter calling for its repeal and got more than 80 CEOs at major companies to add their signatures.
Other groups provided additional pressure. PayPal scrapped a new global operations center in Charlotte that would have provided 400 jobs, because of the policy requiring people to use restrooms based on their biological sex, not gender identity.
Then the NBA decided to pull its All-Star game from the state and the NCAA followed by moving scheduled championship contests in the Tar-Heel state. Both organizations said HB2 discriminates against LGBT persons.
“Religious freedom laws are far from bigotry – they are between you and the government, not about you and your neighbor,” Danhof said. He explained many Americans believe religious freedom laws and North Carolina’s HB2 are harmful because of well-funded lobbying. Big corporations with deep pockets joining the bandwagon only perpetuate this view.
Even P&G’s board of directors said it agreed with NorthStar’s proposal in theory but decided against adopting it for business reasons.
“While we fully support diversity and non-discrimination, as described above, we believe the report would not be a productive use of company resources,” the board wrote in response to NorthStar’s request.
Danhof told me he’s pleased P&G didn’t succumb to the pressure from left-wing activists, but he’s concerned the company will bow down in the future.
“Unfortunately this is an incredibly well-funded and well-organized effort to get companies to co-opt in this political agenda,” he said. “Procter & Gamble’s investors should be proud that they defeated NorthStar’s efforts to make the company another pawn of the left.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Evan Wilt writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville. Used with permission.)

10/21/2016 7:48:34 AM by Evan Wilt, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments

Former SBC pres. on ‘60 Minutes,’ addresses refugee crisis

October 20 2016 by Margaret Colson, Baptist Press

Amid today’s tumult of political rhetoric and social discourse about Syrian refugees entering the U.S., a pastor and former Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president spoke out in an Oct. 16 60 Minutes report, as well as a Sept. 11 sermon, calling on Christians to lean on God’s Word to determine how to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Screen capture from CBS News
Former SBC president Bryant Wright, left, pastor of Atlanta-area Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes” to discuss the Christian response to the refugee crisis as well as his own church’s involvement in helping settle Syrian refugees in the U.S.

Bryant Wright, senior pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, said Christians are not to make decisions about Syrian refugees “by our feelings, by our fears, by talk radio, by political candidates, by political ideology, by news stations, by news outlets and publications.
“We are to make our decisions according to the teaching of God’s Word,” he said in his message to his Marietta, Ga., congregation in September on the 15th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil.
During the 60 Minutes segment, titled “Finding Refuge,” correspondent Bill Whitaker reported that 13,000 Syrian refugees have resettled in the U.S. in the past year, and more are coming.
After the terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015 that killed 130 people, 31 governors called for a complete halt to the Syrian Refugee Program, Whitaker reported. Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal also signed an executive order denying state services to Syrian refugees, an action prompting a letter from Wright, urging the Republican governor, a man he voted for, to reconsider.
“Our calling ... is far higher to follow Christ and do what Christ teaches us to do than whether there’s an R or a D behind your name,” Wright, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said during the 60 Minutes interview.
The governor’s ban was later withdrawn after it was deemed illegal by Georgia’s attorney general, Whitaker reported.
Just as the political response to the Paris terrorist attack was unfolding, the first Syrian refugees began arriving in the U.S.
“Desperation is really the one word that best describes what refugees feel,” Wright preached in September. Such desperation, he said, “drives them to what is often an impossible hope … seeking to flee a reign of terror … and looking for a better life to come.”
The 60 Minutes report highlighted the thorough screening process each refugee family must undergo before being admitted into the U.S. The U.S. security check can take up to two years, Whitaker reported.
In his sermon Wright underscored the different roles the government and church fulfill in the Syrian refugee crisis.
The role of government, he said, is to uphold the common good, to protect citizens from within and without, to administer justice and to punish evil, while the role of the church is to love our neighbor as ourselves, particularly to care for those in need, he said.
“The government has decided 10,000 Syrian refugees are coming. That’s not our decision. Isn’t it better to reach out and love these folks than to give them the cold shoulder? Which approach do you think might cause a Muslim refugee to be more sympathetic to Islamic terrorism? Which approach? To me it’s a no-brainer,” Wright said in during the 60 Minutes interview.
Wright acknowledged in his September sermon, “We are living in a world of fear today in 2016.” Still, as in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, Christians are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, he said.
“Our neighbor is our fellow man. It’s all mankind – people from all religious backgrounds and non-religious backgrounds, people from all different people groups and ethnicities. Our neighbor is our fellow man and especially our fellow man that is hurting,” he said.
Drawing on Matthew 25, Wright said, “How we respond to refugees and immigrants is how we respond to Jesus.”
Jesus, he said, was the ultimate immigrant as He “left His native land in heaven to come to our land here on earth.”
The war in Syria has taken the lives of almost a half million people and created the largest refugee crisis since the end of World War II, Whitaker reported.
Wright asked his congregation, “If you’re a follower of Christ, where is the outrage concerning the humanitarian disaster that is going on in Syria and Iraq in the Middle East?”
Members of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church began helping Syrian refugee families settle into their new homes in America last December.
Bryan Hanson, assistant pastor of global ministries national at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, noted that “a lot of people want to make this (the Syrian refugee crisis) a political issue; for us, it’s a biblical issue.”
It wasn’t the first time the suburban church has helped resettle refugees. In the 90s, the church helped resettle refugees from Kosovo, and in 2006 the church helped resettle Hurricane Katrina victims.
The first Syrian refugee family the church welcomed into its community arrived on Dec. 1. Others soon followed. Today the church is helping resettle seven Syrian Muslim families and one Iranian Christian family – a total of 37 people, including 20 children – in its upper-middle-class predominantly Republican suburb of Atlanta.
The response of Johnson Ferry Church along with Wright’s teachings run parallel with a resolution adopted by messengers to the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention this past June, to “encourage Southern Baptist churches and families to welcome and adopt refugees into their churches and homes as a means to demonstrate to the nations that our God longs for every tribe, tongue, and nation to be welcomed at His throne,” while also calling “on the governing authorities to implement the strictest security measures possible in the refugee screening and selection process, guarding against anyone intent on doing harm.”
More than 120 volunteers from Johnson Ferry church are involved in the refugee resettlement ministry. On a weekly basis, approximately 50 are actively serving in some way. The ministry is time and energy-intensive.
The goal is “helping families become self-sufficient, productive and integrated into society,” Hanson said.
As the church ministers to the refugee families, “We want them to learn about Christ. Christ loves us so we love them. We want them to understand.
“There are no strings attached for our love for them. We’re sharing the love of Christ. We’re being the church as God has called us to be the church,” Hanson said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Margaret Colson, a member of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, is a writer in Marietta, Ga., and executive director of Baptist Communicators Association.)

10/20/2016 8:05:05 AM by Margaret Colson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Raising up church leaders focus of Pipeline conference

October 20 2016 by Lisa Cannon Green, LifeWay

Church leaders must make critical shifts in focus to prepare leaders for the next generation, speakers told attendees at the inaugural Pipeline conference for church leaders Oct. 13.

Photo by Lisa Cannon Green
Mac Lake, left, lead navigator of the Leadership Pipeline for Auxano, answers questions from moderator Todd Adkins, director of leadership at LifeWay Christian Resources, during a question-and-answer session after Lake’s presentation at the Pipeline 2016 conference.

The event, hosted by LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, emphasized the need to build a pipeline of future leaders at every church. Ten speakers addressed issues ranging from vision to stewardship.

Eric Geiger

Kicking off the conference, Eric Geiger, vice president of LifeWay Christian Resources, spoke on the importance of building future leaders in the church.
Although many leaders have learned to function without developing others, Scripture shows this practice can destroy a ministry in a single generation, said Geiger, who is also co-author of the new book Designed to Lead.
Moses invested heavily in the life of his protégé Joshua, and when Moses died, Joshua was ready to take the reins, Geiger said. But when Joshua died without preparing a successor, “another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).
Developing people is one of the toughest challenges of a leader, Geiger said. He listed three critical traits for building future leaders: a conviction for developing others, a culture that values character above skills and constructs that help train future leaders in the abilities they will need.
“The role of a ministry leader isn’t to perform ministry – it’s to prepare others for ministry,” he said.

Jenni Catron

Leadership expert and author Jenni Catron talked about helping teams work together and offered three keys to effective collaboration. “Leadership is a sacred calling,” Catron said. “But it’s not about your success; leadership is about the success of others. It’s about helping draw out the individual gifts of your team members and pairing those gifts with the mission of the organization.”
Effective leadership requires collaboration and is built on the foundation of humility and honor, Catron said. The keys to unlocking a culture of collaboration are relational connectivity, clear communication and high accountability, she said. “Effective leadership earns influence through relationship rather than through authority.”
Catron said one of the most important things leaders do is invite others to work together. “God chose to work with us,” she said. “And we have the opportunity to collaboratively work together to accomplish the mission God has called our churches to.”

Photo by Carol Pipes
Trip Lee, Christian hip-hop artist and pastor of Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, spoke to leaders on the importance of discipleship at the Pipeline 2016 conference.


Thom S. Rainer

Churches today face an unprecedented need to change, said LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer. Attending church is no longer a cultural imperative. Church practices of the past may no longer be effective.
But many church leaders are not trained in change management, Rainer said, and they often face resistance from within the church ranks.
A study of more than 52,000 churches found leaders who successfully transform their churches go through three phases, Rainer said. They acknowledge the necessity of change, believe God can make it happen and stand strong through the crisis that significant change brings.
“It’s reality when you lead change, there will be some kind of crisis. Sometimes it will be major,” Rainer said.
He offered a series of practical steps for change, starting with prayer. “I cannot recall ever seeing lasting change in a church that did not begin with a foundation of prayer,” he said.
Rainer also advised church leaders to communicate urgency, build a coalition of supporters, offer a vision of hope and begin shifting to an outward focus.

Mac Lake

Learning to lead is an essential part of discipleship for every believer, said Mac Lake, a church leadership consultant and lead navigator of the Leadership Pipeline for Auxano.
Lake urged church leaders to help people lead like Jesus, investing in relationships to produce transformed lives.
Too often, he said, church leaders feel pressure to churn out new leaders quickly. “Our motivation is just to equip people to turn our ministry widgets,” he said. “We want leadership development to be fast, easy and linear, and it’s not.”
Filling empty leadership roles in the church isn’t the primary reason to develop leaders, he said. Instead, the motivation is seeing potential in other people and wanting to help them grow.
“Your leadership development efforts will have their greatest impact when the people you’re training know you’re emotionally invested in them,” he said.

Trip Lee

A strong call to discipleship was Trip Lee’s message to leaders saying, “the best way to make leaders who serve God’s world is to develop disciples who love God’s Word.”
Lee is a Christian hip-hop artist and pastor of Cornerstone Church, a year-old church plant in Atlanta. “We’re always looking for new ways to develop leaders,” Lee said, “but if we want to see the kind of lasting change Jesus has called us toward, we have to lean on the things He’s already given us, and that begins and ends with God’s Word.”
As a pastor of a new church, Lee said he’s learned how important community is in the lives of believers. “Christianity is a team sport,” he said. “We aren’t meant to follow Jesus alone; we are supposed to follow Him together in unity. There is no such thing as a believer who can follow God in an isolated way.”
Other speakers at Pipeline 2016 were Will Mancini, founder of Auxano church vision consulting; Kevin Peck, lead pastor at the Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas; Carey Nieuwhof, founding pastor of Connexus Church north of Toronto; pastor and author Paul Tripp; and Brian Dodridge, executive pastor at Brentwood Baptist Church near Nashville, Tenn. More than 1,000 leaders attended the live event. More than 3,000 participated online.
The conference also offered coaching sessions to help church leadership teams learn practical skills for developing others into leaders.
Next year’s Pipeline conference is scheduled for Oct. 11, 2017. Speakers will include John Piper, Bob Russell, H.B. Charles, Tami Heim, Léonce Crump and Mark Jobe. For details, visit myleadershippipeline.com.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lisa Cannon Green is a writer for LifeWay Corporate Communications. Carol Pipes contributed to this story.)

10/20/2016 7:55:01 AM by Lisa Cannon Green, LifeWay | with 0 comments

20 Southern Baptist churches on Outreach/LifeWay top 100

October 20 2016 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Twenty Southern Baptist congregations are among the 2016 top 100 fastest growing and largest participating churches in the U.S., with NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C., ranking highest in both categories among Southern Baptists.
In the lists compiled annually in collaboration between Outreach Magazine and LifeWay Christian Resources, NewSpring Church ranks third on the largest participating churches list and eighth among the fastest-growing churches named in Outreach’s October issue.
NewSpring, under the leadership of interim senior pastor Clayton King, reported an average attendance of 33,761 and a 21 percent growth of 5,925, according to the list.
The nearest Southern Baptist church in growth was Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Ark., the pastorate of Archie Mason, ranking number 11 and reporting a 30 percent growth of 958 in its attendance of 4,203. It was followed closely by Beltway Park Church in Abilene, Texas, the pastorate of David McQueen, ranking 15 and recording 25 percent growth of 966 for an average attendance of 4,836.
In participation, Saddleback Church, the pastorate of Rick Warren in Lake Forest, Calif., was the second highest Southern Baptist church, ranking fifth with an attendance of 25,612. Elevation Church in Matthews, N.C., under the leadership of Steven Furtick, followed closely at number 11 with 21,146 in attendance.
In the self-reported survey, LifeWay Research surveys 27,000 churches for information, verifies the numbers, calculates the results and compiles the lists. In turn, Outreach interviews many pastors and writes features profiling churches and leaders.
Southern Baptist churches achieved higher rankings in the category of participation than in the area of growth, Outreach and LifeWay found. Each list includes 20 Southern Baptist congregations, with seven of those churches ranking in the top 100 on both lists. All numbers are based on attendance, not official membership, according to the report, and captures numbers from February and March of 2015, excluding Easter Sunday.
“Although we go to great lengths to confirm data, the information is reported by pastors, staff or church officers, and as such, reflects their perception – their churches as they see them,” Outreach said in its October issue. “The 2015 Fastest-Growing list includes surveyed churches with attendance greater than 1,000, a numerical gain of 150 or more and a percentage gain of at least 4 percent. The 2015 Largest list includes all churches participating in the survey with attendance of 5,269 or more.”
Second Baptist Church in Houston, led by H. Edwin Young, ranked 13th in participation with 20,698 in attendance; Woodlands Church in The Woodlands, Texas, pastored by Kerry Shook, ranked 14 with 19,430 in attendance; and Lake Pointe Church pastored by Steve Stroope in Rockwall, Texas, ranked 28 in participation with 12,185 in attendance.
Other top 100 Southern Baptist churches in participation are Potential Church in Cooper City, Fla., the pastorate of Troy Gramling, ranking 35 with 10,598 in attendance; The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, pastored by Matt Chandler, number 36 with 10,340 in attendance; Pinelake Church, Brandon, Miss., pastored by Chip Henderson, number 37 with 9,845 in attendance; The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., the pastorate of J.D. Greear, number 42 with 9,437 in attendance; Cross Church in Springdale, Ark., the pastorate of immediate past Southern Baptist Convention president Ronnie Floyd, number 45 with 9,033 in attendance, and Church by the Glades, the pastorate of David Hughes in Coral Springs, Fla., 46 with 8,486 in attendance.
Rounding out Southern Baptist churches in the top 100 in participation, according to the list, are Houston’s First Baptist Church under the leadership of Gregg Matte, number 51 with 8,237 in attendance; Biltmore Church in Arden, N.C., pastored by Bruce Frank, number 63 with 7,490 in attendance; Bellevue Baptist Church, the pastorate of current SBC President Steve Gaines, number 65 with 7,329 in attendance; Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., pastored by David Jeremiah, ranking 67 with 7,276 in attendance; Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, the pastorate of Matthew Carter, number 72 with 6,881 in attendance;
Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., pastored by Robby Gallaty, ranking 76 with 6,582 in attendance; Sandals Church in Riverside, Calif., pastored by Matt Brown, number 83 with 6,333 in attendance; and The Church Without Walls in Houston, the pastorate of Ralph D. West, number 90 with 6,010 in attendance.
Among the fastest growing churches, Southern Baptists ranking below the top three in the denomination are Elevation Church which ranked 18th with an 18 percent growth of 3,268 for an attendance of 21,146; Mercy Hill Church, Greensboro, N.C., the pastorate of Andrew Hopper, ranking 25, growing 48 percent in attendance and adding 487 worshippers for an average of 1,500; Calvary Fellowship in Miramar, Fla., pastored by Bob Franquiz, ranking 31 with a 26 percent growth of 538 for an average attendance of 2,632; and Liberty Baptist Church, Hampton, Va., led by Grant Ethridge, at number 35, growing by 18 percent to add 802 for an average attendance of 5,282.
Others recording high growth are Bethlehem Church in Bethlehem, Ga., the pastorate of Jason Britt, ranking 38 with a 28 percent growth of 466 for an average attendance of 2,160; TrueNorth Church of North Augusta, S.C., the pastorate of Steve Davis, ranking 42 with a 26 percent growth of 458 and averaging 2,237 in attendance; Sandals Church, at number 45, recording a 16 percent growth of 868 for an average attendance of 6,333; and The Summit Church, ranking 46 with a growth of 14 percent, 1,162, for an average attendance of 9,437.
Rounding out Southern Baptists among the fastest growing churches are Lake Pointe Church, number 53, growing 12 percent with 1,286 new attendees for an average attendance of 12,185; Lifepoint Church in Lewis Center, Ohio, pastored by Dean Fulks and ranking 58, with a 24 percent growth of 405 for 2,112 in attendance; Pinelake Church in Brandon, Miss., pastored by Chip Henderson, ranking 60, recording a 12 percent growth of 1,054 and averaging 9,845 in attendance;
Anderson Mill Road Baptist Church in Moore, S.C., D.J. Horton pastor, number 61, reporting 19 percent growth of 501, average attendance of 3,167; Sugar Creek Baptist Church in Sugar Land, Texas, pastored by Mark S. Hartman, number 68, recording 16 percent growth of 568 and averaging 4,229 in attendance; Biltmore Church, number 77, recording 12 percent growth of 787 and averaging 7,490 in attendance;
The Summit Church of North Little Rock, Ark., the pastorate of Bill Elliff, ranking 94, recording a 19 percent growth of 262, averaging 1,610 in attendance; theChurch.at in Broken Arrow, Okla., pastored by Alex Himaya, reporting a 12 percent growth of 485, averaging 4,677 in attendance; and Rock Bridge Community Church in Dalton, Ga., pastorate of Matt Evans, reporting a 12 percent growth of 485 for an average attendance of 3,864.
The full lists and accompanying features are online at outreachmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2016_Outreach100-Summary.pdf.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

10/20/2016 7:49:15 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Trinity debate continues with JETS article

October 20 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A theological debate concerning the Trinity that crescendoed this summer has continued in the latest edition of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society and likely will garner “a tremendous amount of additional discussion” at the Evangelical Theological Society’s (ETS) national meeting next month, says the journal’s editor.

Two articles on the Trinity in the September issue of JETS – one by Paul Maxwell of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and one by Ross Hastings of Canada’s Regent College – follow an online summer debate on the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. According to a count by Jack Jeffrey of booksataglance.com, scholars worldwide generated more than 140 blog posts on the topic between June 3 and July 11.
Though the debate seems to have subsided, “the Trinity” is slated as the theme of ETS’s annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 15-17, with three plenary addresses and at least 19 sessions devoted to various facets of the doctrine.
“A debate about the nature of God and the teaching of Scripture is always welcomed, as long as it is conducted on the basis of truth and the merits of the case,” JETS editor Andreas Köstenberger told Baptist Press (BP) in an email. “As editor of the Journal, I certainly hope that articles we publish on this subject will be enlightening and make a positive contribution to the debate. I expect that there will be a tremendous amount of additional discussion generated at the upcoming annual meeting in San Antonio.”
The meeting’s Trinity theme was selected “several years ago,” noted Köstenberger, senior research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
At issue in this summer’s debate was the argument of theologians like Bruce Ware of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Wayne Grudem of Phoenix Seminary that God the Father and God the Son eternally have been equal in divinity but that the Son has submitted to the Father eternally. Some opponents of that view went as far as suggesting it represents heresy.
Ware, Grudem and others argue the “authority-submission dynamic” within the Trinity illustrates the proper relationship between a husband and a wife, which they label complementarianism. Like the divine persons of the Trinity, they argue, a husband and wife possess different roles but are equal in value.
Those to oppose Ware and Grudem’s Trinity arguments include both complementarians and egalitarians, a group that believes scripture grants equal authority and leadership roles to both sexes in families and churches.
Maxwell, in his JETS article, argues Ware, Grudem and their theological allies do not commit heresy but also articulate a view that is “untenable when placed under biblical and logical scrutiny.”
In Maxwell’s view, “the claim that there is an analogy between the Trinity and marriage emerges as a more seriously strange concept the more the specifics of the claim are measured.”
“Egalitarians and complementarians are not trying to prove” that the husband is uniquely without a source like God the Father or that the wife shares a single essence with the husband like the Son does with the Father, writes Maxwell, a doctor of philosophy student.
The claim of 1 Corinthians 11:3 that “the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God,” Maxwell adds, is not referencing an eternal attribute of the Trinity but a manner in which the Father and Son relate to each other in the world.
Complementarianism is biblical, Maxwell writes, but better supported by Bible passages that address it directly than by an analogy to the Trinity.
Hastings, associate professor of pastoral theology at Regent, discusses in his JETS article 18th-century pastor Jonathan Edwards’s theology of the Trinity without making explicit reference to this summer’s debate.
Among sessions scheduled at the ETS meeting are “submission and subordination in the Trinity,” “Intra-Trinitarian Relations” and “Islam and the Trinity,” according to the program.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

