February 2019

Have you ever asked, ‘Who’s Your One?’

February 19 2019 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

Most of us have at least one person in our lives that we desire to see come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. It could be a family member, a close friend, a neighbor, a coworker or someone else.
 
What if we all focused on consistently and fervently praying for that individual on a regular basis and being more intentional about sharing our faith with them? That is the focus of a new evangelism emphasis called “Who’s Your One?” being launched by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and promoted by Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President J.D. Greear.
 
“Who’s Your One?” encourages every Southern Baptist to intentionally build a relationship with one person over the course of 2019, share the gospel with them and invite them to trust Christ as their Lord and Savior.
 
Greear, NAMB President Kevin Ezell and NAMB Senior Vice President for Evangelism and Leadership Johnny Hunt introduced “Who’s Your One?” to associational leaders across the country during a simulcast on Jan. 31 from Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham, which was sponsored by the Yates Baptist Association and its Associational Mission Strategist Marty Childers. I saw a preview of “Who’s Your One?” and the accompanying resource kit during a recent meeting of my fellow executive directors from other Baptist state conventions across the nation.
 
I want to encourage pastors and other ministry leaders to support this evangelism emphasis by our SBC leaders. You can learn more and access a prayer guide and other materials by visiting WhosYourOne.com. The complete resource was scheduled for release Feb. 20.
 
Please note that the “Who’s Your One?” emphasis is not a new evangelism tool, method or approach. Instead, it’s a call to shift our mindset to where we are more sensitive and aware of lost people that we interact with on a daily basis. It’s a call to be more intentional about praying for them and engaging in gospel conversations with them on a regular and consistent basis in hopes that they would trust Christ.
 
As Pastor J.D. has said, evangelism happens when “ordinary people” share the gospel with their neighbors, friends and coworkers. If all Southern Baptists take this charge to heart, it’s amazing to think of what God could do as we are faithful to share His good news and trust Him.
 
“Who’s Your One?” is one pillar of Greear’s “Gospel Above All” theme for his presidency and the theme of this year’s SBC annual meeting, scheduled June 11-12 in Birmingham, Ala. One of the many things that I admire about Pastor J.D. is his passion for personal evangelism. He leads by example in this area and has encouraged and motivated members of The Summit Church where he pastors to regularly share their faith by asking his own congregation, “Who’s Your One?”
 
Additionally, I’d like to remind you that the staff of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina also stands ready to assist you and your church in your evangelism efforts. Many of our events held throughout the year emphasize personal evangelism, and we also have trainings that specifically focus on sharing the gospel.
 
Josh Reed, our senior consultant for adult evangelism and discipleship, is passionate about personal evangelism and has a heart to encourage and equip others to share their faith. He has also developed a network of evangelism trainers across the state. You can learn more about some of our upcoming Gospel Conversations trainings by visiting the special event page at ncbaptist.org/gospelconversations. Information about other training events held throughout the year is also available online at ncbaptist.org/events.
 
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes …” – Romans 1:16a (NKJV).

2/19/2019 3:37:13 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments



Sexual abuse report a ‘wake-up call’ for Southern Baptists

February 12 2019 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

I am deeply grieved by the findings of an investigative report published by the Houston Chronicle over the weekend, which described hundreds of incidents of sexual abuse that have occurred in Southern Baptist churches across the United States during the past two decades.
 
Part one of the three-part series stated that “since 1998, roughly 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct…. That includes those who were convicted, credibly accused and successfully sued, and those who confessed or resigned.” The report goes on to say that these abusers “left behind more than 700 victims, many of them shunned by their churches, left to themselves to rebuild their lives.”
 
In addition, the newspaper also released a national database of 220 former Southern Baptist church leaders who have been convicted of sex crimes. This list includes pastors, deacons, youth ministers Sunday School teachers, volunteers and others.
 
Although it is sad and greatly disappointing for pastors and the public to discover these facts, I am glad that Southern Baptists have been given a wake-up call about the tragic nature of these crimes. 
 
One of the worst things about this entire matter is that sexual predators have hidden behind the veil of their church leadership positions and taken advantage of individuals who trusted them. What a terrible and destructive witness this is to people who want to have confidence in individuals they look up to as trusted Christian leaders.
 
For far too long, some guilty church leaders have been dealt with quietly and privately, but they have not been dealt with sufficiently. Too often, I fear they were dismissed from a Christian organization or church position only to move to another location for ministry without their new church ever understanding the reason they left their previous place of service.
 
As a state convention, we have sought to be proactive by assisting churches on how to conduct background checks for pastors, church staff and volunteers. We have also consulted and conducted trainings with numerous associations and churches related to a variety of safety and security policies and procedures.
 
In the days ahead, the churches of our convention must do a better job of protecting those individuals God has entrusted to our care. This includes doing a better job of ministering to those who have suffered and endured abuse. We must take any allegation of abuse seriously and never cast shame on abuse victims or disparage them in any way.
 
I appreciate and applaud the work of our Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President J.D. Greear in helping bring this issue to the forefront even before news reports surfaced this past weekend. Greear, along with Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, have partnered together on a Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group, the purpose of which is to help Southern Baptists “respond swiftly and compassionately to incidents of abuse, as well as foster safe environments within churches and institutions.”
 
I am grateful, as we all should be, to news organizations that have illuminated these issues within our denomination. Only when sin is brought into the light can we take necessary action to protect individuals from these types of heinous acts. We can never be a part of tolerating or attempting to cover up these kinds of incidents, and I am committed to doing everything I can to address this issue head on.

2/12/2019 10:41:00 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments



How well are we impacting lostness, making disciples?

February 5 2019 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

In 2013, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) adopted a strategy titled “impacting lostness through disciple-making,” which our staff began implementing the following year.
 
Our mission as a state convention is to assist N.C. Baptist churches in their divinely appointed mission, which can be found in the Great Commission. The Lord commands us in His Word to “go and make disciples.” These are our marching orders from Him.
 
In keeping with our stated mission, our goal with the strategy has been to help facilitate a disciple-making culture across our state. It’s hard to believe that it has been five years since we began carrying out the strategy, and I praise God for all that He has allowed us as a convention of churches to accomplish over the past five years.
 
We have made great strides in helping people understand disciple-making as a holistic process that involves both evangelism and discipleship, which results in disciples who make disciples who make more disciples.
 
I am encouraged by the reports I am receiving from our staff regarding N.C. Baptist’s engagement of lostness across the state. Our strategy calls attention to 250 pockets of lostness within North Carolina. While there are significant populations of people who are far from God across the entirety of the state, our strategy calls attention to those locations where lostness is most concentrated. The good news is that churches are developing strategies to engage these pockets of lostness and the potential for multiplication of disciple-making is inspiring.  
 
We have also made great strides in identifying and engaging unreached people groups who are living right here in our state. We have seen hundreds of new churches planted in our state who are reaching new people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have also seen an expansion of ministry on college campuses thanks to local churches engaging students on the campuses near them.
 
These items represent just a few broad highlights of how we have seen God work in and through N.C. Baptists over these past five years. Now the time has come for us to evaluate how effective the strategy has been and how N.C. Baptists have engaged with it.
 
During our recent Board of Directors meeting in late January, our Associate Executive Director-Treasurer Brian Davis and I shared with the board that we will soon begin the formal process to evaluate the strategy.
 
The evaluation will be multifaceted and will include electronic surveys, a series of public forums across the state and personal interviews.
 
More information about the evaluation process will be announced in the near future, but I want to urge you to participate. We want and need to hear from a variety of North Carolina Baptists about the strategy.
 
This includes pastors, church staff, associational mission strategists, lay leaders, congregants and others.
The results and findings from the evaluation will be shared as part of my report to messengers at this year’s BSC annual meeting in Greensboro on Nov. 11-12.
 
While we have learned a lot over the past five years, we still have much to learn. The strategy to “impact lostness through disciple-making” is far from being completed or fulfilled. But your valuable input and insights will go a long way in helping us better understand where we are and where we need to go from here.
 
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” – Matthew 28:19a (NKJV).

2/5/2019 11:53:22 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments