June 2018

Reflections on the annual meeting

June 26 2018 by Milton Hollifield

It was great to see so many North Carolina Baptists in Dallas, Texas, for this year’s Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting. Based on the unofficial registration figures as of June 14, a total of 540 messengers from North Carolina were in attendance, which ranked fourth among all states. Thank you to all N.C. Baptists who attended this year’s meeting. I also appreciate those N.C. Baptists who were not in Dallas, but who prayed for our meetings and some also watched the sessions via livestream through the internet.
This year’s meeting saw a North Carolina Baptist elected as SBC president with the selection of J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham. Going into this year’s meeting, I said repeatedly that I believed we had two strong candidates for SBC president and that either J.D. or Ken Hemphill would make a fine president of our convention. J.D. echoed those same sentiments during his press conference following his election. He also offered praise for Ken and how he has reached out to younger leaders in our convention through the years.

With J.D.’s election, my hope and prayer is that Southern Baptists will come together in a spirit of unity and commit to pray for J.D. and support him as he begins his tenure as president. I hope we can rally behind the things that unite us as Southern Baptists, namely evangelism, discipleship and missions. Pastor J.D. is leading his own congregation in these areas, and I believe he will serve our convention well.
The emphasis on evangelism, discipleship and missions was among the highlights of this year’s SBC meeting. What a joy it was to see our International Mission Board commission and send out 79 new missionaries who will take the gospel to the nations that desperately need to hear God’s message of redemption. Messengers also heard reports from a task force on evangelism and a task force on discipleship, which made recommendations on what we can do as Southern Baptists to help reverse the downward trend of baptisms within our convention. I plan to address these reports and recommendations in more detail in a future column.
In general, it is so important for each of us to remember that evangelism is a calling that’s given to every follower of Christ. My hope and prayer is that you will embrace that calling to share the gospel with individuals, offer them the opportunity to trust in Christ and then help those who come to faith in Christ grow in their relationship with Him. That’s what disciple-making is all about.

Although there were a number of business items and resolutions debated and adopted during this year’s meeting, I would be remiss if I did not mention the resolutions that were passed which addressed the value and dignity of women. Hopefully, the spotlight that has been placed on these issues will help all of us to be more alert if abuse or related improprieties are occurring. Doing so will help us show a greater sense of respect and Christian love for all women, including our sisters in Christ.
Because there is a growing epidemic of domestic violence within homes in our communities, local churches need to plan how they can become increasingly effective in ministering to those who are the victims of abuse. 
Overall, I left Dallas encouraged about our convention and its future. Yes, there are issues and challenges facing us, but above all, I believe we are a convention that is committed to Jesus Christ and His gospel.

6/26/2018 11:40:26 AM by Milton Hollifield | with 0 comments

Dads: Lead like Joshua

June 11 2018 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

Near the end of his life, Joshua gathered the children of Israel together and made the well-known admonition and declaration that we read in Joshua 24:15 in which he says, “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ... But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord” (NKJV).
While Joshua was known as the great leader of God’s people who succeeded Moses and led the children of Israel into the Promised Land, his final words indicate that Joshua was just as strong of a leader in his own household. As we approach Father’s Day, those of us who have the privilege of being parents, grandparents or even a father figure to someone else would do well to heed Joshua’s instructions and emulate his leadership in the home.
In today’s culture, families are often so busy that we have little time to have fun together as a family or engage in family worship or other activities aimed at nurturing faith in the home. As parents, we often devise plans to make sure our children have the best opportunities socially, academically and relationally. But in the midst of all of our plans and activities, what are we doing to prepare our children to face the challenges of a rapidly changing culture that is becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity and the ethical and moral standards God has declared in His written Word?
The sad reality is that many children who grow up in Christian homes and good, Bible-believing churches sometimes drop out of church never to return after they leave home for college. I’m afraid that we are not doing enough in the home to point our children to Christ and then disciple them into spiritual maturity after they come to faith. We must condition and prepare them to live in the power of God’s Spirit in a culture that does not understand our Christian values.
Dads, may I encourage you to become a strong spiritual leader within your family like Joshua? Joshua made a strong and clear declaration to the people about who he was going to serve. You must not neglect the responsibility of giving spiritual leadership and being a positive role model for your family.
Dads, if you don’t know where to begin, start by spending time alone with God in consistent, daily fellowship through Bible reading and prayer. Meditate on God’s Word, and ask Him to give you the wisdom and strength to be a good and godly example for your family. Consider approaching a couple of other men and express your desire to become a spiritual leader in your home. Chances are they need the same type of encouragement and accountability as you do. Consider getting together with them each week to seek the Lord together, pray together, learn together and grow together.
Also, be sure to spend quality time with your wife and with your children. Men, one of the best things we can do for our children is to convince them that we love their mother. The way you treat their mother will have a powerful influence on how your sons will treat their wife when they are grown and married. Be sure your family knows that they are the priority of your life above your career, friends, hobbies or anything else.
Serve in ministry and missions activities together as a family so your children (and grandchildren) will learn the importance of serving God as they serve others. Parents, establish a time of daily worship with your children if you are not already doing so. It doesn’t have to be complicated nor does it have to be long. In his book titled Family Worship, professor Donald Whitney suggests the following model of a family worship time – reading scripture, praying together and singing a song or hymn.
Fathers, it’s one thing to say that we will serve the Lord, but it is another thing to really live out that commitment.
Will you strive to be a modern-day Joshua by God’s grace and help?

6/11/2018 12:02:46 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments