June 2012

Bivocational ministry is important to the Kingdom

June 18 2012 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

God often calls His followers to serve Him in challenging and sacrificial ways for the sake of His name. I think about the many commissioning services I have been privileged to attend for individuals and families preparing to serve our Lord throughout this country and around the world. God called them to leave behind a familiar, comfortable lifestyle in order to share the gospel with people who have never heard.
 
I know that God has called many of you to make financial sacrifices so you could participate in a short-term mission trip.
 
When God calls us to a certain task for His Kingdom, we must be obedient. I want to express my appreciation for a group of people who, although not serving in a different state or country, make tremendous sacrifices in order to be obedient to God: North Carolina bivocational pastors.
 
Your Baptist State Convention includes about 1,400 churches served by a bivocational pastor. When I use the term “bivocational,” I am referring to pastors who rely on additional income from a source other than the church they pastor. Essentially, these shepherds must work at least two jobs in order to support themselves and their family.
 
The number of bivocational pastors and church staff is increasing, in part because of the current economic situation, rise in cost of living, and decrease in tithing and financial giving.
 
Bivocational pastors usually serve smaller churches or new church plants. Our state convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention, relies on support from small churches (usually defined as a church with 125 people or less in Sunday School). About 80 percent of SBC churches are small churches. I am so grateful to God for the small churches that faithfully serve God.
 
If not for bivocational pastors and church staff, many churches would be without adequate leadership. However, serving as a bivocational pastor is not easy. Studies indicate that these pastors work many hours each week, as they have to prepare sermons, visit in hospitals, minister to bereaved families and perform other acts of ministry related to their church, along with the required work at their additional job.
 
Bivocational pastors and staff may feel a sense of isolation from other pastors and they sometimes struggle to balance work and family life. These pastors sacrifice personal time in order to serve.
 
Lester Evans is our Convention consultant who serves in the area of associational partnerships, as well as bivocational ministry. Lester does a wonderful job working with our bivocational pastors.
 
Next month our bivocational ministry will host a two-day bivocational ministries conference at Caraway Conference Center.
 
Please pray for God to strengthen our bivocational pastors and bivocational church staff members, and also pray for their families. Ask God to empower them in a mighty way for His Kingdom and for His glory.
 
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Colossians 3:23
6/18/2012 2:01:58 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments



A father’s greatest desire

June 4 2012 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

Being a father is truly one of the greatest joys of my life. When I became a father I knew I had a responsibility to teach my son about God and the gospel. Both Gloria and I wanted him to treasure the truths of God’s Word and to know and love God. I can still remember some of the prayers I prayed for him more than 37 years ago, and I continue to recognize God’s faithfulness in answering those prayers.
 
Our son is now grown with two sons of his own (and you should know that I always enjoy sharing pictures of my grandsons).
 
Raising our son was one of the greatest reminders to me of how much our Heavenly Father loves His children and how much I need my Heavenly Father’s strength, guidance and grace every day.
 
As the day draws near when we will celebrate Father’s Day, I hope that we will take some time to reflect on the goodness of our Heavenly Father.
 
The Bible gives us so many wonderful names for our God, but one that has always been very meaningful to me is Father.
 
The Bible teaches us many truths about our Heavenly Father.
 
We know that our Father loves us unconditionally (Romans 8:38-39) and cares for us (Matthew 11:28-29).
 
We know that our Father listens to us (Psalm 5:3) and understands our pain (Hebrews 4:15). 
 
The Bible tells us that our Father gives us good gifts (James 1:17; Matthew 7:11), and He also disciplines us (Hebrews 12:4-11) to help us grow in spiritual holiness.
 
We cannot even begin to fathom the depths of God’s immeasurable love for us. He wants us to know Him intimately as our Father. This Heavenly Father made the greatest sacrifice possible in order to demonstrate His love for sinners – He gave His only son.
 
For those who trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin, God calls His children. Because we demonstrated that act of faith, God has adopted us into His family and made us fellow heirs of His Kingdom.
 
As a father, I still have much to learn from my Heavenly Father. As a father or father figure, are you following the example of your Heavenly Father and living out His characteristics before your children?

As fathers, our greatest desire should be for our children to know their Heavenly Father. In Psalm 145:4, we learn that “one generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.”
 
It is our joy to lead our children to Christ, and it is our responsibility to disciple them, so that they can teach their children and their grandchildren, biblical truth. Remember, even the local church cannot take the place of discipleship in the home. This should be a father’s greatest desire as a parent.
 
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15
6/4/2012 3:00:28 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments