August 2011

Planting new churches for God’s glory

August 29 2011 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC Executive Director-Treasurer

An article earlier this year in USA Today reported that our state’s population has increased 18.5 percent in the past 10 years. Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, saw a 35.2 percent gain during that time.
With a growing population comes a growing diversity. North Carolina’s Hispanic population grew 11 percent, making it the 11th state in the country in Latino residents. North Carolina school systems report that more than 230 languages are spoken in this state. Of the top five largest cities in our state, only in Raleigh is the white population the majority.
 
More people in our state means more churches are needed to help reach them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some people will not be reached by existing churches because of language and cultural barriers. We know that most church plants reach more lost people and experience growth faster than existing congregations. The more healthy, gospel-centered churches we have, the greater our opportunity to penetrate spiritual darkness.
 
Church planting is the heart of Pillar No. 4 in the Seven Pillars for Ministry. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) wants to help churches across this state — and throughout North America and the world — start new churches that will in turn start new churches.
 
Last year, the BSC assisted North Carolina Baptists in planting 125 new churches. You may not be aware that these new churches included 29 Anglo, 27 Hispanic, 15 Asian and 18 multi-ethnic churches. Other types of churches included cowboy, biker, Montagnard, Chinese, Haitian, American Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, African, African-American, Burmese, Asian Indian, Filipino and Romanian. As a result of these church plants, we witnessed 2,813 professions of faith. I praise God for salvation and for these new brothers and sisters in Christ!
 
To help equip church planters to be as effective as possible, your Convention staff led 218 people through the Basic Training Journey for Church Planters last year. We have also launched a church planting partnership with the Canadian National Baptist Convention. Our prayer is that God will help us plant 60 churches by the year 2021in Canada. I want to thank each of you who have contributed to the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) throughout the years. This offering, which is a focus in many churches during September, plays a tremendous role in helping us support new churches. We need your help. You can read about how this offering has helped by visiting ncmissionsoffering.org.
If your church is not already participating in church planting, I encourage you to pray about how God would have you to be involved. Our church planting team stands ready to assist you in any way that we can. Our desire is to see more churches planted so that more people may come to faith in Jesus Christ.

“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
– Ephesians 1:22-23

(EDITOR’S NOTE — This item is part of a package of stories highlighting strengthening existing church ministries across the state. The Biblical Recorder is focusing on the Seven Pillars for Christian Ministry adopted by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. For more stories on strengthening existing churches or to find out about the entire package, please visit here.)
8/29/2011 3:23:56 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC Executive Director-Treasurer | with 0 comments



A healthy church bears much fruit

August 15 2011 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC Executive Director-Treasurer

A few years ago Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson wrote the book Comeback Churches. The book features hundreds of churches that experienced a period of decline, yet turned things around and are now enjoying spiritual revival.
 
Stetzer and Dodson reported that 3,500-4,000 churches close each year in the United States. In North America, 70-80 percent of churches are stagnant or declining.
 
It is sad that so many churches no longer engage in effective Kingdom ministry or bear fruit for God’s Kingdom. Others look healthy from the outside, but on the inside are not really producing disciples who are in turn producing disciples.
 
It does not have to be this way, nor should it be. We need spiritually healthy churches all across this state, nation and world that exist to glorify God. One of the marks of a healthy church is that members are growing and maturing in their faith relationship in Christ.
 
This issue of the Biblical Recorder focuses on the third of the Seven Pillars for Ministry, which is strengthening existing churches. Churches must be healthy in order to carry out the other six pillars. Ministry priorities such as evangelism and church planting are lost when a church is in a period of stagnation or decline. 
 
Therefore, church health is a bedrock necessity. Churches cannot carry out their divinely appointed mission of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ if they are not healthy. Healthy churches keep the gospel as their focus. Healthy churches practice gospel-centered worship that will result in engaging others with the gospel.
 
One way we can help strengthen churches is to help them follow the advice of Henry Blackaby: “Discover where God is working and join with Him.” Church leaders must be sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading and do whatever He asks in order to join Him where He is at work.
 
As this state convention exists to serve local churches across North Carolina, we exist to help strengthen churches. I hope you are familiar with our three-year Find it Here (finditherenc.org) emphasis of evangelism, discipleship and missions mobilization. This fall, we continue with a discipleship emphasis that challenges churches to consider what it means to abide in Christ.

Another resource available to you is the Church Health Institute (ncbaptist.org/chi). This conference helps church leaders learn more about how to lead their church toward health and growth. Transformational Church is another resource. We have staff ready to help your church walk through a process of discovering how to transform the life of your church (ncbaptist.org/transformationalchurch).
 
Just as believers in Jesus Christ strengthen and encourage one another, so can churches. I encourage you to join with churches in your area and association to explore how you can work together in order to become healthy churches that bear much fruit.
“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work,
and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

— Colossians 1:10
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE — This item is part of a package of stories highlighting strengthening existing church ministries across the state. The Biblical Recorder is focusing on the Seven Pillars for Christian Ministry adopted by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. For more stories on strengthening existing churches or to find out about the entire package, please visit here.)
8/15/2011 2:31:22 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC Executive Director-Treasurer | with 0 comments



Are you telling your story?

August 1 2011 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC Executive Director-Treasurer

In 2010, our convention launched a three-year focus on evangelism, discipleship and missions called Find it Here.

The goal for Find it Here is to help churches become more intentionally evangelistic, which leads to disciple-making, which then leads to missions involvement.

This is the best way to grow a church and transform believers into dynamic followers of Christ. As part of the Find it Here evangelism emphasis we asked North Carolina Baptists to pray for lost people, specifically by name, and to invite them to attend a worship service.

As churches began praying for lost people by name, and inviting those people to church, and sharing Christ with them, they began to see lives change. People all across this state came to faith in Christ because someone took time to share the gospel with them.

If you will go to finditherenc.org you can read testimonies from pastors about what a difference it made when they, and their congregation, were more intentional in evangelism.

Intentional — this is a word I want us to think about. Churches that saw people come to faith in Christ did not see this kind of result because of anything special or extraordinary that they did. They saw this life change because of the power of the gospel and work of the Holy Spirit — and because they were intentional to share their faith.

Please consider for just a moment that 5.6 million people in this state, 258 in North America, and 6 billion in the world do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

Does that reality make a difference to us?

Are we burdened because we know that every person who lives in this life apart from a relationship with Christ will miss the joy of knowing His presence here, and they will also exist throughout eternity in a place called hell?

We must care because God cares. 1 Tim. 2:3-6 teaches that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

God wants all people to enter into a personal faith relationship with Him. Romans 10:14 asks us to consider how people will know about God unless someone tells them.

Matthew 28:18-20 gives the answer: it’s us. We are God’s chosen instruments in this world to tell others about Him. It is our responsibility to share the Good News.

If you know Jesus, you have a story to tell. Your story is important because it is a story of how God saved a sinner and transformed that person into His beloved child.

When you tell your story, you bring God much honor and glory.

Who do you know who needs to hear the gospel? Will you tell them? God will enable you with His power. When is it going to happen?

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me …” Acts 1:8

(EDITOR’S NOTE — This item is part of a package of stories highlighting evangelism and church growth across the state. The Biblical Recorder is focusing on the Seven Pillars for Christian Ministry adopted by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. For more stories or to find out about the entire package, please visit here.)
8/1/2011 10:15:00 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC Executive Director-Treasurer | with 0 comments