September 2013

Show appreciation for your pastor

September 23 2013 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

I grew up in western North Carolina as the son of a pastor, and although I pursued some other vocations, I later sensed God’s call to change my plans and soon found myself following in my father’s footsteps. I was blessed to serve as pastor of churches in Texas and North Carolina.
The life of a pastor is rewarding and I consider it the highest calling. To open God’s Word each week and teach the truths of scripture is a privilege and a blessing. Pastors have many opportunities to invest their lives in helping people with spiritual needs. They counsel those seeking direction, they help strengthen Christians through discipleship, they lead their people to serve in missions, and they participate in some of their church member’s most celebrative occasions, such as weddings and the birth of children. They also spend sleepless nights with individuals who are gravely ill and families who grieve over the death of a loved one. Pastors are expected to offer words of encouragement and hope during funerals and stand with families at the graveside. Their presence is often desired because people recognize them as messengers from God. Seeing the pastor in times of grief and loss can be a welcomed reminder to the bereaved that God never forsakes us.
However, serving as a pastor also comes with great responsibility and, at times, tremendous challenges. With so many different tasks that need attention the pastor’s time is stretched thin and he can become physically and emotionally exhausted. His family often sacrifices things they want to do together because of the needs of his parishioners.
An article on the 9Marks blog titled Don’t make your pastor a statistic notes that 50 percent of pastors feel unable to meet the demands of their job. Of pastors participating in the research study, 70 percent fight depression and 50 percent would consider leaving full-time ministry.

Do members of your congregation ever inadvertently place impossible demands and unreasonable expectations upon the pastor? Does your church family fail to encourage him, affirm him or show their appreciation for his labors on their behalf?
October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and I encourage you to take time and express your appreciation not only to your pastor, but also to all your church staff. LifeWay offers great ideas for simple, yet effective ways you can do this. For example, you could do something as easy as writing your pastor a letter or sending a card that expresses your gratitude and assures him of your prayer support. 
However you decide to show your appreciation next month, I would ask that you also make a special commitment to pray for your pastor.

Pray that God will provide him with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength. Pray that God will speak through him each week as he preaches and ministers. Most importantly, pray that his life and leadership bring much honor and glory to God.
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” 1 Timothy 5:17
9/23/2013 6:24:01 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 1 comments

Thankful for North Carolina Baptist associations

September 9 2013 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

Our state convention was founded in 1830 because North Carolina Baptists believed that more could be accomplished for God’s Kingdom by working together. Churches believed in the value of cooperation – a principle that we as Southern Baptists still very much believe in today.
Not only did churches come together back in 1830, but 14 Baptist associations also united and established this Convention. We have grown from 14 Baptist associations to 78 associations that help involve churches in ministry and missions locally, nationally and throughout the world.
Associations play a significant role in the life and work of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. We value and need the wisdom and influence of directors of missions/associational missionaries and association staff members, as these individuals best know their communities, their churches and the context in which they serve. I am grateful for the godly associational leaders in North Carolina who invest their lives into seeing people across our state grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ and become engaged in missions.
Throughout the year associational leaders are involved in many training and equipping opportunities. This year a number of directors of missions and associational missionaries have given their time to participate in Great Commission Initiative training. Through this training they are learning much about developing strategies for evangelizing and discipling the unchurched and unreached people groups in their local communities.
Every year North Carolina Baptist associations receive a portion of funds from the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) for local mission projects that help engage their congregations in missions. From feeding ministries to renovating houses for people in need, Baptist associations are doing wonderful ministry because of your contributions to NCMO. The associations plan and host events such as mission rallies and disaster relief training. At the present, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is partnering with two associations on a pilot project to identify unreached people groups in their area with the hope that this project will be expanded all across the state and contribute to the planting of many new congregations.
Over the past several months I have traveled across the state meeting with associational missionaries about the Convention’s new five-year strategy. I am encouraged by the strong support from almost all directors of missions regarding the new strategy. As we look toward 2014, I am optimistic and excited about the ways state convention staff will serve and support local association leadership and church leaders in the development and implementation of strategies to impact lostness through disciple-making. 
Your Convention staff is prepared to serve your association as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission through an Acts 1:8 model for missions. Lester Evans in the Associational Partnerships Office is eager to assist at your request.  
Thank you, North Carolina Baptist associations, for your dedication to advancing God’s Kingdom. It is a joy to work in partnership with you.
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ … striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
9/9/2013 1:27:04 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments