October 2016

In God we trust

October 18 2016 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

I don’t have to remind you that local, state and national Election Day is close at hand. We have heard far more than we want to hear from the news media through television, radio, internet and the printed page about the candidates hoping to be elected or re-elected to office this November.
Democracy is a blessing, and voting is your right as a citizen of this great country in which we live. We have the right to cast our votes based on our personal convictions, and we should exercise this right to its fullest extent. Even if you feel that you just cannot vote for one of the candidates in the presidential race, you should still go to the polls and cast your vote for the best candidates who are running for other offices. I am thankful that there are some dedicated Christ-followers seeking to be elected into some public offices. This represents good stewardship by those individuals who are capable of being effective leaders in our local, state and national government offices.
I heard someone say recently that no political party in this presidential election is promoting their candidate as a strong Christian person. I wish that were different, but I can also remember that we have had numerous presidents and other federal, state and local leaders who served our citizens well, even though they were not professing Christians.
However, it seems that they understood and supported the separation of church and state. They did not institute practices that worked against the Church or trampled on the teachings of the Bible and the convictions of Christians. In that day, the Church was more respected within society.
Even though we love America, we must not make the mistake of equating our nation with the Church of Jesus Christ. In John 17, Jesus talked about His followers being in the world but citizens of another Kingdom. Christians should remember that first and foremost, regardless of the turnout of this election, our citizenship is in heaven. This knowledge should infiltrate our every thought and influence our every action as we seek to glorify the One who calls us to live in this world, but not of it. Without question, we are to live in obedience to Christ, even if it means we must suffer the consequences of our allegiance to Him.
The hope for our nation will not be found in getting our favored candidate elected to the office of president, nor in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court. In Romans 13:1, the Scripture states that there is no power or authority except that which is from God, and the powers that exist are ordained by God. First Timothy 2:1-3 declares that we are to pray for all who are in places of authority because this is pleasing to God.  
I do not believe that we will see the changes we desire in our nation until the Church becomes broken over sin that is present in our churches, in our land and in our hearts. God wants to send revival, but He never places it on the bargain table. We must meet Him on His terms of repentance so that He can bring renewal. Then and only then can we expect God to bless America with spiritual blessings.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” – Psalm 20:7.

10/18/2016 8:29:07 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments

Engaging the lost through church revitalization

October 4 2016 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

The foundational unit of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) is our local North Carolina Baptist churches. We rejoice in the fact that some of our well established churches remain vibrant and continue to reach and disciple Christ followers, and several of our newer churches and church plants are also reporting church growth and strength in their baptism numbers. However, a sad reality is that too many churches in our state convention, across the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and in other denominations are closing their doors each year.
LifeWay reports from the statistics contained in the 2014 Annual Church Profile (ACP) that in N.C. 52.1 percent of SBC churches are plateaued and 28.2 percent are declining. An SBC entity has stated that across our nation 80 percent of churches are plateaued or declining. An unidentified source indicates that only 6 percent of churches are keeping up with the population growth in North America.
There are a variety of reasons for this. Some churches are in communities that have seen dramatic population decline or demographic shifts, including many from underserved populations or unreached and unengaged people groups. We cannot deny the fact that many churches are declining and dying because they are not strongly motivated to reach lost people living all around them or they do not believe that they have any potential for growth and they do not know what they can do in order to become a vibrant and thriving church again.
In contrast, there is some good news to follow. As a result of the needs presented in the information above, our convention launched the Church Health and Revitalization Team. It is a part of the Evangelism and Discipleship Group and the leader of this new team is Brian Upshaw.
The consultants who make up this team serve on a contractual basis with BSC. They are active or retired pastors and church leaders who have a proven track record of leading healthy, growing churches here in North Carolina.
This team, in its inaugural year, has been assisting churches in the revitalization process including many that are located in the pockets of lostness in this state as identified by the BSC’s Strategic Focus Team. Some churches are beginning to experience hope because they are pursuing a fresh work of God within their fellowship and beginning to develop new vision for their future.
Already, the Church Health and Revitalization Team has connected with 487 pastors, laymen and associational leaders, representing 207 churches and Baptist associations to assist with revitalization efforts toward the mission.
Our new team has developed a three-phase process to bring churches from “survival mode” to a place where they are actively engaging in missions. These three phases are “the man, the ministry and the mission,” and they help move a church forward to become healthy and to make disciples.
At BSC, we believe dying churches do not reflect God’s heart – however, that is not to say that mere survival is this team’s goal. The true goal is to have these dying churches return to the mission to impact lostness through disciple-making. Making disciples is what God commanded us to do in the Great Commission, and we at the convention believe that He will truly be glorified if disciple-making is the heart of our churches’ mission.
Visit revitalize@ncbaptist.org

10/4/2016 8:25:56 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments