September 2018

Greear tightens SBC Birmingham schedule

September 21 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President J.D. Greear announced via Twitter that next year’s SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala., will not include any evening sessions.
 

BP file photo by Matt Miller
The average age of SBC messengers has decreased, and their use of digital media during the annual meeting has increased, according to data released by the SBC Executive Committee.

The announcement came the same week the SBC Executive Committee released data indicating a growing role for digital media in conjunction with this year’s SBC annual meeting in Dallas.
 
Following a Sept. 19 meeting of the SBC Committee on Order of Business in Nashville, Greear tweeted, “Spent the day w/ the Committee on Order of Business under chairman @AdamGreenway’s excellent leadership. Very excited about #SBC19 next summer. New ideas coming – it’s a new day. Tightened schedule – No evening sessions.”
 
Greear’s tweet also signaled his decision to utilize the social media hashtag #sbc19 rather than an updated version of this year’s #sbcam18 hashtag. He told the Committee on Order of Business the shortened hashtag seems more memorable.
 
Greenway, dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, said the shift away from evening sessions is similar to the scheduling model utilized by former SBC president Bryant Wright in 2011 and 2012.
 
For those two years, afternoon sessions Tuesday and Wednesday were scheduled to last until just before 6 p.m. and were not followed by evening sessions. In comparison, this year’s afternoon sessions each were scheduled to end at approximately 5 p.m., with a two hour and 45 minute session scheduled Tuesday night.
 
The 2019 program “will be much more streamlined and focused,” Greenway told Baptist Press. Greear’s goal, he said, is “to make every session something messengers will not want to miss.”
 
Meanwhile, the Executive Committee reported increased use in 2018 of the SBC annual meeting mobile app, annual meeting web streaming and the BP website, along with increased visits to SBC-related Twitter feeds and hashtags.
 
“The trends that we are currently seeing on the increased use of social media related to the SBC annual meeting reinforce the reality that as Christians we need to use every new method available to continue to convey the unchanging and timeless message of the gospel,” said Bill Townes, EC vice president for convention finance.
 
Among digital media, Twitter saw the greatest percentage increase over the past year, according to data compiled by the EC. Clicks on annual meeting hashtags and visits to all official annual meeting-related Twitter handles the week of the 2018 SBC were up 256 percent from the previous year to 22,671. Twitter handles included in the calculation were @SBCMeeting, @baptistpress, @SBCPastorsConf, @SBCCP and @SBCLife.
 
This year’s annual meeting set a record for most unique livestream viewers during a single event webhosted by LifeWay Christian Resources, the EC said. Nearly 76,000 unique viewers from more than 70 countries livestreamed the SBC Pastors’ Conference and annual meeting. The number of unique viewers was up 91 percent from 2017.
 
In 2018, there were 5,815 users of the SBC annual meeting mobile app, up 45 percent from 2017.
 
The overall increase in digital technology use corresponded with a decrease in average age of messengers. As BP reported previously, 25.2 percent of 2018 SBC messengers to complete the annual meeting survey were between the ages of 18 and 39. Over the past 16 years, the average has been just under 20 percent, according to EC data.
 
In related news, the EC has debuted a Twitter handle: @EC_SBC.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press.  Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/21/2018 10:40:33 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘After Maria’: Puerto Rico remains changed by storm

September 21 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

“Before Maria and after Maria” is the word on the streets of Puerto Rico. “That’s how life changed,” native Puerto Rican and Southern Baptist minister Jonathan Santiago told Baptist Press a year after the hurricane.
 


Send Relief photo
Send Relief volunteers replace a roof on one of tens of thousands of homes still in need of repair in Puerto Rico a year after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

In Santiago’s observation, churches, including Southern Baptist congregations, lost about 35 percent of their attendance. Congregational financial giving is down because many members still on the island lost their jobs. Several schools remain closed. Homes still need repairs from storm damage. Many people are hopeless, resorting to suicide in greater numbers and affecting an official death toll already near 3,000.
 
“I don’t think I know of any church who continues to be the same kind of church,” said Santiago, who moved back to his homeland Aug. 2, working as coordinator of the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Send Relief ministry center in Guaynabo. “There’s still so many families, so many elderly, so many single moms and so many families with children who still need a lot of help trying to get back on their feet, and (to) have the blessing just to live in a dry home.
 
“I heard a testimony of a lady who the only part of her home that was concrete was her bathroom and a little bit of a closet, and because the roof was still leaking,” Santiago said, “that’s where she was living.”
 
Tens of thousands of homes remain storm-damaged in the U.S. territory that already suffered from a poverty rate approaching 50 percent when Hurricane Maria devastated the island a year ago today, Sept. 20, said Send Relief President David Melber.
 


Send Relief photo
Send Relief volunteers trained in Southern Baptist Disaster Relief remove debris that is still prevalent in Puerto Rico a year after Hurricane Maria struck.

“There’s still just massive needs,” Melber said. “It’s just despair and discouragement ... that this is taking so long, and I think our own government, FEMA, is planning to be there 10 years ... just to see the island reestablished.”
Puerto Rico after Maria is ripe for the gospel, said Oklahoma pastor and Puerto Rican native Felix Cabrera, who is taking up residence again on the island in December as NAMB’s church planting catalyst.
 
“For us, Puerto Rico is at a suitable time to go and preach the true gospel, showing God as He is,” said Cabrera, lead pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City and second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. In January, he will plant City of God Baptist Church (Iglesia Bautista Ciudad de Dios) in San Juan.
 
“The problem in Puerto Rico on a spiritual level is that many sincerely believe that they are Christians, but their god is money, possession, status, wealth, prosperity, etc.,” Cabrera told BP. “Hurricane Maria shook not only the governmental and social structures but the concept of God that many pseudo-Christians had. (They) lost their gods and their idols because Maria took them away or destroyed them.”

Cabrera sees opportunity to point out “the rebellion and sin of man and the work of Christ, and call men to repentance,” he said. “Hurricane Maria, for the one who had a wrong concept of God, has been devastating. For those who recognize that God is sovereign and orchestrates all things, we see this crisis as an opportunity to make Christ known and see a revival, a true revival, lives transformed.”
 
Santiago agrees.
 


Send Relief photo
Jonathan Santiago (in yellow shirt), is coordinator of the North American Mission Board Send Relief Ministry Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.

Maria “gave the local church the opportunity to once again renew their passion and vision to reaching the community and being good stewards of what God was giving them to reach the community with the gospel,” said Santiago, former evangelism catalyst for the Baptist Convention of New York.
 
“The church before Maria is not the same church after Maria,” Santiago said. “I think every pastor, every church planter has embraced the calling to once again make the community and the lost people the priority of their ministry.”
 
Melber encourages Southern Baptists to choose Puerto Rico for mission trips, where the Send Relief ministry center can house 100 volunteers. No passport is needed to travel there.
 
“It’s kind of one of the most convenient ways to take what feels like an international trip,” Melber said, “but it’s not an international trip. It’s a trip to a U.S. territory.” He encourages Southern Baptists to continue to pray for the island as it struggles to recover.
 


Send Relief photo
A year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, a Send Relief volunteer helps replace the roof of a home ripped apart by the storm.

For volunteers who can commit three weeks to recovery work there, Send Relief covers travel, housing and food, Santiago said, and gives expense stipends to those unable to stay as long. FEMA is providing building materials at no cost.
 
“We would love to have anybody that wants to come and be part of a team to rebuild roofs and put a coating of sealant on concrete roofs, and replace doors and windows,” he said. “We would be happy to host them.”
 
Disaster relief training is not required for volunteers, and registration is available at SendRelief.org.
 
“The requirement is anybody who is willing and able, who is physically able, and spiritually willing to come assist,” he said. “We have crew leaders who are the ones who are experts in building… Anybody who’s willing and able to come assist, we won’t say no to them.”
 
Amid the devastation Cabrera sees resilience and beauty.
 
“I see resilient people that have not allowed the house to fall on top of them and are trying to move forward,” Cabrera said. “An economy that did not take off is now showing signs of improvement step by step. Many who left the island a long time ago (before Maria) are now returning, and although the hurricane showed us the tremendous governmental, structural and social deficiencies that we had, I think we see light at the end of the tunnel.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/21/2018 10:40:03 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Via video games, brothers are online missionaries

September 21 2018 by Katelyin Goodwin, The Pathway

Video games – with their reputation for violence, sexual content and profanity – are probably not the first thought in anyone’s mind when it comes to evangelistic outreach.
 

Screen capture from Twitch.tv
Joshua Greening (bottom left) holds court on the video gaming platform Twitch through which he and his brother Daniel share their faith on the TheWay_TV channel.

For a pair of brothers from Wentzville, Mo., the millions of people who play video games represent an opportunity. With a camera, a video game, an internet connection and infectious personalities, Joshua and Daniel Greening are leading hearts to Christ in a virtual world.
 
Joshua, 19, and Daniel, 16, use Twitch – an online platform for players to stream their games for people to watch around the world – as their vehicle of outreach. Viewers can watch in real time as the Greenings play their games, and Twitch also offers a chat function so that viewers can talk to the streamers and to each other.
 
“We love to talk to people and we love to play games,” Joshua said. “Twitch allows us to do the things we love and honor Christ at the same time.”
 
And for anyone who might be led to their channel, it’s quickly obvious that it is Christ-focused. The name of the channel itself – TheWay_TV – is a reference to John 14:6 – the favorite Bible verse of Joshua and Daniel’s grandfather, Ken Greening.
 
Greening and his wife Mary Sue ran a youth center in the 1970s also called The Way. That center is no more, but it lives on through Joshua and Daniel’s outreach.
 
Their Twitch channel, Joshua noted, has become “like an online virtual youth center where kids can spend time, have fun and hear about Jesus while they are watching games being played.”
 
On their channel’s main page is a section where the Greenings explain who they are and the purpose of their channel, and where they proclaim their faith. For them, Twitch is an untapped mission field and they are the missionaries.
 
In one section they write, “Just like all those out there travelling the world spreading the gospel, we are spreading it right here all over the world through the power of the Holy Spirit and the internet.”
 
And in fact, their efforts are reaching all over the globe, with viewers from all across the United States as well as from Canada, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Serbia, Japan and the Philippines.
 

Submitted photo
Daniel and Joshua Greening voice their faith through their TheWay_TV channel on the video gaming platform Twitch, providing "all the love and hype you can handle."

The brothers interweave their testimony into their gameplay, and if you tune into one of their streams, you will often find them offering advice and encouragement to other Christian streamers.
 
“As Christian channels, we have to not care what the world thinks about us,” Joshua said in a recent stream. “As long as we’re cool in God’s eyes, I don’t care what human beings say about us.”
 
Joshua is enthusiastic, welcoming every new follower or viewer with a shout-out. Daniel is a bit quieter, but the two together create a team of positivity and light, reflected in their channel’s tagline – “all the love and hype you can handle.”
 
Viewers and other streamers appreciate that the brothers are passionate and open about their faith. “They love that we are what they call ‘surprisingly upbeat’ and positive,” Joshua said.
 
The brothers work hard to maintain that image. They choose to play mostly family-friendly games, and if they ever play a game with profanity, gore or sexual content, they put a warning on the screen so young people know to stay away.
 
When one of their regular viewers says in the chat they’re going through a hard time, Joshua and Daniel will pause the game to pray for them.
 
When one of their viewers had a birthday, the brothers threw her a surprise virtual birthday party complete with party hats, streamers and a large cookie cake with her username on it.
 
“We want the channel to be a place where people can find some love and joy and entertainment no matter what’s going on in their everyday lives,” Joshua said.
 
Joshua and Daniel’s approach to their channel has paid off. They first started streaming in March of this year and have grown to nearly 300 followers and gaining every day.
 
“When we first started, we felt good to have two or three people watching us,” Joshua said. “Now we may have 30 people watching us and we are, Lord willing, just getting started.”
 
For Joshua and Daniel’s parents, Becky and Jim Greening, this experience has been amazing to see.
 
“We are just thrilled to see the boys being so passionate about something that is truly a ministry,” Becky said. “They are definitely being used to shine God’s light in the darkness of the online world.”
 
Joshua and Daniel stream several hours a day on their channel, but when they’re not streaming they are active in their home church, First Baptist in Wentzville, a St. Louis suburb. They take Kenpo Karate through their church and work with their youth group.
 
When it comes to the future, they’re open to whatever God has planned for them. “We just want to be open to His will,” Joshua said. “If that happens to be Twitch, that would be awesome!”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Katelyn Goodwin is a correspondent for The Pathway, mbcpathway.com, news journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/21/2018 10:39:42 AM by Katelyin Goodwin, The Pathway | with 0 comments



Trump ‘just settled in’ at N.C. disaster relief site

September 20 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

President Trump spent approximately an hour Sept. 19 at a disaster relief site in New Bern, N.C., helping volunteers distribute meals and greeting victims of Hurricane Florence.
 

Screen capture from WRAL.com
President Trump, Pastor Jim Pennington (center) and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (left) distribute meals Sept. 19 at a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief site in New Bern, N.C.

“I was literally thinking” the president’s visit would last 15-20 minutes, said Jim Pennington, pastor of Temple Baptist Church in New Bern, the congregation hosting the site. But Trump “just settled in. He started meeting people and asking questions, looking people in the eye and saying, ‘Tell me about your house.’”
 
Since Florence made landfall Sept. 14, Southern Baptist volunteers have served more than 46,000 meals in North and South Carolina through the work of more than 400 volunteers. The storm dumped more than 30 inches of rain in some locations and has caused at least 37 deaths, according to media reports.
 
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper also visited Temple along with Trump.
 
“As a church, as a ministry, as a relief site,” Trump’s visit was “fantastic,” Pennington told Baptist Press, because “it’s given us some high profile where we can ask people to help with resources and finances.”
 
Temple was among nine feeding locations in North Carolina Sept. 19, according to a report from the North American Mission Board, which helps coordinate multi-state disaster relief responses. Two feeding units were operating in South Carolina.
 
SendRelief, NAMB’s compassion ministry arm, has delivered other disaster relief supplies to the churches hosting feeding sites, including 65 pastor packs with generators, chainsaws and other ministry supplies. Some 720 “crisis buckets” have been distributed to help homeowners do their own cleanups.
 
“We’re just incredibly thankful that the president was able to experience firsthand serving meals to those in the drive-through line,” SendRelief President David Melber said, “and also to see Southern Baptist volunteers in action doing what they do best.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/20/2018 11:28:54 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



SWBTS ‘moving forward’ despite ‘certain events’

September 20 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

“Although certain events took place this summer,” Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) interim president Jeffrey Bingham told the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (EC), Southern Baptists are invited to “move forward” with SWBTS.
 

Photo by Morris Abernathy
Southwestern Seminary interim president Jeffrey Bingham brings a report from the Fort Worth, Texas, campus to the SBC Executive Committee Sept. 18.

During his Sept. 18 report to the EC in Nashville, Bingham referred at least five times to the May 30 termination of former president emeritus Paige Patterson, a week after he was accorded that status. Yet in an effort to focus on the future, Bingham never described what happened, utilizing instead the refrain “certain events.” His only mention of Patterson by name was a request that EC members pray for him and his wife Dorothy.
 
“Yes, events happened this summer,” Bingham said. “But you know what? Southwestern, by the grace and the mercy of God, is moving ahead to fulfill its mission, which is to train God-called men and women for a variety of ministries. We are not living in the past.”
 
As evidence of the seminary’s forward-looking posture, Bingham noted a total enrollment of 3,200, including students at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus; at extension centers; online; and in a Mandarin Chinese-language program. The seminary’s 600 new students this fall come from 25 countries and speak 13 different languages, he said.
 
During welcome week, “you would never have known that we were in the midst of a presidential transition,” Bingham said, because faculty and staff “showed up, did their work and brought ministry to the students who had shown up to begin their studies.”
 
Another step forward for SWBTS is to launch in the spring a required training for all students that will teach them to prevent and deal with sexual abuse. The seminary also will “increase and improve the harassment training that all of our employees must take,” Bingham said.
 
Yet even as the seminary moves forward, Bingham acknowledged some Southern Baptists still have “questions” about the seminary, “confusion that is perhaps tearing you up inside,” “anger” and “other feelings which you don’t even quite know how to express.” In response, he offered to “listen” and “talk to you about what you’re thinking and what’s going on inside you.”
 
“I know that I’m tall,” Bingham said, referencing his 6’7” stature. But “when I sit down in common brotherly or sisterly conversation with you, I’m the same height you are. And when we kneel together on the floor in order to seek the Lord in prayer, in order to accomplish reconciliation and common brotherly and sisterly understanding and a rededicated heart to the mission of God to reach the nations – on the floor on our knees, we’re the same height.”
 
Bingham repeated in closing, “Would you move forward with Southwestern Seminary? That’s what we’re doing.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/20/2018 11:28:26 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Chaplaincy ministry, church planting spotlighted at SEBTS

September 20 2018 by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS

With more than 100 military community students, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is making strides in its efforts to engage these students and bring awareness to ministry opportunities within the military community.
 

SEBTS Photo
Chaplains (left to right) Tim Stokes, Brian Collison, Samuel Lee, Doug Carver and Endel Lee discuss the importance and practice of churches ministering to military families.

Affiliated SEBTS military personnel and students gathered for panel discussions and various meetings for the seminary’s first Military Community Focus Week, Sept. 4-7.
 
“Discipling, training and caring for our military community is incredibly strategic for long term global, gospel impact,” said Mark Liederbach, dean of students and vice president for student services. “Our hope is to build a welcoming, strategic and caring community for our military men and women.”
 
During one of the panel discussions, participants addressed possible strategies for planting churches near military bases. They also considered what it looks like for a church to minister in that context.
 
Bruce Ashford, provost at SEBTS and a panel moderator, asked panelists how churches can operate with intentionality in serving military families.
 
“You have to be intentional about reaching the military community and meeting the needs that they have, not the needs that you think they have,” explained Brian Collison, a church planter and pastor at Pillar Church of Woodlawn in Alexandria, Va.
 
U.S. Army chaplain Tim Stokes, who serves at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, noted the churches that “tend to grow and the churches that tend to actually reach them are the ones that are truly preaching the gospel unashamedly.”
 
That week, another panel discussion was held for students interested in the types of expectations and experiences involved in chaplaincy ministry.
 
Jim Houck, coordinator of military affairs at SEBTS, opened the discussion by asking panelists what key distinctive features existed between chaplains and pastors.
 
Doug Carver, executive director of chaplaincy for the North American Mission Board, responded, “You live with the people that you serve.” Carver formally served as the U.S. Army’s 22nd Chief of Chaplains and was the first Southern Baptist appointed to this position in 50 years.
 
Panelists also discussed the importance of building relationships with fellow service members for the sake of the gospel.
 
Chaplain Thomas Watson asked, “Are we building the relationships to have the credibility and opportunity to speak into people’s lives?”
 
“I’m a missionary in uniform just like we send missionaries to the 10/40 window,” noted Watson, who serves as a North Carolina National Guard chaplain and with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in military ministry. “I went too, but I went in uniform.”
 
One attendee asked panelists how they are mentored and find people of like-mindedness to keep them grounded. For Chuck Gilbertson, a chaplain for the U.S. Army, opportunities like that developed for him as a student at the seminary.
 
“Coming to Southeastern is, for me, that chance to [re-focus] spiritually,” Gilbertson said.
 
This type of spiritual refresher that Gilbertson has found at Southeastern is the type of ministry Houck and others at the school have discussed providing for military personnel at SEBTS.
 
An executive session on ministry to the military was held that week with both internal SEBTS leaders and external military partners along with a separate strategy meeting. One of the ideas discussed involved providing focused opportunities where military personnel can come together and be spiritually refreshed.
 
U.S. Army Chaplain Samuel S. Lee, command chaplain to U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command and the United Nations Command, facilitated a discussion that week on the foundation and relevancy of military ministry. The discussion centered around understanding the importance of professionalism, the character qualities that should be found in a chaplain, and the vital role spouses play in chaplaincy ministry.
 
Multiple speakers from the week shared their thoughts on what they hope to see come out of a week like Military Community Focus Week.
 
Carver described the outcome as three-fold:

  1. familiarizing students with the ministry of chaplains,

  2. creating awareness of the growing opportunity for church planting near military communities both nationally and internationally,

  3. and discussing ways SEBTS can more intentionally reach out to veterans and their families in the community.
     

 “I believe that Southeastern is on the verge of becoming the gold standard for strategic military ministry initiatives,” Carver said.
 
Chaplain Lee hopes that everyone gained “a healthy dose of respect for one another and [a] reminder of our calling for the sake of the gospel to those who are serving our country.”
 
John Scanlon, who currently serves as a Navy chaplain programs officer and works with a predominantly younger demographic, said his hope for SEBTS students is that they will see military ministry as “a young mission field, to have a burden for the military community as a people group with unique values, challenges and culture, and to know there is a disciple making, gospel opportunity.”
 
Bill Gandy, a collegiate military missionary for the U.S. Air Force Academy, noted, he believes the week can be “a launching pad for God raising up the next generation of leaders within military ministry.”
 
Endel Lee, the Navy Deputy Chief of Chaplains for reserve matters as well as the church planting catalyst for military communities for NAMB, desires for students to be “gripped with the realization that military members and their loved ones are certainly in need of the gospel, are open to its truths and could serve as a conduit for influencing worldwide spiritual revitalization.”
 
The week concluded with a dinner for all military personnel and their families on the seminary’s campus.
 
To view photos from Military Community Focus Week, click here.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lauren Pratt is the news and information specialist for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/20/2018 11:28:05 AM by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS | with 0 comments



Next-generation ministry envisioned at ‘The Call’

September 20 2018 by Lee Weeks, Baptist Press

The next generation of Christian ministry leaders must embrace and nurture God’s individual call on their lives before God will use them as ambassadors of the gospel locally and globally, speakers said during “The Call” Conference held at two Baptist universities.
 

Anderson University photo
Clayton King, South Carolina pastor and ministry leader, addresses students at "The Call" Conference at Anderson University.

Hundreds of students, from middle school through college, attended the Sept. 8 session at Anderson University in Anderson, S.C., and Aug. 25 at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee.
 
The two universities are part of the Call To Ministry Network aimed at encouraging and nurturing the next generation in their ministry pursuits. The coalition of four Baptist-related universities also includes California Baptist University in Riverside and Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
 
Speakers implored students to devote themselves wholeheartedly to learning the Bible and experiencing God in their own lives while making Him known through serving and discipling others.
 
Likening the pursuit of vocational Christian ministry to Olympic athletes who consistently hone their craft, Clayton King, president of Clayton King Ministries, noted at the Anderson session, “The concept that we ... see biblically over and over again ... is this idea that we run as faithfully as we can, as consistently as we can for as long as we can, fully resting on the grace of God, anchored in [His] Word, empowered by the gospel.”
 
While Olympic athletes accomplish herculean feats in their own physical strength, Christian ministry requires faith that only God can do what is humanly impossible, said King, who also is the teaching pastor at New Spring Church, a South Carolina Baptist church with campuses throughout the state.
 
“If you’re in full-time ministry and you don’t want to quit at least once a week, you’re not doing it right,” King said. “Because if you’re really in ministry, you are going to be not only called by God to do something you cannot do by yourself, but also called by God to help messed-up people, called by God to give answers to questions that you don’t even know the answers to in your own life.
 
“You’re also going to be invested in the lives of other broken people who are just as broken as you are.... [T]hey want you to give them some answers that always revolve around several big issues – who is God, what is God like, what am I supposed to do, what is wrong with me, and tell me how I can have a better relationship with God and a better life.”
 
Recounting Philip’s baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch as described in Acts 8:25-39, King said the call to ministry “requires you to trust God when the unknown is bigger than the known.”
 
“[God] is going to tell you to do things you’ve never done before and go places you’ve never even heard of,” he said. “Ministry is not about you and me making a name for ourselves, it’s about us making a name for Jesus. ... It is not about building a platform. It is not about increasing Twitter traffic. ... God uses people who have faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God.”
 
Heath Thomas, dean of Oklahoma Baptist University’s (OBU) Herschel H. Hobbs College of Theology & Ministry, told students and parents attending the conference at OBU that interest and passion for ministry will wane and eventually flame out if not stoked by a continued state of preparedness. “Ministry is not an add-on to life, he said. “It’s a divine calling on our lives.
 
“You and I stand or fall on the Word of God,” said Thomas, who also serves as professor of Old Testament and associate vice president for church relations at OBU. “If you want to fall, move away from the Word of God. As best you know how to, consecrate in your heart that as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ you will stand on the Word of God. ... We are called as ministers to know and love the Word of God.”
 
Defining theology as “the love and knowledge of God that leads to right belief, right action and right relationship in the church and world,” Thomas said that simply possessing a biblical theology will not translate to transformational ministry if not applied specifically to one’s own context. Understanding the appropriate leadership style required for one’s environment or culture is crucial to ministry effectiveness, he said.
 
“It’s one thing to know about ministry,” Thomas said. “It’s another thing to do ministry.... Whether you are a church planter or a pastor, you are to be a blessing to your community.
 
“Speak the truth in love,” he counseled, adding, “You will organize in the applied side of ministry or you will agonize in ministry.... As ministers, God has called us to leverage all that we are to gospel advancement. We get to light the fire of others in churches and other places far from Jesus.”
 
Cliff Marshall of the South Carolina Baptist Convention church planting team told conference attendees in Anderson that demographic studies number the unchurched in South Carolina at 3 million, 200 million unchurched in the United States and 3 billion people unchurched globally.
 
Referencing the Great Commission, Marshall said, “The mandate for making disciples, which came directly from the mouth of Jesus, leads us to planting churches.”
 
Successful church planting, he said, entails a biblical model of serving the community by meeting physical needs, followed by sharing the reason for eternal hope in Christ, disciple making and leadership training. “Planting new churches,” he stated, “is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven.”
 
Prospective church planters who are simply pursuing a job on their terms, or a platform or venue to preach, need not apply, Marshall said, noting that church planter candidates who are in high demand are self-starters with broken hearts for those outside of a relationship with Christ, actively making disciples and sustained by healthy marital and family relationships.
 
James Noble, assistant professor of Christian ministry at Anderson University and pastor of Mountain Spring Baptist Church in Anderson, noted from Mark 8:34 that Jesus’ command for ministry leaders involves exchanging their plans, desires and ambitions for a life of self-denial, sacrifice and limitless obedience to God.
 
“We can be a generation like the early church,” Noble said, “and turn the world upside down.”
 
Billy Young, next generation ministries lead catalyst with the Florida Baptist Convention, encouraged conference attendees at OBU to “be on witness for Christ in every phase of your life.”
 
Young said he accepted God’s call to vocational ministry when he was 17 but lost his ministry focus as a 19-year-old sophomore backup quarterback for the 1996 national champion Florida Gators. “The hope of my life was what happened on the football field,” he said. “At 19, I thought I had arrived.”
 
But, Young said, any attempt to define one’s identity or purpose through performance, possessions or relationships will not satisfy for long.
 
“Whatever this is will leave you empty,” he said. “I knew there was a gospel tension in my life. I knew the call on my life was not to be focused on the things of this world. [God’s] call on my life is to make much of Jesus in a world that God has placed me in.... I pray that your hope would be in the gospel, reserved in heaven, bearing fruit for Jesus.”
 
For more information about the Call To Ministry Network, visit calltoministry.com.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lee Weeks is a writer in the Atlanta area. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/20/2018 11:27:42 AM by Lee Weeks, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘Gospel above all’ motivates Greear agenda

September 19 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

The supremacy of the gospel will motivate J.D. Greear as he leads Southern Baptists to evangelize, plant churches and mobilize college students for the Kingdom, he told Southern Baptist executives Sept. 17 in Nashville.
 

Photo by Morris Abernathy
Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear delivered his first address to the SBC Executive Committee during the group's fall meeting Sept. 17-18 in Nashville.

“It is the gospel that is the source of our renewal, and it is the gospel that should be our defining characteristic as a people,” Greear said in his first presidential address to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee at its fall meeting. “(The gospel) should be what people think about and talk about when they think and talk about us.”
 
Empowering cultural diversity, engaging the next generation in cooperative missions and preventing sexual abuse are also among his goals, said Greear, pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
 
Contentious debates that go beyond unifying characteristics of the gospel will not direct his work, he told the EC and guests gathered, including state leaders and executive staff.
 
“Our disagreement on finer points of theology should not tear apart our unity in the gospel,” Greear said. “Calvinism is never an issue to me.... I can assure you that what is not biblical is sitting around bickering about finer points of theology when people are lost and going to hell.
 
“I agree with (former SBC president) Johnny Hunt. I do not know all there is to know about the particulars of Calvinism,” Greear quipped, “but what I do know is that the more I go and share Christ, the more people seem to keep getting elected.”
 
Greear stated his presidential theme as the “Gospel Above All,” and expressed a desire to reflect on the gospel “again and again” during his term.
 
He presented one of his newest initiatives since his June election, the pledge to appoint a Sexual Abuse Advisory Study, as a gospel issue rather than a reaction to current events and political whims.
 
“Our churches really ought to be known as the safest places on the planet for the vulnerable. Isn’t that at least the heart, the most basic thing of our gospel,” Greear noted, “when Jesus says come unto Me all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest?
 
“Practically speaking, clarity on this issue is critical to evangelism in the next era,” Greear said. “If the next generation does not believe that our churches are a safe place,” he said, paraphrasing EC member Bill Prince, “then they won’t come to our churches nor to what we do.... If they don’t come to our churches, they will probably never learn to trust Jesus as their Savior.”
 
The study, which he is still forming, will have a rotating membership that keeps the group alive for years, he said, likely continuing past his presidency. Greear gave overviews of his agenda items.
 

Who Is Your One?

 
Greear will launch the “Who Is Your One?” personal evangelism initiative in January 2019, he said, encouraging churches to use their own style and personality in encouraging each church member to intentionally share the gospel and build a relationship with one person over the course of a year.

 

Photo by Morris Abernathy
Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear, second from left, greets IMB Interim President Clyde Meador, second from right, and Edgar Aponte, IMB vice president for mobilization. Todd Unzicker, pastor of sending for Greear's pastorate The Summit Church, joins the group at left.

At The Summit Church, Greear said, Who Is Your One includes the church member standing in the baptismal with the person they brought to Christ when the new believer is baptized.
 
“A Home Depot approach” is how Greear terms his style of expressing shared goals and encouraging churches to respond through individual leadership in the power of the gospel. “You can do it; we can help.”
 
Greear noted the worth and value of state conventions and associations. He noted those leaders are most aware of the individuality of churches and regions. And he has met with state convention executives whom he described as already doing many of the things he hopes to encourage.
 
“I’ve told them that they are the ones who most likely will be doing these things after I have finished serving as president,” Greear said. “They are also the ones who will lead out on these things on local levels. They are the ones who will figure out what these things need to look like in churches in their particular region.”
 

Church planting and sending


The Gospel Above All requires a renewed emphasis on sending missionaries and church planters, Greear said, referencing legendary Baptist missionary Adoniram Judson.
 

“He prayed that the day would come for the church in America,” Greer said, “that no church could stand to meet together on the weekend when at least one of their number was not representing them on the field.”
 
“That is something I want to be able to challenge churches to say, ‘Wherever you are on the church planting scale,” Greear said, “can you take the next step?’ And can we have our agencies help people begin to take the next step?”
 
Affirming the work of the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board, he encouraged churches to send missionaries from their own congregations, in addition to supporting missions through the SBC’s Cooperative Program of shared financial giving.
 

College graduate mobilization

 
Churches should encourage college students to prioritize the Kingdom of God when choosing where to pursue their careers geographically, Greear said.
 
At The Summit Church, “we tell college students lots of factors should go into where you choose to pursue your career,” Greear said. “The Kingdom of God should be the largest of those factors.”
 
He encourages graduates to let at least the first two years of their careers be in locations where God is “doing something strategically.” Historically, Greear said, every great awakening has involved college students as motivators and leaders.
 
“Get a job someplace where we are trying to plant a church,” he tells students. “It has really caught on.”
 

Cultural diversity

 
Southern Baptists should live in such a way that others marvel at the unity the church displays beyond divisions, Greear said.
 
“This has got to be more than a stated desire for Southern Baptists,” he said. “The work of reconciliation is hard work. Anybody that tells you otherwise has never actually engaged in it. There are some things that you are going to have to be committed to that go beyond the tip of the hat.”
 
He referenced African American author and professor George Yancey and his book Beyond Racial Gridlock: Embracing Mutual Responsibility as a helpful resource.
 
Yancey uses the example of a spouse who has been abused, in contrast to the person who has committed the abuse.
 
“When the spouse who was the abuser genuinely repents, and if the abused wants to issue forgiveness, both sides have a role to play in the discussions about going forward,” said Greear, referencing Yancey. “There are certain things that the abused person can only do for themselves.
 
“But I will tell you the one who was in the role of the abuser ought to listen a lot more, and be committed to listening a lot more than the one who was in the role of the abused.”
 
The analogy means that for the majority culture, Greear said of himself and others, “we’ve got some hard work ahead of us and a lot of listening.
 
“We need this, and you know this,” Greer said. “We need the wisdom of our brothers and sisters, particularly of color, as we go forward in this” demographically changing nation.
 
For blog reports on this week’s SBC Executive Committee meeting, click here.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/19/2018 11:07:11 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



#MeToo, church awareness focus of study

September 19 2018 by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends

In recent months, churches have been rocked by high-profile accusations of sexual misconduct among clergy.
 
While the Catholic Church’s continued abuse scandal has dominated the headlines, Protestant churches have also seen high profile pastors accused of sexual misconduct.
 
A new LifeWay Research study shows one in eight Protestant senior pastors say a church staff member has sexually harassed a member of the congregation at some point in the church’s history. One in six pastors say a staff member has been harassed in a church setting.
 
Two-thirds of pastors say domestic or sexual violence occurs in the lives of people in their congregation. And many pastors believe the #MeToo movement has made their churches more aware of how common sexual and domestic violence are.
 

More pastors say they are addressing these issues from the pulpit. Still, half say they lack training in how to address sexual and domestic violence.
 
Those are among the findings of a study on pastors’ views on #MeToo and sexual and domestic violence in churches from LifeWay Research. The study, sponsored by IMA World Health and Sojourners, is a follow up to a 2014 survey and was conducted June 19-July 2.
 
Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, says the #MeToo movement – and more public discussion of sexual and domestic violence – seems to have gotten pastors’ attention.
 
“Pastors are starting to talk about issues like sexual harassment and domestic abuse more than in the past,” McConnell said. “They don’t always know how to respond – but fewer see them as taboo subjects.”
 

Most aware of #MeToo

 
For the study, LifeWay Research conducted a phone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors earlier this year – then compared the results to a similar survey in 2014.
 
Researchers also asked additional questions specifically about the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements.
 
Eighty-five percent of pastors in the survey say they have heard of the #MeToo movement. Fewer pastors (16 percent) have heard of the #ChurchToo movement, which focused specifically on sexual harassment and abuse in the church. Eighty-four percent have not heard of #ChurchToo.
 
Three-quarters of pastors (76 percent) say they know someone who has been sexually harassed. Mainline pastors (82 percent) are more likely to say they know someone who has been harassed than evangelical pastors (71 percent).
 

Twelve percent of Protestant pastors say someone on church staff has sexually harassed a congregation member at some point in the church’s life. Eighty-five percent say no staff member has been found to have done so. Three percent don’t know. Pentecostal (94 percent) and Baptist (89 percent) pastors are more likely to say there has been no harassment found. Christian/Church of Christ (79 percent) and Presbyterian/Reformed (79 percent) pastors are less likely.
 
Sixteen percent of pastors say a staff member has experienced sexual harassment in a church setting. Eighty-two percent say that has not happened. Two percent don’t know. Mainline pastors (22 percent) are more likely to say a staff member has been harassed than evangelical pastors (11 percent).
 
Eighty percent of pastors say their church has a policy for sexual harassment allegations against staff. Nineteen percent say they don’t have a policy. Two percent don’t know.
 
A few pastors have firsthand knowledge of abuse. One in 5 pastors say they personally have experienced domestic or sexual violence. Four out of five say they have not.
 

#MeToo leads to action, confusion


The #MeToo movement has prompted some pastors to action. It also appears to have led to some confusion among pastors and their congregations.
 

Forty-one percent of Protestant senior pastors who have heard of #MeToo say they are more inclined to preach about sexual and domestic violence in response to the movement. Forty-eight percent say they are inclined to speak about the issues about the same amount as they had in the past. Twelve percent say they are less inclined to speak as a result of #MeToo.
 
Methodist (57 percent) and Presbyterian/Reformed (52 percent) pastors are more likely to say they will preach more about sexual and domestic violence. Fewer Lutheran (37 percent), Church of Christ/Christian (36 percent), Baptist (30 percent) and Pentecostal (24 percent) pastors say they are now more inclined to preach on those topics.
 
Forty percent of those who have heard of #MeToo say they understand issues of sexual and domestic violence better because of the movement. Twenty-one percent say their understanding of the issues has not changed. Thirty-nine percent say they now have more questions.
 
Congregation members also have questions, according to pastors.
 
A third of pastors (32 percent) who have heard of #MeToo say their congregation is more confused about sexual and domestic violence. Sixty-two percent say their congregation has more empathy for victims. Fifty-eight percent say their congregation is more aware of how common sexual and domestic violence is.
 
A few (14 percent) say their congregation has become callous toward the issue.
 
Among other findings about pastors who have heard of #MeToo:
 

  • 49 percent of mainline pastors are inclined to preach more about domestic and sexual violence.

  • 32 percent of evangelical pastors are inclined to preach more about domestic and sexual violence.

  • 48 percent of mainline pastors say they understand more.

  • 32 percent of evangelical pastors say they understand more.

  • 70 percent of mainline pastors say their churches have become more empathetic.

  • 57 percent of evangelical pastors say their churches have become more empathetic.

  • 44 percent of Christian/Church of Christ ministers say their churches have more confusion.

  • 27 percent of Methodist pastors say their churches have more confusion.

  • 18 percent of Baptist pastors say their churches are callous.

  • 10 percent of Presbyterian/Reformed pastors say their churches are callous.

 
“We are encouraged that more and more pastors are speaking out and seeking training to make their churches safer sanctuaries for survivors of violence, but the results also show that we – as a Christian community – still fall short,” said Sojourners President and Founder Jim Wallis.
 
“If we believe that how we treat the most vulnerable is how we treat Christ, we must be in deep solidarity with the women and men who experience domestic or sexual abuse at some point in their lives,” Wallis said. “If we believe we are all created in the image of God, we cannot tolerate that only half of pastors feel prepared to respond to domestic and sexual violence situations.”
 

Domestic abuse less taboo

 
For the study, LifeWay Research asked Protestant pastors a series of detailed questions about how they handle the topics of sexual and domestic abuse.
 

Three-quarters (77 percent) say they speak about domestic violence at least once a year. That includes 26 percent who speak about it once a year and 51 percent who speak about it more than once a year.
 
By contrast, only 34 percent of Protestant senior pastors spoke about domestic violence more than once a year in a similar study in 2014.
 
Many pastors (75 percent) who address sexual or domestic violence at least once a year or more say they do so because they have seen the impact of such violence firsthand. Eighty-seven percent say sexual or domestic violence is an issue in their community. Ninety-six percent know of resources to help victims.
 
Only one in five (18 percent) say they address domestic or sexual violence because it is an issue in their congregation. Nearly half (46 percent) speak about it because they have been trained in domestic violence issues.
 
Nearly half (46 percent) of pastors who don’t address sexual or domestic violence say it is not an issue in their congregation. Twenty-nine percent say other topics are more important. Nineteen percent say they don’t know the issue well enough. Nineteen percent also say it is not an issue in their community. Sixteen percent say it is not appropriate to address domestic or sexual violence publicly.
 
“Despite the widespread public conversation, one in five pastors don’t feel compelled to address domestic or sexual violence,” McConnell said.
 

Action steps

 
LifeWay Research found that pastors often take action when they learn about cases of domestic and sexual violence.
 
Pastors believe victims need help from outside of their families when abuse occurs in the home. Eighty percent say in cases of domestic or sexual violence that occur in the home – including physical violence, child abuse, or marital rape – outside intervention is needed. Nine percent say such violence should be resolved primarily within the family. Eleven percent don’t know.
 
In cases of domestic violence, 82 percent of Protestant senior pastors say they would counsel a victim to seek support from a domestic abuse expert. Eight percent say they would tell a victim to try and improve the relationship with their spouse. Ten percent don’t know what they would counsel a victim to do.
 
Sixty-four percent of pastors agree that sexual or domestic violence occurs in the lives of people in their congregation – including 24 percent who strongly agree. Thirty percent disagree – including 13 percent who strongly disagree. Sixty-two percent say their church has taken action against domestic or sexual abuse at least once a year.
 
Ninety-six percent of pastors say they have a responsibility to ask church members about possible abuse if they see signs of domestic or sexual violence. Three percent disagree.
 
When responding to a case of domestic or sexual violence, 81 percent of pastors say they have provided a referral to an agency that assists victims. Seventy percent have provided marriage or couple’s counseling. Forty-six percent provided counseling for the abuser. Forty percent did a safety risk assessment for the victim.
 
Despite their willingness to help, many pastors still feel ill-prepared according to the study.
 
Only about half (55 percent) of pastors say they are familiar or very familiar with domestic violence resources in their community. And half say they don’t have sufficient training to address sexual or domestic abuse.
 
“Pastors want to care for victims of domestic and sexual violence,” McConnell said. “And they are often called to care for victims. But they don’t always know what to do.”
 
And some of the ways they respond can cause more harm than good according to experts, McConnell said.
 
Domestic violence experts, for example, say providing safety for victims should come first. Yet, less than half of pastors have done an assessment. And many pastors provide couples counseling in response to violence, something experts say can put victims at risk, McConnell said.
 
“We know caring faith communities respond to need. But in responding to abuse and harassment, we have much work left to do,” said Rick Santos, president and CEO of IMA World Health. “Our next generation of faith leaders need to be prepared to preach about prevention from the pulpit, create a safe space within their churches and lend their voices to the movement for lasting change in our society.”
 

Methodology

 
The phone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors was conducted June 19-July 2, 2018. The study was sponsored by IMA World Health and Sojourners. The calling list was a stratified random sample, drawn from a list of all Protestant churches. Quotas were used for church size. Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.2 percent. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.
 
Comparisons are made to a phone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors conducted by LifeWay Research May 7-31, 2014 using the same methodology.
 
LifeWay Research is a Nashville-based, evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect churches.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bob Smietana is the former senior writer for Facts & Trends magazine. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/19/2018 11:06:55 AM by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends | with 0 comments



Executive Committee members’ questions aired in open forum

September 19 2018 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

Concern over Baptist work in Utah and Idaho, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission were voiced during an Executive Committee open forum Sept. 18.

The forum was initiated by the EC’s interim president, D. August Boto, in consultation with EC officers as part of the closing day’s agenda during the Sept. 17-18 meeting in Nashville.
 
Boto, who also serves as the EC executive vice president and general counsel, called the forum an “experiment” apart from regular business “to voice the views from your home territories,” whether questions, complaints, suggestions or praises regarding Southern Baptist ministry at the national level.
 
Among other topics during the forum, Boto and the Executive Committee staff were commended for their work during the transition period after the resignation of Frank Page as EC president in March.
 

Struggles in Utah and Idaho

Photo by Morris Abernathy
Jim Gregory (right) of Mountain Home, Idaho, raises a question about the health of Baptist work in Utah and Idaho during an Executive Committee open forum Sept. 18.


Jim Gregory, senior pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Mountain Home, Idaho, asked where Baptists in the two states “fit in with the greater vision of the SBC.”
 
Gregory said the SBC’s adoption of the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) in 2010 had weakened Baptists in Utah and Idaho by eliminating funding for the work of directors of missions who assist local churches. (GCR entailed a shift toward funding for church planting in under-served cities.)
 
Baptist associations are “falling apart,” Gregory said, prompting the question of why Baptists in Utah and Idaho should give to Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program channel of mission support.
 
Boto, in addressing Gregory’s concern, stated, “You do fit in” because Southern Baptists need “every component” to be effective, from churches and associations to state conventions and the SBC.
 
He acknowledged that the GCR has been “very difficult for many” and that SBC leaders are aware of “the need of areas such as yours.” The national and state conventions, he stated, are “attuning or are already attuned to have a robust ministry at the local level.”
 

Southwestern Seminary

Photo by Morris Abernathy
Interim SBC Executive Committee President D. August Boto, who also serves as the EC executive vice president and general counsel, hosted an open forum "to voice the views from your home territories," during the group's Sept. 18 plenary session.


Joe Knott, a layman from Raleigh, N.C., asked about the action of the trustee executive committee at Southwestern Seminary to terminate the president emeritus, Paige Patterson, after the full trustee board had accorded him that status a week earlier.
 
The seminary should be governed “according to the trustee system” and not by a subset of “super trustees,” Knott stated. He also questioned whether concerns that arose after the full board meeting had been properly vetted by the trustee executive committee.
 
Boto responded that the convention, at its June annual meeting in Dallas, had voted to request that Southwestern trustees provide a report about “what happened and why it happened,” as he put it, to the SBC annual meeting in June 2019 in Birmingham, Ala.
 

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

 
Paul Hicks, pastor of West Jefferson Baptist Church in Quinton, Ala., said he has heard from individuals in the state and beyond expressing dissatisfaction “almost unanimously” with the ERLC and its president, Russell Moore.
 
EC chairman Mike Stone, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, Ga., intervened to note that the open forum was a time for expressing concern about issues and not personalities.
 
Boto then responded to Hicks’ concern, noting that it should be expressed to the ERLC and that its contact information is readily accessible. Saying he has “every confidence” that the ERLC will respond, he cited Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18 for resolving allegations of wrongdoing among Christians.
 

Other comments

 
Guy Frederick, bivocational pastor of Mapledale Baptist Church in Sheboygan, Wis., asked that a Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting be scheduled “in the northern tier” of the U.S., perhaps in the Twin Cities. Bill Townes, EC vice president for convention finance, stated that the suggestion would be investigated.
 
Mike Lawson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Sherman, Texas, asked if there is a way to help younger Southern Baptists see the value of the SBC’s entities and processes. Boto said he would work with SBC President J.D. Greear’s office to receive ideas for consideration.
 
Josh Bonner, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Rapid City, S.D., thanked Boto and the EC staff for carrying forth in their duties when they were “put in a difficult place” after Page’s resignation in March. He commended Boto as a layman and leader who is “deeply devoted to the things of God.”
 
For blog reports on this week’s SBC Executive Committee meeting, click here.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/19/2018 11:06:42 AM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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