September 2011

N.C. Baptists to embrace unreached, unengaged

September 30 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

North Carolina Baptists are stepping up their missions involvement and responding to the command in scripture to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

The Board of Directors of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) has approved a recommendation that calls for the BSC to serve as a catalyst for the engagement of 250 unengaged, unreached people groups over the next 10 years by BSC churches.

While the International Mission Board (IMB) and the BSC will partner to serve as resources and connecting points, responsibility for actually engaging these groups with the gospel will reside with North Carolina Baptist churches.

“Each church involved in this effort is going to claim a specific people group and commit to seeing a church planting movement take place among that people group. Yes, this means a lot of responsibility falls to the local church. But this is the most effective, and biblical, way to engage these people groups,” said Mike Sowers, senior consultant for the BSC Office of Great Commission Partnerships (GCP).

The BSC’s primary focus will be unengaged, unreached people groups in Southeast Asia. This area will serve as the point of emphasis for training and the IMB is ready to work with North Carolina Baptist churches throughout all stages of the engagement process, from informational sessions and conference calls to vision trips and on the field training.

Although the focus is Southeast Asia, North Carolina Baptist churches are not limited to only engaging groups in this region. “This is not a partnership, but an emphasis on unreached people.

We want churches to go where God has called them and we will work to provide them with the resources they need,” Sowers said.

Through the GCP office, Sowers helps connect churches in missions partnerships in areas such as Boston; New York City; Toronto, Canada; and Moldova. He helps churches extend their missions involvement beyond a one time, short-term missions trip as they develop an effective missions strategy locally and globally.

Sowers said even though the emphasis on unengaged, unreached people is not a partnership he prays churches will still approach this opportunity with the intent to be strategic and long-term.

“We want churches to help facilitate, through prayer and mobilization, a church planting movement by multiplication. We want to see disciples making disciples within a people group,” he said. “A self-sustaining, disciple-making process should be taking place.”

Joe Dillon, IMB missional church strategist, shared during a recent “Impact Your World: Team Leader Training” event in High Point about the importance of creating self-sustaining ministry and disciple-making instead of a dependency on outside funding, volunteers or even physical structures such as church buildings. People groups cannot depend long-term on a church in America to sustain any type of church planting movement. That type of movement must be indigenous to the people group.

“Our job is to empower these people to be a disciple-making congregation. One-on-one discipleship is how we’ll saturate the culture with the gospel,” Dillon said.

Dillon also pointed out that 96 percent of mission teams from the United States travel to only two percent of lostness in the world. Engaging unreached people groups will help change that statistic and help get the gospel to more people who have never heard.

During the Southern Baptist Convention in June, the IMB made a plea for all Southern Baptist churches to embrace one of the 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups in the world. Since then, the IMB’s challenge to “embrace the ends of the earth” has come with additional training opportunities and resources to help churches get started.

The IMB has made available at small group prayer guides, worship guides, research about different people groups, and information about national “Embrace Equipping Conferences.” Two equipping conferences are being held this year, and next year the BSC will host an event May 1-2 at First Baptist Church in Charlotte.

Sowers encourages churches that want to get involved to visit the IMB website and take advantage of these resources. He also encourages churches to sign up on the IMB website to indicate that they have selected a people group, as this will allow the IMB and BSC to connect churches with resources specific to that people group.

Resources are also available at

“As believers in Jesus Christ, we cannot be content knowing there are people in this world who will die without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ even once,” Sowers said. “God has commissioned us to go into the world and to share the gospel, and the command was given to go everywhere. It’s disobedience not to go.” Some people groups will be harder to engage because of challenges such as travel to the country and access to the country. Some churches may need a creative platform in order to gain permission from the government to enter the country. Safety, security and logistics are all possible challenges.

“The task before us is not easy, but Jesus never said following Him would be easy,” said Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer. “Our Savior did promise that He would be with us and would empower us to accomplish His purposes if we will be obedient and yield to His leading. I am trusting God to guide our churches as they seek to expand His Kingdom by taking the gospel to unreached and unengaged people groups.”

Hollifield said he is praying for North Carolina Baptist churches all across the state to grasp the importance, and the urgency, of what they are being asked to do. “God’s plan to redeem humanity and to get the gospel message to a dying world begins with His church. If we don’t go, these people groups may never hear about salvation through Jesus Christ,” he said.

“If they do not hear they cannot repent and trust Jesus as Savior. And if they do not repent and trust Him, the Bible says they will spend eternity in hell. We have been entrusted with the stewardship of the gospel. We cannot keep it to ourselves when people are dying and going to hell.”

Critical to the success of engaging unreached, unengaged people groups is prayer. Chuck Register, BSC executive leader for church planting and missions development, encouraged North Carolina Baptists to begin their journey of embracing a people group with prayer.

“Our destination is determined by God. He guides our path and we must be sensitive to His leading,” Register said. “We cannot depend on ourselves to accomplish this task of seeing the nations come to Christ. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit working through us can that happen. And that begins with us humbly coming before God and pleading for Him to pour out His power and grace.”

For more information about how to embrace an unengaged, unreached people group, visit

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Mission leaders ready to engage lostness
9/30/2011 8:50:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Mission leaders ready to engage lostness

September 30 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

 In Acts 16, Paul did not end up in Troas because he planned to be in Troas. Paul found himself there because he was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. “The Spirit prevents a journey to Asia and guides Paul on to Troas. Paul’s destination was not to be determined by Paul, his team or the circumstances of the day. His destination was to be determined by God,” said Chuck Register, executive leader for church planting and missions development for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).  

Register shared with a group of missions leaders gathered at Crossover Community Church in High Point about how Paul immediately turned his attention to Macedonia, and as a result of his obedience, the gospel spread all across Europe.  

Register’s message set the stage for the Impact Your World: Team Leader Training event. If team leaders are not sensitive to God’s leading, all the planning in the world will not make a difference when it comes to engaging 3,800 unreached, unengaged people groups with the gospel.  

Two one-day Impact Your World events were held in High Point and in Brevard at Brevard Community Church. The event, sponsored by the BSC Office of Great Commission Partnerships and the International Mission Board (IMB), helped equip pastors, missions pastors and mission team leaders to lead international mission teams. The training helped leaders understand how to prepare – from the initial stages of planning an international trip to the evaluation/follow up after the trip – and how to seek the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Team leader basics

Although logistics are important, team leaders cannot become so focused on the planning that they forget the mission. “This is serious work God has called us to. You have a serious calling. People all over the world will be born, wake up every day, and then die without ever hearing about Jesus Christ unless we go and tell them,” said Mike Sowers, BSC senior consultant for Great Commission Partnerships (GCP).

Terry Sharp, IMB’s director/lead strategist for state and association relations & urban strategies

Sowers began leading the GCP Office one year ago on Sept. 15, 2010. The Office was created to help local churches develop a missions strategy that connects them locally and globally for effective, long-term impact ministry. Through his work with GCP, Sowers helps create global impact networks, develops young leaders and equips pastors as missions strategists.

Sowers reminded those in attendance that their calling to international missions is not an easy one, and team leaders must communicate that to their team. “We have to stop making missions engagement easy. If the selling point is that it’s easy, you probably aren’t engaging unreached people,” he said. “Taking up your cross has consequences.”

The task is not easy, but God is the one who calls, and He is the one who sustains. “We’re going to serve with God’s protection,” Sowers said. “God has chosen you to be a leader. No matter where God has called us to go, He will be with us.”

Sowers walked through qualities essential in every team leader, such as spiritual maturity, emotional stability, relational sensitivity, organizational ability, personal integrity and practical flexibility. The ability to identify other leaders is also an important quality.

“We’re hoping your church will engage instead of just participating in a one-time mission trip. To do that, you have to identify other leaders,” Sowers said.

Sowers stressed the importance of team leaders, and members, having a desire to witness while on the mission field. “If you’re going to a people group who has never heard the gospel, your actions will not be enough. You have to tell them the Good News,” he said.

Prayer as central

Joe Dillon, missional church strategist for the International Mission Board, spoke on the importance of team leaders spending time in prayer. Churches that are most effective in mobilizing for missions are those that recognize spiritual warfare and are committed to praying for God to have the victory. He said prayer should be the central focus in a church, not just done before the offering.

“When it comes to engaging lostness, prayer needs to be everything,” he said. “When we are driven to our knees in desperation is when God shows up. When people employ the Word of God in praying, we’ve seen supernatural walls fall supernaturally.”

Prayer is about trusting God to cast vision and to fulfill His purposes. With 96 percent of U.S. mission teams going to two percent of the world’s lostness, prayer is needed to get the gospel to a dying world. For all the planning, something usually fails to go according to plan during the mission trip. When that happens, prayer is crucial. “Give your people opportunity to see God work out stressful situations that you can’t,” he said.

American traditions won’t work

Dillon also spoke on team leaders understanding the context in which they are going to serve. “We naturally tend to reproduce the patterns we are most comfortable with. People do what they have always done, even if it hasn’t worked,” he said.

Team leaders must shift their perspective and focus not on changing the message they share with those who are lost, but the way in which they present it. One example Dillon shared is how mission teams often go overseas and build a building for a church planter. While well intended, in some cultures that does more harm than good, as it creates a dependency on a physical structure instead of on God.

The “attractional model” of church that may work well in a predominantly Christian culture is failing us, Dillon said. “The model is based on, ‘here we are, let us entertain you.’”

The health club model – when a church tries to have the best facilities and programs – is no better.

“God’s Word transcends any culture you will be planting a church in,” he said. “Our job is to empower these people to be a disciple-making congregation. One-on-one discipleship is how we’ll saturate the culture with the gospel.”

Helpful tips

Terry Sharp, IMB’s director/lead strategist for state and association relations & urban strategies, shared helpful tips for mission team leaders.

From team health/safety and security to working with field personnel and communicating in a different culture, Sharp encouraged leaders to be prepared and to help their team members be prepared.

Mission team leaders interested in learning more about these helpful tips, or how to get started in leading a team, should email or call (800) 395-5012, ext. 5654.

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N.C. Baptists to embrace unreached, unengaged
9/30/2011 8:41:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

‘Courageous’ No. 1 in movie ticket sales

September 30 2011 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The church-made film “Courageous” is No. 1 in ticket sales among all movies according to a leading ticketing website – a significant feat considering it is an independent movie that will open in far fewer theaters than most big-time movies. It opens today.

The ticketing website,, puts Courageous No. 1 in its “Fandango 5” list of the week’s hottest tickets, besting No. 2 “The Lion King 3D,” third-place “Moneyball,” fourth-place “Dolphin Tale 3D” and fifth-place “Drive.”

Made by the same church that filmed the 2008 hit “Fireproof” – the top independent film that year – Courageous will open in 1,126 theaters in the United States. By comparison, The Lion King 3D opened in 2,300 theaters and Dolphin Tale 3D opened in 3,500.

As of Thursday, Courageous had reached $2 million in pre-sales, officials close to the film said. Also, Kerusso, which makes Christian apparel, reports it has sold five times more Courageous T-shirts than it sold Fireproof T-shirts.

Courageous tells the story of five men – four of them police officers – striving to become better fathers. Its production budget of $1 million was twice that of Fireproof’s $500,000.

Despite the data, Courageous almost certainly won’t finish No. 1 at the box office over the weekend. For starters, it is not opening in enough theaters. Its pre-release sales have been boosted by churches across the country buying out entire showings for the film and using it as a ministry tool, particularly to men. They then resell the tickets to members. One church, Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., said Wednesday it had sold out of tickets for all four showtimes it had purchased.

Most reviewers who have seen Courageous are calling it the best film yet from Sherwood Baptist Church, which made “Fireproof” and “Facing the Giants”. The church is located in Albany, Ga.

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9/30/2011 8:32:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

‘Jesus people’ act on hunger, SBC leaders say

September 30 2011 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When Southern Baptists observe their annual World Hunger Sunday, Oct. 9, they will be called to demonstrate the love of Jesus, several key Southern Baptist leaders said.

Scripture recounts several instances, like the one recorded in Matthew 14:14, when Jesus’ compassion for a large crowd moved Him to meet their needs. The Greek word translated “compassion” refers to tender emotions, deeply felt feelings or a deep churning in a person’s spirit. That surge of compassion compels a response, said Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board (IMB).

“When the Scripture speaks of our Lord being ‘moved with compassion’ it refers to the kind of response we would call ‘gut-wrenching,’” Elliff said. “Society is accustomed to being lulled to sleep by scenes of indescribable horror and hunger, but genuine compassion, the kind of compassion that moves a person to act, is part of the DNA of every true believer.

“The tragic plight of people, whose lives are being ravaged by physical and political upheaval that has left them reeling and often dying, is an invitation for us to express the heart of our Savior. He did not overlook the needy, and we cannot – we must not,” Elliff said.

“Failure to respond cuts the heart out of future attempts to share the gospel. After all, who wants to hear about a Savior whose followers simply do not care for the needs of those who are suffering?”

Scripture also makes it clear that Christians will be held accountable for helping people in need, said Wanda Lee, executive director of WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union).

“Matthew 25 reminds us as followers of Christ, we must help when it comes to hunger issues,” Lee said. “After hearing His teaching on the parable of the talents, the people asked Jesus, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You or thirsty and give You a drink?’

“And He answered by saying, ‘Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ ... Let’s be sure we do our part to minister to the ‘least of these’ as we join the fight against hunger.”

Nearly 35 percent of American families have found themselves forced to choose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage, according to the domestic hunger-relief charity Feeding America.

In an economy like that, hunger ministries are a powerful strategy for opening hearts to a gospel witness, said Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board.

“So often before we try to meet a person’s spiritual needs, we need to minister to their physical needs. There is nothing more basic than providing food for someone who is in crisis,” Ezell said.

“We’re working hard to be sure our hunger ministries share the hope of Christ, while providing the help of a warm meal and a kind greeting. I want to thank Southern Baptists for their past generosity to this offering.

“With so many people facing economic uncertainty right now, I know we will be greatly depending on these funds in the year ahead.”

Donations to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund have been trending downward in recent years – perhaps in part a reflection of the economic challenges families are facing – but many are praying Southern Baptists will continue to be “Jesus people” who act out their deep feelings of compassion for people in need, said Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. “During these days of increased need, we desperately need to reaffirm the validity of this offering to touch those for whom Christ died. One must only barely read the Scripture to understand the deep compassion that Christ had for the hungry and the poor,” Page said.

“I pray we will become Jesus people as we give sacrificially and prayerfully to an offering which so powerfully touches the lives of so many in this world. I pray that this year’s World Hunger Offering will reverse its downward trend from the last couple of years and be the greatest ever – simply because of a love for Christ and a love for people.”

Overseas, Southern Baptist missionaries and humanitarian workers rely on the World Hunger Fund for crucial ministries, said Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“Millions of people around the world are suffering from chronic and acute malnutrition,” Land said. “Thankfully, missionaries are on the field feeding many of these adults and children as well as providing the expertise necessary for their communities to reclaim their lands for crops and livestock.

“Yet without the generous gifts of Christians, these missionaries lack the food and means to aid these who are literally on life’s sharp edge. I hope you and your church will join with others in giving to feed the hungry in Jesus’ name.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mark Kelly is senior writer and an assistant editor for Baptist Press. For information and resources related to World Hunger Sunday and the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund, visit

World Hunger Sunday resources

Churches and other groups who want to engage hunger issues have a variety of resources available to them.

A new item for 2011 is World Hunger 101, a two-hour church-wide event that explores the issue of world hunger. The downloadable event pack from Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) includes suggestions about ways to introduce the topic and how to consolidate a full understanding of issues related to hunger. Each age-level session plan includes promotion ideas and hunger project ideas. World Hunger 101 is available for download at

A wide variety of resources also can be found at, the homepage for the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund (WHF), including:
  • Bulletin inserts, the World Hunger Fund logo, mini-poster ads, videos and a PowerPoint presentation.
  • Soup can labels to create receptacles for WHF donations.  
  • A mini coloring book depicting real people whose lives are being touched through Southern Baptist hunger ministries.  
  • A drama script that can be used to educate church groups on the Christian mandate to minister to the poor.
Among the low-cost items available for order on the site:
  • “Impact World Hunger,” a four-page publication, sized for easy placement in most church bulletins, that also can be used as a stand-alone informational handout.  
  • World Hunger Bread Bank to help churches, schools, or community groups fight world hunger by collecting money to donate to the World Hunger Fund.  
  • World Hunger Fund offering envelopes.  
  • A “B.E.A.T. Hunger” retreat kit.   The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission also provides resources at, including:
  • Articles on topics such as biblical directives for combating hunger and poverty and how to begin a hunger ministry.  
  • Two sermons, “The Ministry of the Open Hand” and “Do Justice to the Afflicted and Needy.”  
  • News reports on how Southern Baptists are fighting hunger both in North America and abroad. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has information and resources available as well. Visit
9/30/2011 8:21:00 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Committee on Nominations Report

September 30 2011 by BSC Communications

The Committee on Nominations is charged with the task of receiving and reviewing the numerous recommendations provided by North Carolina Baptists for service on the (Baptist State Convention of North Carolina – BSC) Board of Directors and committees of the Convention as well as the boards of the institutions and agencies of the Convention. The committee begins its work with the recommendations sent by North Carolina Baptists and only when exhausted, or in the event too few recommendations have been received for a specific place of service, the committee seeks to find candidates who meet the qualifications for service as outlined in the Convention bylaws.

In 2011 there were situations in which the number of recommendations for a place of service outnumbered the vacancies; and there were situations in which the converse was also true. However, the committee has worked diligently in both cases to review and recommend individuals who we believe will best serve North Carolina Baptists.

The full report from the Committee on Nominations can be found on the BSC’s annual meeting website, in the edition of the Biblical Recorder dated Oct. 1, 2011, on the Biblical Recorder website, and in the book of reports provided to each messenger who completes their registration at the annual meeting.

On behalf of the committee members listed below, I want to thank each North Carolina Baptist who completed and submitted a recommendation. It is not too early to begin thinking about those individuals whom you wish to recommend for consideration by the 2012 Committee on Nominations. Please continue to submit your recommendations, as your input is essential to the committee’s work and the ongoing effectiveness of the missions and ministries of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

–      Phillips L. McRae, chair

2011 Committee on Nominations Members

Bill Bailey, Greensboro; Joe Easterling, Wake Forest; Shad Hicks, Monroe; Phillips L. McRae, Troy; Harriet Tharrington, Raleigh; Nathan Akin, Wake Forest; Shonica David, Raleigh; Darryll Hester, Whiteville; Devon Varnam, Angier; Travis Wood, Williamston; Vickie Burge, Fayetteville; LeRoy Burke, Lumberton; Jose Espinal, Shelby; David Turner, Elizabeth City; David Blackburn, Jefferson; Joan Daniel, Durham; Shawn Dobbs, Lumberton; Faye Edwards, Beulaville; James Horton, Edenton; Duane Kuykendall, Hickory. The Committee on Nominations report follows the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) bylaws directive to “nominate persons for election by the Convention to the committees listed in Article I.C.1 (b) – (d) of these Bylaws, such other committees as may be assigned to it, the chair of such Convention committees, the boards of trustees and directors of all institutions and agencies of the Convention, the Board, and such other nominations as may be delegated to the committee by the Convention.”

Among other considerations for nominees, the bylaws state “It is desirable that at least twenty-five percent (25%) of members nominated to all committees of the Convention, the Board, the boards of trustees and directors of the Convention’s institutions and agencies shall come from churches with a membership under four hundred (400).” This is indicated in the Committee’s report by (O) for 400 and over and by (U) for under 400 in church membership.

The bylaws further direct that, “The Committee on Nominations shall include in its report at a minimum the name, church, home town, association, occupation, and sex of each nominee, the name of the committee or board on which the nominee is to serve together with such summary information as will make clear to this Convention the diversity and breadth of representation provided by the slates of nominees.

Board of Directors, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

Region 1 – Alan Mizelle, Hortons (U), Windsor, West Chowan, minister, male.

Region 2 – Clifton Ray Barnhill, Forest Hills (O), Wilson, South Roanoke, minister, male; Gary Carroll, (2012 unexpired term of Steve Weaver), Newport (O), Newport, Atlantic, minister, male; Ronnie Davis, Rivermont (O), Winterville, Neuse, minister, male; Terry McInnis, Woodville (U), Beaufort, Atlantic, minister, male.

Region 3 – Daniel Justice, (2013 unexpired term of Mike Pittman), Ogden (U), Wilmington, Wilmington, minister, male; Bartley Wooten, Beulaville (O), Beulaville, Eastern, minister, male.

Region 4 – Dougald W. McLaurin Jr., (2014 unexpired term of Joshua Greene), Ephesus (U), Nashville, Tar River, minister, male; Joel McMillon, Gorman (O), Durham, Yates, minister, male; Marty Middleton, (2014 unexpired term of Mitch Roginsky), Fairview (O), Fuquay-Varina, Raleigh, minister, male.

Region 5 – Steve Jarvis, (2014 unexpired term of Perry Comer), Colonial (O), Thomasville, Liberty, minister, male.

Region 6 – Chris Hawks, Hamlet Second (O), Hamlet, Pee Dee, minister, male; Robert L. Hunter Jr., Wadesboro First (O), Wadesboro, Anson, minister, male; Tim Jernigan, Cornerstone (O), Concord, Metrolina, minister, male; Walter Mills, Charlotte First (O), Matthews, Metrolina, lay person, male; Terry Prichard, Troy First (U), Asheboro, Montgomery, minister, male; Gene Swinson, LifePoint (U), Monroe, Union, minister, male.

Region 7 – Andy Atkins, (2014 unexpired term of Elizabeth Billings), Fairview (U), Dobson, Surry, minister, male.

Region 8 – John Barnhardt, Grover First (U), Grover, Greater Cleveland, minister, male; Scott Hardin, Bethany (U), Grover, Greater Cleveland, minister, male; Katie Harris, (2012 unexpired term of Lynn Sherrill), Eastside (O), Shelby, Greater Cleveland, lay person, female; Billy Shaw, Stanley First (O), Stanley, Greater Gaston, minister, male.

Region 9 – Perry Brindley, Mount Zion (O), Canton, Haywood, minister, male; Branton Burleson, (2012 unexpired term of Ed Lowder), Christ Covenant Community (U), Hendersonville, Carolina, minister, male; Tracy Fletcher, West Hendersonville (U), Hendersonville, Carolina, minister, male; Wade Harding, (2014 unexpired term of Stan Willet), West Burnsville (O), Burnsville, Yancey, lay person, male; Jonathan Jenkins, Bearwallow (U), Hendersonville, Carolina, minister, male.

Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina

James Gorsuch, (2013 unexpired term of Barbara Hunnicutt), Penelope (O), Hildebran, Catawba Valley, lay person, male; Kenneth Haigler, Wrightsboro (O), Wilmington, Wilmington, lay person, male; Gary Issette, New Hope Missionary (O), Wilson, South Roanoke, lay person, male; Jerry Jordan, Lakeview (U), Oakboro, Stanly, lay person, male; Joann Lutz, Boiling Springs (O), Boiling Springs, Greater Cleveland, lay person, female; Ward Mullis, Providence (O), Charlotte, Metrolina, lay person, male; Coolidge Porterfield, Greensboro First (O), Greensboro, Piedmont, lay person, male; Elaine Scarborough, Wadesboro First (O), Polkton, Anson, lay person, female; David B. Smith, Lenoir First (O), Lenoir, Caldwell, minister, male; Walter Williams, Immanuel (O), Greenville, South Roanoke, lay person, male.

Biblical Recorder

Kevin Atchley, Elizabeth (O), Shelby, Greater Cleveland, lay person, male; Chris Byrne, New Friendship (O), Winston-Salem, Liberty, minister, male; Cindi Stevens, Cross Culture (U), Raleigh, NC Miscellaneous, lay person, female; Peggy Bass Weiss, Rocky Hock (O), Edenton, Chowan, lay person, female.

North Carolina Baptist Foundation

Michael C. Cummings, Charlotte First (O), Charlotte, Metrolina, minister, male; George Fox, Bethlehem (O), Knightdale, Raleigh, minister, male; Amelia Hopkins, Cornerstone Southern Baptist (O), Greensboro, Piedmont, lay person, female; Roy Krege, Mount Calvary (U), Banner Elk, Three Forks, lay person, male; Faye Steele, Oakmont (O), Greenville, South Roanoke, lay person, female.

North Carolina Baptist Hospital

Louis B. Baldwin Jr., Ardmore (O), Winston-Salem, Pilot Mountain, lay person, male; George Renfro, Biltmore (O), Asheville, Buncombe, lay person, male.

Committee on Convention Meetings

Waymouth Allen, Union Missionary (O), Rocky Mount, North  Roanoke, lay person, male; Brandon Blair, (2013 unexpired term of Laura Dunlow), Calvary (O), Shelby, South Fork, minister, male; Charles Brust, Cedar Grove (U), Bladenboro, Robeson, minister, male; Jairo Contreras, Iglesia Bautista Cristo Vive (U), Forest City, Sandy Run, minister, male; Stephen Kirk, Selma (U), Selma, Johnston, minister, male; Michael McGirt, (2012 unexpired term of Robert Steele), Faithwalk Fellowship (U), Fayetteville, New South River, minister, male; Joel Stephens, Westfield (U), Westfield, Surry, minister, male; Jason Whitfield, Magnolia (U), Clinton, New South River, minister, male; Craig Hamlin, Chair, Fairview (O), Willow Spring, Raleigh, minister, male.

Committee on Resolutions and Memorials

Andrew Austin, Gourd Springs (O), Coats, Little River, minister, male; Tim Burton, Flippin Memorial (U), Elkin, Surry, minister, male; James Lancaster, Maplewood (U), Yadkinville, Yadkin, minister, male; Richard A. Browder Jr., chair, Rocky Hock (O), Edenton, Chowan, minister, male.

Historical Committee
Len Moore, Hinshaw Street (U), Wilkesboro, Brushy Mountain, lay person, male; Todd Parker, Edgewood (U), Winston-Salem, Pilot Mountain, lay person, male; Bethany Stevens, Coats (O), Coats, Little River, lay person, female; Lloyd Tucker, Mount Pisgah (O), Supply, Brunswick, lay person, male; Tim Andrews, chair, Gaston First (U), Gaston, North  Roanoke, minister, male.
9/30/2011 8:14:00 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Pastor reflects on Find It Here

September 29 2011 by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications

Find it Here: Embracing Christ 2011 is the second year of a three-year initiative focused on evangelism, discipleship and missions mobilization. During the 2010 emphasis, churches committed to four evangelistic activities on or prior to Easter Sunday with the intent of baptizing believers.

Building on last year’s success, Find It Here: Embracing Christ 2011 focuses on transforming believers into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. This year’s focus includes a spring and fall emphasis. During the spring period, churches focused on the necessity of following Christ, and in the fall they are turning to the importance of abiding in Christ.

Craig Willingham, senior pastor of Berry’s Grove Baptist Church in Timberlake, is glad his church has participated in the first two years of Find It Here. He believes it has made a difference in the lives of those under his care and of those in his community.

“We participated in the first installment on evangelism and it was well-received by the church,” Willingham said. “We had people actively reaching out to their lost friends.”

Eager to build on last year’s success, Willingham was excited to participate in the spring emphasis because he knew it would connect with his congregation. “I was particularly excited about the focus on discipleship because we were already putting a big emphasis on our small groups and seeing people grow,” he said. “I wanted to see more of our body become a part of that.”

Willingham’s desire for his congregation has come to fruition. “Our church has seemed much hungrier to grow in knowledge of the Word since the spring emphasis,” he said. “The growing desire for God’s Word seems to be infectious!”

So infectious, in fact, that Willingham has restructured Wednesday night services to accommodate the growing desire to go deeper into God’s Word. “On Wednesday nights, I now spend our time going deeper in the scripture from Sunday’s message and having serious discussion about its application to our lives,” he said.

Attendance has increased in Sunday School, small groups and weekly worship services since the church participated in the spring emphasis.

Lynn Sasser, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina executive leader for congregational services, said the change Willingham has witnessed is exactly what Find It Here strives to achieve. “It is our prayer that Find It Here will lead North Carolina Baptists to grow deeper in their walk with Christ so they will become prepared to follow Him no matter the cost.”

Sasser said 575 pastors and church leaders are participating in Find It Here: Embracing Christ 2011. The initiative gives church leaders access to resources such as sermon outlines, Bible study lessons, prayer and devotional guides. The material can be customized to fit the needs of a particular church.   The ability to customize the outreach has worked well for Willingham. “I utilized most of the sermon passages, though not necessarily in the order they were given,” he said.

“We also distributed the devotionals to the congregation and used the weekly Bible studies on Wednesday nights. Our church really seemed to get a lot out of focusing on a passage together for an entire week.”

Although the fall emphasis is already underway in some churches, there is still time for more churches to participate. During the fall, participants work through six weeks of sermons and Bible study lessons from John 15, teaching believers the importance of abiding in Christ and bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God. Willingham believes the fall emphasis will be an important catalyst to launch his church into the third and final year of Find It Here – a year that will build on the previous two years by focusing on missions mobilization.

“We know discipleship is vital to missions,” Willingham said. “Discipleship prepares us for missions by helping us to see what will sustain the work after we are gone.”   Though it might not be a new formula, Willingham knows Find It Here is a great way to rejuvenate a church. “It is a wonderful way to get the entire congregation to focus on the essential elements of what it means to be a church and to go deeper in the scriptures and how to put those elements into action,” he said.

Willingham should know more than anyone. He has seen Find It Here help restore spiritual vitality to his church.

“I am thankful that our convention has put such an emphasis on things that truly matter in regard to the Kingdom of God,” he said.

“Find It Here will make an eternal difference in the lives of our people.”

Visit, email or call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5648.
9/29/2011 7:53:00 AM by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

CP ‘beginning of a new day’

September 29 2011 by Tim Yarbrough, Baptist Press

“Southern Baptists in World Service,” a booklet written by E.P. Alldredge for the Sunday School Board in 1936, aptly captured the essence of the Cooperative Program (CP) started by Southern Baptists in 1925. It stated simply, “(It’s) the beginning of a new day in Southern Baptist life and work.”

The foresight and wisdom of Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leaders to establish a coordinated giving plan for all churches has resulted in literally millions of lost souls around the world professing Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior since 1925, and its impact continues to resonate greatly. In 2004, Henry Blackaby captured the sentiments of many when he said, “The Cooperative Program is not something men designed but something God put together.”

When a church gives a portion of its receipts through the CP, its gospel reach expands exponentially across its community, state, nation and world.

M.E. Dodd, considered the father of the Cooperative Program, wrote about it in a tract entitled “Why I Like the Baptist Cooperative Program.” He listed seven “special advantages” of the unified giving plan:
  • It enables me to carry out my part of Christ’s program of service.
  • The Cooperative Program enables me to have a part in all that is being done.
  • The Cooperative Program enables me to have some part in the whole work of Christ each and every week of the year.
  • This Cooperative Program enables me to do all that needs to be done because it includes every sort of service to every sort of somebody that any sort of anybody may wish to render. (It is the only program in the world that is all-inclusive to every human need.)
  • This Cooperative Program enables me to carry out God’s financial program for His Kingdom.
  • This Baptist Cooperative Program fixes the support of Christ’s causes as a permanent principle in life and does not leave them to temporary emotional appeal.
  • The CP does not leave the causes of Christ to become the victims of temporary weather conditions, depressions in business or other hindered causes.
9/29/2011 7:49:00 AM by Tim Yarbrough, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Pastor again refuses to recant

September 29 2011 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – Iran is under increasing pressure from leaders around the world to halt the execution of Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who on Wednesday refused for the fourth and final time to recant his faith and could be executed at any time.

In the U.S., Speaker of the House John Boehner released a statement urging Iran to spare the pastor’s life and release him. Overseas, British Foreign Secretary William Hague also called on Iran to overturn the sentence.

Observers say external pressure could be critical in preventing the Iranian government from performing its first apostasy execution since 1990.

Arrested in 2009, Nadarkhani was told by an Iranian court this year that he would be executed unless he converted to Islam. The court gave him four chances to recant Christianity, and he refused to do so on four consecutive days this week, the final being Wednesday, Compass Direct News reported.

“I’m in contact with Iran,” a source close to Nadarkhani’s family told Compass Direct, “but the news isn’t very good. We’ll see. If they really want to they can kill him, because he hasn’t renounced his faith. It finished today. We have left everything in the hands of God.”

The American Center for Law and Justice reported one of Nadarkhani’s court exchanges. “Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?” he asked.

“To the religion of your ancestors, Islam,” the judge reportedly replied.

“I cannot,” Nadarkhani responded.

Firouz Sadegh-Khandjani, a friend of Nadarkhani’s and a member of the council of elders for the Church of Iran, said Tuesday that his friend could be executed at any time after he refuses to recant a fourth time.

“We need the prayers of Christians,” Sadegh-Khandjani said on the Jordan Sekulow radio show.

Compass Direct quoted a source close to Nadarkhani as saying it is critical that foreign governments negotiate and engage in diplomacy with Iranian authorities.

“They need to start negotiating,” the source said. “It’s the moment to negotiate, because if they do, the situation could be regulated.”

The source and advocates in the international community fear that authorities may kill Nadarkhani at any time.

“They probably won’t kill him today (Wednesday), but they can do it whenever they want,” the source told Compass Direct. “They can hang him in the middle of the night or in 10 days. Sometimes in Iran they call the family and deliver the body with the verdict. They have gone outside the borders of law. This is not in the Iranian law, this is sharia. Sometimes they don’t even give the body.”

Sadegh-Khandjani gave details of the incident that led to Nadarkhani’s 2009 arrest. “He protested to the decision of the government to teach the Quran to his son,” Sadegh-Khandjani said. “He told them, ‘I’m Christian and I would like that my children (to) receive Christian teachings – not Muslim teachings.’ So they arrested him and they condemned him to death for apostasy.”

Earlier this year the Iranian Supreme Court upheld the death sentence but ordered a lower court to examine whether Nadarkhani was ever a Muslim – a fact essential to determine whether he left Islam for Christianity. But that lower court in Rasht, Iran, found that although Nadarkhani was never a practicing Muslim “he remains guilty of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry,” the British-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) which monitors religious freedom reported.

Christians have rights under the Iranian constitution but not under Sharia law, which according to the Iranian courts supersedes the constitution, Sadegh-Khandjani said. He called the situation “religion apartheid.”

“The tendency is not to respect the right of minorities,” Sadegh-Khandjani said. “Minorities are not considered as citizens.”

Leonard Leo, chair of the United States Council on International Religious Freedom, criticized the Iranian court system for not following Iranian law or international law.

“Despite the finding that Mr. Nadarkhani did not convert to Christianity as an adult, the court continues to demand that he recant his faith or otherwise be executed,” Leo said. “The most recent court proceedings are not only a sham, but are contrary to Iranian law and international human rights standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party.”

Supporters of the Iranian pastor applauded the statements from Boehner in the U.S. and Hague in Britain.

“Religious freedom is a universal human right,” Boehner’s statement said. “The reports that Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani will be sentenced to death by the Iranian government unless he disavows his Christian faith are distressing for people of every country and creed. While Iran’s government claims to promote tolerance, it continues to imprison many of its people because of their faith. This goes beyond the law to an issue of fundamental respect for human dignity. I urge Iran’s leaders to abandon this dark path, spare Yousef Nadarkhani’s life, and grant him a full and unconditional release.”

Said Hague, “I deplore reports that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Church leader, could be executed imminently after refusing an order by the Supreme Court of Iran to recant his faith. This demonstrates the Iranian regime’s continued unwillingness to abide by its constitutional and international obligations to respect religious freedom. I pay tribute to the courage shown by Pastor Nadarkhani who has no case to answer and call on the Iranian authorities to overturn his sentence.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. With reporting by Compass Direct News.)
9/29/2011 7:44:00 AM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Reaching India’s emerging generation

September 29 2011 by Caroline Anderson, Baptist Press

INDIA – Young men and women gather in small groups at a shopping mall in India, deep in conversation. Curious passersby lean over the railing and listen to the conversations about gods and God between American and Indian students seated amid the mall’s decorative palm trees.

Cali Mendel*, a junior nursing student at Clemson University, asked an Indian student to share a story about one of her Hindu gods.

Hinduism, the student replied, is her parents’ religion, telling Mendel she knows little about it. The two students easily converse back and forth as Mendel tells a story about her own God.

Mendel was one of 10 collegians and two short-term volunteers from Crosspoint Church in Clemson, S.C., who came to India as part of LINK (Laborers Impacting Nations for the Kingdom) – a six-week summer missions/discipleship program – partnering with a local house church and International Mission board (IMB) representatives.

Interacting with their Indian peers about Christ is nothing new for the Clemson students. Students from India are the largest group among Clemson’s international student population. Crosspoint makes an effort to reach out to the students in the United States and, via LINK, connects their local student ministry directly to India.

The Clemson volunteers admitted they expected to find more traditional Indian culture than they experience with their friends at the university. Instead, they found iPhones, Justin Bieber and a widespread addiction to social media – not too different from their own U.S. culture.

Many young people in India identify more with Western culture, said IMB representative Rodney Cregg*, pointing out that some Indian students dress in Western clothes instead of “kurtas,” Indian shirts that look like tunics.

“Spiritually, while they still practice Hinduism, in their heart, they’re tending to be more materialistic, spiritualistic (and have a) modern worldview,” Cregg said.

Church plant

Through volunteer teams like Crosspoint’s coming to India to work with youth, Cregg saw a need for planting a church, The Fold, to reach this generation of “westernized” Asians. The Fold utilizes contemporary worship songs in English; most of the people read their Bibles on iPhones and Blackberrys; and they study the Bible and discipleship in group discussion settings.

In India, Clemson students Sage Watson,* left, and Karli Jacksbury* share their faith with peers in a mall.

*Names changed

Prakash Achari* fits the image for new believers who are members of The Fold.

Achari got connected to The Fold through Clark Barner*, a volunteer from Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham, N.C. Barner and his wife Mandy* came as team leaders with the Crosspoint team and will help The Fold for one year as short-term volunteers.

Barner met Achari in a mall. Dressed in designer jeans and a crisp button-down shirt, Achari listened intently when Barner shared about a God who doesn’t require good works to save a soul.

Later that week, Achari brought his cousin to hear more about the gospel from Barner and the other summer volunteers. “I was so fascinated,” he said.

Achari said he knew Barner and the college students spoke truth. Both Achari and his cousin decided to become followers of Jesus that evening.

Discovering discipleship

Achari already is getting connected to The Fold. He’ll begin a six-week discipleship course that will ground him in his faith and encourage him to make disciples – much like the Clemson students did all summer.

Crosspoint’s involvement with LINK, which includes a one-year internship, entailed volunteers this summer traveling to India, Boston and several cities in South Carolina.

In India, Crosspoint partners with The Fold and IMB representatives Dave and Caroline Tucker*. Prior to coming to India, Tucker was involved in the International Mission Board’s LINK program as assistant director.

Both The Fold and LINK focus on the same key components: discipleship, evangelism, community and leadership, Tucker said. The aim is to teach and equip this generation to make disciples, whether on the mission field or in the business world.

Discipleship is the key to reaching this generation, whether in India or the States, Cregg added.

“The best way I can describe it to people, especially Americans, is what is happening in India, and really around the globe right now, is the same thing that happened in America 15 or 20 years ago – the younger generation shifting, and as the church, we’re missing it,” Cregg said. “I think where we missed it is engaging their worldview with the truth of scripture, which happens through relational discipleship.”

A lack of discipleship is how Laboni Radha* fell away from the church.

Radha grew up in the church but was never challenged to own her faith. She spent her high school years in a hostel, where she started going to nightclubs, drinking and taking drugs. She recently connected to The Fold and found discipleship and community there. It got her life back on track.

Radha spent a portion of her summer sharing the Gospel alongside the Clemson students, who understand Radha in a way only peers can in reaching their peers on two continents with a timeless message that connects with their generation.

*Name changed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Caroline Anderson is a writer living in Southeast Asia.)
9/29/2011 7:13:00 AM by Caroline Anderson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

HCSB Facebook event offers 'Fresh Look'

September 29 2011 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – B&H Publishing Group is encouraging Bible readers, Bible students, pastors and church leaders to “Take a Fresh Look” at the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) during a live webcast and Facebook party beginning at 1 p.m. (EST) Friday, Sept. 30.

Speaker and author Ed Stetzer, vice president of research and ministry development at LifeWay Christian Resources, will host the webcast. Guests will include Selma Wilson, vice president of B&H Publishing Group, Bible editors and local and international pastors who preach, teach and conduct community outreach using the HCSB.

Webcast registrants are invited to interact, ask questions and qualify for prizes in the show’s live chat stream.

During the webcast, winners will be announced for a $1,000 LifeWay gift card and three $500 LifeWay Christian Stores gift cards.

Among other Bible and Bible study prizes to be given out are the Holman Old & New Testament Commentary set at; an HCSB Study Bible; and the recently released HCSB Life Essentials Study Bible.

The HCSB, released in 2004, was translated with the goal of being a balanced translation of God’s Word for accuracy and readability. Last year, B&H published the HCSB Study Bible to take readers deeper into their journey of faith and strengthen their biblical literacy.

Webcast participation details can be accessed at For information about the HCSB and related products, visit

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by the communications staff of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)
9/29/2011 7:08:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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