July 2018

Give thanks and pray for godly leaders

July 24 2018 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

I hope that you are already making plans to attend this year’s annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina on Nov. 5-6 in Greensboro. I look forward to the worship, business matters and fellowship with our messengers and guests from across the state that will take place over the course of these two days. It’s hard to believe that this year’s meeting is a just a little more than three months away. The Committee on Convention Meetings has been praying and working to provide another great annual meeting.

One of the items of business that messengers address each year is the election of our convention officers. Many of you have likely heard the announcement that our three current officers – President Lee Pigg of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe, First Vice President Joel Stephens of Wakefield Central Baptist Church in Zebulon and Second Vice President J.D. Grant of Scotts Creek Baptist Church in Sylva – have chosen not to seek re-election to any offices for the coming year.
When each of these men spoke to me individually about their respective decisions, they each assured me that a major factor in the reason they chose not to seek another term as an officer of the convention was due to the time demands and competing responsibilities that come with serving as an officer. Their responsibilities as an officer means they must travel many miles, spend countless hours in various committee and board meetings, and speak in churches and association events on behalf of the state convention. Additionally, they invest even more hours in telephone conversations and email correspondence related to the work of our state convention.
I am personally thankful for each of these men, and I believe they have represented the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina well in the way in which they have carried out their responsibilities in their roles as president and vice presidents. I will certainly miss working with them and the fellowship and times of prayer that we have enjoyed together. They have assured me they will continue to be supportive of our state convention and our vision to impact lostness through disciple-making.
During my tenure as executive director-treasurer and prior to that as the state evangelism director, I have had the privilege of working with and alongside many individuals who have served our convention well as officers and in other roles. However, this is the first time since our annual meeting in 2004 that none of the sitting officers are seeking office. That means that each of convention offices will be filled by new individuals in the coming year.
Because of this unique situation, I call on North Carolina Baptists to begin praying now for these leadership vacancies within our convention that will be filled during our annual meeting in Greensboro. If you have been reading the Biblical Recorder, you are aware that some individuals have already expressed interest in serving as a convention officer.
Messengers from N.C. Baptist churches will elect a president and two vice presidents during the afternoon session on Tues., Nov. 6. I am confident that God will raise up competent and capable men or women to fill these positions who will continue to serve our convention well.
So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands” (Psalm 78:72) (NKJV).

7/24/2018 12:09:33 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments

Evangelism, discipleship go hand-in-hand

July 9 2018 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

For several years, we as Southern Baptists have been asking how we can reverse the downward trend of baptisms within our convention. There are no easy answers, and we obviously need to pray and seek a fresh movement of God’s Spirit. We must also commit ourselves to personal evangelism and take advantage of opportunities to engage people in gospel conversations and make a clear call for them to trust Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
As we wrestle with these issues, I am in agreement with what my friend and North American Mission Board (NAMB) President Kevin Ezell told messengers attending this year’s Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, just a few weeks ago.
“Southern Baptist Convention, we do have an evangelism issue that we need to address,” Ezell said. “But I am confident that the problem in evangelism is symptomatic of an even deeper problem that we have when it comes to discipleship – to make disciples that make disciples that make disciples.”
Ezell’s remarks were part of a report from a disciple-making task force appointed by NAMB and LifeWay Christian Resources. A separate task force on evangelism appointed by former SBC President Steve Gaines also reported its findings to messengers. Taken together, these two reports show the importance of the link between evangelism and discipleship. They also provide some practical suggestions and recommendations that may be helpful to you and your church.
The disciple-making task force recommended that churches increase efforts around Bible engagement, examine the connection between salvation decisions and involvement in a group, and examine the number of groups that multiply on a regular basis.
The task force also cited a LifeWay study that found that the top spiritual discipline for a believer to participate in is Bible engagement, adding that those who do so give more, serve more and evangelize more.
The evangelism task force recommended that churches conduct annual witness training events and adopt a goal for baptisms. The task force also recommended pastors to model personal evangelism and present public gospel invitations of various kinds, calling unbelievers to repent and believe.
Additionally, the task force called on all Southern Baptists to “renew with great urgency the priority of evangelizing the next generations.”
As we have worked with churches, associations and other ministry partners here in North Carolina in recent years as part of our “impacting lostness through disciple-making” strategy, one of the things we have tried to emphasize is that disciple-making must involve both evangelism and discipleship. You can’t have one without the other.
I have often said that evangelism is the first step in making disciples, but it is not the only step.
We must continue to walk alongside new believers, nurture them in their faith by helping them encounter God through His Word, and encourage them to do the same with others. That’s what making disciples is all about.
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing ...” (Psalm 126:6).

7/9/2018 2:52:01 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments