September 2019

Board endorses bylaw measures to address misconduct

September 30 2019 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) board of directors gave unanimous approval to a pair of proposed changes to the convention’s bylaws that outlines criteria by which certain officials could be removed from leadership positions for instances of “serious misconduct.”
 

The approvals came during the board’s regularly scheduled fall meeting, held Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 23-24, at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro. Both proposals will now go before messengers from N.C. Baptist churches attending the 2019 BSC annual meeting this November in Greensboro.
 
The proposed changes define “serious misconduct” as that which is “damaging to the people, mission or ministry of the Convention.” The changes also state that cases of misconduct may be “related or unrelated to the individual’s duties” with the convention.
 
The overarching goal of the proposed changes is “to provide an environment that protects and promotes the Christian witness of the cooperating churches and their members.”
 
The changes would apply to convention officers, members of the convention’s board of directors, appointees to special committees of the board, members of convention committees, and members of Fruitland Baptist Bible College’s board of directors. The proposed changes do not apply to state convention staff members because their conduct is governed by the policies outlined in the BSC’s employee handbook.
 
Board members also reviewed a draft of a written policy that outlines specific steps for addressing and acting upon allegations of misconduct. The policy defines procedures and guidelines for how complaints, investigations, hearings, appeals and dismissals would be handled.
 
Because the policy is dependent upon approval of the proposed bylaw amendments, convention legal counsel John Small advised the board to wait until after messengers consider the bylaw changes during the annual meeting in November before taking any action on the draft policy.
 
Based on Small’s recommendation, the board took no formal action on the policy proposal, but plans to take up the matter at its next regularly scheduled meeting in January 2020.
 
When messengers consider the proposed bylaw changes this November, it will mark the culmination of nearly a year’s worth of work by convention officials to address potential cases of misconduct.
 
In January, the board approved a motion that directed the BSC’s executive committee to develop a formal process by which a board member could be removed from office due to a “moral failure.” The executive committee later referred the matter to the convention’s Articles and Bylaws Committee.
 
The Articles and Bylaws Committee presented its recommendation to the executive committee in the form of the bylaw amendments, which expanded the scope of the initial motion to include “serious misconduct” and additional positions beyond board members. The executive committee unanimously approved the proposals during its July meeting and sent the measure to the full board.
 

Disciple-making strategy update

 
Following a report on the feedback received as part of the convention’s formal evaluation of the “impacting lostness through disciple-making” strategy, the board affirmed several next steps related to clarifying and expanding the strategy.
 
Those affirmations included acknowledgement that the strategy is far from being fully implemented and support to continue the strategy for five more years.
 
The strategy evaluation took place earlier this year and included an online survey, public forums and personal interviews. While 70% of survey respondents expressed positive sentiments about the strategy, the overall data revealed a disconnect between understanding the strategy and engaging in the strategy.
 
Brian Davis, BSC associate executive director-treasurer, described the strategy implementation and evaluation as a “refocusing” of the convention’s mission to assist the churches in their divinely appointment mission.
 
“The board is encouraged to use its voice to call North Carolina Baptists to utilize the numerous resources of the convention to assist the churches in the fulfillment of the Great Commission, which is the focus on the strategy,” Davis said.
 

New Fruitland board members

 
The board also approved the recommendation of three individuals to serve on the board of directors of Fruitland Baptist Bible College. They were:
 

  • Perry Brindley, member of Pole Creek Baptist Church in Candler.

  • Ken Jones, interim pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Jefferson.

  • Anton Roos, senior pastor of Lake Lure Baptist Church.

 

Board members honored

 
BSC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. also recognized 20 outgoing board members who had completed their terms of service.
 
They were: Durrant Barr; Charlie Brackett; Kevin Buzzard; Ken Coley; Billy Cooper; Dac Croasmun; Steve Frazier; Dan Harrell; Lana Hathaway; Polly Heafner; David Herman; George Hunnicutt; Sandy Huntley; Mike Madaris; Sally Matheny; Chris Morgan; David Richardson; Marion Sykes Jr.; Curtis Williams; and Kevin York.
 
Board members Shawn Berryhill, Timmy Chavis, Jim Cohn, Matt Mills, Walter Overman and Keith Stephenson also completed their partial (unexpired) terms but are being nominated for additional full terms of service.
 
To nominate individuals to serve on the BSC board of directors or other places of service, visit ncbaptist.org/recommend.
 

Committee chairs elected

 
Board committees also elected new chairs for 2020. They were:
 

  • Timmy Blair (Business Services Special Committee).

  • Bob Jordan (Christian Life and Public Affairs Special Committee).

  • Al James (Church Planting and Missions Partnerships Committee).

  • Jon Morris (Communications Committee).

  • Keith Stephenson (Convention Relations Special Committee).

  • Tracy Smith (Evangelism and Discipleship Committee).


Committee chairs will begin their terms of service in 2020 and will also serve on the BSC’s executive committee.
 

Next meeting

 
The next meeting is Jan. 27-28, 2020, at Caraway.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Chad Austin is the editor of the communications team for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.)

9/30/2019 3:09:33 PM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Wallace leads slate of officers

September 30 2019 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Melanie Wallace, a pastor’s wife with a deep love and commitment to God’s Word and missions, was elected president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) board of directors, becoming the first woman elected as board president since 1993.
 

Melanie Wallace, left, and Matt Capps will lead the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina Board of Directors. The board met recently at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro for a regularly scheduled meeting.

Wallace was elected during the board’s regularly scheduled fall meeting, held Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 23-24, at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro.
 
No other candidates were nominated.
 
“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to serve the convention as president of the board over the next year,” Wallace said. “I appreciate the confidence and encouragement I have received from board members and executive leaders (of the convention). Anyone who serves alongside our Executive Director-Treasurer Milton Hollifield Jr. comes to appreciate his vision statement that ‘By God’s grace, we will become the strongest force in the history of this convention for reaching people with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.’
 
“The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina does an amazing work across the state and around the world. My prayer is that I would make much of Jesus through this position on the board.”
 
Wallace was nominated by BSC President Steve Scoggins, pastor of First Baptist Church of Hendersonville, who said, “She’s the embodiment of of the best of Baptist life in North Carolina.”
 
Wallace will begin her new term in January, but she has been serving as board president since July when former board president Clay Smith resigned after accepting a call to serve as senior pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in metro Atlanta.
 
Wallace will serve alongside Matt Capps, senior pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, who was elected board vice president; and Kathy Bennett, who was re-elected as board secretary.
 
Capps was nominated by Andrew Hopper, lead pastor of Mercy Hill Church in Greensboro. Hopper described Capps as someone who “has the heart of a local (church) pastor.”
 
Wallace nominated Bennett for board secretary.
 
Capps was elected without opposition, and Bennett was elected by acclamation.
 
Wallace’s husband, Aaron, is the lead pastor at Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, where he has served on staff for a total of 21 years. Prior to being named pastor, Aaron Wallace served as Hephzibah’s youth pastor. The Wallaces have been married for 24 years.
 
Melanie Wallace is actively and regularly involved in missions on the local, state, national and international levels. She and a friend also started a baking and catering business with the purpose of raising money for missions.
 
Hollifield praised Wallace’s leadership ability and her support and engagement in missions.
 
“Melanie has demonstrated great ability as a leader,” Hollifield said. “I value her heart for missions and her heart for reaching lost people. She is a delightful, knowledgeable and capable individual, and I am delighted to have her serve as president of the board of directors.”
 
Wallace is the first woman elected to serve as the BSC’s board president since Kathryn Hamrick in 1993. Hamrick is a member of Boiling Springs Baptist Church in Boiling Springs, N.C.
 
Hollifield said he would like to see more women serve in leadership positions in N.C. Baptist life.
 
“We have numerous women in the churches of our convention who are well equipped to serve in roles of leadership,” Hollifield said. “All of them are gifted of God, and the convention provides places and opportunities for them to be involved in leadership, allowing them to exercise their gifts according to the words of scripture.
 
“We have women who currently serve and who have previously served on the board of directors. I would be delighted to see to see that number increase because our board would be strengthened if we had more women nominated to serve.”
 
To make a nomination for individuals to serve on BSC board of directors or in other places of leadership, visit ncbaptist.org/recommend.

9/30/2019 3:01:56 PM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



9Marks Conference urges perseverance in prayer

September 30 2019 by Liz Tablazon, BR Assistant Editor

Pastors, church leaders and other participants came from numerous states and as far as India for equipping and encouragement on prayer. The 9Marks Conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C., Sept. 27-28 featured seven sessions, several panel discussions and singing.
 

SEBTS photo
A 9Marks panel talks about the importance of prayer during the annual event at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Sept. 27-28.

Brian Davis, pastor of Risen Christ Fellowship in Philadelphia, opened with the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10. He highlighted the necessity and quality of Christ by comparing both women’s same love for, but different devotion to, Jesus.
 
“We’re choosing the good thing,” he said. “We have a good God who commands us to do good things.
 
“It is good for us to remember, just because we’re saved does not mean we love Jesus like we should or as much as we could.”
 
John Onwuchekwa, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, Ga., spoke about the power of prayer. 
 
“God doesn’t just tell us how to pray, but He tells us what to pray for,” Onwuchekwa said. He pointed out the difference between The Lord’s Prayer spoken by individuals for themselves and spoken by church members in community.
 
If “somebody from your church loses their job and you get a promotion, do you know what we do? We all come together and say, ‘God answered the prayer to give us the bread that we need,’” he said. “‘God, forgive us of our sins.’ Do you know what that does? It eliminates grudges.”
 
Prayer is to be a “close companion of your life,” SEBTS President Danny Akin said, emphasizing the importance of exercising prayer as a regular habit. 
 
“We give thanks in all circumstances, we do not give thanks for all circumstances … in all things, our God is working His will in our lives,” Akin said. 
 
Prayer is also practiced through singing, said hip-hop artist Shai Linne, who aimed to expand understanding of what prayer is. 
 
“One common, encouraged, exhorted form of prayer is singing praises to the Lord,” he said, directing attention to Isaiah 12. 
 
“If you think about the drama of redemption, you have the writer who is God Himself, you have the main actor who is the Lord Jesus Christ, you have the supporting actors who are the church,” he said. “But the drama of redemption is a musical.”
 
H.B. Charles Jr., pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., wrapped up the first day considering three spiritual priorities that are to drive prayers with and for one another: the Word of the Lord, the faithfulness of the Lord and the direction of the Lord – “to the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ,” as Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3.
 
Mark Dever, 9Marks president and senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of Anacostia River Church in Washington, D.C., delivered the last two messages on Saturday morning.
 
Dever offered nine practical statements about prayer: the public prayer life of a church should be the outgrowth of personal, private prayer; some prayer practices will vary; encouraging a collective verbal response like “amen” can help build congregational prayer; different kinds of public prayer, whether long, short, planned or spontaneous, help build the local church; it is good to focus one prayer on praising God; one prayer should be of confession; dedicate one prayer to asking for God’s help; prayer should not only mark public services but elders’ meetings and staff meetings; and expect each other to regularly attend prayer gatherings.
 
“[The] Lord Jesus knows how inconsistent and dispirited our prayer lives can become for us. He knows that the long wait for desired answer can weaken us. So the parable is not law, it is gracious help,” Anyabwile said about the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18. 
 
Anyabwile urged participants to keep on praying, reminding them that “the effectiveness of prayer cannot be measured by immediate results.”
 
“If you want to cut down a tree, you don’t stop chopping until the tree falls. If you want to be effective in prayer, you don’t stop praying until the Lord acts.”
 
Sessions included panels in which conference speakers reflected on each other’s exhortations and further explored topics such as spiritual disciplines and practical ways to implement prayer in local churches and individual lives.

9/30/2019 2:57:12 PM by Liz Tablazon, BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments



New school year spurs religious liberty battles

September 30 2019 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

The 2019 school year has brought religious liberty challenges for college and high school students in the U.S., including action in Illinois, Tennessee and North Carolina.
 

College and high school students are facing challenges to their religious liberty in at least three states. In Illinois, four Wheaton College students have sued the city of Chicago for the right to distribute religious flyers and preach in a public park after the city set new rules against such action.

In Illinois, four Wheaton College students have sued the city of Chicago for the right to distribute religious flyers and preach in a public park after the city set new rules against such action.
 
In Tennessee, two high schools faced backlash from the Freedom from Religion Foundation when a coach led players in prayer before a football game in Rutherford County, and after a Southern Baptist youth pastor baptized two football players on the field after team practice at a Robertson County school.
 
At North Carolina’s Duke University, the Young Life national Christian group has been denied recognition as an official student group because it bars members of the LGBT community from holding leadership posts.
 

Wheaton College

 
As members of the Chicago Evangelism Team, four Wheaton students are fighting for the right to continue their weekly Friday night evangelism visits in Millennium Park on the city’s iconic Michigan Avenue.
 
“This case,” reads the lawsuit, “is about keeping secure the liberty of public citizens, in general, and the four student plaintiffs, specifically, to freely engage in speech activities at Millennium Park – a public park and a traditional public forum.”
 
Students and plaintiffs Matt Swart, Jeremy Chong, Gabriel Emerson and Caeden Hood are challenging new rules the city set that divide the park into 11 “outdoor rooms,” prohibit free speech in 10 of them, and limit certain “unlawful” conduct that the plaintiffs’ attorneys said includes evangelism.
 
The rules, established in August, violate the students’ right to free exercise of religion protected in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Article 1 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and Section 15 of the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998, the lawsuit says.
 
“The City has no compelling interest with which to justify its continual interference with the students’ religious activities within a traditional public forum,” the lawsuit reads. “The City has no compelling interest to limit the students’ religious speech activities to one corner of a public park.”
 
The case cites action dating back to December 2018 when Millennium Park security staff told Swart, Hood, and four fellow students they were not allowed to distribute free religious literature in the park. Hood was also prohibited from open-air preaching after the students stopped distributing flyers. On subsequent occasions, Chong and other students were also prohibited from preaching in the park. Park rules were later amended to restrict free speech to a limited section of the park.
 
The evangelism team, according to the lawsuit, is sponsored by Wheaton’s Office of Christian Outreach. But Wheaton is not a party to the legal action, the school’s media relations office said in a statement.
 
“While Wheaton College is not a party to the complaint filed by four of our students against the City of Chicago,” reads the statement Baptist Press (BP) received Sept. 26, “as a Christian liberal arts institution, we are strongly supportive of free speech and the right to bear verbal witness to the Christian faith.”
 
The students filed the lawsuit Sept. 18 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
 
Attorneys for the city of Chicago had not filed an answer to the suit and did not respond to BP’s inquiries by press time Friday.
 

Tennessee

 
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) complained to two Tennessee school boards about religious actions involving football teams.
 
Following the latest complaint, a group of Rockvale High School football students planned to lead a prayer before their Sept. 27 home game after the FFRF complained about a coach-led prayer Aug. 30, National Public Radio (NPR) reported Thursday.
 
Coach Rick Rice apologized for the prayer after the principal at the Rutherford County school reviewed the complaint with Rice, NPR said.
 
Also in Tennessee, the FFRF complained to the Robertson County School District after two students were baptized at Springfield High School Aug. 7 after football practice.
 
District Superintendent Chris Causey affirmed that students had the right to participate in the baptisms because the coaches are volunteers not employed by the district, The Tennessean newspaper reported Sept. 11.
 
In a similar incident, the U.S. Supreme Court declined in January to hear an appeal from former football coach Joe Kennedy. He was fired in 2015 for praying on the field at Bremerton High School in Washington, and most recently lost his lawsuit in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
 

North Carolina

 
At Duke University, the Duke Student Government Senate refused Sept. 11 to recognize Young Life as an official campus group, the independent student paper The Chronicle reported.
 
Young Life, which describes itself as a ministry working to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in faith, is bound by the group’s national sexual misconduct policy, a student told The Chronicle.
 
“We do not in any way wish to exclude persons who engage in sexual misconduct or who practice a homosexual lifestyle from being recipients of ministry of God’s grace and mercy as expressed in Jesus Christ,” the policy reads. “We do, however, believe that such persons are not to serve as staff or volunteers in the mission and work of Young Life.”
 
Young Life has chapters in middle schools, high schools and colleges in all 50 states and more than 90 countries, according to younglife.org.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

9/30/2019 2:51:35 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Heading into 2020 elections, most evangelicals want to play nice in politics

September 27 2019 by Aaron Earls, LifeWay Christian Resources

Most American evangelicals believe Jesus’ Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”– applies to politics. Some, however, see the political realm leading up to the 2020 elections as no place for niceness, according to a new study.
 
A LifeWay Research study sponsored by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (ERLC) explored the perspectives of American evangelicals on civility, politics, media consumption and how likely they are to engage with views different from their own.
 
“The results of this polling project were occasionally encouraging, frequently surprising and in some cases very much indicting,” said Russell Moore, president of the ERLC. “What this polling clearly shows is that there are forces driving the church apart from one another. That shouldn’t surprise us. But it should convict us.”
 

Most evangelicals value civility

 

Two in 3 Americans with evangelical beliefs (66 percent) believe being civil in political conversations is productive, with 22 percent dissenting and 12 percent not sure.
 

 Around 8 in 10 (82 percent) say their faith influences how they engage others politically.
 
Many evangelicals by belief say they give others the benefit of the doubt, but are frequently assumed to be attacking those with whom they disagree.
 
While 58 percent say they tend to believe those who disagree with them have good motivations, 54 percent say when they disagree with someone politically, the other person tends to take it as a personal attack.
 
Less than half (42 percent) say they have expressed public disapproval of political allies for using what respondents recognized as unacceptable words or actions.
 
A third (33 percent) admit that when someone with their political beliefs is accused of wrongdoing, they typically respond by citing examples of wrongdoing by the other side.
 
Around a quarter (26 percent) say they tend to believe insulting personal remarks made by political leaders who share their ideology toward opponents are justified.
 
Fewer (16 percent) say they are okay with political leaders bending the truth if it helps influence people to adopt what they consider good political views.
 
The tendency in some to embrace dishonesty and uncivil actions or at least leave them unchallenged may stem from evangelicals seeing their political opponents as dangerous.
 
Almost 3 in 5 evangelicals by belief (58 percent) say that if those with whom they disagree politically are able to implement their agenda, “our democracy will be in danger.”
 
“Evangelicals, like many Americans, simplify politics to being more about sticking up for your party than finding the best solutions to our nation’s problems,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

 

Political preferences in 2016 and beyond

 

Half of evangelicals by belief identify with the Republican Party and a majority of those that voted in 2016 say they did so for Donald Trump.
 
Overall, 48 percent identify as a Republican, 31 percent as a Democrat and 21 percent as an independent or something else beyond the two major political parties.
 
In 2016, 78 percent of evangelicals by belief say they voted in the general election. Among those who cast a ballot, 62 percent say they cast it for Donald Trump, 31 percent for Hillary Clinton and 7 percent for another candidate.
 
Those percentages, however, vary significantly when examining church attendance, gender, race and age.
 

Voting Americans with evangelical beliefs who attend church at least once a week are more likely to say they cast their ballot for Trump (65 percent) than those who attend less frequently (55 percent).
 
White evangelicals by belief say they voted overwhelmingly for Trump (80 percent), while black evangelicals by belief were solidly behind Clinton (82 percent). Hispanic evangelical voters say they were more split – 47 percent Clinton, 48 percent Trump.
 
Evangelical men more heavily favored Trump over Clinton (69 percent to 24 percent). Women still preferred Trump but by a smaller majority (57 percent to 37 percent).
 
When considering age, the older an evangelical is, the more likely they are to say they voted for Trump. Three-fourths of evangelicals by belief who are at least 65 years old backed Trump over Clinton (74 percent to 22 percent), while 18- to 34-year-old evangelicals were essentially split (47 percent for Trump, 49 percent for Clinton).
 
Similar generational divides happen when evaluating political party identification. The older an evangelical is, the more likely they are to identify as a Republican. Among evangelicals by belief 65 and older, Republicans outnumber Democrats 3-to-1 (60 percent Republicans, 20 percent Democrats, 20 percent neither). Among 18- to -34-year-olds, however, 37 percent say they are Democrats, 35 percent Republicans and 27 percent neither.
 
A 2017 LifeWay Research study found political disagreements played a role in many churchgoing teenagers dropping out of church as young adults.
 
“Evangelical pastors must recognize that political diversity frequently is present within churches,” said McConnell. “If civility across these differences is not actively fostered, it can hurt the mission of the church. This has already been evident as many young adults point to political differences as a reason they stop attending church.”
 
When asked which three public policy concerns are most important to them, evangelicals by belief today are more likely to choose issues like healthcare (51 percent), the economy (46 percent), national security (40 percent) or immigration (39 percent), than issues like religious liberty (33 percent), abortion (29 percent), providing for the needy (22 percent) or addressing racial division (21 percent).
 
Only half of evangelicals by belief (51 percent) say they will only support a candidate who wants to make abortion illegal, less than the percentage whose support is dependent on the candidate demonstrating personal integrity (85 percent), making fighting poverty a priority (71 percent), being a Christian (70 percent), making the individual’s life better (69 percent) or fighting racial injustice (67 percent).
 
Around 1 in 12 (8 percent) say they are single-issue voters, while 80 percent say their support for a candidate depends on several issues.
 
Regardless of their partisan issues or presidential vote, a majority of evangelicals want scriptural support for their political positions.
 
Four in 5 (80 percent) say the Bible informs their political views. Similar numbers (81 percent) say they look for biblical principles to apply in evaluating political issues.
 
Only 37 percent, however, say they have ever recognized a need to change some of their political opinions because they were in conflict with the Bible.
 
Most say prominent Christian leaders have influenced their political views (58 percent). Similarly, 57 percent of evangelicals by belief who attend church at least monthly say the teachings of their local church have had an impact on their political ideology.
 
“When it comes to politics, the Bible is not a single-issue book. Scripture addresses all of life’s issues from God’s perspective,” said McConnell. “Evangelicals are wrestling with how to best apply those biblical principles to the often messy world of politics.”

 

Echo chamber for news, but not relationships

 

Most evangelicals by belief say they have friendships beyond their demographic circle, but when it comes to the source of their news, they’d prefer it be someone with whom they agree.
 
Almost 3 in 5 (58 percent) say they have someone they consider a close friend who has very different political views. Most (54 percent) say the same about someone with a very different household income. Almost half have a close friend with a very different level of formal education (49 percent), from a different ethnicity (48 percent) or with very different religious beliefs (46 percent).
 
Still, around half (53 percent) say they trust news more if it is delivered by people who have similar thoughts on social and political issues.
 
Evangelicals by belief primarily get their news from television (74 percent), which far outpaces websites (44 percent), social media (38 percent), radio (33 percent), print newspapers or magazines (27 percent), YouTube (19 percent) or blogs (7 percent).
 
When getting their news from television, evangelicals are most often watching local news (59 percent) or Fox News (47 percent). Four in 10 say they regularly watch NBC (40 percent) or CBS (38 percent) to get their news. A quarter turn to CNN (27 percent). Few say they watch MSNBC (13 percent) or CNBC (8 percent).
 
Similarly, when they are consuming news online, evangelicals by belief turn to Fox News (40 percent) and local TV news sites (32 percent). Around a quarter go to websites for CNN (25 percent), Google News (25 percent), Yahoo News (24 percent), ABC News (23 percent) or NBC News (20 percent).
 
Fewer turn to the websites of major newspapers like Washington Post (16 percent), New York Times (15 percent), USA Today (13 percent) or Wall Street Journal (9 percent), or international outlets like BBC (10 percent). Exclusively digital news sources like Huffington Post (13 percent), Buzzfeed (10 percent), Drudge Report (7 percent), Breitbart (5 percent) and The Blaze (4 percent) also garner few evangelicals by belief.
 
When it comes to social media, Facebook and YouTube are the dominant platforms among evangelicals by belief.
 
Around 3 in 4 use Facebook at least every few weeks (77 percent), with half (49 percent) using it several times a day. Seven in 10 are regular users of YouTube (70 percent), with a quarter on the streaming video site several times a day (24 percent).
 
Far fewer regularly use Instagram (34 percent), Pinterest (32 percent), Twitter (26 percent), LinkedIn (19 percent) or Snapchat (19 percent).
 
Among those who are on social media, close to half of evangelicals by belief (48 percent) say they prefer to follow people who have similar social and political views, while 37 percent disagree.
 
Despite turning to TV and social media for news most often, most evangelicals say those two sources are harming public discourse.
 
Around 3 in 5 (62 percent) say social media has a negative impact on the respectfulness of public debates. Half say the same about television (52 percent), websites (51 percent) and blogs (51 percent). Fewer place the blame on newspapers and magazines (40 percent) or radio (37 percent).
 
“You can’t practice demonstrating civility by dialoging only with those who share your views,” said McConnell. “The respect needed for civility can start with valuing and engaging people who don’t share your views.”
 
Moore said he hopes the project will be an impetus to unify Christians and help them to better love one another and stand together.
 
“Biblical courage means being willing to stand alone, against a crowd,” he said. “But biblical unity means those who are in Christ should never be forced to stand alone or against those who also bear the name of Christ.”
 
For more information on this study, visit LifeWayResearch.com, or view the complete research report, prediction analysis, the ERLC Faith and Healthy Democracy report or video.

 

Methodology

 

The online survey of 1,317 evangelicals was conducted November 14 –23, 2018. The study was sponsored by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission with funding from the Fetzer Institute. Respondents were screened to include those with evangelical beliefs and Protestant/nondenominational Christians who self-identify as evangelical. Quotas and slight weights were used for each group to balance gender, age, region, ethnicity and education. The completed sample is 1,317 surveys, including 933 with evangelical beliefs and 1,101 self-identified evangelicals. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error from the panel does not exceed plus or minus 3.6 percent for those with evangelical beliefs and plus or minus 3.2 percent for self-identified evangelicals. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.
 
Evangelicals by belief are defined using the National Association of Evangelicals and LifeWay Research Evangelical Beliefs Research Definition. To be classified as an evangelical by belief, respondents must strongly agree: the Bible is the highest authority for what I believe, it is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior, Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin, and only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Earls is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.)

9/27/2019 12:57:13 PM by Aaron Earls, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments



IMB celebrates 24 newly appointed missionaries in Sept. 25 service

September 27 2019 by Ann Lovell, IMB

IMB photo by Chris Carter
Robert and Katie McMillan, from Westside Baptist Church in Flushing, Mich., felt God’s call to missions after studying overseas. The couple will serve in Europe.

The International Mission Board (IMB) celebrated the sending of 24 newly appointed international missionaries in a service at Swift Creek Baptist Church, Wednesday, Sept. 25. IMB trustees voted to approve the candidates during a meeting near Richmond earlier in the day. Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee (SBC EC), preached the message at the celebration, encouraging the new missionaries to “step into the missionary calling.”
 

From across the nations

 
The 24 missionaries represent churches across the United States – from Louisiana to Michigan and North Carolina to Hawaii. Families, friends, and pastors from across the country also attended the event.
 
IMB President Paul Chitwood told the gathered crowd, “We have come from all around the country, but we are here tonight because we anticipate what God will do all around the world.”
 

Loved, equipped, encouraged, sent

 
Ronny Raines, who pastors the First Baptist Church in Bradfordville, Fla., near Tallahassee, made the trip to Virginia to support a couple from his church who are going to a difficult area of the world.
 
“We want to be a church that prays, gives, goes and sends,” Raines said. “It’s very convicting for us to realize what this young couple is giving up to take the gospel to the nations. We are here to support them in their calling.”
 
Like the couple Raines came to support, each missionary testimony referenced a church family who loved, mentored, and encouraged them as they sought God’s will for their lives.
  One such couple is Robert and Katie McMillan from Westside Baptist Church in Flushing, Mich., who will serve in Europe.
 
“God used our churches and short-term trips to introduce us to missions,” Robert said.
 
“Before we met, we each spent time studying overseas,” Katie said. “These experiences exposed a troubling reality. We were overwhelmed by the emptiness prevalent among the lost people we met.”

IMB photo by Chris Carter
Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the SBC EC, challenged new missionaries to “step into their call” and encouraged Southern Baptists to “step into” their responsibility to send and support them.


Both Robert and Katie surrendered to God’s call to missions and attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
 
“I met Katie during my last semester, and she was immediately smitten,” Robert quipped.
 
After graduating from New Orleans, Robert worked in South Asia, and Katie worked in East Asia. God used that time to reaffirm their passion for the nations.
 
D.B. and Kristin Washer are another couple who sensed God’s call to missions as teenagers and whose church – Lane Prairie Baptist Church in Joshua, Texas – mentored and encouraged them. The couple will serve in Sub-Saharan Africa.
 
“Our Southern Baptist church saw the calling upon our lives and gave us opportunities to serve,” Kristin said. “There we developed a love for the word of God that drove us to study at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.”
 
Jerry Clements, pastor of Lane Prairie, and Matt Queen, professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, travelled to Richmond from Texas to attend the celebration and support D.B. and Kristin.

Short-term trips introduced Tyler and Abbie Wales to missions, who will serve in Europe. The couple spent the majority of their dating relationship in different states and on different continents, Tyler said. He served in Scotland, and Abbie worked with refugees and international students in the couple’s hometown. God drew them together with a shared desire to serve cross-culturally, and their church – Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La. – was foundational in helping them develop their calling to missions.

“Our church has supported this calling and equipped us through sound teaching, mentorship, and service opportunities,” Abbie said.
 

Stepping into the missionary calling

 
Ronnie Floyd encouraged the new missionaries to “step into their missionary calling.” Referencing Acts 20:22, he reminded them that they were crossing over to the point of no return, just as Paul did when he was compelled to go to Jerusalem, not knowing the challenges he would face there.
 

IMB photo by Chris Carter
IMB President Paul Chitwood reminded those attending IMB’s Sept. 25 Sending Celebration that they had gathered from across the country “because we anticipate what God will do around the world.”

“Nothing in your life will ever be the same again,” Floyd said. “Everything will be different. Anytime you step into the call of God, you step into change.”
 
While the missionary task involves stepping into the unknown, it also means stepping into the call of God, Floyd said.
 
“This is God’s purpose for your life,” Floyd told the new missionaries. “You are chosen for this moment. You were created for this moment.”
 
At the same time, the missionary calling does not come without sacrifice. It requires missionaries to “step away” from people they love, from their own control and from their own security, Floyd said.
 
“How can we finish God’s purpose if we are holding on?” Floyd asked. “We must let go.” 
 
Finally, Floyd promised the new missionaries that Southern Baptists would step into their calling to pray for them and give generously to support them. He challenged the churches attending the celebration and viewing the service over livestream to “step into generosity like we’ve never seen before” by giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® and the Cooperative Program.
 
“We (as Southern Baptists) are stepping into our calling in relationship to you,” Floyd said. “We are going to pray for you. Southern Baptists by the millions will lift you up. Churches by the thousands will claim you as their own. You are being sent with the prayers of Southern Baptist churches.”
 


(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ann Lovell is a freelance writer who lives in Richmond. This story was originally published on imb.org. Reprinted by permission.)

9/27/2019 12:47:07 PM by Ann Lovell, IMB | with 0 comments



More help needed in Texas after Tropical Storm Imelda

September 27 2019 by Tobin Perry, Southern Baptist TEXAN

The Disaster Relief Ministry of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) now has three incident command units set up in East Texas to help churches minister to residents impacted by last week’s historic Tropical Storm Imelda.
 

Photo by Blaine Gonzales
Matthew Loud, left, and Kevin Goodwin remove drywall and insulation from a flooded Beaumont, Texas, home.

“We have three incident management teams in place and are getting things organized,” said Scottie Stice, the director of disaster relief for the SBTC. “We have assessors in place, and our teams will begin to arrive this weekend or early next week and everything will be in full swing.”
 
The incident management teams are located at Calvary Baptist Church in Beaumont, First Baptist Church of Vidor and First Baptist Church of Hampshire. The teams in Beaumont and Vidor are with SBTC Disaster Relief. The Hampshire team is with Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief. Stice said additional teams from the SBTC and other states are on the way. Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, Colorado, Kentucky and Oklahoma have all activated disaster relief units to help in East Texas.
 
Stice adds that the teams in place right now include shower, laundry and feeding units supporting volunteers. A couple of shower units are serving shelter residents in Beaumont and Hampshire. First Baptist Church of Winnie has hosted a Convoy of Hope unit at their church and is distributing food and water to those impacted by the storm. According to the organization’s website, Convoy of Hope is a faith-based humanitarian relief organization from Springfield, Mo.
 
“There are lots of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief sites, which is good,” Stice said. “It’s a bigger event than any one state convention can respond to.”
 

Photo by Terry James
A quick response disaster relief unit from The Colony, Texas, stands ready to serve volunteers at First Baptist Church in Vidor, Texas.

The collective Southern Baptist response comes after Tropical Storm Imelda dumped 40 inches of rain on some parts of Texas, according to The Houston Chronicle. Although the storm’s landfall was expected, the severity of the storm surprised many. At least 14 SBTC churches have reported storm damage.
 
The Chronicle compared the storm to the downfall during 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, which hit some of the same places as did Imelda. Stice says while the breadth of Imelda’s devastation isn’t equal to Hurricane Harvey, the damage in the impacted communities is just as severe.
 
“At the same time, it’s one of the largest events we’ve ever responded to,” Stice said. “I heard a description the other day that the flood zone is equal to the size of the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. It’s still a large flood zone.”
 
Authorities are attributing five deaths to the tropical storm. Three died when their vehicles got caught in the flooding. One died while trying to move his horse. A fifth victim was found in a ditch outside of Houston on Friday, apparently a victim of the storm as well. According to The Chronicle, more than 75 people died as a result of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
 
The SBTC incident command at Calvary Baptist Church in Beaumont was the first SBTC unit to become operational. The church had three mud-out units on site and is already serving in the community, helping homeowners and sharing the gospel.
 
Daniel White, the SBTC Disaster Relief “white hat,” or team member leading the Beaumont effort, noted that the response from the local community has been strong. Although many are in shock, the homeowners are appreciative of the help provided by Texas Southern Baptists.
 

Photo by Blaine Gonzales
Manuel Humphrey uses a wheelbarrow to move wet dry wall and insulation out of flooded homes in Beaumont, Texas.

“We’re dealing with everything from people who just got a few inches of water in their house to others who have three to four feet of water,” White said. “Many of the homeowners are just now getting everything back how it should be in the last six months after Hurricane Harvey, and now they’ve been flooded again.”
 
White said they need more people to volunteer. He encouraged Texas Southern Baptists who can serve to contact the state disaster relief office and schedule a time to get trained and begin to serve. The Beaumont location has about 12 volunteers on site with SBTC Disaster Relief. Another 20 volunteers who have been through the Texas relief training are serving on the ground. A few other local church groups are responding with the SBDR teams as well.
 
Stice asked Texas Southern Baptists to pray for the teams on the ground as they continue to prepare to serve impacted communities.
 
“Our goal is always to be a blessing and to share the hope of Jesus Christ,” Stice said. “We share the Lord with people. We pray with Christians. We seek to be a blessing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tobin Perry writes for the Southern Baptist TEXAN, texanonline.net, news journal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

9/27/2019 12:42:38 PM by Tobin Perry, Southern Baptist TEXAN | with 0 comments



For the Church: ‘Our Only Hope’ in a troubled culture

September 27 2019 by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS

With a focus on the supremacy of Jesus Christ amidst a culture marked by postmodernism, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) hosted its fifth annual For the Church (FTC) National Conference in Kansas City, Mo., Sept. 23-24.

MBTS photo
Georgia pastor Crawford Loritts, at the For the Church conference, noted five choices a pastor can make when facing discouragement: Choose truth, choose joy, choose faith, choose community and choose service.


Keynote speakers Crawford Loritts, J.D. Greear, Tony Merida, Jason Allen, Owen Strachan and Jared Wilson preached messages revolving around the conference’s “Our Only Hope” theme, while Shane & Shane led in praise and worship songs.
 
“We are privileged and consider it a significant stewardship to host the For the Church Conference each year,” Midwestern President Jason Allen said. “What began as a dream five years ago has grown in momentum year by year into a major conference where we can encourage pastors and ministry leaders through the teaching of the Word and send them home refreshed and prepared to thrive in their gospel ministries.”
 

Christ and discipleship

 
Allen led the conference’s first session, “Christ and Discipleship,” basing his message on John 15:1-11.
 
Christian discipleship is a life or death proposition, Allen said, describing “flame outs” and “fizzle outs” among pastors as detrimental to the church. Thus, pastors must make priority number one in their lives to be faithful, fruitful and growing disciples of Christ.
 
The ability to do this comes through the power of Christ in one’s life and obedience to His commands, Allen said. And the ultimate result of one’s ministry is to glorify God.
 
“‘My father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples,’” Allen said in a reference to John 15. “That’s the basic goal of the Christian life. We were taught as kids … that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Ministers bear a particular stewardship for God’s glory. The more visible the ministry, the greater the platform, the higher the pedestal from which we speak, the more heightened the stewardship.”

 
Christ and courage

 
Crawford Loritts, senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Ga., spoke on “Christ and Courage” in the conference’s second message.
 
Gleaning from his years of ministry experience, Loritts conveyed a mentor’s heart in addressing how pastors can battle against discouragement in their ministries.
 
Loritts noted five choices a pastor can make when facing discouragement: Choose truth, choose joy, choose faith, choose community and choose service.
 
Of choosing service, Loritts said, “There are seasons in ministry where it’s going to be flat-out hard, just hard, and you don’t have the option to quit. You have the press through.”
 
Referring to Psalm 126:4, he said there will be negative seasons in ministry, but you must keep on sowing the seeds of the gospel. You keep showing up, even through your tears, and loving your people in spite of the hurt you’re feeling. As a result, “God says if you’re hanging in there long enough, those tears will be holy fertilizer, and there will be a bumper crop.”
 

Christ and culture

 
Owen Strachan, Midwestern’s associate professor of Christian theology, opened the conference’s second day with a message on “Christ and Culture” from Hebrews 2:14-18.
 
Christ came to earth with the purpose of destroying Satan, delivering mankind from the slavery of fear, making atonement for man’s sin and helping people overcome their challenges, Strachan said.
 
As these truths relate to our modern culture, he said it’s crucial to understand that believers can approach their task of proclaiming the gospel from the vantage point of victory.
 
The victory has already taken place, and the battle has been won, Strachan said. Jesus is now fighting for us in this victorious Kingdom while Satan is still battling against us in the same way.
 
“Satan lives to accuse you. He’s doing it now, but Jesus prays for you,” Strachan said. “Hebrews 7:25 states that ‘He is able to save to the uttermost, those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.’ In other words, there is a war of words going on right now between God and the devil, and Jesus’ words are victory for you.”
 
Strachan added that the way to engage culture is by offering the foolishness of the cross, preaching cross-centered messages and emulating Jesus to everyone we encounter.
 

Christ and the world

 
J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke on “Christ and the World” in preaching from Romans 10:14-17, exhorting the audience to be busy about the task of Christian mission.
 
The message of the gospel is urgent, Greear said, because every person on earth has heard about God – in one way or another – and has rejected Him.
 
Additionally, God has justly condemned every person. The good news is God made a way for salvation through Jesus, but there must be a messenger to deliver the gospel to a lost and dying world.
 
“I need you to get in your mind that many people are marching headlong into eternity without even the chance to hear [the gospel],” Greear said. “If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you understand what Romans is saying, that the greatest of all kinds of suffering, as John Piper says, is eternal suffering, right?
 
“How are they going to call on Him – those who may have not even heard – and how are they going to hear unless we are sent?”
 
Greear added that believers didn’t receive the gospel message simply to keep it to themselves. If we do that, it’s like stealing from God. The gospel must be shared with others. It’s what God intended all along.
 

Christ and the church

 
Tony Merida, pastor for preaching and vision at Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C., addressed the topic, “Christ and the Church” in a message from Romans 8:31-39 conveying a vision for gospel-centered ministry.
 
The apostle Paul intends for believers to be saturated with the gospel, and Merida said that, in building a church, it’s important to do so by saturating the whole church with the gospel.
 
Merida asked, “Why should we keep the gospel front and center in your church?” In answering, he noted that it’s because the gospel changes lives, it leads people to worship, it lifts people from despair, it unites diverse believers in community and it shapes and fuels our mission.
 
Speaking to the gospel in leading people to worship, Merida said it entails leading people to see their affections change.
 
“When affections change in a person, everything changes. Because if you love Jesus deeply, it changes your entire behavior dramatically,” he said. “We’re preaching and we’re teaching, and we’re ministering so that people will get a new love because when affections change, everything changes.
 
“It’s amazing what [people do] and how people spend their money when they fall in love with Christ – how they use their time, how what they look at as different, how all of life and their ambitions change. Why? Because their hearts have changed. They get a new love.”

 
Christ: Our Only Hope

 
In the conference’s final session, Jared Wilson, assistant professor of pastoral ministry at Spurgeon College and author-in-residence, preached from Psalm 62 on “Christ: Our Only Hope.”
 
Of the many things people in today’s culture look to for hope, Wilson said none come close to the hope believers have in Jesus Christ.
 
In fact, Wilson said, Jesus is the only hope for rest, for validation and for righteousness.
 
Speaking of the rest one obtains only from Christ, Wilson noted that pastors often feel targeted, picked on, and just can’t seem to rise above the daily grind of one negative issue after another.
 
“If your normal is one pain or stressor after another, where do you go or what do you do?” Wilson asked. Trust in Psalm 62:5-6 which says, “Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken.
 
As a believer, he continued, “You run smack into the greatest privilege any of us could ever enjoy, which is this: We come to the end of ourselves and find there the sufficiency of Christ. It’s at the end of one’s rope that we find that Christ is more than enough. And I have come to believe that for a great many of us, if not for all of us, Christ will not become our only hope until He is our only hope.”
 

Pre-conference and workshops

 
On Monday morning, the FTC Women’s Pre-Conference featured Trillia Newbell, director of community outreach at the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission; Abigail Dodds, wife, mother and author; and Karen Allen, founder of Midwestern Women’s Institute and wife of Midwestern President Jason Allen. The ladies event focused on the theme “Gospel-Centered Women in a Postmodern World.”
 
On Tuesday afternoon, multiple workshops and breakout sessions were held on the topics “Hope for Women in a Complex World” by Christine Hoover, pastor’s wife, mom and author; “Rhythms of Grace: Developing Spiritual Habits that Fuel Holiness and Joy” with John Onwuchekwa, pastor at Cornerstone Church in Atlanta; “Guard the Deposit: How Jesus Sustains Our Life and Ministry” by Greg Belser, senior pastor of Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, Miss.; “Caring Well: How the Church Can Confront the Abuse Crisis” with Phillip Bethancourt, executive vice president of the ERLC; “God, Marriage & Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation” by Andreas and Margaret Kostenberger of Midwestern Seminary; “The Unsaved Christian: Reaching Cultural Christianity with the Gospel” by Dean Inserra, lead pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Fla.; “Pass it On: How Parents Can Equip the Next Generation” with Sam Bierig, dean of Spurgeon College; “The Weight of Lostness: Opening Our Eyes to the Urgency of Evangelism” by D.A. Horton, pastor of Reach Fellowship in Long Beach, Calif.; “Hope and Help for the Heart: Biblical Counseling in a Postmodern World” with Dale Johnson, associate professor of biblical counseling at Midwestern; “Musician Theologian: Challenging Common Perceptions of Worship Leaders” with Matthew and Angela Swain of Midwestern; and “Mobilizing the Church: How to Develop and Deploy Members for Ministry” by Micah Fries, senior pastor of Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn.
 
The 2020 For the Church National Conference will take place in Kansas City on Sept. 28-29. To register, visit mbts.edu/ftc20.
 
To view all plenary sessions of the For the Church Conference, visit the resources page at mbts.edu.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – T. Patrick Hudson is assistant professor of communications and history at Spurgeon College, the undergraduate division of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

9/27/2019 12:34:16 PM by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS | with 0 comments



Lewis: Advocates crucial in increasingly polarized culture

September 26 2019 by Maina Mwaura, Special to the Biblical Recorder

Maina Mwaura sat down with Dhati Lewis, lead pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta, Ga., to talk about Lewis’ book, Advocates: The Narrow Path to Racial Reconciliation. They discussed racial issues and the church.
 

Q: What made you decide to write about race in a day and age when people don’t want to talk about it?

 
A: I have a real reality, a sense of pride about being black and African American, but also with the reality of being African American in America.
 
When I started falling in love with a white woman, it struck me at the core of my identity. Here I am as a Christian, I was Mr. Racial Reconciliation Guy, but now, all of a sudden … I just had a preference to marry a black woman. But now I’m falling in love with a white woman. And so now I’m wrestling with this identity, and I have to really determine through this time – and God took me through a series of things – that what’s more important? That adjective in front of Christian or Christian? The fact that I’m a “black” Christian or just that I’m Christian?
 
This is really what I see going on in America. We’re struggling with an identity crisis. 
 

Q: You are a pastor in a church that is incredibly diverse, you’re here at the North American Mission Board as one of their vice presidents – your life is diversity. So when you talk about the narrow path to racial reconciliation, what do you mean about that?

 
A: That’s simple. It’s based off of the verse in Matthew 7:12-14; it’s the Golden Rule: treat others in the way you want to be treated … verses 13 and 14, they go on, “the path is wide, the road is narrow.” And so God gives us a narrow road.
 
A lot of times, when people talk about racial reconciliation, I think they take on a posture of “by any means necessary.” But that’s not the posture we can take as Christians because the problem is that we have this thing called the Bible, and the Bible gives us bumper rails .... So, I like to say it’s not “by any means necessary,” it’s really by all possible means.
 

Q: You talk about Paul. Why him?

 

A: I think Paul gives us a unique perspective. As one who is dealing, specifically in Philemon, with racial tension and racial injustice – we’ve got to remember, the apostle Paul was a missionary to the Gentiles. He was an ethnic Jew as a missionary to Gentile believers. And it wasn’t to one Gentile, it was to multiple [Gentiles]. So he was very fluent in navigating through racial issues, cultural issues, racial things. I think Philemon is a manifestation of having to navigate through this type of tension. Now it may not be specifically racial in that context, but it’s about reconciliation, and Paul is on the outside.
 
A lot of times when you’re dealing with injustices or tensions, you either deal with the oppressed and the oppressor or the perceived oppressed and perceived oppressor. But a lot of times what we lose is that third position: the one of an advocate. And I think Paul comes in, and he’s that one on the outside looking in and he recognizes that “I can either be in advocate or I can be an aggravator.”
 

Q: Do you see yourself as an advocate?

 

A: Yeah, we had to. I’ve had to, and part of it is because of my own journey and my own story and I’ve had to wrestle through that in my own tension … When president Trump was elected, and I’ll never forget this idea … there’s people at our church who voted for President Trump, but then there’s people at our church that think that if you voted for President Trump, you’re the devil. Right? So there’s this tension that we have, and I was like, man, we need to talk. We need to come to the table.
 

Q: What do you say, Dhati, to people who go, “I am tired of talking about this issue of race”? They are fatigued over it. You talked about awareness in the book; they’re aware, but they are aware of their own personal limitations on this. What do you say to folks who are just tired of it?

 

A: I’d say I understand. I get it.
 

Q: Really?

 
A: Oh, 100 percent. Think about it, you know. If you have brought up something continually over and over and over again and you feel like there was no change that took place after doing that … Or if you’re someone who's constantly been accused of something over and over and over again and you change, but then no one’s feeling like you’ve done enough – that’s draining.
 
But the question is not whether or not we’re tired or fatigued or any of that – that’s not the question. Paul said he was poured out like a drink offering. So fatigue should not be our North Star. It should not be the thing that drives or not drives, whether we’re tired or not tired. Are we tired of talking about sin? We’ve been sinning since the beginning, since Adam we’ve not figured it out, so are we done? Should we stop talking about it? No.
 

Q: How do you deal being in a diverse area, leading a diverse church?

 
A: I wasn’t raised as a believer, but God’s providence and His sovereignty in my life, I think He’s prepared me for this. I’m the son of a professional football player, and I remember being middle class, upper middle class. The story that most people don’t know is that as soon as my dad’s career was over, literally the next year I’m on welfare. So I go from affluent to welfare. I go from going into a multi-ethnic, upper middle-class kind of context to a lower middle-class, which is mainly made up of people of color, black, Hispanic context. And then I go back into the high school context where, again, there’s a small percentage of African Americans. And, so, I’ve been in and out.
 
And even as a believer, I felt comfortable in an all-minority context. I felt comfortable in a majority context. And I think God was writing a story in my life to prepare me for a time and a season like this where I can be real because I don’t have to be fake, I can just be who I am.
 

Q: You believe the Bible should be part of our conversation when it comes to race?

 
A: Oh, 100 percent.
 

Q: Do you think it’s being left out right now?

 

A: Oh, yes, on all sides.
 

Q: The church, too, you feel like it’s being left out?

 

A: I think it’s because of the fact that we don’t look at it – the scriptures – holistically. For instance, we’re talking about the issues in Galatians. When you hear about Galatians, you hear, oh, that’s the gospel letter, about maintaining the integrity of the gospel. Yes, but I really believe that the book of Galatians is primarily answering the question, “How Jewish do I need to be in order to be Christian?”
 
The real question that we need to be asking one another is, we need to be able to differentiate between what is cultural and what’s gospel, what’s Biblical.
 

Q: Where do you see the church going, this issue of race, in the next five to 10 years?

 
A: We’re going to have to address it. Primarily, if we’re going to be effective, specifically in urban contexts.
 

Q: What if we don’t want to address it, though?

 

A: The polarization that is going on in our country is getting more and more polarized. And if we don’t come with a solution, then we miss it. And going back, that’s what I’m saying. Paul was seeing this in Rome. He was seeing these churches, Jews and Gentiles separating, can’t worship together, different sanctuaries, different living …
 
We’ve got to recognize that these are real issues that are so tied into our culture that we can’t separate the two. It’s called syncretism. And I think what the beauty of the gospel – the beauty of what Paul is navigating through – is allowing us to see this tension, see how we’re so wrapped up. And he says, “But the gospel is so much greater. So much bigger. And it’s worthy to fight for.”
 

Q: How can we be practical at being advocates? What are some practical points?

 
A: I really wanted to give handlebars to people who really want to be a part of it. Because I’m an optimist – let me just go ahead and say that – I try to wish and hope and think that people generally want solutions. But the problem is that we’re real good at what I call anti-vision, we’re just not good at vision. We’re real good at saying what’s wrong, we’re just not good at describing where we’re going, what’s right, what could it be.
 
Watch the full interview below:



(EDITOR’S NOTE – Maina Mwaura is a freelance journalist who lives in Atlanta, Ga., with his wife and daughter. They attend Johnson Ferry Baptist Church.)

9/26/2019 12:13:25 PM by Maina Mwaura, Special to the Biblical Recorder | with 0 comments



University’s new program to lower cost, build character

September 26 2019 by Caleb Yarbrough, Arkansas Baptist News

With the cost of higher education on the rise, graduating debt-free has become increasingly difficult for many students. But a new initiative announced by Williams Baptist University (WBU) could provide students an affordable path to earning a degree while building character along the way.
 

Photo by Caleb Yarbrough
Stan Norman, center, president of Williams Baptist University, announces Williams Works – an initiative by the university to allow students to work for their tuition – at a Sept. 16 press conference on campus.

At a press conference Sept. 16 outside of WBU’s Swaim Administration Building in Walnut Ridge, Ark., WBU President Stan Norman introduced “Williams Works,” a program with the goal of making “an academically excellent, Christ-centered university education affordable for all families – with a real possibility of students graduating debt-free.” Williams Baptist University is affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.  
 
Analyzing the problem of the exponential cost of higher education, Norman said that WBU’s leadership concluded that the tuition-driven model that has long been the standard for most colleges and universities is simply not as effective as it once was in providing sufficient funding for schools or affordable financial scenarios for students.
 
“It is no secret that the cost of higher education has become daunting, a burdensome challenge for many students and their families,” Norman said. “This is manifested in student loan debts that hang over the heads of college graduates and weighs heavily upon them at a time when they are attempting to launch their lives and their careers.
 
“As of today, we are beginning a transition to doing things a new way,” he said. “The new way of doing things is called Williams Works.”
 
Williams Works, which was approved by WBU’s Board of Trustees Sept. 13, will launch in the Fall 2020 semester. The initial phase of the program will include 40 incoming freshmen, who “are willing to work for their education,” Norman said.
 
In exchange for working 16 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters at a job assigned by WBU, the students in the program will be compensated in the form of the cost of their education at WBU – including their tuition and fees. Students will also have the opportunity to have their room and board expenses covered through working over the summer.
 
“Let me be clear: these are real jobs with real responsibilities,” Norman said.  “Students selected for Williams Works will need to be willing to work, to develop a serious work ethic, and to be willing to learn how to manage their time well.
 
“But (for) those who are willing to work,” he noted, “the reward is an affordable, debt-free education at an outstanding Christian university.”
 
One of the employers of Williams Works students is Eagle Farms, a farm that will be located on WBU’s campus in the current location of the school’s intramural football field.
 
“Eagle Farms will begin by producing fruits and vegetables,” Norman said. “It will start on about 10 acres of land. We anticipate this farm growing in years to come. With 90 acres of farmable land on our campus, Eagle Farms has plenty of room to grow.”
 
According to Norman, WBU’s campus is home to more than 100 pecan trees. The trees will be a source of agricultural jobs for students employed through Williams Works.
 
Another source of employment will come from community partnerships with local businesses in the Walnut Ridge area.
 
“Custom-Pak, the closest industry to the WBU campus, has already agreed to be a part of Williams Works,” Norman said. “Custom-Pak has had a great experience hiring WBU students in the past and has expressed eagerness to partner with us to help our students work to earn their education.”
 
Williams Works students will also be employed in campus positions.
 
Applications for the inaugural 40-member Williams Works cohort are currently being accepted. According to Norman, the program is expected to grow to 80 students in 2021 and 120 students in the third year of the program.
 
“WBU’s transition to a work college model will be incremental and manageable,” Norman said. “Williams Works amounts to a transformation of our higher education model.”
 
Beyond the financial benefits of the program, Norman said that Eagle Farms and Williams Works are “an appropriate expression of our mission to equip graduates for local and global engagement from a Christ-centered worldview.
 
“We are first introduced to God in Genesis 1 as the God who works. Our God is a working God; He is working to create. We are created in His image, and we reflect God’s image – in part – when we work well, when we work hard, when we work faithfully,” Norman said. “There is a Christian ethic of work, and Williams Works helps us capture that ethic and teach it to our students.”
 
While Williams Works is a new initiative, its concept is not new to WBU. The school’s founder, H.E. Williams, once ran an auto repair shop, rice and soybean farm and radio station – among other local ventures – as a way to employ students and infuse Williams with revenue.
 
“In a real sense, Williams Works returns the university to the core principles embedded in the school at our founding – the value of work as part of the educational experience,” Norman said.
 
For more information on Williams Works or to apply to the program, visit williamsbu.edu/williamsworks.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Caleb Yarbrough is associate editor of the Arkansas Baptist News. Article originally published in the Sept. 26 edition of the Arkansas Baptist News.)

9/26/2019 12:09:11 PM by Caleb Yarbrough, Arkansas Baptist News | with 0 comments



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