10/20/2016 7:38:48 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

California prosecutor files suit against fetal-tissue traders

October 20 2016 by Samantha Gobba, WORLD News Service

Orange County, Calif., District Attorney Tony Rackauckas filed suit on Oct. 11 against two medical research companies for selling aborted baby body parts for excessively inflated prices.
The $1.6 million suit comes several months after the pro-life group Center for Medical Progress released a video showing the relationship between Planned Parenthood, which provided the aborted babies, and sister companies Da Vinci Biosciences and DV Biologics.
“We don’t expect this to be an easy case,”  Rackauckas said in a press conference Wednesday morning. “But this district attorney’s office has a long track record of handling serious and complicated consumer protection cases, and we believe that we are going to continue our commitment to fighting consumer fraud, and this will just be another case.”
State and federal law forbid financial profit from fetal tissue sales, but companies may charge a handling fee. Invoices obtained by subpoena show Da Vinci Biosciences charged steep packing and handling fees, on top of hundreds of dollars for fetal parts, profiting up to $674 for a heart, $233 for a liver, $221 for a stomach, and $664 for a small intestine.
Da Vinci Bioscience and DV Biologics racked up $56,678 in “packing and handling fees” between 2009 and 2015, when Planned Parenthood stopped providing aborted fetal tissue.
The companies intentionally set prices “as high as possible,” Rackauckas said, to ensure a profit. For instance, a 2009 DV Biologics email notes that if a “product” costing $25 to “manufacture” is priced at $170, a 50 percent discount still leaves the company with a $60 profit.
The company gave employees freedom to offer steep discounts to boost sales and also ran regular promotions, such as a 25 percent off “fall promotion” in 2013. Employees also “randomly” sold baby parts at different prices to different customers, Rackauckas said, with the lowest prices going to overseas markets in Japan, China, Korea, Germany, and elsewhere, and the highest prices going to domestic researchers.
“This illustrates the boldness of their unlawful profit-making business scheme,” Rackauckas said.
Most sales reaped a 70 percent profit, he said.
After announcing the suit, Rackauckas deflected multiple reporters’ questions regarding the involvement of Planned Parenthood. “Our evidence indicates that money was never exchanged between these companies and Planned Parenthood,” he said.
When asked whether Planned Parenthood routinely donates aborted babies, Rackauckas said “evidence suggests” people from Da Vinci Bioscience and DV Biologics likely picked up tissue several times per week.
“It’s legal to donate fetuses for research purposes,” he said. “We’re not indicating that Planned Parenthood did anything unlawful.”
But David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, disagrees, noting if the tissue trade middlemen are guilty, so is Planned Parenthood, as a primary accomplice.
“The wheels of justice are beginning to turn against Planned Parenthood and their corrupt business partners in the illicit trade in aborted baby body parts,” Daleiden said. “Planned Parenthood is not above the law, and law enforcement and elected representatives everywhere must now hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their barbaric profiteering off of pregnant women and the body parts of their aborted children.”
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., chairwoman of the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, applauded the lawsuit, noting it debunks Democrats’ claims the fetal tissue trade needed no further scrutiny.
“For nearly a year, critics of this panel’s fact-finding investigation have repeatedly called for it to be disbanded, saying there’s nothing to see here,” she said. “They claimed there was no wrongdoing in the fetal tissue industry.”
But the Orange County lawsuit proves “some fetal tissue middlemen may have broken the law,” Blackburn said, adding her panel would continue to scrutinize the links between Planned Parenthood and companies profiting from the sale of aborted babies.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Samantha Gobba writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville. Used with permission.)

10/20/2016 7:31:20 AM by Samantha Gobba, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments

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