November 2011

Pastors, do we ‘get it?’

November 21 2011 by K. Allan Blume, BR editor

Recently, I asked a young missionary to tell me about his home church. Although I’m somewhat familiar with the pastor and the church, I don’t know a lot about either. I would say it is a very good church, with beautiful facilities and a very good pastor.
The young man was not critical, but with a sense of grief said, “It is a very good church, and our pastor is a good man, but I don’t think he really gets it.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“The Great Commission,” he said. “I don’t see any evidence that the church or the pastor gets it.”
His evidence: no missionaries have been sent, no teams are doing overseas mission work, Cooperative Program support is weak, and they give a mediocre Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

IMB photo/Bill Bangham

Kanöot and Sarah Midkiff are headed to the Ukraine to serve with the International Mission Board. While there are eight people headed overseas from North Carolina, only the Midkiffs' identity can be revealed due to security reasons.

Perhaps a mediocre mission vision is endemic within the routine proceedings of church life. But tragically, it has become epidemic.
I know the temptation to be ensnared by routine church life and the desire to avoid the front lines of mission engagement. Pastor, I fully understand the demands on your life. But this is our calling. We cannot minimize the assignment that Christ maximized.
It is a highlight of my year when I am able to attend an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary appointment service. Each of the services I have attended over the years has been a powerful milepost in my life. Last week Pam and I attended the service in Hattiesburg, Miss., where 77 newly appointed missionaries were introduced. Eight of them are from North Carolina.
For security reasons, six of those eight cannot be publicly identified. The other two are Kanöot and Sarah Midkiff, who will be serving in the Ukraine. Both are N.C. natives. Kanöot has served as the minister of missions at Mount Vernon church in Boone for nine years. Sarah was the administrative assistant to Jonathan Yarboro, Baptist campus minister at Appalachian State University. This gifted couple and their children, Fisher and Faith, will be missed in North Carolina, but God has a greater assignment for them in Eastern Europe.
The quality and commitment of all 77 appointees is beyond description. In 30-second testimonies, we heard the unique way God has drawn each one to their new destination.
At every appointment service the IMB president presents a challenge. Newly inaugurated president Tom Elliff described the new “Embrace” strategy. “Embrace is an invitation for you to allow IMB to partner with you and your church, seeking to reach these 3,800 unengaged people groups of the world. ... IMB is doing a lot of other things among a lot of other people groups, and we’re not going to stop that.”
“Last year, through the work of your IMB missionaries, over 350,000 came to Christ and followed Him in baptism, planting almost 30,000 churches, and we don’t intend to stop,” he added. “We cannot hire enough missionaries to reach the ends of the earth. Don’t you agree that it’s going to take all of us?”
Pastors, do we get it?
Are we willing to embrace the ends of the earth? The work will not be done by women’s mission groups or men’s mission groups. Para-church organizations cannot do it. It will be done when pastors take the lead, and the whole church gets a vision for the unreached.
I am concerned that too many pastors have relegated the work of international missions to mission groups in the church and ministries beyond the church. Sometimes those groups have not been the pastor’s friend or supporter, causing him to distance himself from the whole missionary enterprise. But have we noticed this strategy is not working?
No one, no group and no ministry can effectively replace the role of the pastor in leading the church toward an unrelenting vision for the lost of the world.
I plead with every pastor to become more passionate about reaching people for Christ in our neighborhoods and to the ends of the earth.
Listen to the passion of Elliff: “We cannot make Jesus come again. God the Father knows exactly when that moment will occur. But we do know this: coincidentally with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ the Bible clearly and specifically states that there will be a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation knowing and worshiping our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the vision of IMB.”
Don’t minimize this year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. While North Carolina typically gives more than any other state convention, we should give far more.
Pastor, your leadership is critical! For the sake of the gospel, please make this your priority.
11/21/2011 2:43:50 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR editor | with 1 comments

We can’t afford to drift

November 4 2011 by K. Allan Blume, BR editor

Drifting is a dangerous thing. I have sensed times when my life was not on a clear course. I had not lost my salvation. I don’t believe that is possible. I would not say I was “backslidden” – however that word might be interpreted across Baptist circles. I just was not tied to a specific path at that moment, and I needed some time alone with God to tie the ropes of my life to His purpose.
Drifting is expected when we are not anchored to something secure. For the small boat or the large ship, it is essential that the ropes of the vessel are tied to a dock or secured to an anchor when not on open waters. Otherwise, in the absence of a running engine, the vessel is entirely subject to unpredictable currents or fluctuating winds. Damage or even disaster is inevitable.
The Holy Spirit used the writer of Hebrews to give us this caution about drifting: “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1, NASB). The letter of Hebrews underscores the supreme role of Jesus Christ in everything we believe and in all we do. The ultimate caution is to never drift from the supremacy of Jesus as the living word nor from scripture as the written word.
I like the way Hebrews returns to this analogy later in the book, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil” (Heb. 6:19, NASB). We need an anchor of the soul! This anchor is trustworthy. It will not lose its grip.
The only dependable anchor is a complete trust in Jesus for salvation and for every breath we take every minute of our time on earth. In Him we have a hope that will keep us tied to the authority of scripture. Without that mooring, the smallest current will send us into aimless drifting. With it, we are secure.
Southern Baptists know about drifting. We have seen times when our seminaries, mission boards and agencies have been adrift. Theological trends have led us down the road of liberalism, doubting even the most obvious truths of the Christian faith. While many of those concerns have been addressed, there is no vaccine for drifting. Its threat is still real.
Over the last decade North Carolina Baptists have taken specific steps to tie our ropes to the anchor of scripture. Both in theology and in methodology, we have tried to apply biblical principles to our vision and to the strategies we employ.
We will be wise to take note that an important ingredient in our efforts has been involvement.
Sitting on the sidelines never resolved any problems. Attending conventions, serving on committees and building relationships has been critical to repairing our drift and to the prevention of future mistakes. The involvement of every Baptist is important and needed. Your attendance at this week’s annual meeting is commendable.
If we are vigilant, we cannot be guilty of complaining about the drifting ship, and not taking action to secure the moorings. Our involvement in the process is essential!
This is an exciting time to be a N.C. Baptist and a Southern Baptist. We are people of the Book. The Bible is our authority. When we gather for conventions or meetings, we tie our ropes to the authority of scripture and move accordingly.
Bobby Blanton, the president of this year’s Pastor’s Conference, is wise to choose a theme which focuses on the authority of scripture. Even pastors need that constant reminder in a world where we are bombarded with secular relativism. I pray that every pastor will be refreshed in his commitment to biblical authority.
Please give your support to a North Carolina Baptist ministry that has not drifted from its moorings. The Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina has been faithful to its mission to children in our state for 126 years. They have taught God’s word to each child. This year at least 70 children in their care have trusted Jesus as their savior. Please stand with them by supporting the Thanksgiving offering for this great ministry.
11/4/2011 2:13:57 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR editor | with 0 comments